October 16

The Spiritual Disciplines, Part 1

Romans 8:29a For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son.

II Corinthians 3:17-18 Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.

I Corinthians 3:7 So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase.

When we think of spiritual disciplines, we tend to think of the methodical but rather dry habits the spiritually “mature” person does on a regular basis because they are the right thing to do: praying, reading God’s word, going to church, etc. Obviously, none of these activities is wrong, and they should still be practiced when we’re not feeling particularly passionate about doing them.

But a true spiritual discipline is a regular pattern in your life that repeatedly brings you back to God and opens you up to what He’s saying. Those disciplines can’t save us or make us holy, but they can heighten our desire, awareness and love of God by stripping away the barriers we put up and putting us in the Lord’s presence.

For Christians, the heart of spiritual disciplines is the person of Jesus Christ. He is the reason to do them, and connecting with Him is the real goal of the activity. In and of themselves, without the presence of the Spirit of God, they can be dry. But their true purpose is to place us in a position to receive His life-changing grace. God wants to use these developed habits to continually draw us before Him so that He can continue to transform us into the image of His son.

In the world of nature, God causes the growth of the seed, but the farmer needs to plant the seed first. No one expects the farmer to cause the seed to grow, but no one expects God to put the seed into the ground. Both actions are needed—to God be the glory!

The spiritual disciplines are the seeds we plant in the ground, believing Him to cause those spiritual seeds to grow. As we grow in godly habits with open hearts, we cultivate our daily lives into fertile ground in which God can bring growth and change.

In nature, it’s a cooperative relationship between farmer and God. In the spiritual, it’s a cooperative relationship between us and the renewing Spirit of God. The farmer plants in faith, knowing that no matter how small or uninteresting the seed may look, he can take joy in anticipating the crop those seeds will become. We can plant daily seeds in faith, too. At times, those disciplines may seem unexciting or even lifeless, but we can rejoice knowing that they can become the source of a godly spiritual crop over time.

Prayer: Father, help me to be faithful to place myself before You, planting spiritual seeds in my life on a routine basis. I trust that as you cause natural seeds to grow, You also cause spiritual seeds to grow. Help me to rejoice in that growth even when I don’t necessarily feel it happening.

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