8 Reasons Spiritual Disciplines Matter

I know it sounds like a basic, simplistic matter in our Christian walk, but I’m writing this post to encourage all of us to do spiritual disciplines like Bible study, prayer, fasting, and solitude. Here’s why:

  1. The disciplines slow us down. Most of us are so busy that we have little time to stop, reflect, and just spend time with God. We desperately need that time, though, even if we don’t realize it.
  2. They put us in a position to listen to God. Not only are we too busy, but we’ve also lost the practice of just quietly listening to God through His Word and His Spirit. Consequently, we often worry more and trust less.
  3. They emphasize relationship. Disciplines are about turning to God, focusing on Him, listening to Him, speaking to Him, and then telling others about Him. Strengthening our relationship with Him is both a motivation for, and a result of, disciplines.
  4. They force us to see where we place our dependence. Regularly meeting God in the disciplines = admitting our need and desire for Him. When we spend little or no time with God, though, we are confessing that we have little need for Him.
  5. They uncover our sin that hinders our walk with God. It’s difficult to read God’s Word, speak to Him, and focus on Him without seeing ourselves as the sinners we are. The disciplines challenge us to cry out to God for forgiveness and cleansing.
  6. They correct our sins of omission. Reading the Word, praying, fasting, and other disciplines are acts of obedience to the God who saved us. Thus, it is simply right for us to do them.
  7. They prepare us to teach and lead others. The best leaders of God’s church are those who lead from the overflow of their personal walk with Him. Apart from being with Him, we teach and lead in our own power – and that helps no one.
  8. They produce in us godly confidence and excitement. When we know we’ve been with God, we’re much more prepared to speak about Him. In fact, we almost can’t help but speak of Him then.

What reasons would you add to this list?

Truth for Trails and Trials

Search the Scriptures, for…these are they which testify of Me.
John 5:39
A. W. Tozer seldom used an unnecessary word. His sentences were plain and vivid, connecting with readers like an electrical circuit. Listen to this Tozer paragraph: “One great concern I have is that many of today’s Christians are not taking the Word of God seriously. For whatever reason, the Scriptures do not have authority in the Christian’s life in the way that is necessary for him or her to live a life to the glory of God.”[1]
We must take the Scriptures seriously because the Scriptures take the Lord seriously. We learn about Jesus through His Word: His eternal glory, His remarkable humanity, His infinite wisdom, His glorious resurrection, His current enthronement, His swift coming, and His everlasting reign. By turning our eyes to the Bible, we’re turning our gaze to Him, and that changes the way we view the trails and trials of earth.

When you take the Bible seriously, you’ll grow closer to Christ—becoming stronger in Him and more joyful whatever befalls you. Ask the Lord to give you a love for His Word—and for His Son!

If we are going to be empowered by the Holy Spirit, we must start by taking the Bible seriously.
A. W. Tozer

  • David Jeremiah

Unrighteous Anger

James 1:19-21

19 You know this, my beloved brothers and sisters. Now everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger; 20 for a man’s anger does not bring about the righteousness of God. 21 Therefore, ridding yourselves of all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls.

Anger is a powerful emotion that often causes great damage. It fuels inner resentment and bitterness, shuts down communication, and breaks relationships. If unchecked, it boils over into explosive rage that hurts not only the intended target but others as well.

While we often try to justify our anger, seldom can it be classified as righteous. We’re rarely offended for God’s honor. Our motives are usually born of self-defense, thwarted desires, or outrage over perceived wrongs against us. James wrote that our anger does not bring about God’s righteousness in our life.

The book of Proverbs gives God’s perspective on the subject. Quick-tempered people act foolishly (A quick-tempered person acts foolishly, And a person of evil devices is hated. Prov. 14:17), stir up strife, and abound in wrongdoing (An angry person stirs up strife, And a hot-tempered person abounds in wrongdoing. Prov. 29:22). There are also warnings not to associate with such individuals so we won’t learn their ways (Do not make friends with a person given to anger, Or go with a hot-tempered person, 25 Or you will learn his ways And find a snare for yourself.Prov. 22:24-25). In contrast, those who are slow to anger have great understanding (One who is slow to anger has great understanding;But one who is quick-tempered exalts foolishness. Prov. 14:29) and demonstrate wisdom by holding their temper (A fool always loses his temper, But a wise person holds it back. Prov. 29:11).

Jesus paid our sin debt with His life in order to set us free from sin, and that includes uncontrolled anger. If God has convicted you of unrighteous anger, confess it as sin and ask Him to reproduce Christ’s character in you.

Willingly or Unwillingly

For it is written: “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to Me, and every tongue shall confess to God.”
Romans 14:11
Young people grow up learning to trust the word of certain adults, depending on how consistent those adults have been in following through on their words in the past. In Isaiah 55:10-11, the prophet quotes God’s promise that His Word will never fail to accomplish its intent. That is, God and His words are entirely trustworthy.
 

 

With that as background, every human being will someday bow before God and acknowledge Him. Because God said it, it will surely happen. He said it in Isaiah 45:23, referring to all “who are incensed against Him” (verse 24). Then the apostle Paul repeated this promise twice in his epistles—with two different applications. In Romans 14:11, the promise is directed toward Christians: Don’t judge others because everyone will one day be judged by God. But in Philippians 2:9-11, the promise encompasses all humanity: God exalted Christ over all, and one day all will acknowledge His Lordship; all will bow the knee before Him, willingly or unwillingly.

Who would doubt God’s words? Far better to bow before Christ today willinglythan to bow unwillingly in the future.

When we see even a small glimpse of God’s holiness, we will bow in worship.
R. C. Sproul

  • David Jeremiah

Living for Others

A Broadcast with Steven Lawson

True joy in the Christian life can be found in offering ourselves as living sacrifices for the glory of God and the flourishing of His church. Today, Steven Lawson expounds on our calling to serve others for their spiritual well-being.

How Did We Get the Bible?

A Broadcast with Michael Kruger

Why does the New Testament contain four Gospels—Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John—but not the so-called gospel of Thomas? Today, Michael Kruger explains how we know that all the right books—and only the right books—made it into the Bible.

A Testimony of Faith

September 10, 2022
Acts 8:4-8; Acts 8:25-40

Therefore, those who had been scattered went through places preaching the word. Philip went down to the city of Samaria and began proclaiming the Christ to them. The crowds were paying attention with one mind to what was being said by Philip, as they heard and saw the signs which he was performing. For in the case of many who had unclean spirits, they were coming out of them shouting with a loud voice; and many who had been paralyzed or limped on crutches were healed. So there was much rejoicing in that city.

25 So, when they had solemnly testified and spoken the word of the Lord, they started back to Jerusalem, and were preaching the gospel to many villages of the Samaritans.

26 But an angel of the Lord spoke to Philip, saying, “Get ready and go south to the road that descends from Jerusalem to Gaza.” (This is a desert road.) 27 So he got ready and went; and there was an Ethiopian eunuch, a court official of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was in charge of all her treasure; and he had come to Jerusalem to worship, 28 and he was returning and sitting in his chariot, and was reading Isaiah the prophet. 29 Then the Spirit said to Philip, “Go up and join this chariot.” 30 Philip ran up and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet, and said, “Do you understand what you are reading?” 31 And he said, “Well, how could I, unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. 32 Now the passage of Scripture which he was reading was this:

He was led like a sheep to slaughter;
And like a lamb that is silent before its shearer,
So He does not open His mouth.
33 In humiliation His justice was taken away;
Who will describe His generation?
For His life is taken away from the earth.”

34 The eunuch answered Philip and said, “Please tell me, of whom does the prophet say this? Of himself, or of someone else?” 35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning from this Scripture he preached Jesus to him. 36 As they went along the road they came to some water; and the eunuch *said, “Look! Water! What prevents me from being baptized?” 38 And he ordered that the chariot stop; and they both went down into the water, Philip as well as the eunuch, and he baptized him. 39 When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away; and the eunuch no longer saw him, but went on his way rejoicing. 40 But Philip found himself at Azotus, and as he passed through he kept preaching the gospel to all the cities, until he came to Caesarea.

 

Many believers consider sharing faith with others a scary endeavor. The example of a faithful witness can be encouraging and motivating—and Philip is a wonderful model for us to emulate.

He brought the good news of Jesus Christ to Samaria, where the crowd listened intently and many were baptized. Yet when God’s instructions redirected Philip to go speak to one particular man on a desert road, he willingly obeyed (Acts 8:26-27 above).  He carefully considered what to say and used the Scriptures to lead the traveler to salvation. Whether he was addressing large crowds or an individual, his words always pointed to Jesus Christ.

Philip’s witness flowed from a life transformed by Christ, and that should be the same with us. He understood that God’s Word is the power for salvation. It’s not our eloquence that saves others, but God’s supernatural ability to open a heart to the message.

As you approach different situations throughout the day, try to be like Philip. Recognize that the Lord will lead you to the people He wants you to speak with. Ask questions to open a door of opportunity, and courageously use the truths of Scripture to explain the gospel in an understandable way

Worship That Changes

But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ.
Philippians 3:7
Before meeting Christ, Paul could best be described as a “hit man” for the Pharisees. From Jerusalem, he traveled around the area arresting Jews who had become followers of Christ, taking them to jail (or worse—Acts 22:3-5). But all that changed when he met Jesus Christ on the road to Damascus.
As Paul and his associates traveled, a bright light from heaven caused Paul to fall to the ground (Acts 9:4). Falling to the ground is a posture in Scripture for worship (Revelation 1:17; 4:10; 5:8; 7:11; 19:10; 22:8). But Paul likely wasn’t worshiping; he was likely just shocked and scared. However, it became an image for what he would be doing for the rest of his life: bowing his knee to the Lord Jesus Christ in worship. He fell to the ground in literal fear, but he lived the rest of his life in reverential fear—that is, in worship. When he discovered the true object of worship, it changed his life.

The more we worship our Triune God, the more our life will change. If it is not your practice already, worship on your knees and see how it changes your heart.

What or whom we worship determines our behavior.
John Murray

  • David Jeremiah

Fulfillment for the Empty Life

John 4:3-18

3 He left Judea and went away again to Galilee. 4 And He had to pass through Samaria. So He *came to a city of Samaria called Sychar, near the parcel of land that Jacob gave to his son Joseph; 6 and Jacob’s well was there. So Jesus, tired from His journey, was just sitting by the well. It was about the sixth hour.

7 A woman of Samaria *came to draw water. Jesus *said to her, “Give Me a drink.” 8 For His disciples had gone away to the city to buy food. 9 So the Samaritan woman *said to Him, “How is it that You, though You are a Jew, are asking me for a drink, though I am a Samaritan woman?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.) 10 Jesus replied to her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who is saying to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.” 11 She *said to Him, “Sir, You have no bucket and the well is deep; where then do You get this living water? 12 You are not greater than our father Jacob, are You, who gave us the well and drank of it himself, and his sons and his cattle?” 13 Jesus answered and said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again; 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never be thirsty; but the water that I will give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up to eternal life.”

15 The woman *said to Him, “Sir, give me this water so that I will not be thirsty, nor come all the way here to draw water.” 16 He *said to her, “Go, call your husband and come here.” 17 The woman answered and said to Him, “I have no husband.” Jesus *said to her, “You have correctly said, ‘I have no husband’; 18 for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; this which you have said is true.”

 

Anyone can experience feelings of emptiness, regardless of age, marital status, or socioeconomic background. And in an era of social media, emptiness is becoming more prevalent than ever. Despite our connecting with larger numbers of people, life can seem more meaningless than it did previously.

The Samaritan woman at the well symbolizes millions throughout history who have tried their best to satisfy a yearning for love and completion. But the sense of emptiness cannot be permanently satisfied until a person comes to Christ. We were created to honor and glorify Him, and no other pursuit can bring a sense of long-term pleasure and purpose.

When Jesus offered the Samaritan woman “living water” that would quench her thirst forever, it’s not surprising she wanted it (John 4:15 above). The salvation Christ offers includes more than the elimination of guilt. We also receive the riches of His love and a purpose that reaches into eternity.

If you’ve received Jesus as your Savior, you never have to feel empty again. His love surpasses all understanding, and as you grow in the knowledge of its vastness, you’ll be “filled to all the fullness of God” (and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled to all the fullness of God.  Eph. 3:19).

Beloved Hymns: Just as I Am

“All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to Me I will never cast out.”John 6:37 (ESV). 

Charlotte Elliott was an embittered woman. She suffered from poor health and a disability that had hardened her. She once said, “If God loves me, he would not have treated me this way”. In May 1822, a Swiss Minister named Dr. Cesar Malan, visited Charlotte in her home in Brighton, England. He had heard of her illnesses and had hoped to help her. Over dinner, Charlotte lost her temper and began railing against God and her family in a violent outburst. Her family, embarrassed by her actions, left the room and Dr. Malan was left alone with Charlotte.

As he sat observing her, he considered the best way to approach her. Finally, he said, “You are tired of yourself, aren’t you? You are holding on to your hate and anger because you have nothing else in the world to cling to. Consequently, you have become sour, bitter, and resentful.”

Stunned by his candor, Charlotte asked him, “What is your cure?”

The doctor simply said, “The faith you are trying to despise.”

As they talked, Charlotte’s heart began to soften, and she asked, “If I wanted to become a Christian and to share the peace and joy you possess, what would I do?”

“You would give yourself to God just as you are now, with your fighting and fears, hates and loves, pride and shame.”

“I would come to God just as I am. Is that right?” Charlotte did come just as she was, and her heart was changed that day. As time passed, she found and claimed John 6:37 as her special verse: “… he who comes to Me I will by no means cast out.”

Years later, her brother, Rev. Henry Elliott, was raising funds for a school. Charlotte wrote a poem, and it was printed and sold across England. The leaflet said: Sold for the benefit of Saint Margaret’s Hall, Brighton: “Him that cometh to Me I will in no way cast out”.Underneath was Charlotte’s poem— which has since become the most famous invitational hymn in history!

Although she never enjoyed good health, Charlotte lived to be 82 years old and wrote about 150 hymns. After her death, her loved ones sifted through her papers, and they found over a thousand letters she had kept in which people expressed their gratitude for the way that this hymn had touched their lives.

Just as I am, without one plea,

 but that thy blood was shed for me,

and that thou bidd’st me come to Thee,

 O Lamb of God, I come, I come!2

 Suggested Prayer: Dear God, thank you for your death on the cross that made it possible for me to come to you just as I am. You overlook my “ugliness” and accept me with all my human flaws. I am so grateful for your loving kindness and forgiveness! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

  • “Just as I Am” Hymn by Charlotte Elliot.