All occupations have certain disciplines that go with being good at what you do, e.g. anyone involved in the medical profession develops the discipline of regularly washing their hands! (One should hope so!) There are personal disciplines too, which if not developed, can result in disastrous consequences. The discipline of brushing your teeth before bedtime, balancing your expenses and income regularly, tidying up behind you (as I keep telling my teenage kids!)
Disciplines don’t come naturally, they are developed. Just as in our personal lives, there are good disciplines, there are spiritual disciplines that contribute to our spiritual growth which are important to develop. New believers are often instructed in these basic spiritual disciplines, they are: Read your bible, pray, go to church and love others.
Reading your bible is one of the foundational disciplines for a believer who is feeding their spiritual person on the word of God. Why develop this discipline? Paul urges us in Eph 4:1 to “live a life worthy of the calling you have received,” and later (verse 12-13) we are told to “be built up… reaching unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature; attaining the full measure of the fullness of Christ.”
If we do not develop the discipline of a regular devotion, we will not grow spiritually.
And yet, everyday, we meet people who have been believers for years, that have still not developed this discipline in their lives and they wonder why they don’t grow spiritually, never hear from God, give way to doubt and slowly drift away from God, the church and other believers.
Having a regular devotional is defined as: Spending time alone in the presence of God, daily, reading your bible, reflecting and praying. A time taken out of the regular routine of the day, with no interruption, to partake in a personal relationship with God. Also referred to as a Quiet Time or Personal Bible Study.
All you need is the bible and the Holy Spirit. Everything else is just EXTRA!
Some points to consider when developing this discipline:
- Clear up in your mind that without the discipline of a regular devotional time with God, we will not grow spiritually. This is the DEAL BREAKER.
- It is a process. A discipline needs to be developed and you may not get it right straight away. You cannot buy it or fake it, it is a development process similar to taking a journey. Be realistic, expect to find this process challenging and hard to implement into your life – just think how long it takes to teach a toddler to regularly brush their teeth, on their own.
- Plan ahead. It does not automatically happen. You need to plan a time in the day (when you are at your best) that will regularly work for you and a place (quiet) where you will have it. Be flexible, make it work for you. The discipline is one that you are developing for yourself, so be practical not rule bound. Plan what you are going to do, so that you don’t spend half the time wondering what to do. The plan could be a devotional, a reading plan and self study. The better you plan, the more you will get out of the experience.
- Prepare for it. Some of us need to go to bed earlier if we want to stay awake during a regular quiet time with the Lord in the morning. This may mean that our TV time, or reading time needs to be shortened. Some of us need to prepare our loved ones to give us this time, like putting a baby/toddler to sleep at a certain time, or communicating that we are taking this time for ourselves.
- Get the best material. We all know the taste of a meal is determined by good ingredients, so too, ensure the tastefulness of your Quiet Time by investing in good reading material. Get the best bible you can afford and use the best devotional material you can lay your hands on.
- Stay focussed. This may require some “attitude adjustment” in making it a priority in your life. The purpose is to grow spiritually, so make every effort to grow.
- Get back up. Someone in your life needs to know that you are developing this discipline in your life. You need to share with them where you are and where you want to be. Just like a mother asks a toddler: “Have you brushed your teeth?” You need someone in your life that will ask you, “Have you had a regular time with God lately?”
- Share. Tell others what you have learnt. Often we spend time in the Word and nothing jumps out to us. But we are not given the Word for our sole purpose, it is meant to be shared. Your sharing may be just the Word that someone’s starving spirit needs to hear. This has been the most satisfying part of having a daily devotional for me, the watching to see who the Lord brings across my path to share what He has shown me in His Word that morning.
Developing this spiritual discipline in our lives is NOT optional if we want to grow spiritually, it is as vital to our spiritual growth as is the air we breathe. What are you going to do today to make this discipline a regular activity in your life?
Father, this personal discipline needs to be strengthened in my life so help me to be responsible and start doing something about it rather than letting another day pass without addressing it. I want to grow in my relationship with You, I want to know Your heart and hide Your word in my heart. Please allow this desire to grow so strong in me that I day cannot pass without reaching for Your word, help me to recognise my own spiritual hunger and feed me from Your Word.
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