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Church Revitalization #8

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As a church, do we have a hunger for the spiritual disciplines?

A few years ago we have a wood burner in our living room in Valpo. To start that fire going I’d take some tightly wadded up paper at the bottom for slower burning and sort of flared at the top for that instant flame.
On top of those I’d put dozen or so thin strips of wood and layer it across the paper.
After making sure that the damper was open and the vent in front was set for maximum air flow, I’d strike a long, wooden match.
Reaching into the stove, I’d touch several spots in rapid succession where the paper will light quickly.
To increase the draft for a moment, I’d close the door within an inch of shutting it completely.
The flames spread to the balled paper, which burns long enough to catch those thin strips of wood on fire.
Those strips of wood are burning nicely as the paper turns to ashes and now I start to layer on a few stick of kindling which are about the size of a hammer handle.
When several of those are flaming happily at the top of some small but pulsing coals of those strips of wood, the stove would be ready for the first of the full-size hunks of wood that would warm me all evening.
The first flash of match and paper was bring and impressive, but the reason I built those fires is to enjoy the sustained heat of burning logs and slow-glowing coals.
I can remember after first being converted to Christ, when that original God-kindled blaze of eternal life that illuminated and over took my life so suddenly.
Then after a while I noticed that it didn’t pop up so suddenly any more, or at least it seldom does as it did when I was first converted.
As building fires goes, so goes the Christian life. Just because the beginning of the combustion may briefly be more spectacular than at the present doesn’t mean the fire isn’t growing!
The initial burst of spiritual flame may be more dazzling, but the heartfire’s greatest effectiveness occurs as it burns into consistency.
Nothing will contribute more to your growth of spiritual heat and light more than the persevering practice of the Christian spiritual disciplines.

WHAT ARE THE SPIRITUAL DISCIPLINES?

The spiritual disciplines are the God-ordained means by which we bring ourselves before God, experience Him, and are changed into Christlikeness. The Lord is omnipresent and we often encounter Him in unexpected places and surprising ways. Nevertheless, it has pleased Him to establish specific means—the spiritual disciplines—whereby we may expect to encounter Him regularly and be transformed by Him. If the Lord might be compared to a pure, life-giving river, the spiritual disciplines would be those ways by which we come to the river to drink from, dive into, swim in, eat from, wash with, and irrigate with it.
Bible Intake
Prayer
Whitney, D. S. (2001). Ten Questions to Diagnose Your Spiritual Health (pp. 92–93). Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress.
Worship
Evangelism
Serving
Stewardship
Fasting
Silence and Solitude
Journaling
Learning
Many of the disciplines taught in the Bible can be practiced both alone and with the church. For instance, we can study the Bible on our own and with a group. Service for Christ’s sake can be practiced individually as well as collectively. The same is true with evangelism etc.

WHY SHOULD I PRACTICE THE SPIRITUAL DISCIPLINES?

Everyone who considers themselves to be followers of Christ are exhorted to to what in ? ________________________________
Those who are disciplined are directed to pursue gospel holiness, which is absolutely necessary if we wish to see God at the last.
THINK CAREFULLY: What the heart is to the body, that the soul is to the man; and what health is to the heart, that holiness is to the soul (; , ; ; ). Pursuing holiness is not what qualifies us to “see the Lord”; it is the Lord Himself who qualifies us for this by grace through faith in the life and death of Jesus Christ. Rather the ongoing pursuit of holiness (in other words, sanctification, godliness, Christlikeness) is characteristic of everyone who is on the way to “see the Lord” in Heaven.
There is a great deal of difference between the desires of heaven in a sanctified person, and an unsanctified. The believer prizes it above earth, and had rather be with God than here. But to the ungodly, nothing seems more desirable than this world; therefore he only chooses heaven before hell, but not before earth; and therefore shall not have heaven upon such a choice. (;
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So the desires of a sanctified person are different. Without exception, all who have been given the Holy Spirit will pursue holiness. His holy presence and holy ministry within us cause us to love holiness, to long for it, and at times to grieve over our lack of it. The Bible doesn’t set a minimum acceptable speed for the pursuit of holiness, but it says plainly that without holiness “no one will see the Lord,” regardless of profession of faith, church experience, goodness of life, or Bible knowledge. If no one will go to Heaven without pursuing holiness/Christlikeness/godliness, then there’s hardly a more important question than, “How do we pursue it as a church?”
What’s the answer given in ? _____________
The main business of your life is for earth or heaven, to please God or to get the world; which way is your labor and care for others carried out?
As the main business of the Olympians prepare for victory, let your whole life be lived in preparation of being with Christ in glory! “Discipline yourself,” answers (NASB), “for the purpose of godliness.” And the way to “discipline yourself” is to engage in the disciplines commanded and modeled in the Bible. In short, the Christian spiritual disciplines are the means to godliness, to the “holiness, without which no one will see the Lord.”
The spiritual disciplines are the biblical avenues of intentional communion with Christ by those who love Him. All love craves intimacy, especially your greatest love. And as you grow more intimate with Jesus, you will obviously gravitate toward the means of that intimacy. You will not think of the disciplines as mere duty, nor simply as Christlike patterns to follow, but rather as life and light from Heaven to your soul.

WHAT SHOULD WE DO?

Let me make three suggestions that are always appropriate:
[1.] Devote yourself more to the pursuit of Christlikeness and the enjoyment of God through the spiritual disciplines rather than to the pursuit of efficiency and the completion of to-do lists.

The increasing pace of life and the inexorable roll of “progress” in our culture foster neither the growth of the soul nor the improvement of relationships, either with God or with others (including family, fellow believers, and the lost). In our frustrating and futile efforts to keep up the demands of life maintenance, our souls have shriveled. We have more tasks, activities, and deadlines to accomplish than ever; we have more to organize, store, and maintain than ever; and the result is that we’re becoming increasingly efficient at leading meaningless lives. What good is our multitasking, the accomplishment of more and more, and the acquisition of wealth, if we are not—by the means God has given us—becoming more like Jesus, the One we live for and the One who will evaluate our lives?

The increasing pace of life and the inescapable roll of “progress” in our culture foster neither the growth of the soul nor the improvement of relationships, either with God or with others (including family, fellow believers, and the lost). In our frustrating and futile efforts to keep up the demands of life maintenance, our souls have shriveled. In the life of many churches and personal lives, we have more tasks, activities, and deadlines to accomplish than ever; we have more to organize, store, and maintain than ever; and the result is that we’re becoming increasingly efficient at leading meaningless lives. What good is our multitasking, the accomplishment of more and more, and the gaining of wealth, if we are not—by the means God has given us—becoming more like Jesus, the One we live for and the One who will evaluate our lives?
Whitney, D. S. (2001). Ten Questions to Diagnose Your Spiritual Health (p. 99). Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress.
Whitney, D. S. (2001). Ten Questions to Diagnose Your Spiritual Health (p. 99). Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress.
[2.] Resist the temptation to believe in microwave spirituality or shortcut Christlikeness.
One thing that will always be an exception to acceleration is the rate of growth in godliness. The increasing speed of our machines cannot stimulate a corresponding rate in the growth of our souls. Faster Internet connections do not make us like Jesus more quickly. Theologian R. C. Sproul emphasized, “There are no quick and easy paths to spiritual maturity. The soul that seeks a deeper level of maturity must be prepared for a long, arduous task. If we are to seek the kingdom of God, we must abandon any formulae that promise instant spiritual gratification.” But whatever time and effort is required, the pursuit of intimacy with and likeness to Jesus Christ is worth it all.
Whitney, D. S. (2001). Ten Questions to Diagnose Your Spiritual Health (p. 99). Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress.
[3.] Stoke your spiritual life with at least one perceptible poke.
When a well-wooded fire in my stove would burn low, usually a good nudge or two with the iron poker restores its vitality. Having now invested part of your life to come and gather together with your brothers and sisters in the Lord, do not leave from this meeting without choosing at least one sharp spiritual discipline to make at least one noticeable nudge in the fire of your soul’s growth.
Whitney, D. S. (2001). Ten Questions to Diagnose Your Spiritual Health (p. 100). Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress.
Whitney, D. S. (2001). Ten Questions to Diagnose Your Spiritual Health (p. 95). Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress.
Whitney, D. S. (2001). Ten Questions to Diagnose Your Spiritual Health (p. 94). Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress.
What the heart is to the body, that the soul is to the man; and what health is to the heart, that holiness is to the soul.
What the heart is to the body, that the soul is to the man; and what health is to the heart, that holiness is to the soul.
What the heart is to the body, that the soul is to the man; and what health is to the heart, that holiness is to the soul.
Beeke, J. R., Barrett, M. P. V., & Bilkes, G. M. (Eds.). (2014). The Reformation Heritage KJV Study Bible (p. 1802). Grand Rapids, MI: Reformation Heritage Books.
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