"Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come." 1 Timothy 4:7-8 (ESV)
I came across an interesting quote from John Maxwell:
"Look at our society, everybody wants to be thin but nobody wants to diet, everybody wants to live long but nobody wants to exercise. Everybody wants money yet seldom will anyone budget or save their money."
It’s an interesting observation about our society but I think it has a corollary in the life of the Church. Everyone wants to be Godly but nobody wants to take Paul’s advice and train themselves for godliness. It would be hard to find a true follower of Jesus who will not confess their desire to continually progress in godliness. However, the commitment to spiritual disciplines that produce the progression of godliness is something we too often neglect. And that truth can have tragic consequences. When I read Scripture I see the encouragement to progressively grow in our knowledge of Christ, to progressively grow in our righteousness, to progressively grow in faith. I understand instinctively from my experience that this is meant to combat the reality that the believer’s spiritual life is never static. If we are not progressing towards Christ we will be regressing towards the flesh. We, individually as believers and collectively as the church, will suffer for it.
This is why it is essential that we face the call in Christ to train ourselves for godliness and recommit ourselves to the spiritual disciplines that help to produce in us this godliness that is of value in every way. There is a long list of spiritual disciplines that many find valuable for the production of godliness in their lives but there are 3 specifically that as pastor at Mercy Hill church I would like to see us commit ourselves to in 2017:
Personal and Corporate Prayer
The call to prayer is often made but too rarely received. Prayer is not an incidental spiritual activity but an essential pillar for spiritual growth. This year commit yourself to responding to a greater degree to the call to prayer. Make sure you set time aside every day specifically designed to be quiet in communion with God but in addition I am asking you to expand your investment in prayer in the corporate setting. Mercy Hill needs to be a praying church. Participate in our all church prayer events if you aren’t already, participate in pre-service prayer if you aren’t already, participate in our prayer and fasting times if you aren’t already. AB Simpson states is well: Prayer is the link that connects us with God.
Study of God’s Word
We need to be people who study God’s word. I want you to note that I said study not simply read. Far too often we read because we have to, but to learn requires the investment of study in order to implant the truth in a transforming way. The discipline of studying God’s word requires a humble spirit, recognizing that the chief end is not merely to amass information, but to experience it, learn from it, and be changed by it.
Fellowship in Celebration and Community
In my life I have learned that the most powerful instrument for growth has been to come in fellowship with fellow believers. Participation in the fellowship of the Church is vital to spiritual development. This participation calls for a commitment to the times of celebration. Times when we worship together, hearing the teaching of God’s word, sharing and serving with one another in the gathering of the church. And times when we fellowship in smaller communities. Where we gather to pray for one another, to share our hearts and hurts lifting each other up. The greatest sermons the Spirit of God has ever delivered to me was through His working in the life of a brother or sister.
Dear Heavenly Father,
We come before you in humility and repentance acknowledging the truth that our willingness to train for godliness has rarely matched our need for it. We repent of the fact that we have continued to elevate the desires of the flesh above the call of the Spirit.
Help us Father, by your Holy Spirit, to change our course. Help us Father, by your Holy Spirit, to embrace the disciplines of faith that we know will transform our spirit lives. Help us Father by your Holy Spirit to enter your holy of holies through the gift of prayer, to cherish the treasure of your Word by faithful Study and to commit to our place in your community with contentment and joy as instruments of the Gospel whether we are single or married, may you empower us to find fellowship as we commit to your community.