finding meaning in the mundane

Category: Scripture

The Discipline of Being Disciplined

Spiritual DisciplinesEveryone wants to be strong and many of us wish we were a bit more ripped than we currently are.  No one sets out in life and says, “I hope that I’m incredibly out of shape and the laziest person I know.”  Yet,  very often we wonder how we can drop a few pounds, tone up and get into better shape.

All to frequently the same thing is true for our spiritual life.  Our desire is to be connected in a meaningful way to God, to know Jesus and walk with His Spirit.  Yet, for far too many of us we live dangerously close to being disconnected with God.

Jesus gives us a great example in Matthew chapter 4 for what we should do in order to be spiritually fit.  Check this out.

1Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2And after He had fasted forty days and forty nights, He then became hungry. 3And the tempter came and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” 4But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.'”

Matthew 4:1-4

We see here that Jesus did 4 things to stay spiritually fit.

  1. Jesus was led by the Spirit-  His ears were open to the prompting of the Spirit.  Jesus was so in tune with the Spirit of God that He followed the Spirit’s lead out into the wilderness.
  2. Jesus fasted–  Jesus stopped eating for 40 days.  He took the focus off of his physical hunger to help cultivate a stronger spiritual hunger.
  3. He memorized scripture-  Jesus knew scripture.  It was on the tip of His tongue when He needed it most.  What He had read as a boy, and a teen was buried in His mind and it infiltrated His soul.
  4. He spoke scripture out loud- Jesus knew scripture and He spoke scripture in the moments when it would be easy to give in and focus on self rather than scripture.

Typically we call these Spiritual Disciplines.  Spiritual Disciplines in and of themselves have no ability to save us, but they do have the ability to help sanctify us, or make us more like Christ.  One of my favorite authors, Richard Foster, has said, “A Spiritual Discipline is an intentionally directed action which places us in a position to receive from God the power to do what we cannot accomplish on our own.”  We don’t discipline ourselves for no reason.  We discipline ourselves so that when the time comes we are ready for whatever comes our way.

Think about it, if Jesus practiced spiritual disciplines, how much more should we?  What has been your experience with staying spiritually fit?



Fear Cripples

What are you scared of?  Noah has been lately saying that he sees things crawling out of the heat vent on the floor.  I’m pretty sure that nothing is crawling out of there, but it is his mind that is saying, what if something crawled out of there?  And I agree, what if something creeped, crawled or slithered out of the heat vent.  That would be pretty scary.

Fear is that thing that creeps into the back of our mind and offers up the idea that something unsettling might, could or will happen.  Fear is felt at all ages and in someways it grows with you.  The older you are the more there is to fear.

As a child I never feared that we would have enough money for the necessities of life.  I never feared that our cars would break down.  I never feared that my home would catch on fire.  I never feared for anyone else’s safety.  As a college student I didn’t fear that I would hurt myself when playing sports.  I didn’t have any fear that the cafeteria meal was heathy enough.  As an adult we have a whole new level of fear.  In this economy there are many people who are deathly afraid of job loss, market shares dropping, and mortgage payments being made.  Fear is everywhere.

Fear is not uncommon.

The Old Testament shares a story about Isaac’s son Jacob.  Jacob had tricked his father into giving him his brother Esau’s blessing.  Jacob had previously purchased Esau’s birthright for a bowl of soup.  This made Esau very angry, to the point that he was ready to kill Jacob.  Check out more of this story in Genesis 25, 27-28.  With fear for his life, Jacob fled from his father’s country.

Many years later Jacob is living with his father-in-law, Laban.  The time comes for Jacob to leave Laban and he becomes fearful of seeing his brother again.  His fear of Esau is building.  Jacob sends some messengers to his brother to let him know of his intent to return.  The messengers return with this message, “We came to your brother Esau, and furthermore he is coming to meet you, and four hundred men are with him.”

I love that last part.  I can almost hear it.

Messengers: “Yeah Jacob, we saw Esau.  He said that he is coming to see you.”

Jacob: “Oh, cool.”

Messengers: “Um… Yeah, about that.  He is also bringing 400 men with him.”

Jacob: “Gulp…”

It is right there, in the four hundred men, part that Jacob’s fear grips him and grows within him.

I love what Jacob does.  Jacob prays.  Jacob speaks to God and says,

‘O God of my father Abraham and God of my father Isaac, O Lord, who said to me, Return to your country and to your relatives, and I will prosper you,’  … Deliever me I pray, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau; for I fear him, that he will come and attack me and the mothers with the children.’

FOR YOU SAID, ‘I will surely propser and make your descendants as the sand of the sea, which is too great to be numbered.’

Do you see what he did there?  He remembered God’s promise in his life.  See, God had previously promised Jacob that he would be a great nation.  So far he was not a great nation.  I guess it means that Esau was not going to kill him.  If God said it, it was sure to happen.  Jacob clung on to that hope.

In the times of your most intense fear what do you do?  Do you cling to the hope that you have, or do you throw up your hands and grasp at the wind looking for answers or any ear that will listen to you whine?

Have you ever been in a situation where like Jacob you had to cling to the promises of God’s word?  

I have.  It has been a scary but safe ride.  Fear cripples, but faith clings!


Let it be said…

And it will be said in that day,

“Behold, this is our God for whom we have waited that He might save us.

This is the Lord for whom we have waited; Let us rejoice and be glad in His salvation.”

~Isaiah 25:9



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