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To be a disciple takes discipline

By: janet roberts

I did it again. I’m ashamed that I continually fail in the same area, but this unhealthy pattern has characterized the majority of my adult life and I keep cycling back to it.

Yes, I joined another gym to which I never go.

The inescapable evidence of my failing is the incongruence between the gym membership tag on my keychain and the number on my bathroom scale. The source of my failure to follow through on my gym membership is plain and simple: I lack discipline.

Why Being a Christian Is Like Joining a Gym

This scenario is not isolated to gym memberships. It also describes the relationship many of us have with the Lord. When we ask Jesus into our lives, He rescues us from the power of sin and brings us into God’s family (Colossians 1:13).  

Although we are now bona fide members of the body of Christ, we often stop short of accessing the resources available to us to strengthen us. To access these resources, we must engage in spiritual discipline. Jesus’ followers are called disciples because we discipline ourselves to do what He did.

If we focus on to-dos, to-don'ts won’t be a problem.

Just as different types of gym equipment strengthen different parts of our bodies, spiritual disciplines are geared to particular areas of spiritual health. Consistently incorporating certain activities into our lives helps us avoid pitfalls and prepare us for eternity (1 Timothy 4:8). If we focus on to-dos, to-don'ts won’t be a problem.

3 Common Spiritual Disciplines

1. Reading the Bible

Reading the Bible every day has the same effect on your life as those all-in-one fitness machines: It contributes to total wellness (Psalm 1). The Bible can comfort, instruct, correct, direct, heal, deliver and keep us from sin (2 Timothy 3:16-17, Psalm 107:20, Psalm 119:11, Psalm 119:45, Psalm 119:105).

An easy way to incorporate Bible reading into your day is to try a Bible reading plan. Text “Read My Bible” to 30303, and NewSpring will text you a section of Scripture and devotional every morning.

2. Prayer

Exercise specialists recommend stretching before and after you exercise to enhance the benefits of a workout. Prayer is like that stretching. When we talk to God and wait to hear His response, the Holy Spirit heightens our understanding of spiritual matters (1 Corinthians 2:14).  

Try starting and ending your Bible reading by asking the Lord to help you understand the Bible and apply its principles in your life.

3. Praise

Combating our common enemy, Satan, requires particular strength. Satan specializes in attacking our minds with thoughts. He can bombard us with any kind of negative thought you can imagine: fear, anger, lust, jealousy, insecurity, depression, etc.

Opening our mouths to praise the Lord shuts the mouth of the enemy (Psalm 8:2). The Bible tells us that we can come out from under the grip of fear and depression through praise (Psalm 34:1-4, Isaiah 61:3, Ephesians 5:17-20). We can actually establish a wellness perimeter around our lives when the words we speak are filled with praise and thankfulness to God.

Singing at church is excellent, but Satan doesn't just whisper in our ears on Sunday morning. You can grow in this area by beginning and ending each day with praise. Start by choosing a Psalm geared toward praise and read it aloud. (Check out Psalm 95 through Psalm 104 for places to start.) Or, sing along at home to your favorite worship music.

Listen to Your Personal Trainer

Going to church, tithing, giving to the poor, fasting, and journaling are spiritual disciplines that will also yield a profitable result. As we grow in consistency with basic spiritual disciplines, the Holy Spirit, like a personal trainer, will show us other disciplines that will strengthen us so our lives will look like the Jesus we say we follow.

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing every day but expecting a different result. John Maxwell put it well when he said, “You’ll never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of your success is found in your daily routine.”

If your daily routine includes the Bible, prayer, and praise, not only will you look more like Jesus, you'll be strengthened to deal with whatever comes your way.

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