Train yourself to be godly. - 1 Timothy 4:7
Discipline is about consistency, patience, perseverance. Little by little, habits are formed that are structured around the goal and prize. This is true of managing our finances, caring for our health, nurturing relationships, and becoming more like Christ.
There are no shortcuts to lasting results.
An athlete’s consistent training routine doesn’t make them the best instantly, but over time it shows up in their game performance, in longevity of career, and ability to avoid injury.
Doing the little things consistently reaps rewards over time.
If you want to save for a financial goal, develop deep friendships, or mature in your faith, it will require paying attention to the little things. If you want to live a healthy life, it’s about making wise eating, exercising, and sleeping decisions along the way.
Proverbs 13:11 reminds us that steady diligence pays off. Steady diligence amounts to training.
In our journey towards Christ-likeness, being obedient in even the smallest detail can bring the power of God into our lives.
Don’t underestimate the value of being faithful in the routine, even dull, duties of life. Godliness grows slowly. Be patient with the process.
As you slowly but consistently incorporate spiritual practices into your life, you will learn the humble posture of listening and responding to the Holy Spirit.
Read His Word, spend time talking to Him and listening to His voice. You will never regret spending time with God.
Spiritual disciplines help us learn to pay attention. Any intentional practice that trains you to pay attention to God, deepens your relationship with Him, and conforms you to His character is worth incorporating into the fabric of your life.
There is no fast track to holiness.
So, what path are you on?
“I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:14
His sheep follow him because they know his voice. - John 10:4
Stop doing this or that. Eat less. Exercise more. Clean the garage. Keep my car cleaner. Be nicer to everyone. Stop yelling at my kids. Have a date night with my spouse.
We all have those kinds of lists, don’t we? Whether in ancient or modern times, human nature hasn’t changed. The tyranny of the urgent often wins the battle for our attention.
Many people mark the coming new year with the expectations of life changing resolutions, diet and exercise plans, and just general good intentions. But there is another option. Some Christians mark the beginning of the new year with a fast, such as we are doing (21 Days).
Fasting provides us with an opportunity to reconsider our priorities and align ourselves with God and His purposes.
Scripture certainly commends dietary fasts. We also realize that sometimes it’s equally meaningful to fast from things that occupy too much of our attention, whether it’s electronics, media, or social media.
Whatever we choose to fast from, the true benefits are an opportunity for greater intimacy with God (read Matt 6:16-18).
God wants to develop in each of us spiritual sensitivity to His voice and guidance. The more time we spend with our Shepherd, the greater ability we have to hear His voice (John 10:3-5, 14-16).
We all dread interruptions. Unfortunately, that mindset often really limits our ability to pay attention to God in the here-and-now. We may miss His overtures towards us because we are not looking for them, or don’t have time for them!
In our fast-paced, competitive culture, fasting might train us to slow down our pace and make room for God to come into our lives as He chooses. Perhaps instead of dreading this time of sacrifice, we might learn to embrace it. It can produce rich spiritual dividends.
Fasting gives us a chance to change up our routine, which can help us look at old things in new ways, to look at things from God’s perspective. To the extent that food is a distraction, fasting can help us to free ourselves to be fully present to what the Holy Spirit is saying to us.
We can regain a Godly perspective, regain composure, and put things in their rightful place. In Scripture, we will hear the voice of our Shepherd. We just come with a posture of submitting to what He wants to bring to our attention.
Are you listening?
“12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; 13 for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.” - Philippians 2:12-13
This past year I watched the season finale of America’s Got Talent. I couldn’t help but be inspired by the singer-songwriter and pianist Kodi Lee. Born with optic nerve hypoplasia, he is legally blind. He was also diagnosed with autism at an early age and suffers from Addison’s disease as well. Despite all the challenges he has faced, at the end of the final show, Kodi Lee was announced the winner of Season 14.
Kodi Lee winning the show isn’t what inspired me the most. What inspired me even more was his answer to the question: “What will you do with the money now that you won America’s Got Talent?” Kodi responded by saying, “I am going to buy a grand piano in every color.”
Wait a minute, stop the press. Kodi is legally blind. What would buying a piano in every color do for him? Why would he want to do that? Had Kodi Lee known all the obstacles and challenges he would face in his life do you think he would have continued, or, for that matter, even started?
His answer is a great reminder that you don’t need sight to have a vision. Let me say that again: you don’t need sight to have a vision.
If God has given you a vision for your life, you don’t have to see every step along the way in order to start moving toward it. God had a plan and gave the prophet Nehemiah a vision to rebuild the wall around Jerusalem.
Nehemiah didn’t wait for the blueprints; he didn’t wait to see every step mapped out for him. He got started. Nehemiah encountered many obstacles along the way. He even had to train the people building the wall to fight with swords as they encountered resistance.
“17 Then I said to them, “You see the distress that we are in, how Jerusalem lies waste, and its gates are burned with fire. Come and let us build the wall of Jerusalem, that we may no longer be a reproach.” 18 And I told them of the hand of my God which had been good upon me, and also of the king’s words that he had spoken to me. So they said, “Let us rise up and build.” Then they set their hands to this good work.” (Nehemiah 2:17-18)
Perhaps we, like Nehemiah, just need to keep being faithful to respond to the “next step” God gives us. After all, what He is doing in us is just as important as the destination. He’s got the future under control; our job is to trust and obey.