bits from bob....
"Bodily exercise profits little, but godliness with contentment is great gain."
"Just a Closer Walk With Thee" is a favorite song of many Christians. One arrangement has a rhythm line drumming those words over and over. I am confident that a common goal among Christians is a closer walk with God.
Oswald Chambers wrote of the closer walk in these words, "The Sermon on the Mount is a statement of the life we will live when the Holy Spirit is getting his way with us." That thought calls to mind another favorite hymn: "Have Thine Own Way." Modern Christians too seldom understand this method for quenching Satan's fiery darts. Christianity is a way of life that finds one constantly "in training"--diet, exercise, focused concentration.
Consider your physical life. Excellence in sports, music, composition, or art does not automatically happen because one decides to excel. Excellence is the result of a process. Only Nike says, "Just do it." More realistically we advise a young artist or athlete to enter a certain kind of overall lifestyle--association with qualified people, rigorous discipline, tightly scheduled time, diet, and exercise--a regimen for mind and body.
Consider your spiritual life. One does not excel spiritually because one decides it's time to change one's life. Spiritual maturity is the result of a process. No preacher worth his salt says, "Just do it." Such "on the spot" performance is not possible without spiritual training. The pressure of the moment, even with the presence of God's grace, seldom finds us able to redirect our ingrained human tendencies toward sudden Christlikeness. Such failures subsequently cause many to give up, deciding that Christianity is ridiculously inglorious and impractical.
The secret of the easy yoke (Matt. 11:28-30) is the closer walk! The disciplined spiritual life wins the victory. Growth in grace and knowledge and exercises leading to godliness make us capable of receiving more of his life and power without harming ourselves.
A focus of the church must be the daily walk. We must focus our walk with God in regular, systematic Bible study. This, however, does not tell the entire story. How can you participate in a closer daily walk with God? Let me suggest about a dozen personal disciplines-- three familiar themes in this article, some less familiar ideas in the next article. Cultivating several of these personal spiritual practices will lend variety to your walk with God, help you avoid spiritual stagnation, and provide diet, discipline, and exercises leading to godliness.
Volumes have been written about prayer. Nothing new appears here. Prayer is a wonderful reminder that we are connected with God through Christ. Prayer declares God's availability at our initiative. In prayer, we talk to God. In prayer, we should also listen to God.
2. Scripture Reading.
Again we listen. Bible reading is more than mental exercise. Thinking must change, lives must change. Effective Scripture reading is affective--it touches the heart and the emotions. What does God want from me?
3. Devotional Reading and Listening.
Christians often ignore that reading or hearing the thoughts and experiences of others changes lives. If the spoken word (sermon) can encourage Christian living, the written word (devotional books) can also. Even less seldom considered is the value of the sung word with its messages of hope, encouragement, and faith. Christian music can be an important part of one's daily walk with God.
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