1 Corinthians 9:23-17: “23 Now this I do for the gospel’s sake, that I may be partaker of it with you. 24 Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. 25 And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. 26 Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. 27 But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.”
Last week I wrote about the rigors of spiritual discipline and the determination it takes to go beyond monotonous, stale Christianity into the deeper things of God. There is a lifestyle change that must take place in the heart and life of every believer on the Lord Jesus Christ if he or she is ever going to grow and mature. If you’ve been born again for more than a week you are aware of the pitfalls that come and create obstacles to a life truly free from sin.
“How do I create hardships for myself to grow spiritually?” you may ask. There are no permanent plateaus in the Christian’s walk. If you aren’t growing forward, toward the higher standards of discipleship in Christ, you will lag behind and put yourself at risk of turning back. Find things that are not suitable to your flesh that grow you in the Word and in the Spirit. Here are just a few practical examples:
- Set aside time for prayer on a daily basis. Start small if you aren’t accustomed to consistent prayer focus. Begin with 5-10 minutes and build from there.
- Read more of the Word of God. Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God (Rom 10:17). You’ll only broaden your ability to believe God by knowing His Word better!
- Attend church faithfully. And attend when it’s not convenient. With so many services accessible these days, it’s easy to allow church attendance to fit in amongst all the other things that might suit your flesh more. Try attending a service that conflicts with a football game you’d rather watch, or during a time you would prefer a nap, and this will most definitely test your spiritual discipline!
- Require yourself to become more engaged while in a church service. Perhaps the preacher or speaker is going on a little longer than you feel is necessary. Or the worship isn’t your favorite set of songs. Push through. Pay attention. And ask God to help you absorb all that is coming your way.
- Determine to have a time of Bible study and prayer with your family on a more regular basis. In this way you’ll be showing your children the Way and creating boundaries for your family that are within the safety of God’s plan.
How you grow will influence your impact on others in their walk with Christ! The apostle Paul felt this responsibility and so should we. Keep moving forward toward that prize that will never waste away. You can do this!
Pursuing the prize,