How are you staying spiritually healthy?
To grow spiritually you need to apply yourself to several things. And in this shut in and slow down we can allow it to disrupt our healthy disciplines, or we can actually choose to refine our disciplines.
Worship Weekly. As followers of Jesus we are worshipers of God. As God’s people we gather. Like I wrote last week, we are a congregation. We congregate. And when we do, we praise God together, we pray together, we study the scriptures together, we break bread together. I know it’s different to come to church online. If all we could do was meet under a big Mango tree at a local park wouldn’t we do that? Even if the acoustics weren’t the same? Even if the seats weren’t as comfortable? Make it priority, even if it’s not “really” meeting together. We’ll gather again. In the meantime, I am thankful for the opportunity to get together and think about the same things at the same time, pray our prayers and singing (or listening to) our praises as the same time. To worship weekly is good. Make it a priority. Stay spiritually healthy.
Give Gratefully. Like I wrote last week, I am so thankful that so many continue to give. I can tell it’s in your heart to do so. And without telling people’s personal stories, some have been able to give considerably over and above their normal contributions during this time. Praise God. I usually talk about “generosity” in the area of giving. Sure. But cultivate a grateful heart. Then give out of that. Not reluctantly or out of compulsion, but joyfully, gratefully. Even if your income just dropped and your expenses didn’t, I understand that you may not be able to tithe (10%). But is there an amount you can give gratefully? Even if it’s $10? You may want to hide behind a non-gift rather than only give a few bucks. But cultivate a grateful heart that doesn’t want to hide at all, even if all you can give is a few bucks. Stay spiritually healthy.
Devote Daily. Did you read your Bible yet today? Did you stop to pray? Life competes with the discipline of a daily quiet time. Even though it’s my “job” to teach the scriptures and to pray (Acts 6:4), and even though I love doing that, there is always something else that seems more pressing! But a daily diet of learning and praying the scriptures is so much better at nourishing your thoughts and affections than just bingeing every now and then. Devote yourself to the scriptures daily. Read them and pray them. Yesterday I challenged you to read Psalm 131 to learn contentment. The reading part of that will take you less than a minute. So do it three times. Let it sink into your soul. Then pray the confessions I gave you. I learned them from that scripture. Remember, we don’t apply the teachings to our lives, we apply ourselves to the teachings. If you need a Bible Reading Plan, try the four-chapters plan I use. But devote yourself daily to the practice of scripture and prayer. Stay spiritually healthy.
Practice Peace. This is a spiritual discipline of choosing peace in your relationship with God, with others in your life, and even with yourself. It’s easy to see when we are not at peace with others. Either we feel they have wronged us, or they feel we have wronged them. Either way, peace is restored through a soft heart, confession, and a conversation where we drop our guard to be reconciled. Romans 12 says, “As much as it depends on you, be at peace with everyone.” Jesus said in Matthew 5 that if you’ve wronged someone, drop whatever it is you’re doing and go be reconciled to them. As a matter of spiritual discipline, practice peace with the people in your life. But also do it with God. Do you need to confess to him anything that stands between you and him? Do it. Ask him to forgive you. Then do the same thing with yourself. Sometimes we won’t let ourselves be forgiven by God. Pop culture talks about this as “forgiving yourself” but a better (biblical) understanding is to give God’s forgiveness authority over your conscience. Seek God’s forgiveness and then be at peace with it. Practice peace by asking yourself three questions (or finding a friend and asking each other): 1. Are you at peace with God? 2. Are you at peace with others? 3. Are you at peace with yourself? Practice peace as a spiritual discipline. Stay spiritually healthy.
I pray that as you practice the above disciplines you will stay spiritually healthy and experience much love joy and peace. I'm confident, that is God's desire for you.
Till we meet again,
Pastor of Sarasota Community Church since 2009.