I've not been a terribly successful person when it comes to New Year's Resolutions. There aren't very many I have made over the years, but I doubt my percentage of keeping them is any better than everyone else's either.
But, the New Year is still a good time to take a look at our lives and reconsider how we spend our time and what direction we are headed.
With that in mind, I spent some time in our Wednesday evening assembly this week talking about spiritual disciplines. After all, if we are truly disciples, apprentices, of Jesus Christ, it only makes sense that we would consistently be training in some way to be more like the Master.
I prepared a handout of ideas and resources, and decided to share it here as well for your consideration. The purpose is not to weigh anyone down with one more thing on top of your already busy schedule. The purpose is to be intentional about putting ourselves in positions where God can grow us in 2008.
So with that in mind, consider if any of these disciplines would be right for you to commit to in 2008:
Follow a daily Bible reading plan.
Some go through the Bible in a year, others focus on stories or concepts.
The Daily Bible
Choose one story, text, or topic for the week and study it in depth.
Go for depth, not quantity.
Utilize commentaries and concordances.
Write down what you think it meant to those who originally heard or experienced,
then what you think the implications are to you today.
Follow a devotional book with readings for each day.
My Utmost for His Highest, by Oswald Chambers
Grace for the Moment, by Max Lucado
Take a verse or phrase, memorize it, and reflect on it often each day for at least a week, maybe a month, perhaps all year.
Recite and internalize it until it is consistently at the front of your thoughts.
Be on your guard against all kinds of greed. A man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions. Luke 12:15
For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Matt. 7:2
For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted. Luke 14:11
Read some good books that will get your mind thinking about the things of God more often.
Prayer, by Philip Yancy
Celebration of Discipline, by Richard Foster
Laugh Again, by Charles Swindoll
Pilgrim Heart, by Darryl Tippens
Righteousness Inside Out, by Mike Cope
Read some of the prayers of our spiritual ancestors.
Keep a prayer journal.
Subscribe to the intercede4you e-mail list and pray over each item that comes through.
Pick something specific to pray about every day.
missionaries, your ministers and their ministries, governments, the homeless and hungry, young families
Skip one meal per week, or skip solid food for one day per month
(sunrise to sunset, or 24 hours)
Refrain from certain items rather than food.
(computer, television, whatever it is that distracts you)
The purpose is to have a physical reminder of your complete dependence on God and for you to spend the time you would normally be doing those things in prayer, study, meditation, etc.
Clean out your house, garage or closet and give things away to people you know need them.
Resolve that if you bring something new in, something old must go.
Allow yourself to “resign” from activities that burden you and keep you from spending your time on more important things.
Find a way to serve someone else every day.
Find a person to help consistently.
Find a particular task that you can do for others on a regular basis.
Send out at least one e-mail or card encouraging someone each day.
Before you sleep each night, go through your day and confess to God your sins.
Be diligent about apologizing to others often.
Understand that all of these disciplines listed are acts of worship.
Spend time “making melody in your heart” outside of just our public assemblies.
Play worship cd’s in your car rather than listening to talk radio or other music.
The Zoe Group
The Acapella Company Praise & Harmony Series
If you would like help locating any of these resources or if I can help you with these disciplines in any other way, please let me know. I would be happy to help!