Spiritual Disiple Means Training
24 Apr 2004, Pr George Porter
(George is Thornleigh's Church Pastor)
TITLE: Spiritual Disciple Means Training
Theme: Spiritual Growth is Continual Training with Our Coach Jesus Christ.
Scripture Readings: 1 Timothy 4: 7b - 8 NIV; 1 Corinthians 9:24-25, NIV.
Last time we talked about, "Running Dry and Empty." Our theme was spiritual growth in the Christian life. Dry means spiritual stagnation. We noted that Paul made it clear in Col 2:6 -7, that as we have begun a spiritual life with Christ by faith, so we must continue by faith. We must put our roots down into Christ our spiritual nourishment if we wish to grow like Him. Spiritual nourishment means refueling daily from our Supplier of holiness. Spirituality revolves around God's purposes for you. That is what our God requires, see Micah 6:8. We must remember our daily Three "R's". RENEW - daily check in and clock in, with Christ in Prayer. RE-CALIBRATE - during the day and during quiet times of meditation. Your 40 Days Scripture and Prayer list is one way to do that. REVIEW - your day before retiring, reflect, and assess your experience and prune your weaknesses. Trace them. Face them. Replace them. Refuel from Jesus and His word. It is a continual lifelong process.
How can all this be accomplished? You go home from sermons at Church. Home from a spiritual feast at Church Camp and determine to achieve deeper spirituality by "Trying Harder"! It is not long before all the good intentions fail. Spiritual transformation is not, "trying harder". It is "Training Wisely", with Jesus Christ in every effort for growth. Try hard and we become, "Conformed" to religious rituals and ceremonies. Try harder and we become, "Informed", with facts and knowledge of theology and the word of God and religion in general. These are necessary, but unless we have Christ by His Holy Spirit dwelling in our minds we will never be "Transformed into His likeness.
TRAINING IN GODLINESS - BEING GODLIKE SPIRITUALLY.
Pastor Paul in 1 Timothy 4:7b - 8, NIV makes it so clear. After warning against, "godless myths", he instructed, "rather, train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come." Godly is simply being good and like God and his righteous goodness.
The New Living Bible says it like this, "Spend your time and energy in training yourself for spiritual fitness. Physical exercise has some value, but spiritual exercise is much more important, for it promises a reward in both this life and the next." I like that simple clear language. "Spend time and energy in training yourself for spiritual fitness." That is what we are all about here. Training to be spiritually fit.
Training is not trying harder by your own human effort. Try harder with self works and effort and you will soon fail. Spiritual transformation is about spiritual training and discipline with Christ. It is not apart from Him, trying harder with human determination. That is only informed conformity and without transformation. Paul uses the example of physical training and its effect on the body. He claims it does have some value. However, it is the spiritual training that benefits us now in this life and also in the life hereafter sin.
Paul uses the athlete and the boxer , to illustrate his point, in 1 Corinthians 9: 24-25, NIV. "Do you not know that in a race all runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Every one who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly: I do not fight like a man beating the air." Paul is no doubt here referring to the Olympic Games of his day. He differentiates between the "trainers" and the "try harders". Only those who strictly train daily have a hope of winning the race. All Christians who run the race of life with Christ win the crown of everlasting life. Only after following a strict spiritual training schedule with Christ daily. The "try harders", "run aimlessly" and "beat the air". The NLB says, " You … must run in such a way that you will win." … "practice strict self-control." Training in anything requires "strict self-control", This is imperative if we are to succeed in demonstrating Christ's goodness and spirituality in our daily lives.
This past week in the world news we were told of the 36 year old woman in the UK, who a year ago took up marathon running for exercise and fun. She took control and disciplined herself daily to follow her schedule. Friends were so impressed that they suggested she apply to represent UK in the forthcoming Olympics to be held in Athens, Greece. So she took up the challenge and applied and has been accepted to represent UK in the Games. I am sure Pastor Paul would congratulate her for her discipline and training. I can hear him say, "It is of some value. Have you also done your spiritual training daily?"
You and I must arrange our lives around training exercises and experiences that develop the spiritual transformation of our characters. That is why we have added to our daily reading of the Bible, the " 40 Days" Spiritual fitness training. For spiritual fitness we need spiritual training daily. We need to exercise spiritual disciple and train in the word of God.
We must remember that Spiritual Disciplines and training are NOT:
1. The measure of Spirituality. They are not the means of salvation but the vehicle to develop in us the character of Christ who comes in by the Holy Spirit through the Words of Life.
2. The results are not necessarily unpleasant. The major result is the harvest of the positive fruits of the Spirit. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
3. Spiritual training will not earn favour for us with God. They will not of themselves save us. But by them the Holy Spirit develops in us the likeness of the character of Jesus Christ.
A favourite author of mine says this about spiritual training and growth:
"Many have an idea that they must do some part of the work alone. They have trusted in Christ for forgiveness of sin, but now they seek by their own efforts to live aright. But every such effort must fail. Jesus says, 'Without me you can do nothing.' Our growth in grace, our joy, our usefulness, - all depend upon our union with Christ. It is by communion with Him, daily, hourly, - by abiding in Him, - that we grow in grace. He is not only the Author , but the Finisher of our faith." Ellen G. White, Steps To Christ, p. 69.
That is exactly what Pastor Paul says in Colossians 2: 6-7 NLB, "And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to live in obedience to him. … grow in faith, strong and vigorous in the truth…"
Speaking of training to live the life Jesus Christ modeled, is given a practical touch by Ellen:
"Consecrate yourself to God in the morning; make this your very first work. Let your prayer be, 'Take me, O Lord, as wholly Thine. I lay all my plans at Thy feet. Use me today in Thy service. Abide with me, and let all my work be wrought in Thee.' This is a daily matter. Each morning consecrate yourself to God for that day. Surrender all your plans to Him, to be carried out or given up as His providence shall indicate. Thus day by day you may be giving your life into the hands of God, and then your life will be molded more and more after the life of Christ." EGW Steps To Christ p.70.
True spiritual growth and true goodness is living with Christ in us. It is training with Him to be successful and victorious Christians daily. You see Paul had it right when he said in Colossians 1:27, "…Christ in you , the hope of glory." Or as the NLB says, "For this is the secret: Christ lives in you, and this is the assurance that you will share in his glory." Christ is to be our coach/trainer. He effectively lives in our minds by the Holy Spirit through His Word, the Holy Scriptures.
We must train our minds if we want to be Christ-like and have spiritual growth. Discipline and train our minds by, " fix your thoughts on what is true and honourable and right. Think about things that are pure and lovely and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you have learned … and the God of peace will be with you." Philippians 4:8-9 , NLB.
Training and spiritual discipline includes our daily devotional life. Our worship of God's presence every day and especially with Him in special worship all day on the Sabbath day. It is continually being tuned into Him in the attitude of prayer. It is fellowship with other Christians and sharing our experience with God. It is recording the spiritual events in our experience with God. It is sharing Jesus Christ with those who do not know Him.
So train in the Real game. Run in the Real race. Fight the adversary in the real fight and win. Train daily with the ultimate Coach, Jesus Christ your Lord and Saviour. He is the Winner. He alone gets spiritual results that get you the prize. Joy and peace now and eternal life to come in the future.
Be intentional and strict in your training with Christ daily. In 1 Peter 1:13 - 16, Pastor Peter is recorded as writing, "Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled: set your hope fully on the grace to be given to you when Jesus Christ is revealed. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: "Be holy, because I am holy." It takes the , "practice of strict self-control", and "Training to be holy".
So train with the Best Coach. Winning is guaranteed. The promise of eternal life is sure. You are a winner in both this life and life after death when Christ returns. So train and cease to try hard. Trying is failure. Training in Christ is Hope with a future. The Best Coach offers you victory. Sign on with Him today. Trying alone is failure. Training with Jesus Christ is Victory. Train with the Lord more in 2004. Know your Coach.
LOVE AND SERVE THE LORD MORE IN 2004
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