Volume. XXXI, No. 48
Sunday, 28 May 2017

Spiritual Disciplines - Part 2

What are the different Spiritual Disciplines? We will be looking at eight Spiritual Disciplines: Abstinence, Simplicity, Stillness, Meditation, Prayer, Reticence, Stability and Worship. Abstinence The discipline of abstinence involves the giving up of a natural appetite. Often the thing that we give up, whether it be for a season or for a lifetime, is in itself not evil, but is a natural human pleasure: examples are food, drink, sleep, sex or leisure. i) Why would we want to practice it? If food itself is not evil, why would we want to abstain from it? Why do we want to give up something that God has given to us for our enjoyment? John Piper in his book, A Hunger for God, says: Fasting is really when your hunger for God exceeds your hunger for the food God made you to live on. Is there a time when your hunger for God to answer a prayer, to move in your life or to move in a situation exceeds your hunger for the food God made you to live on? From that perspective, how hungry are we for God to answer our prayers? Does that hunger exceed our hunger for food? Is it greater than our hunger for the things God made for us to enjoy? Fasting is one of the most oft-mentioned disciplines in the Bible. The New Testament recorded 21 occurrences of the Greek word nēsteuō which means to abstain from food, in 16 verses. Jesus, Himself fasted for 40 days immediately after His baptism, so why do we not practice fasting? It is uncomfortable and we do not like the feeling of being uncomfortable. The main thing behind fasting or any other abstinence is to know your motivation for it. Why are you doing it? Why are you fasting for 24 hours or fasting from your lunch for the week or month? Most times, it is for the sake of a prayer request. It could be that you are praying for the salvation of a loved one or you are praying for healing or some other request. When you fast for this, you must know and realise that you are not forcing God to answer your prayer(s). You are not buying favor from God, with your sacrifice, to look favorably upon your request. What you need to do is that whenever you feel the hunger pangs, you are to be reminded of your request and prayer. In this way, you send that prayer to God whenever you feel the hunger pangs. This way, your hunger serves your greater purpose which is your prayer request. This way, you find yourself praying more for your request and the more you pray for your request, the more you come to rely on God. ii) What does it look like in practice? Various forms include: fasting from all foods fasting from particular foods (such as meat or desserts) or drinks (such as soft drinks or coffee) giving up sleep (vigils or watches), usually to pray refraining from sex forgoing leisure activities Jesus and the apostles teach us by word and example the importance of these disciplines in Mt. 4:2, 6:16-18, 26:40-41; Acts 13:2-3; and 1 Cor. 7:3-5. iii) What are some indicators that we might need this discipline? You find yourself overindulging in eating and/or drinking. Eating too often for reasons other than your bodys nutritional need. You find yourself regularly sleeping more hours than you needed or having difficulty getting up in the morning. You find yourself spending too much time watching TV, playing games or engaging in other leisure activities. You find yourself preoccupied with thoughts about sex. iv) How can we start? Once youve identified the thing that youve become too attached to, begin to cut back on it or, if necessary, cut it out altogether. If it is food, try to give up a meal regularly or even fasting for a day. Devote that time you would have spent eating to prayer. If giving up entire meals is too difficult, try cutting down your portions, or give up particular foods that youre too fond of (sweets, meats, ice creams or soft drinks). If it is sleep, try setting your alarm earlier and spend the extra time praying or reading the Bible. If it is entertainment, cut back on it. Try to designate a day or evening each week as entertainment free and spend that time in prayer, reading the Bible, visiting a friend or volunteer at a soup kitchen. If it is sex, do as advised by Paul in 1 Cor 7:5, to agree with your spouse to abstain from sex and devote yourselves to fasting and prayer; it might be for a few days or even a month. As you make each sacrifice, pray to God: Lord, Im giving this up for you. Teach me to love you above all else. To be continued Deacon Kevin Low

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 Condolences to Sis Amanda Khoo & family on the passing of her mother on Tuesday (Johor).  The Lords Supper will be held on 11 June.  Budget 2017/18: All fellowship groups, please submit your budget proposals to Dn Raphael Ng by 15 June.  Those who have completed their Basic Bible Knowledge course & would like to be Baptised, Re-affirmed or to Transfer Membership, please see Elder Michael D Lee.  Cambodia Missions in July has been cancelled & postponed to Jan 2018.  Kitchen Duty helpers - This week: Team B. Next week: Team C. Praise & Thanksgiving  Journey mercies: Bro Warren & Sis Amanda Khoo & family (Spore/Johor); & others arriving safely at their destinations.  Successful procedure: Rev George van Buuren Prayer Items  Healing: Rev George van Buuren (bronchitis & heart problems); Bro Yick Ho Lams father (cancer & salvation); Sisters Peng Moi Gan (Sis Peng Ha Yeos sister), & Christabelle Selvanayagam.  Gods comfort in their grief: Bro Warren & Sis Amanda Khoo & family.  Journey mercies: Bro Warren & Sis Amanda Khoo & family (Adl); & others who are travelling.



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