Volume. XXXII, No. 3
Sunday, 16 July 2017

Key Things to Remember ABout the Spiritual Disciplines

a)    Perseverance
Now that we have learnt about some spiritual disciplines, prayerfully ask God to show us which discipline we need most at this point in time. Be open and willing to start whatever He reveals to us. We also need to recognise that these disciplines require us to be distance runners and not sprinters. These are not New Year resolutions for us to try for a few months and then toss in the bin after a while. From the examples given, we know that for each discipline, we can start small with little things and then increase in small increments as we progress deeper into each discipline.

b)    All by Divine Grace
Remember above all else that the strength to keep up with any of these disciplines has to come from God. We cannot hope to withstand a single attack from the enemy unless we are preserved by God’s grace. In all our prayers, we need to ask for His strength to continue with the discipline that we have set ourselves to undertake.

c)    Moderation
As mentioned earlier, we can start with baby steps and increase the intensity of the discipline as we grow. Taking too big a step could often lead to discouragement and giving up. The story was told of a young monk who wanted to fast all day but woke up so hungry that he didn’t think he could make it till evening, so he committed to God that he would fast until nine in the morning. When the time came, he thought that he could make it till noon. At noon time, after he had prepared his lunch, he said that maybe he could wait till three. At three, he knew that his hunger cravings had been conquered and he could last until the evening.

d)     One rule does not fit all
For each of us, the disciplines that we need to practice will be different at different times. For a person that craves attention, learning reticence and stillness will be the most important thing at that point of time. For another who is struggling with depression and wants to withdraw from others, practicing public worship might be what is needed most. Even for those practicing the same discipline, it is different from one to another. For example, in the discipline of fasting, for a person who needs a lot of food and is still hungry compared to another who eats a little but has had enough. For the one who eats a lot, but stopping before his hunger is satisfied would have accomplished more in his discipline than the other who eats only a little but has enough.

e)  Judge Not
In disciplines, do not compare what we have done against what others have done. Do not have the attitude that if we can do it, anyone else should be able to do it. Remember, the strength for us to accomplish any of these disciplines comes from God and not us. There was a story among the ascetic monks where a young monk was upset to find that an elder slept on a padded pallet at night while he only slept on a humble pile of straw. Should not an elder monk be suffering the same things as the younger monks? Another elder monk heard him and asked the young man what kind of life he lived before going out to the monastery. This young monk was a shepherd before and used to sleep on the ground in the fields. So, he was actually better off than he was before he came to the monastery. The elder that he disparaged used to sleep on a fine bed in a king’s palace and he gave that up to sleep on the humble pallet. When we know of someone failing in his or her discipline, pray for the person and remember, “Him today, me tomorrow,” and pray for God’s mercy to be with us all that though we may fail we will be able to continue practicing with His strength.
f) Do Not Give Up
Remember, what we are doing here is building habits. Good habits are not easy to build and it takes time. Even if we fail today, we can try again tomorrow. The reason we practice any discipline is because it targets a personal need in our life. It is going to be a real struggle. If the discipline is easy, it is probably not something that we need to practice right now; there might be a more demanding discipline that is more suited for us. Do not expect quick results. We are in this for the long haul, the struggles today will be the same struggles tomorrow. It does not mean once we have built up the habits of a particular discipline that it will be easier for us to practice any other discipline. There’s still more that can be done no matter how much we practice so don’t be in a hurry to accomplish everything. It may take years for us to practice a single discipline until we are confident that when we take on another discipline that is needed, we will not forget the one(s) that have already been practiced.

g) Spiritual Director, or a Spiritual Partner
Why do we need another person on our own spiritual journey? We have a deceitful heart. We lack objectivity. It is said that: “A man no matter how prudent, may go easily astray on a road if he has no guide.” We should recognise that there are already people in our life who probably help in giving spiritual direction or guidance. Intentionally seeking out someone to serve as a spiritual director/partner alongside us is really an indication that we are longing for a deeper relationship with God.
Who should we look for?
•    Someone more mature, someone that we look up to.
•    Someone who would not be threatened by our growth, who doesn’t inadvertently end up competing or comparing themselves with us.
•    Someone whom we can trust to share things that are personal and intimate.
It is better to take time to pray and ask God to show and guide us to the person than to make an initial commitment to someone before turning around and withdrawing that trust. Working with a Spiritual Director is similar to working in a discipleship situation. We set limits to what we want the director to speak into our life before we commit to the relationship; we set time limits to the relationship and also, how often we meet and what we do when we meet. Do not choose a spiritual discipline until we have spent some time with our spiritual director talking through our situation(s) and needs.

Other Disciplines
a.    Study
i.    Deuteronomy 5:1-3; 31:12-14; Ezra 7:9-11; Ecclesiastes 1:12-14; Luke 10:38-42; Acts 2:42; 17:10-12; 1 Pet. 2:2; 2 Tim. 4:13.
ii.    Discipline of reading and studying God’s word. This is one we normally associate with a Bible study where we dig into God’s word and do an intense study.
b.    Service
i.    1 Sam. 12:24; Rom. 1:2; 1 Cor. 3:5-9; Gal. 5:13-15; Phil. 2:1-4; 1 Thess. 1:2-8; 4:9-10; Titus 1:1.
ii.    Discipline of service to others, in the church and in the community.
c.    Confession
i.    Lev. 5:5; Psalm 32:5; 51; Mark 6:12; Matt. 10:32; Luke 3:8; Rom.1:16-17; 2 Tim. 2:8-11.
ii.    Repentance is before God; confession is before God. Having others hold us accountable to our faith.

Dn Kevin Low

More Lively Hope



Winter break – There will be no Adult Sunday School, AFG, Ladies’ Fellowship, Mandarin Bible Study, Neighbourhood Bible Study & Wed Bible Study in July.
Annual Congregational Meeting – All members are expected to attend. ACM proxy forms available at the Sanctuary foyer or request from Elder Colin Gan.
Ministry, Fellowship & Committee Reports for ACM to be sent to Elder Colin Gan by today.
Volunteers needed to provide transport from northern suburbs on Sundays. Please see Bro Yick Ho Lam for details.
Kitchen Duty helpers - This week: Team C. Next week: Team A.

Looking ahead
Annual Congregation Meeting, Sat, 5 Aug.
Baptism, Re-Affirmation & Membership Transfer, Sun, 6 Aug.
Holiday Bible Club, 9-13 Oct.

Prayer Items
Healing: Bro Yick Ho Lam’s father (cancer); Mr Balan Sanders (home); Sisters Peng Moi Gan (Sis Peng Ha Yeo’s sister), & Christabelle Selvanayagam.
Journey mercies: Elder Michael & Sis Alice Lee; Bro Daniel & Sis Clara Ki; Sis Lai Kheng Chiong (Adl); & others travelling.
God’s guidance & help with starting a Bible College.



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14 Bedford Square, Colonel Light Gardens, South Australia 5041