Train yourself to be godly. This was Paul’s challenge to his apprentice Timothy (1 Timothy 4:7), and we’ve taken it to heart. We have been training ourselves in this God-life, partnering with Jesus as we work in the confidence that it is God who is at work in us. (Philippians 2:12-13)
During the last seven weeks, we’ve explored some of the “Best Practices for Spiritual Growth” Christians have trained with down through the centuries. We encourage you to begin using these, making a space for God to work in your life through intentional spiritual practices. If you missed any of the messages, you can find them here online on our SERMONS AND PODCASTS page. Below is a small written summary of this series.
- Lectio Divina (meaning “divine reading”). Very simply, Lectio Divina is the slow, meditate reading Scripture, listening to what God is saying to you through his Word. We read a select passage through three times, pausing in between readings, open to the voice of the Spirit speaking to us. When we make a place for God’s Word in our lives, we create a space for God’s work in our lives. Key Scriptures: Hebrews 4:12-13 and Psalm 119
- Gratitude. The “best practice” of gratitude recognizes that we have so much to be thankful for but we often do not see it. This best practice helps us slow down and see, open to the many gifts we receive from God and from others in our everyday lives. Thankful for our many gifts, we express our thanks to God and to others, living with gratitude in our hearts. Gratitude transforms the way we see the world, others, God and our circumstances. If you want to grow spiritually, grow in gratitude. Only the grateful grow. Key Scripture: 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
- Practicing the Presence of God. Wherever you are, God is present. This profound truth forms the foundation of our faith in Jesus, who is called “Emmanuel,” meaning, “God with us.” Our problem is that we so easily forget, or ignore, God’s presence in our lives. Practicing the presence of God is cultivating an awareness of God’s activity and presence in our daily life. The key is to notice, name and nurture God-awareness throughout our busy or even mundane lives. Key Scripture: Psalm 139:1-18
- Solitude and Silence. Many of us live busy and loud lives. Jesus did to, and yet we see in his life a habit of withdrawing from the crowds and the noise to spent time in solitude and silence with his Father. We need to unplug from our technology, silence our hearts and minds, and get away form the “crowds” so we can hear from God. Unless we take the time to be alone and in silence, we won’t hear the words God wants to speak to us alone and in the silence. Words like, “I love you. You are more precious to me than the things you do for me.” Key Scriptures: Mark 1:35, Luke 5:16, Psalm 46
- The Examen. A gift from the Jesuits, the Daily Examen is widely practiced by Christians across many traditions. The Examen is a deliberate recollection of the day’s events, asking “Where did I experience joy?” and “Where did I experience sorrow?” Another way of putting it is “Where did I allow God’s grace to flow through me today?” and “Where did I resist God’s grace?” Through this reflection tool, we grow in awareness not only of God, but of ourselves and the work God is doing in us. Remember to jot down the highs and lows of each day to review over a series of months. Patterns emerge and God speaks through them, too. Key Scripture: Psalm 139:23-24
- Spiritual Friendships. All of these spiritual best practices are great, but they are most powerful when we have spiritual friends with whom we can process, pray with and support on the journey. We need each other, more than we know, more than we could imagine. Spiritual growth will not happen in isolation. Spiritual friendships involves intentional sharing of our lives with a trusted friend or group, listening with passion and speaking in love the truth of God into each other’s lives. Key Scripture: Proverbs 27:6,17; 1 Peter 3:8 and the 59 “one another passages” in the New Testament (Google them!)