"DISCIPLINES FOR THE DISCIPLE" Introduction To Spiritual Discipline INTRODUCTION 1. In 1Ti 4:7, we find Paul exhorting Timothy to... a. "exercise yourself toward godliness" (NKJV) b. What does this mean? 2. Compare other translations... a. "train yourself for godliness" (ESV, NET) b. "train yourself to be godly" (NIV, NLT) c. "discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness" (NASB) 3. Consider what some commentators have written... a. "cultivate piety, and seek to become more holy" - Barnes b. "Timothy is told that as an athlete trains his body, so the Christian must train his soul." - Barclay c. "Such exercise involves reading and studying the Bible, prayer, meditation..." - BBC 4. The value of such spiritual exercise is seen in 1Ti 4:8... a. "godliness is profitable for all things" b. "having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come" [The disciple, therefore, is to engage in various "exercises" or "disciplines" that cultivate godliness or piety. In this series, we shall take a look at such "Disciplines For The Disciple." But in this lesson, some introductory thoughts regarding...] I. THE CONCEPT OF SPIRITUAL DISCIPLINE A. DEFINITION OF SPIRITUAL DISCIPLINE... 1. In general terms, discipline means: a. "any training intended to develop moral character, or produce a pattern of behavior." - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Discipline b. "training that corrects, molds, or perfects the mental faculties or moral character - Merriam-Webster 2. Regarding spiritual disciplines in particular: a. "A spiritual discipline is, when practiced faithfully and regularly, a habit or regular pattern in your life that repeatedly brings you back to God and opens you up to what God is saying to you." - http://www.spirithome.com/spirdisc.html b. "Spiritual disciplines can be described as behaviors that facilitate spiritual growth." - http://www.wcg.org/lit/spiritual/group/discip1.htm -- Spiritual disciplines, then, are spiritual exercises that one engages in habitually which bring one closer to God and thus become more godly in character and behavior B. EXAMPLES OF SPIRITUAL DISCIPLINES... 1. Prayer - in which one spends time talking to God - e.g.,
Dan 6:10; Col 4:2 2. Meditation - in which one contemplates on God's Word, or other things worthy of such attention - cf. Ps 1:1-2; Php 4:8 3. Fasting - usually accompanied with prayer, in which one abstains from food - e.g., Neh 1:4; Ac 13:2-3; 14:23 4. Singing - through which one can praise God and be edified - e.g., Ps 71:23; Ac 16:25 5. Giving - by which we can please God and be blessed - cf.
He 13:16; Ac 20:35 6. Assembling - where we can exhort one another - cf. Ps 122:1; He 10:24-25 7. Hospitality - showing kindness to strangers, which often results in a blessing - cf. He 13:2 8. Teaching - which usually benefits the teacher more than the student - cf. He 5:12-14 -- Such spiritual activities help to discipline or train one to be more godly [We shall examine these more carefully in future lessons. But to appreciate the importance of spiritual disciplines for those who call themselves disciples of Christ, let's review...] II. THE CONCEPT OF DISCIPLESHIP A. THE WORD "DISCIPLE"... 1. Literally means a learner 2. It denotes "one who follows another's teaching" - Vine 3. A disciple was not only a learner, he was also an adherent -- For such reasons, disciples were spoken of as imitators of their teachers B. THE GOAL IN BEING A DISCIPLE... 1. Stated by Jesus himself: to be like the teacher - Lk 6:40 2. To be Christ's disciple, then, is to strive to be like Him! 3. This coincides with God's goal in the redemption of mankind, that they be conformed to the image of His Son - Ro 8:29 -- Since Jesus is the Son of God, the goal of a disciple is to be more godly CONCLUSION 1. Are you a disciple of Christ...? a. Jesus wants you to become His disciple - Mt 28:19-20 b. Jesus wants you to become like Him - Lk 6:40 2. With the aid of spiritual disciplines, we are more likely to become what Jesus wanted... a. For Jesus Himself often taught His disciples to engage in such activities b. Through both precept and example, Jesus taught His disciples regarding such activities If you are a disciple of Jesus Christ, then I trust that this series, "Disciplines For The Disciple" will be of special to interest to you. Remember what Paul wrote to Timothy... "But reject profane and old wives' fables, and exercise yourself toward godliness. For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come. This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance." - 1Ti 4:7-9