Discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness. 1 Timothy 4:7 (NASB)0
As we come to a new year, it is always a good time to evaluate your life (both spiritually and physically) to determine what areas you want to grow, change, or improve in. Have you evaluated your life from a spiritual and physical perspective as we start 2020? Paul (1 Timothy 4:7) encourages us to discipline, or train, ourselves in order to pursue spiritual growth in godliness.
Two of the most important spiritual disciplines are prayer and Bible reading. I hope you are taking some steps to spend a few minutes of uninterrupted time with the Lord in prayer and making it your aim to pray throughout the day as you recognize your dependence upon the Lord and the fact that He is always there with you. I like Bible reading plans but often realize that quality is more important that quantity. Maybe you can discipline yourself to read one chapter (or page) of the New Testament every day and journal about what God is saying to you through His word. I also encourage believers to be reading (even just a chapter a day) of other Christian books. Reading is a good discipline even for us non-readers.
A couple of often neglected Christian disciplines are scripture memorization and fasting. Maybe you could be intentional about memorizing one Bible verse a week and fasting on a certain day each week or month to focus on God. A helpful acronym to use when fasting is (FAST- Focus on God, Abstain from food, Substitute eating with prayer and meditation, Taste and see that God is good). I also want us to discipline ourselves for the purpose of being intentional about laboring in the harvest. We can begin each day by asking the Lord for opportunities to share our faith and for boldness to share.
Then, most of us would benefit from some physical discipline in the new year. Personally, I want to eat less sweets and avoid over-eating. I have recently gained some pounds and it makes me feel awful. I definitely need discipline when it comes to eating sweets. Many of us need discipline to get physical exercise. Most recommend at least 30 minutes of exercise at least four days a week. We also need to get plenty of sleep. I know how easy it is to get distracted by technology, social media, TV, or a ballgame and stay up too late. Most of us need to set a goal for what time we want to be in bed each night.
Finally, God established a sabbath of rest for His people so that we could slow down and even commit some time to Him. We don’t have to be legalistic about taking off on Saturday because that is the “Sabbath” but we need to have time each week to rest and worship. Our culture is changing rapidly and being committed to weekly gathering as God’s people to worship God is becoming less and less of a priority. Let me encourage you to make worshipping together on Sunday a priority for you and your family. We need to come together to worship and to encourage one another (Hebrews 10:25).
May God be glorified as we pursue some disciplines in our lives in 2020 to help us grow in Christlikeness. Lord, help me to be more like You this year!