“He has shown you, O man, what is good and what the Lord requires of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8
It’s the beginning of a new year and once again, I am contemplating what new goals I want to set. Will it be losing weight, starting a new exercise routine, spending more time with family, limiting technology, establishing daily devotions, taking a class, or even getting up earlier to accomplish these new practices? Each of these endeavors requires not only discipline but commitment. Discipline is required whenever we implement new routines.
The word discipline comes from the same root as disciple. I thought this must mean that disciples were organized, committed and disciplined thus setting a bar of expectation to one that I would never achieve, However when I look at the lives of many of the disciples, I am comforted that they are human, and make some of the same errors that I do. Then when I looked it up, the definition of disciple, said “One who accepts and helps to spread the teachings of another.” (wordcentral.com). This means that I can be considered a disciple of Christ if I accept and spread His teachings in spite of any faults or weaknesses.
Upon further investigation, I discovered specific spiritual disciplines, practices and behaviors associated with effective and growing disciples. Jesus modelled many of these: solitude, fasting, study, worship, serving, and prayer. These require focus, self-control, intentionality and will ultimately draw me closer in my relationship with Christ.
The beginning of a new year, is a perfect time to focus on some of these disciplines. In fact, our church encourages all members to start the year by committing to 21 days of prayer and fasting. As I anticipate my personal involvement, I want to not only expand my prayer time but choose something to fast from that will draw me closer to God. In addition, I have begun selecting a word and memorizing a Bible verse that guides my focus for the year. For accountability, I am sharing these with you: Intentionality Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 1 Peter 4:8-10
Concentrating on these disciplines at the beginning of the year, builds a foundation that guides my focus and actions throughout the year. However, I can still become distracted and easily swayed to disrespect those practices and follow the ways of the world. Having the word and verse not only helps to center me but grow in my faith through discipline.
Lord, help me to establish the habits and actions in my life that will bring me closer to walking with you and serving you each day. Rather than giving up when I fail or become distracted, reveal to me ways that I can improve my daily disciplines that bring me closer to you and allow my heart to know yours more deeply. Amen