Spiritual Growth: Study, Study Study

Continuing in our series on spiritual growth, today’s focus is about studying God’s word.

  1. Commitment
  2. Prayer
  3. Study
  4. Mentoring/Fellowship
  5. Serving

I know that this might not seem like the most exciting series but it is vital for our spiritual life, that we make sure we grow. Being a Christian is a lifelong journey that is meant to change us. It’s critical to your journey that you are growing and spiritual growth doesn’t happen by accident. We’re all works in progress.

I have a confession: I am the nerd who loves books and can relate to Hermione’s need to study and race to the library for answers.

images

I enjoy studying but sometimes I find studying the Bible to be overwhelming. According to a study by Lifeway Research, only 19% of people polled read the Bible everyday.” Are you one of the 19% or do you fall in the 81% category? Which category do you want to belong to?

unknown

Personally, my goal was to read His word every day. Most days, I was successful in making this part of my daily routine. It became a habit. Studying His word should be a daily habit. When I committed my life to Christ I was overwhelmed by the Bible. Where do I begin? What does it mean? Why do they have to have such weird names? Why does this matter? These are just a handful of questions that plagued me. I wanted to study His word but my method of reading from the beginning didn’t make sense.

Recognizing my own shortcomings, I researched and visited my local Christian bookstore. There, I uncovered the wonderful world of bible studies. It was a very large section and I was able to select an excellent bible study. My first year of studying the word relied heavily on bible studies by Kelly Minter, Priscilla Shirer, Beth Moore, and many more. They helped me develop my daily study habit and guided me through my readings until I was able to study on my own. I like studying different authors and listening to different preachers, because I believe it’s important to get different perspectives and I still use them to supplement and enhance my personal study time. Recently, I’ve discovered She Reads Truth and A Godly Lady study resources, which are a bit more independent. I also use plans from YouVersion, which are free!

Jesus studied the word and it was His knowledge of scripture that allowed Him to overcome the devil’s temptations (Matthew 4:1-17).   The Word is a basis for battling the enemy’s lies. In fact we’re commanded to arm ourselves with scripture.

“In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” – Ephesians 6:16-17

unknown-1

Studying on my own was a bit of a learning curve. I began with The Gospel of Matthew and studied a chapter a night. I read it 3 times: 1. Comprehension, 2. Themes or things that stood out to me, 3. Foot notes from my study bible. Then I went through and paraphrased the chapter in a journal with my thoughts on them. I let the Holy Spirit reveal things to me and I gained a huge appreciation for His Word. I alternate between New and Old Testament to make sure I am focusing on all areas of His Word. In addition, I found it helped to purchase a One a Year Bible, which helps keep me accountable and on track.

I love that I can read scripture and find something new every time. The Holy Spirit has revealed so much to me when I am intentional in my studies. Let’s me real, there are days that I don’t read the Word and as long as it’s a one off thing and not a habit, I am okay with it. One of my goals for 2017 is to be more intentional in studying the Word. How can I spend 4+ hours on a Netflix binge and then be “too tired” to read the Bible or only spend 20 minutes with God? That seems a bit backwards to me. This year my goal is to spend more time with God than binge watching my favorite shows. I can’t wait to see how that impacts me and I want the same for you. I pray that you feel passionate and fired up to study the Bible.

If anyone is interested in joining me on this journey of intentionality or want some more information, please use the “Contact Us” tab or email me at ah.taylor413@gmail.com. I will invite you to join a Facebook Group to keep us accountable and discuss our reading. Hope to have you there with us. ❤

Spiritual Growth: Prayer

Last week, we started a series on spiritual maturity and the five components. As a refresher, they are:

  1. Commitment
  2. Prayer
  3. Study
  4. Mentoring/Fellowship
  5. Serving

Today, we’re continuing our series with a focus on prayer. There are a lot of different ways to define prayer but the simplest one is that prayer is a conversation with God. I want you to think about the best conversation you’ve had. Who was it with? What was it like? What was it about? Take a minute and think about it.

Now think about the best conversation you’ve had with God. What was it like? What was it about? Compare it to the first conversation I asked you to remember. What was different?

Did you know that Jesus prayed? It seems to me that if it’s good for Jesus, it’s good for us. There are many times that Jesus went to pray.

“And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray.” – Matthew 14:23

“Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, ‘Sit here, while I go over there and pray.’” – Matthew 26:36

“And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed.’” – Mark 1:35

unknown-3

I am going to be transparent – prayer feels challenging to me because even though I am talking or writing, I feel like it’s one-sided. It’s more of a monologue than a dialogue. I have also wondered why I am talking to someone who knows everything. I don’t need to tell Him where my struggles are because He knows. And God does know – that isn’t the point of prayer. The point is to remember that we depend on God for everything and that the focus is our relationship with the Lord. He is supposed to be our best friend and Father but for that to be real, we need to communicate with Him. We can talk to Him about our lives but to hear from Him, we need to study His word and listen.

There are so many different methods that be utilized to pray. Some people pray out loud, some kneel, and some write. Personally, I utilize a prayer journal to write my prayers down. It’s been a great way to track some of the blessings and answered prayers He’s provided, as well as patterns of areas I struggle in. Do what works for you.

There are different ways to pray; for people just starting out it can be useful to use an outline, like the one below:

  • A.C.T.S. – Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving and Supplication.
  • Following an outline like The Lords Prayer (Matthew 6:5-13)
  • Praise and Thanksgiving, Confession, Others and Self

I recommend looking into different methods of prayer to determine what works for you. Prayer is your communication with God and is a highly personal decision. It is important to make sure that your prayer life is balanced. You need to make sure that you’re not treating God like a genie who exists to answer your every desire. God is the almighty creator of the universe and we exist for Him. It is important that you praise Him, confess your sins and pray for the needs of others.

Remember, prayer is partly our talking to the Lord and partly listening to His word. Our next post will focus on studying His word.

Unknown-4.jpeg

Today’s challenge is to examine your prayer life and come up with a plan of action. Are you praying regularly? Is your prayer life on-track or could it use a revamp? Do you use a prayer journal – if so, we’d love to see a picture of it. Comment below or contact us through the contact page and let us know how you pray. ❤

Spiritual Maturity: Commitment

“The Savior is not looking for men and women who will give their spare evenings to Him or their weekends or their years of retirement. Rather He seeks those who will give Him first place in their lives.” – William MacDonald

What is spiritual maturity? Spiritual maturity is learning to live like Jesus Christ and walk in obedience to God. It is not determined by the amount of time you’ve been a Christian or how religious you appear. It is, however, a vital part of a Christian’s life and is something that needs to be monitored. If you’re not moving ahead, you’re falling behind. It’s not possible to stay the same. We’re supposed to long for spiritual maturity:

“like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation” – 1 Peter 2:2

To grow in spiritual maturity takes work and effort. People do not excel at something without putting effort into it, and the same is true of our relationship with God. There are five main components that people need to focus on in order to grow:

  1. Commitment
  2. Prayer
  3. Study
  4. Mentoring
  5. Serving

 

Today is Day 1 in a five part series to address the five components of spiritual growth and is going to focus on commitment and what that looks like. Commitment is defined as “the state or quality of being dedicated to a cause, activity, etc.” Synonyms for committed included dedicated, devoted, loyal, or faithful. Being committed to growing means that you are actively dedicated to Christ. You cannot be lukewarm about God. It is all-in or all-out.

I didn’t understand how God felt about lukewarm Christians until I stumbled upon this bible verse: “So, because you are lukewarm –neither hot nor cold – I am about to spit you out of my mouth.” – Revelations 3:16 (NIV). That’s pretty clear. We cannot go to church on Sunday and back to worldly ways on Monday and think God’s okay with it.

images

Being committed to Christ means giving up some things that the world calls normal. It means taking care of the poor, the orphaned, the oppressed and the widowed. Sometimes, it will involve words but a lot of times we just need actions. I can talk all day long about the poor but if I don’t donate my time or my money, then what good am I doing?

Commitment means sacrificing time to focus on doing what God calls me to do instead of what I desire. It might look like getting up early to volunteer at a soup kitchen when you really wanted to sleep in on a Saturday. I personally love sleep but sleep doesn’t help my relationship with the Lord grow.

How can you gauge your commitment? Here are a few questions to ask yourself:

  • How much time do I spend with the Lord (prayer, reading the Bible, church, serving, etc?)
  • Do I spend more time on social media than on spiritual matters?
  • Has my time commitment to the Lord grown in the past 12 months, stayed the same or decreased?
  • Am I involved in a church or Christian community?
  • Am I serving anywhere?
  • Are you making sacrifices as a result of your beliefs?
  • Do I have a daily quiet time?

We all have areas we can improve on, so if this revealed some weaknesses to you, that’s okay. Identify one or two areas and come up with a plan to make those weaknesses strengths.

            We’d really love to hear from you guys so please comment below or contact us at ah.taylor413@gmail.com and let us know if you’d like more posts like this. ❤