Spiritual Disciplines Series

SPIRITUAL DISCIPLINES SERIES

Week One: Spiritual Disciplines

Week Two: Silence & Solitude

Week Three: Celebration

Week Four: Submission

Week Five: Study

Week Six: Prayer

 

Week Seven: Worship

Week Eight: Fasting & Guidance

Week 9: Service & Simplicity

SPIRITUAL DISCIPLINES: WEEK NINE

Each drop down contains daily questions. Click the button below to print off a worksheet for the whole week.

Introduction

We begin this week learning about service. Berard of Clariaux said, “Learn the lesson that, if you are to do the work of a prophet, what you need is not a scepter but a hoe.” Jesus came and redefined what it means to be a leader…what it means to be great. If you remember in Luke 9, there was a conversation among the disciples about who the greatest was. I love how Richard Foster in “Celebration of Discipline” frames this conversation. He says, “ Whenever there is trouble over who is the greatest, there is trouble over who is the least.” In this moment in the upper room Jesus wrapped a towel around his waist, grabbed a basin of water and turned greatness on its head. 

This week, we will simply divide our study into two sections: one on service and one on simplicity. In the remaining days begin to put all of the disciplines into practice in your life using all the tools and knowledge you have gained during this study. 

Section One

• Read John 13:14-15.
• Read Matthew 20:25-28.
• What do these two portions of scripture have to say about being a servant?
• Read Mark 9:35.
• Who are we to serve?

In serving others there is also a caution to take to heart. Service must come from a place where the heart is centered on God with ears to hear the promptings of the Holy Spirit. Serving is not about us. Self-righteous service is impressed with the “big deal” looking for the grand gestures to draw attention. True service does not distinguish between the big and small…the grand and the simple. Self-seeking service desires reward, is overly concerned with results, is picky about who they serve, is affected by moods and whims, it is temporary, insensitive and has a tendency toward fracturing community. 

True service is characterized by humility. Nothing transforms us like serving in hiddenness. Humility is a natural byproduct of true service. Within this discipline there is a greater love and an unexplainable joy in God. 

• Read Hebrews 6:10.
• How does God view your acts of service?
• Read Galatians 5:13.
• How are we to serve one another?
• Read 1 Peter 4:10.
• What gifts has God given you? How could you use these gifts to serve others?

 

Today as you end your time, spend time in prayer asking God to transform your heart and open your eyes and ears to ways you can serve others. The best place to begin the practice of this discipline is within the walls of your own home. Begin there and allow this discipline to grow in your life. 

 

After your time in prayer write down one way you can serve. If it doesn’t immediately come to you, come back to this worksheet later as the Spirit moves in your life and write down how you have served or plan to in the coming week. 

 

Section Two

In Ecclesiastes 7:30 it says, “God made man simple; man’s complex problems are of his own devising.” We are masters at complicating life. We are often guilty of making things way more complex than they need to be. But, we have probably all come in contact with someone in our lives who is at ease, exemplifying the carefree, simple life we all long for. Where does that come from? Most often it comes from a heart of simplicity. Richard Foster says, “The Christian Discipline of simplicity is an inward reality that results in an outward life-style. Simplicity begins in inward focus and unity with The Divine.” 

 

• Read Luke 16:13.
•What do you think this scripture has to do with simplicity?

The Spiritual Discipline of simplicity is rooted in a singular focus. It begins from a place where God is Lord over all in our lives. He is Lord of our time, our talents, our possessions…He is Lord of all. 

• Read Matthew 6:25-33.
• What are we to seek first?
• What does seeking God first practically look like?
• How should this change the way we view life, time, possessions, etc…?

 

“As Jesus made clear in our central passage, freedom from anxiety is one of the inward evidences of seeking first the kingdom of God. The inward reality of simplicity involves a life of joyful unconcern for possessions. Neither the greedy nor the miserly know this liberty. It has nothing to do with abundance of possessions or their lack. It is an inward spirit of trust. The sheer fact that a person is living without things is no guarantee that he or she is living in simplicity, Paul taught us that the love of money is the root of all evil, and I have discovered that often those who have it the least love it the most. It is possible for a person to be developing an outward life-style of simplicity and to be filled with anxiety. Conversely, wealth does not bring freedom from anxiety. Kierkegaard writes, “…riches and abundance come hypocritically clad in sheep’s clothing pretending to be security against anxieties and they become then the object of anxiety…they secure a man against anxieties just about as well as the wolf which is put to tending the sheep secures them…against the wolf.” -Richard Foster

 

Simplicity has little to do with how much or how little we possess. Simplicity is an inward resolve to seek first the kingdom of God producing an outward reality of living life with a heavenward gaze, interacting with the world around us from a sole focus on God. 

 

• Are there areas of your life where your focus tends to get pulled from God and focused on other things causing you anxiety?
• What can you do to begin to put those things under God in thoughts and action?
• Spend time today asking The Lord to convict you of anything in your life that you have put before Him. Ask Him to once again open the eyes and ears of your heart to anything coming between you and Him. Let’s end our study on the disciplines where we began…asking God to focus our attention squarely on Him!

 

SPIRITUAL DISCIPLINES: WEEK EIGHT

Each drop down contains daily questions. Click the button below to print off a worksheet for the whole week.

Introduction

This week we will talk about two disciplines, fasting and guidance. Fasting is fairly self-explanatory while guidance has two sides to it: giving and receiving. The first part of the week we will focus on fasting and the last part of the week we will take a look at guidance. 

 

Fasting is one of those disciplines we don’t really talk about a lot nor practice much. Why? Because, let’s be honest, FASTING IS HARD! Our culture in general is uncomfortable going without. We enjoy what we enjoy and we are reluctant to give up the things we enjoy. 

 

Fasting works in direct opposition to our Western consumerism because it calls us to give up something, to lay something down, to sacrifice. We fast not for the discipline itself but because we desire the transformation and focus as a result of the discipline. We fast in order to focus on something far more important. 

 

As you prepare to step into a season of fasting there must be a clear purpose for it. The purpose in this season is for the purpose of dedicating ourselves to prayer for our world during this pandemic. You can fast something during lent in order to remember and focus on the sacrifice Jesus made for you. There are other purposes for fasting but the key is to determine the purpose and be intentional with your time. 

 

Fasting looks different for us all. You can choose to fast one thing like sugar, caffeine, meat or something else for a determined time frame. If you cannot fast food because of a physical limitation you can fast things like technology, tv, social media, etc. The time frame can vary as well. You can fast one meal. You can fast for one day, one week or for a longer period of time. As you can see, the method doesn’t matter…the heart and purpose behind it matters. We have said this about all of our disciplines and it is true for fasting as well. Choose a purpose and a plan then step into it with a heart focused on the transformational growth it will produce as you grow, looking more like Jesus every day! 

Monday

• Read Matthew 6:16-18.
• What does this scripture teach us about fasting?

Fasting can be a corporate challenge but the practice itself is meant to be a private interaction between you and The Father. It is meant to bring you to a place of denying yourself in order to more closely connect with the heart of The Father through prayer. I would like to challenge you to step into a time of fasting and prayer. But the details are for you and The Lord to determine. Today, spend some time in prayer and ask The Lord what He would like you to fast and for how long. Write down what you are feeling impressed to do in the space provided. 

(If you don’t feel impressed to participate at this time…it’s ok.  This is between you and God. I would challenge you to put this discipline into action in your life at some point. All of these disciplines only serve to help you grow in your faith.)

Tuesday

• Read Daniel 9:3-5.
• What was the reason Daniel fasted & prayed?

The purpose behind a fast is of great importance and can vary from person to person. If you have chosen to step into this time of fasting with us write down your purpose for fasting in the space provided. 

If you don’t feel moved to join in this time of fasting simply write down something you are praying about with fervency right now. What is the heart of your prayer life captured by right now? 

Fasting is a discipline that can draw us to a deeper place in our walk with God and in our prayer life. I hope you will find a deeper place of communion with The Father as you practice these spiritual disciplines. 

Wednesday

Today we shift from fasting to guidance. There is a corporate place of guidance and a private place of guidance. In corporate guidance we enjoy the leadership of teachers and preachers led by The Holy Spirit to encourage us and help us along our spiritual journeys. In private guidance we enjoy the growth accountability from a mentor led by The Holy Spirit brings. The BIG key in both cases is the underlying direction of The Holy Spirit and the adherence to holding The Word of God as the instruction manual driving the guidance. 

• Read 1 Chronicles 10:13.
• Who did Saul consult for guidance?
• Why do you think this was not a good idea?
• Read James 3:17. What does wisdom from heaven look like?
• If this is what wisdom from heaven looks like, in your own words what does the wisdom of fools look like?
• Read Isaiah 58:11
• What happens when our guidance comes from The Lord?

Thursday

Corporate Guidance:
• Read Hebrews 10:24-25.
• What happens when we dwell in community with others
• What has the guidance of a larger community, like your church, meant in your life? 

Friday

Personal Guidance:
• Read Proverbs 27:17.
• What happens when we allow others in our lives to provide guidance?

One form of personal guidance is to have a mentor and/or an accountability partner. This is someone you trust who is following God in all areas of their life. This is someone you look up to as an example of deep Christian faith. Meeting with or talking with this person regularly, giving them permission to challenge you as you endeavor to grow in your faith is another role they would play in your life. 

• Do you have someone in your life who gives you guidance in life? If so, write their name here.
• What are some of the attributes this person possesses giving them the place of mentor in your life?
• Read Proverbs 1:5.
• What do the wise and discerning do?

As believers it is important to have mentors/accountability in our lives. If you are following The Lord closely there may be a time when you are asked to be this for someone else. Remember when giving advice it is important to understand the role is not about giving your opinion without the direction of The Spirit. Actually, it’s not really about your opinion at all.  Giving guidance is about listening well, praying diligently, asking good questions and guiding that person back to what God says. Nobody has all the answers and often guidance and mentorship is more about being present to simply walk with someone. Another word for this is discipleship. 

There is more we could say on the subject of guidance but the most important things to say are: we need guidance, others need strong believers to give guidance and guidance must be rooted in The Word of God and directed by The Holy Spirit. Whether you are giving guidance, receiving it, or both The Word of God and The Holy Spirit are essential ingredients for this discipline. 

SPIRITUAL DISCIPLINES: WEEK SEVEN

Each drop down contains daily questions. Click the button below to print off a worksheet for the whole week.

Introduction

William Temple said, “To worship is to quicken the conscience by the holiness of God, to feed the mind with the truth of God, to purge the imagination by the beauty of God, to open the heart to the love of God, to devote the will to the purpose of God.”  Worship is simply living out our awareness of God in our daily lives. It is taking note of who He is in us and living from that place. Music is one form of worship but it is not the only form. The way we live our lives is an act of worship. The way we interact with people is a form of worship. Engaging God through His creation is an act of worship. Worship can and does look different for us all. It is unique to who we are in Christ. 

 

John 4:23 says, “The true worshiper will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for such the Father seeks to worship Him.” It is God who seeks, draws, persuades. Worship is the human response to the divine initiative. (-Richard Foster, Celebration of Discipline)  God loves us and worship is our response to the love flowing from the heart of The Father. The form of worship you choose is secondary to the heart behind the worship. 

 

This week will look a little different. Much of this exercise of worship depends on you. I would just challenge you to be creative, be responsive and be aware of God all around you! 

Monday

• Read Matthew 4:10. 

• Who is the object of our worship? 

Today take some time to think about the attributes of God, to see who He is. Now look for that attribute in the world around you. Listen for it in a song, look for it in creation, in another person, in a conversation, in His Word. Once you find it write it here and write down how you chose to engage in worship from that place.

 

Tuesday

• Read Mark 12:30.

• Who should be your first love? 

 

Today, how can you put Him first in your life? Write down your thoughts on priorities being honest about where your relationship with God falls. Write down a prayer asking The Father to help you keep Him in the #1 spot in your heart! Then find a way to worship Him as your #1 for a few minutes today.

Wednesday

• Read Matthew 15:8.

 

Who or what we love and focus on plays a role in who we become. As we have talked about, the discipline is not only about the discipline itself…its about the heart behind the discipline. And, our hearts are affected by our focus. We talked yesterday about priorities, today let’s talk about our hearts. This may seem like the same thing and in some ways it is. However, we can have a very utilitarian list of priorities, checking off our boxes and our hearts can be somewhere else completely. This can come and go with the seasons of our lives. 

 

Today spend some time examining your heart. Is your heart centered where you would like it to be. If so, write a prayer thanking God for where you are with Him today. If not, write down what tugs most at your heart in this season causing you to be pulled in different directions. Then write down a prayer asking God to “bind your heart to Him.” 

Thursday

 

The last two days this week will be an encouragement to practice whatever form of worship draws you close to the heart of The Father. Today, read the lyrics to “The Heart of Worship” by Michael W. Smith and then spend some time in worship. Take a walk, listen to some music, sit in silence…do whatever helps you practice this discipline. 

 

When the music fades
All is stripped away
And I simply come
Longing just to bring
Something that’s of worth
That will bless your heart
I’ll bring you more than a song
For a song in itself
Is not what you have required
You search much deeper within
Through the way things appear
You’re looking into my heart

I’m coming back to the heart of worship
And it’s all about you,
It’s all about you, Jesus
I’m sorry, Lord, for the thing I’ve made it
When it’s all about you,
It’s all about you, Jesus

King of endless worth
No one could express
How much you deserve
Though I’m weak and poor
All I have is yours
Every single breath
I’ll bring you more than a song
For a song in itself
Is not what you have required
You search much deeper within
Through the way things appear
You’re looking into my heart
I’m coming back to the heart of worship
And it’s all about you,
It’s all about you, Jesus
I’m sorry, lord, for the thing I’ve made it
And it’s all about you,
It’s all about you, Jesus

Write down your thoughts or how you experienced God in your time of worship today. 

Friday

Today is about you and God. Ask Him to surprise you today and heighten your awareness of Him. Simply put, worship Him today however you choose! Write down the song that most pulls you to a place of worship, describe the hike and what about it that pulls you to worship, describe your favorite spot to sit in silence and solitude and your feelings about God as you sit in worship to Him in that space.

SPIRITUAL DISCIPLINES: WEEK SIX

Each drop down contains daily questions. Click the button below to print off a worksheet for the whole week.

Introduction

How many of us secretly wish we were a prayer warrior and yet we struggle to stay awake or stay focused, often drifting slowly from prayer into a list of chores that need to be done or people we need to call? Yet we understand the importance and we recognize the privilege of prayer. We know it is valuable and necessary for our spiritual development and still we struggle. First of all let me say, this is a common struggle. You are not alone. 

There are some people prayer comes naturally to and others it is an act of discipline. Where you fall within that spectrum does not matter. God wired us up very differently and the person who thrives in prayer may struggle in study and vice versa. We all have areas of weakness but we also all have daily choices to make. Daily decisions that keep our spiritual growth in a place of priority or on the back burner of daily life. 

The same is true of the discipline of prayer. Whether it comes naturally to you or not, it is a gift of communion with The Father making your walk ever deeper than it was before. As with any discipline the more you do it, the more comfortable you become and before you know it you have developed a life-giving habit of open communication with God! 

This week we will work together to enter into intentional prayer. We will be using the acronym P.A.R.T.S to help us develop this discipline in our life. 

P- Praise

A- Ask

R- Repent

T- Thanks

S- Share

Monday

• Read Psalm 92:1. What does this scripture say about praise

When we talk about using praise as a part of our prayer life it is about praising God simply for who He is. Thanksgiving and praise can often be combined into one but it is important to separate who He is from what He does for us. Having a healthy view of the mighty God we serve is important. And when it comes to our prayer life, recognizing the attributes of God only enhances the power and confidence behind our prayers. (This also relates to our spiritual discipline of CELEBRATION!) 

• Read Hebrews 13:8 and Psalm 18:2. Write a prayer of praise using these two scriptures as a reference as you end your time today. 

Tuesday

• Read 1 John 5 :14. What does this scripture say about asking in prayer?

As you pray you will have requests for yourself and for others. This time in your prayer is about you and God. Focus on what your needs are. Laying our needs before Him is an act of SURRENDER or SUBMISSION (another spiritual discipline). This time is about giving control over to God. This is important because as we studied when we took a deeper look at submission, it helps keep our perspective in a healthy place. 

• Read 1 Peter 5:7. What does this say about casting our cares or anxieties on God?

God does hear us! Today as you end your time, lay your personal burdens before the throne of God in prayer. Write your prayer here. Be sure to begin your prayer time with Praise and then Ask! 

Wednesday

Today we will take a look at repenting. Woah, this is a scary word. It is so hard to admit when we have been wrong, done something wrong, have sin in our lives or a sinful attitude at work in our hearts. But, it is necessary to allow God to convict us and challenge us in new ways as we grow in our spiritual walk. The key is to be open to God’s voice and the working of the Holy Spirit to convict us of things in our lives that might need to change or areas of our lives we still need to grow up in! 

• Read 1 Peter 1:16. What do you think this scripture has to do with repenting?

In an article written by Matt Erbaugh he said,
“True repentance comes not merely by understanding the relational aspect of sin, but by understanding the nature of the One with whom we are in relationship. In other words, the more we see God as glorious and holy, the more we will see sin as something to weep over. Repentance is less about feeling bad over behavior, and more about feeling awe and delight towards God. The more glimpses we have of the glory of God, the more we mourn for scorning that glory. In the end, God’s plan for us is that we will be holy as he is holy (1 Peter 1:16). He will surely do it! In the meantime, he desires a brokenhearted people who have learned to mourn over their sin.”

Repentance is a step toward doing our best to live a life of humility, which means we are open to God challenging us in new ways in order for us to grow toward becoming more like Him! 

• Read 1 John 1:9. What does this say about confessing our sins?

Today in your prayer time Praise, Ask and then Repent. Ask The Lord to convict your heart of any areas where you need to grow, any areas of sin in your life then ask His forgiveness. The key is to understand that once you have confessed it and repented of it asking for His forgiveness, God casts it as far as the east is from the west. He forgets. Leave it at His feet and work toward building healthy habits, good spiritual disciplines in your life to keep you in a place of following Him closely! If you fall back into a bad habit come back to Him, repent and ask for His help as you begin again! Nobody’s perfect, God loves a contrite heart, He loves you and He will walk with you as you do the hard work to continually grow. Don’t give up! Write your prayer down.

Thursday

Today is THANKSGIVING Day! We get to sit in a place where we remember His goodness toward us and those we love today! 

• Read 1 Chronicles 16:34. Why should we thank God? 

• Read Colossians 4:2. How does being “watchful” affect our ability to be “thankful?”

Today as you end your time Praise, Ask, Repent and then give Thanks! Be mindful of how He has been at work in your life or in the lives of those you have prayed for. Thank Him for the BIG and the small ways He has been present and at work in your life and the lives of those around you. Write your prayer down.

 

Friday

You may be wondering what’s up with this “Share” aspect of prayer. This is where you share what’s on your heart in the form of requests for others. This can be specific prayer requests for individuals, for your family, friends, community, church, work, state, country and the world at large. You can choose one or two requests to focus on each day and/or you can keep a list that you pray in generality for. How you choose to put this aspect of prayer into place is up to you. 

• Read Philippians 4:4-7. What does this say about bringing your requests before God?

• What is the result of laying your requests at His feet?

Again, this is an act of submission. This is understanding that God is God and we are not. We stop trying to control, we stop allowing these requests to fill us with worry and anxiety and we leave them at His feet to work out His best plan! It’s hard. I know! But, there is so much peace to be found we put this into action in our lives. 

Today as you end your time put all 5 PARTS of prayer into play! Praise, Ask, Repent, be Thankful and Share your requests. This is just one formula of how to pray. There may be another way that works best for you. Again, the key is to find what works and do it! Discipline yourself to pray daily and keep your eyes open for the surprising goodness of God!!! Remember to use this in tandem with the spiritual discipline of silence. Listen for the voice of God. Do you see Him at work? Do you hear Him in scripture, in a devotion or in the voice of another person? Do you remember Him, His past goodness? Prayer is not just about us talking to Him. It is also about us hearing from Him! Write your prayer here:

SPIRITUAL DISCIPLINES: WEEK FIVE

Each drop down contains daily questions. Click the button below to print off a worksheet for the whole week.

Introduction

This week’s Spiritual Discipline is study. Richard Foster in his book Celebration of Discipline said, “The purpose of the Spiritual Disciplines is the total transformation of the person. They aim at replacing old destructive habits of thought with new life-giving habits. Nowhere is this purpose more clearly seen than in the Discipline of study. The apostle Paul tells us that we are transformed through the renewal of the mind (Romans 12:2). The mind is renewed by applying it to those things that will transform it.” 

 

Study is important but we do not study for the sake of study alone, this leads to legalism. We do not embrace the knowledge of God’s Word for knowledge sake along. Instead, we embrace knowledge for the sake of life transformation! Embrace this discipline fully, allow it to permeate your life and watch as a transformation takes place! 

 

There are many different ways to study The Word of God. The method we will be highlighting this week is the W.O.R.D method. We will also highlight briefly another method on Wednesday to help you organize your thoughts on scripture. You may want to use a different method and that is ok. Just find what works for you and go for it! 

Monday

The letters in the W.O.R.D method stand for write, observe, relevant, declare. This week we will explore one of these tools then on Friday we will put them all together. Today let’s talk about the “W”, write.  In Proverbs 3:1-3 it says to “write the words on your heart.” This tool is not just an activity to do, it is about retaining the word in our hearts and minds. When we write something down it is easier to recall and remember. This tool is exactly what it says. Find a piece of paper, dedicate a journal or a notebook and write down a scripture a day or maybe a section of scripture for the week. How you choose to flesh this out doesn’t matter. What matters is doing it and how it transforms you. After you write it down, read over it a few times and let it sink in. This is where the Spiritual Discipline of meditation will walk in tandem with study! Now let’s practice!

• Read Isaiah 43:2. Write it down in a journal, notebook, on a piece of paper or on this worksheet if you have printed it out. Then read it through several times. While you are reading, if any thoughts come to mind write them down as well. 

• Remember as you do this exercise to incorporate the other spiritual disciplines of meditation, silence and solitude, celebration and submission.  Be sure to end your time alone with The Lord in prayer. 

Tuesday

Yesterday we focused on the “W” in W.O.R.D. Today we will be focusing on the “O.” The “O” stands for observe. This is about observing key words in a scripture. You can ask five questions: Who, What, When, Where and Why. This will require some research but you can do it!  So, today “Write” the scripture down then “Observe.” Underline the key words in the scripture, read it several times, ask the 5 “W’ questions and write down your thoughts. Let’s practice:

• Read Matthew 6:31-33 and go through the steps outlined above.

• Remember as you do this exercise to incorporate the other spiritual disciplines of meditation, silence and solitude, celebration and submission.  Be sure to end your time alone with The Lord in prayer. 

 

Wednesday

We focused on the “W” and the “O” in W.O.R.D over the last couple of days, write and observe. Today we will be focusing on the “R” which stands for relevant. This is when we step into the life-transforming power of The Word of God. We ask the question: How is this relevant to my life? 

• Read 1 Peter 5:10. Write it down. Observe key words, underlining them and asking the 5 “w” questions. 

• After you have written and observed, ask the question: How is this relevant to my life? Write down your response on the same piece of paper as the written scripture. 

• Remember as you do this exercise to incorporate the other spiritual disciplines of meditation, silence and solitude, celebration and submission.  Be sure to end your time alone with The Lord in prayer. 

Thursday

We focused on the “W,” the “O,” and the “R” in W.O.R.D over the last few days, write, observe, and relevant. Today we will focus on the “D,” declare. This walks hand in hand with where we have been in our First Church sermon series on Declarations. This is where you can declare a portion of scripture over your life. Claim the promise of the scripture over your day, declare the changes you will make to your life as a result of the teaching of this scripture or declare the encouragement or affirmation you have received as a result of reading this scripture. Let’s practice:

• Read Philippians 4:13. Write it down. Observe key words, underlining them and asking the 5 “w” questions. After you have written and observed, ask the question: How is this relevant to my life? Then declare it. Write the scripture in prayer form or write it down in declaration form using the above instructions as a guide! 

• Remember as you do this exercise to incorporate the other spiritual disciplines of meditation, silence and solitude, celebration and submission. Be sure to end your time alone with The Lord in prayer. 

Friday

This week we have been focusing on the W.O.R.D method of studying scripture. We chose to use a different scripture each day. However, you can use the same scripture, portions of scripture or chapter of scripture and focus on it using the W.O.R.D method all week. Within these disciplines you get to decide how to put them into practice in your own life. That is the beauty of this: you can tailor your time with The Lord to have the most impact in your own personal walk. Whatever works and keeps you deeply engaged is exactly what you should do. Remember the disciplines are not the goal. The goal is a closer walk with Jesus!

• Today, I want to give you one other way to study God’s Word. This is called the “Column” method. Here is how it works: choose a scripture then divide a piece of paper into labeled columns and interact with the scripture based on the heading in the column. I have given you an example of how to do this below for your interaction with scripture today. If you choose to use this method, you can label these columns however it best works for you! Let’s practice:

• Read Luke 5:12-16. Now, interact with the scripture and write your thoughts of this portion of scripture as directed by the column headings: “Put in your own words”, “Insights” and “My Lessons”. Download the worksheet using the button above to get a better undstanding.

• Just a reminder that you can have insight into a scripture, noticing key things you may have never noticed before but it may not directly apply to your life today. You should still write those insights down because they may apply to your life in the future or God may give you that particular insight to share with someone else. This is just another method of study. Again, you can title the columns to fit your time with The Lord if you prefer this method of study. 

• Remember as you do this exercise to incorporate the other spiritual disciplines of meditation, silence and solitude, celebration and submission.  Be sure to end your time alone with The Lord in prayer. 

SPIRITUAL DISCIPLINES: WEEK FOUR

Each drop down contains daily questions. Click the button below to print off a worksheet for the whole week.

Introduction

This week’s Spiritual Discipline is Submission. When you look at the word submission there is a bent toward humility. When thinking of submitting to the will of another there is a letting go that needs to happen and our ego must take a backseat. There is quite possibly no other spiritual discipline that is more misunderstood or abused than submission. It can be used as a legalistic form of bondage used to manipulate and destroy people. We need to work our way into and through this discipline with great care and wisdom so we are sure we are dwelling in life-giving activities and not activities bringing destruction to our spiritual walk. 

At this point in our study I feel it necessary to remind you of one important thing: the disciplines are not the answer they only serve to lead you to THE ANSWER…Jesus! We must make sure the disciplines do not become our central focus. Jesus is the focus and the disciplines are the tools we use to help us focus on Him. We are seeking freedom through the disciplines…we are not in bondage to the disciplines. Liberation is the end result. Freedom in Christ is the goal. Richard Foster in his book “Celebration of Discipline” says, “Let us forever center on Christ and view the Spiritual Disciplines as a way of drawing us closer to his heart. 

Every discipline has a corresponding freedom. The freedom we gain through submission is the ability to lay down the need to have things our way, laying the burden of life’s circumstances and plan squarely on The One who is strong enough to shoulder that burden. This is an issue of trust! We will explore this more as the week progresses.

Monday

This week we practiced sabbath on Monday so if you are just joining us in this study we would encourage you to take a day to rest. Do only things that are life-giving to you (lay aside work of any kind), praising God throughout the day and spend some focused personal time with The Lord. 

Tuesday

If you honestly think about it, most things in life are not as big a deal as we make them. The need for things to go exactly as we want them to go is an all too common societal illness these days. If we could come to realize the true gravity of what we are obsessing over, putting it in its proper place we might be able to loosen our grip on things and live a bit lighter…more free. 

• What is something in your life you have a tendency to “obsess” over? Be honest about something you expect to get your way in.

• Submitting our issues to The Lord is the only way to determine between a true serious issue and our own stubborn self involved will. 

• Read Mark 8:34. What does this scripture have to do with submission?

• End your day today by sitting with The Lord in silence beginning with the question: Father, is there anything in my life I am holding on to too tightly? 

• After you have asked this question write down anything that comes to your mind. Then pray the simple prayer: God, I lay this at your feet. I let go of this and ask you to do the hard work of bearing this burden for me.

At the end of your prayer time spend a few minutes in celebration of who God is to you and how He has shown His faithfulness to you. 

Wednesday

When we talk of submitting our wills to The Father there is a bit of angst in that because it feels as if we are losing control. However, the freedom there is that we don’t lose it. We freely give control to The One who knows infinitely more than we know and can see more than we can see. In the end, we are gaining the freedom to live without fear because we trust The One who has our backs! Stepping fully into submission, giving up our wants and the way we want things, requires trust! 

• Read Psalm 9:10. How do we get to “know His name?”

• Read Isaiah 26:3. We have read this scripture before but it bears reading again. How do we gain peace?

• Here is where all of these disciplines begin to work together for our good. When our minds are focused on God it puts everything else in perspective. You see, submission to Him comes so much easier when we keep the make thing, the main thing. When God is fully in focus the things that may seem big begin to shrink in comparison to His greatness.

Spend time at the end of this day praising God for His greatness and asking Him if there is anything you have allowed to get out of focus in your life. 

Thursday

• Read Jeremiah 29:11. What kind of plans does God have for us?

• Read James 1:17. What does this scripture say about God? How does this scripture apply to His trustworthiness?

• While life is full of change, big and small, God does not change. His heart for you is steadfast and true. End today by writing down anything in your life you have trouble trusting God with. 

 

Friday

• Read Psalm 37:4-6. Take some time to meditate on this scripture. Sit in silence and solitude with it. Celebrate who God is. Then ask The Lord if there is anything you need to commit to Him…anything you need to submit to Him and let go of. Write down your thoughts.

• I would recommend making this a regular part of your walk with The Lord…inspection of your heart and submission to Him as your Lord!!!

SPIRITUAL DISCIPLINES: WEEK THREE

Each drop down contains daily questions. Click the button below to print off a worksheet for the whole week.

Introduction

This week is Holy Week and I think it is fitting to study this particular spiritual discipline as we approach the celebration of The Resurrection. Celebration is at the heart of the way of Jesus. He entered the world surrounded by a celebration of epic proportions. The angels proclaimed in Luke 2:10, “I bring you good news of great joy, which shall come to all the people.” And, in the days leading to His ascension into heaven after the resurrection he gifted His joy to the disciples in John 15:11, “These things I have spoken to you that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.” His life was wrapped in Joy from the very beginning and He always intended for our lives to be wrapped in it as His was! 

The beginning point for celebration is in the loosening of our grip on anxiety, worry and fear. It does not mean the absence of those things. It just simply means they are not in control. It is casting those things onto Him. Allowing Him to shoulder the burden for us. In doing so, our mourning can be turned to dancing. 

One definition of celebration is “to honor by refraining from ordinary business, or to mark by deviating from normal routine.” In the spiritual discipline I step outside business as usual to honor God. I lay everything else aside and find joy simply in His presence, celebrating Him for The Almighty God He is and the worth I attribute to Him in doing so. 

Harvey Cox says, “Modern man has been pressed so hard toward useful work and rational calculation he has all but forgotten the joy of ecstatic celebration.” We have an unprecedented opportunity during this crazy season of sheltering in place to set aside the pressing and regain the joy of celebration. 

This may seem like an odd time in history to rediscover or discover for the first time the Spiritual Discipline of Celebration but this discipline is a “difference maker.” This is a perspective shift from the heavy to the light…from the weight of a situation to the One who would bear your weight for you! In shifting your focus, looking square at the One who gave His life for you celebration, joy, thanksgiving and jubilation should be the natural byproduct. 

Meditate on His Word, sit with Him in silence and solitude as the swirling sediment of life settles and when you see yourself and God more clearly listen and then celebrate!

 

Monday

Augustine of Hippo said, “The Christian should be an alleluia from head to foot!”

Give yourself a “alleluia” rating from 1 to 10, 1 being I may have a smidge of alleluia in my little toe to 10 being I am so saturated in alleluia it’s dripping off of me! 

If you have rated yourself any lower than an 8 what do you think keeps you from living a life of joy in Jesus? (Set the pandemic aside and try to answer this based on who you were before COVID-19 came into the picture.) 

• Read Philippians 4:4. When are we to have joy in The Lord

• Read Romans 15:13. Where does our joy come from?

• According to Romans 15:13, what is the result of joy?

Joy is the result of our belief in God and the result is abounding hope! The emotion of joy produces celebration in our lives. We all celebrate differently. The question is: are you a person of celebration? Some of us would say, no. Others would say, yes. And, some would say, sometimes. The honest truth is, we could probably all use a little work in this area especially right now. So this week let’s do the hard work together of becoming disciplined celebrators! Sounds fun, doesn’t it? 

Tuesday

• Read Nehemiah 8:10. Where does this scripture say our joy comes from?

Joy in the original Hebrew here means to rejoice or make glad and strength means to be strong or prevail. In other words, “When we rejoice in The Lord we will prevail.” WOW!!!! What a GREAT word of truth for us today! The celebration of our faith makes us stronger! 

• Read 2 Chronicles 20:20-22. What was it that won this battle for the army of God?

• The worship and celebration of God won the battle. Take stock of your own personal life, aside from the obvious answer of COVID-19, what are the battles you are fighting right now? 

• Now, write down the joyful things in your life you can celebrate right now. 

Take a few minutes at the close of this day to meditate on Nehemiah 8:10. Sit in silence and solitude and ask God to identify anything in your life you need to loosen your grip on and let Him take control. Now, spend time celebrating “the letting go.” Thank God for the way He is already at work, even if you can’t see it. Celebrate The Good Good God He is for a few moments then breathe a prayer asking God to renew your strength and find new hope in His presence today!

 

Wednesday

In the book “The Spirit of the Disciplines” Dallas Willard says, “Here is one of the most important disciplines, yet most overlooked and misunderstood. It is the completion of worship, for it dwells on the greatness of God as shown in his goodness to us. We engage in celebration when we enjoy ourselves, our life, our world, in conjunction with our faith and confidence in God’s greatness, beauty, and goodness. We concentrate on our life and world as God’s work and as God’s gift to us.”

Today’s exercise is simple, look for God in your life today. Look for Him as you walk, look for Him in nature, as you wash dishes, as you laugh and play with your kids, or as you sit alone in silence reading. He is there. He is near. Look for Him and when you see Him, hear Him, sense His presence…celebrate it. Write down your thoughts here in the space provided or in a journal. 

As you celebrate, read 1 Chronicles 29:11. Personalize this scripture and rewrite it as if you were celebrating Him today through this scripture!

 

Thursday

• On Monday we read Philippians 4:4. Today, read Philippians 4: 4-8. Write in your own words what Paul says about rejoicing. 

Living in the world today causes anxiety. It causes cares and troubles but Paul tells us to be “full of care for NOTHING.” This is hard because we have been trained since childhood to “be careful.” In “Celebration of Discipline” Richard Foster says, “The spirit of celebration will not be in us until we have learned to be ‘careful for nothing.’ And we will never have a carefree indifference to things until we trust in God.”

• Trusting God has a lot to do with our state of mind. We have talked a lot about this during our look at Spiritual Disciplines. Paul speaks to this exact issue in Philippians 4:8. What are the things we are to set our minds on? 

This is God’s way of helping us trust Him a little deeper and in the process find joy. The encouragement in His Word to place our thoughts on the lovely. This is an act of the will and it takes discipline. But, the result of this mind shift is trust, joy and celebration. There is healing in this place of celebration. It keeps us from taking ourselves too seriously…healing us from an overdeveloped ego. Our bodies can become tired from overwork…celebration helps us relax and find joy in the good things of life. Our minds become taxed, stressed and anxiety riddled…celebration changes our perspective freeing us from the cares keeping us in bondage, increasing our focus allowing us clarity for the day. 

• What are some other benefits of celebration?

Spiritual Disciplines bring freedom to our lives as we live in step with The Spirit of God. Celebrating this freedom is not only healthy but it allows us to live in the strength of the joy of The Lord. Practice it often in big and small ways. Celebrate the goodness of God, even in the darkest times. It’s an act of the will just as all of the other disciplines. 

End your time today celebrating God for a simple joy in your life today. 

 

Friday

Let’s put all the disciplines we have talked about together to end the week:

Meditate on 1 Peter 1:8-9. Write down your thoughts. Sit in silence and solitude praying the short prayer you have created to help you focus on The Lord. After your time of silence, pray a prayer of Thanksgiving then find a way to celebrate. Write a prayer of celebration, turn on some worship music and sing along, go for a walk and take notice of God’s hand at work and give Him praise as you walk…this is between you and The Lord. After your time of celebration write down how you celebrated and how it made you feel as a result. Writing it down is just a reminder of what He said to you this week and the joy you found in His presence!  

 

SPIRITUAL DISCIPLINES: WEEK TWO

Each drop down contains daily questions. Click the button below to print off a worksheet for the whole week.

Introduction

If we look at our walk with The Lord as a journey we can gain a unique perspective. Richard Rohr once said, “A good journey begins with knowing where we are and being willing to go somewhere else.” Where are you? Are you willing to go somewhere else? These two questions are the catalysts pushing us toward Spiritual Disciplines…toward Silence and Solitude in order to hear from God in new and exciting ways. 

During this pandemic, our normal everyday life as we knew it has come to a screeching halt. Some of us would even describe this time as a “dark night of the soul” kind of time. In Richard Foster’s book “Celebration of Discipline” he says, “The dark night is one of the ways God brings us into a hush, a stillness so that he may work an inner transformation upon the soul.” So, why not make these days of solitude count? Maybe in these days of sheltering in place we will gain new knowledge of what it means beyond this time, when life returns to a semblance of normalcy, to have in place the discipline of stepping away to shelter in place with God Almighty. 

I believe these disciplines can bring about a connection with The Father like none we have ever experienced. If God’s children would fully embrace stepping away with him in silence and solitude on a regular basis we could be free of ourselves and free to be fully present in the work God is doing in us! 

(Parents: For those of you that think this is impossible right now let me just say this: this time with your kids is a golden opportunity to begin helping them develop spiritual disciplines. What if you talked about this as a family and instituted a few minutes of “silence & solitude” as a family? Give them a scripture, a Bible Story or something else to think about then after your 15 minutes of silence have a conversation as a family. Opening the door for spiritual conversations is great for kids and for you. It can deepen relationships in ways you never thought possible!)

Monday

Today read the story of Elijah and Jezebel in 1 Kings 18:1 – 19:15.

Elijah found himself under a broom tree wishing for death immediately following a HUGE win. He was afraid of Jezebel right after God had done amazing things through him. He was literally sitting under the broom tree of fear and despair. 

• Where are you today? If you could name your broom tree what would you name it?

• Are you willing to go somewhere else with God?

• Where do you think God is asking you to go with Him?

 

Tuesday

As we said in our introduction, Spiritual Disciplines are things we do. They are actions we take. You see, it is one thing for us to talk about Silence and Solitude and another to actually put it into practice. So, what are some steps we can take to put this into practice? Over the next three days let’s look at some specific ways of putting this into practice. 

Take full advantage of the small moments of solitude and silence that pop up throughout our day. For example, set your alarm to get up before the rest of the house comes alive for the day. Even if it’s just for 15 minutes, grab your cup of coffee and sit in silence alone with The Lord breathing a simple prayer, “Lord, I am with you today! Speak to me. I am listening.” Then sit and listen. Maybe the only time in your day when you are not bothered is when you are making a meal or even when you are getting ready for the day. Whatever that time is…make it count…use it to set your mind of The Lord and dwell in silence, alone with him. We like to fill every moment with noise…podcasts, music, news, etc…turn it off and turn your mind heavenward. Practice silently dwelling in His presence. 

• Ecclesiastes 3:7 says, “A time to keep silent and a time to speak.” 

• What time did you set aside today to “keep silent?”

 

Wednesday

Looking back at the story of Elijah in 1 Kings 19 you see God guiding Elijah to a cave to wait and watch for Him. Today, we will look at another way to put this spiritual discipline into practice in our lives.

Create a space in your home where you can steal away for a short amount of time in silence and solitude. It doesn’t have to be an entire room, it can be, but it doesn’t have to be. It could be a chair that your family designates. When someone is sitting in that particular chair they are saying, “I need alone time right now.” Of course, this space does not have to be inside your home. It can be in your car, in your backyard, on your front porch, driving to and from work or even just sitting in your car in the driveway to escape the noise of your home! Wherever it is, be intentional. 

• Read Matthew 14:22-23. What were the steps Jesus took to be alone with His Father?

• What is your plan to put this into practice in your life?

 

Thursday

Begin practicing this time of Solitude and Silence with modest goals. Ten to fifteen minutes is a great place to start. Based on your personality, your availability, your family dynamics, etc…you may want to increase this time as you grow in this discipline. Ruth Haley Barton says, “The amount of time is not nearly as important as the regularity of the practice.” 

Once you have asked the hard questions of where you want to go, you’ve spent time identifying the small moments of silence and solitude, you have set a place for this discipline, and you have set a time goal for this practice now let’s talk about the content of this time. 

In Ruth Haley Barton’s book “Invitation to Solitude and Silence” she says, “Ask God to give you a simple prayer that expresses your openness and desire for God. Choose a prayer phrase that expresses your desire or need for God these days in the simplest terms possible. It is best if the prayer is no more than six or eight syllables so that it can be prayed very naturally. Pray this prayer while sitting alone in silence.”

Now, distractions will happen…it’s inevitable but when something interrupts your silence and your mind is pulled away, use this prayer to bring you back to your time alone with God. 

Psalm 119:10 would be a great verse to adapt into a simple prayer for this time. “With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments.” 

This could be prayer this way: “God, I seek you, let me not wander.”

Today, ask God to help you develop this prayer of focus…the prayer that will help put your heart and mind in a place to sit alone in silence with God and listen. 

Write your prayer down in a safe place.

Friday

As you settle into this routine you can set an alarm on your phone to end your time or you can be more organic with it and just sit until you feel like you are released. The way to end your time of silence is with a prayer of Thanksgiving and a time to journal what you feel like you learned from God about yourself or about Him in this time. 

Psalm 28:7 is a great example of giving thanks!!! Read this scripture and let it be an inspiration to you for praying a prayer of Thanksgiving! 

Now…let’s put it all together. Sometime today or over the course of this weekend put everything you have learned about the Spiritual Disciplines of silence and solitude into practice. Be sure to record what you have learned. 

The challenge now is to put this into the regular rhythm of your life. Is this a once a day practice for a short period of time and then a once a week longer period of time? Record what your goal will be in regards to this Spiritual Discipline…then consider using your google calendar or your alarm on your phone to remind you to be still, silent and alone with God on a regular basis! 

SPIRITUAL DISCIPLINES: WEEK ONE

Each drop down contains daily questions. Click the button below to print off a worksheet for the whole week.

Introduction

Spiritual Disciplines are the tools in our spiritual toolbox that help us build a deep relationship with God. They are activities not attitudes. They aid us in an inner transformation of the heart resulting in an external transformation. In a nutshell Spiritual Disciplines propel us in our endeavor as believers to look more and more like Jesus.

We are beginning our deep dive into Spiritual Disciplines with Meditation. Now, don’t let this word confuse you or cause alarm. Eastern Religion has hijacked this word and used it in an unbiblical way. The Eastern Religion version of meditation is about “emptying.” In contrast, meditation in The Bible is about “filling.” Yes, we empty ourselves of distractions but we are making room for The Holy Spirit to fill us. Specifically, we meditate or in other words, focus on The Word of God in order to be filled with the presence of God, transforming us from the inside out.

Monday

• Read Isaiah 26:3. What does this scripture have to do with meditating on God’s Word?
• Read Psalm 1:2. When are we to meditate on God’s Word?
• Read Psalm 119:15. What is the definition of precept? What do you think it means to “consider” the ways of God?
• Read Philippians 4:8. How could meditating on God’s Word change the way we think?
• The discipline of Meditating on God’s Word is really about asking two questions:

  1. What is God saying?
  2. What am I going to do about it?

So, now let’s put this spiritual discipline to practice! Over the course of the rest of the week read the verses provided for you in the list below, sit with them in a quiet place, pray that God would speak to you as you read His Word. Don’t just read the scripture once. Read it a few times. You can write it on a note card and read it occasionally throughout the day as you have a minute. Think about it throughout the day and write down your thoughts. 

What difference does this portion of scripture make in your life? What is God saying to you? What is it teaching you? How is it challenging you? What are you going to do about it? What action steps will you take to put whatever He is saying to you in place in your life?

Tuesday

• Read Psalm 119:9-11.
• What is God saying to you?
• What are you going to do about it?

 

Wednesday

• Read Philippians 4:10-13.
• What is God saying to you?
• What are you going to do about it?

Thursday

• Read Isaiah 43:18-19.
• What is God saying to you?
• What are you going to do about it?

 

Friday

• Read Philippians 1: 3-11.
• What is God saying to you?
• What are you going to do about it?

Closing

C.S. Lewis once said, “There are far better things ahead than any we leave behind.” We have said several times, instead of counting the days, make the days count. Making these days count will be easier when we make a decision about what we want the destination on the other side of this to look like. Who do we want to be when this is over? Declare the better things ahead! Claim them! Make your walk with Jesus a priority during this time and embrace new disciplines in your spiritual life.

I will post an opportunity on Facebook for interaction with these scriptures each day. I cannot wait to see what God says to you through this time and what you are doing with it! Thank you for going on this journey with me! -Crystal Colp