Developing your Walk with God
A disciple is willing to grow in Christ!
Open Q: What does it mean to be a mature Christian? What are you willing to do about it?
READ 2 Peter 1:5-7
- I. Introduction:
John Bunyan said: “Prayer is a sincere, sensible, affectionate pouring out of the heart or soul to God, through Christ, in the strength and assistance of the Holy Spirit, for such things as God has promised, or according to his Word, for the good of the church, with submission in faith to the will of God.”
Being a disciple encompasses more than just asking Christ in, and goes far beyond baptism. Our conversion, our acceptance of Christ as Savior, our election, is only the beginning, the entrance into the faith and Christian life. Accepting Christ is not the only act of being a Christian! It would be like joining a club, but never venturing into the club. Yes you may be saved, and then you are perhaps baptized as and public initiation or dedication. Acceptance by what Christ has done is to be the door through which we go into our walk of faith, as is our profession or testimony of our faith publicly. It does not stop there! It starts there!
We here are fortunate to be a part of LAC a church that is concerned with discipleship and missions. But have you wondered what does the average church or Christian do about discipleship? In most churches, people are encouraged to accept Christ or make a profession of faith or baptized. Then, they are congratulated, put on the membership role, and then quickly forgotten. Sadly, the Church as become warehouses holding Christians as a testimony to numbers and perceived success, as a whole has forsaken discipleship for cheep programs with no teaching or meaning, and has left its members to figure out these spiritual growth things on their own. In doing so, it causes many to give up on Christianity, while others become confused, calloused, or complacent, or they are swept away by false doctrines and cults because they do not know the difference…
<BREAK INTO 4 GROUPS>
Assign one Q to each group: ask each other, “Where am I?” in these thoughts:
1. When we live just for and to ourselves, we miss opportunities, learning experiences, and growth, and we exchange an eternity of rewards for a limited time of fun. Q: How have you seen this in your life?
2. Jesus lived and died on our behalf, for He willingly gave up His life by paying the penalty for our sins. He allows us not only to escape the fires of hell, but also to give us eternal life. Q: What has been your response?
3. Being a true disciple means having a willingness to trust Him completely in all aspects of our lives from the highest highs to the lowest lows. It means we are not only willing to trust Him to provide for our salvation, but we trust Him for the future. We are to trust Him even when we do not know, like, or understand, when or where He is leading is unpopular! Q: What is in the way from this happening fully in my life?
4. Being a true disciple allows us to put our hand to the plow and not look back. As we grow in Christ, we become increasingly unsatisfied with anything less than His call and character. Q: Has this become a reality in your walk with Christ?
God does not ask us to seek converts, He simply asks us to do Discipleship. Discipleship is modeling and teaching Christians the precepts of the Bible—mainly prayer, doctrine, Christian living, all leading to the main thing: worship. Yes, we are still to evangelize, but that is not our main mission and call! When we evangelize, we must realize that it is the role of the Holy Spirit to bring people into an intimate relationship with God. This is an act of divine intervention and grace. He uses us as the tools, but He is the means! We are to care, and share with others His love and character. We obey and reach, but we cannot lead people anywhere. He is the One who leads!
This leads us to our role, which is to model to the convert Christ-like character, encouraging others to surrender themselves to Jesus Christ (Gal. 2:20-21). However, this is only the beginning! Jesus is the author and finisher of our faith. Surrender is the process in which we grow toward Him and His will and away from our Will. Surrender is making Christ Lord of all of our life. We have to get rid of our perceptions, reckless ideas, faulty thinking, and other such things that are barriers to our growth, so we can make room for Him. Jesus authors our faith, and teaches us how to run the race according to God’s will, His glory, His worship, and His purpose. Thus, we gain a deeper intimacy with our Lord as our Commander and Friend, as our God and our King and the provider of Grace, as our Love, and our reason for being. In His purposes, we find real contentment, joy, and fulfillment.
II. GETTING STARTED: How to Build a devotional time!
Humbleness is characterized by the willingness to grow in Christ, and receive learning and experience growth. One of the best ways to do this is personal devotion time and being a part of a small group. Peter tells us we ought to be humble toward one other so that we can know the grace of God and not be in opposition to God. Then secondly, he says, we had better be humble, not only toward one another, but toward God. This is so straightforward. This is so essential to be a blessed Christian and church, to be a growing Christian and church, not in numbers, but in what is most important discipleship!
How can I do this?
A. GOAL: See were you are at Spiritually and determine where you need to go. Then make a goal, and understand your GOAL. Your goal is to become complete, that is fullness in Christ, (Col. 1: 28), or to say it another way, to become a mature Christian, i.e. a person whose attitudes and actions are like Christ’s. (Eph. 4: 13)
B. PROCESS: Understand the PROCESS is the main growth builder. An essential step toward reaching your goal is to spend personal, daily time with God. Thus, the journey is as important if not more than the destination, because in our walk we are learning and growing! If we just showed up to the goal without the struggles of getting there we would not have built any depth, strength or maturity! Make sure your goals are a match to God’s! We must never allow our presumptions and pride to cloud His way!
C. PLAN: PLAN ahead, this does not automatically happen. Sit down on Sunday and decide exactly what paragraphs or chapters you will be studying during each of the next seven days. Doing this will eliminate the problem of spending half your devotion time trying to decide what you will study that day. You can use a Bible reading chart, quality devotional books, a pre written guide, but try not to just dive in. Because you will get much more out of your experience by having a plan.
D. CONTENT: Put VARIETY and CONSISTENCY in what you study. One month you might study an Epistle. Then you might spend a month or two in a narrative passage such as I Samuel. Then you might go back to the N. T. to study a doctrinal passage such as Romans. Then maybe switch again to a Minor prophet such as Joel. Try to go through the entire Bible In your devotional study in a year or two at most. Do not stay in just one section, such as the Epistles. Do not use the same plan year after year, break it up, and try new ones. Do the same with your devotional books, mix them up. If you have a good one such as My Utmost for His Highest, stick with it for the entire year and then go to another one and then go back to Chambers in the following year. HiiiiiiBecause when we are too consistent it may turn into rhetoric and then you will have time in your habit and not with Christ!
E: FOCUS: So set aside time each day and go for it with passion and vigor. Let Christ transform you through His Word. ATTITUDE: Start with the proper attitude! You are going before a Holy GOD!!! Usually it’s good to spend most of your devotional times closely examining a few verses, not rushing trough a lot of passages. Some find it best to take notes and write down questions and ask a mentor. Also you can set aside one day a week to switch from taking detailed notes on a few verses to reading a chapter or two from a different passage without taking any notes. Whatever way you choose to go, stay focused and do not bite off more than you can chew!
F: MATERIALS: Buy a good Bible in an easy to read translation such as the NLT so you can easily understand what you are reading. For serious study use the NIV or NASB or NKJV. The best devotional books are “My Utmost for His Highest” by Chambers and “Evening by Evening” by Spurgeon. You can also get a notebook to write down what you learn and any questions you may have that can be used exclusively for things to do with your relationship to God and to other believers.
G. PLACE OR LOCATION: Select a quiet place where you can study free from distractions. Remove all distractions, Such as close the drapes, shut the door, clear all busy work from your desk, take the phone off the hook, and lock the cat in the bathroom, whatever it takes. Be serious about meeting God.
H. TIME: Select a time. Usually the early morning is best, because outside distractions are least during this time. If you are not a morning person, do it when you are at most alert, you are to give God your best! Set aside “x” number of minutes to study, and “y” number of minutes to pray. Be flexible to the Spirit’s leading within this framework! If you have a short attention span as I do, then break it up throughout the day. Perhaps read in the morning from the OT, a passage from the NT at lunch and read a devotion and intercessory prayer before bed.
From the character of Christ will come the conduct of Christ, if we chose to follow Him. Then, those values of our daily walk, which drive our behaviors, will, in turn, influence others and build our character. You cannot lead where you have not been, or where you do not know the direction to go. This is why discipleship is so essential to the aspect of being a Christian. We are called, not to just visualize discipleship, but to do it; not to just talk about it, but to do it. One cannot just think about dinner and satisfy their hunger; the ingredients need to be gathered, the meal has to be prepared, then it is eaten! The Christian who wants to become more deep and mature and the effective church will take Scripture and the call of our Lord seriously, and then implement it into functioning to apply it into their lives!
A. You’ll never come to experience the full value of an devotion time until you discipline yourself to apply what you’ve learned. Study with the determination that God will give you an application.
B. Make your applications measurable. Think through the when, where, what, why, and how, such as, “I will begin showing more love to my neighbor by asking if there is anything I can pick up for them from the store when I go shopping next.”
C. At times you will see 4 or 5 specific ways the passage you studied can be applied. It is better to select one way you want to apply the Word that day and do it than to select three ways and fail. Work first on the area where you need most help.
D. Make most of your applications short-range, such as things you will do within the next 24 hours or within the next three days. Periodically God will give you an application that you’ll need to work on for a longer period of time. When that happens, rejoice; but at the same time, continue to work on fresh, short-range applications. Let God do a new work in you each day, and be thankful.
There are many ways we can do devotions and study the Bible effectively. There is no “best” way, only that we do it! Many Christians feel all they have to do for their spiritual growth is sit in a pew, turn on the television or radio, or naturally receive their knowledge for being a Christian; but this is not how to transform our lives. We must read and get into the Word of God ourselves: Through prayer, hard work, discipline, concentration, application, and even more prayer!
Take this to heart: Jesus never asked anyone to do anything without enabling them with the power to do it. Let this be you encouraging motive!
Remember, Christ loves you and wants the best for you. His way is the best way, and we need to have Him and the perspective of eternity in mind, not our limited feelings and desires!
Some passages to consider on discipleship and mentoring which are not options, but a command: Proverbs 18:24; Matthew 7:18-24; 10:1-42; 19:28-30; 28:16-20; Mark 1:1-5; 1:35 – 2:12.Luke 9:23-25; 48; Luke 14:26-27; John. 8:31; 12:20-26; John 14; 15; 1 John: 5:3; Romans 12; 1 Corinthians 3:5-11; 12; Galatians 6:1-10; 2 Timothy 2:7; 1 Peter 3:15. www.intothyword.org
Additional thoughts or a part II:
IF TIME, or for handout:
II. HELPFUL HINTS
A. Desire versus will. Often you will not desire to spend time studying the Word. At these times, remind yourself of your goal; then will (determine) to do what you know is best rather than what you feel.
B. Realize that you cannot force God to bless you. Approach your altar realizing and confessing that even in this area you are totally dependent on Him (Ps. 127) for His blessings.
C. Keep a mental dialogue going between you and God as you study; e.g. “Lord, I don’t understand this,” or, “Lord, I praise you because. . .,” or “Lord, how can I apply this?”
D. If you feel your devotional time lacks life (is dry, boring), share that fact with the Lord (Ps. 62) and with a friend, asking him or her to pray for you.
E. Discipline yourself to do much writing. Doing So will deepen your understanding of the passage as well as bring organization to your thoughts.
F. Use a Bible Dictionary. It will help you understand many words like grace, forbearance, humility, and propitiation.
G. Buy a good Bible commentary such as “Zondervan NIV Bible Commentary” and a good study Bible is “The Reformation Study Bible.” Do not become depending on commentaries for your personal nourishment; just use it to clarify hazy points and make sure you understand correctly.
III. PROCESS – USING YOUR STUDY TIME TO THE MAXIMUM
A. Praise the Lord for who He is – pray, sing, write, etc.
B. Confess known sin.
C. Select a process you will use to study the passage, See book, “Into Thy Word”.
1 . Pray.
2. Preview – read the entire passage rapidly.
3. Read the entire passage slowly.
- What does the text say? Copy verbatim the words of the text. Biblical Principles are here.
- What does the text mean? Write any and every thought the Lord gives you on the meaning or implications of the text. Ask who, what, why, where, when, how, of the text. Biblical Implications are here.
- Apply these principles and implications to your life.
- Summarize the passage with a brief phrase.
- Pray in Gratitude, or confession, or praise, or supplication.
- Tell at least one friend what you learned from the Word.
IV. VARIETY – Try using different methods of study. Remember – you are working on developing a relationship.
Make the process enjoyable. Suggestions:
A. Take the first five minutes of your devotional time to read a Psalm. Whenever the Psalmist states who God is as a person or what God does as God, pause and praise God for that fact.
B. Take a day or two each month to study in a different environment, e.g. study in a local library, or in a park, by a lake.
C. Do a character study, e.g., .’What do I learn about David in I and II Samuel?” or, “What did Jesus do to demonstrate compassion for people?” or, “How did Paul speak of other people?”
D. Do a topical study, e.g., .’What does the Scripture teach about dating? About possessions? About leadership?”
E. Do an attitude study, e.g., “What was Jesus’ attitude toward the Pharisees? Toward interruptions?”
“For the Word of God is quick and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and the joints and marrow, and is discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12 KJV)
PRELUDE INTO GOD’S TREASURE CHEST:
ATTITUDE: Start with the proper attitude! You are going before a Holy
God, so adjust yourself with these attitudes:
REVERENCE: (Hab 2:20, Psalm 89:7) Prepare your heart and mind, you are not going to a football game! Be quiet; clear your distracting thoughts and desires away!
YOUR WILL: (John 7:17f) We must be willing to not only read but to obey God’s decrees! It is not about you, it is about God! Make it your choice!
ANTICIPATION: (Psalm 63:1) We must come before God with eagerness and expectancy. This is not a chore; it is fellowship with the creator of the universe, what better time could there be!
BE ALERT: (Prv 1:7; 3:5-6) Find a time where you are most alert and awake!
BE IN LOVE: (Job 23:12; Jeremiah. 15:16) Fall in love with His Word! Have the appetite, as it was better than your favorite meal! Do not let it be just a duty! The love will increase as we increase in our effort and study!
“Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law.” (Psalm 119:18)
A very important point: For this to work, you must have a relationship with Christ, with your trust in His grace. Without it you are programming a computer without any knowledge of its language or design. You may attempt it, but all you will get is “foolishness;” as Scripture tells us, the knowledge will be hidden from you.
“The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual man makes judgments about all things, but he himself is not subject to any man’s judgment.” (I Cor. 14-15)
In God’s eyes it is far more important why we do something than that we do something, even good. (I Sam 16:7, II Chron 25:2) Thus we do not want to do the right thing with the wrong attitude and motives.
- How can you develop a good attitude, and why would that be important in life as well as Bible study?
- Why is reverence so important, what does it mean to you?
- Why should we be alert?
- Have you ever set aside time to do devotions and read the Bible by yourself on your own accord?
- If so, how did it go? How long did you last?
- If you stopped, why and what would be the essential ingredient (s) to keep plugging away at it?
- How powerful is God’s Word in your life?
See scriptures I Sam 16:7 & II Chron 25:2: Why is it more important to have a why to do good stuff instead of “just do it?”
Negative attitudes will tie us up from experiencing life, joy, fulfillment, peace, love and happiness! Negative attitudes will also get in the way of refusing to give our will up for our Lord and savior. Go through the next week being fully aware of your attitudes, keep a journal of them, that is keep track of your negative attitudes and positive attitudes. Then notice your feelings and responses in those situations.
The Preparation for Prayer
1. Desire – Want to seek Him out.
- Ps. 27:8 for a personal relationship with God. The first thing you need to do is you have to want to pray!
2. Decision – Give prayer your priority time.
- Daniel did. Daniel 6:1-3) 10
- Jesus did. Mark 1:35; Luke 6:12; 22:39-46. Make an appointment with God.
3. Determination – Make a commitment and keep it.
- Learning to pray is like learning a new language. It takes time effort and use.
- We are all beginners with prayer.
4. Expectation– God will be there to receive you. Luke 11:13; Heb. 4:16.
- He is gracious, good, eager response.
- Come to enjoy Him, to be with Him, and He with you.
- Use of meditation, hymnal, devotional guides, etc.
5. Have a place for prayer.
- Jesus did. Mark 1:35; Luke 6:12; 22:39
6. Listen for God’s Word to you. Matt. 4:4; John 15:7; II Tim, 3:16-17.
6. Pray specifically, Mark 10:50-52; Phil. 4:6.
- Faith sized requests
- Be definite – “give me this mountain” Josh, 14:12.
7. Pray persistently. Luke 11:5-10~ 18:1-8; Matt. 26:36-46
8. Pray freely and fully. Pour out your heart. Matt. 26:36-46; 27:45-46
9. When difficult or unreal pray audibly or you can write out the prayer
10. Pray confidently with thanksgiving. Phil, 4:6-7; I Thess, 5:16-18,
Ask yourself, “Am I willing to pay the cost?” Luke 9:23; Luke 14:25-35
- Jesus invites you to discipleship. But, He lets you know up front that it is a commitment that will cost you something. It is not going to be easy. You cannot just say you love the Lord. You must show it with your heart and it must transcend to your hands and feet. Then you will be Jesus’ disciple!
- Discipleship is costly because Jesus must have priority over your will, ideas, plans, and presumptions
© 2002 R.J. Krejcir Into Thy Word