Theme of the Week: New Beginnings
Bible Verse: Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. Matthew 16:24 NIV
Scripture Reading: Matthew 16:24–26; Galatians 4:19; Philippians 2:12–13
Spiritual disciplines are those biblical practices Christians develop in their lives as they walk with Jesus. They have been practiced by sincere Christians for centuries; they never grow old and never go out of style. Today’s disciples of Jesus still lean into these practices and accept the fact that following Jesus comes at a cost. He asks us all to deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow Him. The reward for us is an authentic and close relationship with Jesus that comes no other way.
Spiritual disciplines are both an event and a process. If you only see them as one or the other, you may get discouraged. Every time you pray, give thanks, or read your Bible, etc., it’s an event. But make no mistake, it’s also a process. God is working in you every time you obey Him. His work takes time and patience – you are changing, and He is growing you.
To be clear, we are already loved and accepted by God through the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus Christ. Because we accepted His grace, we belong to Him – both now and for eternity. But that is precisely why God wants us to keep growing in Him. He sees potential in us that no one else sees. He sees Christ in us. God values us too much to leave us the way we are. He wants us to trust Him to change us for the better, and a better future.
The Apostle prayed an interesting prayer for the young Church of Galatia. He prayed that “Christ would be formed” in them. They were already Christians, with Jesus living in their hearts, yet Paul knew they still needed parts of their lives to be conformed to Christ. He knew they could look more like Jesus if they kept growing.
Growth takes time, and the creation of new habits. Let God change you in the year ahead by adding some new spiritual habits. Allow yourself to be a spiritual novice for a while as you grow. Be patient, God is working in you more than you know. This is going to be a great year!
Prayer: Father, help me to grow this year. Show me how to truly follow Christ, even though it comes at a cost. I want to know Jesus better as I practice new spiritual disciplines. Guide me by your Holy Spirit and help me to remember You are working in me. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Reflection: Spiritual disciplines don’t make you a Christian; they help you develop once you are a Christian. Have you had it backwards and thought of these habits as an arduous task that earns you something with God? If so, correct your thinking and start fresh this year. God already loves you and you are off to a great start.
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