Tuesday, January 01, 2013

A New Year, the Same Truth

The New Year has arrived, and many people are getting ready to put their resolutions into practice. That ought to last at least a few days. Do you find, like I do, that New Year's resolutions don't last all that long? In spite of that, the New Year does offer us the occasion to evaluate where we are headed and make course corrections if necessary.

One of the things I thought about upon entering this new year is that the basic disciplines of the Christian life are still the same. Often we scramble around looking for the secrets of victory over temptation or growing more godly. But it turns out to be the case that it's the basics that count. Have you seen all of those ads for exercise equipment? They promise you a more fit body in 2013 if you would just use their equipment at least three times a week. For most of these, the crucial factor is the "three times a week." It's doing it that matters and the same thing is true in the Christian life.

So let's review. What are those disciplines?

Bible Reading:  Adopt a plan you can keep up with and keep at it. If you can't keep the base for reading your Bible in a year, that's ok. Read a couple of chapters in the Old Testament, a chapter in the New Testament and a psalm or proverbs. Keep track of where you are, and if you get behind or miss a day, pick up where you left off.

Bible Memorization: Another important discipline is to memorize Scripture. Decide on a plan and work on it steadily. If you can memorize a verse a week. Do that. If you can only memorize a verse a month, do that. Some of my favorite memorization resources are listed here. I've also put together a list of verses highlighting the key verses in the book of Hebrews. That's what I'm going to be working on this year. You can find that list here.

Meditation:  The Scripture is the truth, and God promises success to those who meditate regularly on it. Joshua 1:8 This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. See also Psalm 1:2,3

Bible Study: Every Christian should be regularly studying the Scriptures. There are many good resources available. I've listed some of them here.

Prayer: We listen to God through His Word. We speak to God through prayer. Every Christians should set aside a regular prayer time each day to speak to God in a quiet and undisturbed area. I've put together a list of some key prayer promise verses with a suggestion as to how to mark your Bible margins so that you can move from one to another easily.  You can find that document here.

Group Worship: It's important to meet regularly with other Christians to worship and pray. It's simple to evaluate yourself in this area. As yourself, "Do I meet together with others for worship regularly?" And then ask yourself, "Do I meet together with other Christians regularly to pray?" Both aspects are necessary. Acts 2:42 "And they [speaking of the early Christians] continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers."

There is obviously much more that could be said, but I believe these are the foundational and basic personal Christian disciplines. Instead of looking around for some new secret, make these personal practices a regular routine and you will find yourself growing in grace and the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

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