A Framework for Faith/Spiritual Disciplines
Is it not impossible for any polished accomplishment or exercise to be attained without training? Or can training be acquired without bitterness? Therefore, since these things are so, let us make ready our mind, not for joy, not for security, as the Sage says, but for temptations and trials, for griefs and toils.
- Columbanus, Sermon IV (Irish, 7th century)
But to the wicked God says: "What right have you to recite my statutes or take my covenant on your lips? For you hate discipline, and you cast my words behind you. "
- Psalm 50.16, 17
God was not addressing Himself to pagans in Psalm 50; He was speaking to people who had assembled for worship. He wanted them to understand why their worship was not acceptable to Him.
Basically, their worship was mainly a matter of externals - come together, sing the songs, go through the motions of the various aspects of worship, all that. But there was no heart in it, no deep-seated gratitude, commitment, or dependence on the Lord (vv. 14, 15).
The problem with these people was that they "enjoyed" worship; that is, worship was something they engaged in for themselves. But worship is supposed to be for God, when we pour out our souls to Him in adoration, praise, and recommitment to our callings as His children and disciples.
That's something we have to work on every day, not just on Sunday mornings. And the people God was confronting weren't interested in that. They despised discipline - the prosecution of a daily regimen of seeking the Lord through rigorous spiritual exercises. And they left the Word behind them when they left church, and lived their lives mostly like the unbelievers around them.
Columbanus tells us why this happens: Discipline ("training" - the Latin of his sermon is "discipline") is painful. It costs something to read, meditate, and study God's Word, seeking Him and His glory therein. Prayer can be arduous, like wrestling with the Lord and struggling in our souls for just the right words. Fasting? Who does that? Solitude? We're just too busy? Observe the Lord's glory in the creation and praise Him for what we encounter there? Right.
But God knows that the way to a life of gratitude, devotion, commitment to Him, obedience to His Word, and blessings abundant is along the avenue of discipline. If we despise discipline, we will never be the people God has redeemed us to be.
Make up your mind that you are going to be a disciplined follower of Jesus Christ. Then get ready to work really hard at it. I mean, really hard.
Because the enemy of our souls has an unlimited supply of "good reasons" why this call to a disciplined life doesn't apply to you.
Today at The Fellowship of Ailbe
ReVision - Praise the Lord! Churches are worshiping together! Ministering together! Serving their communities together! But...
The Pastors' Fellowship - Pastor, sign up today to join us later this month to discuss "The Pastor's Self-watch."
Windows on Truth - Here's a free brochure that can help you in fleshing out your plan for a more disciplined life of seeking the Lord.