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Cultivating A Love That Lasts

It doesn’t take much does it? A few days here and there, a stressful circumstance or two, a marriage gone bad, a job lost, a busy season…most of the time it happens so quickly we don’t even realize the gravity of it until all hell breaks loose and we are not prepared for battle. Whatever it is for you, those distractions are slyly stealing your affections away from God. Slowly but surely we get to a place where we feel distant and disconnected from God. But we all have been there haven’t we?

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Well, life happened. Life can get a little out of hand sometimes, and if we’re not careful, we will live reactively instead of proactively. We will always feel behind, never fully prepared, and usually under protected. Welcome to life, you guys, and a little encouragement here, you’re not alone!

Most of us want to live in deeper relationship with God, with greater trust and intimacy, and yet we get stuck on how to make that happen on a continual and consistent basis, especially with all of the curve balls life throws at us. We want our relationship with God to flourish, and yet for most of us, if we’re honest, it’s dry, lonely, and last on our list of things we need to “get done”.

So how does this change? How can we grow our love for the LORD without trying harder, doing more, and feeling guilt and shame when we fall short or don’t meet expectations?

The Gospel.

God’s love for us is the motivator in cultivating our love for Him.

Through Jesus; His life, death, and resurrection, we are promised right relationship with our Heavenly Father. In resting in His finished work on the cross, the privilege of discipleship is no longer duty, but delight.

 

How can we grow our love for the LORD without trying harder, doing more, and feeling guilt and shame when we fall short or don’t meet expectations?

 

This is the main reason we wanted to run this incredible month-long series. Even though we’re so passionate about the Gospel, we’ve all felt the weight of spiritual drift at some point and we wanted to provide a resource for us all to equip us for better spiritual growth and nourishment. Our hope in this series is that we find freedom and creativity for how we practice spiritual disciplines. Spiritual disciplines are ways we as Christians can connect to God and help nourish our relationship with Him. Spiritual disciplines such as bible study, prayer, worship, fasting, serving, and Sabbath are ways we grow closer to the LORD. For years, many have taken spiritual disciplines and turned them into a legalistic means of earning God’s approval or favor.  Our practice of spiritual disciplines does not atone, save, redeem, or earn God’s love for us.  The Gospel tells us we cannot be loved any more or any less in Christ. Spiritual disciplines don’t earn us more of God’s favor or approval, again we are made right through Jesus. Spiritual disciplines are simply a means for deepening our relationship with God, an expression of love and relationship between Father and daughter.

Donald Whitney says in an article for Life Way, “No Christian coasts into Christlikeness. Godliness, according to this text, requires training. Some Bible translations render ‘train’ as ‘exercise’ (KJV) or ‘discipline’ (NASB). Thus, the biblical and practical ways in daily life of living out this command to “train yourself for godliness” have often been termed “spiritual exercises” or ‘spiritual disciplines.’ What was true in Paul’s day is still true: it is by means of the spiritual disciplines found in Scripture that we are to pursue godliness.

Of course, legalism is always a danger in spirituality. Anything a Christian can count, measure, or record he can also twist into something that falsely assures by this – instead of the sufficiency of the life and death of Jesus – he is more spiritually secure or favored by God. But just because we can misuse the disciplines of godliness doesn’t mean we should neglect them. “Train yourself for godliness” is God’s command. Therefore, it must be possible to pursue obedience to it without legalism.

 

God’s love for us is the motivator in cultivating our love for Him.

 

So how do Christians practice gospel-centered spirituality?

1. Practice the Right Disciplines

Those personal and interpersonal spiritual disciplines found in the Bible. A gospel-centered spirituality is a sola scriptura spirituality. For individual practice, the most important personal spiritual disciplines are the intake of Scripture and prayer. All the others relate to these two. The interpersonal spiritual disciplines we’re to observe are primarily those biblical practices related to life together in a local church.

2. Practice the Right Disciplines with the Right Goal

With Jesus as the focus, pursuing intimacy with Christ and conformity (both inward and outward) to Christ. To put it more succinctly, by means of the biblical spiritual disciplines seek to be with Jesus and like Jesus.

3. Practice the Right Disciplines the Right Way

Emphasize the person and work of Jesus in each one. Through them, learn from, gaze upon, and enjoy who Jesus is and what He has done. Let your soul be restored through by the truths of the gospel. Engage in the spiritual disciplines given by God in Scripture so that you are continually shown your need for Christ and the infinite supply of grace and mercy to be found by faith in Him and Him alone.

Our prayer for you during this month is that you are exposed to some different disciplines and look to practice some (or all) out of an overflow of the Gospel. And that we would understand God’s great love for us and His redeeming grace and let all that we do be in response to that.

Check out our  Spiritual Disciplines Series!

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Image Credit: Sam Beebe, Creative Commons. Some changes made.

Editor’s Note: This is an adapted article originally written for the Spiritual Disciplines Bible Study published by Melissa Danisi.


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Occasionally, we like to post articles that we all can get behind. So rather than one author, consider this post from all of us. Enjoy!


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