Updated: Sep 20, 2020
Welcome back to the blog guys. And for those who are reading for the first time, Welcome!
As you can probably tell from the title, today's blog post is focusing on spiritual development and growing a personal relationship with God. Not that this topic has not previously been important, however, with the current pandemic I think many Christians across the world have been reminded of this very thing; the importance of a personal relationship with God.
Spiritual development is all about growing in your walk with Christ and is something that we as Christians should aim to do always. This is your personal responsibility. A question we first need to ask ourselves is "Have I actually accepted Jesus as my personal Lord and Saviour?" before even starting on this journey.
So many of us for many years may have built a relationship with the "church" or built a "relationship" based on somebody else's knowledge of God. Now I am a big advocate that as Christians we should go to church but as we have seen with the many things currently happening in the Christendom, this is not enough on its own, and a personal relationship with God is very important.
I am so excited to share what I have been learning about spiritual development. I pray that it blesses you and gives you some encouragement on this journey.
Being Intentional is Key
Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin..." (Zechariah 4:10 NLT)
So you haven't read your bible in a long time. Neither have you prayed in a long time. And for this reason you are finding it very difficult to start again. In fact, you do not even know where to start. Yup, been there! Starting is usually the hardest thing (as well as staying consistent which I will touch on below). But if you don't take that first step, essentially nothing will change. If you remain passive, rather than being intentional, and sit there waiting for things to change, the likelihood is that things will still remain the same. So, first make the decision that you want to start this journey, and then take the first step. Constantly remind yourself that the Holy Spirit is your helper on this journey, you cannot do it alone. And also remember its okay to start off small.
You need to Discipline yourself
"No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening - its painful! But afterwards there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way" (Hebrews 12:11 NLT)
Guys, discipline is not fun. Whether that is having to refrain from doing something, or doing the right thing, it is not fun. And even the bible verse above tells us, it is not enjoyable while it is happening, no it is painful. But we are reminded that when we train ourselves in discipline, there is a reward (delayed gratification). When it comes to our fitness "goals" we are very disciplined. And there is nothing wrong with this. But how much more do we have to be disciplined when it comes to our Christian walk? "Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come." (1 Timothy 4:8 NLT). You actually have to train yourself to be disciplined. Think about weight training. You start off small and then over time you are able to carry more weight. Again I remind you, it is okay to start off small.
A few examples of spiritual disciplines to cultivate on this journey are:
Reading your bible - studying, meditating & applying the Word
Spending time with God (quiet time) and allowing Him to change your heart
I would definitely recommend getting a study bible as you start or continue on this journey. A few recommendations are the ESV study bible and the Life Application study bible. Of course, there are many others. I usually get asked a lot, "where can I start reading in the bible?". I usually recommend starting with a chapter of Proverbs a day along with one of the gospels e.g. Matthew. Another good approach may be reading scriptures according to a certain topic that you may be interested in e.g. faith or love. The You Version App devotionals are quite good with this! In the midst of all these spiritual disciplines, don't forget to spend time being still (For God said "be still, and know that I am God").
Consistency is required
Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof; and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit (Ecclesiastes 7:8)
On the journey there are times when you may be consistent, some seasons not so much. Consistency is so important when it comes to spiritual growth. One tip that I would give is to find a suitable time that you can set aside each day for your quiet time (this may consist of prayer, studying the word, worship, journaling etc..). Some people are morning people and they prefer to have their quiet time in the morning before embarking on their daily activities. Others prefer spending their evening on their spiritual development when they have finished all of their activities for the day. The key is finding what works for your schedule and sticking with it. Set yourself reminders or an alarm on your phone if you need to.
Accountability is important
As iron sharpens iron, so one sharpens another (Proverbs 27:17)
Sometimes we love to do this journey alone. And although it is understandable (as it is better to put your trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man), community is very key and so is having people that you can be accountable to along the journey. Let's not lie, there are times along the journey where we struggle and although God is always there to help us, He also places people around us who can encourage us and pray for us when we are weak, and vice versa. In Ecclesiastes we are told that two are better than one. Why? Because they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10).
I will definitely encourage you guys as you are on this journey to be involved in fellowship; with your church, with your close friends and with any Christian ministries you may feel led to. I would recommend Team Obedience (a ministry for young Christians) to anyone who may want to get connected to other Christians. At the moment they are doing daily bible studies (12pm) and daily prayer calls (12am). This is a great way to get back into consistent prayer or reading the Word (if this is something that you are struggling with).
You are going to need Patience
And lastly, Patience, Patience, Patience. You are going to need a lot of this on the journey. In fact, you will probably need constant doses of patience every now and again. It's important for us to remember that spiritual development is a journey and essentially we cannot do it without the help of the Holy Spirit. It's not something that happens overnight. Yes, as humans most of the time we desire instant gratification. However, I am sorry to burst anyone's bubble on this one, but when it comes to spiritual development sometimes, especially at the beginning of the journey, it may feel like you are not growing at all.
Look at the image below. Note how it takes a while before you are able to see the flower above the surface. A lot of the time when we start our journey of spiritual development, after a few weeks or even months because we do not see any growth we want to give up. Guys, there are so many things happening under the surface that we may not be able to see. The roots must be strong enough because deep roots are so important. While the roots are becoming deeply rooted, you probably will not see any fruit. But be patient and continue on the journey with God. As I always remind people, remember everything always starts with a seed.
Image from Transformation Church
And to end, always remember that "each of us will give an account of ourselves to God - Romans 14:12". Our parents, our pastors or our friends will not be able to give an account for us as they will have to give an account for themselves. So let's take this bold decision and make the first step on this journey.
I hope you have been blessed and I hope that this has encouraged someone on their Christian walk. Don't forget to like, share, comment and subscribe. Please feel free to also share some wisdom on spiritual development in the comments below. Love & Blessings.
Written by Maria
Founder of Do Better Everyday