So you are going to start journaling…

This weekend after the worship gathering a bunch of our crowd took home a new journal compliments of Origin.  Of all the good intentions keeping a journal has been one of the most stop-start-stop-start disciplines of my life.

So you are going to start journalling… here’s a few things to consider.

1.  Its not a masterpiece, and you are not writing for someone else.

2.  Just start writing.

3.  Use the journal for lists of what happened in your day.  Maybe you can reflect on the day and capture your “original moment”–when you experienced the love of God or people, or when you loved God, loved people, or shared the Gospel.

4.  Don’t have words? — draw a picture.

5.  Make a list from these questions and choose one for more reflection:
–What am I happy about?
–What am I sad about?
–What am I angry about?
–What am I afraid of?

6.  Read the Scripture, encounter God, write your prayer.
You can use the SOAP method.  Scripture, Observations, Application, Prayer.

For those “journaling pro’s,”  What other ways have you used your journal?  Other suggestions on getting started?  And how did you benefit?

Becoming A Gracist

Scripture:  2 Peter 1:10-11

10Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. 11For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Observations:

Therefore:  it connects the call to keep building our character in response to God’s grace in the Gospel to diligence…

Calling and election:  The reality that God chooses us for inclusion in His Kingdom on the basis of grace through Jesus Christ and not our own merit.

Application:

The accusation against the “gracists” is that they give people excuses to sin grandly.  But here’s the deal, my sin, does not add that meaning to my life.  My sin actually points out where I have not let areas of my life be infiltrated and changed by the grace of Jesus.  The Gospel tells me that for those who receive Jesus as Lord are forgiven.  “To make my calling and election sure” means that I am making efforts to cooperate with the Spirit of the Living God so that I respond to His grace.  His grace propels me into a greater vision for life — to be like Jesus and honour Him with my life.

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, I’m thankful that improvement / growth in Christ is not a means for securing my position with you.  That’s settled!  Thank you.  This mysterious choice you have made to elect, to choose, to include has changed my life.  You accepted me, and thankfully you are still working on me.  Grant me the grace to keep working with you all the days of my life.  AMEN.

Y(our) Remedy for Spiritual Stagnation

Scripture:  2 Peter 1:5-9 NLT

5In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, 6and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, 7and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone.

8The more you grow like this, the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9But those who fail to develop in this way are shortsighted or blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their old sins.

Observations:

Peter observes that the failure to grow in our faith creates

shortsighted, blind (or myopic) people

who have forgotten that they have been cleansed from their old sins.

Application:

Remember, treasuring, reflecting on the Gospel and Jesus’ extraordinary love for us shown at the cross is the catalyst for all that is good in our spiritual growth.  If you want your relationship with Jesus to regularly be refreshed consider again the delight of coming to know Him and the joy having sin forgiven.  Pause again and consider His unmerited kindness expressed towards us.  Dive into the depths of your simple confession: “Jesus is Lord.”

Shortsighted, stagnated Christians have trouble seeing an increasingly large vision of God.  They have trouble looking back and seeing God’s grace in their past.  They have difficulty looking forward and seeing how God’s grace pulls them forward into a new way of living in His Kingdom.

Since we are interested in “our” spiritual growth I must never underestimate the power of listening long, patiently, and hopefully in the power of the Spirit with another follower of Jesus who is struggling to see grace.  The challenge when I speak is to give voice to a vision of grace without falling into the wide and destructive ditches of moralism or relativism.  Without this grace-infused wisdom we are doomed to be the blind leading the blind.

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, thank you for wiping out my past sins.  It cost you so much!  Its a problem when my sin seems larger than your grace.  Such lies are unworthy of Jesus.  I want Him to stand in the darkened rooms of my life and say to me, “Truly, Truly, I say to you…”  May He cast out the darkness and let me hear again, “You are my beloved.”  Then I will see.  AMEN.

Y(our) Spiritual Grow-Op!

Scripture:  2 Peter 1:5-8

5For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, 6and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, 7and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. 8For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Observations:

Make great effort to supplement your faith

— to keep building up your life on the foundation of your faith.

Peter's Step-Ladder

Not growing this way makes us ineffective and unproductive in our knowledge of Jesus.

Wow, Love is at the top of the “ladder!”

Application:

Do I possess these qualities in a growing way in response to Jesus and the Gospel?

What are we doing to grow in these qualities together?  Do I have a friendship and fellowship that encourages, exhorts, rebukes, teaches, and builds me up to pursue this kind of vision of growth?  Do I have relationships where I am creating a space filled with  grace and truth in which we mutually and honestly pursue spiritual growth?

If the Christian life is not just about “my” spiritual growth but also about “our” spiritual growth, then I have to make adjustments to include others in the journey with Jesus.

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, sometimes, often, we are so resistant to growth.  But that’s not the normal life you envision.  Please stimulate our fellowship to grow together.  Your Spirit has put within us the desire to be effective and productive in our knowledge of Jesus.  May we become more Jesus.  Somehow our fellowship must become a spiritual grow-op!  AMEN.

 

 

 

Y(our) Spiritual Growth

Scripture:  2 Peter 1:5-9  NLT

5In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, 6and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, 7and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone.

8The more you grow like this, the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9But those who fail to develop in this way are shortsighted or blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their old sins.

Observations:

“For this reason (ESV)  “In view of all this (NLT)” — Going back to verses 3-4 — because of God’s power and promises made available to us through Jesus Christ.

“make every effort”  — exert yourself

“to supplement your faith with…”

Application:

Who are you doing this with?  Who are you “responding to the Gospel with? Who are meeting with, praying with, serving with, wrestling with, and sharing life with?  So often we read these verse in the West through the self-improvement lens and we think its all up to “me.”

Yes you can seek to grow by yourself — and often you must respond to Jesus — just you!  But the fellowship of Jesus is one where we together “make every effort to supplement our faith with…”

I need a spiritual buddy, a circle of hope (or a Life Group), and a church who together are seeking to grow with Jesus.  At different times in my life I’ve been blessed with many variations of this theme!  The Gospel-shaped life is one in which we receive salvation and communion with God as a treasured grace gift.  And the Gospel-shaped life is one in which we respond to Jesus with enthusiasm and the hopeful expectation that we can and must participate in the transformation of us all into people who love well.

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, I’m predisposed to go it alone.  But the hope of Jesus is drawing me into a life that is shared.  Help.  AMEN.

PS:  If you are hanging around Origin, we encourage you to be a “spiritual buddy” by getting into a 2+ group to Read the Scripture, Pray for the Lost, and Share your life (10-10-10 minutes each/ once or twice weekly.)  Contact me for the Origin 2+ app.