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From the Fight for Joy! Journal, 12/31/2016: Spiritual Disciplines for Personal Focus and Growth in 2017
Happy New Year! As 2016 draws to a close, may God grant you a blessed 2017. I mentioned in my recent blog post how a New Year provides us with the opportunity for a fresh start. You can read the article here. I also provided a Bible reading plan where I modified a plan by Professor Grant Horner. Finally, I shared about my recent brush with death in a blog post about A Life (and Death) Worthy of the Gospel.
Individually and collectively, these posts are meant to challenge all of us to grow in our walk with Christ. For me personally, I have decided to focus on four of the spiritual disicplines you will read about in A New Year--A Fresh Start. They are, (1) Private disicplines, (2) Family disciplines, (3) Corporate disciplines, and (4) Neighborly disciplines.
I have written up the journal post below to summarize the spiritual disicplines I have chosen for my focus and growth in 2017. These disciplines and the description of each is taken from Developing Healthy Spiritual Growth, by Joel R. Beeke. I have also purchased, In Remembrance of Him: Profiting from the Lord's Supper, by Guilemus Saldenus (1627-1694) and Wilhemas à Brakel (1635-1711), to help me as I focus upon the corporate discipline of making diligent use of the sacraments, the Lord's Supper in particular. You can purchase a print and/or electronic copy of the book at Heritage Reformation Books.
"Listen to the bell Grossbard, it tolls for thee." -- Kramer
Pop superstar George Michael, 53. Actor, author, and mental health advocate Carrie Fisher, 60. Mother of Carrie Fisher Debbie Reynolds, 84. What do these three people have in common? They all remind us death is coming for each one of us. No one is immune. No one will escape.
So why even bring it up? The reason is simple. The Bible teaches us about the brevity of life. James writes, "You do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away" (James 4:14). One day, the vapor you call life will vanish away, and when it does, where will your soul be?
"The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. In hell, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’ But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us’" (Luke 16:22-26).
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I am five days into my Bible reading plan for 2017. Although I am five days in I have read a chapter ahead in a few books, Romans not withstanding. The selected reading for today, therefore, is Romans 6. This great chapter builds towards the greatest chapter in all the Bible--Romans 8. For now, however, the focus is on being dead to sin and alive to God in Christ.
Reading: Romans 6
"For he who has died is freed from sin" Romans 6:7
Paul's letter to the Romans is the greatest letter ever written. I think I've said that many times. And if Romans is the greatest letter then chapter 8 is the greatest chapter. Paul’s primary purpose in writing Romans was to teach the great truths of the gospel of grace to believers who had never received apostolic instruction. It is a deeply spiritual and thoroughly theological treatment of the gospel. One of my college professors who is now with Jesus--Ray Frank Robbins--referred to Romans as the Constitution of Christianity.
Striving to glorify God by becoming more like Jesus.
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