Due to inclement weather, the 9 a.m. service for Sunday, Jan. 20 has been cancelled. We will have one morning service at 10:45 a.m. as road conditions improve.

Four Disciplines for Spiritual Growth

by Tim Yates

Do you have a personal growth plan for 2022? Peter commanded the believer to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 3:18). The word “grow” (auxanō) is translated increase, spread, and cause to grow.  Theologically, spiritual growth is called progressive sanctification. Experientially, spiritual growth is simply moving toward Christlikeness. We need a strategic plan to move us from spiritual infancy to full spiritual maturity (Christlikeness). We need a growth plan. Why? Because personal growth is your only hope for a better tomorrow. In fact, if you’re not growing, you’re dying. Incidentally, there’s no such thing as accidental growth. You need a plan. You need to be intentional. You need to grow on purpose. I’m not talking about goals but growth. I’m not criticizing goals, but goals focus on a destination, whereas growth seems to focus more on the journey, the process. Goals are seasonal, yet growth is lifelong. So many times, people reach their goals, and they stop growing…they plateau. I want to encourage you to grow. Keep getting better because when you get better the people around you get better. Let me share with you four disciplines to help you grow.

The first discipline I need in my personal growth plan is the Bible. Luke tells us, the Berean believers “searched the Scriptures daily” (Acts 17:11). Read the Word daily. Every single day. Some would contend the Bible is a big book. True, but start in Genesis and read one page at a time. If you read 3.3 pages every day you can read a 1,200 page Bible in one year. Hey, BIG things happen in small bites. Great things happen over time. Just keep doing the small things every day and God will do BIG things in your life. Read your Bible every day and you will begin to grow in Christ (1 Peter 2:2). We need a steady diet of the Word. The nutrients for spiritual growth are hidden within the Words of Scripture. Therefore, we need to eat the Word every day.    

The second discipline I need in my personal growth plan is prayer. David said, “Evening (intentional) and morning (discipline) and at noon I will pray, and cry aloud, And He shall hear my voice” (Ps. 55:17). I firmly believe the secret sauce to spiritual growth is the Word of God and prayer. There is no growth or fruitfulness apart from the Scripture and genuine prayer. For instance, John 15 gives five levels of fruitfulness in the life of a believer:

•“no fruit” (v. 2),
•“fruit” (v. 2b),
•“more fruit” (v. 2c),
•“much fruit” (v. 5, v. 8),
•“and fruit that remains” (v. 16).

If you carefully review the five levels of fruitfulness in John 15, you see progress, growth, and increase. Fruit is produced because of connectivity to the life of the Vine.

Ten times Jesus commanded the disciples to “abide in me” (John 15:4-10). The word abide (meno) means to remain, continue, and stay. We need to stay connected to Christ. Why? Because all fruitfulness is connected to the LIFE of the VINE (the Word of God and Prayer). Jesus said, “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you” (John 15:7).
 
What happens when you disconnect from the life of the Vine/Jesus? You will be unproductive and fruitless. The Vine/Jesus is the source of power. If you unplug your toaster, you can’t make toast. Why? It’s unplugged or disconnected. Likewise, nothing of spiritual significance can happen apart from Jesus. He even told the disciples, “For without Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). Plug into the source of Power. Abide in Christ. Stay connected to the Word and prayer (John 6:63, 68).

The third discipline I need in my personal growth plan is participation in the local church. Public worship with the people of God is extremely important. I need a Pastor, biblical preaching, other believers, and a place to exercise my spiritual gift. In fact, the local church is so important church attendance should be my excuse to miss everything else. Can I get an amen? The more I read and study the Bible my love for the local church increases exponentially. Why?

•I love the local church because Jesus loved the local church so much “He gave Himself for it” (Eph. 5:25).

•I love the local church because of the Great Commission (Matt. 28:18-20). Believer’s baptism and the Lord’s Supper are the ordinances of the local church. A parachurch ministry is not authorized to baptize.

•I love the local church because the local church is the place where I am to exercise my spiritual gift. The purpose of spiritual gifts is “for the edification of the church” (1 Cor. 14:12; Eph. 4:11-16).

•I love the local church because I’m commanded to maintain the unity of the Spirit (Eph. 6:1-6) and practice the biblical “one another’s” within the context of biblical community (59 of them). Andy Stanley said, “The primary activity of the church was one-anothering one another.”  Stanley is right on target.  

•I love the local church because I’m going to spend eternity in heaven with Christ and His Church (John 14:1-3).

The more I journey through the Bible and wrap my mind around the whole story of Scripture my love for the local church increases deeply. I love Christ and His Body (the church).

The final discipline I need in my personal growth plan is Missionary movement. As I grow and move toward Christlikeness the mission of Jesus becomes front and center. And centeredness is very, very important. Centeredness is what you see first. What you value most. People become a priority and not just a project. Centeredness will cause you to move toward gospel relationships. Why? Because eternity is too long for people to be wrong. When Jesus is the center of your world you will long for people to get the gospel right. You will fervently pray for the unsaved and gospel witness becomes important. The deeper you go into the Bible, the deeper you go into prayer, and the deeper you go into the local church, the closer you get to centeredness…the heartbeat of God and the mission of Jesus. His mission becomes your mission (John 17:18, 20:21). When you get the mission of Jesus front and centered everything else in Scripture becomes clearer. Such growth produces fresh clarity, renewed vision, and fresh centeredness. Missionary movement is Christlikeness.

Do you have a personal growth plan? 2022 can be the greatest year of your life. Get back into the Word until the Word gets in you. Connect to the life of the Vine/Jesus through prayer. Make the local church a priority. Use your spiritual gift and serve the body of Christ. Spontaneously, missionary movement will surface front and center in your life. Gospel clarity will occur. People will get saved and baptized. Joy and significance will be renewed. Just keep doing the little things (spiritual disciplines) consistently and faithfully, and God will do the rest. 2022 could be your best year ever. Just don’t forget. You need a personal growth plan to get you there.
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