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I am excited about the new 30 Days of Looking to Jesus challenge. My prayer is that it will be beneficial for Christian moms, but I did hold worries and doubts. I want mothers to see that looking to Jesus is not a vague concept, but a real practice for believers. However, I know that many of us struggle with getting caught up in works and not focusing on the person of Jesus Christ. I’ve written previously on spiritual disciplines and the heart we should have when approaching them. In light of this new challenge, let us consider again what it means to have a disciplined faith.
Do you practice a disciplined faith?
Consider your friendships. They don’t develop without effort. We have to talk to the other person, truly listen, and actively demonstrate love toward them. But, do we act the same way with God? Or do we view our relationship with him as something passive accomplished by Christ’s death on the cross? Yes, God provides us with grace and mercy, but we are still called to a life of looking to him, a life of striving for obedience, and a life of sacrifice.
Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life starts out with a quote from V. Raymond Edman:
“Ours is an undisciplined age. The old disciplines are breaking down…Above all, the disciplines of divine grace is derided as legalism or is entirely unknown to a generation that is largely illiterate in the Scriptures. We need the rugged strength of Christian character that can come only from discipline.”
The Spiritual Disciplines
Donald Whitney uses Edman’s quote to introduce his argument that growing in Christlikeness happens when we, through the Holy Spirit, practice Spiritual Disciplines. He says,
“The goal of practicing a given Discipline, of course, is not about doing as much as it is about being like Jesus. But the biblical way to grow in being more like Jesus is through the rightly motivated doing of the biblical Spiritual Disciplines.”
The Holy Spirit works in our lives to produce a desire for godliness. At the same time, the Bible says that we are also called to “train” and “toil and strive” toward that godliness (1 Timothy 4:7-10). Our flesh tends to resist this striving. A disciplined faith does not sound enjoyable. In a culture that constantly preaches the benefits of an easy, carefree life, we view retirement, rest, and relaxation as ideal end goals.
Yet, as believers, our goals should be markedly different. Instead of striving for escape from the duties of life, we should aim to bring God glory in everything we think, say, and do. 1 Corinthians 10:31 says,
“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”
So then, we strive toward godliness for the goal of giving glory to God. What is the result of this hard work? Practicing the spiritual disciplines with the grace and energy provided by the Holy Spirit (Col 1:29) changes us. Donald Whitney once said:
“Godliness is the result of God’s Spirit changing us into Christlikeness *through the means of the disciplines. Apart from faith and the right motives when practicing them, the disciplines can be dead works…We’re not necessarily more godly because we engage in these biblical practices. Instead, these biblical practices should be the means that result in true godliness – that is, intimacy with and conformity to Christ.”
Practically Pursuing a Disciplined Faith
The 30 Days of Looking to Jesus challenge serves as a guide to help you incorporate the spiritual disciplines into your daily life. You will take up a daily Bible reading plan, meditate on Scripture, fast, and use journaling as a means to both pray and worship God. You’ll find practical steps to both encourage the body of Christ and praise God with your children. These aren’t new, groundbreaking ideas. None of these challenges will change you outside of the Holy Spirit’s work in your life.
Click to take the 30 Days of Looking to Jesus Challenge today