Navigating the Storms

Thriving in the Midst of Invisible Disabilities

Going Deeper – Developing Spiritual Maturity

Developing spiritual maturity - bwDo you already have a personal relationship with Jesus? Yet you feel there should be more to your connection with God? Listed below are some places to begin: some familiar ideas, some new concepts. Take these plans and personalize them.

Designate an ongoing time and place in your life for these activities as an individual. Ideally you’ll also be able to share the journey with others, if not in person then online.

Begin with an individual, private time between you and God, examining yourself looking for areas where you know you’re not doing right. “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:8-9 (NIV)

Enjoy your journey, for Scripture tells us, “Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you.” (James 4:8 HCSB)

Spiritual Disciplines

Discipline — a word we often don’t like. It takes effort and time. In our physical life, we apply discipline by exercising or watching our diet. The discipline of developing spiritual maturity — or a deeper relationship with God — also requires time and effort. It’s like searching for gold, digging deep to find it. Unlike finding gold, however, spiritual maturity has no ending point. It is a lifelong pursuit. There will always be a deeper level to experience. But if we

Person digging for gold

Are you disciplined enough to dig?

don’t start, we’ll sure never find anything!

Got Questions?org has a page on spiritual disciplines that’s a good starting place. The writer says, “The purpose of spiritual discipline is the development of our inner being, that which has been transformed by Christ at salvation.” Just exercise your best judgment as to the dependability of your sources.

The Bible

Knowing God’s word as presented in the Bible is foundational to growing deeper with God.

NTS - God - Bible - 004_edited-2Try to find a time in your life for daily Bible reading. Use a plan so you can track your progress. Touching Lives presents ten options for daily reading of the ESV version, both in print and several online editions. Google “Bible reading plans” for other options. Most involve readings from several parts of the Bible; some even take you through it in a year, spending just 10-15 minutes a day reading.

Along with reading, take some time to meditate on passages that catch your attention.

In addition to reading and meditation, memorize verses that are especially meaningful to you, so the message, encouragement, or comfort will be available to you instantly.

As well as reading, meditating, and memorizing, studying Bible passages is critical to understanding its’ meaning. Use trustworthy commentaries, books, and Internet sources in your individual study. Find a group, in person or online, who use reliable sources and join them in study.

Lastly, apply it to your life.

Prayer

“Talk with God — He wants to hear your heart.”

Dennis Fisher, Our Daily Bread.

What is prayer?

Prayer is simply conversation with God. Don’t you talk with people you love? Granted, talking to someone invisible differs, but you can still “hear” God. He speaks through the Bible, through other people, through circumstances, or even through a knowledge in your hearts. Remember: judge everything you “hear” by His written word; nothing God says will ever contradict it.

How do you pray?

There is no one, right way to pray. Position, time, location, words don’t matter as long as you respect who God is. You can pray for however long or short you want, out loud or silently.

When do you pray?

You can speak to God any time you want to, whatever you’re doing, You could also set aside special times where you are concentrating solely on God.

Where do you pray?

Wherever you are aware of God is a good place to pray.

What words do you use?

Whatever is comfortable. You might consider written prayers that have stood the test of time, or you might write your own.

Do you pray by yourself or with others?

Both. Individual prayer is critical, but group brings strength and encouragement.

ACTS: One acronym to help focus your praying

ACTS prayer outline

To guide your prayers

Adoration: telling God what you like about him. Also known as praise and worship.

Confession: admitting specifics of what you’ve done wrong, being sorry for it, and wanting to change.

Thanksgiving: thanking God for anything you’re glad for.

Supplication: asking for anything important to you.

Songs

Adding songs to your quiet time — or any time during the day — can deepen your awareness of God and help you emotionally, too. Christian songs come in a variety of genres and moods. There are songs of praise and comfort. Songs to teach doctrine. Songs for many holidays. You can find them on the radio and the Internet, in churches and small groups, on CDs and in bookstores. When you’ve found special songs, you can often locate their words on the web, so you can sing them anytime. “Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.” Psalm 100:2 (NIV)

NTS - God - Music notes - 001_edited-1

Meeting with Christians

Church

meeting at Church

Developing spiritual maturity includes meeting with other Christians in neighborhood Bible studies or formal worship services at church. Studying with other people exposes you to give and take about the passage you’re examining. Praying with a group of other Christians encourages each person and allows you to share needs with caring people. Attending a worship service at a church allows you to

People in a group

Studying with a group!

raise your voice in praise with like-minded people, gives you time to listen to the views of a preacher who has widely studied, and helps you realize you aren’t the only Christian around. “I was glad when they said to me, ‘Let us go to the house of the Lord.’” (Psalm 122:1)

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