If I want to grow spiritually, what should I do?
That's easy; and you can start today! I will admit this will seem elementary, but I can promise you the things that are easy to do are easy NOT to do. Many many Christians are failing to do many of the things I will put here. But if you do them your faith will grow so far beyond what you would have ever thought it could. I will admit though, each of these things must be done, you can't skip any of them. Now, don't get legalistic here or overwhelmed! It's the principles behind each thing that are important, and you can think outside the box of just how to accomplish them.
It's like a marriage; there are things you must do to have a healthy happy growing relationship with your spouse. But, it's more the principles behind each thing we must do that is important not just the thing itself. Make sense? Some people, even well meaning (though mis-informed, and even mis-led), feel that some of the things I will list here are "too legalistic"... and I believe they are ONLY if you make them that way. You don't need to make them legalistic. They can be what you do as an expression of your love and appreciation to God! In other words, I don't do these things to get God's approval or to get God to love me more or even to stop God from killing me. I do what I do because I love and trust God, and all that I have is His. Period. And that is how we all should live and love! And keeping in mind this is a journey, not a destination ... this is the path I am on, not perfect, but moving in the right direction.
1) Read the Bible. (Study)
Listening to Bible would be the same. Depending on my schedule I do both.
Psalms 119:105 Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.
2) Pray. (Meditation)
Simply communication. Talking and listening.
Luke 18:1 Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.
3) Give. (Generosity)
- Giving Financial (Contributions)
It's unfortunate, but many Christians get hung up on this one issue for one reason or another and miss out on a level of blessing from the Lord that is theirs if they'd only obey.
I do believe and teach in 'Tithing' giving a tenth of your earnings to your local church, though I am also okay with people being givers of a regular amount whatever % that is. I've heard some people who reject the 'tithe' teaching to only find out that it was because they don't give anything.
2 Corinthians 9:6 But this I say, He which sows sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which sows bountifully shall reap also bountifully.
- Giving Time (Volunteer)
I feel, at least from my personal experience, Christians (and even those who do not consider themselves Christians) do a pretty good job here. I have people ask, "well isn't giving my time like giving money?" And the answer is - no, it's not. Giving of your money takes way more faith, trust, love and commitment, hence the reason it's so difficult for people to do. And why people make every excuse under the sun not to give, even so-called 'Biblical' excuses about "the tithe being an Old Testament thing ... and we don't have to do it." etc. All an attempt to feel better about what we do or don't do.
1 Peter 4:10 As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace.
Galatians 6:10 So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.
4) Go to church. (Community)
"Hey, you can be a Christian without going to church Timmy!" Yes you can! And you can also be a human without bathing, but you would smell much better if you did! Ha ha!
What typically happens to people is they have some falling out with someone at a church, then they get out of the habit of going. It's easy to do, and easy not to do. I get it! And frankly I could write a book on this topic alone. But let me just argue the point with this thought; Nothing bad can come of attending church, especially one you like and it a good fit. I mean seriously, you going to let some disagreement keep you away from fellowship with others and faith? That would be childish! Anytime you get a few people together there are going to be issues. It's just life. Life is messy from time to time.
I have been attending church weekly for 45 years now and I wouldn't change it! If I could go back I would still attend church every single weekend. And I am committed to attending church every weekend until I die, no matter the disagreements I have with people in the church or out of the church.
One last thought here, and I apologize ahead of time to those of you who don't attend church! Another important factor in attending church is helping to balance out whacky beliefs we have from time to time. This isn't always true, but I find it to be so many times; when Christians don't attend church their views can become a little out there. And they need community to help keep their feet on the ground. I think the reason for this is that people crave "spirituality" and they take in whatever they hear, therefor they are like that verse in Ephesians 4:14 that says: Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming.
Hebrews 10:25 Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another--and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
Matthew 18:20 For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them."
Colossians 3:16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.
5) Small Group. (Friendship & Fellowship)
As a pastor I encourage people to get involved in a small group. The reality is that many people are in a small group already, they just don't know it. And just maybe all that's needed is a little more intentionality, as it relates to "spiritual growth", but the people are most likely are already around you. And by definition a small group is just that, a small group. So if 3 people are meeting together regularly, then boom there it is - ingredients for a small group.
It's difficult to force friendships. Let's be honest here, not everyone gels with everyone else. We've all met those people who you feel you have known your whole life, it's easy to talk to them, interests are similar, goals, ideals, etc. all seem to be easy things to talk about. But then on the other hand we've all met those people who just make you wish you were deaf. Everything they like you hate. All that to say, find a few people you can related to, gel with, and forge some solid life-long friendships.
Little side journey: Good friends aren't those who are always there, but those who lead you and encourage you to greater heights of integrity, character, love, forgiveness, and faith. If they are gossipy, hateful, negative, divisive ... run away! Fast!
Proverbs 27:17 Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.
6) Diary. (Journaling)
I was encouraged many years ago to keep a diary. I have been good at times and bad at times at keeping up with it. But when I do it's such a joy to pen my thoughts, my struggles, my disappointments, my prayers, etc. I think it to be a valuable tool to spiritual growth. Plus it's something that will be given to my children when I die, so they can see my life parts of my life as I journaled them and get a glimpse of me by it.
Habakkuk 2:2 Then the LORD replied: "Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it."
Summing it all up:
I would like to add that not only are the things mentioned above important to DO, I would also encourage you limit or discontinue all-together things you know you shouldn't be doing. Make sense? If you are cleaning out a pool, but continue to throw dirt in as you clean, you will never get the pool completely clean and in the condition you wish to have it.
I sincerely hope that you have a kickass 2015!