|by Rev. Joe Hoover
When I first became a Christian, I had a hunger to read the Bible. As I read the Old and New Testament, the stories came alive for me. I also began a prayer life that made me feel very close to God. I knew He heard my prayers and would answer them. These two spiritual disciplines would result in my early growth as a Christian. There have been times since then that I have relied on them to move me toward maturity as a Christian. There have also been times where I have neglected these two important activities. The result caused me to travel through some pretty dark places in my life.
When a Christian begins to feel that he or she is no longer moving or growing in a spiritual sense, when they look back and wonder where God is, then it may be time to re-examine what he or she is doing to grow spiritually.
One way to get to know God is to learn all we can about Him. Every Christian should be spending quality time in the reading and studying of the Bible. Do you read it daily? Are you reading at least two chapters a day? Are you in a group that studies the Bible? Do you meditate on what you read so that it will change your daily life? Can you say you have not neglected this?
My wife Linda and I rise early each morning and look forward to a refreshing conversation around the kitchen table with a hot cup of coffee. When we share this time together it brings us closer and we know what to expect from our individual activities of the day. Then we find we are more concerned about what the other is doing. We can support one another and be involved in each other's lives. As a Christian, I need that same time alone with God if I am to be involved in what He would like me to do or be on this day. If I am to experience Him I need to be talking with Him and listening to His voice. How is your prayer life? Could you spend more time in prayer? Do you need to spend more time in prayer?
The disciples knew how to pray but one time they did not have the spiritual power to heal a young boy. Jesus said they needed to pray and fast. We in the church of the 1990's have not taken this seriously. Have you taken time to abstain from food while praying in order to receive an answer to prayer? Have you skipped a meal when you feel like the troubles around you are overwhelming? Do you need to study more about fasting?
Fellowship is the gathering of like minds. The best fellowship takes place in small groups. Here is where your Christian life can be challenged and nurtured. It is also the place where you are held accountable for what you are doing in your Christian life. Are you meeting weekly with a small group to encourage your Christian walk?
Another means of grace is often overlooked. It is the opportunities we have for the worship and praise of God. When do you spend time in God's presence just to praise Him and give thanksgiving for all that He has done for you? Have you stayed away from the worshipping community or are you regular in your times of worship?
How is your practice of Bible study, prayer, fasting, fellowship, and worship? If you are deficient in any of these, it may be the cause of your lack of spiritual growth and maturity.
Copyright ©1999 Joe Hoover. All Rights Reserved
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