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Pastor Andrew Webb | Fayetteville, North Carolina
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Providence ARP Church
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400 Eastwood Ave
Fayetteville, NC 28301-3320
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223 Early St.
Fayetteville, NC 28311
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Ten Suggestions To Help You Grow Spiritually in the New Year - Part 1
TUESDAY, JANUARY 04, 2011
Posted by: Providence ARP Church | more..
19,900+ views | 370+ clicks
1) Read Your Bible Before you read your email, log in to Face Book, turn on the radio, etc.

Far too many of us spend time in the world, before we spend time in the Word and as a result we begin the day with the wrong frame of mind and perspective, and not having "broken our fast" by partaking of the bread of heaven. For many people, this means that they begin the day having partaken of things that cause them to be irritable, anxious, or distracted, rather than filled with the things that promote peace, contentment, and knowledge. If we wonder why we are weak in the faith, it might just be because our primary diet consists of things that are not spiritual food. Let your first meal in the morning be the milk and meat of the Word of God!

"Oh, how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day. You, through Your commandments, make me wiser than my enemies; For they are ever with me. I have more understanding than all my teachers, For Your testimonies are my meditation." (Psalm 119:97-99)

2) Start attending the church events you normally miss

If there is one thing we learn from the Apostolic church, it is that they never missed an opportunity to worship together. "And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers." (Acts 2:42) This should still be the fondest desire of every Christian's heart. "I was glad when they said to me, "Let us go into the house of the LORD." (Psalm 122:1) But it is also something that we desperately need for our growth. Indeed, the Christians who are growing the most in the faith are almost invariably the ones who spend the most time in worship and study. Sometimes people really are providentially hindered from attending the services of the church, but more often than not we have simply made a decision not to go. There are many excuses we can generate for not coming to both worship services on Sunday or the Bible Study or the Prayer Meeting, but how often can we honestly say, "Lord, the thing that I am doing instead of going to church is more important than worshipping you with the saints and is better for my spiritual growth?" Do we really think that the eternal blessings that we gain from attending on the means of grace will not outweigh the temporary hassles of traveling to church? Do we expect that in heaven we will say, "I'm glad I didn't go to church more often?" or that if we did attend all the church services we could that we will regret doing so?

Finally, before you protest that you would be physically exhausted if you attended more of the services of the church, make sure that there aren't other activities you could cut out that would enable you to get more rest. Often church is the first thing we remove from our schedule rather than the last. Christians are by definition people who hope to spend eternity in the corporate worship of the Lord, and we need to begin living now as we mean to continue forever afterwards. Remember, we can suffer from a lack of grace, but it is impossible to suffer from having gotten too much of it!

"not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching." (Heb. 10:25)

3) Begin and Stick to a Pattern of Daily Family Worship

Properly understood there are three different spheres in which worship should take place; privately, as we do our personal devotions, corporately, as we assemble for worship with the other saints on the Lord's Day, and household, as families assemble to worship together on a daily basis.

While all the different spheres of worship have declined in modern times, perhaps none has suffered quite so much as family worship, and I believe that the results of this decline can be seen in the exodus of covenant children from the church. Simply put, an hour of corporate worship or even an hour of corporate worship and a youth program like AWANA cannot ever replace daily household worship and instruction. Fathers, you and not your pastor, youth pastor, or Sunday school worker have been charged with bringing up your children in the training and admonition of the Lord (Eph. 6:4). You simply cannot do this without following that daily pattern of instruction and worship set out in Deuteronomy 6. Additionally, Family Worship is a bulwark of any marriage, and you will find that although it is a cliche, there is a LOT of truth to the saying "The Family that Prays Together, Stays Together." Indeed, it isn't surprising to see that as family worship has declined, divorce rates have increased. In 10 years of pastoring, I have yet to encounter a family that kept a regular pattern of daily family worship that was on the verge of divorce.

Many families are intimidated by the thought of starting a pattern of family worship because they were not brought up doing it themselves, and were thus never taught how to worship at home. The keys to starting off a successful program of family worship are simplicity and consistency. If you have never done it before, I would recommend you start this way.

First, pick an event that the entire family already does together, such as eating a meal like then covenant that as soon as you have finished your meal you will assemble together for family worship. Keep your family worship simple and brief, and make your family wish there were more of it rather than wish that it would finally end. A sample pattern for worship might include:

  • Father or Mother Prays
  • Father reads a short selection from the Bible (no more than a chapter!) that he is familiar with and can explain, or from a good family devotional like the ones written by Jim Cromarty.
  • Father explains the text and asks the children some questions about the text designed to stimulate thought and conversation
  • The family closes by praying together and offering up their individual praises and requests to God

Later, after your worship has grown consistent, you can begin gradually adding in other items like singing and reciting the Shorter Catechism, Lord's Prayer, Ten Commandments, etc.

"We will not hide them from their children, Telling to the generation to come the praises of the LORD, And His strength and His wonderful works that He has done. For He established a testimony in Jacob, And appointed a law in Israel, Which He commanded our fathers, That they should make them known to their children; That the generation to come might know them, The children who would be born, That they may arise and declare them to their children, That they may set their hope in God, And not forget the works of God, But keep His commandments" (Psalm 78:4-7)

4) Start Reading Systematically Through the Bible

One of the trends that has emerged over the years is that while Christians read email, text messages, magazines, novels, and Facebook, they rarely read the bible. The bible reading that does go on is either needs based (I have to read this for a bible study) or random. The result of this is that bible knowledge amongst Christians is declining at a precipitous rate. As an example of that, one seminary president pointed out that while it used to be the case that only 1/3 of the incoming class failed the English bible exam, now only 1/3 of the incoming class pass the English bible exam. It should shock us that the majority of future pastors begin their training without a firm grasp of the content of the bible, but it should be even more distressing when we consider that these men usually represent the most biblically astute members of the church.

A failure to read systematically through the bible also tends to generate an atomistic understanding of verses. We may be familiar with what a particular verse says, but we are not aware of its context or its connection to the rest of scripture. This often leads to serious theological error. It also often means we fail to recognize the progressive nature of revelation in the bible.

Instead, find a bible reading plan such as McCheyne's and read through entire books in BOTH the Old and the New Testaments. Even if you don't want to begin a bible reading plan, at least begin a process whereby you select books of the bible and read them rather than merely letting your bible fall open at random.

"But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:14-17)

Category:  Encouragement

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