Earlier this week, I ran into a friend of mine who asked me, “How is it going in Royston?” For the next ten minutes, I told her all about the amazing ways God is at work in our church and throughout the community. I told her about the worship services and the enthusiasm you bring each Sunday morning; I told her about the fellowship gatherings and the joy you share with one another; I told her about the community outreach and the love you share with others. I could have gone on about more, but we were running late for a meeting and had to leave. But it was one more opportunity to share about what God is doing at Royston First UMC and I wanted her to know how excited and proud I am to pastor a church committed to “making disciples of Jesus who make disciples of Jesus.”
Over the last few weeks we have embarked on an e-series talking about disciple making and we have learned that disciples offer themselves to God in a spiritual act of worship, disciples are intentional about sharing their faith and making disciples (who make disciples), and disciples develop relationships of mutual growth and accountability with other disciples. This week, we look at the importance of spiritual growth as we discover that a disciple of Jesus has a personal relationship with Jesus that is rooted in the spiritual disciplines of prayer, Scripture reading, worship, and Holy Communion.
I once had a mentor who used to tell me all the time the best leaders are life long learners. He encouraged us to always look for ways to learn something new and share it with someone else. This same principle is true in our spiritual journey – as we move on toward perfection in love, we are lifelong learners continuously growing in God’s grace. In 2 Peter 1:5-7, Peter challenges the early church: “For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love.”
Several years ago, I planted a tomato plant in our yard and waited for the tomatoes to grow. I watered the seedling and provided nourishment for the soil, and it was looking good. After a few weeks, we enjoyed our first tomato, and then the plant died and we never had any more tomatoes. After it had produced the first tomato, I forgot to keep watering it and nurturing the plant. Without the proper nourishment, the plant was unable to produce fruit.
Spiritual growth is a life long process of nourishment through prayer, Scripture reading, worship, and Holy Communion. We experience transformation best when we are committed to growing in God’s grace through these spiritual practices. Spiritual growth does not happen by accident, we must be intentional and purposeful. John Wesley referred to these spiritual practices as the means of grace– the ways in which we can experience God’s grace in our daily living. And the amazing thing about these spiritual practices is that we will always learn something new when we open our hearts and minds to what God is saying to us. The people I know who read their Bible daily, pray without ceasing, worship regularly, and receive Holy Communion as often as possible are always experiencing God’s grace in a new and fresh way as they continue to learn about loving God and loving neighbor.
What are you doing to grow your faith? How are you availing yourself to the means of grace? I’d love to recommend a prayer journal or Bible reading plan to help you. If you would like more information, please feel free to contact me.
As always, I am praying for you and your growth in God’s grace. I am so glad we are on this journey together and I look forward to being with you in worship this Sunday.
Growing together with you,
P.S. One of my favorite devotionals is an email I receive each morning called “The Daily Text.” It is written and put out by JD Walt and Seedbed Publishing. JD is a former chaplain at Asbury Theological Seminary, and I met him when I was a student. You can read and subscribe to “The Daily Text” by clicking here. It takes about five minutes each morning, and it’s worth every bit of those five minutes.