The other day I was squeezing in a quick workout and I thought, “What are some essential movements I can do?” I settled on push-ups, crunches and jumping rope. I combined these into a 30 minute routine. If I did nothing but these exercises regularly, I would see a significant improvement in my physical health. Similarly, I have three discipleship essentials that I strive to maintain so that my baseline spiritual health is strong. They are: Study, Prayer and Action. I like the fact that they form the acronym S.P.A.. It’s easy to remember and the word evokes images of somewhere peaceful and restorative for my health. These three practices can be a great simple discipleship guide to establish a solid foundation for your spiritual health. I find that each feeds an essential component of what it means to be a christian.
Every christian is a disciple of Christ. A disciple by definition is a student and follower. You can’t be a disciple and not study. Being a christian also involves believing certain things. We come to know the truth and sound doctrine through study. THE most essential study we can do is studying the Word of God. First and foremost, I would urge you to read and study the Word daily. If you are already doing that consider studying the lives of great men and women of faith. This can be very inspiring and instructional. Studying one of your spiritual gifts so that you can grow in it is also another form of valuable study. At any given time you should be able to answer the question, “What are you studying?” So, “What are you studying?” If you can’t answer this, get in a Sunday School class or pick-up a book immediately that is going to help you grow in your faith.
Being a christian also means being in a relationship with God through Christ empowered by the Holy Spirit. Relationships require communication. Relationships require listening. Relationship require interaction. Jesus, when speaking about the end times, once said, “On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’” Matthew 7:22-23. These will be folks doing all of the right things but lacking a living connection with God through Christ. Prayer is a discipleship essential for strengthening that relationship. Every Christian should be able to answer the question, “So how is your relationship with God?” Their answer depend heavily upon their level of communication with God at that time.
“Faith without works is dead” James 2:20. Out of grateful response for all that God has done for us in Jesus Christ, we should live lives pleasing to God. We are called by Christ to follow. Following involves loving and forgiving one another as Christ has forgiven us. Following means laying aside every sin. Following means striving for unity and peace with one another. Following means taking up a new self in Christ. So, being a Christian means doing certain things. In fact, Paul in his letter to the Ephesians says, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” Paul explains in that letter how God made some prophets, some apostles and some teachers. He gifted those people specifically to build the body of Christ. God expects us to be in action for the kingdom of God. At anytime you should be able to answer the question, “What are you doing for God?”
So, how spiritually how are you doing right now? Take a moment and examine yourself through the lens of these three discipleship essentials: study, prayer, and action. Let these three activities be your discipleship guide for maintaining the essentials of your basic spiritual health. I find these three core activities feed one another and lead me to anything else I need to strengthen my faith. It’s good to focus on the essentials.
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