August 16, Sunday

REPOST Today’s Spiritual Food for Thought, provided by Pastor Barry Kang who heads Symphony Church in Boston, was first posted on April 7, 2013.  He is a graduate of Stanford University (BA), Fuller Theological Seminary (M.Div.) and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary (D.Min.).

Spiritual Food for Thought for the Weekend

“Training Ourselves with the Help of the Spirit”

1 Corinthians 9:24-25

“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.”

ming-han-low-upRp8cFqL4w-unsplashThe crown we pursue is the one conferred upon us by Jesus.  Paul is not speaking here of a ruler’s crown, but the winner’s crown:  the crown given to the one who has conquered.  I want to wear that crown.  I want victory over everything that prevents me from living the abundant life that Jesus wants me to live.  And I’m afraid that there are a lot of things over which I need victory: pride, impatience, lust, anger, self-righteousness, ambition, fear of man, etc.

The usual response is to try to become humble, patient, chaste, peaceable, compassionate, etc.  But I find that when I try to become these things, I often fail.  But to pick up yesterday’s question:  what if we don’t escape from these sins by trying but rather by training?  What if, as Paul writes, we need to go into strict training in order to win this spiritual race?

I believe that a specific type of training – whereby we discipline ourselves to open up to the transforming work of the Holy Spirit – is the secret to becoming more like Christ.  In other words, we can cooperate with the sanctifying work of Christ and the Holy Spirit.  And then just as we can get into better physical shape when we work-out, or become better pianists when we practice, there are spiritual disciplines we can practice which will help us to become more like Christ.  As we train ourselves with the Holy Spirit, our natural response to this world will become more and more loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, etc.

Have you incorporated any specific concrete acts of spiritual training in your life?  If not, let us invite the Spirit to lead us into practices that will attune our hearts more and more to God’s.

Prayer: Father, I confess lack of discipline to You.  I am in need of the Holy Spirit to train myself to be more like Your Son.  I ask that You bring dependence and determination into my heart and my mind.   I want to live this day in Your joyful presence.  In Jesus’s name I pray, Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: 1 Chronicles 8

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