Last Sunday I preached from Exodus 20:15. Don’t steal. I pointed out that when we try to build our own kingdom, we’re actually stealing from God. We should be doing more to build God’s Kingdom. I also provided 5 areas were we can start building God’s Kingdom. (You can listen to that sermon here.) In this post, I’d like to offer some practical ways to work on building God’s Kingdom in your heart, mind, and soul through some spiritual formation. It comes through spiritual discipline, which is a fancy way to say it comes through your habits.
Some of you are stealing from God and not building his Kingdom by stealing time, talent, or treasure from him. Some of you would like to stop this and start developing better habits for Kingdom building. This is great. I’m praying for you!
Maybe you're struggling to read your Bible daily. Or maybe you don't see how you can give a regular offering to God in support of his mission at Redeeming Life or other ministries, or both. Are you struggling to fast regularly? Or maybe you're struggling to gather with your local congregation at Redeeming Life.
Spiritual formation is often about forming habits and the formation of a habit takes strategic effort. Reserving a space for the thing you're lacking but want to do is a great start for growth.
When we were first starting the church plant, we set a budget that had line items for sending another church planter, foreign mission work, and even a building fund. This was a time when our weekly offering was a few bucks and some loose change. Remember when we were meeting in the parsonage? We were fundraising and had no money (and, really, we still don't) so why would we set these items in the budget? Because we reserved a space for them to grow in the future. It was about being faithful. These line items had extremely small percentages of our undesignated collected offering. It was almost comical how much we saved in each line item, but we were honoring God by making an effort, even if it was all we could do. Each year we try to up these percentages. It's not easy, but it's faithful and they serve as a placeholder for growth. It’s something, and that’s more than doing nothing.
How does this illustration translate into your life?
Are you are struggling to read your Bible every day? Set yourself to read one verse per day. Maybe it seems silly, but it will reserve a space for you and God and you'll be in your Bible daily. That’s something! As you grow, you can up it to two or three verses. If you keep this up, eventually you'll grow into entire chapters, then more and more chapters. Additionally, you'll begin to grow in this spiritual discipline and enjoy it.
Is the offering plate passing by you unchanged. If you're presently not giving to the mission of God at your local church through financial offerings and gifts, you should. It's an act of worship. "But I can't afford it," you might say. Try this. Every pay period, give $1. Not just $1 cash in the plate, but take the time to write a check or give online (or through text giving). Make it an intentional act every pay period. Be mindful of God and the spiritual discipline to give. And maybe as you start this, you'll give up one of those coffee drinks so you can up your giving to $5. See what happens when you act in obedience and faith. Doing something, even if it’s $1, reserves space for God to work in your life, and it's much better than making excuses to the Lord.
Do you fast? If not, start by setting a fast for a single meal per month. Skip a meal and pray every time you feel hungry. It might not seem like much, but it’s more fasting than you aren’t doing now. It’s a start and it reserves a space for God to grow you.
Having a hard time making church attendance a priority? Many people struggle to go to church regularly. "I'm tired" or "I'm too busy" I hear. The problem is not Sunday morning, it's Saturday night. Reserve space for this spiritual discipline by setting an evening bedtime on Saturday. If it’s not the evening, maybe it’s the chores in the day. Trying getting off the couch even for just a little bit on Saturday. It's really not that difficult. And by reserving space and time, you'll find it's not too difficult to attend a worship service with fellow believers. As you do this over time, making worship with your faith-family a priority, you’ll be surprised how much God grows you through it.
Spiritual formation starts with a little discipline. And discipline starts by reserving a space for God to work, even if only a tiny bit. Create a space holder until you've grown more. Be intentional about a strict effort that will lead to your spiritual growth and faithfulness. Watch what God might do if you reserve the space.
For the Kingdom!
Pastor Bryan Catherman