by Pastor Steve Ellison
First Timothy 4:7-8 tells us to discipline ourselves spiritually because that will benefit us in this life and in the life to come. Spiritual disciplines are channels of grace through which God blesses His people. If we will read, study, memorize, and meditate on the Bible we will get to know the Creator and Redeemer. Furthermore, our lives will be transformed as we become conformed to the image of God. Every human being is created in the image of God but that image was marred or corrupted in the Fall of Man recorded in Genesis 3. Praying is another spiritual discipline which will glorify God and benefit us. Private and corporate worship are spiritual disciplines that will bring blessing on us and others.
A spiritual blessing that is much ignored is that of drawing close to God that He might enjoy our fellowship. He created us for that purpose. Do you suppose that God created you so that you might help Him solve some problem that He had? Do you think that God wanted you to add some purity and holiness to the world? Do you suppose that God created you so that you could teach Him about love? Do you think that perhaps God created you to explain some difficult situation to Him? I think you know the answer to those questions. God does not need me or you. He has no needs. He simply desired a being with the freedom to accept or reject His love and fellowship. God needs absolutely nothing from anyone or anything. He wants fellowship with us. That is all.
As God was preparing to use Babylon to chastise and discipline His people, He sent Zephaniah the prophet with a dual message of judgment and restoration. The first chapter of the book of Zephaniah tells of judgment that would fall first on God’s people. The second chapter tells of judgment on Gentiles. The third chapter speaks of a remnant of people from both Jews and Gentiles who will be restored to a place of fellowship with God. Zephaniah 3:14-20 is a marvelous passage of restoration, “Shout for joy, O daughter of Zion! Shout in triumph, O Israel! Rejoice and exult with all your heart, O daughter of Jerusalem! The Lord has taken away His judgments against you, He has cleared away your enemies. The King of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst; You will fear disaster no more. In that day it will be said to Jerusalem: “Do not be afraid, O Zion; Do not let your hands fall limp. “The Lord your God is in your midst, A victorious warrior. He will exult over you with joy, He will be quiet in His love, He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy. “I will gather those who grieve about the appointed feasts —They came from you, O Zion; The reproach of exile is a burden on them. “Behold, I am going to deal at that time With all your oppressors, I will save the lame And gather the outcast, And I will turn their shame into praise and renown In all the earth. “At that time I will bring you in, Even at the time when I gather you together; Indeed, I will give you renown and praise Among all the peoples of the earth, When I restore your fortunes before your eyes, “Says the Lord. (NASU) The Lord your God is a victorious warrior, exulting over you with joy. He is quiet in His love and He is rejoicing over you with shouts of joy. I suggest this spiritual discipline. Get alone with God; shut out the world. Ask Him to somehow, someway enjoy you and rejoice over you. That is what He longs to do. This is a neglected spiritual discipline that will be a channel of grace into your life.