Updated: Feb 9, 2021
The purpose of Spiritual Disciplines for Character Transformation is to provide a practical understanding of how our lives can be transformed from inside out,to be like Christ in character and action.We will look at how Jesus lived His life as an example of how to live in an intimate relationship with our Father in Heaven.We will learn about practices that will help give victory over everyday and draw us close to the Heart of God.
The things learned in this course are meant to lay a foundation upon which you will continue to build throughout your life.The impact of this course will be in proportion to the life long,personal application in your own life of the preferred disciplines you will learn about and practice.As you experience God's grace in practicing these disciplines,you will be
an example to those to those you are discipline.You will have the practical experience to lead them into the same transforming way of living,loving and with all your being and loving your neighbour as yourself.
Created to Be Like Him
By the completion of this session you should be able to:
°Explain God's purpose in creating us to be in a relationship with Him and to reign under Him now and forever
°Explain the kingdom of Heaven as a present reality
°Explain that salvation is about living a transformed life now,not merely going to heaven when we die
°List and explain activities Jesus did to develop His relationship with His Father and to do what His Father called Him to do
The purpose of this course is to teach believers today how to follow Christ by learning to practice in our lives many of the same spiritual practices (disciplines) Jesus engaged in.It is intended to be applied individually to your needs with the intention of seeing your inner heart and life transformed as you learn to live in the presence of God more fully.As you learn to meet God through the disciplines you can teach them to your disciples also.
The church needs to place these spiritual disciplines at the heart of making disciples to help men and women experience the reality of lives transformed by Christ,learning to live in constant fellowship with Him as they learn to be like Him and to live as He lives.
To discover how to develop character in our lives we must start at the beginning of every person's life story - Creation.This provides a rich a rich background to know who we are and what God's purpose for us in this life.In Creation we find the secrets of our true nature and the reason for our existence today.It is a powerful and awesome story that is filled with hope and anticipation of our life now and in eternity.
II.Created to be like Him
A.God created us in His image (Gen 1:26 -27)
1.We are unique and special from all other created things (1: 27).
2.He personally formed our bodies then breathed life,His life,into us(2-7,22)!He did this with no other creature!
3.He created us to relate to Him personally,interactively and freely.
B.God created us to rule His creation - to be stewards and caretakers of it in cooperation with Him.
1.God is the ruler of His kingdom,yet He created us to share His rule with Him over a limited part of it.
2.God created man to rule or reign over the birds of the air,the fish of the sea,the livestock and all creatures( Gen 1: 26,28).
3.God created man with the ability and knowledge to name all the animals and bird with names fitting them.The man God Created was brilliant,made in His own image( Gen 2:19,20).
4.God gave all the plants for man to use as food and for the food for all the fish birds and very creature that moves on the ground,over which man was to rule( Gen 1:29,30).
5.God created us to work in union with Him in His kingdom in a conscious,personal relationship of shared responsibility.This is how the kingdom of God was meant to operate.( Gen 2 - 15)
6.He made His power available to us to do what needed to be done in filling creation with Him.
C.Man chose to break this union,this relationship with God.
1.This is the story of the rest of the Bible
a.The Old Testament records man's continual rebellion to God and God's desire to restore mankind to a right relationship with Him.
b.The Gospels show Jesus restoring our relationship to God and His example of living in God's kingdom as His desire for us today.
c.The book of Acts shows Christ's followers living in the presence of God's kingdom through the Holy Spirit's power.
d.The Epistles teach how to live in God's kingdom here and now.( See Rom 12:9-21;Eph 4 -6;Col 3 for examples.) We are to be training to reign with God now in and in eternity.
e.Revelation 22:5 shows our place reigning in God's kingdom in eternity.
2.God pursues us to redeem us,transform us and restore us to the relationship,life and rule He created us to have with Him (Acts 3 :19 -21; 2 Co 3: 16-18)
3.Christ came to give us His life-threatening a supernatural,powerful life that He lived - and an example He wants us to follow.He came to restore us to the life we lost,to live and rule with Him again.God wants us to live lives directed and powered by the Holy Spirit.( Jn 14 :12-14)
4.What is the kingdom of God? "The kingdom of the heavens,from the practical point of view in which we all must live,is simply our experience of Jesus's continual interaction with us in history and throughout the days,hours and moments of our earthly existence." - Dallas Willard.The Divine Conspiracy.p.280
5.The kingdom of God was the message Jesus proclaimed in life ( Mt 4:17: 9:35) and even after His death and resurrection ( Acts 1:3).
6.The kingdom of God was the message the apostle Paul proclaimed to the end of his life (Acts 20:25; 28:23,31).Based upon this,what should our message include?Does yours?Why is this important to understand and proclaim?
III.What Does Salvation Mean?
A.So many Christians,so little impact
1.Surveys show one third of the world's people claim to be Christian,yet our impact is so small.Why is this?
B.What does salvation mean today?
1.Could it be that our understanding of salvation is wrong,incomplete,or unclear?
2.The message many hear is simply:"Trust Christ to forgive your sins so you can go to heaven when you die."
3.A true story from a pastor: While shopping in the market a pastor met a man who two years earlier had made a decision to trust Christ in a service in his church.In talking with him the pastor found no change in his life,no growth,and no involvement in the church.Why is there no change?The man replied,"I did what you said.My sins are forgiven.I am going to heaven when I die.I don't need anything else."This encounter made the pastor examine and change how he explains the Gospel to people.
4.A danger today is presenting a gospel of forgiveness of sins only,not a new kind of life that is continually being transformed here and now!
5.The problem also rests in the lack of international discipline of new believers.Many new believers receive no training,no expectation,and no knowledge of a transformed life here,only a hope of going to heaven when they die.They have no understanding of the presence of the Kingdom oh God here and now.
6.Many see Christianity as only an intellectual faith.They know and understand the facts without experiencing a living,transforming relationship with the risen Christ in His Kingdom.
C.How do Jesus and the New Testament writers describe salvation?
1.What word is used for salvation in these scriptures:Jn 5:24;10:10;14:6;1Jn 5:12?Assign students to look up and read.
2.Why do Jesus and John use this word for salvation?
3.For reflection and discussion:Do you think of salvation as "forgiveness of sin and getting to heaven"or do you think of it as a new way of living,a new life now?How does this affect your understanding and expectation of "being saved"?How does it affect the way you communicate the Gospel to others?How would someone understand salvation from how you communicate the Gospel?
D.How the early church lived
1.People followed Jesus because of His unique and amazing life before His crucifixion.People followed Jesus because of of the promises that the life He lived was indestructible,death did not destroy it.His life was now available to all who wanted it.
2.The Holy Spirit was sent to Tidwell every follower of Christ,empowering and directing each to live as Christ would live if He were them.
3.They became followers of Jesus and lived in all of His life.The Book of Acts illustrates this.They impacted their world with a new kind of life( Acts 4: 13;17:6).
IV.A Closer Look at how Jesus Lived
A.How did Jesus live that was different from others?
1.Today many followers of Christ tend to overlook how He actually lived His life,what activities He engaged in when alone,focusing only on what He was doing while in public ministry.
2.We try to live and do as He did,but we fall sadly short in our words,actions and attitudes.Why does this happen?
3.A general principle of life:success at a moment of crisis depends mainly upon wise and rigorous preparation of body,mind and spirit.This principle is true for a musician,a surgeon,an athlete,a teacher,a soldiers,a farmer or a follower of Jesus.
4.How did Jesus live His life to prepare Him to do His Father's will in a way pleasing to Him?
B.A look at Jesus's life of preparation and practice from Luke's Gospel
1.He started public ministry in solitude and since in the desert.Like 4 :1 - 2
2.He fasted in the desert.'ll 4:2
3.He studied and taught from the Scriptures regularly.'ll 4:16 -21
4.He often withdrew to be alone with His Father and pray.'ll 5:15 -16
5.He engaged in celebration of God's goodness in life with others.Lk 5:27
6.He live a simple life in which God met His needs.'ll 8:1 -3
7.He engaged in deep fellowship with close friends.'ll 9:28
8.He worshiped and praised His Father.Lk10:2
9.His life was continuous service to others in healing,feeding etc.'ll 13:10 -13
10.He ended His ministry with solitude and prayer on Mt of Olive.'ll 22 :41
C.Are You Following Jesus' example?
1.A disciple is a follower,a learner,an apprentice to the Master,a disciplined person.Relationship,intention,commitment and obedience are required for this ( Mk 3:14-14)
2."Come,followed Me..." (Mt 4:19)
3."Now that I,your Lord and Teacher,have washed your feet,you should wash one another's feet.I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you......you will be blessed if you do them."(Jn 13:15 -17)
4."Make disciples.....teaching them to obey all I have commanded you."( Mt 28:18-20)
5."But everyone who is fully trained Will be like his teacher."('Lk 6-40)
6.We need to follow Jesus in how He lived in all areas of His life and teach others to do likewise.Study this in the Gospel.See what He did to live in constant fellowship with His Father in Heaven.
1.What have you heard in this lesson that challenges you to think or live differently?
2.Reflect on and evaluate the Gospel message you are currently communicating to others.Is it a message of forgiveness only(go to heaven when you die") or a message of entering a new life of transformation for now and eternity?Is change needed in how you explain the Gospel?How will you do it?
SHALOM! Much Grace, Your servant in Christ Abigail