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Monday, December 31, 2018

Disciplines of Discipleship

            Spiritual disciplines are practices followers of Jesus do regularly in order to condition their minds and spirits to receive and live in the grace God gives in Jesus Christ.  The classic disciplines include prayer, scripture reading, silence, solitude, fasting, worship, and others.  In 2019, at HillSong Church, we will begin the new year inviting our church family to take up the disciplines, with a twist.
            Fasting, prayer, scripture and the other classic disciplines are most definitely encouraged.  And within our execution of these time honored, well proven disciplines, we will focus on disciplines designed to raise our awareness of our own walk through life.  We are Jesus’ disciplines. Read that and let it sit with you.  You are one of Jesus’ 21st century disciples!  So, you and I and all who live out faith within the HillSong Church family will commit to disciplines intended to form us as we follow Jesus’ lead in every aspect of our lives.
            These disciplines of discipleship will be learned in our church-wide emphasis on “Walking in the Light” of Jesus.  “If we walk in the light as he himself is in the light, we will have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7).  America sorely needs cleansing from sin.  Our church’s witness to the salvation we have in Christ is emboldened as our fellowship is strengthened.  And our fellowship is strengthened as we join together in a shared effort.  So, in order to be more effective in drawing others to Jesus and in order to live with greater joy and richness in our faith, we join hands together and leap into 2019, walking in God’s light.
            The disciplines we will learn begin with disciplines of seeking and observing God at the work in the world.  That’s week one of the church-wide emphasis on walking in the light.  The wise men we meet in Matthew 2:1-12 found their way to Jesus because they were looking for Him.  We will develop daily practices that heighten our senses.  God is at work in the world around us all the time.  We’ll learn to live our lives looking for him and seeing him.
            In week 2, we will read Matthew 2:13-22 & 3:13-17 as we learn disciplines of obedience.  Note the ways Joseph, John the Baptist, and Jesus all live in radical obedience to God.  In small groups and the sermon, we’ll discover how taking up disciplines of obedience shape us as disciples.
            Week 3 of the CWE, January 20-26, will focus on disciplines of submission.  This is the next step after we’ve committed to obedience.  Submitted to God, Jesus was driven into the wilderness where he fasted for 40 days and then faced temptation from Satan (Luke 4:1-13).  What disciplines lead us to submit ourselves completely to God’s rule in our lives?
            January 27-February 2 is the fourth week of the church-wide emphasis on discipleship.  We’ll learn disciplines of Justice and liberation, taking our cues from Jesus’ sermon (Luke 4:14-30), and the reaction of the congregation that heard him preach it.  Clearly, participating in disciplines of justice takes us beyond just practices in our individual lives.  Commitment to justice means we are, in the name of Jesus, committed to flourishing of the poorest and most disadvantaged of our community.
            In the fifth and final week, February 3-9, we will read Luke 5:1-11.  There Peter says to Jesus, after doubting what Jesus has instructed, “Yet if you say so, I will” (5:5).  There are places in our lives where we want to control our life narrative.  In learning the discipline of following Jesus, we’ll be guided by Peter’s surrender.  Just as he said it, so too will we learn to say it.  “Lord, if you say so, I will.”  Even if I don’t understand, I will follow.
            Spending 2019 committed to disciplines of seeking/observing, obedience, submission, justice/liberation, and following, we will see our church formed in the image of Christ.  Moreover, the Holy Spirit will bring hurting, lost people into our church family where they will find salvation in Jesus.  It is going to be an incredible year at HillSong. I can’t wait for it to begin.

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