By Rev Angela C
A DISCIPLE is someone who is a follower of one considered the master. In our case, Jesus Christ is our Lord and Master who sets a perfect example for us.
If we seek to emulate his character and action, we will be in God’s will. The best way is to adopt practices such as prayer, fasting and alms-giving as regular disciplines, following the Lord’s teaching in the Sermon on the Mount.
• Prayer: Let prayer give your spiritual battery a jump start in the right direction, then make it into a habit, a discipline that controls your way of life. Every disciple has to determine the right blend of time and space, of quiet and busyness, of silence and speech in order to be a faithful servant of God. We are each unique and our circumstances vary, but in the end we want to hear God say: “Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master”. (Matt. 25:23 NRSV)
• Fasting: If you are able to fast, today is a good day to begin a weekly practice. The traditional way is to miss one or several meals for one or several days. Fasting can be both a blessing to you and to someone else, when missed meals may become a source of monetary blessing to the hungry. The fasting of time, such as the elimination of the television from your entertainment diet, may mean more time in spiritual activities and family conversation.
• Alms-giving: This is certainly a time to try to meet the needs of persons who make their needs known to us. Whatever we can share will be greatly appreciated I am sure. Plan to do extra shopping when things are on sale, or buy some things wholesale. You can pay a utility bill for someone when you pay your own, or let someone run your errands or help in the yard or house to help them out.
• Discipline: A disciplined disciple is seemingly self-motivated but is really under the powerful influence of the Holy Spirit. There is a strong urge that comes over such a person to go beyond the norm and do more than what is expected. There is a higher standard to achieve, an eternal goal for which to aim. It is all about gratefully responding to the One who calls us to worship and loving service.
• Service: If you want to change for the better take on an extra service or act of service, boosting the numbers in worship or in the particular ministry. Help to build up the church family in any way you can, and to contribute to the advancement of society.
• Attitude: If you are adopting a more pleasant attitude or exercising more patience, then all who have contact with you will be the better for it. Reflect the glory of God and be a great ambassador for the Kingdom.
• Balance: The best balance for a disciple during Lent is to give up and take on at the same time. Consider how you may engage in specific spiritual exercises for the next several months. Some things need to continue for the rest of the year, and this is where being a disciplined disciple takes you beyond the bare minimum to actually seek permanent change.
• Repentance: The time to be honest with ourselves and God is the time to stop denying our imperfections and admit. The relationship with the master cannot be nurtured with lies. We have to be convinced, convicted, and converted before we can be refreshed, reformed, and restored.
• Forgiveness: After accepting God’s forgiveness for our own sins, this is a good time to forgive ourselves and others. Moving on to a place where there is no more resentment or hatred is a freeing experience, and leaves room for the soul to be flooded with joy and gratitude for what God has done.
• Faith: This is the bedrock for a life in Christ, when all we can do is trust God. Sometimes we have no answers and we can only believe that the God who has been faithful in the past will continue to be faithful now and always.
• Death: It no longer has power over us because faith teaches us that the Lord Jesus has conquered death, and whom he sets free from fear, sin and death is free indeed. Eternal life waits for us on the other side of the door.
Let us all learn these lessons of Lent and teach them to all who are willing to learn from our education, revelation and experience.