The process of discovering your purpose and executing it in the kingdom requires spiritual discipline. We don’t just stumble into being spiritually disciplined. We have to commit to it.
You didn’t receive salvation by accident. No. You were drafted into the family of God not only as His child but as a partner in the fulfillment of his purpose and will in the earth. You have a strategic part to play in what happens here.
Spiritual discipline is what will help you know God deeper and carry you through your purpose.
What Is Spiritual Discipline?
Spiritual discipline is the implementation of patterns and practices, found in scripture, that promote the spiritual growth and advancement of followers of Christ; the implementation requires self-control. These are patterns and habits that have been practiced by God’s people since biblical times.
Do We Need Spiritual Discipline?
The definition of spiritual discipline lets us know that it promotes spiritual growth and development. I want to get more specific about what that growth and development entails though.
Spiritual discipline is a sign of wisdom. It is also how we renew our minds. Lastly, scripture tells us to train yourself in godliness. For the training of the body has limited benefit, but godliness is beneficial in every way, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.” 1 Tim 4:7-8
Cultivating Spiritual Discipline
The church is way more critical in the development of Christians than I initially realized. I have an episode about the purpose of church that I did with the founding pastor of my church. In that episode, my pastor explained the purpose of church. He explained the purpose of church in general and the purpose of the church in the life of individual Christians. Here’s what he said:
The church is an assembly of Believers who come together for the general purpose of reflecting the image of the king, Jesus Christ. Our assignment as a collective is to also reflect the character and the nature of the king, to demonstrate the works of the king, reproduce in the earth the will of the king, and establish and expand His kingdom in the earth.
He goes further and says the purpose of the local church for the individual is to develop and release Believers to fulfill their God-given purpose in the earth. The church is a key part in Christians discovering and walking in their purpose.
Now that we have an understanding of the purpose of church, I want to talk about what to look for in a Church?
A) Foundational Elements Churches Should Have That Promote Spiritual Discipline
The decision to join a church should be based on where God tells us to join. Often though, we don’t know which churches to check out.
I think a great place to start when considering a church is to determine whether they implement the same growth and discipleship experiences of the early church as outlined in Acts 2:42-47, NLT.
It says, “All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer. A deep sense of awe came over them all, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders. And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need. They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity— all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved.”
i) Bible Teaching
In America, especially in the Black community, we put A LOT of stake and weight into the preaching. However, it is the teaching of God’s word that sustains us. It is the teaching that helps people maintain deliverance. You can’t grow beyond what you know.
Teach the WHOLE Bible and the truth in the Bible. It’s a huge red flag when someone is preaching and they haven’t once referenced scripture to support their point.
The teaching of the Bible is how we learn God’s perspective on things. Jesus tells us “He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him—the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day.” John 12:48, NKJV. We will be judged by the word. How can we obey what we don’t know?
Make sure you look for a church that teaches the Bible.
1 Chronicles 16:29 tells us, “Give unto the Lord the glory due unto his name: bring an offering, and come before him: worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.”
The early church prioritized worship. We tend to limit worship to singing and putting our hands in the air. Worship is so much more than that though. My study bible gives a description of worship that I want to share with you. It says worship is “the recognition of God for who He is, what He has done, and what we are trusting him to do.”
Based on this description, it makes sense why God would inhabit the praises and worship of his people. Who wouldn’t want to inhabit a place where this is going on?
It’s critical that churches set aside time for worship, not just singing—but truly creating an atmosphere of worship.
The early church devoted themselves to fellowship. I remember I used to think that fellowship was just getting together but it’s so much more than that. One of the meanings of the Hebrew word for fellowship is “joint participation.” It’s about being unified as a body. An isolated Christian is an unfruitful one.
There are many scriptures which encourage fellowship. One being Hebrews 10:24-25 which says, “And let us consider one another in order to provoke love and good works, not neglecting to gather together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging each other…”
1 Thessalonians 5:11 tells us that we are to, “encourage one another and build one another up.”
We were called by God into fellowship with Christ and we are called to live out our fellowship with Christ through our fellowship with each other. So don’t ignore this. Fellowship is an important part of the church experience.
Outreach was evidenced through the text in Acts by the evangelism that led to the Lord adding more and more people to the church. Everyone was responsible for evangelism during this time, not just the apostles or leaders. They were meeting the people’s needs and teaching them the truth of the gospel of Jesus. In response, more and more people received salvation.
Those are the foundational things, based on scripture, that I think would be great to look for in a church when trying to decide where to visit, if I didn’t feel God leading me to someone specific.
B) Supplemental Elements Churches Should Have That Promote Spiritual Discipline
I look for churches that believe in and operate in the supernatural—they demonstrate the power of God. I highly recommend attending a supernatural church
Why? Because Jesus tells us in Mark 16:17 that miraculous signs will follow those who believe in the gospel of Jesus. He says, “In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.” That’s what Jesus says.
If Jesus says miraculous signs will follow those who believe in him, then what does it say about a place where these things are not happening? I don’t know and I don’t want to find out, so I don’t go to those places.
Apostle Chazdon Strickland once said
…“religion is Christianity without the supernatural” and that resonated with me. Listen, I have no interest in being in a powerless church.
Here’s the thing, if the church is doing all four of the foundational things then it WILL be supernatural. True worship alone can invite the presence of angels and the glory of the Lord. During worship is where we can hear the voice of God. This is why the supernatural things of God are a priority for me.
The other thing that I personally look for in a church in addition to the foundational things is, I look at whether the church operates in the ministry of deliverance. Do yall cast out demons or nah? Deliverance was a HUGE part of the ministry of Jesus.
Deliverance is the children’s bread. That means that it is FOR Christians. Jesus came to set the captives free. You might be thinking that I look for this in a church because I operate in deliverance but that isn’t why. I can do deliverance anywhere.
There are so many people hurting in the world because of the presence of demonic activity. Cardi B was just talking about how demons are raping her in her own house. Many people are suffering from double-mindedness, confusion, health issues, and mental illness. Not all mental illness is a demon but a large amount of it is caused by evil spirits that people need to be delivered from.
So I will always look for a church that operates in this area because this is what Jesus told us we should be doing as those who believe in Him and follow Him.
If the church you are looking into joining doesn’t have one or all of the foundational things...
…that doesn’t necessarily mean you shouldn’t be there. That just means you REALLY need to know that it is God who is leading you there because the church is lacking in a fundamental, foundational area based on how the church historically operated.
Let me add this about just how important church is for the believer.
I saw a video once where an ex-Satanist, who was very high ranking in the enemy’s kingdom, described what it was like to go to demonic church. Yes, devil worshippers have their own church. Why? Because the enemy perverts everything he can that God does. Here’s what the man had to say about demonic church:
- demonic church was from 7pm until 5am the next morning. So, for ten hours, those people were together worshiping satan and praying against us.
- they sat in crappy plastic chairs for about an hour and then they stood the remaining 9 hours of the service.
- During the service, they prayed in demonic tongues. SO now they are operating in the supernatural. The enemy’s camp is using supernatural power against the church, but a lot of churches are not teaching the body of Christ to operate in the supernatural.
- they were very unified in demonic church. Know what that is? That’s fellowship.
Spiritual discipline cannot be substituted.
The kingdom of darkness is doing all of this, and God’s church is serving this 90 minute Jesus once a week and is walking around powerless to stand against the enemy. We are in a war and most of the church hasn’t even picked up their weapons and may not even know what those weapons are.
This is why we have to be connected to a good church.
Prayer serves so many purposes. It allows us to develop a deeper relationship with God. It allows us to glorify God and make requests of Him. Prayer also shows God that we want what He has provided in the spirit realm to manifest in the natural.
Scripture tells us to pray without ceasing [1 Thessalonians 5:17].
Prayer promotes advancement not just when we make declarations and petitions for our promotion but also when we use it to combat the enemy.
There is a quote from Mark Batterson about prayer that I love. It says, “Prayers are prophecies. They are the best predictors of your spiritual future. Who you become is determined by how you pray.”
I heard a prophet say once that the kingdom of God is voice activated and that is an excellent way to put it. When God was creating the earth in the beginning of time, He spoke creation into existence. Then we see humans speaking TO creation. This shows us that our words have power. When we speak to God we are unleashing all kinds of promises and coming into agreement with spiritual realities that shift how things operate in the earth.
The model for prayer...
Jesus was an excellent model of what a praying person looks like. He would steal away from the crowds regularly to pray to the father. He encouraged us to do the same as well, saying, “when you pray, go into your private room, shut your door, and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” The time we spend with God is sacred. Jesus even taught us how to structure our prayers in Matthew 6.
Prayer is an area that I am constantly growing in. My prayer life has shifted a lot in the last year. I used to pray these cute prayers that were primarily about gratitude and good things, for myself and others. Rarely did I pray about the enemy and I definitely was not praying any warfare prayers. Years ago, I remember my pastor saying he spends a large amount of time talking to the devil when he is praying and I was so confused about why. I understand now. I’m at the point where I spend a lot of time addressing satan and coming against his schemes.
Build up your defenses.
It’s very easy to see the area where you are supposed to thrive because the enemy will attack you with missiles in that area.
Because I know this and have experienced attacks in the spirit, I see prayer as a method for building up my defenses against the enemy. Everytime I pray
This viewpoint I have about prayer building my defenses was pretty much confirmed by someone who used to operate in the kingdom of darkness.
Praying just any ole thing isn’t going to work.
We have to pray the word of God. The word is what provokes angels to intervene in our affairs. Prayer causes turmoil to demons. There are warring angels that fight on your behalf when you pray. Prayer is a huge practice for the believing Christian.
When the angel appeared to Daniel he said, “Daniel, you are a man treasured by God. Understand the words that I’m saying to you. Stand on your feet, for I have now been sent to you. Don’t be afraid, Daniel, for from the first day that you purposed to understand and to humble yourself before your God, your prayers were heard. I have come because of your prayers.” It was Daniel’s words that got the angel to come. Baby you can’t tell me prayer doesn’t work
To fast is to temporarily give up satisfying a craving of the body in order to focus and give extra attention to a spiritual need. It is a general spiritual discipline, which means it is a practice that works for anyone who wants spiritual, supernatural results. That means fasting works for anyone regardless of their beliefs.
Fasting puts our flesh and soul into submission to our spirit.
Because fasting allows for the suppression of the flesh and soul and promotes the strengthening of our human spirits, we are able to get results! We hear more clearly from God. I have some of the most powerful encounters with God when I fast.
Reading/Studying God’s Word
Every follower of Christ needs to read the written word of God regularly and consistently. There is no substitute for this. Prayer is not a substitute because if you aren’t praying God’s word, then what ARE you praying? Going to church is not a substitute for reading the Bible. Nothing can replace this.
- We are judged by the word. See John 12:47-48. When we die and give an account of our life to God the judge is going to be the Word of God. Can you imagine being judged by words you don’t even know?
- Keeping God’s word let’s Jesus know that we love Him.
- The answer to every problem is in the word.
- The word exposes false teachers, prophets, and apostles. When someone changes the character and person of Jesus they are in error. This is important because when someone is teaching a false Jesus, you can believe that behind it are demonic spirits. When listeners receive this other, misrepresented version of Jesus, they then open themselves up to receive the spirit behind it.
Here's an example:
A pastor said to a large congregation of people that Jesus was out of order 85% of his life. He said that because Jesus was working as a carpenter. The pastor says Jesus was not called to be a carpenter. Then he went on to say that because of this, Jesus was wrong. That is what the pastor said while hundreds, maybe even thousands of people sat there listening. Some even verbally agreed. This is blasphemous.
The word of God clearly and explicitly tells us that Jesus was perfect. He lived a perfect life without sin. He was not wrong because that would mean he rebelled against God.
If Jesus was not perfect, then how can he redeem us from our sins? How can me or any other person ministering deliverance, stand in front of someone and command a demon to come out of someone in the name of Jesus. How can we use him if he was in error? We couldn’t, which is why what this pastor said is a LIE. Jesus did exactly what he was supposed to do while here on earth. He was and is perfect.
It’s hard to know that what that pastor said is wrong if you don’t read and study the word for yourself.
If you enjoyed this episode about spiritual discipline, then you may also enjoy the episode of the show about the fear of success and how it hinders purpose or this episode detailing what to expect when operating in your purpose.
- Study Bible
- Topical Bible
- Fun and Easy Tools for Studying the Bible
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