Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, "Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me." But the Lord answered her, "Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her." (Luke 10:38-42)

 

The story of Mary and Martha is one of the more familiar stories in the New Testament because it’s so relatable. We all see shades of ourselves in Martha and feel this twinge of conviction every time we read her story. And yet it’s hard not to be like Martha. We’re important people and there are important things to get done.

This year, though, part of our vision as a church is to stop giving only nodding approval to Mary’s decision, and instead actually try to be like her. We want to get serious about sitting at the Lord’s feet.

As I mentioned on Sunday, we’re going to be spending a fair amount of time this year reminding ourselves of the basic spiritual disciplines. So much of the Christian life is about constantly returning to the fundamentals. It’s remembering our first love and practicing the things we did at first (Revelation 2:4-5). So each month this year we’ll be highlighting an aspect of our devotional lives and trying to rekindle a culture of simply spending time with God. Here’s a quick preview of what we’re going to hit on:

• February: Bible reading and study
• March: Journaling and meditation
• April: Prayer
• May: Fasting
• June: Extended time – silence and solitude
• July: Verse memorization
• August: Stewardship
• September: Learning
• October: Sharing thoughts from the Bible
• November: Worship
• December: Perseverance in the disciplines

Each month we’ll describe a discipline, highlight and distribute resources related to that discipline, and provide some practical steps and challenges to develop that discipline in your own life. Our small groups will also be places where we can pursue these things together. And we trust that if we approach these practices in a healthy way (and not in a self-justifying way), it will transform both our our lives and our church.

Click here to visit our Spiritual Disciplines page!

One of the resources we’re going to try to get into as many hands as possible is Don Whitney’s book Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life. Let me leave you by quoting a section from J.I. Packer’s foreword to that book, as he describes the importance of the disciplines:

 

The doctrine of the disciplines (Latin disciplinae, meaning “courses of learning and training”) is really a restatement and extension of classical Protestant teaching on the means of grace (the Word of God, prayer, fellowship, the Lord’s Supper). Don Whitney’s spiritual feet are blessedly cemented in the wisdom of the Bible, as spelled out by the Puritan and older evangelical masters, and he plots the path of discipline with a sure touch. The foundations he lays are evangelical, not legalistic. In other words, he calls us to pursue godliness through practicing the disciplines out of gratitude for the grace that has saved us, not as self-justifying or self-advancing effort. What he builds on these foundations is as beneficial as it is solid. He is in truth showing us the path of life.

If, then, as a Christian you want to be really real with your God, moving beyond the stage of playing games with yourself and Him, this book provides practical help. A century and a half ago the Scottish professor “Rabbi” Duncan sent his students off to read John Owen, the Puritan, on indwelling sin with the admonition, “But, gentlemen, prepare for the knife.” As I pass you over to Don Whitney, I would say to you, “Now, friend, prepare for the workout.” And you will find health for your soul.

 

Let us also prepare for the workout and refuse to neglect the one necessary thing.