Friday, May 27, 2011

The most important discipline

Though there are all kinds of daily disciplines which a growing Christian should give attention to (e.g. prayer, Bible reading, evangelism, generosity, quiet reflection, confession, acts of service, etc.), I am more and more convinced that one should rise above the rest: preaching the gospel to ourselves. It is the simple practice of beginning (and, I would recommend, ending) each day by briefly recalling the sins you've committed recently (to remind yourself of how much you need Christ's grace) and the certain forgiveness you have in Jesus' perfect life, atoning death and victorious resurrection.

Jerry Bridges, in Bookends of the Christian Life, presents his own model for daily preaching the gospel to himself. It is a three-step process:
1. Each day he begins with a standard text which reminds him of his need for Christ. He has chosen Luke 18:13, "God, be merciful to me, a sinner."
2. Next, Jerry remembers sins he's recently committed and is still feeling convicted about and applies to them, in the form of a prayer, a gospel-proclaiming text. Here are his daily prayers:
Monday: Micah 7:19, "Lord, I know that you will again have compassion on me; Because of Jesus' life and death in my place, You will tread my sins of (fill in blank) underfoot. You will cast all my sins in the depths of the sea."
Tuesday: Romans 4:7-8, "Lord, I am blessed because my sins of (fill in blank) are completely forgiven, and my sins of (fill in blank) are completely covered; blessed am I against whom You will not count my sin. Christ has paid for them all!"
Wednesday: Romans 8:1, "Lord, I know that there is, because of Christ's life and death in my place, now no condemnation for me, for He has cleaned me of (fill in blank)."
Thursday: Colossians 2:13-14, "Lord, I have sinned by (fill in blank). Yet, I who used to be dead in my trespasses and sins, and the uncircumcision of my flesh, You have made alive together with Christ. You have forgiven me of all my trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against me with its legal demands. This You set aside, nailing to the cross. It's gone! The accuser's voice is silenced. I'm cleansed. I'm forgiven!"
Friday: Psalm 103:12, "Lord, As far as the east is from the west, so far have you removed my transgressions of (fill in the blank) from me through the merits of Jesus Christ. Though You still know them, You will never hold them against me."
Saturday: Isaiah 1:18, "Lord, my sins of (fill in blank) are like scarlet, yet in Christ I am white as snow; though they are red like crimson, His cross makes me clean and pure like wool. His death and resurrection guarantees it."
3. Finally, Jerry finishes preaching the gospel to himself daily with the victorious words of John 19:30, "It is finished! Father, thank You that in Christ my forgiveness is a done deal, yesterday, today and forever."
As your pastor, I'm pray that as you mature as a Christian you increasingly fill your life with many godly, biblical daily disciplines. But never forget that only one is supreme and indispensable. Don't forget to preach the gospel to yourself.

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