You Can Change 17: Sowing to the Spirit

These are my notes and some reflections on Tim Chester’s book: You Can Change

Sowing to the Spirit:

John Stott: “To ‘sow to the flesh’ is to pander it, to cosset, cuddle and stroke it, instead of crucifying it…. Every time we allow our mind to harbour a grudge, nurse a grievance, entertain an impure fantasy, or wallow in self-pity, we are sowing to the flesh. Every time we linger in bad company whose insidious influence we know we cannot resist, every time we read pornographic literature, every time to take a risk which strains our self-control, we are sowing, sowing, sowing to the flesh.  Some Christian sow to the flesh every day and wonder why they do not reap holiness.”  (p151)

Sowing to the Spirit is about cultivating that new affection for God.  Here are seven things that reinforce faith – or the more traditional term – means of grace.  These are ways in which God strengthens grace in our heart and feeds our faith in Him.

1. The Bible:

This is God’s primary means of changing us.

a) The Bible reveals our own hearts.  “We should read the Bible not primarily that we may expound it, but that it may expound us.” (p154)

b) The Bible reveals Christ’s glory:  The Bible “speaks liberating truth to our enslaved hearts” (p154).  It is the source of truth that counters the lies the world perpetuates.  Horatius Bonar: “He that would be holy must steep himself in the Word, must bask in the sunshine which radiates from each page of revelation.” (p154-5)

2. Prayer:

We do not pray not because we lack time but because we deem other things more important.  When we believe God to be the great change-agent, prayer must naturally move up our priority scale – but this will require planned neglect of other things.

3. Community

4. Worship:

In worship we not only proclaim God is good but that he is better.  And we call one another away from the worship of false gods, reminding ourselves instead of God’s majesty.  The Lord’s supper is a fresh invitation to taste and see that the Lord is good – Psalm 38:4.  (p158)

5. Service:

Service helps to redirect us away from our self-centred habits and self-absorption, directing us outwards instead.  We become the people we were meant to be by serving others.  “When we pour ourselves out we find ourselves filled up.” (p159)

6. Suffering:

Often the events of our lives can seem meaningless and mundane but God is training us in godliness.  Suffering tests, strengthens and perfects that faith.  Without suffering sinful desires lurk unnoticed in our hearts.  Suffering “assaults the irrationality of personal sovereignty” (Nicole Tripp, p161)  Suffering frees us to experience a deeper comfort and hope than we would have otherwise.

7. Hope:

We need to dream of the new creation.  Thinking about Christ’s return loosens the hold the world has on us and inspires us to change.

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~ by John on January 19, 2011.

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