Success or failure in sports or in business is often determined by whether we execute the fundamentals consistently or not. The Christian life is no different. If we want to finish well, we need to faithfully execute the fundamentals. Here are seven to consider.
1. The Discipline of Hanging Around Other Believers – The Bible says we are to fellowship with one another in Hebrews 10:25; not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching. 1 Corinthians 12 states we are all parts of a body. Lungs or kidneys will dry up outside the body… so will a believer when they are isolated from a body. God calls us His sheep; and sheep can only survive in a hostile environment when they stick together and follow the shepherd (John 10:1-16). There are also over 30 “one another” commands that we cannot obey unless we are in a community of believers. You are who you hang around. 1 Corinthians 15:33 – 34 states; Do not be deceived: Evil company corrupts good habits. Your closest friends need to be serious Christians (1 Corinthians 5:11; 2 Corinthians 6:14-17).
2. The Discipline of Daily Reading (Studying) God’s Word – This is not easy to do because life has many distractions, along with the devil trying to steal the Word from our hearts (see Luke 8:12); but successful Christians always find time to spend in the Word of God. 2 Timothy 2:15 says we are to study the Word of God; Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. Joshua 1:8 states; This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. We read the Bible to fellowship with the Lord, we study it to apply His word in our lives…or more accurately, His word studies us.
3. The Discipline of Daily Praying (Talking) to God – Matthew 6:5-7 states; But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly. And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. Mark 1:35 states Jesus prayed in the morning; Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, He went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He prayed. 1 Thessalonians 5:17 says; Pray without ceasing. Prayer starts with praising and thanking God for everything He has done for you. Simply being quiet before the Lord is also effective prayer as well as praying in the Spirit (spiritual language – Jude 20; 1 Corinthians 12-14).
4. The Discipline of Regularly Worshipping Together – The fourth commandment speaks about resting and worshipping the Lord every 7th day. Exodus 20:8 states; Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. We are like coals in a fire; when you remove one from the others it usually goes out. Psalm 122 states; I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go into the house of the LORD.” Worshipping together is practice for what we will do together for eternity. Matthew 6:10 states; Your will be done here on earth as it is in heaven. It glorifies God when His kids gather before Him in one place to thank and praise Him. It is also a faith statement to the world that we believe in God and that He will provide for us, as we cease our work for a day. Regardless of what day you choose, the Lord gives us one day out of seven to rest and enjoy Him. This day of gathering together reminds us of His blessings and His ability to handle things while we rest.
5. The Discipline of Honoring God with Your Finances First – From the very beginning, before there were churches, even before God gave commandments about tithing we read about Abraham and Jacob giving tithes (10%) of everything to God (Genesis 14:20) as a way of showing God was the One Who gives us everything we have. Proverbs 3:9 states we should do this first; Honor the LORD with your possessions, And with the first fruits of all your increase. Deuteronomy 14:22, 23 states tithing is the way God teaches us to reverence Him; You shall truly tithe … that you may learn to always fear the Lord. Malachi 3:6-13 states when Israel didn’t tithe they were robbing God from His holy portion! And tithing was the only thing Jesus commended the Pharisees for in Matthew 23:23. As Christians, we know 100% belongs to God so we don’t have to tithe like Israel of old, but we get to tithe as a type of financial circumcision, or sign of our covenant with God. This also enables us to follow the typological example of not touching the forbidden thing (like the tree of knowledge in the garden) as we follow the example of those who walked with God.
6. The Discipline of Service – The Bible states we were not only saved from hell but saved to serve the Lord and others; Ephesians 2:8-10 states, For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. It is only as we work together do we see the part of the body God made us to be come alive and grow (1 Corinthians 12). Ephesians 4:16 states it this way; the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love. James 1:22 states we are to be doers of the Word not just hearers.
7. The Discipline of a Clear Heart – Perhaps the single biggest danger that “trips up” new and old believers alike, are disappointments and offenses. When we are let down (and we will be) by some expectation we had of God, of ourselves or other believers, we are vulnerable to evil spirits whispering thoughts to us to give up. It’s hard to pray to a God you are secretly mad at. 2 Corinthians 2:10-11 states we need to always maintain a forgiving heart; If you forgive anyone, I also forgive him. And what I have forgiven—if there was anything to forgive—I have forgiven in the sight of Christ for your sake, in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes. Satan loves to enslave us with an “offended heart”, a “blaming spirit” or a “root of bitterness” (Hebrews 12:15) so we don’t focus on God but on ourselves or other people. That’s why the Bible calls him “the accuser of the brethren” in Revelation 12:9-11. Therefore, confess your sins to God and He will forgive and cleanse you (1 John 1:9). See also Matthew 5:21-26 and Proverbs 4:2.