Four Simple (and pretty obvious) Ways to Improve Your Walk With God in 2019
Do you want to grow in your walk with God? Is spiritual progress a priority in 2019? The serious follower of Christ is committed to “grow[ing] in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Pet. 3:18). His aim is spiritual maturity, not lifelong spiritual adolescence. God’s Word commands his redeemed children to “grow up into salvation— if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good” (I Pet. 2:2b). Are you, therefore, committed to your sanctification? If so, the following are four simple ways to improve your walk with God. The list, of course, is far from exhaustive. But perhaps it will encourage us to make growth in Christ a high priority in the new year.
Spend daily time with God
There is no better way for the Christian to start the day than in the presence of God with an open Bible in hand. We need God’s grace and direction. We need his truth and power. If we attempt to live the Christian life in our own strength and wisdom, or by the corrupt wisdom of this world, we will be unable to resist temptation and spiritual compromise. That’s why it’s essential to launch into each day seeking the Lord through Bible reading and prayer. In this world of constant distraction, we need time to “be still and know that He is God” (Ps. 46:10). Even Jesus rose “very early in the morning while it was still dark” and went to a “desolate place” to pray (Mk. 1:35). If our sinless Savior sought time alone with the Father, shouldn’t we? Dear believer, cultivate a strong devotional life — 10-20 minutes per day — and you will improve your walk with God in the coming year.
Attend morning and evening worship on the Lord’s Day
The first day of the week — the Lord’s Day or Christian Sabbath — is the most important day of the week for the Christian believer (c.f. Gen. 2:3; Ex. 20:8-11; Acts 20:7; Rev. 1:10). It is the day when Jesus Christ our Lord rose from the dead, conquering Satan, hell, sin, and death. It’s the day when we celebrate our new life and salvation in him. It’s the weekly cadence of the Christian life. Indeed, every seven days it comes along to remind us that this world isn’t our home, and that our identity lies chiefly in Christ and His coming kingdom. The ceasing from work and common activity on the Lord’s Day is not a legalistic holdover from Old Covenant days, but rather a way to help us re-focus on the Lord and our relationship with Him after a busy week. It’s a sacred day to feast upon the riches of Christ, by grace through faith, through the ordinary means of grace. Each week the Lord’s Day reorients our hearts Christward.
Because it’s the Lord’s Day, and not the Lord’s morning (or hour), the Reformed have historically scheduled two services, one in the morning and one in the evening (c.f. Ps. 92). This biblical pattern of the morning and evening sacrifice helps the congregation to keep the entire day dedicated to the Lord, bookending the day with God-centered worship, discipleship, and fellowship (c.f. Ex. 29:38-39). Christians who commit themselves to Lord’s Day observance, and are not providentially hindered (this doesn’t mean inconvenienced), will receive a double portion of the means of grace (c.f. Acts 2:42) and all the spiritual blessings that accompany meaningful Christian fellowship. Do you want to improve your walk with God this year? Set apart the entirety of God’s sacred day for the holy activity of morning and evening worship (c.f. Heb. 10:24-25).
Bring your Bible to church
Okay, this is an easy one. Let’s bring our Bibles to church. With an open Bible in your lap you will be able to pay better attention to the reading and preaching of God’s Word. You will be able to follow along better, and be less distracted by all the activity and noises around you. As you know, I often ask the congregation to look down at a particular passage that I’m preaching through, and to notice certain words, transitions, and phrases. I do this because I want you and your children to understand the meaning and application of God’s Word. Bringing your Bible to church will also help you to become more familiar with God’s Word. Yes, we will all forget to bring it from time to time. Recently, while in Brazil, I forgot to bring my Bible to a service, and I was preaching! Nevertheless, let’s renew our commitment to bring our Bibles to worship. Remember, we are people of the Book!
Read good books
The impact that sound Christian books can have on our lives should not be underestimated. Good books bring a joy and richness to life. I didn’t discover this until my early twenties. Sadly, not many people are reading books anymore. Indeed, reading these days generally consists of skimming emails, image captions, and Twitter feeds. Even college professors at prestigious universities complain that students aren’t interested in reading. But this shouldn’t be true for serious followers of Christ. Extraordinary blessings await those who commit to reading solid Christian books — books on theology, church history, biography, and practical Christian living. Each year we provide a Christ Church Reading Challenge where I recommend one book per month (you can locate the list on our website). When is the last time you set aside time to read a good book, and to reflect upon its contents? Let me warmly encourage you to turn off the television, pause the social media, and start a good book that will challenge, encourage, and strengthen your faith in Christ. Commit to reading good Christian books, and, by God’s grace and Spirit, your walk with God will improve.
These four simple ways to improve your walk with God are neither exhaustive nor formulaic. They are not exhaustive because there are many other very important ways to improve our walk with God, not least in the area of service. If we want to grow, we must put others first in our lives, and look for ways to love, encourage, and serve those around us. These four ways are not formulaic because it takes more than just human effort to affect spiritual growth. Apart from Christ, and the life transforming power of the indwelling Holy Spirit, our quest for spiritual progress is vain (c.f. Jn. 15:5).
Therefore, let’s cultivate these four pathways to a stronger walk with God. And when we fall short or fail (and we will), let’s be comforted by God’s abundant grace and patience. Rejoice that “he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Christ Jesus” (Phil. 1:6).