Hurry is the great enemy of the spiritual life. However, when people ask how we've been, most of us quickly respond with "Busy!" Our lives are packed full, which hasn't left room for the Spirit of God to work in us. Sabbath is both a command and a discipline where we engage the beauty of Jesus while humbly admitting our limits.
It's hard to fathom self-denial in an age of self-fulfillment. Even our approach to church is often consumeristic, and the way we engage the rest of the world around us is even more so. However, self-denial is the consistent call of Jesus and is vital to us becoming more like Him.
Like Jesus Himself, we grow and develop both physically and spiritually in the revelation of God through the Bible and spending intentional time with Him. Immersive Bible reading and fasting with prayer are two practices from the life of Jesus that can guide us as a body to grow in wisdom, stature and in favor with God and man… just like Jesus.
In God’s desire to have a relationship with us, He calls the whole church to know Him better. Here at York Alliance, we bring encouragement to our pastors and Elders as we become intimate and passionate followers of Jesus through the practical outworking of our relationship with God.
After all the hoopla, the birth of Jesus caused very little disruption to the busy first-century world. Then, as now, those who were impacted were those who were watching, waiting and willing to respond. The only right response to a real understanding of Jesus' birth is that of worship.
The story of Jesus' birth meant far more than a miraculous baby conceived in the womb of a teenage girl. The language of Matthew makes it quickly apparent that the birth of Jesus was a breakthrough within human history and a divine solution to the central problem of humanity. Every aspect of Matthew's telling is there to remind us that we are in need of rescue and that a Rescuer has come.
At first glance, the beginning of Matthew is a long and dry recounting of many generations of Israelites. However, like the rest of Matthew's gospel, the treasure lies beneath the surface. In this list of names we find an invitation into the story of God and a clear reminder that, regardless of who we are, we are all invited.
Shadows are always an indicator of something. The Old Testament created a series of shadows that foretold the coming of Jesus and who He would be. The Christmas season is also full of shadows—and these shadows can bring great joy as long as we stay focused on the reality to which the shadows point.
Learning the discipline of gratitude is not only an act of worship, but it is formative in our spiritual lives. When we fail to practice gratitude, we develop undue attachments and chase after desires that are never fulfilled. However, when we practice gratitude, we are able to say that we are content in all circumstances because we recognize the blessing and grace of Jesus in our lives.
Teaching, practice and community are vital to our spiritual formation. However, if all we do is engage those three things in our strength, we still wouldn't become like Jesus. The power of the Holy Spirit is the fuel for our transformation. The way He works in "the moment" is important, but it's even more important to see how He works “in the moment after the moment."
Teaching, practice and community are vital to our spiritual formation. However, if all we do is engage those three things in our strength, we still wouldn't become like Jesus. The power of the Holy Spirit is the fuel for our transformation. He works in us both in crisis and progressive experiences, working in us individually and as a part of the body of Christ.
Community is a vital aspect of our spiritual growth. We need to learn to celebrate one another, care for one another, and even challenge one another in healthy ways. While structures and programming can create a venue for gospel community, authentic community must be pursued and developed with intentionality.
Our spiritual lives are often marked by the “starts and stops” of trying harder, of intermittently succeeding and failing, and then of giving up… until we are convicted and the process starts all over again. However, engaging the practices of Jesus with effort and intentionality develops our spiritual muscle so that we can do what Jesus did.
The Word is the only real foundation for our spiritual formation. Through the reading and teaching of the Word, we encounter Jesus, the glorious image of the Father, and have the opportunity to be transformed into His image.
We need to engage spiritual formation with intentionality because we are being formed unintentionally, whether we have chosen to be or not. Choosing intentional spiritual formation is at the heart of the call to repentance—it's not a one-time event, but an ongoing ethic.
The startling declaration of Jesus to His disciples is that they/we would do even greater things than He did. The death of Jesus is a sacrifice for our sin and a gateway to the Father. The life of Jesus is a model for what it means to live as One led and controlled by the power of the Holy Spirit. As we recognize the power for Jesus' life, we are called to respond to His invitation into that same kind of life.
Is change truly possible? The expectation for the apprentice of Jesus is that we would become like our Master. This doesn't happen solely through our own effort, but it does require our effort. As we engage the training of Jesus through teaching, practice and community, the Holy Spirit transforms us to be like Him.
If we are to be apprentices of the Way of Jesus, our first step is simply to be with Him. This was the invitation given to the earliest disciples, and it's our invitation as well. We are called to constantly live in two places at once—where we are physically and also in the presence of Jesus. It's His presence that changes us. Too often we jump to the actions of the apprentice without first spending time with the Master.
Jesus' invitation to His first disciples is the same invitation given to us today: follow Him and become His apprentices. We are invited to be with Him, to become like Him, and to ultimately do what He did. The intentional choice is foundational for us to follow the Way because His way is the only pathway to the fullness of life.
The Importance of a Name: There are many instances in the Old Testament when God named people… but then He changed the name! While there are many choices of names, it matters what name is given to each of us.
Two Great Names:“Immanuel” and “Jesus” are names given to the Son of God and are vital in giving us understanding that God being with us paves the way for God saving us.
The Secret Name: In Revelation, we discover that God has a name for us that only He knows. This God-given name is promised to those who overcome and endure to the end.