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Our weekly newsletter filled with news, updates, and inspiring stories of how God is working in the Bay Area.

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What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?

Mark 8:36-37

Life is busy and we often replace what’s important with what is urgent. 

Stress, work and things to get done can push out what is most important: relationships.  Relationships take effort, care, and time to build and maintain. Much like going to school, building your career, or working out, you reap what you sow (Galatians 6:7).

The first and most important relationship that we often neglect is our relationship with God and this is where this study starts.  If you transform your relationship with God, it changes everything

This bible study will help you become more aware of yourself and who God is. It will also help you live by the bible, not just read it, which will change your life and impact the lives of everyone around you.

What is spiritual training?

Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.
1 Timothy 4:7-8

When you train to be close to God, learn from Him, it changes every part of your life.  It will affect all areas of your life for the better.

What is something you have trained for? How can you apply what you learned from your training to your relationship with God?

Apply the same focus, effort, consistency and anything else you learned.

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

2 Timothy 3:16-17

Spiritual training is using the Bible to train yourself and others to be God focused, close to people, and to live with purpose. Become the person God created you to be. Loving. Inspiring.

The bible equips you for your day.  When opportunity or challenge comes, you can make the right decision and good will come from it.

What great vision is God trying to equip you for?

1. Reading with purpose

Build faith

17 Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.

Romans 10:17
  • Faith is built simply from hearing God’s word.
  • Make a decision to believe what you read.

Look in the mirror

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25 But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.

James 1:22-25

When you read the bible it shows you the truth about yourself.  Ask yourself:

  • What sins do I see? Why did I do them?
  • What emotions do I feel? Why do I feel them?

Asking why helps you get to the heart.

2. Praying with focus

Start strong

35 Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. 36 Simon and his companions went to look for him, 37 and when they found him, they exclaimed: “Everyone is looking for you!”
38 Jesus replied, “Let us go somewhere else—to the nearby villages—so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.”

Mark 1:35-38

Jesus went to a place he could focus on not be distracted when spending time with God.  The result was he was focused on his purpose and not on the people yelling at him.

Ask yourself:

  • How did he respond to them?
  • Where do you need to go to focus on God? And when?

This may require that you change your priorities.

Be real

To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else,Jesus told this parable: 10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’

13 “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’
14 “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

Luke 18:9-14

The Pharisee was focused on feeling good, but the tax collector was focused on being real.

Who would rather hang with? Is God any different?

When you pray be honest about what you really think, feel and what is going on in your life.

Pray about guilt, anxiety, discouragement, negativity, what you need and want, your emotions and what you are grateful for. God wants to hear it all.  There is nothing too big or too small to pray about.

Pray with faith

23 “Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them. 24 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. 25 And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.”

Mark 11:23-25

Prayer is powerful when combined with faith.

What is a challenge in your life that you can be faithless about? These are often the things we avoid praying about.

Faith is a choice. Pray about these things and decide to trust God at the end of your prayer. Then watch him work!

3. Responding with action

Build strong

24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”
Matthew 7:24-27

What we do after we read and pray makes all the difference. Wind, rain, floods will come. Life is tough and hits everyone hard at some point.

The difference is the foundation:

  • The rock – living by God’s word
  • The sand – our emotions, opinion, traditions, concerns about what people think, and our own achievements

You may get hit by life, but when you build your life living by God’s word you keep standing strong.

What challenges are you facing now? Study the bible on how to tackle them, then do what it says.

Do it

14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? 15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food.  16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. 18 But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds.

James 2:14-18

Do others see your faith by what you do? Or are you all talk?

You have to decide to trust God like a good father or friend.  If they give you some good advice or direction to help you and you don’t apply it, that hurts the relationship.

The opposite is also true.  If you listen to God and do what he says it builds the relationships (1 John 5:3).

Simply picking one scripture to obey each day can transform your relationships.


16 Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.

1 Timothy 4:16

How you live matters. When you live by the Bible, the impact is bigger than yourself.

Who are your hearers (family, friends)?  Who do you know right now that needs a friend, needs help in their marriage, career,  finances, life? Who needs you?

When you live by the Bible, respond, and persevere even when it’s hard, you will inspire the people around you.

4. Spiritual training plan

Here’s a simple template you can use to start training spiritually.

Reading and praying

  • 10/10/10 – 5 minutes reading, 5 minutes pray for 3 times a day
  • Or 20/20/20 – 10 minutes praying, 10 minutes reading for 3 times a day
  • Start with one of these to walk with God throughout the day.

Pick a theme

  • What’s your focus? Ex: Love, discipline or leading.

Find a book

  • Choose a book of the bible are you going to read that addresses your theme. Ex: 1 John for Love.

Believe one thing

  • Choose one thing to believe from what you read and hold on to a scripture to believe.

Do one thing

  • Obey or apply one thing from what you read.  God’s Word is powerful, especially when you live it!

Inspire one person

  • Pick one person to inspire daily. Think about what would inspire them and then make it happen!

Written by

Nick Straw

Nick Straw is a Santa Clara University alum, and is passionate about ministry and community service work in the San Francisco Bay Area.