Welcome back. I hope you have been enjoying the studies as much as I am enjoying writing them. If this is your first time, I strongly suggest that you take some time to read the previous blog entries. We have been laying out a foundation for having a victorious life in Christ. I have submitted to you, the readers, that having a proper understanding of the basic fundamentals of Christian doctrine is essential to that purpose. We have looked at God's grace in salvation, which precludes us from earning our standing with Him. We have also been studying how His grace plays a role in our lives here on earth and how we appropriate that grace by the work of the Holy Spirit. I trust you have done your part in looking up the scriptures I suggested. A huge part of my goal in writing to you is to look into the Word of God and evaluate what I write based on what you see in the scriptures. There is no substitute for your own study of the Bible. Maybe you can already see where we are going today.
Now before we really get going, I need to make one very important point. When you study the Bible, you must come at it from a particular point of view or you will never be satisfied. That is, that the Bible is the divinely inspired Word of God that it claims to be. Read 2nd Timothy 3:16 before you continue. The Bible is no doubt at times hard to understand, that is why it must be studied, not just read. But it can be understood by people who have been born again by the Spirit of God, who choose to believe it. (Read 1st Cor 2:10-16) Many people want to pick and choose which parts of the Bible they will believe and which parts they won't. This will never bring you the peace that we have spoken about earlier because you will never know which passages are true and which ones are not. I know this by personal experience. When I was a young believer, I tried to make the Bible say what I wanted it to say. That way I didn't have to deal with the difficulties. I didn't have to change anything I was doing. I could just ignore any verse that might convict me of my actions. What a miserable fool I was. This is how many "Christians" approach God's word today. Jesus said that He was the TRUTH and that the truth would set us free. Either God's Word is all true or it is just another book written by humans that might have a few good things to say. The problem with that logic is, that if it claims to be God breathed and is not all true, then it is a lie. If it is a lie, then what do we have to gain by reading it? The Bible does not give us that option. Either it is God's true Word or it isn't. If you want to live a victorious Christian life, you must accept it as truth and do your best to understand it and live according to it. There is no other choice. When I finally came to that conclusion, the Lord began to take me on the greatest adventure you can imagine. That is when I began to experience the "peace that passes all understanding". That is when he began to totally change my life. Thank you Lord Jesus! I promise that He will do same for you.
OK, on to our new topic. Does the word discipline scare you? I know that some of you, if you are honest, would say yes. Maybe for some it means being yelled at or even being abused. That, my friends is not discipline. Hopefully, we can see what discipline really means. In all my years of coaching, I never saw a really good team that did not have discipline. Along with sound fundamentals, it is a key to success. "Have you ever heard something similar to this? " Oh, I don't need to prepare, I just trust God ". How about this one. "I don't plan anything, I just let the Holy Spirit lead" .Though it is true that you can trust God and that the Spirit leads, it is not an excuse for being lazy. It amazes me that so many Christians seem to think that discipline is unnecessary for the believer. Nothing could be further from the truth.
In 1st Corinthians 9, Paul describes what a runner does in a race. Read verses 24-27. He likens this to our Christian life. He talks about going into strict training. This takes discipline. Strong's defines the Greek word for discipline in its different forms as self control or with sound mind. As we know, self control is one of the fruits of the Spirit working in our lives (Galatians 5). The word is also related to the word disciple. The Greek word for disciple speaks of being a learner. Look at what Jesus says in Luke 14:26-27. You can see that being a disciple involves doing something. So if we put this all together, we can see that discipline is very important in our walk with the Lord. So, what does this mean in a practical sense? What does it look like in our lives?
Discipline really has to do with our choices. We choose many times a day what we do with our time, our talents, our finances, etc. In order to make good choices we have to decide what our priorities and our goals are. When I was coaching, I used to set three goals for every team that I coached. First, to be the best team we could possibly be. How good that was depended on how much talent we had, coupled with how hard we worked and how much we were willing to sacrifice other things to reach our goals. Next, we wanted to improve every day. In order to do that, we had to focus on one day at a time. Lastly, I wanted each individual to become a better person through the experience they had as a player. That takes a willingness to sacrifice some individuality for the good of the team and learning to follow instructions from the coach. I always felt that reaching these goals would help prepare my players to be successful in their future endeavors. Notice I did not mention winning. I always believed that winning was the byproduct of reaching the three goals. Accomplishing these goals takes dedication. You must be disciplined to make the choices that will lead to reaching your goals.
It really isn't much different in our Christian life. The difference is in the goals you are reaching for. Paul tells us in Php 3:14 that our goal is to press on to win the prize of the high calling of Jesus. What is really awesome is that he tells us to forget what lies behind. This means that you let go of what has kept you from that goal in the past. If you have not made good choices in the past, you start making better ones now. If you have lacked the discipline in the past to pray and study God's word, start now. If you have been out of fellowship with other Christians, get back in the ballgame. The great thing is you don't have to do it alone. If you will just ask God to help you make those choices, He will do it! But, you have to ask. He will not do that for you, it is a choice of your free will. I used to ask my teams one question right before we took the field. "ARE YOU READY?" Now I am asking you, ARE YOU READY?
- Pray for God to help you set some specific goals regarding time for prayer, study and fellowship. Don't just decide, listen for His leading.
- Set a plan for study. A one year bible is a great way to do it, but there are many plans available.
- Ask the Lord for an opportunity to share His love and grace with one person this week. When the opportunity arises, you will know it. Ask the Holy Spirit to give you the courage to follow through.
May God bless you in your desire to follow Him,