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Christians Developing Self-Discipline
Experiencing the Abundant Life
As Christians, we have to choose to live according to God's plan for us and our desires. Choosing God's plan, means doing things his way, which is not necessarily the easiest way, but it is always the best way.
This means a life of discipline. But this is more than exercising our willpower; it is drawing from the strength that our heavenly Father gives through the Holy Spirit. Jesus explained, “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly" (John 10:10). He came that we might experience life to its fullest, and our role is to be responsive to this calling.
Self-discipline must be motivated by our love for God, and not the need for approval, or out of shame or guilt. Similarly, it is developed through the Christ life in us, for we can't do it by our own.
These two devotions could help you to focus on spiritual things that really matter, guard against distractions, and experience an abundant self-disciplined life in your walk as a Christian.
Understandiing God's Unconditional Love
Focus Verses: "This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we ought to love one another" (1 John 4: 10, 11, NIV).
To walk a genuinely disciplined Christian life, we must clearly understand God's unconditional love. We are covenant people, through Christ's work, and within this covenant the best is available to us. Our motive for obedience to God, as reflected by our self-discipline, should be our love for God, which a direct response to his love.
Just as we responded to the Gospel, as believers, we must continue to respond to God's work of love in our lives, and this means being sensitive to his Holy Spirit daily. God's blessings are available to us, but we must be responsive to experience the fullness of these blessings.
Prayer: "Father God, thank you that you love me so much that you sent you Son, Jesus to redeem me. In response to your great love, help me to love you with all my heart, and so I freely live to reflect your divine purpose. In Jesus' Name I pray. Amen."
God's Love Producing Fruits of self-Discipline
Spiritual Disciplines Poll
What motivates you MOST to cultivate the spiritual disciplines in your Christian life?
Focus Verses: "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law" (Galatians 5; 22-23).
The nine fruits of the Spirit include self-control. We don't produce these seeds through self-effort. These qualities are produced through the Holy Spirit in our human spirit. While the work of the Holy Spirit is critical in the process, we must be responsive to his work to manifest these fruits in our lives.
When we respond to the Holy Spirit's nudge to take right actions, we are sowing seeds of the Spirit. On the other hand, we could give in to our feelings, and not do the things we are instructed to do, or remain passive.
The Bible clearly warns us that we reap what we sow (Galatians 6:7-8). So as we pray or meditate on God's Word, we are empowered by his love through the Holy Spirit to learn more about him and mature in our Christian walk.
Prayer and reading God's Word are critical spiritual disciplines. We have to make a choice to do them daily but they would be empty activities without the breath of the Holy Spirit's illumination.
Through prayer and the Word, we communicate and build our relationship with God. The Bible teaches us to "pray without ceasing" (1 Thessalonians 5:17) and explains that "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness" (2 Timothy 3:16).
As we practice these disciplines we grow in our relationship with our Father because we gain a greater understanding of his true nature and how much he loves us. We grow in the knowledge of who we are in Christ - accepted, secure and significant. Such knowledge frees us to live soberly through the power of the Holy Ghost.
Prayer: "Heavenly Father, thank you that you have given me fruit of the Spirit to be demonstrated in my life. Help me to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit to respond to him through my thoughts and actions, so that I will show forth the fruit of the Spirit in my life. In Jesus' Name I pray. Amen
“If you take responsibility for yourself you will develop a hunger to accomplish your dreams.”— Les Brown
Practicing the Spiritual Disciplines
Which of the spiritual disciplines do you practice most?
Scriptures on Self-Control and Self-Discipline
- "Like a city whose walls are broken through is a person who lacks self-control (25:28, NIV).
- "Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever" (1 Corinthians 9: 24-25).
- "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law" (Galatians 5; 22-23).
- "For as he thinks in his heart, so is he" (Proverbs 23:7", (NKJ).
- "And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God' (Romans 12:2, NIV)
- "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. (" (John 14: 27, NIV).
- "Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain." (1 Corinthians 15:58, NIV.).
- "Look carefully then how you walk! Live purposefully and worthily and accurately, not as the unwise and witless, but as wise (sensible, intelligent people), Making the very most of the time [buying up each opportunity], because the days are evil" (Ephesians 5:15-16, AMP.).
Self-Discipline: Balanced Priorities
As we close, let us pause to consider that the choices we make demonstrate the nature of our character. This should lead us to pursue a self-disciplined life in which we obey God's Word even when we don't feel like doing so. However, we must be careful that our self-discipline is not anchored in self-effort, but in the power of the Holy Spirit operating in our lives.
In this regard, Christian author Jerry Bridges points out. "Only conduct that arises from love is worthy of the name obedience. Our motive for obedience is as important, probably more so, to God than the levels of our performance." So let us walk as disciplined believers who are rooted in Christ's love.
Bridges, Jerry (194). The Discipline of Grace: God's Role and Our Role in the Pursuit of Holiness. Colorado Springs. CO: NavPress.
© 2014 Yvette Stupart