Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Disciplined Disciples

“[B]ut I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified” (1 Corinthians 9:27).

Living in a world that has no concern for disciplined living makes it hard to be a Christian. And this difficulty is only compounded by people who call themselves Christians embracing this undisciplined philosophy. The Bible is a book of truth (John 17:17) written to reveal God’s purpose for ones He has drawn near to Him sojourning through this wilderness we call Earth. A worldly view of this inspired book will only lead one away from God and not draw them nearer.

Like anything in life in which we want to be good at, we must discipline our minds to focus on the things that bring success. It is the same with our spiritual life. Satan is in opposition to anything that leads us to God’s reward. God’s truth has illuminated His path of righteousness (Proverbs 6:23), but Satan uses our weakness in the flesh to lure us away from the path that is illuminated through truth. The result is the battle going on for our soul: “Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul” (1 Peter 2:11). Abstaining from fleshly lusts will take every bit of self-control we can muster, and even when we find ourselves ready to give in, we have God with us to strengthen us for success.

Without discipline being a disciple of Christ would be impossible: “Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me” (Matthew 16:24). These are the three steps of discipleship with each one of them requiring a disciplined mind to embrace. If Jesus wanted us to believe in an undisciplined theology then this statement could and would have been stricken from the Scriptures. Jesus knows this decision to follow Him will be extremely difficult. But He also knows that God will always be there to assist us in our times of trouble: “But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him” (James 1:5). The trials we face are meant to strengthen our faith in God (4). God wants us to rely on His power through obedient faith so He can give us victory to show the world that is failing in their own ability. To ignore the flesh and trust in God requires a disciplined mind.

Satan uses our weakness in the flesh to get us to grab onto something that will separate us from God. It will take a disciplined mind to let go of the ways we are comfortable with and grab onto God’s way which is not a popular decision: “Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us” (Hebrews 12:1). The author of Hebrews goes on to show that we do this by disciplining our minds to remain focused on Jesus. He also shows us that through this self-control we will find the same victory that Jesus found as He humbled Himself under the authority of God. He now sits and awaits our entrance.

An element of the fruit of the Spirit is self-control (Galatians 5:23). Fruit of the Spirit means proof that God is working in us. God sent His Spirit to guide us in a disciplined mind. Jesus left us an example of the treasure of living in submission to God’s will. To live in submission to God one must be humble and this requires discipline. Without self-control we are slaves to our flesh and not servants of God. We must make a daily decision to follow God at all costs and Satan is out to make this decision tough by tempting us with our own desires. Resist his efforts.

In His Grace,

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Being Taught

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you” (Matthew 7:7).

One of the greatest attributes of God is His faithfulness (1 Corinthians 1:9). He promises us many things that we can be fully assured of because of His integrity. But there is one thing that can hinder His promise of eternal life, and that is our own stubbornness. We are promised rest if we will come to Christ for His guidance (Matthew 11:28-29). We are blessed people because He is faithful to His promise and gives us rest when we respond to His plea.

The three promises in the Scripture above are based upon our desire for truth. Jesus taught, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied” (Matthew 5:6). The Greek words used here show a deep hunger and thirst, even to the point of death. In other words, if we don’t eat and drink we will die. But it also shows that only a certain “food” and “water” can satisfy these needs. Jesus shows us the food required to satisfy spiritual hunger: “Jesus said to them, ‘My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to accomplish His work’” (John 4:34). The sustenance of our spiritual life is the same as our Savior’s and that is living to fulfill the will of God.

David was a man devoted to God and His teachings. He knew that his life depended on the commands of God: “Make me know Your ways, O LORD; teach me Your paths” (Psalm 25:4). God’s paths are truth, faith and salvation, along which our feet must be guided (Psalm 119:105). As hard as we try and as bad as we want to be able to, we cannot direct our own steps in God’s path of righteousness (Jeremiah 10:23). Our own efforts will always fall short because of weakness in the flesh: “[F]or all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). If we are truly seeking God’s paths then we must recognize His voice and allow His words to change our heart and minds.

Many are in this world with a desire to find God’s salvation. But there are many who believe they have found it but have been deceived by Satan. They have accepted the opinions of men instead of “examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so” (Acts 17:11). God is not “a God of confusion but of peace” (1 Corinthians 14:33). He has a desire for all man to be saved (1 Timothy 2:4) and He has never “forsaken those who seek” His ways (Psalm 9:10). His way is truth (John 14:6) and He has sent His truth to the world that the world might trust in Him and follow His lead.

There are also some in this world that have obeyed the gospel and have had their sins washed away. But it is there that they stop being obedient to the Lord’s love. They have forgotten how to die to self, to sin and to the old ways that only lead to death, doom and destruction. They have fallen back into the trap of self-abasement. They believe they are self-sufficient and do not deny fleshly pride. They forget about being humble enough to only listen to His word and come up with a “better plan” than what God’s truth offers. The difference is that those who are truly seeking His salvation can only be satisfied by the voice of God (John 10:27) because they know He is the only One that can lead them to the reward of His promises. They are looking to God to teach them His ways only.

In His Grace,