“Put On Your Game Face!”
IN THE ZONE
Most football games are won or lost before one second ticks off the game clock. Watch this clip from the movie, Facing the Giants. The Shiloh Eagles have not had a winning season in six years under the leadership of Coach Grant Taylor. This is a game against a team they had not lost to in many, many years. (Game Face 1 clip)
Today, we begin a new series entitled (SL) “IN THE ZONE.” My particular topic for this series is, “Put On Your Game Face!” Before the game a coach will often say, “you need to put on your game face.” He is talking about being prepared. Getting your focus on the game. Not being distracted by anything or anyone. That takes discipline.
Now as I mention the word discipline some of us may be thinking about the punishment that happened to a boy that was acting up in church. This young boy continued to talk out and create a disturbance in the church service. After his father had all he could take, we picked up the young boy and carried him to the back of the auditorium. As the boy was leaving, he cried out to the congregation, “Please pray for me!”
This morning I want to look at personal discipline and how to discipline yourself for success. Every great achiever in life has a common denominator and that is personal discipline.
My question for us today is: “Does your game face need a face lift?”
Paul was a disciplined person. In fact, he writes about discipline in 1 Corinthians 9:24-27:
- Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 (NLT)
- All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 (NLT)
- So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. 1 Cor 9:24-27 (NLT)
I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified. 1 Corinthians 9:24-27* (NLT)
There isn't much talk today about discipline. We are a nation of hedonists. If it feels good, do it. If it doesn't feel good, avoid it. We're mostly interested in what's fun. If it's not fun, forget it. Anything that is unpleasant should be avoided at all costs. We do not like good, old-fashioned discipline.
Good Discipline involves 3 points:
1. Take Aim: On Purpose – Intentional, Planned, Prepared 1:26 “So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing.”
2. On Target: Prioritize: First things first (what are some things I cannot afford to fail at) 1 Cor. 1:26 “So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing.”
3. Train to the point of pain Discipline is not easy and is often painful
Game Face 2 Clip (FACING THE GIANTS The Death Crawl – Your Absolute Best)
Here are some key areas where believers need to practice good discipline.
1 Corinthians 1:27 “ I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should.”
I Thessalonians. 4:4 "Each of you should learn to control his own body, keeping it pure and treating it with respect." Do you treat your body with respect? Our bodies usually need more exercise, more rest, and fewer calories. That's part of discipline!
Proverbs 23:2 (Good News) "If you have a big appetite, restrain yourself." That's a polite way of putting it. The New International Version says "If you're given to gluttony, put a knife to your throat." (I read this definition of a dieter: “Someone who realizes that what's on the table ends up on the seat.”)
Proverbs 23:7 “As a man thinks, so is he…”
2 Corinthians 10:5 (NIV) “… we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”
Proverb 25:28 (Living Bible) "A man without self- control is as defenseless as a city with broken down walls." Are you a moody person? Do you live by emotions? What percent of your decisions would you say you've made because "I felt like it!" based on moods. "I didn't feel like it, so I didn't do it. I felt like it so I did it."
How disciplined are you with your money? Have you learned to manage your money? The fact is, you can't have it all. Contrary to what the beer commercial says, you just can't have it all. You never will!
Proverbs 21:20 (Living Bible) "The wise man saves for the future, but the foolish man spends whatever he gets." How smart am I? How smart are you? We must learn to live on a margin. The average American saves four percent of his income. The average European saves 16% of his income. The average Japanese saves 25% of his income. Why are we so bad at that? Because we like to live now! We've got to have it now even if we've got to charge it! I'm going to live within my means even if it means using a credit card! I read that the average American is buying $1300 on credit for every $1000 he earns. That's what's called deficit spending. We're imitating our government! The problem is, the government is the only one who can get away with it because they make the money! You don't. My Daddy was a banker and he told me, “Make sure the out-go is less than the in-come!”
Learning to manage our money also means we learn how to give. Giving to the Lord’s people and the Lord’s work. Give first, give as generously, give cheerfully, give sacrificially. If you struggle in the money are we frequently have classes on Financial Freedom. Join the class and learn how to manage your money. The problem is lack of discipline, impulse buying -- I see it and I've got to have it. When the going gets tough the tough go shopping.
Spiritual – There are many area of spiritual discipline:
Prayer 1 Peter 4:7 "You must be self-controlled in order to pray."
Godliness 1 Timothy 4:8 (NLT) “Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come.”
Bible Study 2 Timothy 2:15 “Study to show yourself approved to God, a workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”
Getting Involved in Church Hebrews 10:25 (NLT) “And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do ...”
1 Timothy 3:15 (NASB95) “… the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth. (5 Purposes – heart, head, hands, feet, life)
How Can We Put On Our Game Face? (The ABC's of Discipline)
Admit Where You Are
Don't deny it. Quit rationalizing. Quit making excuses. Don't ignore it. "I don't have a problem.... I don't have a temper.... I don't have a drinking problem.... I'm in good shape.... I'm in control." Quit ignoring the problem and admit it. I have a discipline problem. I have a habit that I cannot break. "I could stop at any time." Oh, yeah? Admit your lack of discipline.
Even Paul who was a tremendously disciplined person had to struggle with this. Romans 7:18-19 (GNT) 18 “… For even though the desire to do good is in me, I am not able to do it. 19 I don’t do the good I want to do; instead, I do the evil that I do not want to do.”
Does that sound familiar? Can any of you relate to that? I sure can. Every one of us want to be disciplined, we just go about it in the wrong way. Two things that don't work:
1. Will-power is not enough. "I'm going to try..." There's a psychological principle that says, “What you resist persists.” The moment I say, "I'm going to stop ... I should ... I must ... I ought to ... ", something triggers that keeps us from doing it or we do it with a bad attitude.. Our old sin nature is full of rebellion and says "I don't want to do anything that I'm forced to do." It's human nature. Willpower doesn't work. How many of you are still keeping the resolutions you made on New Year's? How many of you remember the resolutions you made on New Year's?
2. Looking for a one time experience that is going to zap you and change your life and all of a sudden you have victory in every area of life. When I first became a Christian I went through several years of real discouragement. I kept looking for the magical one time key that was going to change me and let me live with sinless perfection. I'd go to a seminar and think, "Maybe this will be the key." Or a conference, or a book, or a tape, or I'd think if I just get a certain emotional experience. I went from one thing to the next that just a little bit of discipline would have cured. That was the problem. The problem wasn't that I needed an experience, I needed to learn how to discipline myself.
Believe That God Will Help You
Philippians 2:13 “because God is always at work in you to make you willing and able to obey his own purpose.”
Circle those two things. He says, “First, “God makes you willing” -- that's the desire and willpower and Second, God makes you “ABLE to obey His own purpose.” What God asks you to do, He gives you the power to do.
Faith is very, very important in learning discipline or self-control. Why? You've got to stop saying, "I'll never be able to change." You've got to stop saying, "That's just me! That's just the way I am!"
You've got to expect God to help you. You must believe that you can change. Why?
We always act according to our beliefs. Our beliefs control our behavior. Our convictions control our conduct. The way we think determines the way we feel and the way we feel determines the way we act. Instead of working on the symptoms -- the actions -- and forcing ourselves to change, we need to change our thinking first. It starts in our mind. We need to believe that God will help us. If we don't think that we can change with God’s help, then forget it, we won’t change.
Proverbs 13:16 "Wise people think before they act; fools don't." Decide in advance.
Discipline is a choice. It is a choice we make in advance of the time we need it. We need to choose before we face hard choices or our feelings tell us to do the exact opposite.
Yesterday, I went with a group on a 40 mile bike ride, not the kind of bike with a motor (that’s Bard), but pedal power. We met at 7 AM and took off from the Valero Store on the corner of the Loop and 87. When I woke up before 6 AM, my body was saying to me, "You really don't want to ride your bike today. You really don't feel that good. You stayed up late last night. You're tired. You ache. You've got a busy schedule. You’re old. You don't want to do this.
If I waited until I woke up to make the decision about riding my bicycle, how often do you think I'd go? Not very often! Discipline is talking back to your feelings. When my feelings say to me, "You don't want to ride a bike today! You're tired. You stayed up late. You don't feel good. You ache. You have a busy schedule." I say, "You're exactly right, but it's not open to debate! Sorry! Case closed!" When my feelings say, "You don't want to do this." I say, "You're exactly right, but I made the decision already, I’m going. And then I roll out of bed."
Most of the time when we argue with our feelings, our feelings usually win. The heart of discipline is to decide in advance. That's true of anything -- Bible reading, going to church, any area of your life. Young people, you don't wait until you're at the party to decide, "Am I going to take drink or do drugs?" That's the wrong time to decide. You don't wait until you're in the front seat or back seat of a car alone with the opposite sex to decide, "What are my views about sex? Am I going to save myself for marriage?" That's the wrong place and time to decide. You decide in advance. Choose beforehand
- Develop a Support System*
Find somebody who can encourage you, who can check up on you, make yourself accountable. We don't like that, but we all need it. The Bible talks about it. (SL) Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 9 Two are better off than one, because together they can work more effectively. 10 If one of them falls down, the other can help him up. But if someone is alone and falls, it’s just too bad, because there is no one to help him.”
The Bible tells us over and over in Scripture, “Christians, admonish one another. Encourage one another.” Pray for one another. This is why small groups are important. They can pray for you. You can say, "I have a need. I have a problem." I need to have a regular quiet time... weight loss... exercise... managing my mouth... I struggle with the internet… I know it's wrong and a weakness in my life. I've asked God to forgive me. He's helping me but would you encourage me in this? Would you pray for me? Can I call you up at any time and say, “Pray for me, I'm having a tough time right now?” Just check up on me." That's for people who are serious in developing discipline in their life
That's why we are a church of small groups. You're not a Lone Ranger (even the Lone Ranger had Tonto). God meant for you to be with other Christians who can help you, encourage you, support you and when you fall they lift you up and when they fall you lift them up. You enlist some support.
- SMALL GROUPS* - Life change happens best in a small group
- JOIN A SMALL GROUP*
- LEAD A SMALL GROUP*
- Sign Up for a SMALL GROUP Today!*
Eternal Perspective: Looking for God’s Eternal Prize
This is a very important principle, that is often missed or ignored. (SL) 1 Corinthians 9:25 “All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize.”
Hebrews 11. Moses is an example of someone showing discipline in his life by choosing in advance and focusing on the future reward of his decision.
Hebrews 11:24-26 (NCV) (SL) 24 It was by faith that Moses, when he grew up [A mark of maturity is personal discipline], refused (Personal choice to NOT do something) to be called the son of the king of Egypt’s daughter. 25 He chose (Personal choice TO do something) to suffer with God’s people) instead of enjoying sin for a short time. (Sin is fun, at least for a little while.)
Why did Moses choose the things he did?
Why would he reject the very thing we spend most of our lives trying to get -- pleasure, prosperity, and power -- to go live with a bunch of slaves, captive in a foreign land. Why was Moses so disciplined?
verse 26 He thought it was better to suffer for the Christ than to have all the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking for God’s reward.
Moses left pleasure, prosperity, and power, to lead a bunch of slaves in the desert for 40 years because he saw that the long term reward was going to be greater than the short term pleasure.
What are the rewards of personal discipline? They are incredible. Fantastic. The rewards of financial discipline are you get out of debt. You become debt free and you are able to use you money to serve God more generously. The rewards of moral discipline are a clear conscience and self-esteem, but also a crown of righteousness from God Himself. The rewards of physical discipline are you look good, you feel good, you have more energy, you live longer, but better yet you are a good steward of the body that God gave you. The rewards for spiritual discipline are you are usable by God. You are vital part of the Great Commandment to love God and to love others and the Great Commission to tell others about Jesus.
The disciplines that you establish right now, today, will determine your todays and your tomorrows. Whatever you want to become, you'd better start working on it right now. A disciplined life is a life that lasts (like the Energizer Bunny)!
“Does your game face need a face lift?”
CLOSE: How Can We Put On Our Game Face: (by being disciplined)
REMEMBER the ABCDE’s of Discipline
Admit Where You Are
Believe God will help you
Develop a Support System
You can’t even put on a game face, if you aren’t in the game. How can you get in the game? Realize you have a problem you can’t solve (sin). But God’s love for you is so great that He sent His Jesus Christ to die on a cross to pay for your sin. Then God raised Jesus from the grave to prove He won over sin and death. And God offers you the FREE gift of eternal life through faith alone in Christ alone. If you have never believed in Jesus to forgive you as a sinner, then you aren’t in the game.
- Acts 16:31 “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved …”
If you have already believed in Christ, then it's time to think about putting on your game face. I have one last clip from the movie, Facing the Giants. This clip shows Coach Taylor challenges his football team by asking, “What are you living for?”
So what are you living for?