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No Pain

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No Pain – No Gain, The Case For Personal Discipline

 

Prov. 25:28 Like a city whose walls are broken down is a man who lacks self-control.

Titus 2:11 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men.  12 It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age,  13 while we wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ,  14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.[1]

The grace of God is the foundation of the gospel.  Anything that doesn’t smack of grace doesn’t smack of God.

Grace is foundational to the idea of discipline as well.

The hymn writer said it well, “Twas grace that taught my heart to fear and grace my fears relieved.  How precious did that grace appear, the hour I first believed”

It teaches us . . .

Whenever we make meaningful change and experience growth in our lives it is because we begin to think differently about things.  It is imperative if we wish to grow as children of God that we become habitual learners.  This is to discipline one’s mind.

How does a person discipline the mind.  The scripture says:

2 Cor. 10:3  For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does.  4  The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 5  We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

That must mean that there are those thoughts that tend to run wild in our minds from time to time, unbridled and unrestrained.

We discipline our minds by what we choose to feed it.

I think that reading, studying, meditating, learning is like weight lifting for the mind.  It exercises the gray matter.  As we learn we increase our capacity to learn.  As we read we increase our ability to read and we are enriched.  I know people who are intelligent by gifting and I know of others who are so by effort.  Both have one thing in common - they read.

I see people who maintain a sharp mind over a long period of time because they exercise their minds.  They read and study in areas that require effort – areas that make them think.  You’ll be much better off if you do it and imbalanced if you don’t.

2Pe 1:5 ¶ For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge;

We discipline our minds by what we allow it to dwell on.

Ø      Hurts

Ø      Slights

Ø      Self-pity

Ø      Bad news

We discipline our minds by what we look forward to. 

Everyone needs something to look forward to.  (Seniors Trip to the Holy Land)  This is the area of faith and vision and we are to be people who are both.  I can be more excited by what God can do than by what I might be able to accomplish.

I think that it is an absolute shame to live without a goal to guide your life.  I believe the goals change at different times and seasons of a person’s life.

Col. 3:1 ¶ Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. 2  Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3  For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.

 

Ro 8:5  Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. 6  The mind of sinful man {Or mind set on the flesh} is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace;

 

Ro 1:18  The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 ¶ since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them.  20  For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities--his eternal power and divine nature--have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.  21  For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22  Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23  and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles. 24  Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25  They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshipped and served created things rather than the Creator--who is for ever praised. Amen.  26  Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. 27  In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion. 28  Furthermore, since they did not think it worth while to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. 29  They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30  slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31  they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32  Although they know God's righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.

It teaches us to say . . .

James tells us: “If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to keep his whole body in check.”  Our conversation can be a blessing to others or a curse.  If we are to be maximally productive for the kingdom we must learn to discipline our mouths.

Talk about the tongue in James 3:

Psalm 19:7 ¶ The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul. The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple. 8  The precepts of the LORD are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the LORD are radiant, giving light to the eyes.  9  The fear of the LORD is pure, enduring for ever. The ordinances of the LORD are sure and altogether righteous. 10  They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the comb. 11  By them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward. 12  Who can discern his errors? Forgive my hidden faults. 13  Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me. Then will I be blameless, innocent of great transgression. 14  May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.

It teaches us . . . to live . . .

Have you discovered that not all of your behavior is automatically “fixed” when you come to Christ.  There are some things that God wants to see you address and you must be the one to do it.  He will help you but he will not do it all for you.  The act of conquering ourselves breeds a desire to continue in that direction.  This is the discipline of our manner of living.

You have a lifetime enemy sworn to do anything that he possibly can to destroy your life in this world and to damn your soul forever.

1 Peter 5:8 ¶ Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.

 9  Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.

I think that one of the most significant principles that would speak to us today is the principle of mastery

You have to decide who you will serve and serve that one with all your heart.  Loyalties cannot be divided without being compromised.  One of the great bridges of faith to be crossed is the choice of a master.  Paul says:

1Co 6:12 ¶ "Everything is permissible for me" --but not everything is beneficial. "Everything is permissible for me" --but I will not be mastered by anything.

Ephesians 5:15  Be very careful, then, how you live--not as unwise but as wise, 16  making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. 17  Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord's will is. 18  Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.  19  Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, 20  always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. 21 ¶ Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

 

A few principles of good habit building:

Time is required.

We are all motivated differently.  For some dissatisfaction, others despair.

Most good habits require discipline on the front end but less and less as time passes.

Accountability is crucial as well.  People who fail to go on the line with someone else will most likely fail for they have nothing to lose.

Good habits crowd out bad ones.  If you have been trying to stop doing something that has you bound, start something else positive and let love for the new crowd out love for the old.

Don’t quit trying.

 

Ps 10:4  In his pride the wicked does not seek him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God.

 

Psalms 94:10  Does he who disciplines nations not punish? Does he who teaches man lack knowledge? 11  The LORD knows the thoughts of man; he knows that they are futile. 12 ¶ Blessed is the man you discipline, O LORD, the man you teach from your law;

 

Isa 55:8  "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the LORD. 9  "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

 


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[1]The New International Version, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House) 1984.

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