Sunday, February 24, 2013

Living Beyond Yourself

I am almost finished with the Living Beyond Yourself Exploring the Fruits of the Spirit Bible Study Workbook by Beth Moore.  I really loved how the study I did this morning finished.  Here are my thoughts to preface it before I type it out.  It's so easy for me for us to use the excuse that we just don't care about something or it's not in our nature or whatever excuse we have for staying in the same place when God wants us to grow in our likeness of Him.  And maybe we don't even realize that is what is happening.  That's why dry times, stressful times, going crazy times can be a blessing in disguise.  They remind me of my true nature. My depravity.  Who I am outside of God.  That my righteousness is filthy rags.  I am nothing without Him.  On and on.  Humbling.  Necessary.  Our enemies - the world, the flesh and the devil are good at reminding us who we are outside of God.  Telling us we missed the mark.  Telling us we are never going to change.  Telling us it's never going to get better.  Telling us we the bomb (outside of God).  Telling us we are better than others.  We are up.  We are down.  So goes the life in the flesh.  The last fruit of the Spirit is Self Control.  The practice of discipline is one that God has really been illuminating to me.  In discipline we find safety.  In discipline we find love.  It goes against our human nature but it's so true.  Here is how this day's study ended.  It's worth retyping.  At least for me.

Beth had the participant read two chapters in Judges about Samson and answer questions and then read Daniel 1 and Daniel 6 about Daniel.

Notice that Daniel did not panic, nor did he ignore the edict.  He simply got down on his knees and made his petition.  Let's draw several basic conclusions from Daniel's egkrateia or self-control.

  • Physical discipline and spiritual discipline often go hand in hand.  Samson had neither; Daniel had both.
  • Prior discipline prepares us for present dilemmas.  The time to prepare for a crisis is in advance and through the practice of prayer.  It requires discipline to form the habit of prayer and self-control to withstand the obstacles that compete for time.
  • Self-control enhances effectiveness; self-indulgence limits effectiveness.  Many of us will never fully affect this planet in ways God planned because of our sheer lack of self-control and discipline.  Any effectiveness may seem random and accidental.
  • Self-control for God's sake invites God's blessing.  Self-control prospers; self-indulgence perishes.
Consider this.  Two healthy, red-blooded boys (Samson & Daniel).
  • One denied his call of consecration.  One chose it.
  • One took more than he was offered.  One resisted what he was offered.
  • One assumed the power of God and ultimately lost it.  One asked for the power of God and ultimately found it.
  • One was overcome by his enemy.  One overcame his enemy.
  • One was victorious in his death.  One was victorious in his life.  Both young men had everything going for them - with only one major difference: one was protected by the wall of self-discipline; one was not.  Ouch.
Wow, really loved that and the messages at church today.  Our church lost a missionary pastor in Haiti this past Thursday.  A wife lost a husband and a family lost a father and grandfather.  Please lift up his family in prayer and his congregation.  

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