How to Discover the Grace of Self-Discipline
What is the Abundant Life?
As Christians, we have to choose between living according to God's plan for our lives and our desires. When our lives line up with God's plan for us, that's abundant life. Choosing God's way, means doing things his way, even though this is not necessarily the easiest way, it is always the best way.
This means a life of self-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 receive the abundant life Christ offers. Through his grace he has already provided all we need. So self-discipline should be motivated by our response to the love and grace that God has expresses towards us.
Self-discipline is not to make God love us, it is because he loves us. It is not prompted by the need for approval, or out of shame or guilt. Self-discipline is developed through the Christ life in us and the recognition that we can't do it by our own.
These two devotions and Bible readings could inspire you to experience deep fulfillment in our life as you live according to God's will for us. Spend time in his presence and experience his love that empowers you to live a truly disciplined life.
Experience 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 for us. As covenant people through Christ's work, the best is available to us. For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11, NIV). We want God's best for our lives.
Our motive for obedience to God should be our love for God which a direct response to his great love. Daily, we must respond to God's love with a deep sense of his special care for us in every situation we face or everything we do. Then the spiritual disciplines become a way of life. Like the very breathe we take; we can't do without them. They move from duty to joy!
Intentionally, we must continue to respond to God's work of love in our lives which means being sensitive to his Holy Spirit, daily. We receive God's blessings that are freely available to us as we respond to his love and grace that enables to live disciplined lives.
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."
The Discipline of Grace - Jerry Bridges
Several years ago I read Bridges' insights on what it meant to live a truly disciplined Christian life. A light dawned on me that exercising Christian disciplines does not happen by self effort but through the grace of God as we allow the Holy Spirit to work in and through us. God's grace is always within our reach no matter how much we fall short and is always needed no matter how well we think we are doing.
Spiritual Disciplines Poll
What motivates you MOST to cultivate the spiritual disciplines in your Christian life?
Let God's Love to Produce Fruits of Self-Discipline
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 are nine fruits of the Spirit which include self-control, but 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 in us in order 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 that we sense the Holy Spirit is telling us to do, or just remain passive.
The Bible clearly warns us that we reap what we sow (Galatians 6:7-8). But God also enables us to by the Holy Spirit to produce good seeds. 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 need to make a choice to pray and meditate on the Word daily. However, they are empty activities without the breath of the Holy Spirit's illumination.
It is through prayer and the Word that we communicate and build our relationship with God. The Bible teaches us to "pray without ceasing" (1 Thessalonians 5:17) and explains that God's Word 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. 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 deep knowledge of our identity frees us to live soberly through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Prayer: "Heavenly Father, thank you that you graciously gave me fruit of the Spirit, I could never earn it. Help me to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit to respond to him through my thoughts and actions. I want yo show forth the fruit of the Spirit in my life. In Jesus' Name I pray. Amen
Practicing the Spiritual Disciplines
Which of the spiritual disciplines do you practice most?
Your worst days are never so bad that you are beyond the REACH of God's grace. And your best days are never so good that you are beyond the NEED for God's grace.— Jerry Bridges, The Discipline of Grace
Bible Quotes 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, by God's grace.
Bridges, Jerry (1994). The Discipline of Grace: God's Role and Our Role in the Pursuit of Holiness. Colorado Springs. CO: NavPress.
Questions & Answers
© 2014 Yvette Stupart