Encouragement 03-25-04

Published: Mar 25, 2004

March 25, 2004
Encouragement for Today
Living a Disciplined Life
Mary Southerland - Author, Speaker and Director with Proverbs 31 Ministries
Key verse:
Proverbs 25:28 A person without self-control is as defenseless as a city with broken-down walls.  (NLT)

As my husband and I pulled up in front of our townhouse, we were excited about the events of the night. Dan was a youth pastor at the time and we were returning from Monday night bible study where dozens of high school youth had gathered to learn more about God.  They brought their friends and several had become believers that night, promising to return next week with more friends.  It had been a celebratory night of victory and we were flying high - until we saw the shattered glass on the sidewalk. 
Opening the front door of our home to unfamiliar chaos and the remnants of invasion, it was obvious that someone had broken in and robbed us. We did not have much in the way of material things but the items stolen were priceless because of their personal meaning.  My mother's watch that she had used in nursing school...my husband's guitar and leather strap signed by each member of his first youth group...pieces of costume jewelry belonging to my grandmother...and our sense of security were all gone!
Dan worked several nights a week and often took the youth on trips, which meant I was frequently home alone with Jered, our infant son.  Until that night I had always felt safe but any sense of security had been stolen along with treasures that could never be replaced by mere insurance money. As Dan and I attempted to sleep, we found ourselves unsettled by the hundreds of "prints" the policemen had attempted to lift by dusting the walls and furniture. While they had been kind and efficient they gave us little hope of ever recovering the stolen items.  We even quizzed them about security systems and ways to prevent this from ever happening again. Their parting words did little to allay our fears, "The truth is that if a thief wants to get into your home, he will find a way to do it!" 
I am so glad those words are not true in the spiritual realm.

Have you ever felt as if your life was totally out of control and security was an impossible dream? In Proverbs 25:28 we are given a clear picture of a life void of discipline.  "A person without self-control is as defenseless as a city with broken-down walls."  When there is no control of self, when there is no grace crafting a spiritual hedge of protection, we are sitting ducks and vulnerable to attacks from any direction and every enemy.
James Dobson says:  "If one examines the secret behind a championship football team, a magnificent orchestra, or successful business, the principle ingredient is discipline." 

Discipline is a trait we tend to think of as being negative.  The truth is that discipline is simply the whole hearted "yes" to the call of God in our lives.  Simply put, discipline is obedience, a lifetime process that establishes order and creates stability by training and controlling our behavior. Discipline is focusing and eliminating, zeroing in on what is really important in life. 
Discipline can only be accomplished in our lives through the power of the Holy Spirit.  When we surrender our lives to God the Holy Spirit is set free to train and direct us toward the ways of God.  The Father will not give us good habits or character. We have to choose to walk in an "upright" way.  We must choose the good habits over the bad and "work out the salvation that God has worked in". 
Proverbs 23:12 Apply your heart to instruction and your ears to words of knowledge.  (NIV)
"Apply" means to make a commitment, to decide or choose.  God empowers the obedient choices we make and begins developing self-control and discipline in every surrendered area. With each submission, with every yielding comes the spiritual growth and discipline of a maturing believer.

My prayer for today:
Lord, I so want my life to please you in every area.  I need the discipline and order that only you can bring.  I surrender every part of my life to your control, knowing that in your hands I am safe and secure.  Thank you, Father!  Amen.

Application steps:
Recognize the truth that discipline is basic to the growth of every believer.
Choose to apply new truth as it is revealed to me. 
Yield to the work of the Holy Spirit in your life.
Identify and eliminate anything that would keep you from focusing on God.

Reflection points:
How have I tried to "improve" myself in the past?  What were the results?
What areas of my life that have been rigid and unyielding to Him?
What distractions have kept me from focusing on God?

Power verses:
Titus 2: 11-12 "For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men.  It teaches us to say "No" to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age."  (NIV)
Psalm 94: 12 Happy are those whom you discipline, LORD, and those whom you teach from your law.  (NLT)
Proverbs 1: 7 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.  (NIV)
Proverbs 3: 11-12 My child, do not reject the Lord's discipline, and don't get angry when he corrects you. The LORD corrects those he loves, just as parents correct the child they delight in.  (NCV)
Revelation 3: 19 I correct and discipline everyone I love. Take this seriously, and change the way you think and act.  (GWT)
Proverbs 12:1 Anyone who loves learning accepts correction, but a person who hates being corrected is stupid.  (NCV)

Additional resources
When God Pursues a Woman's Heart by Cindi McMenamin
Unwrapping His Presence by Renee Swope


How to Live a Life of Victory by Mary Southerland


Originally published Thursday, 25 March 2004.