Jesus gave us the parable of Wise and Foolish Builders in Matthew 7:24-27 in which he said the following:
“Every one then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house upon the rock; and the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat upon that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And every one who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house upon the sand; and the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell;and great was the fall of it.”
Jesus in the above parable wants us to understand the importance of both hearing his words and also acting on them. There are people who only hear the words of Jesus but do not act on it. Then we have people who both hear and act on the Word of God. Now, both of these types of people will keep building their life and achievements.
And they will face challenges and tough times as well. Only those who have acted on the words of the Lord Jesus will prevail and those who do not act, will suffer great losses. The most dangerous of such losses is when a person loses his or her soul to the Evil One at the time of death because of not abiding by the Word of God in their thoughts, words and actions.
But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. (James 1:22)
For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. (Roman’s 14:17)
The most common cause of indiscipline on the weekends is overeating. Sometimes this causes issues of intestinal colic, obesity and sluggishness. Though the side effects can be countered by diligent exercise most of the time and in some cases medically, why take the risk of overeating? Weekends are a useful time for us if we make good use of it. We are called to live in the righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. So we must concentrate on the will of God and be led by the Holy Spirit. Overeating whether it may cause physical issues or not always causes a waste of time.
Let me give you an example, suppose you eat four meals a day and overeat every time. On an average per meal you are spending seven minutes more due to overeating. So if we do the math, 7 minutes multiplied by 4 meals which is then multiplied by 365 days we get 10220 minutes. When you convert these minutes into hours you’d get 170.33 hours which is equivalent to 7.1 days. So it’s roughly a week of your life wasted. Now think about this in another way, you don’t overeat so often by which you save up a lot of time. You then have about a week’s worth of time to utilize. Speaking of which, use your time wisely and constructively.
This means that if you make efforts to control your appetite for food and drink you potentially get more time to use for good. Self control is wise thing to have as a believer in Christ. In fact self control is one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit (read Galatians 5:22-23). While overeating or gluttony works against the concept of self control. So desire the fruit of Spirit in your actions as well and avoid overeating.
And again, use your time wisely on the weekends. Exercise safely and well enough, take expert advice if you must. Pray for yourself and others. Worship God more freely.
Read the Bible everyday and even more on weekends when you’d have more free time. Avoid making excuses to skip doing what is right. Don’t do it out of compulsion but rather out of the love of God.
In your walk with Christ your desire, discipline and dedication towards the Lord can work wonders for you. You must desire to do the will of God. And to effectively do the will of God you must discipline yourself through the Word of God. And you must continue to be dedicated under the guidance of the Holy Spirit to continue in the right desire and discipline that you need to follow Christ.
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control,lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified. (1 Corinthians 9:24-27)
The best desire for any person is to do the will of God. The will of God is that you believe in Christ. The will of God is that you be holy as the Lord your God is holy. The will of God is that you love God and love your neighbor. Now it looks all so simple, yet so many people are not able to desire the will of God either because they are engrossed into worldly passions or are blinded by the devil. Many people pass away into an infernal and painful eternity as they never once, not even once desired to walk in the will of God.
Might be they never had the Gospel of Jesus Christ preached to them or may be they heard it but it never took a place in their hearts. However, a believer in Christ who has heard the Gospel has many good things placed before him such as healing, restoration, prosperity, prophecy, wisdom etc. And among the best of these things is the will of God himself. So desire the will of God in your life.
Desire towards the truth is a good to thing to have. Often that is the starting point to receiving Jesus Christ in one’s life. However it doesn’t end over there. A person must live a disciplined life. A misdirected desire might end up in the wrong direction. The principles of discipline in the Bible keep us pointed towards Christ.
To give you an example, just because you profess to love Christ doesn’t mean that you now start fasting, praying for long hours to earn your salvation. (Fasting and praying do not save, only by faith are you saved). Here’s what the Bible says about earning salvation:
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)
Trying to earn your salvation might seem a good desire but in reality it just a lie from the Devil. Jesus called Satan as the father of lies. The Devil is unable to overcome the truth of the Bible. However, to keep people deceived he will invent a lot of lies which go contrary to the Holy Scriptures. No wonder, you must discipline yourself in the Word of God. It will be hard to let go of things, bad things and bad habits that contradict the will of God but once you do it all you will realize that it was worth it. That’s good desire and discipline in action!
For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed. (Hebrews 12:11-13)
Now the thing that seals the deal with desire and discipline is dedication. Don’t get me wrong but only having desire and discipline will only get you so far. Like for a few months or a couple of years. Dedication takes it further. We are talking about a lifetime. Your belief in Christ was never meant to have an expiry date. None so ever!
Sometimes, I hear testimonies from Christians who came back to Christ after living a life of hedonism and debauchery. They say how they loved Christ and went to church in their childhood but slowly as they ventured into adulthood their zeal for the Lord faded. So much so that there was no trace of it. They loved the false and deceitful pleasures of the world.
Then came that one storm of life that took away all their happiness and set them on a downward spiral of broken relations, being imprisoned and a grave loss of health and money. Eventually someone came by, to preach the Gospel to them and these people truly repented and got saved. Then just to test them a question would be asked, ‘Now will you go back to that sin?’ And there would be a response which is mostly sharp and loud, ‘No, I won’t ever leave Jesus. Why do you even ask that?’. I’m not surprised at their response, for such people have been given a bitter foretaste of hell which hurt their soul within. Only by the grace of God have they tasted the sweet waters of salvation again. That is why they get so emphatic when someone tries to question them about going back into the same set of sins that brought them to serious destruction. This is a just a small glimpse of what dedication feels like.
A person who chooses to live a life of dedication to Christ will not entertain the thought of leaving the great and glorious Saviour Jesus who is the Lamb of God. He will rebuke and shun away all such thoughts that direct him away from Christ. He will realize truly well that the only thing that matters in this life and the next is about continuing to believe in Jesus Christ. For to him, the pain of discipline is nothing in front of the loving mercy of Jesus. A man or a woman who wants to live a life of dedication to the will of God, does continue to maintain both desire and discipline. This is not out of compulsion nor fear of what other believers will say. Rather this is out of great respect and love for the Lord Jesus Christ.
A love for God without respecting him is out of sync with the teachings of the Bible teaching and the will of God. Claiming to love him without respecting him in your heart is plain hypocrisy. Do not imitate Judas Iscariot who claimed to be the Lord’s disciple and yet betrayed him because he loved money more than Christ. Do not imitate Caiaphas who was a high priest of God and yet wanted the Son of God dead because he loved man made traditions more than God. These are hypocrites who will receive their due judgement at Judgement day. These men no longer live and so have lost their chance to repent. However, you have a choice and a life to live. In this regard, you are far better off than them for you; you still have your options open. So then, O believer in Christ, live a life dedicated to the will of God. If you are already doing this, then I encourage you to do so even more. Focus and mediate of the following words of Jesus our Lord:
Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. (Revelation 3:19-20)
Serve the Lord with gladness: come before his presence with singing (Psalm 100:2)
Do you serve the Lord with gladness? Do you feel that serving God is something that you need to do legalistically or freely?
Never get into a legalistic mode when serving God. Because your will power and disciple will get affected in the course of time. You are not a robot!
The Christian faith goes beyond religion because it concentrates not on rituals but on relation. Not any ordinary relation but a relationship with God through Jesus Christ his Son. So keep ritualistic attitudes outside and far away from your relationship with God.
It may be possible to show your gladness externally like smiling, singing when preaching the Gospel to unbelievers. But sometimes you can’t actually do this in instances of praying for a person who is suffering from cancer and is in pain. The point is that the expression of gladness must always be there in your inner being. You can be happy in your heart that Christ gives you salvation even in the midst of pain and suffering that you encounter either in yourself and others. Even Moses said in Exodus 15:2 that; The LORD is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation; this is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God, and I will exalt him.
Getting your mind right can dramatically affect your will power and discipline in doing the works of God. You will need to be very familiar with the word of God for this and put it to action.
Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance. For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe. (1 Timothy 4:7-10)
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-22)
A sure sign of faith that is disciplined is that you do not empower the flesh nature but rather you focus on the desires of the Spirit.
But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. (Galatians 5:16-17)
For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. (Romans 8:5-6)
We must encourage each other to hold on the to word of Christ. Never force anyone but rather do it in freedom and respect. We do not condone sin but we exhort each other to be holy for God.
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. (Colossians 3:16)
But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine. Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. (Titus 2:1-12)
Accept the discipline of God because he loves you. God loves you as his child. No good parent will like to see his child eat stale food. If a child still tries to eat stale food then the good parent will surely try to correct the child. This is because the parent is aware of what is beneficial to the child and what is not.
My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline or be weary of his reproof, for the Lord reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights. (Proverbs 3:11-12)
Blessed is the man whom you discipline, O Lord, and whom you teach out of your law, to give him rest from days of trouble, until a pit is dug for the wicked. For the Lord will not forsake his people; he will not abandon his heritage (Psalm 94:12-14)
And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” (Hebrews 12:5-6)
Never mistake the correction (or chastisement) of God as punishment. Because if you were to be punished he would have done so already. Correction is so that you improve while punishment comes due to lack of repentance.
Correction may come in form of preaching, teaching and examples in real life. Most of the while the Lord God will speak through your conscience about whether you are making a wrong move or walking on the right path. Sometimes godly people will approach you and try to get you on the right track. Never get confused between false accusers and those who truly are trying to help. Check the facts for yourself with the Bible as your guide. Because skepticism is not a substitute for discernment.
The difference between correction and punishment must be clear to you. Otherwise you might simply be bitter over nothing. Suppose you are speeding in your car and your dad is in your car too and he yells at you to slow down, he is not punishing you. He is only correcting you. However, if he makes you stop because you refused to slow down and then bans you for a month from driving then that is punishment.
You are to remain disciplined even as you commend others to godliness. If you train people to be holy but yourself commit robbery, you are in danger of hell fire.
But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified (1 Corinthians 9:27)
You who boast in the law, do you dishonor God by breaking the law? As it is written: “God’s name is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.” (Romans 2: 23-24)
Have your will power and discipline for the Lord God not out of compulsion but out a free and thankful heart. This way you will truly give glory to God through Jesus Christ his Son. God be with you!
My friends be warned that legalism functions like a counterfeit of discipline. It mimics the roots but the fruits of legalism show its true character. Fruits do take a season or two to show up but God knows the heart.
Jesus our Lord gave respect to the poor widows offerings but didn’t have regard for those who were hypocritically giving offerings in the temple. Also from the parable of the Pharisee and the Publican we learn that though both went into the temple to pray to God only the humble Publican was justified as he acknowledged his sins unlike the self righteous Pharisee.
Attending church and attending to God must go hand in hand. The problem comes when someone proclaims his church attendance to his neighbours but secretly in church is only interested in being noticed as a pious individual by all. So as a result he has not been attending to God. There’s no way God is going to honour this.
The only thing worse than a hypocrite is a legalistic hypocrite. Jesus tackled legalistic hypocrites during his ministry on earth. He observed how the will of God was being tampered with legalism and was critical of it. Among one of his rebukes to them is the following:
For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’ But you say, ‘If a man tells his father or his mother, “Whatever you would have gained from me is Corban”’ (that is, given to God)— then you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or mother, thus making void the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And many such things you do.” (Mark 7:10-13)
Don’t get tricked by anyone who tells you to follow rules and traditions that are not consistent with the teachings of the Bible. If someone says that you need to donate money to prove that you love God remind that person that God loved us even when we were sinners. Nothing should stop you from giving financially for the preaching of the gospel in unreached areas. But its deception to get conned into paying money to prove your love of God.
Be vary of instructions by religious teachers who say to only speak well to church members of your own race or clan. Remember that the Lord doesn’t like racism in church even if you are not harming the other person.
Never get egged on by the notion that the more you fast the more grace you can earn. The grace of God cannot be earned. If grace could be earned it would not be grace. Fast because you want to spend time in prayer with God instead. Fast because you want to focus on things of the Spirit.
Remember that pilgrimages to holy places in Israel (or elsewhere) are not mandatory for your salvation. It’s good to have a ‘boots on the ground’ feel of places where Jesus walked but then again are you obligated to do that to be saved? You can be saved even if you have lived all your life in Idaho or wherever. You need to believe in Jesus Christ to be saved. Obviously that means that you repent and believe in the Gospel.
Discipline is much different than legalism. You still drink sufficient water whether others are offended by it or not. You have a bath even if others don’t. You still uphold the Gospel even if all others are sinning. We still provide food for our families regardless of the winter or rain, we don’t need to have a thousand laws to tell us that. It’s instinct, spiritual instinct that comes from God. For instance, you may hear just one sermon against witchcraft and you effectively resist all the lies of temptation to witchcraft years after the sermon. Instinct of the spirit is something that you need to have like your natural instincts and even more.
You can develop your spiritual instinct by praying to God and reading his Word which is the Bible. Pray in the Holy Spirit. Seek the presence of Christ when you pray. Read the testimonies of how various people left their wicked ways and led a holy life for Jesus. Learn how brave the early Christian martyrs were that they chose to die by execution rather than forsake Christ. Take delight in hearing of healings by God through his people on earth even for the worst of sinners. That’s when you realize that godly discipline is pristine and is to be cherished unlike legalism which is to be avoided totally.
I pray that you walk more in discipline and remain out of legalism. In the name of Jesus, for the glory God and by the Holy Spirit. Amen.