Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Spending time with Jesus

Discipline: Training expected to produce a specific character or pattern of behavior, especially training that produces moral or mental improvement.
Controlled behavior resulting from disciplinary training; self-control.
     a. Control obtained by enforcing compliance or order.
     b. A systematic method to obtain obedience
     c. A state of order based on submission to rules and authority: 
*Definition from Free Online Dictionary

Discipline is something I have been working on lately. Discipline of my mind, body, and my spirit. I think they all go together.
I used to say that I didn't have time to work out, spend time with the Lord and all the things that require..well...discipline.
I wasn't lying. I really felt like the reason I didn't do those things is because I didn't have time. While that may really be the case for many of you, I have discovered that lack of time was a pseudonym for lack of discipline in my life.

Notice in the definition above that the main idea is "training". Not just training, but training to improve.  I know there's not 5 easy steps to anything...much less self-discipline. But let me share with you how I am attempting to train my mind and body in order to live healthier both physically and spiritually.

Priorities: We all have them whether we realize it or not. Yes, we have busy schedules and often come home exhausted. However, when I re-examine my busy schedule, I often find that I am busy with things that have no eternal value; things that tomorrow won't even matter. 
Often, I find myself putting my homemaking above spending time with the Lord. If there's dishes in the sink, a dirty floor, dirty clothes, and streaky windows, I hesitate to lay it all aside and read my bible. 
If you have a godly husband, ask him if he would rather have a clean house or a wife who is in love with the Lord and spends time searching the scriptures. 
Guarantee it will be the latter. (Yes-there is a balance here)
Your house will be dirty again tomorrow (hate how that happens) but you will never lose the wisdom and spiritual blessing that comes from earnestly seeking Christ. 

 Excuses: We all make them. I'm too tired. I have so many other things to do. I don't feel like it. I don't have time. I'll do it later. 
 Just today, I am ashamed to admit that I had an inward struggle between spending time with the Lord and watching the next episode of my TV show. No, watching TV is not wrong, but when it becomes more important to me than my relationship with the Lord, it is very detrimental. 
1 Corinthians 9:27 But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.

Training: You know that feeling of accomplishment and pride right after you work out? Sadly enough, that feeling fades by the next time you get ready to work out and you approach that treadmill with dread. A good athlete trains for years to acquire discipline. Why then do we expect as Christians, to have the discipline to read the Bible when we make no effort to train ourselves to that end. We easily refer to working out as training our bodies. I think training is also required when it comes to our spiritual health. 
1 Corinthians 9:25
Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.

It's definitely not a pleasant feeling to set down your homework, turn off the TV, let the dirty dishes smell up your house, or whatever you may have to give up in order to get in The Word. However, according to Hebrews 12:11 discipline produces the peaceful fruit of righteousness for those who have been trained by it. 

Hebrews 12:11 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.

Mindset: Where is my heart at?  If I'm making excuses to avoid spending time with the Lord, it's a pretty good indication that my heart is in the wrong place. Having the right mindset requires discipline. 
Along the same lines, In order to have deep devotion time with the Lord, you have to be all there. For many years, I've checked devotions off my "Christian to do" list by just reading a chapter from the Bible. It so easily becomes a ritual when my heart and mind aren't in it. It takes energy and focus to avoid all the distractions around us and really give all of me to the Lord. Devotion time is so much more than just getting a chapter read. It is about having that sacred time with the Lord where you share your heart, search the scriptures, and listen for His voice. How do we expect Him to speak when we are scurrying through a chapter with half our brain and making a grocery list with the other. 

Proverbs 2:2-5 Making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding; yes, if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God. 

Notice the verbs seek and search. Those require dedication, focus, time, commitment and yes, discipline. 

Reward:  Philippians 3:13-14 Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

There is much reward found in spending time with the Lord. You will not only be renewed spiritually, but you will be ready to pour out the love of Christ into those around you. That, in itself, is a reward.
While there are eternal rewards for obedience to Christ, but there are also immediate rewards that come from being disciplined. I have noticed how different I am when I take time for devotions. My perspective on life changes as my focus becomes eternal. 

The most important thing to remember is that devotions aren't a requirement for being a Christian, but they are an evidence of our relationship with the Lord. They are also fundamental for spiritual growth.

 Look at the very term we use to describe our time with the Lord: devotion. 

Devotion:  love, loyalty, or enthusiasm for a person. 

As Christians we should be so enthusiastic about the Lord and our relationship with him that it overflows into devotion and a longing to spend time with Him. 
It is so worth it.

1 comment:

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