Discipline

Dear Fellow-Disciple:

And being in agony He was praying very fervently; and His sweat became like drops of blood, falling down upon the ground. (Luke 22:44)

Sometimes we feel like chucking it all, even though we're happily married and have a loving family. We feel that if we were free to do our own thing, we could serve the Lord better. The people we have to associate with are too worldly to be reached for God. We get so stressed out by the end of the day that we lose contact with God.

We play the "if only" game. If only I had studied harder in high school; if only I had gone to college; if only I had stayed with it long enough to get my master degree or doctorate; if only I had married so and so; if only I had taken that other job.

It really is a game. The fact is, we are where we are, because of the decisions we made. There is no escaping that reality.

We shouldn't feel guilty. Those natural feelings creep in when we face obstacles. It's O.K. to feel like quitting, but it's not O.K. to quit. If we have decided to be a disciple of Jesus Christ, we need to work on our rebound ability.

The flesh of Jesus felt so much like quitting that it sweat blood. But His spirit was in control, and that enabled Him to complete His task. Our flesh may want to take over, but we must refuse its demands (Colossians 3:1-11). The flesh is not evil, it was created by God to house our spirit. But it tends to take over when it shouldn't.

Those committed to discipleship, share a common quality, a characteristic that sets them apart. It is their ability to continue along their path of determination in spite of disappointment and setback. A disciple decides to withstand criticism, opposition and other roadblocks that confront him along the way. He may be angry and frustrated, but he never considers throwing up his hands and declaring, "I quit!"

Survivors make the best disciples, and disciples make the best survivors. Those who encounter and overcome problems in their lives learn how to rebound. They don't deny their problems, they transcend them. This is not a natural skill, it has to be developed. Inner disciplines are formed by the inch, usually because of disappointments, setbacks and failures. Each roadblock requires a decision. If the decision is to persevere, another inch of discipline is added.

Without the proper perspective on discipline, we can't be disciples of Christ. Simply calling ourselves disciples doesn't accomplish the job. We don't develop muscle by reading muscle magazines and we don't develop spiritually by talking or reading about it.

We disciples don't reach a point in our spiritual walk, then sit idly by and watch the rest of the body do its thing. If we attempt it, we lose what we have gained, and we continue to lose until we exercise discipline.

Forging ahead through a barrage of opposition and obstacles is very demanding when the opposition is spiritual. It leaves us mentally, emotionally and physically exhausted. That is when discipline takes over. If it isn't there, we are easy targets.

Every disciple must learn to walk alone with God, apart from the situations and circumstances in his life. This isolation experi-ence develops spiritual strength and independence of faith. We no longer need the reassurance and cooperation of others.

If we continually depend upon help from a friend, that can become a hindrance to our relationship with God. When we give God the opportunity to take us singly through something difficult, we emerge less dependent upon others and more closely related to God.

As disciples, we must continually ask ourselves where we are in our walk. Are our eyes upon God, or upon the circumstances in our lives? If we have negative feelings about a condition or someone in our lives, we should interrupt those feelings immediately and give them to our High Priest (Hebrews 8:1-3). We verbally hand them to Him, then renew our submission to His Lordship.

He is in us, so we need to allow Him to take over. He is always consistent to the will of God, and we are too when we give Him the reins of our lives. We disciples never quit. We surrender, but only to our Lord, not to the situations in our lives.

Jesus is King!

P.S. What are you doing of eternal value?

Question for today: How have I handled the negatives in my life today?