January 10, 2005
Encouragement for Today
The Disciplines of a Godly Woman
Mary Southerland, Director of Development, speaker and author
"A person without self-control is as defenseless as a city with broken-down walls." Proverbs 25:28 (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 a Monday night bible study where dozens of high school youth had gathered to learn more about God. They had brought their friends and several had become believers that night, promising to return next week others in need of Christ. It had been a great night of celebration and victory. We were flying high - until we saw the shattered glass on our doorstep.
We opened the front door of our home to chaos and the remnants of an invasion. It was obvious that someone had broken in and that several things were missing. We did not have much in the way of material things but the items that were 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 that had been signed by each member of his first youth group...pieces of costume jewelry that had belonged to my grandmother...and our sense of security 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. I had always felt safe but that, too, had been stolen along with the many things that could never be replaced by insurance money. As Dan and I attempted to get to sleep that night, we were unsettled and surrounded by the hundreds of "prints" the two policemen had attempted to lift by dusting the walls and furniture. They had been kind and efficient but gave us little hope of ever recovering any of 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 that those words are not true in the spiritual realm.
Have you ever felt like your life was out of control or that the walls of security had crumbled around you? That is exactly the chaotic picture this verse in Proverbs is painting for us. "When there is no control of self, when there is no grace erecting a hedge of protection around us, we are sitting ducks and vulnerable to attacks from every 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 that we tend to think of as 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. Discipline is a lifetime process that brings us to a state of order by training and controlling our behavior. Discipline is focusing and eliminating, zeroing in on what is important in life. Titus 2: 11-12 is clear on the importance of discipline in the life of the believer, "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)
Discipline can only be accomplished in our lives through the power of the Holy Spirit. When we give our lives to God, the Holy Spirit is set free to train and direct us toward the ways of God. God 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".
The author of Proverbs offers a simple but powerful definition of discipline when he writes, "Apply your heart to instruction and your ears to words of knowledge." (Proverbs 23:12 NIV) "Apply" means to make a commitment, to decide or to choose! When we make the choice, God empowers the decision and His Spirit begins to cultivate self-control and discipline in us. Over the next few days, we are going to explore the principles of discipline for the believer because it is essential to obedience, which is the foundation of all spiritual progress. The first principle of discipline is to decide...to choose...to make a commitment to become a disciplined and fully devoted follower of Jesus Christ. Are you ready?
My prayer for today:
Father, I am totally helpless to manufacture discipline and self-control on my own. I need your power, the power of the Holy Spirit working in my life. Right now, I choose to surrender myself to you and invite you to order the circumstances of my life so that I may become a woman of excellence, a woman of discipline. Amen.
Recognize the truth that discipline is basic to the growth of every believer.
Be willing to apply new truth as you see it.
Be willing to yield to the Holy Spirit and invite Him to work in your life.
Choose to eliminate those things that would keep you from focusing on God and becoming a woman of discipline. Identify those areas and make a plan to eliminate them one-by-one.
Thinking back, I now see that I have tried to "improve" myself in my own power. I have been unyielding and rigid to the work of God. How can I change that - or can I? How can I change my focus to God's power and not my own?
"Happy are those whom you discipline, LORD, and those whom you teach from your law." Psalm 94: 12 (NLT)
"The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline." Proverbs 1: 7 (NIV)
"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." Proverbs 3: 11-12 (NCV)
"I correct and discipline everyone I love. Take this seriously, and change the way you think and act." Revelation 3: 19 (GWT)
"Anyone who loves learning accepts correction, but a person who hates being corrected is stupid." Proverbs 12:1 (NCV)
How to Live a Life of Victory (tape set) by Mary Southerland
Radically Obedient, Radically Blessed by Lysa Terkeurst