The Discipline Challenge

The Discipline Challenge

I Corinthians 9:24-27 (AMP) Do you not know that in a race all the runners run [their very best to win], but only one receives the prize? Run [your race] in such a way that you may seize the prize and make it yours! Now every athlete who [goes into training and] competes in the games is disciplined and exercises self-control in all things. They do it to win a crown that withers, but we [do it to receive] an imperishable [crown that cannot wither]. Therefore I do not run without a definite goal; I do not flail around like one beating the air [just shadow boxing]. But [like a boxer] I strictly discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached [the gospel] to others, I myself will not somehow be disqualified [as unfit for service].

After a couple months of illness and busyness, I am determined to get my exercise routine back on track. Forking out hard earned money for a gym membership that has not been used in months is ridiculous. Beginning with my monthly squat challenge, I am forcing my body back into submission. She is roaring back at me. “Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one [the only God]! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and mind and with all your soul and with all your strength [your entire being]. These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be [written] on your heart and mind.” (Deuteronomy 6:4-6) The Lord desires us to love Him with all our heart, mind, soul and strength. It is a continuous effort of discipline to wrestle with every facet of our being to align our whole self with God – His Plan and Purpose for us. He did not create us to be impoverished physically, mentally or spiritually. It is the lack of discipline that keeps us from the Promises of God for our life. The very same thing that keeps us from the wholeness offered by Jesus who came to give us a rich and satisfying life. The Kingdom is marked by superabundance that impacts every aspect of our being.

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run [their very best to win], but only one receives the prize? Run [your race] in such a way that you may seize the prize and make it yours!

What is it that motivates you today? The thing that most needs your attention. Is it your health? Have you tried unsuccessfully to live a healthier life with diet and exercise? Like me falling short. What about your heart? Have you been trying to get up early for some time with the Lord? Is the comfort of warm sheets and fuzzy blankets just too much to overcome? How about your mind? Are you overcome by doubt, fear, anxiety, and worries that rob you of peace and steal all your joy? We all are imperfect creatures striving to find fulfillment in God. Eternity is already written in our heart. The measure of faith to turn our failures into fruitfulness is measured out within us. There is only one thing left – discipline.

Now every athlete who [goes into training and] competes in the games is disciplined and exercises self-control in all things. They do it to win a crown that withers, but we [do it to receive] an imperishable [crown that cannot wither].

Oh, the dreaded “D” word called discipline. Discipline is control gained by enforcing obedience or order. It is also called self-control. Physical and mental discipline can be accomplished with sheer determination and will power. Spiritual discipline is a fruit of the Spirt within us. (Galatians 5:22-23) It is important to understand the significance of discipline in order to live the life of promise. God has given us promises worth having. Blessings yet to be released. The Kingdom is at hand but not in our hands yet. The word “disciple” is from the same root as discipline. To be a disciple of Jesus Christ means commandeering our flesh and calling our body, mind and spirit to order and alignment with our Savior and Lord. It is a fight to the finish. It requires our full and ongoing attention. It is a whole body process. It will be worth it.

Therefore I do not run without a definite goal; I do not flail around like one beating the air [just shadow boxing]. But [like a boxer] I strictly discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached [the gospel] to others, I myself will not somehow be disqualified [as unfit for service].

THEREFORE…it sounds like feet being planted soundly in the ground and a long finger drawing a deep furrow to create a line in the sand. Enough is enough! I am ready for change. Well, may I first remind you that “no discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful.” (Hebrew 12:11) It goes on to say, “Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” We must learn to live a disciplined life in order to reap the full harvest of expectation given to us in Christ. To engage in the process with God and stop whining and complaining about our problems and troubles. Discipline is required to crucify our flesh, take captive our thoughts, change our behavior, and remain yoked to Christ. I believe that to love God completely means to align every aspect of our life with His Word, Will and Way including physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

In the gym, when I am on the elliptical, there is a doorway where people enter for classes. Above the doorway is a painted rendering of a muscular man bowed down, you cannot see his face. It is a humble posture. I am not sure the intent of the artist who rendered the mural or the desire of the one who commissioned them. When I am working out and see this image over and over – it reminds me that full surrender to the Lord is a whole body experience. He doesn’t ask for part of me – God wants all my love. To love Him properly means I must take care of these things that I am called to love Him with. It takes discipline to overcome our flesh that was born in control. The enemy of discipline is excuses. It will require us to make some hard choices and accept some difficult challenges. Our imperfection will plague us until His Grace overtakes us. The only weakness in my body, mind and spirit must be given over to the Lord so His Strength will become my own. Mighty men and women of God – it is time to resort to discipline again. The kind that has a purpose. Makes a plan. Engages and exercises the principles set forth for better living in God’s Word. To become mighty men and women of God – body, mind, spirit and strength just as God has requested. Challenge accepted.

Proverbs 15:32-33 (AMP) He who neglects and ignores instruction and discipline despises himself, but he who learns from rebuke acquires understanding [and grows in wisdom]. The [reverent] fear of the Lord [that is, worshiping Him and regarding Him as truly awesome] is the instruction for wisdom [its starting point and its essence]; and before honor comes humility.

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