Feb13MonDiscipline February 13, 2023
“Keep awake and watch and pray [constantly], that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Mark 14:38 AMPC
The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. This one statement is the whole summary of our lives, isn’t it? The constant battle. It’s the line in the sand. The choice we face daily if not hourly. Is there a way to win on a consistent basis? How can we be victorious over our flesh? There’s this one theme the Holy Spirit is continually bringing to my attention the past couple years. I fully believe it’s a word for each of us, and so I take my pen and put it on paper. Are you ready? It is discipline. 1 Tim 4:7-8 says it like this: "Discipline yourself for the purpose of Godliness,(keeping yourself spiritually fit) for physical training is of some value, but godliness is of value in everything and in every way, since it holds promise for the present life and the life to come.” We have to train/ exercise ourselves to desire the new and make decisions accordingly. The apostle Paul says, "I discipline my body and I bring it under strict control. (1 Corinthians 9:27)
For some reason or another it strongly feels like we’re in a sifting season. You know how they used to sift the chaff from the wheat? They’d pour a bucket of wheat from high and the wind would blow away the chaff and the the heavier wheat would fall into the bucket below. It kind of feels like that. The in-between. We are in transition. The going and moving from here to there. It’s not comfortable. It’s not easy. Its causing disruptions, it’s making waves, it’s messing with the Pharisaical order of things. Reminds me of Jesus. Maybe we’re having a Jesus moment. Are you going to be the chaff falling away or the wheat enduring to the end? What is the main difference between the chaff and the wheat? Weight. Wheat carries more weight and therefore isn’t blown away. If you are wheat in the spiritual you carry the weight of the kingdom of God within you. Bear in mind that spiritually we ought to grow and pick up more weight, just as we do in the natural. We ought to grow from infant to toddler to a mature man who is not tossed to and fro, nor blown away by every wind that comes along.
Knowing we are in perilous times is one thing. Moving and living through it is quite another. How do we face it without losing hope? Without growing weary? The answer is, with God it is possible but without Him, impossible. If we want to overcome in this season, we will have to be disciplined. If we want to see victory over darkness and deception we MUST spend focused time in prayer and bible study each day. Time. Lengthy time. Every day. This is not a secret. We’ve known this for decades. Yet, knowing it and fulfilling it seem to be worlds apart for most of us. The spirit of God within us longs for prayer, for devotional time, but alas, our human nature is weak.
It takes discipline. This word is the one that keeps echoing over and over in my heart. It seems that every time I ask the Father a question or am struggling with a situation, the answer He gives me is related to discipline. I ask Him, Lord what does the church need to get through these times? Discipline. Lord, how will I see the victory in this situation? Discipline. Lord, I see so much darkness and deception and lost people losing hope. Lord, we are failing in so many areas, struggling with the basics, why? Because you lack discipline.
If the church would take this one word and start being serious about setting up goals to become disciples of the Lord, we’d see a breakthrough. I fully believe this. It is only because of lukewarm-ness that we are where we are right now. Stuck, helpless, hopeless, deceived, poor and sick in heart and soul. This is of our own making, we can’t even blame the devil for it. Maybe it’s been true all along, maybe we are own worst enemies. Maybe our greatest weakness is our inability to abide, to remain steadfastly in the Fathers presence. Whatever the case, can we at least acknowledge that we no longer have the luxury to waste time? Let us join with the apostle Paul and make this our life motto: one thing i do, forgetting what is behind me and straining forward toward what lies ahead, I keep pursuing the goal in order to WIN the prize offered by Gods upward (heavenly) calling in Christ Jesus. Let us throw off everything that hinders us from running this race well!
It takes discipline to crucify the flesh nature (our selfish desires). A daily laying down my-self on the alter of grace and taking up His-self. Doing His will instead of My will. The only way to crucify the flesh nature is by bending the knee to God. It’s only by willingly surrendering to Him, knowing and understanding that His way is the better way. The flesh has desires that go against the kingdom of God, and pursuing these gives one a fleeting moment of pleasure but never the satisfying and completeness that comes from pursuing the things of God. One thing is sure. We will never have dominion over demons and darkness until we have dominion over ourselves first.
Our flesh nature doesn’t want to hear the word discipline, never mind being put into submission by discipline. That is why it’s so hard for us to get onboard this ship. We’re wrestling with a nature that has had its own way for so long and it doesn’t want to give up this right. It has enjoyed this reign, and has loved being on the throne of your life. Why would it willingly give up? I’m reminded of the ark of Noah. No one wanted to get onboard. No one wanted to submit their lives. But in the end, by going their own way, they all forfeited their lives to death. The same principle is true for us today. The flesh doesn’t want to board the ark of salvation because it means death to having its way. Onboard this ark, one has to follow and abide by the commands of the captain. But no, the flesh is so blinded by itself and by its carnal desires it doesn’t even see the death laying in wait before it. And by the time it does see it, the waters are already crashing over the head and are too deep to come out of alive. This is called sacrificing life to get your own way leading to death. Sheer stupidity, is what is really is. Reality is this: the wages of sin IS death. If we choose to partner with sin, the payment for us will be death. You don’t deal with the things of the enemy, with sin by becoming friends with it. You deal with it by being dying to it. Do not cooperate with sin! Fight it! Daily kill whatever it is that is stealing from you, that is destroying you and seeking to kill you. When a person becomes dead to a thing, they are non responsive to it. The good news is ,with God this is possible. Eventually you will no longer serve sin, nor do its will or bidding. You’ll be dead to it. Praise God.
Look, it’s really simple. As long as we stay comfortable with sin and unintentional about our time with Jesus, we’ll be distracted, deceived and yes, underdeveloped in the spiritual. Stop making excuses for why you can’t spend time with God now, stop saying maybe you’ll do it later. Get intentional and create time, be deliberate and consistent and you will grow. Let us surrender and bow at the feet of God the Father, submit to His authority and allow the Holy Spirit to guide us into a deeper relationship with Christ Jesus. Relationship is the only way. And it is the best and most rewarding way! I pray the bride of Christ will in unison fall to their knees and say, Jesus into me see. May I come to the place of intimacy where as you see into me and I see into you, there is more of Jesus revealed and there becomes less of me.
Disciples of Jesus. I look at how instantly they dropped everything and followed him. They saw something that was worth more to them than the work or lifestyle they were in at the moment. We have the tendency to see discipline as work, as tedious, or (gasp)sheer boredom. Yet, take a glimpse at the disciples of Jesus. Why did they willingly enter into discipleship? Maybe they saw and knew it was love calling. Maybe they witnessed a glimpse of good news and thought it wise to pursue it to the end. I’m jealous of the relationship they had, and it’s this jealousy that challenges me to be a disciple of Jesus as well. I want to walk with Him, talk with Him, learn from Him, and be guided by Him. This is discipline. Entering into relationship and jealously protecting and nurturing it at all cost.
Remember when I said it felt like a sifting season? Jesus turned to Peter one day and said, ““Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”(Luke 22:31-32). This account is powerful. Notice that Jesus did not promise to remove this sifting. Instead, Jesus said, I have prayed for you that your faith will not fail! Isn’t that the greatest news? He’s ever there to intercede for us. Jesus prays for you, for me, that our faith will not fail in these times. It takes winds and vigorous shaking to sift wheat from chaff. I don’t know about you, but if I’m to go through this, I’ll take that prayer of Jesus and say thank You for being on my side. The enemy wants to shake us from our faith, make us fall away, but God has a different plan. He’s going with us through the shaking and when we come out on the other side, that which was intended to destroy us is now strength within us to help others. And I am sure of this : that the One who began a good work among us will keep it growing until it is completed on the day of Christ Jesus. (Phil 1:6)
Onward for Christ! Onward to the prize! My God and I.
Lord, I pray for the gift of single focus to come upon us. A single focus on Jesus and a undivided heart and mind so that we walk onward in truth until everything within us brings honor to Your name. For those who have been in a deep place of of torment, of confusion, of double-mindedness, of grief, pain or burnout, Lord remove it all and bring a fresh perspective to them. As we linger with You, increase clarity and extend our vision supernaturally to see beyond our circumstances. I pray for restoration, healing and repositioning to be in our lives where needed for this season. There is a need for realignment with You, so plant within us the desire to do so. May we experience you in new and deeper ways as we prioritize You and obey Your voice. In Jesus name amen.