Yesterday morning we traveled to hear my father-in-love preach at a church whose pastor is out of town for a while. All the family is in so the three brothers (my man and his two older brothers) sang with their dad and then just the three of them for the congregation. Such a sweet time to listen to them. I am always amazed how they can not see each other for such long periods and then pick up with their singing as though they practiced together every day. Oh well, the family visit is a post for another day - on to the message that we heard. Father-in-love preached on our walks with God. The benefits it brings. The joy and contentment amidst the challenges. One of the statements he made that stuck with me all day was that our christian walk is more important than our christian talk. Got me to thinking about how my theology lines up with my reality. Am I living out what I believe?
One of the things I have been praying for this year is for God to grant me more wisdom. Everything I read about wisdom lets me know it is not something I will just wake up with one day in possession of. It is an ongoing process. Baby girl and I were running last night and I was thinking about the sermon from that morning. I started to feel some discomfort while running (not a shock at my age!) that caused me to ask myself,"Why am I doing this again?" Then I started to think about the paradox of our Christian lives. More specifically the paradox of sin and discipline. I find it interesting that besides our rebellious human nature one of the reasons people sin over and over is it brings them pleasure at the time. They want what they want and when they want it because it feels good in that moment. Please know I am one of the "They." We sin because we think it is going to bring us happiness and contentment. Yet discipline which is uncomfortable yields fruit in our lives. Interesting paradox isn't it? Discipline brings benefits, sin brings death.
I started to ask myself while I was running what are the benefits of this new discipline I have incorporated into my life? Well, physical benefits obviously. I feel better. But the other benefits it has brought to my life I have discussed on here before. Stretching beyond my comfort zone, setting goals, making it a habit and practice in my life.Yet, I still have to make that choice every day to discipline myself.
I wondered about the times in my life when I was in a pit of sin. Why did I continue to do those things I did. Because I bought the enemy's lie that it was "good" based on a feeling at the time. How did I feel afterwards? Miserable. Funny, enduring discipline seems miserable at the time yet afterwards, I feel great. Paradoxical.
What does the bible say about effects of living in the moment and being caught in a pit of sin? I was looking and found the following from John MacArthur:
Taken from Faith Works by John Macarthur.
Sin grieves the Holy Spirit (Eph. 4:30), dishonors God (1 Cor. 6:19-20), keeps our prayers from being answered (1 Peter 3:12), causes good things from God to be withheld (Jer. 5:25), robs us of the joy of our salvation (Ps. 51:12), inhibits spiritual growth (1 Cor. 3:1), brings chastisement from the Lord (Heb. 12:5-7), prevents us from being fit vessels for the Lord to use (2 Tim. 2:21), pollutes Christian fellowship (1 Cor. 10:21), and can even endanger our physical life and health (1 Cor. 11:29-30).
I want none of that. NONE OF IT. What does it say about discipline? A few things:
"Blessed is the man whom God corrects so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty."
I want some blessing!
"The Lord disciplines those He loves."
I find comfort in knowing He loves me.
"The corrections of discipline are the way to life."
I long for abundant life.
"He who ignores discipline comes to poverty and shame, but whoever heeds correction is honored."
I want abundance and honor not shame.
"He who ignores discipline despises himself, but whoever heeds correction gains understanding."
Could it be that discipline is going to bring me some of that wisdom I keep asking for?
"God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in His holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on however it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it."
The next verse is my prayer-
Oh Lord, strengthen my feeble arms and weak knees. Make my paths level for my feet so that I may not be disabled but rather healed.
Discipline. Can't walk with God without it. Can't grow with God without it. Sin. Can't benefit from it. Can't survive it. Which do I want? What will I discipline myself to choose?
"Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us."
Thank you Lord I just might learn what You are trying to teach me. What a paradox.