Discipline for Godliness

Posted by Jerry White on Aug 18, 2014

Spiritual growth requires active cooperation with God. This involves effort and discipline for the believer. The apostle Paul wrote to Timothy, “train yourself for godliness” (1Timothy 4:7, ESV). The NASB translates it, “discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness.” The original word means to exercise vigorously.

James, the brother of Jesus, wrote:
But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing. (James 1:22-25, ESV).

Passivity is always dangerous. One can attend church, serve in some capacity, give money, and yet not discipline himself daily for the purpose of godliness. One can attend Bible study, be very knowledgeable in Scripture, and yet not train himself daily in godliness. Knowing truth can deceive us into thinking we are what we know. What we are is proven by what we do.

One can know the truths about prayer, but in reality pray very little. One can know about worship but not worship privately during the week thinking it is only for Sunday church. One can know about the importance of meditating in God’s Word, but neglect it because of many distractions. In the words of James, this one is deceived because he or she hears the Word but does not do it, knows the truth but does not practice it.

Certain disciplines are necessary if one is going to grow towards spiritual maturity. Without deliberate cooperation with God’s Spirit transformation cannot take place. Hearing sermons, listening to Bible studies, reading good spiritual books, and discussing God’s truth is no substitute for putting into practice the disciplines necessary for reformation of character. A believer needs regular time for fellowship with God the Father. Meditating in God’s Word day by day, worshiping Him regularly with praise, adoration, and thanksgiving, obeying in little things, and keeping short sin accounts with God demonstrates faithfulness. It is a simple choice of love.
JRW




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Buffeting The Body

Posted by Jerry White on Jun 30, 2013

“Paul says that one weapon in the ongoing fight of faith is the practice of ‘buffeting the body.’ He was not unaware that the desires of the body are deceitful as well as delightful. He said that the ‘old self’ is ‘being corrupted in accordance with the desires of deceit’ (Ephesians 4:22, author’s translation). The nature of this deceit is to lure us subtly into living for the ‘fleeting pleasures’ of the body and mind, rather than the spiritual delights of knowing and serving God….

When I was preaching on fasting and prayer some years ago, a young man came up to me after one of the messages and told me a story that illustrates the kind of buffeting the body in prayer that fits a person for heaven. I had referred to the South Korean church as pacesetters in this regard. That moved the young man to talk to me after the service.

‘I grew up on the mission field in Korea. There is one experience emblazoned on my mind to show the sacrificial dedication to prayer and fasting in Korea. My father worked with a leper colony, and they had prayer meetings that met at four o’clock in the morning. I was a little boy, but my father took me with him, getting me up at about 3:30 A.M. to get there on time. He sat me down in the back where I could see out the door. And I’ll never forget one man who had no legs, no crutches, and was using his hands and crabbing along the ground, dragging his body to pray at 4:00 A.M. I’ll never forget that.’

Rising early is a kind of fast. And coming to pray when it is hard to get there is another kind of fast. When we make such choices, we make war on the deceitfulness of our desires and declare the preciousness of prayer and the all-surpassing worth of God.”

John Piper

A Hunger For God, 47-48

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I discipline my body and keep it under control.

1 Corinthians 9:27 (ESV)

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Grace is not freedom from discipline but rather freedom for discipline. Grace has provided the indwelling Holy Spirit so there can be the fruit of self-control




Christ’s Promised Nearness

Posted by Jerry White on Aug 15, 2011

“In Christ God has come near, so very near to us, and now the command comes: If you would have God come still nearer, you must come near to Him. The promised nearness of Christ Jesus expressed in the promise, ‘And surely I will be with you always,’ can be experienced only as we come near to Him.

First of all, draw near to Him at the beginning of each day. Yield yourself to Him anew for His holy presence to rest upon you. Voluntarily, intentionally, and wholeheartedly turn away from the world and wait on God to make himself known to your soul. Give time and all your heart and strength to allow Him to reveal himself. It is impossible to expect the abiding presence of Christ with us through the day unless there is the definite daily exercise of strong desire to be with Him and childlike trust in His word: ‘Come near to God and he will come near to you.’

Second, make a simple childlike offering of yourself and your life to do His will alone in everything, and seek above everything else to please Him. His promise is sure: ‘If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him’ (John 14:23).

Then comes the quiet assurance of faith that God is with us, even if there is not much feeling or sense of His presence. We also are assured that as we go out to do His will, He will watch over us, keep us, and, what is more, strengthen us in the inner man with divine strength for the work we have to do for Him.

Child of God, let these words come to you with a new meaning each morning: ‘Come near to God and he will come near to you.’ Wait patiently and He will speak in divine power: ‘And surely I will be with you always.’ ” (Andrew Murray)

“Think often on God by day and by night, in your business and in your recreation. He is always near you and with you; do no leave Him alone. You would think it rude to leave a friend alone who came to visit you; why then must God be neglected? Do not forget Him, but think on Him often. Adore Him continually, live and die with Him: this is the glorious business of the Christian. If you do not know this business, then you must learn it.” (Brother Lawrence)

The Believer’s Secret of the Abiding Presence, 123-124

Compiled by Louis Gifford Parkhurst, Jr.




Too Busy For Stillness

Posted by Jerry White on Jun 8, 2011

“Understand that since you are Christ’s, the blessed Comforter is yours also. He is within you as He was within your Lord. In proportion as you live in the Spirit, walk in the Spirit, and open your entire nature to Him, you will find yourself illuminated with the light of His glory. And as you realize that He is in you, you will realize that you are always in Him. Thus the beloved apostle wrote, ‘By this we know that we abide in Him, and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit’ (1 John 4:13).

Perhaps you say, ‘I know rationally that the Spirit is within me, but I so infrequently experience His power, guidance, and comfort. Why?’

It is because your life is so hurried. You do not take time enough for meditation and prayer. The Spirit of God cannot be discerned while the heart is occupied with anxieties, the pulse beats quickly, or the brain is filled with troubling thoughts. It is when water stands still that it becomes translucent and reveals the pebbly beach below. Be still, and know that God is within you and around you. In the hush of the soul, the unseen becomes visible and the eternal real. Let no day pass without silently waiting before God and allowing His Spirit to reveal Himself to you.”

The Best of F. B. Meyer, 62-63

Edited and Compiled by Stephen W. Sorenson

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I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope; my soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning, more than watchmen for the morning.

Psalm 130:5-6 (ESV)

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“He who rushes from his bed to his business and waiteth not to worship, is as foolish as though he had not put on his clothes, or cleansed his face and as unwise as though he dashed into battle without arms or armour.”

C. H. Spurgeon




Discipline For Godliness

Posted by Jerry White on Nov 18, 2010

“Nothing was ever achieved without discipline; and many an athlete and many a man has been ruined because he abandoned discipline and let himself grow slack. Coleridge is the supreme tragedy of indiscipline. Never did so great a mind produce so little. He left Cambridge University to join the army; but he left the army because, in spite of all his erudition, he could not rub down a horse; he returned to Oxford and left without a degree. He began a paper called The Watchman which lived for ten numbers and then died. It has been said of him: ‘He lost himself in visions of work to be done, that always remained to be done. Coleridge had every poetic gift but one—the gift of sustained and concentrated effort.’ In his head and in his mind he had all kinds of books, as he said himself, ‘completed save for transcription.’ ‘I am on the eve,’ he says, ‘of sending to the press two octavo volumes.’ But the books were never composed outside Coleridge’s mind, because he would not face the discipline of sitting down to write them out. No one ever reached any eminence, and no one having reached it ever maintained it, without discipline.”

William Barclay

Quoted by Donald S. Whitney

Spiritual Disciplines For The Christian Life, 20

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If the Lord Jesus could not accomplish the Father’s will without a disciplined life, then neither can we. If we are not disciplined for seeking nearness to Christ, then intimacy with Him will not happen. The Holy Spirit will strengthen us to be self-controlled just for the asking. He is our personal tutor to lead us to arrange our days so we can have time alone with the Lord. Surely none of us want to come to the end of life with regrets that we did not pursue the eternal because we were undisciplined and let all kinds of lesser things distract us. The fruit of godliness through discipline is eternal.




Sound Doctrine Required

Posted by Jerry White on May 19, 2010

For the time is coming when people will not endure sound (healthy) teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passion, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.
2 Timothy 4:3-4 (ESV)
~~~
The day when many who profess Christ will not endure sound doctrine is upon us. Many strange winds are blowing upon the church. In our day of instant gratification, pleasure seeking, and quick fixes, many professing Christians will not take time to diligently seek, study, meditate and pray over God’s Word so they can understand with mind and heart the vital doctrines of God. Too easily some accept what sounds spiritual from a winsome personality, when in fact it does not match up with God breathed Scriptures. Basic principles of Biblical interpretation are ignored. Fundamental truths the apostles considered crucial are overlooked. Many active in  church cannot articulate sound doctrine and cannot even think straight about essential truth. Worse, these truths are not even considered important. “Don’t disturb me with what God truly says, I just want a happy and comfortable life.” The result is that many professing believers hold to a hodge-podge of beliefs that have absolutely no Biblical foundation.
We can show our love for the Lord Jesus by studying His Word so we understand exactly what He says and means. By this our lives can line up with His revealed truth. Otherwise we are spiritually crippled and cannot grow into His likeness. Truth is not about what makes us feel good; it is about what our Lord precisely says so we can stand upon solid Biblical truth, obey His clear commands, and rest upon His glorious promises.
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“It was doctrine in the apostolic ages which emptied the heathen temples, and shook Greece and Rome. It was doctrine which awoke Christendom from its slumbers at the time of the Reformation and spoiled the Pope of one-third of his subjects. It is doctrine which gives power to every successful mission, whether at home or abroad. It is doctrine – doctrine, clear ringing doctrine – which like the rams’ horns at Jericho, casts down the opposition of the devil and sin.”
J. C. Ryle (1816-1900)




Dependence Plus Discipline

Posted by Jerry White on Feb 15, 2010

“Dependence is critical, but there is no growth in the Christian life apart from discipline and self-control (‘discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness’ [1 Timothy 4:7]). Spirituality is not instantaneous or haphazard; it is developed and refined. The Epistles are full of commands to believe, obey, walk, present, fight, reckon, hold fast, pursue, draw near, and love. The spiritual life is progressively cultivated in the disciplines of the faith; you and I will not wake up one morning to find ourselves suddenly spiritual. This is why Paul uses the metaphors of an athlete, a soldier, and a farmer to illustrate the discipline of the Christian life (see 1 Corinthians 9:24-27; Ephesians 6:10-18; 2 Timothy 2:3-60). We grow in godliness as we hear and obediently respond to the Word. Spiritual maturity is characterized by the ability to recognize and apply the principles of Scripture to daily experience (Hebrews 5:11-14). The Bible comes alive when its precepts are put into practice, but this does not happen apart from human choice. We must choose to have our minds and emotions guided and strengthened by the Holy Spirit.”
Kenneth Boa
Conformed to His Image, 76
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Make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
2 Peter 1:5-8 (ESV)
~~~
Every Olympic athlete’s goal is to win. For this he trains diligently through persistent discipline. A lazy one will not qualify, much less win. Every Christian’s goal should be to know the Lord Jesus Christ with deeper intimacy and progressively become like Him. This will not happen if a believer will not “make every effort” through discipline. So teaches God’s Word quite clearly. Desire plus discipline plus dependence equals fulfillment. The sheer delight of discovering the Lord Jesus more intimately fuels the fire of desire. The reward exceedingly outweighs the investment. Jesus walked this way. His yoke is easy.




Morning Confession

Posted by Jerry White on Feb 4, 2010

The value of renewing your intimate relationship with and commitment to the Lord Jesus day by day cannot be overestimated. The enemy waits like a crouching lion looking for any opportunity to pounce upon you when he senses you are in a weakened spiritual state. When you neglect renewing regularly your heart devotion and desire for the Lord, it gives the enemy an opening to devour your spiritual well being. The devil knows your every weakness and therefore knows exactly where he should attack to rob you of God’s best for you. He is always stalking you, and this is why God says we must be sober and vigilant (1 Peter 5:8). Nearness to the Shepherd is the only safe place for His sheep to be protected from the stalking lion. A morning confession is very helpful, not as a thoughtless ritual, but rather as a genuine heart expression of your desire to live dead to your self-life and totally under the Holy Spirit’s control.
I have my own confession that expresses my inward longing for the Lord Jesus to be glorified in me.
HCG. Moule (1841-1920) used the following Morning Confession:

I believe on the Son of God, therefore I am in Him, having redemption through His blood and life by His Spirit.
He is in me and all fullness is in Him.
To Him I belong by creation, purchase, conquest and self-surrender;
To me He belongs for all my hourly need.
There is no cloud between my Lord and me.
There is no difficulty inward or outward which he is not ready to meet in me today.
I believe I have received not the spirit of fearfulness, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. The Lord is my Keeper. Amen.
~~~
I love you, O Lord, my strength.
The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised, and I am saved from my enemies.

Psalm 18: 1-3 (ESV)




Patience In Growth

Posted by Jerry White on Oct 8, 2009

Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.
Philippians 3:12 (ESV)
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“In a culture that promotes instant gratification, it can be wearisome for us to wait patiently for God’s timing. Many of us are tempted to bypass grace and take matters into our own hands as we seek some method, technique, seminar, or experience that will give us the results we want when we want them. But we are as incapable of changing ourselves through our own efforts as we are of manipulating God to transform us more quickly.
In his grace, the Lord invites us to cooperate with the formative work of his Holy Spirit in our lives by engaging in the disciplines of faith, repentance, and obedience and by trusting in his ways and in his timing. Inevitably, God’s timing will seem painfully slow to us, but as we grow in wisdom, we learn to be more patient with the divine process, knowing that he alone knows what we need and when we need it. Thus spiritual formation is nourished by years of disciplined fidelity to the sovereign call of God. Indeed, we will fail and disobey and do many foolish and grievous things throughout the process, but fidelity means that we get up and return to Jesus each time we fall. ‘Each day has enough trouble of its own’ (Matthew 6:34). May we allow the ordinary demands of everyday living to drive us to the grace of Jesus, to the love of the Father, and to the fellowship of the Spirit (2 Corinthians13:14).
Kenneth Boa
Conformed to His Image, 258-259
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Dear Christian reader, press on persistently to know the Lord Jesus; seek His face regularly that your heart may gaze upon Him; exercise discipline habitually so that you fully cooperate with Him in your transformation; and love Him passionately so that your heart stays close to Him. Be settled in your heart: This is a lifelong process.




Desire Requires Discipline

Posted by Jerry White on Feb 2, 2009

Discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness.
1 Timothy 4:7 (NASB)
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“Neglecting time alone with your Lord will impoverish you. You will be drawn away by your own selfish desires, the attraction of the world, and the ruthless attack of the enemy. One cannot continue in fullness if he or she does not continue drinking of His life, and this requires self-discipline. Thirst must find expression through self-discipline because discipline is necessary for godliness (1 Timothy 4:7). Sometimes Christians confuse discipline with legalism. The Olympic athlete with his eye on a gold medal is not legalistic because he disciplines himself for the purpose of winning, but rather he is self-disciplined because he wants to win. Longing to be the best motivates him to prepare for the competition, and that is not always easy. If you have your heart set on the goal of knowing and seeing God and becoming like Jesus, then discipline is necessary in order to fulfill your desire. You will have to make choices against an enemy whose intent is to rob you of a close and affectionate relationship with Jesus. The devil will even use good things to hinder you. Jesus let nothing, even ministry to the masses and the needs of suffering humanity and lost people dying and going to hell, keep Him from necessary time alone with His heavenly Father (Luke 5:15-16).”
Author
The Spirit and Presence of Christ, pp. 98-99
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My dear loving Father, stir in me such deep and strong thirst that I cannot help but run from this worldly desert to heaven’s flowing river in order to drink deeply of Your life-giving refreshment. Amen!