Monday, September 9th, 2019
I want to explore with you how we can put behind us some of the bad habits that plug up our daily lives. These are not major bad habits, but those everyday bad ruts you may have been in for a long time, and you don’t even realize how they are robbing you of all that God has for you. It is my experience that these daily disciplines make all the difference in my motivation, my productivity, my sense of accomplishment, my self-esteem and, in the end, how well I please the Lord.
Did you catch that word: Discipline? Not my favorite word, how about you? And yet, getting rid of bad habits by imposing needed disciplines in our lives is the road to fulfillment. Ephesians 2:10 says this:
For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
You and I are here to accomplish what God put us here to accomplish—the good works we should be about every day. But if there is a significant lack of discipline in some area of your life, you will not be able to do all those good works. You’ll miss out on the blessing because Jesus said, “Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them” (John 13:17).
Discipline is not a felt need. We don’t usually “feel” the need to be disciplined. We can feel many other needs—the need for comfort, healing, encouragement, sympathy, and understanding. But not often do we feel—or even recognize or admit—our need for discipline.
However, Proverbs 5:23 says we can “die for lack of discipline.” And in Proverbs 10:17 we read, “Whoever heeds discipline shows the way to life.” It’s pretty clear that whether we feel it or not, we all have a very real need for discipline.
Even if it’s not what you like to do, discipline is necessary if you truly want to accomplish something worthwhile in your life. Maybe you have dreams and plans to be realized, but the discipline you need has been hard to nail down. I’d like to help you find some practical ways to impose discipline so you don’t live in regret, and you realize the potential God has for you.
Tuesday, September 10th, 2019
The Book of Proverbs was written to help us be disciplined people. In chapter 15 we read, “Those who disregard discipline despise themselves, but the one who heeds correction gains understanding” (Proverbs 15:32).
I recognize that discipline may not be your favorite topic, but here’s the truth: Lack of discipline is self-inflicted suffering! If you refuse to impose discipline on yourself, you will suffer unnecessarily.
If you want to become a disciplined person, you must identify areas where you lack discipline and start working on those one by one. What you will discover is that when you achieve discipline in one area, it strengthens you and enables you to become disciplined in other areas. I’m going to cover a few really basic areas where discipline is needed in most of our lives.
- Getting Up Early
It is said of the ideal woman in Proverbs 31:15 that “she gets up while it is still night.” She’s an early riser. Are you? Another proverb puts it more graphically: “As a door turns on its hinges, so a sluggard turns on his bed” (Proverbs 26:14). Getting up early and getting a good start on your day is a discipline all of us need.
Your day is won or lost in the morning hours and, by getting up early, you are much more likely to win the day! What does early mean? Early means you aren’t in a mad rush in the morning; you have time for meditation; you have time to get your day organized; and you have time to look as good as possible. It has nothing to do with whether you’re a “morning person” or not.
The Psalmist said, “In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly” (Psalm 5:3). This is one of the most important disciplines that you need. Impose this discipline on yourself and you will quickly realize the great benefit in getting up early. You can do it!
- Getting Organized
In Proverbs 28:2 we read, “. . .a ruler with discernment and knowledge maintains order.” Do you have order in your life? Order—or organization—is a critical discipline for success. Clutter becomes a major energy leak. Without adequate organization, you waste enormous amounts of energy looking for things, worrying about what has fallen between the cracks, and putting out fires which have arisen because of your lack of organization. This makes you a poor steward of your time and energy.
You need a daily written plan to make your day orderly. There are many tools available today—but you need to choose one and use it. Lack of organization will cost you dearly and keep you from achieving your goals, realizing your dreams, and knowing the success that God has intended for you.
Wednesday, September 11th, 2019
Someone has said we are all walking bundles of habits. If you think about it, that’s pretty true, isn’t it? The important question then is this: Are we bundles of good habits or bad habits? I’m exploring how you can put bad habits behind you—the everyday habits which have far more impact on your life than you may realize. Here’s another one of those everyday habits:
- Working Hard and Staying on Task
Maybe you have the same tendency I do: to start things and not finish; to jump from one thing to another; to get bored before the job gets done. Well, you need to work on the discipline of working hard and staying on task. In Galatians 6:9 we read, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” And Solomon wrote in Proverbs 14:23, “All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.”
Hard work and keeping-on-keeping-on—those are about as basic as you get in everyday disciplines. Are you good at those two things? Ask yourself, Do I complete tasks well? Am I a hard worker?
I often play games with myself, set up self-rewards, and do a lot of self-talk in order to stay on task. Recognizing that as one of my weak spots, I watch for it. Often I talk out loud to myself—if no one else is listening—and say things like “If you stop now, you’ll have to come back and finish it later.” Or “You’ll have such a good feeling if you’ll just stay with it now and get it done.” And this is true: We truly do reap a harvest that is very good when we don’t give up but instead work hard.
I remember my mother exhorting me to get some rest, as mothers do. But I pointed out to her that she and Daddy set the example for all our family by working hard and staying with it, so it’s their fault that we work hard! I owe a lot to my parents for teaching me the discipline of hard work by their example, and I want to be the same kind of example to my daughter, to my staff, to people with whom I have any influence. Hard work is a wonderful discipline which brings great profit.
Thursday, September 12th, 2019
I wonder, have you been planning to change some bad habit in your life because you know it’s not good for you, but you just haven’t done it yet? I’ve explored some everyday disciplines which make a huge difference in your life: getting up early, being organized, staying on task and finishing the job, and working hard. Without these basic disciplines, you are causing yourself a great deal of stress and harm, and missing so much.
I want to examine the most important everyday discipline for a Christ-follower:
- Spending Daily Time Getting to Know God
This discipline is of such importance that a few minutes discussion is not adequate. On the other hand, I must point out how essential this discipline is in any believer’s life. Do you have a time set aside daily to focus on God’s Word and spend time alone with him in prayer?
Unfortunately, this “daily devotions” time, as we’ve come to call it, has too often taken on the feeling of a duty rather than understanding what an incredible privilege we have to get to know the Living God! Just to think that the God of all the Universe indeed wants to have a personal, growing relationship with you—doesn’t that blow your mind? But you cannot get to know God—or anyone else for that matter—without setting aside time for that purpose.
This should be the foundation of all our other disciplines. If you need discipline in more than one area, I would urge you to work on this one first because it will empower you for the other needed disciplines in your life. Prayer is so important for adding needed discipline, so begin by establishing a definite time of prayer each day so you can then start praying about the discipline you need in other areas.
I encourage you to start small and grow this daily time with God. Maybe you could start by setting aside 20 minutes each day, preferably early in your day. If you get that discipline established, I firmly believe you’ll start to see such beautiful changes in your life that you’ll increase the time commitment. Spending time in God’s presence is life-changing. I truly believe you’ll get hooked on this discipline if you can just get it established long enough to realize the benefits.
Friday, September 13th, 2019
If you’ve tried and tried to put some bad habits behind you but without success, I have good news for you. As a Christ-follower you have power beyond yourself to help you get rid of bad habits and replace them with new, energizing disciplines.
An important principle about discipline—or the lack of it—is that it is contagious. When you start to lose discipline in one area of your life, it spills over to others. For example, if you skip your appointed time with God this morning, you’re less likely to work hard and stay on task today because you didn’t get started in a disciplined mode. Remember, your day is won or lost in the morning hours!
The good news is, the reverse is true. When you get one new discipline established in your life, it is much easier to get other disciplines going. When you start to recognize the incredible benefits of discipline, you just want to put those bad habits behind you because you realize it is self-inflicted suffering.
Do you want to be more disciplined? Why not begin today with one discipline you need to improve. Choose one—just one—and begin a prayer campaign. You don’t have to do this on your own; you probably can’t do it on your own. So, begin with daily prayer focusing on that discipline.
Then design some structures that force the discipline on you. Ask for help; establish some accountability; tell people what you’re doing. This will help to impose that discipline. Then, just do it! Start today! You’re going to discover that as you add discipline to your life, it is indeed the road to real life. You’ll get rid of guilt, have good feelings about yourself, and know that you’re using your gifts, time, and energy as God wants you to.
It is never too late; you’re never too old; you’ve never gone so far that you can’t make needed changes. But it’s your decision. God is ready to help you; the Word of God will give you guidance and strength; prayer will give you the power you need. But you must first make a hard and firm decision that you want to put those bad habits behind you.
Please, choose an area of needed discipline in your life and begin today to pray about that area each morning. Then put the structures in place which will impose that discipline on yourself. Work on one area at a time and learn the joy and satisfaction of being a disciplined person. I promise you, you’ll get hooked!