Saturday, August 02, 2008

The traps of discipline

Becoming more disciplined in my spiritual walk is a good thing. But I have found two traps as I set goals and work toward consistent Bible reading and prayer. I fall into these traps not only as I strive toward a disciplined life of time in the Word but as I endeavor toward Godly living in many areas - controlling my tongue, serving with joy, loving my neighbors.

If I am successful at sticking to a routine or make progress in godliness, I am tempted to think that my will-power has been the key to success. That's problem 1. Problem 2 is beating myself up when I fail and feeling that it's no use. I might as well just give up since I can't stick to it anyway. Both problems have ME at the center. I succeeded - yea, me! I failed, poor me.

God, not me, must be at the center. This week as I have thought more about discipline and consistency in running the race of faith, I been reminded again and again that Jesus is both the author (founder) and the finisher of my faith. I am saved by grace and I live by grace.

If you too are tempted to fall into the traps I fall into, I share with you a three little helps that I've contemplated this week - a poem, a sermon, and a prayer - to encourage you to keep your eyes on Jesus and run with endurance the race marked out for you.

Thy Peter's Word
(Luke 22:32)

Lest I should faint before the race be run,
Lest I should quail before the fight be won,
O heavenly intercessor and my Lord,
Fulfill to me Thy comfortable word -
Thy Peter's word. How can I be afraid
If Thou dost say to me, "But I have prayed."

by Amy Carmichael in Mountain Breezes

I love this poem because it reminds me that Jesus is continually interceding for me and pleading with the Father for my good. I have a constant advocate. One of the Puritan prayers in Valley of Vision reminds me of the same thing:

While Jesus is representing me in heaven,
may I reflect him on earth,
While he pleads my cause, may I show forth
his praise.

The first part of this sermon, Sustained by All His Grace, by John Piper is particularly helpful in understanding how we live by grace.

And another prayer:
from "Grace In Trials"

Giver of all graces,
I look to thee for strength to maintain them in me,
for it is hard to practice what I believe...
Thy Holy Spirit is given to increase thy graces,
and I cannot preserve or improve them
unless he works continually in me.
May he confirm my trust in thy promised help,
and let me walk humbly in dependence up thee,
for Jesus sake.

from Valley of Vision

Father, enable me today to walk in dependence, running my race by grace in faith with endurance. Keep me from falling into these me-centered traps. Keep my eyes fixed on you, my heart steady in you. And thank you for the prospect of a day tomorrow to join with my brothers and sisters in Christ to worship, rejoice, fellowship, and rest.

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