Discipline Not Punishment

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What emotion does the word “fasting” evoke within you? Is it pretty safe to say it wasn’t excitement?! Who likes to practice withholding pleasure from themselves; especially God given and driven pleasures, like eating?!! No one! I understand there are many forms and ways to fast and a fast does not necessarily always mean from food however, oftentimes it does. No one likes to deny themselves; to make a practice of self-discipline. Self-control is hard! Which is exactly why we need practice in self-discipline. Discipline often feels like punishment however it is discipline, that keeps us from punishment. 

In the sermon Jesus gives between Matthew 5-7 He gives us a different way to live. A way of living that will require a regular practice of self-discipline. This way of living is to equip us to carry the burden of life, experiencing life abundantly! Instead of just giving us a mattress for exhaustion He gives us a new and refreshing way to carry the load of life… yoked to His strength. The fruit of the Spirit is self-control (see Galatians 5:22-23) so in submitting to the Spirit filled life we will find life, but it will mean dying to our flesh. One way we die to our flesh is through the practice of self-discipline and fasting is a tool God has given to strengthen us in this. 

1 Corinthians 9:26-27 (The Message) I don’t know about you, but I’m running hard for the finish line. I’m giving it everything I’ve got. No lazy living for me! I’m staying alert and in top condition. I’m not going to get caught napping, telling everyone else all about it and then missing out myself. The NIV states it this way, Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize. 

Life is hard (John 16:33). Who wants to spend their energies running aimlessly and beating the air?! If energy is to be exerted, may it be worthwhile sweat, right!?! Again, fasting is a way to discipline our fleshly nature to bow to the life giving way of the Holy Spirit (see Romans 8:6). The Bible gives reasons for fasting such as mourning, repentance, preparation, personal transformation and edification, to break sinful strongholds, to hear from God and receive divine direction, for miracles and even for unity. Everything in that list is beneficial and yet the process of fasting is a difficult discipline but not impossible with Holy Spirit infused grace! 

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Matthew 7:21 (NIV) We have to practice what we preach and the practice of self-discipline strengthens our ability in the Spirit to surrender our fleshly desires to His higher purpose; enabling us to live out His Word in life abundant.

Dear Heavenly Father, here I am, I surrender my agenda to Your higher will and way. Please move me to the center of Your will and make me fruitful and successful in Your eyes. In Jesus name, Amen. 

Published by Janette

Janette enjoys sharing the passion Jesus ignites in her heart for Him. She is a teacher by degree and enjoys the beautiful outdoors of Colorado where she resides with her family of 8. Janette and her husband have been married since 2003 and if you’ve seen the movie “Cheaper By The Dozen” that’s their life although they title it “Cheaper By The Half-Dozen”! Raising their six children just 8 years apart lends itself to adventurous ways daily in which to see Jesus in the big the small the messy and the beautiful. ...His word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot. Jeremiah 20:9

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