Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Discipline is Not Enough

Psalm 73:25-26
I don't have anyone in heaven but you.
I don't want anything on earth besides you. 
My body and my heart may grow weak.
God, you give strength to my heart.
You are everything I will ever need.   

I've always been somewhat of a disciplined person.  If I feel convicted to do something, then I intentionally think of ways that I can accomplish the task and I set about accomplishing it. Of course there are times that I may cheat (ex. eating something unhealthy, not going to the gym, etc), but I know that in order to accomplish a task, it takes self-control and discipline. While it's good to be self-controlled and disciplined, God is showing me that I can't just make a "check list" and expect my heart to magically be in the right place.

Recently I have noticed that my attitude has been a little less than stellar (to put it nicely).  So, I began to think of ways I could fix this.  I started developing my check list:

  • I'll get up earlier and spend more time reading my Bible
  • I'll post Bible verses everywhere 
  • I'll try to do thing for others throughout the day
  • And the list goes on...

Of course, none of the things on this list is bad.  It's good to spend more time reading my Bible and memorizing other verses.  But, a check list cannot change my heart.  I so wish it could. I wish that I could just write "love Jesus with all my heart" on a list and it would be taken care of.   I can't just make a list of things I need to work on without first asking God to search my heart and forgive me for the sinful way that it is.  God is showing me that I need to repent more often.  Repentance is not fun. It takes time and it can get messy.  If I'm really being honest, sometimes I don't want to take time to really look at my heart because I don't want to know what all is there.  It's a lot easier to not deal with it and just pretend that my heart is in pretty good condition. But, if I sit still before the Lord and ask Him to reveal to me sin that is in my heart, He might show me some stuff that I didn't know was there (or tried to pretend wasn't there).  He might remind me of some bitterness in my life or reveal to me my pride, my fear, my insecurities.

Sometimes it's just easier to keep going through the motions, keep reading my Bible and singing the praise songs but not dealing with the state of my heart.  When we do this, it's so easy to compare ourselves to others. We feel a nudge that God wants us to come before Him and search our heart, but we begin to become filled with pride as we look at others. We begin to list off all of the things we are doing for God, trying to justify the fact that we are doing so much for Him.  But that's the most tragic part of all because I'll never do enough...I can never make a good enough to do list.  Why? Because I'm a sinner and because my heart is deceitful and because each day I am facing a battle against my flesh.  And, I need Jesus.  I need Him to reveal to me where I am weak and I need His help to show me where I am not like Him. If I don't take time to come before Him and repent of my sins, then I am only relying on my own strength to cross items off of my to do list.  See what Paul has to say about the power of sin in our lives:
But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death?  Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So you see how it is: In my mind I really want to obey God’s law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin. Romans 7:23-25
I want to rely on Christ's strength and be filled with a new heart as I see a new sin surfaces in my life.  I don't want to rely on my own strength because then I will never really overcome it.  And, as easy as it is to do sometimes, I don't want to just pretend sin is not in my life.  In order to become more like Christ, I must repent and ask Him to help me turn from my sinful ways with His strength.
Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my thoughts.  Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life. Psalm 139: 23-24
Instead of making a to-do-list, my prayer is that I will ask God to search my heart first and help me rely on His strength.  Then, I will rely on His power instead of my power.  I love this quote by Matt Chandler about how we can be a great wife and mom:
You don't have to be a perfect wife to be a great wife. You don't have to be a perfect mom to be a great mom. 'Where's that line?' That line is confession, repentance, and getting back up and staying moving. We take on the perfection made available to us in Jesus Christ, his righteousness, not my righteousness, not a false veneer righteousness of my own. Not my strength, his strength. Not my perfection, his perfection. We rest in that. Then we walk as best we can every day.
Repentance takes time. It will probably be messy because it's when we see how evil our heart's desires truly are.  But, when we repent of these sins, we are agreeing with God that we hate them, that we want to turn from them. And, when we come before Him with a humble heart, He. will. hear. us.  So, why would I not repent?
Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land. My eyes will be open and my ears attentive to every prayer made in this place. 2 Chronicles 7:14-15

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