Spiritual Discipline Part 1

Small Group (Net) Questions

Introduction to Net Questions: When it comes to being spiritually disciplined in ones life, the heart is the key! If our heart does not desire to be in a growing and deepening relationship with God, it simply will not happen. People usually do what they want to do and don’t do what they don’t want to do! Therefore, the first major step for us in our quest for spiritual maturity is to get our heart to desire spiritual maturity! Spiritual discipline is required for spiritual maturity to happen and remember, the heart is the key!

1. One of the first steps we must take in our quest for spiritual discipline is to examine our heart. Jesus said in Luke 12:34: “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” What are some of the ways we can determine what our heart really treasures?
Hint: Time spent, resources spent, priorities, thoughts etc

2. If a person knows it would be better to desire the things of God and not the things of the world, but are having a hard time getting there, what should they ask God to do?
Hint: Read the following Scripture: Psalm 37:3-6  3Trust in the LORD and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. 4Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart. 5Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will do this: 6He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun. (NIV)
Remember that verse 4 can also be translated... “Delight yourself in the LORD and He will give your heart its desires!”

3. Salvation is a gift from God we can’t earn and don’t deserve, but God in His love gives salvation to all who would call upon His name. Sanctification, on the other hand, is a call from God and is a process. It is the process of becoming more like Jesus every day. Disciplining ourselves to read a little bit of God’s Word is an essential part of sanctification. Discuss why this is so important.
Psa 119:9  How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word.
Psa 119:10  I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands.
Psa 119:11  I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.
Psa 119:12  Praise be to you, O LORD; teach me your decrees.

4. Sometimes, even though we begin to desire to do the right thing, it is still a battle. Paul talked of this in the book of Romans. Discuss how a willingness to become spiritually disciplined will help us in this battle. Remember, as Paul stated, only Jesus can bring us deliverance in spiritual warfare, and spiritual discipline.
Rom 7:21  So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me.
Rom 7:22  For in my inner being I delight in God's law;
Rom 7:23  but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members.
Rom 7:24  What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?
Rom 7:25a  Thanks be to God--through Jesus Christ our Lord!


Spiritual Discipline
Part 1
The Heart is Key

Proverbs 1:1-7

Take your Bibles and turn with me to Proverbs 1:1-7

The following verses are an introduction to the book of Proverbs, but I believe they can also be applied to the Bible as a whole! They are Old Testament, but are definitely applicable to the New Testament.
They apply to every person's life in this room this very day!!

These verses will serve as the basic text for this three week series on Spiritual Discipline.

1The proverbs of Solomon son of David, king of Israel:
Proverbs 1:1 (NIV)

2for attaining wisdom and discipline; for understanding words of insight;
Proverbs 1:2 (NIV)

3for acquiring a disciplined and prudent life, doing what is right and just and fair;
Proverbs 1:3 (NIV)

4for giving prudence to the simple, knowledge and discretion to the young—
Proverbs 1:4 (NIV)

5let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance—
Proverbs 1:5 (NIV)

6for understanding proverbs and parables, the sayings and riddles of the wise.
Proverbs 1:6 (NIV)

7The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.
Proverbs 1:7 (NIV)

Let's pray!!!

 This passage is an introduction to the book of Proverbs.
ETS: The writer makes it plain that a Godly person desires wisdom and discipline, but fools despise wisdom and discipline!
ESS: Spiritual discipline is not possible without a powerful desire and motivation to know God and His ways!

 For the next three weeks we're going to talk about Spiritual Discipline. Some of you may be thinking, "But you did a whole series on "Spiritual Disciplines" back when we were meeting at the athletic club."
Yes, that was a study of various Spiritual disciplines like prayer, fasting, meditation,  contemplation etc.

 For the next three weeks we're going to talk about the overall discipline it takes to become spiritually healthy. The discipline one must have if he or she is to practice spiritual disciplines. The discipline it takes to be spiritually in shape.
In other words we're going to find out the discipline it takes to build our spiritual physique. Our spirit life!

Why this sermon, why now?

As we talked the last few weeks about putting on the whole armor of God, I began to think about the reason so many don't put on the full armor of God on a consistent basis. God spoke to my heart about discipline.  

So many have little or no discipline, so they are not going to have consistency  in their spiritual life!
Most every person in this room understands the concept of discipline, but we don't always apply it to our walk with God!

Let's look at the definition of discipline...

 discipline |ˈdisəplin|
1 the practice of training people to obey rules or a code of behavior, using punishment to correct disobedience
• the controlled behavior resulting from such training
• activity or experience that provides mental or physical training
• a system of rules of conduct

2 a branch of knowledge, typically one studied in higher education
train (someone) to obey rules or a code of behavior, using punishment to correct disobedience
• punish or rebuke (someone) formally for an offense
• (discipline oneself to do something) train oneself to do something in a controlled and habitual way

A great man of God, Vance Havner, had this to say about discipline...

"The alternative to discipline is disaster!"
Vance Havner

Athletes preparing for the olympics understand discipline! Musicians understand. Pilots understand. Teachers understand. Engineers understand.
If you want to be good at anything in this life it takes discipline.

Why is it we don't apply discipline to our spiritual lives?

Could it be we confuse Salvation, which is a gift from God, with Sanctification, which is a call from God!

Salvation is a gift from God in which a sinner becomes a saint in his or her heart! It is a gift which no one deserves, and no one could ever earn, but is given when a person calls on the Name of the Lord!
It happens when the precious, righteous Blood of Jesus is applied to our sin account.

Sanctification, on the other hand, is a call from God in which a sinner begins a process of becoming saintly in his or her life! It begins with Salvation and doesn't end until we enter glory!
It is a lifelong process which we could never complete on our own strength, but a process in which God has promised to help us with every single day!

 Today we're going to discuss the desire, the passion, and the motivation needed for Spiritual Discipline!
In physical exercise the heart is the key!
If you become the greatest body builder on the planet and can lift amazing amounts of weight, but neglect the cardio, the heart, your going to be in grave physical danger.

It's the same in the spiritual realm!!
The heart is central and essential!
The sermon today has one major point.
Your heart's the key to spiritual discipline.
You've got to want it!
The writer of Proverbs put it this way...

23Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.
Proverbs 4:23 (NIV)

12Apply your heart to instruction and your ears to words of knowledge.
Proverbs 23:12 (NIV)

The Psalmist put it this way...

14May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.
Psalm 19:14 (NIV)

Jesus put it this way...

34For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Luke 12:34 (NIV)

So the first step to becoming disciplined spiritually, is to get the heart right!

Let me put it to you this way...

Spiritual Discipline: If you don't want it, you won't get it!
If you don't desire it, you won't have it!
If you don't seek it, you won't find it!

In other words it's a heart thing.

If your hearts not in it, you will never succeed in being spiritually disciplined!

If you're heart beats for the things of the world and not the things of God, you'll never be willing to do what it takes to become spiritually disciplined!

My question for all of us today is this?

Do you hunger for God's Word?

Do you thirst for the things of God?

Jesus made this statement…

6Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
Matthew 5:6 (NIV)

When we were in Haiti, we saw some folks who were hungry. Not just for physical food, but for the things of God!!
This is not only true in Haiti, but in other parts of the world. There are some places where the Bible has only recently been translated into the native language. Hard to believe but true. And the heart touching way they receive the Word, is astounding!


 Those people didn't have the Word of God and wanted it more than anything. They wanted to know the truth about God!! Did you see the way they danced, and prayed, and cried when the Bibles were delivered to them? Did you see the deep and profound way they seemed to respect the bundle of Bibles?

We have Bibles galore and some of us would have a hard time finding our Bible!
The reason we aren't spiritually disciplined is that we aren't spiritually hungry!!
We're spiritually malnourished, but we aren't spiritually hungry!

 It's like some of the alcoholics on the streets, they're in need of a healthy meal, but they've lost their appetite for food because of their addiction.

 I'm afraid, for many in America, for many in Slidell, we are intoxicated with the things of the world! Many times we seek everything else but the things of God!
Peter had this to say in 1 Peter 2:11...

11Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul.
1 Peter 2:11 (NIV)

The things of this old world war against our soul. If we're not careful our desires will be consumed by the things of this world instead of the things of God!
The things of this world should carry a warning label.

 WARNING: Excessive care for things of the world will cause neglect of the soul and serious damage to ones spiritual life!

 And by the way, the things of God are greater than anything this world could ever offer and the things of God last forever!!
But most of all, God Himself is greater than anything this world could ever offer!

Listen to the Psalmist talk of His desire for God...

1O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
Psalm 63:1 (NIV)

2I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory.
Psalm 63:2 (NIV)

3Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you.
Psalm 63:3 (NIV)

4I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands.
Psalm 63:4 (NIV)

5My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise you.
Psalm 63:5 (NIV)

6On my bed I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night.
Psalm 63:6 (NIV)

7Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings.
Psalm 63:7 (NIV)

8My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me.
Psalm 63:8 (NIV)

Are you beginning to see my one point for today? We've got to desire God!! We've got to desire the things of God!! We've got to want our spiritual life to be more important than anything else or everything else will become more important to us than our walk with God!

Now you might be inclined to say…
"Brother Larry, I kind of want that, but I've got to be honest with you! I wish I had the passion and desire for God you're talking about, but I struggle to keep my priorities in the right place. In my head I would like to be that kind of Christian, but my heart seems to go after other things."

Or you might put it the opposite way…
"In my heart I would like to be that kind of Christian, but my head seems to go after other things!"

What to do?

We've got to be willing to ask God to take control of our hearts and minds!
We've got to ask God to give our heart the right desires! We've got to ask God to begin to reprogram our minds.

3Trust in the LORD and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
Psalm 37:3 (NIV)

4Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Psalm 37:4 (NIV)

5Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will do this:
Psalm 37:5 (NIV)

6He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.
Psalm 37:6 (NIV)

In the Hebrew language verse 4 can be translated two ways...

Delight in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart!


Delight in the Lord and He will give your heart it's desires!

In other words, if you are finding your greatest delight in your walk with the Lord, He will put the right desires in your heart and then you can ask Him to give you the desires of your heart and He'll say, "Of course you can have the desires of your heart, I put them there!"

The question is this…
Do you want God's ways, His will, His direction, His leadership?

Really, really want it?
Want it enough to pursue Spiritual Discipline?

Okay, I'm convinced! I want it!!
I want to become spiritually disciplined! I want to walk with God every day! I want the things of God more than the things of the world! What steps should I take?

Once again we turn to the Psalmist for instruction...

24Your statutes are my delight; they are my counselors.
Psalm 119:24 (NIV)

 Let God's Word be your counselor. Read it a little bit every day, even if it's on 1 or two verses. Two minutes or Ten.
If you can't find two to ten minutes in a day, your priorities are whacked!!

25I am laid low in the dust; preserve my life according to your word.
Psalm 119:25 (NIV)

26I recounted my ways and you answered me; teach me your decrees.
Psalm 119:26 (NIV)

 Confess your weaknesses to Him.
He'll preserve your life with His Word!

27Let me understand the teaching of your precepts; then I will meditate on your wonders.
Psalm 119:27 (NIV)

 Take the verse or two you've read and meditate on it throughout the day.
You don't have to sit in a Yoga position with your legs crossed funny. Frankly, I would spend the whole time thinking how to get the circulation flowing back to my feet.
Think about the meaning of a verse while you shower, while you shave, while you drive.

28My soul is weary with sorrow; strengthen me according to your word.
Psalm 119:28 (NIV)

 As you delight in His presence and exercise in the Word of God you'll begin to gain spiritual strength.

29Keep me from deceitful ways; be gracious to me through your law.
Psalm 119:29 (NIV)

 You'll begin to discover how spiritual discipline can protect you from evil things!

30I have chosen the way of truth; I have set my heart on your laws.
Psalm 119:30 (NIV)

 Commit to walk in God's truth throughout the day! Set your heart on God's principles!

31I hold fast to your statutes, O LORD; do not let me be put to shame.
Psalm 119:31 (NIV)

 Hold fast to your convictions. Don't compromise on the things that matter and you won't be put to shame!

32I run in the path of your commands, for you have set my heart free.
Psalm 119:32 (NIV)

 The more spiritually disciplined you become, you'll find your spiritual heart grow strong enough to run. It will be free from the things that once weakened it!

33Teach me, O LORD, to follow your decrees; then I will keep them to the end.
Psalm 119:33 (NIV)

 Let the Lord be your teacher throughout the day and you'll make it to the very end!

34Give me understanding, and I will keep your law and obey it with all my heart.
Psalm 119:34 (NIV)

 Ask God to give you understanding. Sometimes we can't make sense of the circumstances of life, and we may never fully understand in this world, but we can ask Him to help us understand.

35Direct me in the path of your commands, for there I find delight.
Psalm 119:35 (NIV)

 Give God permission to direct your path. It may not be the easiest path, but it is the path with the meaning and the path of delight!

36Turn my heart toward your statutes and not toward selfish gain.
Psalm 119:36 (NIV)

 Through spiritual discipline you'll find your heart turning towards the things of God and less towards your own selfish gain.

37Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to your word.
Psalm 119:37 (NIV)

 Through spiritual discipline you'll begin to discern the difference between things that are worthless and things that have eternal value!!