The Urgency of Self-Discipline

“God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and love and a sound mind.”  II Timothy 1:7

When the two Greek words used here, sodzo and phroneo, are compounded into one word, they form the word sophroneo, which pictures a mind that has been delivered, rescued, revived, salvaged, and protected and is now safe and secure. Thus, even if your mind is tempted to give in to fear, you can allow God’s Word and the Holy Spirit to work in you to deliver, rescue, revive, and salvage your mind. This means your rationale, logic, and emotions can be shielded from the illogically absurd, ridiculous, unfounded, and crazy thoughts that have tried to grip your mind in the past. All you have to do is grab hold of God’s Word and His Spirit.

Sophroneo has the idea of a calm, self-controlled mind, in contrast to the panic and confusion that rushes in when in a fearful situation. Many versions of the Bible properly translated it self-discipline.

When Christ is in control we are truly under control. He gives us the capacity of controlling ourselves in the face of PANIC or PASSION. 

In matters of PANIC, He can keep us from running away.

In matters of PASSION, He can keep us from being swept away.

We must treat ourselves as a force which needs controlling —-

* A collection of energy needing direction.

* A composite of emotions that must be managed.

* A combination of appetites that have to be curbed.

Avoid these mind mines by:

Developing a strategy, what to do to discipline your mind.

Run every thought through a final filter, what will go through.

Reset your attitude to a positive pure standard.

The Bible speaks of seeking His face, meaning to seek His will.

You are in spiritual warfare. You are in a battle that all of God’s children fight (see Ephesians 6:12). Make up your mind not to give up! According to Colossians 3:2, set your mind on things above and keep it set!

Some people have a struggle with improper thoughts. There is an ancient thought that is relevant. You can’t keep the birds from flying over your head, but you can keep them from building their nest in your mind.

This is time for decision. 

“CHRONOS” is a Greek word for running time. It is used for clocking the length of time required for something.

There is another Greek word for time, KAIROS. It refers to a decisive time, a moment that requires an important decision. KAIROS is linked with the idea of responsibility. KAIROS, time has come. Seize the moment, take advantage of this opportunity to act responsibly. Here and now determine to exercise self-discipline, employ the power Jesus has given you and develop a well disciplined life.

Your Own Personal Power Pack

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”  (II Timothy 1:6, 7)

Power alone can be destructive. Love alone can be sentimentality.

A sound mind alone can become only intellectual speculation. Power, love, and a sound mind given us by God is the antidote for fear and timidity.

Power, or authority mean the ability to achieve purpose. 

I saw a football game in which there was a player who gained an average of eight yards every time he carried the ball. That was power.

There was a little man about 5’10”.  Every time he carried the ball it was for fifteen yards. He carried a little yellow flag and every time he threw it he walked off fifteen yards. That was power, that is authority.

The word translated power in the text is often properly translated authority. He had the authority to:

1:9 “Saved us…”

1:9 “Called us…”

1:9 “Abolished death…”

1:9 “Brought life and immortality to light…”

In “God’s Trombones” there is a chapter entitled “Go Down Death.” It ends with the funeral eulogy of Sister Caroline concluding: “Weep not — weep not, She is not dead; She’s resting in the bosom of Jesus.”

The power is here depicted as power to suffer with Him and we will also reign with Him. (II Timothy 2:12).

Everyone, that is everyone, suffers. You may have been laboring under the misconception that you are the only one who suffers. If you have been thinking this is your distinction among humanity, it isn’t. Believers and non-believers alike suffer. Being a Christian means you have the capacity to go beyond the breaking point and not break. This is inherent in the power given you by your Savior. With Him suffering takes on purpose. Use your pain for your gain. If you know someone whose faith you admire, you know someone who has suffered.

To maintain this power it is essential to stir up the fire, that is the zeal, within you.

General Booth, founder of the Salvation Army, wrote to his followers: “The tendency of fire is to go out; watch the fire on the altar of our heart.”

Jesus wants to be your Master. Life without a spiritual master is like an orchestra without a conductor, a team without a coach, an army without a general. 

Everyone has a master. Some see their master every time they look in the mirror. With Jesus as your Master, life takes on an entirely new perspective.

A Spirit of Fear

Ours is a spiritually challenging society. However in a day even more difficult Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, wrote a young minister named Timothy words relevant to us:

“Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”  (II Timothy 1:6, 7)

At the time of this writing Paul was in a Roman prison awaiting decapitation. The mad emperor Nero had set fire to a large section of Rome and blamed the Christians for it. Believers were being rounded up and executed. Word spread throughout the Roman Empire as to what was happening in Rome. The word reached Troaz where awaited the young apprentice minister Timothy.  A shiver must have gone through him when he heard of what awaited his mentor, Paul, other believers, and perhaps himself.

Timothy was challenged to remember, “God has not given us a spirit of fear.” Therefore, “Stir up the gifts within you….”

Most of us have memories of a fire on the hearth in our home or of sitting around a campfire. Nights around a fire are a storehouse of memories. Are you one of those who can’t resist poking a fire? At a campfire are you one of those who inevitably ends up with a stick in your hand poking the fire? Are you an artist with a poker with the ability to create various patterns as the dancing patterns of the flames and embers vary?

The expression “stir up the gifts” translates the Greek word ANAZOPUREO [ah-na-zo-pu-re-o]. ZOPUREO refers to embers in which the fire has abated. The prefix ANA means “to kindle again the flames of the fire.”

The appeal is to “stir up” the fire within you. There is no reason to assume the fire has gone out. If it has, it could not have been stirred up.

Has your fervor been chilled and your zeal chilled? Are you spiritually in the game or on the sidelines? Do you have gifts and abilities not being used for the glory of the Lord?

Perhaps you, as I, made a commitment to the Lord a long time ago. Now is a good time to evaluate your faithfulness to it.

How do you stir up a fire? You make some changes, you rearrange things. The same is true with stirring up the gifts of God within you.

Are there ashes on your holy boldness? If so, stir off the ashes.

Are there ashes on your joy? If so, stir off the ashes.

Are there ashes on your devotional life? If so, stir off the ashes.

Are there ashes on your basic temperament? If so, stir off the ashes.

Use those traits daily. If Timothy could be sustained in the face of Roman terror by activating his spiritual life, so can you.

Our Strong Fortress

“The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble, and He knows those who trust in Him.”  Nahum 1:7

At the time the text was written Nineveh had slid back into a sinful stage. They had once more become a threat to God’s people therein. Nahum wrote of the forthcoming wrath against the proud people of the Assyrian empire. Parenthetically, this is evidence God does judge nations. 

Nahum also wrote of God’s love for and protection of His people. Nahum wrote to console God’s people by Him sparing them this wrath. Under those conditions he penned Nahum 1:7 likening Himself to a fortress for them.

I saw a more recent graphic of this. Traveling in the Jordan desert we stopped at a tiny fortress not more than 100 by 100 feet. Its formidable walls were approximately two feet thick.

When Sir Lawrence of Arabia was battling the Muslims in the region he was often outmanned and outgunned. Under those conditions he retreated into the fort. When he did, the strength of the fortress became the strength of Sir Lawrence. Therein he was safe. In Christ, His strength becomes our strength.

Now to apply this text personally. First, note the Lord is good. It is His nature, He can’t be any other way. It is just Him. That does not mean He exempts His people from all problems and never disciplines them when they are disobedient. This does not mean He is not jealous of His justice. 

Nahum opened his prophecy by announcing that the Lord is a jealous God, Who takes vengeance on His enemies and is fierce in His anger. The Lord is slow to anger, but He is great in power and will never leave the guilty unpunished.

Then in dramatic contrast comes, “The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble, and He knows those who take refuge in Him.”

Believers must never forget their Stronghold and take refuge in Him in times of trouble. This is possible because Christ took our sin on the cross and spared us God’s wrath.

Believers need to store away images of this truth and apply them in the experiences of daily life. Know that when you take refuge in Him His strength becomes your strength. Memorize Nahum 1:7 and apply it.

A New You

The basis of hypnosis is confidence in the person doing the hypnosis. It does not need to be a professional or an intended act. I have been hypnotized.

In the third grade I was in love with my teacher Miss Jones. To me she was  “Miss Wonderful.” One day she passed my desk and put her hand on my shoulder and said, “Nelson you are a good little boy, but you just don’t have any self-confidence.” Bingo! From that day on I could not have self-confidence or I would have made Miss Jones wrong, actually a liar.

Years lapsed and one day crossing a street in Kentwood, Louisiana I stepped on the curb, looked up and prayed: “Dear God, Miss Jones was wonderful as I thought, but she was wrong. You made me and you ‘don’t make no junk.’ From this day on, because of my confidence in you I can have self-confidence.” Free at last!

That was a transformative moment.

In light of that, have you ever been hypnotized? You need not be. Feast on this smorgasbord of Scripture.

“…our sufficiency is from God.” (II Corinthians 3:5)

“For we are his workmanship….”  (Ephesians 2:10)

“I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.” (Psalm 139:14 ESV)

“Examine yourselves whether you are in the faith. Prove yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you? – unless you are disqualified.” [That last phrase refers to not being a Christian.] (II Corinthians 13:5)

“His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature….” (II Peter 1:3, 4) 

Begin now “To put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.” (Ephesians 4:22 – 24)

If you have been living under a hypnotic spell unknowingly cast on you by someone you trusted, let this be your moment in which that spell is broken, “put on the new self” today. Pause now and pray through this matter. Then enjoy casting a new self-image.