Self-Control Day 5

You were taught … to be made new in the attitude of your minds and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. (Eph. 4:22, 23-24). Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about these things. (Phil. 4:8). … we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. (2 Cor. 10:5). But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness and self control. Against such things, there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. (Gal. 5:22-26).

1. According to Ephesians 4:22-24,what were we created to be like? According to this verse, how are we to be made new?

2. Which of the things in the Phillipians passage is easiest for you to think on? Which is hardest?

3. What are we instructed to take captive in 2 Corinthians?

4. Which part of the fruit of the Spirit has God been leading you deeper in this summer?

5. Keep “practicing” your discipline for the next three days.

Self-Control Day 4

Train yourself to be godly.  For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.  (1 Tim. 4:7-8).  For the word of God is living and active.  Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.  Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight.  Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give an account.  (Hebrews 4:12-13).  For these commands are a lamp, this teaching is a light, and the corrections of discipline are the way to life. (Prov. 6:23).  All scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.  (2 Timothy 3:16-17).  I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.  I can do everything through Christ who gives me strength.  (Phil. 4:12-13).

1. What are some characteristics of scripture, according to these verses?

2. How have you used the word of God as training in godliness?

3. Have you practiced your “spiritual discipline” today?  Is it becoming easier to practice this “discipline”?

Self-Control – Day 3

His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.  Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.  For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love.  For if you possess these qualities in ever increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.  (2 Peter 1:3-9).

1. What has God’s divine power given us?  How do we attain what God’s divine power has given us?


2. What may we participate in and escape through God’s activation of “great and precious promises”?

3. What keeps up from being ineffective and unproductive in our knowledge of Jesus?

4. Where have you experienced God’s divine power giving you what you need for your life?

5. Have you had the chance to practice your chosen “spiritual discipline” yet today?

Self-Control – Day 2

[C]ontinue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling. (Phil 2:12). Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize?  Run in such a way as to get the prize.  Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training.  They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last.   Therefore, I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air.  No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.  (1 Cor. 9:24-27).  I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things.  I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him …Not that I have already attained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.  Brothers, I don’t consider myself yet to have taken hold of it.  But one things I do: straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.  (Phil. 3:7-14). 

1. How have you been running your earthy “race”?

2. In Phil. 3:7-14, what is the one thing that Paul says he does?

3. Throughout the day, are you more earthly minded or eternally minded?

4. Have you yet put into practice the one thing that you committed to the Lord to do on day one?

Self-Control – Day 1

But the fruit of the Spirit is …. self-control. Galations 5:22-23.

It’s not particularly necessary to define “self-control.” Of all the virtues we’ve studied to date, it is, perhaps, the most self-explanatory. In Greek it’s the word, “egkratia” which means – self-control (it is also translated as temperance, but that word would need some defining in this day and age!).

Control of one’s self. Self-control. I have so many words that I’ve been trying to say about all of this. I’ve typed and erased for several nights in a row. So, I’m ditching those words for this: this week, let’s choose something good and do it, repeatedly.

Here’s the thing: God has been teaching me in deeper, more thorough ways, how the mind, body and soul are all connected. Train yourself to be godly. (1 Tim. 4:7). Boom. The mandate is laid out there in black and white.

But, how?

I can’t tell you in the next 4 days all the ways…Not that I “know” all the ways. Really, I think God wants us to live the rest of our lives here on earth learning all ways in which we can train ourselves to be godly. I’m going to spare us the long dissertation on the classical spiritual disciplines and just say that, the first Christians followed Jesus’ practices of Bible study and memorization, prayer, solitude, silence, fasting, simplicity, celebration, giving and confession (there were others, I’m sure). For a more in-depth look at these classical tools to use as “training” in godliness, I recommend Richard Foster’s Celebration of the Disciplines or for a less in-depth but more accessible look, the IF:Gathering has a recent Bible study on the disciplines.  In essence, what the classical spiritual disciplines do is offer us a way to do something to work with the work God is working in us. To participate in our sanctification.

Briefly, the theological (psychological and philosophical) underpinnings of these disciplines is that, before we are transformed into a new creation by acceptance of Jesus’ substitutionary death for us, we have repeatedly done sinful things which have, in turn become habit and that habit has, in turn, become character. While our true nature after conversion is that of Christ, our thoughts and actions continue along the same path that we have carved out and, through the help of the Spirit and our own work, we can form new habit and character. (For an in-depth look at the theological, philosophical and psychological underpinnings as I’ve boiled them down, Dallas Willard’s The Spirit of the Disciplines is helpful –also, I’m not sure I completely understand or buy into everything he concludes there, but it’s very interesting).

Boiled down for our purposes here, what I think God is prompting for this week’s study on self-control is to focus on one area of our life and diligently bring it before Him. It can be an area where sin has been sticking to your soul. It can be an area where you have felt God prompting a step in faith.

This is where it gets tricky. Foster says, in effect, we should approach the disciplines with an experimental attitude. The disciplines are not the point – the point is to deepen our walk with God, heighten our sensitivity to the Spirit, abide more fully. To do anything else is empty, poisonous, legalistic ritual.

Self-control as a fruit of the Spirit is not legalism. It is the freedom to love and live in the fullness of life that Christ’s sacrifice grants.

So, I encourage you to take at least five minutes to sit before God with the question of where He is focusing you this week. Where does He desire for you to work? And then, ask Him how He desires for you to work it out – train in godliness in this area this week. This is where it gets tricky that I haven’t gone into a minor (or major!) discussion on each of the classical disciplines and the really neat spiritual disciplines I’ve run across over the last year.

So, let me say that basically anything good or abstaining from something that’s not actually bad can be a spiritual discipline. I suggest that, it is helpful to have a connection between the things the Lord has prompted you about. For example: • Maybe the area is pride – perhaps you could abstain from blow drying and curling your hair or wearing make-up, or perhaps you could pray as you go through the habit of getting yourself ready for the day, remembering Colossions 3:12-14, making the act a clothing of yourself in God’s compassion, patience, love and kindness to be worn in your spirit. • Maybe the area is anxiety – if so, perhaps you could spend just 5 minutes a day silent before the Lord, quieting your soul before Him, allowing His presence to bathe you; or maybe you could spend 5 minutes a day memorizing a scripture like Psalm 139:14, Zeph. 3:17, Matthew 7:7-11… • Maybe the area is prayer – perhaps you can take a 10 minute walk/run by yourself everyday and dedicate the time to praying, or even pray for your family when you do the dishes or your laundry – asking the Lord to give them spiritual nourishment or clothe them in the armor of God. • Perhaps God is prompting you to step out of your comfort zone with the people He has brought into your life and He wants you to send a quick note or text message to someone every day or attempt to arrange a time to invite someone to spend time with you every day.

I suggest that, if your “discipline” is something that will require your family to change their routine a little bit, that you tell them a bit about what you are doing so that they can encourage, not accidentally hinder your  efforts.

No matter how small or seemingly silly the thing you are prompted to do, God will accept it as a fragrant offering if done with the heart to know Him better. He will also use it to help define your character, making your family resemblance to Jesus stronger.

Now, sit with God and ask Him where He wants you to intentionally work in your life this week and how He wants you to do it.

Feel free to tell me (or a trusted friend) what the thing you are to do is — now, do it!

Gentleness – Day 5

Gentle instruction and correction seem like snow in August.  Unexpected and unnatural. 

Let’s carefully peer into some gentle instruction.  Pull out your Bible (or Bible app to listen!) and prepare yourself to soak in a scene from Jesus’ life.

Here, we have what was a dinner party.  Well, to be accurate, it must have been a pre-dinner party.  Take yourself back to Biblical times, settle into the house.  Jesus has been traveling the country, healing the sick, teaching and preaching. 

1. Now, we come to Luke 10:38-41.  Invite the Lord to speak to you and use your senses to imagine the scene.  What did the Spirit impress upon you?

Let’s encounter two more scenes from Jesus’ life.  Next, turn to Matthew 26:31-45.

2. From this passage, in verses 31-35,  what did Jesus forewarn the disciples?  What specifically did he forewarn Peter?

3. What was Peter and the rest of the disciples response?

4. What did Jesus tell his disciples to do in verses 36 and 40?  What did the disciples do?

5. Turn to Matthew 26:56.  Who stayed with Jesus in the face of the angry mob?

6. Turn to Matthew 26:69-74.  What did Peter do before the rooster crowed?

7. Now, employing your imagination, turn to John 21:15-19.  Imagine the scene – smell the tangy salt air mixed with the aroma of the fish they had just eaten, hear the sound of the waves lapping against the shore of the Sea of Tiberias. See Peter, perhaps still wet from his earlier plunge into the sea in his haste to arrive on shore.  Feel the breeze, sticky with humidity and salt.  What did the Spirit impress upon you?

Gentleness – Day 4

Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels.  And the Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful.  Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.  (2 Tim 2:25) Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and to show true humility toward all men. (Tit 3:2 )  Brothers, if one of you is caught in a sin, you should restore him gently. (Ga 6:1).

Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. (Matt 5:5)  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. (Matt 11:29).

1. In 2 Timothy, when faced with foolish or stupid arguments, how are Christians instructed to respond?

2. In 2 Timothy, how is a leader to instruct those who oppose him/her?

3. Have you ever received – or given – gentle correction?

4. How does Jesus describe Himself in the passage from Matthew above?

Gentleness Day 3

Remembering the expanse of the universe, the majesty of creation and Jesus the God-man who spoke with the Father and the Spirit everything into existence as you ready yourself to read the following passage from Luke 4:14-28.  Invite the Spirit to soften your heart and speak to you through this scene from Jesus’ life as you envision yourself there using all your senses.

What stood out to you in this passage?

Gentleness – Day 2

Today, let’s meditate upon gentleness by looking at the most true gentleness the world has ever known: Jesus. 

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.  Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.  And God said, “Let there be light.”  And there was light.  (Genesis 1:1-3).  He spoke the vast expanse of the universe into existence. 

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was with God in the beginning.  Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.  In him was life, and that life was the light of men.  The light shines on the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.  (John 1:1-5).  He is light and life. 

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.  For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him.  He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.  – For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.  (Colossians 1:15-19).  He is God clothed in flesh.  Physical, tangible and infinite.  The life-force made known to humankind.

Think of the most majestic thing you have ever seen – what is it?

Now, think that Jesus is the creator of it.

Fixing in mind what you can of the awesomeness of His power, greatness of His might, open your Bible (or Bible app to listen!) to Luke 2:1-40.  Employing your imagination and all your senses, invite yourself into the scenes of Jesus’ birth.
What did the Spirit impress upon you?

Gentleness – Day 1

But the fruit of the Spirit is gentleness.  Galations 5:23

But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love endurance and gentleness.  (1 Tim 6:11).  As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.  Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.  Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. (Eph 4:1-3) Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.  Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another.  Forgive as the Lord forgave you.  And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. (Col 3:12-14).

1. How does the world define gentleness?

2. What does the verse in Timothy exhort the man of God to pursue?

3. In Ephesians, how does a Christian live a life worthy of the calling they have received?

4. In Colossians, how are God’s chosen people to clothe themselves?

5. Based on these verses – and other Biblical references the Lord brings to mind – how would you define gentleness?