Routines and Disciplines

Reading Jesus’ teachings, particularly in the “Sermon on the Mount”, I am reminded of how much instruction He gives which require having routines and discipline in our lives. The things Jesus taught seem as though they can only be worked out if there is attention given to how we plan for them.

The phrase “work a program” is often used in substance abuse work, and is quite an   appropriate phrase. Where some folks struggle is that they try to work a program which isn’t practical to accomplish. While there are certain expectations we all need to have placed on us, we need careful counsel as to what we are capable of in accordance with where we are spiritually. Our work schedule, opportunities for group fellowship, our own practical resources and other factors need consideration. It is therefore vital that we develop a structure which is reasonably achievable.

I often share Nehemiah- ch.4 as an example of how The Israelites were assisted by Nehemiah, Ezra and others through the process of reestablishing stability in their lives. In Deuteronomy– ch.7, the Israelites are exhorted to be diligent in addressing opposition in life, now, “lest the wild beasts grow too numerous for you”. God will take care of us, yet He expects us to be diligent to handle that which He brings before us. Quite often when someone asks God for help in a particularly difficult situation, God gives instruction which requires work on their part. While I agree that salvation is by grace alone (freely given), that seems to get confused with the notion that there is no “post-salvation” work required. It has been said that “God will take us as we are, but won’t let us stay that way”. That is an appropriate saying, in that, while the process of sanctification begins immediately upon salvation, the remnants of the “old man” do not disappear at once! The “new creation” which God has made is now learning to live accordingly.

Look at what Matthew Henry says regarding Deuteronomy 7:22

“God will do his own work in his own method and time, and we may be sure that they are always the best. Thus corruption is driven out of the hearts of believers little by little. The work of sanctification is carried on gradually; but that judgment will at length be brought forth into a complete victory… But pride and security, and other sins that are the common effects of a settled prosperity, were enemies more dangerous than the beasts of the field, and these would be apt to   increase upon them.”

So while we are exhorted to “walk by The Spirit”, we are to “make the most of our time… because the days are evil”. As we sit still before The Lord we need to be mindful of hearing God and being prepared to take action with wisdom.

“Awake, sleeper,
And arise from the dead,
And Christ will shine on you.”

Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil.” Ephesians 5: 14-16

John Burghauser