Scripture: Psalm 50:14 Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving, and pay your vows to the Most High. 15 Call on me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.” 16 But to the wicked God says: “What right have you to recite my statutes, or take my covenant on your lips? 17 For you hate discipline, and you cast my words behind you.
Observation: In this psalm God is clearly angry with the people. Why? v.17 says “you hate discipline and cast my words behind you”. In other words, they fail to honor the will and ways of God as given in the law. Yes, they may throw money in the offering plate, or offer an animal for sacrifice, but then the go exploit their workers and spread lies about those they supposedly love. Even when they experience the “discipline” of God (negative consequences of their actions) they do not repent and return to the Lord.
Application: (Kinda long. But keep reading…) The word “discipline” speaks to me this morning. When I was a child, discipline was something my parents did to me. As an adult, I understand discipline more as a character quality. To have discipline is to possess the wisdom to consistently doing the right things, in the right way, for the right reasons. I admit discipline has not been my strong suit over the years. It’s the consistency part that has often failed me. I know what to do, I just don’t do it consistently. Most recently I’ve been aware of my lack of discipline in terms of my lifestyle.
One might say I’ve experienced the “discipline” of God as it relates to my health. I’ve been moderately unhealthy for years, mostly because of choices I make. I’ve been taking meds for blood pressure and cholesterol. My sleep has not been great in a long time. I’ve avoided serious illness, but I can see that’s where I’m headed if I don’t do something about it. As the bible says in Galatians 6:7
Do not be deceived; God is not mocked, for you reap whatever you sow.
I imagine one dimension of God’s discipline as allowing me to experience the repercussions of my choices. God isn’t going to step in and save me from my own stupidity – at least not in most cases. How else will I learn? If you’ve raised children, whether yours or someone else’s, you know what I mean. God is described in the bible as “Father”. Perhaps you might prefer “Mother”, which is fine by me. The point is that we don’t learn unless we experience discipline, which is an act of love from God the Father.
Over the last several years, by God’s grace, I’ve addressed a number of areas where I needed discipline in my life – prayer life, financial life, work/rest balance, and more. I’m not perfect, but much improved. Again, none of this comes naturally for me, but the Lord has helped me along because I believe I’m embracing ways of life as God intends for everyone. This week I began to address my eating habits – which have been pretty miserable.
I have mostly eaten too much processed foods with high calorie counts and low nutritional value. The % of fruits and vegetables I have been eating per day has been embarrassingly low. So I’ve basically inverted this equation. I’m eating mostly fruits and vegetables, with some nuts and legumes for protein and other vitamins. Very little processed food or animal protein – at least for now. I first thought of this as a temporary “cleanse”, but I’ve reconsidered. I don’t want to do something short-term, just to go back to my old ways.
I need discipline.
I’m guessing that some of you reading this need discipline as well, particularly in the area of your health. Believe me, sister/brother, I get it. With so much crappy food around, and so little physical activity required in our modern world, it’s easy to get off track. Been there most of my life. But I’m committed to making a change. Wanna come with me?
Now, if you’re already solid related to your diet and exercise, that’s great – but I’m particularly speaking to those of you who, like me, struggle with diet and exercise. Let’s do something about this together. Seriously. I’m pretty sure I’ll never make this last unless I have support and accountability from others on the journey with me. Interested? At least a little bit? If so, send a text 2149077805 or an email to pastorernie at gmail dot com. I’ll be setting up a private Facebook page where we can check in with one another, encourage one another, and make lasting change for the better. Together.
Prayer: Gracious God, we need discipline. Give us grace to align our lives with your will and your ways. Together. Amen.