The Discipline of Discipleship, Pt. 2

Scripture: Ephesians 5:15-16, Romans 13:11
Date: 09/01/2007 
The second of a two-part series on discipline and discipleship. Jesus calls us to have order and self-control in our lives without being legalistic. The Bible calls this sanctification. We waste time in our lives and ought to be more disciplined in how we order our days and make time for God.
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Note: This is a verbatim transcript of the live broadcast. It is presented as spoken.

Good morning. Happy Sabbath. I don’t know where all of the people are coming from because I just drove from Granite Bay where our church plant is being inaugurated and I was very pleased to see, I don’t know if we’ve got a picture up on the screen, Sherle, if you were able to get that in time. We just stopped and actually gave a picture of the church plant. I think she’s still working on that. I just came… Yeah, that’s the one. We just came from Sabbath School. There were over a hundred in Sabbath School. By the time I left I think there were over a hundred and fifty there. Can you say praise the Lord? This is the first Sabbath service of the Granite Bay Church plant that this church is sort of spawning and we are just very thrilled that there is such good attendance. In case some of you are wondering, you can show the map there, Sherle, that’s next. Right across the street. Where we’re meeting, see the yellow in the bottom right?

That’s our church property where we’re hoping to build a church someday and then across the street is a brand new elementary school auditorium with rooms for the Sabbath school divisions and the restrooms and everything. They’re letting us use that. Isn’t that wonderful? So right after the service today they’re going to go across the street in 102 degrees and have a picnic. If they’re smart they’d stay where they were. Anyway it’s just very exciting to see how the Lord is blessing. I saw all those people there, I thought, well, probably won’t be anyone left at Sacramento Central. How wrong I was. God will bless. Amen? So we’re just very excited. I hope that you’ll keep that whole project in your prayers.

This week I got a phone call from our son Daniel and we became grandparents for the fifth time. Daniel had, I should say his wife helped him, of course, a little baby boy Matthew Levi Batchelor was born. I don’t know if I’m more excited about the birth of the church plant or a new grandson. So we’re just praising the Lord for what He’s doing. Oh, one other thing I thought was interesting, just a little bit of trivia, today September 1st, the day that we’re launching this church plant, happens to be to the day the fourteenth year of when Karen and I first began at Sacramento Central. Isn’t that interesting? It was September 1, 1993 and here we are fourteen years to the day. I thought that’s pretty neat. We get to start another church out there. So we’re very excited. We hope that you’ll keep that in your prayers. Please tell all of your friends in the area especially if you have any friends you’re studying with out in that area and they’re looking for a church to go to. We’re wanting to build that up. It holds up to six hundred so there’s still room for growth even though they have a good attendance today.

Catch my breath. After Sabbath school I jumped in the car, drove over here, and they warned me, they said it’s Labor Day weekend, and because they’ve got the California State Fair going they said the Highway Patrol are out in force so I found myself going… trying to get over here. It just creates a little stress so I’m trying to just rest now. I feel better.

How many of you were here last Sabbath? We talked about discipline, and there was a lot of information left on the subject I wanted to share with you so I said, well, I think there’s enough left to do a second part to that and that’s what we’re going to do today. It’s discipleship and discipline. “Discipleship and Discipline”. Have any of you been to Washington, D.C. and seen the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington Cemetery? Have some of you been there and seen that? I have a little Amazing Fact I thought you’d find interesting about the guard detail that is assigned to take care of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington Cemetery. If you’ve been there you’ve probably seen these sharp looking sentinel guards guarding the tomb. Every detail performed by this honor guard is flawlessly executed and filled with meaning. During his march by the tomb the guard takes twenty-one steps, and makes a turn. He pauses twenty-one seconds.

It alludes to the twenty-one gun salute in tribute to those that are memorialized by that tomb which is the highest military honor. His gloves are moistened to prevent him from losing grip of his rifle. He always carries it on his shoulder away from the tomb. For a soldier to apply for the guard to the tomb he must be between five foot ten inches and six foot four. His waist size cannot exceed thirty inches. I would probably just not make it now. They must also commit to two years of their life to guard the tomb and vow, listen, they must vow to never drink alcohol, swear or do anything to disgrace the uniform, not for two years, for the rest of their lives. Less than twenty percent of the soldiers who try out for that duty are accepted. The first six months of duty a guard cannot talk to anyone or watch TV. All off duty time is spent memorizing the notable people resting in Arlington National Cemetery and where they are interred.

Every guard spends five hours a day making sure his uniform is impeccable. Five hours a day. Would God we should be so concerned about our robes of righteousness. After two years the guard is given a wreath pin that is worn on the lapel signifying they have served as the guard of the tomb. The guard must obey these rules for the rest of their lives or give up the wreath pin. There are only four hundred presently worn. On September 15th, 2003 when Hurricane Isobel was approaching Washington, D.C. the soldiers assigned to guard the tomb were given permission to suspend their duty. They respectfully declined the offer. Soaked to the skin they marched through the night in the pelting rain of that tropical storm.

They said guarding the tomb was not just an assignment; it was the highest honor that could be afforded to a service person. The guards, which are changed every thirty minutes in the summer and sixty minutes in the winter, have been patrolling this tomb for twenty-four hours a day, three hundred and sixty-five days a year continuously since April 6, 1948. Isn’t that amazing? Talk about discipline. I remember when I went to New York military academy, we were the elementary school for West Point and sometimes we’d go over to West Point and we’d watch their drill team. Any of you ever seen a military drill team spin their rifles and march? It is a thing to behold, and they practice and practice and they look so sharp and every bronze button is gleaming and their shoes are shined to a mirror finish. They throw their rifles and spin them and the balance is phenomenal. It’s a result of a lot of practice and discipline.

Now you don’t hear a lot about discipline in the Christian life these days. I’d like to repeat what I shared with you last week which is simply a definition and you’ll understand the title. Discipline is a noun. It means training that produces moral or mental improvement. It’s controlled behavior resulting from disciplinary training; self-control; a systematic method to obtain obedience. To train by instruction and practice, especially to teach self-control. It comes from the Latin word disciplinia. The word disciple is one who embraces and assists in spreading the teachings of another, an adherent to a movement of philosophy. It comes from the Latin word disciplinia. Jesus said go ye therefore into all nations and make discipline, make disciples, and yet today if you talk about Christian discipline you’re thought of as being legalistic and fanatical.

The Methodist religion got its name because John Wesley understood from the teachings of Jesus how important it was to have order in one’s life and self-control and discipline. And they were so methodical about their lives and their devotions and their habits and their practices they became known as Methodists. Well, the Methodist Church, with all due respect, has changed a lot. Matter of fact, our church has changed a lot. Our church used to believe that it was not something to be ashamed of to talk about having lives that have order and discipline. Without discipline you can’t achieve anything. If you have ever enjoyed beautiful music being played, or if you’ve ever sat spellbound at some athlete who is able to perform feats that are inspiring, all of these things are the result of discipline. And to see a godly life, if you think that person developed a godly life and self-control and pure and holy behavior because it sort of just was injected to them through a shot or taken by a pill, it doesn’t happen that way. The Christian life takes practice. You know what they call it in the Bible? Sanctification is developing a life of discipline.

Now we talked about a variety of things last week and where we pick up now, and again these are not really in any order of priority, but I’d like to talk a little bit about discipline and time. Discipline and time. You see, our lives are composed of time and when we little by little waste our time we waste our lives and I don’t even want to think about how much of my life I’ve wasted, moments that could have been improved in education or in gaining knowledge or in service to others, and let’s face it we do waste a lot of time. Ephesians 5:15 and 16 “See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” In other words, we’ve wasted a lot of time, but that means we ought to go a little further to try to make the most of the time that remains especially when you consider we’re living in such an evil time. Romans 13:11 “And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed.”

One theme you find frequently in the Bible is that we ought to be praying and instead it’s often true the church is doing what? Sleeping when they ought to be praying. What did Christ say the moments before He went to bear the sins of the world? He said to the disciples, “Rise and pray lest you enter into temptation.” But instead of praying they were sleeping, and they’re misapplying their time. Christians should be more disciplined in how they use their time. It affects every area of our lives. Proverbs 10:4 “He who has a slack hand becomes poor, but the hand of the diligent” they stay busy “makes rich.” You know I’d like to read something to you. Discipline has become a dirty word for our culture. I know I’m speaking heresy in many circles, but spontaneity is greatly overvalued. The spontaneous person who shrugs off the need for discipline in his time, he is like the farmer who went out to gather eggs.

As he walked across the farmyard towards the henhouse, he noticed the pump was leaking so he detoured a little bit to fix the pump, but the pump needed a new washer so he set off to the barn to get a new washer, but on the way he noticed the hay in the hayloft was out of order so he thought, “I’d better get the pitchfork to straighten the hay.” Hanging next to the pitchfork was a broken broom. He thought, “I need to make a note to myself to fix that handle,” but the pencil was back at the house. You can tell from the way that that farmer goes about his work, he’s not going to get a lot done. Some of you probably had days like that. You walk from one thing to the next to the next and you look back and say, I don’t think I got anything done because I was distracted by all I have to do. That requires discipline in how you spend your time. In the book Gospel Workers there the author says, “Bright morning hours are wasted by many in bed.

These precious hours once lost are gone never to return. They are lost for time and eternity. Only one hour lost each day and what a waste of time in the course of a year. Let the slumberer think of this and pause to consider how he will give an account to God for these lost opportunities.” It takes sometimes planning and foresight to say what are some productive ways to use my time? How could I use my time more efficiently? For one thing, study. Spend time in getting to know God (and we’ll talk more about that later) in devotions. Think of some activity of service for your fellow man. Who was it? Albert Schweitzer that when he got to thirty years of age, he said, “I’ve spent most of my life living for myself. I think I should spend the rest of my life living for serving my fellow man.” He went back to school and got his medical degree and went to Africa and he thought, “I might be able to put in another twenty or thirty years” which was the life span at the time.

He served until he was ninety-something in Africa his fellow man. He said “Time is the essence of life, and I’ve spent enough time just living for myself,” he says, “I now need to live for others,” and he planned his life that way. You know I’ve found it very interesting sometimes looking at the personal devotional habits of the great men of history and how they ordered their days. If you want to really be inspired and ashamed read about the personal habits of people like George Washington, Thomas Jefferson. They had their whole days mapped out. They had a schedule, and you know it was a balanced schedule. They took time for rest, they took time for music. Jefferson played a violin. He did scientific experiments. He did architecture. He did diplomacy. He was a lawyer. He had collections. He had farms. He was very productive renaissance man. Benjamin Franklin; look at their lives and one thing you’ll find is a common thread through these great people who changed history is they were sensitive to organize their time to be as productive as they could be. So one of the things we should be more disciplined about is our time.

Discipline of thought. Well, you are what you think. I Corinthians 4:5 “Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord comes, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the counsels of the hearts; and then each one’s praise will come from God.” God judges people by the counsels of the heart. What’s another phrase for that? What are they thinking? It’s not just what we’re doing. Man looks on the outward appearance, but what does God look at? He looks at the heart, and in the Bible it says “as a man thinketh in his heart”. You don’t think with the pump. We’re thinking with our minds. II Corinthians 10:5 “casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ,” now that is a fulltime job. Bringing all of your thoughts into captivity. When something is out of captivity it’s sort of wild.

Any of you, your minds kind of run wild? The idea of bringing all of my thoughts into captivity is an ongoing job. You know we had a message a few months back, I don’t know if anyone remembers, I flatter myself to think you even remember the message last week, but a few months ago we talked about “So What Do You Think?” I said how often do you think about what you think about? Can you actually control that? Is your mind supposed to just operate like a canyon that just channels the different winds that blow from every direction, or can you choose to focus your attention? It does not come easy, and it does not come naturally, but you can choose to focus on what you want to think about. I think I’ve gotten better. For one thing, I’ve had to preach many times, especially if you’re overseas , and you’re doing mission field and you’re preaching in a place where you’re in an open field, you’ve got the business of the town happening.

People come and they sit on the floor. They’ve got their children; there’s carrying on. People are bringing their lunch in and out, you’re trying to preach a sermon, and it takes a lot of discipline to stay focused on the subject you’re trying to talk to people about with all of these distractions going on so I know it is possible that you can channel your thinking. Think about what you think about. There are things you can think about that will edify you, they’ll influence your own disposition. Some people choose to think about negative stuff all the time and they’re usually in the dumps and they bring everyone else around them down. You can choose to think about noble things, majestic things, positive things, and as you focus on the blessings it elevates you as a person. It elevates your character, your faith, and everything depends upon faith. So what do you think about? Philippians 4:8 You know this verse. “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy meditate on these things.” Now what is Paul saying? Those things I just listed; are they good things or bad things? Are they positive or negative?

If Paul is asking us to think about these things then can we choose what to think about? Why would God ask us to think about something if you have no control about what you think about? So what do you think? Can you think about what you think about? Do you have control? Well, without Christ we can’t do it, but through the Holy Spirit, and more than anything else it is the Spirit of God that will enable us to think these thoughts. By the way, is it possible for you to think those noble, majestic, lofty thoughts while you are deliberately filling your mind with garbage? You know they say in computers “garbage in: garbage out”. You’re going to get out of it what you put into it. One of the fastest ways we can choose to adjust our thinking is to feed on those things that are noble and good and pure. Jesus said, Matthew 5:8 “Blessed are the pure in heart” those who are pure in their thinking “they will see God.” Horace, the great philosopher from 65 B.C. said “Rule your mind or it will rule you.” Probably one of the single most important disciplines we could discuss today, and I don’t want to take all of my time on this, is to pray that God will give us the grace to think on those things which are good. A lot of times people fall into temptation because they think so much about the object of the temptation that they give in. It’s like a hungry dog who comes to beg at the dinner table, and you drop some juicy morsel down at his feet and you tell him, “Now whatever you do, don’t think about that.” Well, he can’t; the aroma is just assaulting his senses. It’s right there in front of him. Some people think about the temptation so much instead of thinking about the answer and thinking about the Lord and thinking about these noble things, they constantly fall. You can choose to think about what you want to think about.

Discipline for a Christian. We should be disciplined when it comes to cleanliness. Say Amen. Deuteronomy 23:14 “For the Lord your God walks in the midst of your camp, to deliver you and give your enemies over to you; therefore your camp shall be holy, that He may see no unclean thing among you, and turn away...” Look at that! It makes a connection here between the Lord’s presence, His delivering them from their enemies, and their being clean. Isn’t that something? Now I missed the announcements this morning. I’m hoping, but just in case, it bears repeating, I am so thankful! Have you seen the bathrooms? Praise the Lord! That’s so exciting because it was sort of an annoyance here in our church.

For ten years now we’ve been wanting to upgrade the bathrooms and I just think we ought to dismiss service, all go over there right now and sing the doxology and let it echo. It’s wonderful that they’re so clean and they smell so much better and new flooring and new appliances and how many of you enjoy that now? Isn’t that nice? It’s a pleasure to be able to go to a place like that that’s clean. That’s probably why the attendance is up today. You know they say (whoever they is) that there is a connection between people’s returning to an establishment and the cleanliness of its restrooms. I know that’s true of restaurants. You know, the restroom is not clean, you wonder what the kitchen looks like, right? God calls us to cleanliness. Isaiah 52:11 we should be more disciplined in that. “Depart! Depart! Go out from there, touch no unclean thing; go out from the midst of her…”

This is actually an appeal for God’s people to come out of Babylon. “…be clean, you who bear the vessels of the Lord.” We are a royal priesthood. We, in carrying the message of truth, are bearing the vessels of the Lord. You and I are these vessels. We contain the Spirit of God. We have the truth of God in these earthen vessels, and what does God say? Go out from among that which is unclean. Be clean, you who bear the vessels of the Lord. God has called us, is calling us. Ezekiel 44:23, again, each one of these subjects, I could do a whole message on these various disciplines. “And they shall teach my people the difference between the holy and profane, and cause them to discern between the unclean and the clean.” Think about it. Even Jesus, when He rose from the dead, He took the time to fold the napkin. I mean here is the climax of the victory of His life over the enemy and He rises and the angels in heaven are singing and they throw aside the stone and the Roman soldiers are cowering, and Jesus is about to come forth with majesty, but He takes a moment to fold the napkin that had wrapped Him.

What does that tell you about the Lord and His love for order and neatness? We get after the kids all the time, “Make your bed, make your bed, make your bed.” Right? Anyone else here heard that chant before? I remember when I was a kid thinking, “Why? It’s just going to be messed up again when I get back in. It’s all ready for me now; if I leave it messed up, I just climb in. Even on the day when Karen is going to do the laundry, the boys will know Thursday she’s going to change all of the linens in the house, I still say, “Until she tears your bed apart, make it.” It’s not that hard for them. All they’ve got to do is throw the bed cover over it. It provides a sense of order in the house. Now some of you are discouraged, and I’m not here picking on you. You’re thinking, “Oh, I struggle with clutter. Don’t come and visit our garage, Pastor Doug.” I don’t want to discourage you, but let me give you some hope. Start somewhere.

Pick a corner, and say, “Lord, by Your grace, I’m going to make a difference in that corner today. Even if you only start from that corner and you go one foot. Say, “I am going to straighten up that corner and I’m not going to allow that corner to be cluttered again.” And then every day, or even if it’s every week, you make progress. Expand the corner. Isn’t that right? Can’t we all do that? You just start somewhere and you say, I’m going to keep making it a little better. The more order you have in your environment, the better you’re going to feel about yourself. What does it say about Christians when you drive by the house and the fence is falling over, there’s cans and garbage on the front lawn, and someone says, “They’re believers in the three angels’ message”? What kind of testimony is it? At our very basics Christians ought to be clean in our appearance. We ought to be neat and orderly. There ought to be a discipline there.

Does it take time and attention to clean things? Yeah, it does. Now you can go too far. I heard about one friend, he was teasing his wife, he said, “When she stacks the cans on the shelf she always turns and has the labels facing out, and then she will take a felt-tip pen and write the date of when she bought that can on the lid of every can.” I mean, some people are just real organized and that’s a special gift. You can be a little bit, what’s the word for it? There are a lot of words for it, but that I could use. They call it what? Eccentric, obsessive, yeah, you can go too far, but Christians as a testimony, we should be neat, we should be clean. Some are so preoccupied with the outside cleaning they forget the inside cleaning. Matthew chapter 23, Jesus said, “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess. Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also.” So He doesn’t say forget about the outside, but He says the priority is what? Cleaning the inside.

I remember when Karen and I went to Papua, New Guinea they took us to visit two different villages. One village we went to was just one of the pagan villages, that’s the only way I know to say it. I’ll tell you, boy, it was pretty bleak. They had their pigs penned up and their houses and their pigpens were not far away from each other and the dogs are roaming everywhere and they’re kicking the dogs and throwing bottles at them and I’ll tell you it was just really discouraging. Then they said, “Would you like to go see the first Seventh-day Adventist village we had in Papua, New Guinea?” So they took us on a long drive. We went up, and there was this beautifully manicured hill, grass mowed, huts in order, the grounds clean, the people smiling. The difference was so amazing to me. The difference between the two villages was their faith, Christianity. You know when I hear, every now and then I hear some of these liberal pundits and they say, “It’s terrible what the Christians do when they go to these beautiful native cultures and they destroy their culture.” I think, Oh, man, I’ve seen such a wonderful difference the gospel makes.

People that are living under bondage and witchcraft and fear of devils and making the children walk on hot coals because they think their stomach ache is caused by demons in the stomach and they’re going to burn them out. Then Christians come and they bring that light and the cleanliness and the healing. They say, “Oh, you’ve destroyed the culture!” The gospel will clean you up on the inside and on the outside, amen? Oh and I want to just take a moment right here and I want to thank those people that come down to the church every Wednesday that work around our grounds. They volunteer their time; they plant the flowers. (Keep the kids out of the flowers, amen?) They plant the flowers and they manicure the grounds like that and they make the Lord’s place look beautiful each week. Bless them. If you’d like to join them, call the office. We’ll tell you how to do that.

Discipline. There ought to be a financial discipline in our lives. That’s one of the hardest things especially when you’re in a culture where… when banks are sending you all of these applications for credit cards, do you think that’s because they love you? They probably don’t even like you. I bet they don’t respect you. What they want you to do is they want you to borrow money from them which can imply they want you to buy things you may not have the money to buy because then they want you to pay back the money with twenty-one percent interest and we are constantly being encouraged in our culture to be irresponsible. The advertising that we are being assaulted, our senses, we’re victims. It’s not your fault, right? That you’re in debt, not your fault.

You’re a victim because you’re constantly… I’m teasing here. You’re constantly being bombarded with advertisements and what are they saying? Buy! Buy! And you think about it, the most brilliant minds in the world who have studied the psychology of human thinking are employed in the advertising businesses to use every ounce of psychological influence they can to encourage you to buy their gizmo or their cream or whatever that product is because you deserve it. It’ll make you happy. Whatever the ploy is. So as a result of that influence people live way beyond their means and their needs. Doesn’t the Bible say something about if you’ve got sufficient to eat and drink let us be content? Jesus said don’t worry about what will I eat, what will I drink, what will I wear?

He doesn’t even add where will I live? Because the basics are we need something to eat, and drink and we need protection, clothing, from the elements, and we’re blessed with so much more beyond that, but so many of God’s people are in financial bondage that a lot of the resources that can be used in evangelizing the world are being tied up by the devil paying interest to pay off things we may not really need. It’s because there’s a lack of financial discipline. When should we start learning and teaching financial responsibility? Give them their first credit card when they get out of college or high school? Or does it begin with pennies when we’re little? Luke 16:10 “He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much. If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon,” if we can’t be faithful in the world’s currency “who will commit to your trust the true riches?”

In other words, Jesus is saying, “Look, we should at least be faithful with the nickels and dimes if we’re ever going to get the credit card.” In the same way, if we’re not faithful with the little responsibilities, you are given stewardship of a couple of things. God will ask us in the judgment to give an account for what we do with the time we have, and by the way, every Sabbath day is a discipline to remind us that our time belongs to God, isn’t that right? Sabbath is a demonstration that we are disciplined about our time, and we’ll give an account to God. A hundred percent of our life and our time belongs to God. He says every Sabbath day show Me you believe that, because this time is especially holy, and return it to Me. All of what you have, your means, belongs to God as well, a hundred percent. He asks us to show our faith that we believe that a hundred percent of what we have belongs to Him by as a bare minimum returning a tenth of that for God’s work and beyond that tithes and offerings. If we are faithful in those God promises to bless us with the eternal riches.

If we can’t be faithful in just the basics, two things you’ll give an account for in the judgment: what you did with who you are, your time, your life and what you did with what you had, your means. I am so thankful that God is merciful. We have all wasted time, haven’t we? We’ve all wasted means, but I’m asking you to pray to be more disciplined about that that we can spend our time and spend our means on what is good and what is necessary. Romans 13:7 “Render therefore to all their due.” First of all, if you owe somebody money, if you’re able to pay it, the Bible says do not withhold it. Paul says, “Render taxes to whom taxes are due, custom to whom custom is due, fear to whom fear is due, honor to whom honor is due,” and Paul says, “Owe no one anything except to love one another for he who loves another has fulfilled the law.” So we’re praying that God will help us to be more disciplined in our finances.

Now I talked about time and I’ve talked about work. We should be disciplined in our rest. You’re glad to hear that. We need to rest, and some people are workaholics and their discipline is not in work. They have no problem working; they’re addicted to it. Their problem is in resting. You need just as much discipline as a Christian in your working as you do in your resting. Turn with me to Psalms 37:7. “Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him; Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, Because of the man who brings wicked schemes to pass.

Do not fret it only causes harm.” Again the Sabbath command is evidence that God wants us to rest. You’ve read Psalm 23. It says, “He maketh me to lie down in green pastures.” The verb here, “He maketh me” means the shepherd stands over the sheep and says, “Lie down” and he pushes them down. Because sometimes we don’t want to stop; we don’t want to rest, and God is saying, “Rest.” Did Jesus rest? I mean, you know pastors sometimes busiest day of the week, and today would be exhibit A for me, is Sabbath. But even Jesus who was busy feeding and teaching the multitudes and ministering to their needs, He would say to the disciples, sometimes when the crowd was the biggest He would walk away. He’d say, “Time to rest. Come aside and rest.”

We all need that. It’s taken me a long time, but you’ve got to think ahead to actually schedule your vacations because you will never come to the place in your life where there is nothing left to do and you can say, “Alright, there’s nothing left next week. Let’s take a vacation.” There will always be something to do, and you’ve got to just say, by the way, your kids will never remember when Dad and Mom went to work one more day. They remember the times you spent together as families, and you’ve just got to choose to do it. If you’re a workaholic, you can do what I do. Say, Part of our vacation is we’re going to go on a mission trip. You’ll make a memory. You’ll have fun. You can serve people in the meantime. Matter of fact, those have been some of our best family vacations when we go on a mission trip. One church member came to his pastor and began to yell at him. He says, “I called you all day yesterday and you didn’t return my call.” The pastor said, “Well, yesterday was my day off.” The church member said, “Well, the devil never takes a day off!” The pastor said, “That’s my point. Do you want me to be like him?” So, you ever heard the expression working like the devil? We do need to rest. You don’t need to feel guilty about it. There’s plenty of guilt to go around if you want to feel guilty about something, call me up, I’ll give you some other people’s guilt. They’ve got a lot of it.

Christians need not only discipline in work and these other areas; we need to be disciplined about submission. Romans 13:1 “Let every soul be subject to governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves.” Someone once said “The best way to escape punishment is to love discipline.” The best way to escape punishment is to love discipline. That means that when you’re driving from Sierra College to Sacramento Central, you observe the speed limit or at least go with the flow, right? You submit. You have to be disciplined about respecting different authority.

That doesn’t always come naturally. You remember one time that Roman soldier came to Christ and he said, “Lord, You don’t even need to come to my house to heal my servant. If You speak the word, I know that he’ll be healed because I am a man who is over others. I say to my servant go and he goes, and I say to another come and he comes. I’m a centurion, I’ve got a hundred soldiers under me,” (I’m paraphrasing) “and I have those who are over me. I understand the chain of command, and You are God the Son. All You’ve got to do is speak the word. You don’t even need to come.” Jesus was so amazed at the faith of the soldier, He turned around and said to those that were there, “I’ve not seen this kind of faith, not even in Israel.” One of the things that made that soldier such a strong disciple was he understood discipline. It’s interesting the soldiers that are converted in the Bible. The soldier by Paul, sounds like the one who was appointed to guard him was converted by his influence because before the story is over he’s taking orders from Paul. He respected his inspiration.

You’ve got the soldier at the foot of the cross that said, “Truly this was the Son of God.” Something about soldiers, they understood the discipline, and if a soldier is anything to be successful… what kind of battle would you have if when the general says charge everybody sort of does his own thing? How could you operate? Think about the discipline. Any of you ever seen some of these old battle lineups from the days of Napoleon where all of the soldiers would line up in rows and they’d go march towards each other and they’d kneel a hundred yards away and they’d just fire volley after volley at these organized ranks and you knew you had to march right into the mouth of this hail of musket fire and that you could not panic and run. Today they use a little more guerilla tactics, but can you imagine the discipline that it required to march out on the battlefield when you know that people are firing cannons at you, they’re firing guns at you and you can’t shoot your gun until you’re told? That takes discipline. If you need that kind of discipline in the world and the armies of the world then should we have less discipline in God’s army that we obey the orders of our Leader? What do you think? So we should be submitted. I Peter 2:13 “Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake…” Why do we do this? For our sake? “…for the Lord’s sake, whether to the king as supreme, or to governors, as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good.”

Julie Andrews said, “Some people regard discipline as a chore. For me it is a kind of order that sets me free to fly.” Christians should love bodily discipline, discipline over the use and the control of our bodies. Paul said, and this was our memory verse or our scripture reading, I Corinthians 9:27 “But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection…” now disciplining our body, of course we’ve talked plenty in the past about carnal drives and desires for everything from sex to food that drive our bodies and those things need to controlled, don’t they? How is that accomplished? By self-control and discipline. But it’s even more than that. I think Christians should pray that God will give us discipline in how we rest our bodies, we’ve talked about that, exercising our bodies, keeping them healthy and strong. Romans 8:13 “If you live after the flesh, you will die.” Do not let the body control; the body must be disciplined. “… but if through the Spirit you mortify the deeds of the body,” control, discipline the deeds of the body “you will live.”

Does the Bible teach us what counts? Colossians 3:5 “Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience, in which you also once walked when you lived in them. But now you must also put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him…” Paul says to Timothy in II Timothy 2:22, that’s easy to remember, II Timothy 2:22, “Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.”

Now one of the things… I was going to look at the clock and see if I had time, but I think it’s important if we’re going to talk about discipline, is there something called church discipline?

Oh! I found some notes I had forgotten about. Let me read something to you. I was talking about the Methodist teachings, how the Puritans lived their lives. How many of you have heard of Jonathan Edwards? One of the great reformers of America, he was a pastor. His sons were pastors, his grandsons were pastors. You can trace a whole line of godly leaders in North America to Jonathan Edwards. When he was a young man he made a series of resolutions. Let me read a few of the resolutions he made. These are disciplines. Resolve… and if you want I can email you this, and you can attempt to make this part of your life. “Resolve to do this, whatever difficulties I meet with or how many and however so great, I resolve never to lose one moment of time, but improve it in the most profitable way I possibly can.” That’s a high resolve. “Resolve never to do anything which I should be afraid to do if it were the last hour of my life. Resolve to be endeavoring to find out fit objects of charity in liberality.” He said I’m going to be disciplined to find charities, causes, I can give to. “Resolve to maintain the strictest temperance in eating and drinking.”

He was not a vegetarian, but he recognized the need of that. “Resolve to study the scriptures so steadily, consistently and frequently that I might find and plainly perceive for myself to grow in the knowledge of the same. Resolve to strive to my utmost every week to be brought higher in religion and higher exercise of grace than I was the week before.” Now what I just read to you was the first few of seventy resolutions he had by which he asked God to help him govern his life. Is there an order to your life? I mean, do you have structure? I think that there is a calculated plan that the devil has to encourage spontaneity and disorder among the people of God so everything is just sort of under the pretense of we’re being led by the Spirit, we’re really led by nothing and we’re led by feelings and we become (and I’m speaking in general terms of Christians) we’ve become a people with no discipline. If you talk about it you sound like you’re focusing on… I get accused of this all the time, but it’s because I see the opposite everywhere, accused of the “L word” legalism. If you should talk about living a life of godliness and purity and order and plan and having high goals, and if you think about your conduct at all you’re accused of legalism. But when I read the Bible I see a whole lot of it in the Bible that God is telling us it does matter what we do with our lives, with our bodies.

Church discipline. I Corinthians 5:4 Does it mean something when you’re a member of a church? Is that a privilege? Do we keep people on membership because their grandparents were members or their parents were members and that gives them some right they should really be members? Does membership mean you’re automatically saved if your name is on the books of a church? No. Are there people who have their names on the books that are not saved? Judas was on the books, wasn’t he? Are there people who do not have their names on the books that are saved? Yeah. You read what Jesus said about Naaman and the woman of Zarephath that Elijah stayed with, but membership does mean something and people should be added to the church, very important. When you say I am a Christian you’re taking the name of Christ and you’re taking His name in vain if you don’t live a life that is at least consistent with the primary teachings. It doesn’t mean you have to be perfect, but when you take your baptismal vows if you don’t believe the things in the baptismal vows you ought to have the dignity and the integrity to say, “You know, you really ought to take my name off the books because I don’t believe these things anymore or I am not living them.” If you fall and you repent well, you don’t need to take your name off the books.

Ask God to forgive you and to come back into line. But the idea that people go on year after year with their names on the books, they don’t come to church, they don’t believe the things anymore. I remember visiting one church. I was doing an evangelistic meeting. This fellow was coming and finally I’m preparing him for baptism, and I took his name to the pastor and they said, “He’s already a member.” I said, “Really? He was acting like this is the first time he’d heard all of this.” I went back to the fellow, and he said, “Really? I’m on the books?” He said, “You know I did go to a Seventh-day Adventist school when I was a kid, but I left. I haven’t been there in fifty years. I had no idea. I’ve just been out in the world.” Nobody had ever dealt with it. Matter of fact, I know that in some churches people die, they still don’t take their names off the books because they’re afraid it will look like their church is waning in numbers and so in order to keep the numbers up they think there is some virtue in keeping people’s names on or they’re afraid it’s going to hurt them and prevent them from coming back later.

The opposite is really true. The more that we keep people’s names on the books when they’re not living the life, the more we mean it doesn’t, there’s no accountability, it doesn’t mean anything to be a member and the less motivated they are to have revival in their lives. If you don’t tell them there’s something wrong, they’re never going to try and make it right. If they think, “Yeah, I’m a member of that church!” and they haven’t been there in years and they don’t believe it, they don’t practice it, they don’t support it, then why keep their names on the books? You’re hurting them. You’re giving them a label as though they’re saved when they’re not. Isn’t that right? Paul said, speaking about someone that was in the church sleeping with his stepmother, nobody was doing anything about it because maybe they were trying to be loving, Paul said, “In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when you’re gathered together along with my spirit with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh that his spirit might be saved on the day of the Lord.” In other words, take his name off the books. Deal with it.

Maybe it will get his attention; he’ll repent before the end comes. It’s all about commitment. Matthew 18:16, if there is a brother who is living out of the will of the Lord, “if he will not hear you, take with you one or two more, that `by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.' And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church.” Bring it to the church as a whole. That’s why we have church business meetings. “But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector.” Why? That he might repent and be saved, not that he might be lost, but Jesus, that’s red, I even put it in red in my notes so I won’t forget. These are the words of Jesus. Put them out; it brings shame on the church.

Let me read something to you from the book Testimonies, vol. 5, pg. 147. “As people professing to be reformers…” The Seventh - day Adventist movement is a reformation movement. We’re just not another denomination; we’re a reformation movement. We’ve got a message to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. We’re calling people into this movement. “As a people professing to be reformers treasuring the most solemn purifying truths of God’s word, we must elevate the standard far higher than it is at present time. Sin and sinners in the church must be promptly dealt with” (not fifty years later) “that others might not be contaminated. Truth and purity require that we make a more thorough work to clean the camp from Aachens. Let those in responsible positions not suffer sin in a brother. Show him that he either must put away his sins or be separated from the church.” Now it’s not talking about somebody who slips and falls.

It’s talking about someone who is living a backslidden life, they’re in rebellion, they’re not coming. Why would you keep them on the books? Labor with them, visit with them, try and get them to come back, but after you’ve made a reasonable effort to do that if they’re still living outside, the best thing you can do for them and the best thing you can do for your own children and for the church as a whole is to mean that it stands for something. It’s called discipline. You know they sell that credit card and they say “membership has its privileges.” It’s supposed to stand for something. Am I right? Sometimes the way that a tree grows is you’ve got to prune it. I think some churches have stalled in their growth because they’ve got a lot of dead wood they won’t deal with.

They think it’s the loving thing to do and the whole church is stagnant. I don’t expect too many amen’s because it just doesn’t sound friendly, but I’m not at all ashamed of what I’m telling you; it’s the truth. Church discipline. Oh, let me read this to you. I forgot who wrote it, I just copied it in so I’m not plagiarizing, but I borrowed this from somebody. “Church membership is infected today with a conditional loyalty which has produced an army of ecclesiastical hitchhikers. The hitchhikers thumb says, ‘You buy the car…’” and I can relate to this because I hitchhiked all of the time. “‘You buy the car, you pay for the repairs and the upkeep and the insurance, fill the car with gas and I’ll ride with you, but if you have an accident or the car breaks down, you’re on your own and I’ll probably sue you.’ So it is with the credo of many of today’s church members. You go to the meetings, they say, you serve on the boards and committees, you do all of the work, you grapple with the issues, you pay the bills, I’ll come along for the ride, but if things don’t suit me I’m going to complain, I’m going to bail out and my thumb is always looking for a better ride.”

That’s the idea of some people’s context of membership. A lot of folks are just sort of hitchhiking. Amen. That’s the truth. They usually say that it’s twenty percent of a church that does eighty percent of the work. Virtually every… Some are so busy they can barely make it to church, and I’m not trying here to try to make you too guilty, just a little bit to be a little disciplined to help bear the load. Amen? A lot of churches are going through turmoil all of the time because they won’t practice discipline. They’ve got a few rebels that just stir problems up. They’re complaining, and they’re mad and they’re divisive and the Bible says that if you’ve got somebody who is constantly divisive to put them away. There was a storm on this one ship and they didn’t have peace until they threw Jonah overboard. They had someone on the boat that was running from the will of God, and he was bringing everybody else down with him. He even told them, you’re not going to have peace until you throw me overboard. Some churches, they have to make some difficult decisions and deal with these things and then they finally have peace.

Well, looking at the clock, maybe I’ll go to part three someday. Discipline in our devotions. Let me end with that. Every other Christian discipline that I’ve talked about would summarize itself in this. We need to be disciplined about our time with God, time in prayer. You know what discipline means, it means you do something whether you feel like it or not. By the way, religion is not bad. There is a relationship between the word religion and regulation, regiment. Being religious is not a dirty word. It means that you’re regular about something being rigorous. It’s not bad.

Some people say, “I’m not religious, but I’m spiritual.” As though there is some virtue in being whichever way the wind blows, I go with the spirit, you know. No order to their lives, no discipline, no method, and Christians, it’s good to be religious. You want to be Spirit led, but I think the Holy Spirit, from what I’m reading in my Bible, is more inclined to lead those who are disciplined. The Holy Spirit is more inclined, we just read this, to be in the lives of those who are disciplined. We’ve got to be disciplined about our time with the Lord. II Timothy 2:15 “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” You’ve got to study to know how to rightly divide the word. Oswald Chambers said, “Beware of saying I haven’t had time to read my Bible or to pray. Say rather I haven’t disciplined myself to do these things.” Be honest. Do you know the Benedictine monks, they used to have to memorize all one hundred and fifty of the Psalms. Did I tell you that? Can you imagine that? A Benedictine monk had to memorize all one hundred and fifty Psalms. A horse doesn’t get anywhere unless it’s bridled.

If you want to turn a waterfall into electricity you’ve got to channel it and if you want to see a life be productive and powerful it needs organization. People who have lived in Alaska before know that in the winter time if you don’t plug your car into a heater or your battery into a heater, you may go out in the morning and try and start it and the engine, the oil just sort of turns to sludge it’s so cold, and the battery is so cold that it just won’t start. They’ve got to keep it warm all of the time so it’s ready to start when they need it. Your regular devotions are something like that. All of the time we need to be feeding on the word, spending time in prayer, and then when the trials come and when the engine needs to start, it’s ready to go. When people need encouragement where there’s some act of service where you have a chance to bear your testimony, you’re ready to do it.

You know I heard about a quarterback named Tony Rice. He led Notre Dame’s football team to a championship in 1998 and everybody was amazed when he did it because during the season of practice the sports writers went and watched him and they were amazed that the coach chose him to be the quarterback because he was extremely inaccurate in his passing. He had a great arm; he could throw it very far. He had a great mind about where to throw it, but when it came to actually getting the ball to the receiver he was way off. But the coach saw that he had the potential. What he lacked was discipline. So what the coach did is he said, “Tony, I want you to take this dartboard and take these darts and I want you to spend one hour a day throwing darts at the board from thirty feet away.” He thought how is that going to help me? He said, “You do what I said and don’t ask questions. I’m the head coach.” Well, that was the year they won the championship. His practicing throwing darts for an hour a day at that distance, his precision through that discipline in throwing his passes made the difference between defeat and victory. Such a little thing as that. It’s sometimes the little things that we do that prepare us for the great victories.

I’d like to encourage you, be disciplined about your time with the Lord. Do you have a time? One thing I wanted to guard against was in preaching this message and just sort of ranting about all of the disciplines we need without giving you any practical advice. I told you to start in a corner when it comes to cleaning, but in your devotions if you say, “Doug, I can’t read an hour a day.” Well, read a minute. Start somewhere. I remember hearing about a little girl that would throw her shoes under her bed every night before she went to sleep. Someone asked her why she did that. She said, “It was so when I get on my knees in the morning to find my shoes I remember to pray.” So there is something you can try; toss your shoes under your bed. Do something to develop the discipline of your time with the Lord and a relationship with Him. That’s really what it’s all about. Sanctification is what we’re talking about; I’ve been coming at it with a different word, from a different angle. But Jesus is calling us to be disciples and to make disciples and what that means is He’s calling us to live lives that reflect the life of Christ. What was Jesus like? Was there order to His life? Was Christ committed to in the way He spent His time? Was He committed about His work, about His diet, His service? Was He committed about what it meant to be in the church? He was even committed about discipline about rest, and really what we’re talking about is following Jesus and letting Him be our example.

Now, I came in so quick I didn’t even get a bulletin. What’s the closing hymn? Oh, that’s a good, who picked that? I did. That’s a good song. Lord, I want to be a Christian. I want to be a Christian in my heart. That kind of discipline starts where? It starts in the heart. The reason to do all of these things is, first of all, it liberates you. This kind of discipline sets you free because the best way to avoid punishment is to love discipline and really it’s because we love the Lord, for His glory that should be the first goal. Let’s stand together and sing this song from our hearts.

Lord, I want to be a Christian in my heart, in my heart, Lord, I want to be a Christian in my heart, in my heart. In my heart, in my heart, Lord, I want to be a Christian in my heart, in my heart.

Before we sing verse two, some of you possibly have seen yourself somewhere in the message today, you’ve been led by feelings. Your life has sort of just been reactionary instead of proactive and you’d like to say, “Lord, I’d like to have more self-control. I’d like to have more discipline that I might bring glory to Your name because I love You.” That’s the reason to do it, right? You want to be a disciple, and what that means is you want to have the discipline of Christ in your life. If you’d like to have some special prayer or if there is something specific in your life you’d like to pray about, some area where you’d like to have the Lord give you victory to be a better disciple, come. We’ll sing verse two together. I want to especially sing verse two because it’s talking about more loving in our hearts. Let’s sing it together. Sing together, it has special meaning.

Lord, I want to be more loving in my heart, in my heart, Lord, I want to be more loving in my heart, in my heart. In my heart, in my heart, Lord, I want to be more loving in my heart, in my heart.

Lord, I want to be like Jesus in my heart, in my heart, Lord, I want to be like Jesus in my heart, in my heart. In my heart, in my heart, Lord, I want to be like Jesus in my heart, in my heart.

Loving father, Lord, You’ve called us to be Your disciples, and we know that will require discipline. I pray that as a result of keeping our eyes fixed upon Jesus and studying His life we will strive to be more like Him. Lord, I pray that You’ll give us victory over the areas where we maybe have been lax and sloppy, that we’ll experience sanctification and holiness, that I pray that we’ll do these things because we love You and not to be saved, but because we are saved. Then through our lives, I pray that we can be disciples and model the life of Christ to others. Be with each person, Lord. I pray that if there is any area in specific where we need better discipline, self-control, that You’ll give us the victory. Help us to know to start somewhere, even if it’s something small, and then to expand that until we gain complete victory in those areas. Be with each person here, and I pray that we can bring glory to You as a result of our lives as we go from this place. In Christ’s name we ask. Amen.

God bless you, friends. I also want to remind those who may want, there is a picnic at the Sierra College property, the church property that will probably be starting about the time you get there.

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