Thursday, June 26, 2014

Chapter 1 - Self-Control


$ Galatians 5:22-26 and Colossians 3:12

Self-Control: A state of being focused; control of one’s own emotions, desires, actions, etc. (NKJV uses the word Sober and KJ Bible uses the word temperance.)
Sober: Serious in mood, earnest, staid.  
Temperance: moderation in the indulgence of appetite or passion.

       Self-Control involves all the  actions of your person, some of which are thinking, speaking, and attitude.  This gives the picture that a Christian practices self-control with every action, reaction, and thought towards people and life.  I know that in my life I find it hard not to count things that people do that annoy me, for example a list of things that annoy me about someone, I’m usually a really relaxed person, but there are people I encounter who just don’t seem to care about doing anything but the absolute necessary things and that grates my cheese. 
       In the past there were also times where I told myself that it was okay to be around certain things, watch certain things, or allow myself to be affected by others influences instead of doing what I knew was right.   At the time I didn’t realize what I was doing, or I convinced myself that it was okay because I wouldn’t let myself think too deeply, but what I realized is that I was feeding my heart the wrong things and I was allowing my heart to form into something that I didn’t like and it in turn influenced my life choices and it made my Christ like example be ineffective because it wasn’t a Christ like example.    For example, what society deems as okay in the world is not okay with Christ we are to be in, but not of, the world.  (Romans 12:2) The world says that it is okay to have sex before marriage or to allow yourself to explore sex with other people (we are surrounded by that influence) and we let ourselves come to the thinking that it’s okay if I experiment “as long as I don’t really do it” or to say “well this is the modern way of thinking and the Bible is really up for personal interpretation.”  Those are lies, God said obey me and follow my commands he didn’t say some time or whenever you feel like…..he said obey!  (Psalm 37: 23-24) God also commands us to take care of our bodies because it is his temple, and believe me taking care of our bodies  involves our hearts too (our inner person and outer person) and it is proven that a mind at rest helps the body stay healthy.  When your heart is troubled it sets your whole self off.    
     Another example is gossip and openly (or privately in your mind) tearing down someone, talking down about that person or discussing your personal disgust of an individual is not okay.  If you don’t like what a certain individual does (or did) that is okay I don’t always like the way people do things or respond to me/ approach me, however, you just gotta let it go.  You have to let it go, if you don’t it is like a seed that is planted and it grows malice, anger, and a constant bad response to that person.  Before you know it….that person can’t do anything right and they are just a person that has no business being on earth because they practically “ruin” your life.  That is a very hard weed to get out of your garden that is supposed be fruitful, it is far more difficult to go back and pull out all the vines that have twisted around the fruit and fruit that are trying to grow and bloom in your life than if you had pulled out the seed or the little yellow dandelion in the very beginning.  (Now if you are a green thumb sort of person you defiantly caught my drift, if you are not I am sorry if this was hard to grasp)

The Bible says in Luke 6:45: A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.

      The NIV says that which is ‘stored’ in the heart.  It’s saying that if you are storing good as a treasure in your heart that will be reflected in your actions….it will be in what you speak.  When you develop a habit of only speaking negatively your heart starts forming in that negative way, before you know it you don’t know how to do or be anything but negative and it makes you feel ugly, it makes you seem ugly to others, and it makes your life miserable.  What you expose your heart to influences you, maybe not in the moment, but long exposure to bad things is like long exposure to sun without sun-screen….you get burned, it hurts big time and it takes a long time to recover and sometimes you get sun poisoning.  It says in Proverbs 25:28 Whoever has no rule over his own spirit, is like city broken down, without walls.  
      Now hear me say this, I am not saying that you need to be an up-tight person who can never have fun or never can hang out with people who “don’t do Christianity,” not at all, I am saying be careful what you are letting influence your heart and mind.  It is important to have friends that you can be a shining light too and it is important to be aware of the things around you, but it does not mean that you are adopting those things as your own. 
1 Peter 1:13-15 Therefore, gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct.
       In other words a person who has no self-control is without protection and leaving themselves open to the enemy’s deception and destructive attacks.    Even if we think something is harmless we are letting evil things chisel at the walls of our hearts letting the enemy slowly have way, until we finally have no boundaries or walls that protect us from being like the rest of the world.   As it said in 1 Peter, we were ignorant in our former ways, but with Christ we are given wisdom and we are given the command to not make the dumb choices we made before, but to be obedient and wise in our new understandings.  We are changed persons when we ask Christ to wash our sins away and with that change we are supposed to respond with the changing of our life habits and leadings.  By having self-control we monitor what we are feeding into our hearts, we know what is going in and what will come out.   And if we protect ourselves and guard our hearts this we will be following God’s commandments which in turn he will always bless you for.
1 Samuel 24:1-15: Now I am not going to write out the entire passage that should be read on your own, but I will write out the verses that I want you to take a closer look at, (4-5) Then the men of David said to him, “This is the day that the Lord said to you, ‘Behold, I will deliver your enemy into your hand, that you may do to him as it seems good to you.’” And David arose and secretly cut off the corner of Saul’s robe.  Now it happened afterward that David’s heart troubled him because he had cut Saul’s robe.   We see in this verse that David is pressured by his companions to kill Saul by trying to convince him that God had delivered David’s enemy into his hand (Saul), however David decided to just ‘cut’ off the corner of Saul’s coat because it would be ‘okay’ after all he wasn't hurting him he was just giving Saul a ‘close call.’  Then we see that later on that David’s heart was troubled over it, he knew that he had let himself go too close to the edge of a cliff and that he could have so easily let himself kill Saul right then and there without God’s blessing.  This would have been so wrong, because at that point David would have been taking God’s plan into his own hands instead of waiting on God, instead of practicing self-control and faithfully relying and trusting God’s plan.   David knew that his actions also affected his reputation if he had chosen to go farther that would have eventually affected his influence over his men and his future kingdom.   We see a similar situation back in Genesis where Sarah (Abraham’s wife) failed to have faith in God and failed to practice self-control when she gave her servant girl to her husband Abraham, because she didn’t trust that God knew what he was doing!  (And that caused a pretty big mess….it caused a lot of unnecessary drama) When we practice self-control we are guarding our hearts, minds, bodies, and lives from evil and disaster and are then open to God’s blessings, wisdom, and divine and perfect plan for our lives.

1 Samuel 9 and 10 (key verse is 10:27) But some rebels said, “How can this man save us? So they despised him, and brought him no presents. But he held his peace.  Now growing up in ‘Sunday School’ I guess at some point I developed this not so great picture of King Saul from back in the Old Testament.   I don’t know how, but I came to this idea that he was always an evil person who didn’t follow anything that God ever told him to do.  I don’t know if anyone else has or had that sort of picture of him, but that is what I managed paint in my brain growing up.   Then a year ago or so I took a closer look at the scriptures and found that Saul was actually a wonderful servant of the Lord up until he messed up pretty bad and then, like most of us, instead of repenting and doing what was right he allowed himself to be devoured by evil and greed.     Anyway, in 1 Samuel 10:27 back when King Saul had just been declared King, it says that some rebels who dishonored him by giving him “no presents.”   Which may seem slightly humorous and childish, (I find it to be slightly funny because it reminds me of the ‘Soup Nazi’ from Seinfeld… “No Presents for You!!”    In this verse it says that Saul didn’t respond to their unkindness, however, he held his peace.  He decided to not worry about it the insult and “let it go.”   He didn’t respond with any harshness, scripture doesn’t say that he blabbed on about them to other people, and it doesn’t say that he punished them either.  “He kept his peace” he put his trust in God; he knew that he had God’s blessing and so he knew that God had a plan.  He chose to show self-control in his attitude and actions.

2 Peter 1: 5-10  (key verses: 5-9): But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith, virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love.  For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.  For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins.

       It takes self-control to do the right thing, it takes self-control to respond to a negative with a positive, it takes self-control to follow God’s commands.   So when we gossip or tear each other a part, or convince ourselves that doing a little something that isn’t quite the full bad thing, or when you are feeling extremely unhappy with who you are and how you live.  Take a step back and evaluate your heart….. reflect on how you live, you might find that your heart is flowing with muck and filth in order for junk to come out of your mouth or full in your head to convince yourself that “it’s okay.”   You have to ask yourself, am I full of crap or am I really a tree that smells sweet of freshly grown fruit?   Which do you want to be?  I have come to the point where I actually had to start writing on my hand “Be positive” or “B+” to remind myself every day that I need to be positive every day that I need to make the best choices every day. I want to be fruitful, I want to be a joyful person that makes the world a brighter place, don’t you?    I challenge you to write that on your hand or some where you can see it to remind yourself that what comes out of your mouth and the choices you make reflects the condition of your heart! Be Positive! Practice Self-Control! Be fruitful! 

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