Stress, Discipline, and Choice

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  • Today we begin a new series on Discipline. We pray you are encouraged and strengthened in your faith by Elisabeth’s words…

    Three elements are essential to spiritual growth:  stress, discipline and choice.  Have any of you experienced any of these lately?

    We see them at the outset of Jesus’ ministry—first He went (“was led”) into the wilderness, a place of hardship and loneliness, in other words, stress.  There He fasted—a severe discipline.  Then He was confronted by temptation, which necessitated clear-cut choices.

    If this was the divine pattern for the Son of Man, so it must be for all who follow Him.  (Does this surprise us?)  Usually we recognize great stress when it comes, but often we are unprepared to see the importance of those unexpected smaller forms which we encounter every day, things like someone’s hurtful remark, a traffic jam which delays us, a broken appliance, an interruption or inconvenience of any kind—things that require a response.  The response reveals the character and is a practice session for greater stresses later on. 

    Our “wilderness” may be one of perplexity, perhaps in a very little decision, but this is an occasion for spiritual growth if we bring to it the discipline of prayer and the refusal to be anxious as we make our choice.  Stress, discipline, choice.  Do you see what I mean?  

    When the Tempter came to Jesus in the wilderness with his master-strokes, he met a man well trained to discern His duty.  Years of discipline in a carpenter shop had borne the fruit of spiritual maturity.  No peculiarly “spiritual” environment had been provided for the learning of these lessons.  His home, His family life, His work in the shop (we suppose) furnished the perfect conditions where He learned obedience.  What sort of conditions are yours?

    He said unto them. . . “Lacked ye any thing?”  And they said, “Nothing.”

    Luke 22:35

    **Excerpt originally published in Guided by God’s Promises, pg. 307-308.