January 2023 | The True Vine and The Soon Coming King

Benefits of a Disciplined Lifestyle
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Benefits of a Disciplined Lifestyle

Dr. Lt. Col. V. I. Luke

My days in the army have taught me the hard way about discipline and punctuality. That experience has caused me to appreciate the value of the disciplined life for godly living.  

This is true regarding the time and talents given by God. When I receive a thoughtful gift from someone, I attach much value to the one who gave it to me. Our time and good health are gifts from God.  When we value these gifts, we honor God!

Our times are in God’s hands. Accordingly, we should live our short life spans fully. King David recognizes and values this in Psalm 31:15. 

Moses, the man of God, prays, “The length of our days is seventy years or eighty, if we have the strength .. for they quickly pass, and we fly away” (Psalm 90:10).  When we value our time, we win half of life’s battles. 

A major Christian organization uses the acronym PKTT--“Please Keep To Time!” I once had the privilege to train there for a month. Godly Christian leaders from all over the world learn the importance of PKTT, and it was a pleasure for me to follow a disciplined daily routine and lifestyle since it suits my personality and nature! I am thankful for my past career in the Indian Army and the rudimentary training that I received at prestigious establishments!

“Look carefully how you walk, not as the unwise, but as the wise; redeeming the time, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:15 ASV). Redeeming the time strictly means “making the most of every opportunity” (NIV).  

In Colossians 4:5, we read, “Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time.”(ASV).  In the NIV, it reads, “Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity.” 

In other words, our time is given to us to invest in lives and build each other in Christ.  We are to make the most of every opportunity. 

I think of the proverb, “Time and tide wait for none”. Time and tide symbolize valuable opportunity--natural phenomena beyond human control. This proverb teaches us to be prepared to make the best use of an opportunity that presents itself to us. We should remain vigilant because the slightest carelessness may cause us to miss a great opportunity and experience colossal loss. No amount of repentance will bring back what we have lost. 

“Time is very demanding” is another well-known saying. Time never stands still. A lost second is lost forever. So it is best to make the best use of the time we have. Opportunities will not wait, nor will they come again knocking at our door. Slackness on our part may cost us heavily. Time is free, but it is priceless. We can’t own it, but we can use it. We can’t keep it, but we can spend it. Once we have lost it, we never get it back. 

Time is like a river that flows forward and never returns. 

During my early training at the National Defense Academy (NDA), Pune, and my subsequent specialized training for commissioned Army rank at the Indian Military Academy (IMA), Dehradun, we learned dress code for various occasions and strict adherence to time.  

A few times, I was checked as late for a particular parade or for poor care of my uniform.  I suffered severe consequences of seven to fourteen days of restrictions. That would mean when the rest of the trainees relaxed in their hostel rooms or engaged in other recreations, I would have to dress in army fatigues with a heavy back pack, weapon and heavy boots and run round and round the parade ground for over one hour under the watchful eyes of the sergeant, or the “Ustaad,” who made sure we really sweated it out each day. 

Further, we were denied the privilege of going out to town on the “out-pass”! By the end of “Restrictions,” I heaved a big sigh of relief! During those seven or fourteen days, I would suffer regret for being late or looking unkempt.  After days of suffering, I was never late again.  

On other occasions, I was checked for not shaving before I went on Drill. As a punishment, I had to report to the Cadet Sergeant Major at 4 AM when it was still quite dark, in my physical training (PT) uniform with a razor. There were a few other defaulters like me. We were issued old rusted blades by the Sergeant Major and ordered to dry shave of our beards without any mirror in the verandah light! I had never done that until that terrible morning!  I nicked my face several times and had blood and scars on my cheeks. Then we were ordered to roll on the hard rubble road with our shorts and bare backs! Those 30 minutes seemed to last for hours. I sweated, and my back suffered cuts and gashes from rough stones and rubble on the road... 

After that punishment, we went to the hospital and received medical care to heal. We learned our lesson!  Afterwards, I never again left my quarters without shaving during the almost 40 years that have passed since that experience! Later, the Sergeant Major actually became one of my best friends! 

All these life experiences teach us important and unforgettable lessons. When we learn lessons from the mistakes of others, we are wise. But let us at least learn from our own mistakes! To repeat our same follies and not learn lessons from them—how foolish that is! It is important to learn self-discipline and order our lives in the way that the Word of God teaches us.

Self-control is one of the nine Fruits of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23).  Self-control helps us to order our lives and to set priorities and goals.  Self-control enables us to align our will with God’s perfect will in our lives. When we are in tune with God’s will and respond to His revelations, we please Him! 

The apostle Paul showed great self-control and a very healthy life-style that was pleasing to God. He waited upon God to hear His Voice and only then acted on his revelations from God (Galatians 2:2). In other words, Paul spent hours in the presence of God, meditating in His Word and seeking His face. 

A believer’s disciplined lifestyle involves giving top priority to spending special time with God and waiting in His presence. When Daniel did this, others carefully observed his every action and responses to various situations.  They brought this to the attention of King Nebuchadnezzar. 

Daniel and his friends suffered many challenges and threats to their lives for their disciplined worship of the one and only true God! Whether in the den of lions or in the midst of the fiery furnace, Daniel and his friends never gave up on God.  

In spite of extreme threats to his life, Daniel continued to publicly acknowledge his allegiance to his God (Daniel 6: 10-11) by kneeling down and praying three times a day, keeping his chamber windows open as was his regular routine. He was well known for his disciplined life and that earned him the respect of even King Darius (Daniel 6:14, 23-27). The King honored him by making him No.2 person in the Babylonian and Persian Kingdoms, next to the King himself!

When we commit our lives to good discipline, and reading and meditating upon the Word of God and seeking His Face, it will strongly show in other areas of our lives that become obvious to the world around us.  We become true copies of His nature and character. The more we read and digest the Word of God, the more it works in and through us. We receive blessing, and we bless others! 

Time wasted in sinful and selfish desires may feed our flesh but leads us to eternal doom and the agonies of hell. A disciplined investment of our precious moments with the Lord and in uplifting our inner man brings much joy that words cannot express. We become God’s treasured possessions, totally surrendered and obedient to His will. His Kingdom is revealed in our mortal beings even on this earth! We begin to spread the fragrance of Christ through our thoughts and deeds. Our approach to life becomes positive. The joy of the Lord shows in our countenances. We become His ambassadors on this earth! We become channels of God’s blessings for others. We become heirs of His eternal Kingdom of Joy, Peace and Hope!

Dear reader, let us discipline our lives and make the most of our time, become His kingdom builders on this earth and live to please Him!

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