Listen to this devotional
This study can be done personally or with a friend. Check out the download section at the end of this study for offline and printable versions which include teacher’s notes.
And have you forgotten his encouraging words spoken to you as his children? He said, “My child, don’t underestimate the value of the discipline and training of the Lord God, or get depressed when he has to correct you.  For the Lord’s training of your life is the evidence of his faithful love. And when he draws you to himself, it proves you are his delightful child.”Hebrews 12:5-6 TPT
This scripture describes God as someone who disciplines our lives because he cares about us. The discipline that comes from God is not punishment – it’s valuable training. God trains us because he loves us and wants us to be strong enough to carry out the purpose he has for our lives.
It takes discipline and training to do great things with your life. Think about one of your favorite athletes – what kind of training did they have to go through to get where they are?
- How do you tend to respond to discipline, correction and training? Why does this scripture say to not get discouraged or depressed by it?
- Do you see discipline as loving? Why or why not?
- In what areas of your life do you think God is trying to train and discipline you?
- How would growing in these areas help you draw closer to God and make more of an impact with your life?
What are some areas of my life that need discipline?
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run [their very best to win], but only one receives the prize? Run [your race] in such a way that you may seize the prize and make it yours!  Now every athlete who [goes into training and] competes in the games is disciplined and exercises self-control in all things. They do it to win a crown that withers, but we [do it to receive] an imperishable [crown that cannot wither].  Therefore I do not run without a definite goal; I do not flail around like one beating the air [just shadow boxing].  But [like a boxer] I strictly discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached [the gospel] to others, I myself will not somehow be disqualified [as unfit for service].1 Corinthians 9:24-27 AMP
- Athletes are great examples of people who embrace training and discipline in order to win. They let their coaches discipline them and they discipline themselves.
- This scripture explains that part of being trained to be a winner is learning to discipline our body – physically and emotionally.
- Athletes who want to win need emotional discipline: they can’t give in to their emotions and quit when they are tired, or when they don’t feel like practicing, or when they are mad at their coach. They also need physical discipline – to say “no” to what feels good temporarily but won’t help them reach their goals (ie extra chocolate cake and extra sleep).
- Likewise, to win our “imperishable crown” (to be with God one day and also to live an awesome life right now that changes the world around us) we will need physical and emotional discipline. We will need to learn to say “no” to what feels good temporarily but doesn’t help us reach our spiritual goals, and we will need to not live by our emotions when they tell us to quit.
That evening after sunset the people brought to Jesus all the sick and demon-possessed.  The whole town gathered at the door,  and Jesus healed many who had various diseases. He also drove out many demons, but he would not let the demons speak because they knew who he was.  Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.Mark 1:32-35 NIV
Jesus was a great example of physical discipline. He knew he needed to get out of the house early in the morning to spend time with God, before all the demands of the day hit him. This is where he got emotional and spiritual strength. This is how he stayed focused on his purpose instead of being swayed by what people thought of him. You don’t get the sense that Jesus got up early because it was some kind of rule; he knew he couldn’t do what God wanted without this quiet time.
- How physically disciplined are you with your time and schedule? Are you disciplined about getting quality time with God?
- Has your lack of physical discipline been affecting your relationship with God?
- What are some practical ways physical discipline could help your relationship with God?
A sound mind makes for a robust body, but runaway emotions corrode the bones.Proverbs 14:30 – The Message
Emotions are not bad- in fact they are deeply necessary our survival (ie fearing spiders can help you avoid a poisonous spider bite). Emotions also help us empathize with each other and connect with God.
But “runaway emotions” are destructive. Runaway emotions are unchecked feelings we live by. For example:
- I don’t feel like calling that person back, so I won’t.
- I feel too scared to be honest, so I’m not going to be.
- I am afraid God won’t take care of my future, so I am going to take control of my life myself.
- I feel a lot of stress (or loneliness, or insecurity), and I don’t feel like talking or praying about it, so I’m going to play video games instead.
How much do you live by your emotions? How do you think this affects your relationship with God?
How can I learn to like discipline?
Discipline helps us do the things we are born to do.
At dawn, when you have trouble getting out of bed, tell yourself: ‘I have to go to work—as a human being. What do I have to complain of, if I’m going to do what I was born for—the things I was brought into the world to do? Or is this what I was created for? To huddle under the blankets and stay warm?Marcus Aurelius – Emperor of Rome, 161 – 180 AD
Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus.  No one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs—he wants to please his commanding officer.  Similarly, if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not receive the victor’s crown unless he competes according to the rules.  The hardworking farmer should be the first to receive a share of the crops.  Reflect on what I am saying, for the Lord will give you insight into all this.2 Timothy 2:3-7 NIV84
Discipline helps us do the things we were born to do.
These verses give us an example of people who were successful because they were disciplined. A soldier pleases his commanding officer because he is disciplined – he says “no” to getting distracted with civilian affairs. An athlete who wants to win disciplines himself enough to follow the rules of the competition. And a hardworking farmer gets to enjoy his crops because he was disciplined enough to plant and water them for months.
Hard work …works
All hard work brings a profit. Working hard is never a waste of time, especially when you are working to know God and please him.
How do you think discipline would help you to better live out God’s purpose for your life?
In order to endure training, we need motivation. God motivates us. He helps us see our purpose.
How does God teach me physical and emotional discipline?
1. God’s Word trains you to have emotional discipline
Why am I so overwrought, Why am I so disturbed? Why can’t I just hope in God? Despite all my emotions, I will believe and praise the One who saves me, my God.Psalm 42:11 Voice
God can teach us to have emotional discipline. Emotional discipline is not the same as ignoring our emotions. Emotional discipline means you acknowledge and express your emotions, but don’t always believe and live by them.
God helps us with this by giving us something much more solid and trustworthy to live by than our feelings – he gives us truths to live by in the Bible. Despite your emotions, you can choose to believe what God promises. For example:
- I am afraid to be honest, but God says honesty helps me be closer to him and people, and to free me of guilt (1 John 1:5-10). So I will believe him and I will be honest.
2. God’s grace trains you to have physical discipline
God’s grace has now appeared. By his grace, God offers to save all people.  His grace teaches us to say no to godless ways and sinful desires. We must control ourselves. We must do what is right. We must lead godly lives in today’s world.  That’s how we should live as we wait for the blessed hope God has given us. We are waiting for Jesus Christ to appear in his glory. He is our great God and Savior.Titus 2:11-13 NIrV
From this Scripture, we learn that God’s grace teaches us to say “no” to godless ways and sinful desires.
- What does grace mean to you?
- Grace means unmerited favor, i.e. love when we don’t deserve it. Have you ever experienced this?
- What are some ways God has been loving to you even when you didn’t deserve it?
It’s more motivating to do something out of gratitude than trying not to get in trouble or just because it’s the “right thing” to do.
- What are some “godless ways and sinful desires” you need to say “no” to?
- “Godless ways” – are choices we make to live our lives without God. Oversleeping, not reading the Bible or spending time praying, and prioritizing our jobs or schedule over spiritual relationships are some examples of “godless ways.”
- “Sinful desires” are things we choose to meet our needs instead of God – the Bible has a clear list of them in Galatians 5:19-21 if you need more clarity.
Stop researching every aspect of it and reading all about it and debating the pros and cons of it … Start doing it.Jocko Willink
Talk it through: How can God help you get motivated to live a disciplined life?
Take action: What are you going to change with God to become disciplined?
Walk through step by step what it would take to change. If you are doing this Bible study with a friend, you should think through some of this ahead of time. Be as detailed as possible.
- What steps will this decision involve?
- When will you do them?
- Possible pitfalls?
- Who will you ask to help hold you accountable?
This section is meant to be done with friends over the next 1-2 weeks. Set up times to do some of these together or to do them separately and then talk about what you learned.
- Read together: Joseph’s story: Genesis 37-47
- Watch together: Kill Bill -Training Scene
- Do together: For the next 30 days, pick a time to wake up in the morning so you can spend quality time reading the Bible and praying before school or work, like Jesus did. Help hold each other accountable.