Summary: And this brings us to our third God must win. I must embrace discipline, or I will experience regret.
Today, we continue with our series: God has to win. In our first week, we saw that God has to win in the choices that I made. At the end of the day, can you say that you made more choices for God than you did the world, the flesh, and the devil? And then last week, we saw the consequences of not giving God control over areas of our lives and the resulting mess that occurs. And so, I suggested that we ask ourselves three questions when we are thinking about taking control over an area of our life. Am I willing to settle for less than God’s best? Is this mine to control in the first place? Would it be better if I surrender and wait upon God’s timing?
I would like to introduce the third area that God must win by quoting the words of Dwight D. Eisenhower who was our 34th President of the United States. Before I tell you what he said, let me tell you a little bit about the man. It will put what he says in perspective. Eisenhower is the only President in the history of the United States to be baptized while in office on February 1, 1953 at the age of 62. He was instrumental in adding “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag. It was during his term that the official motto of the United States became “In God We Trust” and it was added to our currency. And his spiritual mentor during his Presidency became Billy Graham. That should pretty much tell you all you need to know. At one of Billy Graham’s crusades in Dallas Texas at the Cotton Bowl, seventy-five thousand people bowed their head and prayed that “God would give President Eisenhower wisdom, courage and strength.” And Dwight Eisenhower even invited Billy Graham to preach one Sunday at the church the president attended in Washington. During his administration, the church saw a grow of 20% in church attendance. I tell you all that to tell you that his words have some weight to them. He said: “Choose the pain of discipline and sacrifice or you will get the pain of regret. There are no victories at bargain prices.”
And this brings us to our third God must win. I must embrace discipline, or I will experience regret. I know that is true in day to day life. If you don’t have the discipline to complete college all in one swoop, later on in life you may regret never having completed college because you never went back. If you don’t have the discipline to say “no” to the things that you cannot afford, later on you may regret having to dig out of the financial hole that you created for yourself. If you don’t have the discipline to say “no” to some addictive substance the first time it is offered to you, you may later regret how that addiction has destroyed your life. So, in day to day life-no question lack of discipline will cause regrets later on.
But that is not the only place that lack of discipline will cause regret. It will cause regret in our spiritual lives at well. A rejection of God’s discipline will cause regrets. The Bible is full of stories of man and women with regrets. God warned Cain in Genesis 4:6–7 (CSB)
6 Then the LORD said to Cain, “Why are you furious? And why do you look despondent? 7 If you do what is right, won’t you be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.” Cain did not receive well God’s discipline over his anger, and he regretted that he was being sent to a land where the people might kill him.
In Joshua Chapter 6, God warns the people of Israel when they conquer Jericho not to take unto themselves any of the possession of the city as they are set apart for destruction. Joshua 6:17–19 (CSB)
17 But the city and everything in it are set apart to the LORD for destruction. Only Rahab the prostitute and everyone with her in the house will live because she hid the messengers we sent. 18 But keep yourselves from the things set apart, or you will be set apart for destruction. If you take any of those things, you will set apart the camp of Israel for destruction and make trouble for it. 19 For all the silver and gold, and the articles of bronze and iron, are dedicated to the LORD and must go into the LORD’s treasury.”
But Achan did not have the disciple to heed God’s instruction and took some of the possessions, and it caused regret to Israel in the next battle with Ai and it led to the death of Achan, his family, his servants and livestock.