Archive for the ‘Bible Study’ Category

Self-Control — A Word Study — Day 5

Self-Control n.
control or restraint of oneself or one’s actions, feelings, etc.
syn. self-discipline, self-restraint, willpower, levelheadedness

Today’s Verse: 2 Timothy 3:3

  • … heartless, and hateful. Their words will be cruel, and they will have no self-control or pity. These people will hate everything that is good. [CEV]
  • … without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, … [NIV]
  • Don’t be naive. There are difficult times ahead. As the end approaches, people are going to be self-absorbed, money-hungry, self-promoting, stuck-up, profane, contemptuous of parents, crude, coarse, dog-eat-dog, unbending, slanderers, impulsively wild, savage, cynical, treacherous, ruthless, bloated windbags, addicted to lust, and allergic to God. They’ll make a show of religion, but behind the scenes they’re animals. Stay clear of these people. [2 Timothy 3:1-5 The Message]
  • Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, … [KJV]

In Context:  Most Biblical Historians agree that 2nd Timothy is compiled of letters written to Timothy by Paul, who was in prison awaiting execution.  These letters are considered Paul’s final words to his disciple, Timothy and through Timothy to the Church.  Paul warns encourages Timothy to remain faithful and warns him against the kinds of people who will populate the “end times” — or the last days before God’s final judgement.

Biblical & Contemporary Connotations: the warnings against becoming too familiar with false believers and the wrong kinds of people is as relevant today as it was in Biblical times.  As Christians we should not shun unbelievers and false profits, but we also should not embrace them.  Instead we should show compassion and mercy, extend God’s grace and faith, and live our lives as examples of a better way.

Journal: Easier said than done!  How much simpler it is to confine ourselves to our own church, family and neighborhood.  There is no effort, no challenge and no defensiveness required — and there is also no witness.  How can we pray “make me the heart and hands of Jesus” when we refuse to take our compassion outside of our own safe environment?

Heavenly Father, remind me to get up out of my comfort zone.  Call me to service where my life, witness and testimony will magnify and glorify you.  In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

Self-Control — A Word Study — Day 4

Self-Control n.
control or restraint of oneself or one’s actions, feelings, etc.
syn. self-discipline, self-restraint, willpower, levelheadedness

Today’s Verse: Galatians 5:22-23

  • God’s Spirit makes us loving, happy, peaceful, patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle, and self-controlled. There is no law against behaving in any of these ways. [CEV]
  • But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. [NIV]
  • But the fruit of the [Holy] Spirit [the work which His presence within accomplishes] is love, joy (gladness), peace, patience (an even temper, forbearance), kindness, goodness (benevolence), faithfulness, Gentleness (meekness, humility), self-control (self-restraint, continence). Against such things there is no law [[a]that can bring a charge]. [AMPLIFIED BIBLE]
  • But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. [KJV]

In Context: Paul was talking to the Galatians about living their beliefs. If one is right with God and filled with the Holy Spirit, it will show in one’s actions. No law can bring about the consistent and persistent change that obedience to the Holy Spirit can bring.

Biblical & Contemporary Connotations: I think they are one and the same, now and then. Living in accord with the Holy Spirit is an expected discipleship constant, yesterday, today and tomorrow.

Journal: My life seemed hopeless. I couldn’t make ends meet from one month to the next. My home life and my work life were stressed to the point they were unbearable and I literally felt like I was living at the bottom of a dank, black well with no way out. For the first time in my life, I understood why people commit suicide. I don’t think I was at that point yet, but I believe I was headed there. That’s when God drove a great big truck into my life.

From the moment I reclaimed my Christian heritage and allowed the Holy Spirit to once again lead me and guide me, my decision-making became clearer and easier. My temptations and confusions lessened. My patience and wisdom grew by leaps and bounds. I could feel myself changing and growing day-by-day, and I very much liked who I was becoming.

Heavenly Father, thank you for the gift of the Holy Spirit, who makes it possible for me to tap into your wisdom and strength. I most especially thank you for those times I forget to seek you, and you send the Holy Spirit to seek me. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

Self-Control — A Word Study — Day 3

Self-Control n.
control or restraint of oneself or one’s actions, feelings, etc.
syn. self-discipline, self-restraint, willpower, levelheadedness

Today’s Verse: 1 Corinthians 7:5

  • So don’t refuse sex to each other, unless you agree not to have sex for a little while, in order to spend time in prayer. Then Satan won’t be able to tempt you because of your lack of self-control. [CEV]
  • Do not deprive each other except by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. [NIV]
  • It’s good for a man to have a wife, and for a woman to have a husband. Sexual drives are strong, but marriage is strong enough to contain them and provide for a balanced and fulfilling sexual life in a world of sexual disorder. The marriage bed must be a place of mutuality—the husband seeking to satisfy his wife, the wife seeking to satisfy her husband. Marriage is not a place to “stand up for your rights.” Marriage is a decision to serve the other, whether in bed or out. Abstaining from sex is permissible for a period of time if you both agree to it, and if it’s for the purposes of prayer and fasting—but only for such times. Then come back together again. Satan has an ingenious way of tempting us when we least expect it. I’m not, understand, commanding these periods of abstinence—only providing my best counsel if you should choose them. [1Corinthians 7:2b-6 — The Message]
  • Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency. [KJV]

In Context: Paul is writing about marriage and martial relationships. He begins by saying that it is much preferable to remain single and celibate, but if one cannot do that, then it is best to marry. Then he says, the wife’s body does not belong to the wife alone, but also the husband; and that the husband’s body does not belong to the husband alone but also the wife and the two of them need to share those bodies regularly — giving pleasure to one another — in order to prevent the temptations of the flesh from leading them into sin (sex outside of marriage).

Biblical & Contemporary Connotations:  I think this one is pretty self-explanatory and even though social values have changed over the years, the organized church, for the most part, still preaches monogamous sex.  This is not just for the purpose of procreation and raising Godly children, though that is a very important aspect of Biblical teaching, but monogamy is also the best way to insure solidarity in extended families, communities, and other social organization — and to control the spread of diseases.  The mose sexual partners one has, the greater one’s risk of contracting a sexually transmitted disease.

Journal : Marriage — commitment and fidelity — were dying a radical death just as I was coming of age.  Despite that fact, or maybe because of it, I was bound and determined that divorce was never going to be part of my marriage.  My determination to never divorce was so strong that when I could finally no longer safely remain with the alcoholic I married, I removed myself from the relationship, but did not file for divorce.  I resigned myself to being single and celibate the remainder of my life.  It wasn’t a happy resignation.

Several years later a pastor explained to me that marriage is a covenant — a promise between two people and, hopefully, God, that their union would florish and prosper and they would always work together as a unit.  Pastor explained to me that my husband broke the covenant long before I left him.  Marriage, he told me, is not just about sexual fidelity, but about looking after one another’s physical, mental and emotional needs and maintaining one another’s welfare.  Pastor said my husband had probably broken that covenant long before he left me deathly ill and unconscious on the bathroom floor and went out drinking.   Because the covenant was already broken in God’s eyes, all that remained of the marriage was the legal tie of man-made law.

I was raised to believe the Bible forbid divorce no matter what.  Apparently that is not true.  While it was much more difficult in Biblical times to get a divorce, it was not unheard of and one certain way to break the covenant was to fail to provide for the health and welfare of your mate.  In Biblical times it was generally the man who sought divorce  and the wife was returned to her family in disgrace.  If the husband was not caring for his wife as he should, he lost stature and respect in the community, so — at least in outward appearances — most men obeyed the letter of the covenant (thought not always the spirit) in taking care of their wives.

So, what does this have to do with self-control?  Someone one can control him or herself too rigidly and adhere to impossible and unfair strictures.  A knowledge of why one is exercising restraint is just as important as the restraint itself.  Blind obedience is slavery, not service.


Heavenly Father, help me to understand the promises and commitments I make and to live them in a manner that honors you.  I Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

Self-Control – A Word Study – Day 2

Self-Control n.
control or restraint of oneself or one’s actions, feelings, etc.
syn. self-discipline, self-restraint, willpower, levelheadedness

Today’s Verse: Acts 24:25

  • But Felix was frightened when Paul started talking to them about doing right, about self-control, and about the coming judgment. So he said to Paul, “That’s enough for now. You may go. But when I have time I will send for you.” [CEV]
  • As Paul discoursed on righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come, Felix was afraid and said, “That’s enough for now! You may leave. When I find it convenient, I will send for you.” [NIV]
  • And as he reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, Felix trembled, and answered, Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee. [KJV]
  • But as he continued to argue about uprightness, purity of life (the control of the passions), and the judgment to come, Felix became alarmed and terrified and said, Go away for the present; when I have a convenient opportunity, I will send for you. [Amplified]

In Context:
Paul was in prison awaiting trial for blasphemy — a charge leveled by the Sanhedrin. Felix was the provisional governor in charge of the case. History records Felix as being a ruthless governor “who practiced every kind of cruelty and lust*”. Felix kept Paul in prison for two years. Biblical scholars surmise that his reluctance to release Paul was motivated by his need to curry favor from the Jews, while his unwillingness to find Paul guilty may have been prompted by conscience, but it was more likely Felix was waiting for a bribe.

Biblical & Contemporary Connotations:
We don’t much like hearing about our failings, be they in self-control or any other aspect of our lives,  and we would rather flee than face our shortcomings.

Journal Response:
My first response when somebody points out one of my faults is to defend it.  I much prefer thinking I am perfect and that everybody loves me just the way I am — unfortunately, that isn’t very realistic.

I am naturally very reflective and always have been.  I’d like to think that gives me an advantage in the area of character development, but that could be just another of my self-delusions.  {Perhaps a Word Study on “false pride” is also in order.}  At any rate, no matter how well or poorly I respond when criticized, I do try to find the strength to examine the accusation.

Sometimes my examinations aren’t too healthy.  I use whatever accusation was leveled at me to kindle an indignant fire in my heart and I seethe, making up nasty comebacks and hateful, hurting things I wish I had said in response.  On the other hand I sometimes just accept the charges as they were leveled and mentally beat myself with them.  Usually, either of these responses, despite being self-destructive, feels pretty good.  I feel more self-righteous when I suffer the slings and arrows of others — but it isn’t productive.

While writing the above it dawned on me that self-control and self-esteem are Siamese twins and one cannot be separated from the other.  Without self-control, I have no foundation upon which to build good self-esteem; and without good self-esteem, I cannot grow better self-control.  Oh my.  This may take more thought.  Does anyone else have any ideas to add?

When I do manage to calm myself down enough to evaluate the acquisitions leveled against my character, I usually start by asking why the accusation was made.  Was the person who confronted me trying to help me or hurt me?   Next, I ask myself why I am angry — is my pride hurt, or my “I’m perfect” feelings? Until I get a handle on the why and what of someone’s claim against me, I cannot begin to access whether or not the person confronting me has a valid point.

If I come to the conclusion that the person confronting me doesn’t have a valid point, my self-examination can end.  If however — as is usually the case — the accusation has cause and substance, then I have work to do.  First off, I probably need to apologize.  Then, me being me, I will sit down and make a mental checklist to keep me from following the same path again.  However –thankfully — more often than not, just having an unconcious fault brought into the light, examined and identified for what it is, defeats it with barely a relapse.

The problem comes when a fault we’ve made into a habit and claimed as a virtue is challenged.  For instance, I have been struggling for years to identify the proper point at which to stop eating.  FULL is too much.  Not hungry is the place one should stop eating.  How does one find that place when all their thoughts, attitudes and comforts have been built upon full?


Just because my self-control issue at the moment is weight-loss, doesn’t mean your self-control issue has to be the same.  If you have something of value to add to this meditation, please do so!

Heavenly Father, I feel there is further revelation just out of my grasp.  Help me to better understand my jumbled thoughts as I process this Bible reading.  In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

*Tacitus, ancient Roman writer

Self-Control – A Word Study – Day 1

Self-Control n.
control or restraint of oneself or one’s actions, feelings, etc.
syn. self-discipline, self-restraint, willpower, levelheadedness

Today’s Verse: Proverbs 25:28

  • Losing self-control leaves you as helpless as a city without a wall. [CEV]
  • Like a city whose walls are broken down is a man who lacks self-control. [NIV]
  • A person without self-control is like a house with its doors and windows knocked out. [The Message]
  • He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls. [KJV]

Biblical Connotation:
During Biblical times, if a city was without a wall it was without defenses and could easily be destroyed from the inside.

Contemporary Connotation:
If we are without self-control, we destroy ourselves from the inside.

Journal Response:
A lack of self-control leads us me to destroy myself. Without self-control I am vulnerable to every whim or want that tickles my fancy.

1.) Spending Habits:
I managed to control my spending habits, first by exercising the self-control of not looking at shopping ads or television commercials. I learned very quickly that I could live without “impossible to live without” things is I didn’t know they existed. The next thing I did to control my spending habits was to shop with a list that contained only needs. If I picked up an item not on my list I could not put it in my cart until I answered the following questions:

  • Can I live without it?
  • How will this change my life for the better?
  • How will this change my life for the good?
  • How will I feel about this next week? Next month? Next year?
  • Who am I trying to impress with this purchase?
  • What am I willing to sacrifice to have this?
  • And finally, if the impulse purchase item in question costs over $20.00, I am not allowed to buy it until I have waited at least 24 hours. If it cost over $100.00, I make myself wait at least 3 days before purchasing — and as a result I most often don’t purchase the item at all.

2.) Impatience:
My first day of school as a brand new teacher I gave myself a lecture on self-control. “You may not be impatient with the students over your own mistakes.” That was a biggie because often frustration — be it with myself, a stubborn bottle top, unexpected delays, or someone else’s behavior — tweaks my temper. I’m human so I’m impatient, that’s to be expected — however, routinely giving in to that impatience and taking it out on others isn’t acceptable behavior. Now when I feel myself growing impatient I have some questions I stop and consider:

  • Why am I impatient?
  • Is it fixable and who needs to fix it?
  • How quickly can it be fixed?
  • What is the fairest and easiest way to handle this?
  • If it can’t be fixed, how do I work around it?

Generally just asking the questions alleviates the frustration. For some reason petty annoyances that when indulged carry enough power to start a world war, simply dissolve under careful scrutiny. If the frustration does not dissipate, then I have counter measures in place to alleviate the problem; and while one of those methods is confrontation, it generally isn’t a snarl or a growl, but a statement of fact and a suggestion or request. “Johnny, that pencil thumping is getting on my last nerve. Please stop or I am going to get irritated and nasty and I just might cancel recess.” Such steps usually get compliance.

3.) Weight-loss
My current problem is weight-loss.  I already know one of the questions I need to ask myself before I eat is, “Are you really hungry?”  But this one is hard for me.  I have a lifetime of habits and mental conditioning to overcome.  Food is comfort and saftey and belonging.  Food is love.  Where do I get the self-control to break those chains?  Where do I get the motivation to exercise daily?  I decided to start here, with this word study.


If you have any self-control issues please join me.  Your thoughts, ideas, successes and/or failures are welcome in the comments.  Please stay on topic.

Heavenly Father, please help me as I study self-control to learn to manage every aspect of my life wisely, with thought and deliberation.  In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.