“Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life… Deut. 30.19 NLT
We did not attend our regular church service this morning. Instead we made the choice to search The Word for answers to some questions the pastor’s current sermon series presents:
“Does God hold your feet to the fire
…to teach you spiritual lessons? Does God, The Father, SEND sickness and disease to His children to punish and correct them? Is poverty and lack a disciplinary measure to repay their poor financial decisions? Do bad things happen to good people because God wants to make them better? Do storms make us more righteous? More holy? More worthy?
First there is the question of discipline…and the Message Bible translation comes very near saying exactly what our experience has taught:
In this all-out match against sin, others have suffered far worse than you, to say nothing of what Jesus went through—all that bloodshed! So don’t feel sorry for yourselves. Or have you forgotten how good parents treat children, and that God regards you as his children?
My dear child, don’t shrug off God’s discipline,
but don’t be crushed by it either.
It’s the child he loves that he disciplines;
the child he embraces, he also corrects.
God is educating you; that’s why you must never drop out. He’s treating you as dear children. This trouble you’re in isn’t punishment; it’s training, the normal experience of children. Only irresponsible parents leave children to fend for themselves. Would you prefer an irresponsible God? We respect our own parents for training and not spoiling us, so why not embrace God’s training so we can truly live? While we were children, our parents did what seemed best to them. But God is doing what is best for us, training us to live God’s holy best. At the time, discipline isn’t much fun. It always feels like it’s going against the grain. Later, of course, it pays off handsomely, for it’s the well-trained who find themselves mature in their relationship with God. Hebrews 12:4-11 (MSG)
Ask almost anyone what discipline is and you will likely hear the word punishment. But that is NOT what the Bible’s concept of discipline is all about. Discipline in the Bible is goal oriented—seeking to develop a godly person who will walk in God’s ways. We tend to think of discipline as keeping others in line, but at the heart of discipline is discipling, helping people become followers, particularly followers of Christ. The emphasis is on loving guidance and teaching.
God’s discipline is an act of love to help us. It is life building, never meant to destroy our health, or our self-worth. It sets us on the right path, making us truly happy and thankful. It instructs us in good conduct, in doing what is right and what is fair, teaching us how to live, act and walk in His grace and favor. So, by the Holy Spirit, God wrote His Word to disciple us in these things.
My child, don’t reject the Lord’s discipline,
and don’t be upset when he corrects you.
For the Lord corrects those he loves,
just as a father corrects a child in whom he delights.
Proverbs 3:11-12 New Living Translation (NLT)
While it is true that we can willfully refuse to listen to God, or anyone else for that matter, refusing the correction that would help us our stubbornness is, at the heart of it. mostly a failure to trust and seek God. So we choose to stay open to God’s correction, trusting His Word and the ministry of the Holy Spirit. We choose life and blessings.
If, as we found recently, there are questions regarding what you hear from another person, be it pastor, preacher, brother or sister, go to His Word and check it out for yourself.
There are so many more facets to this gem of God’s love and training, it is impossible to cover all of them in one post, or one dozen posts. I’ll be back with more thoughts as I continue to study the subject.
Don’t hesitate to let me know what you’re choosing.