Posts Tagged ‘Discipline’

Going too far © Image created by Ross Cochrane

Psalm 6 – GOING TOO FAR WITH GOD – Part 1 

I’ve got to admit my Western mindset doesn’t like to talk about God’s discipline. But God’s word indicates that God does discipline us, both those who are Believers and those who are not, but He does so with JUSTICE AND FAIRNESS and in order to get us back into relationship with Him and in tune with our destiny.  

IF THE LORD DOES DISCIPLINE YOU, HOW DOES HE DISCIPLINE YOU? 

  • Does He humiliate you by putting you in situations where you will fail? 
  • Does the Lord discipline you through accidents, sickness, pain, old age? 
  • Through natural disasters – fires, floods, drought or other catastrophes? 
  • Through losing your livelihood or your mental health, like Nebuchadnezzar who lost his mind for a time? 
  • Does God discipline you through losing those you love? 
  • Through satanic attack like Job? 

If the Lord has UNFAILING LOVE, how can He also be FAIR AND JUST in His discipline? 

R.B.Thieme writes “What righteousness demands, justice executes, and because God never violates His integrity, all actions He takes toward us (in terms of discipline) come from His justice. Justice can either bless or discipline; if righteousness approves, justice blesses; if righteousness disapproves, justice curses or disciplines.”   

WHY DOES GOD DISCIPLINE ME? 

If the Lord disciplines me as David says, what prompts Him to discipline me?  

Well, obviously, it has to do with my sin. Now there’s another word that people don’t like to hear and I don’t like to talk about.  

One man I spoke to said, “I don’t sin.” He lives in a world that prefers to deny the very existence of sin. His unforgivable sin is refusing to even consider a relationship with God or any claim God has in his life.  

Discipline may involve pain and suffering which always leaves me with a lot of questions as to how God dishes His discipline out. 

Some examples in the Bible indicate that those who are originally created in His image can go too far, and the patience and grace of God is rejected by people who prefer to come under severe discipline rather than consider repentance and forgiveness. 

SEVERE DISCIPLINE 

WAR  

During WW1 many people thought that it was the END OF THE WORLD – that God was bringing His FINAL JUDGEMENT – God’s discipline to humankind. It is easy to see why they would think that way given the horrors of the world war and the ravages of the Spanish flu in its aftermath. WAR AND PESTILENCE! 

People in the World War years knew their Bibles a little better than people today. They knew that occasionally God exercises severe discipline in the Bible on EXTREMELY WICKED NATIONS by having them defeated completely. Israel at one stage becomes His instrument of discipline, not that Israel is all that good. Just so they don’t become arrogant ….   

Deuteronomy 9:5 (NLT) says, “It is not because YOU ARE SO GOOD or have such integrity that you are about to occupy their land. The Lord your God will drive these nations out ahead of you only because of THEIR WICKEDNESS, and to fulfill the oath He swore to your ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.”  

Many people died as a result of the Lord’s severe discipline.  

PLAGUE 

Israel was disciplined too on a number of occasions also for their wickedness, once WITH A PLAGUE that killed many people.   

2 Samuel 24:14-16 (NLT) says, “So the Lord sent a plague upon Israel that morning, and it lasted for three days. A total of 70,000 people died throughout the nation, from Dan in the north to Beersheba in the south. But as the angel was preparing to destroy Jerusalem, the Lord relented and said to the death angel, “Stop! That is enough!””  

It appears that some sinful people got away with it with their lives still intact while many others died because of God’s discipline. God’s discipline can seem so severe to me. I don’t pretend to understand, but I trust that God knows what He is doing. 

EXILE 

Jeremiah 46:28 (NLT2) says ISRAEL WAS EXILED BECAUSE OF GOD’S DISCIPLINE, “Do not be afraid, … for I am with you,” says the Lord. “… I HAVE EXILED YOU, but I will not completely destroy you. I WILL DISCIPLINE YOU, but WITH JUSTICE; I cannot let you go unpunished.”” (The Message Bible says, “But I won’t finish you off. I have more work left to do on you. I’ll punish you, but fairly. No, I’m not finished with you yet.”)   

So the emphasis of God’s discipline is that it is absolutely fair, not according to our standards, because those standards are so fluid, but His, which are unchangeable. God is Immutable.  
 

NEW COVENANT?  

Some say, “That was the OLD TESTAMENT. We are under the New Covenant and God does not discipline us like this.” Let’s not be too fast in saying this. 

Hebrews 12:6 (NLT) says, “For the Lord DISCIPLINES THOSE HE LOVES, and He punishes each one He accepts as His child.”  

Revelation 3:19 (NLT) says, “I correct and discipline everyone I love. So be diligent and turn from your indifference.” If I am loved by God, apparently, I must also accept His discipline. 

THORNS 

In the New Testament Paul talks personally about how God disciplined him. 

2 Corinthians 12:7 (NLT) says, “… So to keep me from becoming proud, I was given A THORN IN MY FLESH, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from becoming proud.” I wonder if that thorn in the flesh was a person rather than a sickness. 

DEATH 

Acts 5:1-10 (NLT) speaks about Ananias who was disciplined by God, in the early Church, who, with his wife, Sapphira, sold some property. He brought part of the money to the apostles, claiming it was the full amount. With his wife’s consent, he kept the rest.  

Then Peter said, “Ananias, why have you let Satan fill your heart? You lied to the Holy Spirit, and you kept some of the money for yourself. The property was yours to sell or not sell, as you wished. And after selling it, the money was also yours to give away. How could you do a thing like this? You weren’t lying to us but to God!”  

As soon as Ananias heard these words, he fell to the floor and died...” Straight after this, Saphira fell down and died also for lying about the same thing. 

The Message Bible translates the last verse, “By this time the whole church and, in fact, everyone who heard of these things had a healthy respect for God. They knew God was not to be trifled with.”  

HELL 

The ultimate discipline of God is total separation from Him, described in the Bible as Hell. I don’t like talking about Hell, but I’d be a fool to say in my heart that there is no God or there is no hell.  

The Lord, however, does not want anyone to endure the discipline of hell. Everyone of us has opportunity to respond to Christ. No-one else has come to save us. 

2 Peter 3:9 (NLT) says, “The Lord isn’t really being slow about His promise, as some people think. No, He is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.” 

So let’s be realistic. If you are someone who has read these words, you need to realise that God is waiting for you with open arms, not with a razor strap. You were created for a purpose, not for discipline. The first step is faith in Christand ignoring His claims is a disastrous choice. 

John 3:36 (NLT) says, “… anyone who believes in God’s Son has eternal life. Anyone who doesn’t obey the Son will never experience eternal life but remains under God’s angry judgment.” 

Pastor Ross 

 

LUKE 2:9 – MARY DID YOU KNOW? Poem

PIETA BY MICHELANGELO

PIETA BY MICHELANGELO

Mary, did you know? – the poem © by Ross Cochrane

Had Mary known the pain that He would bear
When in her arms this baby Jesus lay,
Would she have wanted Him to stay
to face a Cross, and give His very life?
Had Mary known the ugliness of strife
would she have held tiny hands tighter still
while thinking of them nail pierced on deaths hill?

Had Mary known that in this manger lay
the One whose head would lay within a tomb,
would she have gasped each time she came to pray
and sung with tears a lullaby each night
And mourned the seed that issued from her womb?

No! Mary would have only known the joy
Of heavens love within a baby boy.

And if we knew of God’s elusive plan
With eyes to see the pain that we would bear,
Would we have tried to run from grace and prayer
instead of face the cross He bids us take?
Without sufficient strength our pride to break
would we avoid the shaping hands of God,
the disciplines that issue from His rod?

Would we receive the testing desert sun
along with times of joy and hope and light?
Or shape a “painless” destiny and run
with such swift feet away from heaven’s tears
and any preparation for the fight?

No! From the future He has spared us much
That we might know His patient, perfect touch.

Matthew 7:7-8 – SPIRITUAL CPR

Spiritual CPR. Picture created by Ross Cochrane using Paint.net.

I’ve been praying that the Lord would heal a persistent cough I have had for the last month and nothing appears to be happening? Am I to continue to pray even when I don’t see any results? Why do I pray for my friend who is dying? She is unable to move because she is so weak? Am I to persevere in asking for healing until she dies?

Matthew 7:7 (NLT) says “KEEP ON ASKING, … KEEP ON SEEKING, … KEEP ON KNOCKING, …” If God answers my prayers, what’s with the “KEEP ON” requirement? Doesn’t He hear the first time? 1 Thessalonians 5:17 (NLT) says “NEVER STOP PRAYING.” Philippians 4:6-7 (NLT) says “Don’t worry about anything; instead, PRAY ABOUT EVERYTHING. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” PERSISTENT PRAYER breathes life back into my circumstances and revives me.

Jesus uses the ASK method of CPR to breathe life back into a dead situation. Ask, Seek, Knock. ASK – Check to see if there a spiritual PULSE? Is the situation or person spiritually dead and needing emergency attention! SEEK – Check for Spiritual BREATHING. Ask the Holy Spirit to breathe life into this situation, to give spiritual respiration. Nothing artificial about this at all. Jesus said “I am the truth and life.” KNOCK – Giving Truth Compressions. Keep speaking Words of Life to keep the spiritual BLOOD FLOW to the heart. REPEAT THE PROCESS – Matthew 7:7 (NLT) says “KEEP ON ASKING, … KEEP ON SEEKING, … KEEP ON KNOCKING, …”

Is prayer just a way to deal with the pressures of life and doesn’t really have anything to do with answers, or do I have to keep asking until I learn the difference between praying for what I WANT and praying for what I NEED before the answers come? Is PERSEVERANCE AND DILIGENCE in prayer the means of learning ENDURANCE AND DISCIPLINE in life? PERSIST. PERSEVERE in prayer. 30 spiritual heart compressions (going to Church regularly) or a life support machine (growing up in a family that follows Jesus) is not enough. I will still need the DEFIBRILLATOR of personal belief and trust in Christ.

Prayer breathes life back into dead circumstances. It shocks my heart into life so it operates as it was intended. It confronts me with the Cross and with it’s rhythmic harmonies it allows God to have His finger on the pulse of my life. It allows my heart to beat in time with His. It reminds me that I am dependent on Him, to pray often, with diligent passion and active intention. I ask with dependence, seek with drive and knock with determination on heaven’s door so that earths doors will be opened. I am born again.

What is God saying in all this? Do I keep on knocking on the same door or do I seek any door that looks like it might open? “Knock, knock, knocking on heaven’s door.” What about earth’s doors? It’s not always the one that opens that has the answers. What am I opening myself up to? When I knock on heaven’s door He seems to open the right earthly doors.

John 15:7 (NLT) says “But if you REMAIN IN ME AND MY WORDS REMAIN IN YOU, you may ask for ANYTHING YOU WANT, and it will be granted!” 1 John 3:21-22 (NLT) says “… we will receive from Him whatever we ask BECAUSE WE OBEY HIM AND DO THE THINGS THAT PLEASE HIM.” Matthew 6:33 (NLT) says “Seek the Kingdom of God ABOVE ALL ELSE, and live righteously, and He will give you everything you NEED.”

Spurgeon speaks of how the old doors had a NAILHEAD onto which a knocker was dropped and people would strike it so heavily that the saying arose “AS DEAD AS A DOOR-NAIL”. Jesus speaks of that kind of INTENSITY in prayer, praying so persistently that it outlives the door-nail. It may seem pointless to keep bashing on something that’s as dead-as-a-doornail, but there is LIFE on the other side of the door! CPR for the spiritual heart. That kind of prayer breathes life into dead situations.

The invitation is to pray OFTEN, with DILIGENT PASSION and with ACTIVE INTENSION. Be DEPENDENT on God, PASSIONATE about seeking Him, DETERMINED to find the solutions to life. A consistent prayerlife humbles me to receive God’s grace. “Asking” suggests DEPENDENCE; “seeking” suggests DRIVE; “knocking” suggests DETERMINATION. Prayer teaches me about FAITH to accomplish the purposes of God. SPIRITUAL CPR.

Pastor Ross