Posts Tagged ‘Sickness’

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 

 

Part 5 – Matthew 12:14-21 – HEAL ME OR KILL ME BUT NOT THIS!

Bruised Reed!

As I talked with Nancy that day she said, “I pray to God every night and ask Him why He has been so unfair to me. Why did He leave me alive?” She is an elderly woman suffering the results of a stroke. She said “My Mother died of a stroke. Why didn’t He take me too, instead of leaving me like this? It is so unfair. Why is God so unfair?” Where is the JUSTICE of God when you end up with a stroke instead of dying in the process? How am I supposed to answer that?

In obedient response to Jesus a man with a deformed hand in Matthew 12:13 reaches out and is HEALED. Nancy blames God for NOT HEALING her and then NOT KILLING her. The Pharisees blame Jesus for HEALING on the Sabbath and they want to KILL Him (Matthew 12:14). Others gladly receive healing and restoration (Matthew 12:15). It seems God can’t please anyone! TO CARE OR NOT TO CARE – that is the question.

In Matthew 12:15 Jesus HEALS ALL THE SICK among them. How cool is this! My grandson would not have had a cold or tonsillitis if he had been there. My friend Fred would not have trouble walking because his arthritis would be gone and Alice would be able to breath properly again. Amelia would stretch out her stroke affected hand and not dribble food from the right side of her face.

So WHERE IS HE NOW? Do all these people somehow happen to be in the wrong century and the wrong country and is Jesus still in the “have LIFE TO THE FULL” business or is it now the “LIFE WHICH IS CRUEL” business? Has He CHANGED His purpose? Is He now into STROKES! Perhaps a few “RANDOM ACTS OF BLINDNESS, arthritis and dementia”?

What about Nancy? She would say to God “HEAL ME OR KILL ME BUT NOT THIS!” I can’t help but take that one step further and ask why is it that Nancy can be so insistent about not including God in her life and then blame Him when things go wrong? Is God TAKING IT OUT on Nancy? Or is it Nancy who is being UNFAIR? What would it look like if God was really fair according to our standards?

In Matthew 12:20 (NLT) a prophecy from Isaiah about Jesus is given. It says “He will NOT CRUSH THE WEAKEST (or BRUISED) REED OR PUT OUT A FLICKERING CANDLE. Finally He will cause JUSTICE to be victorious. And His Name will be the HOPE of all the world.”

So let me get this right. Why did He come? He came for a number of reasons but essentially He comes to give me HOPE in a world that is BRUISED by injustice and pain. He comes to heal, not to break the “BRUISED REED”. He comes to RESTORE my life when I am hurt and crushed by life’s experiences, discouraged to the point of giving up, and depressed to the max. He comes to encourage me when I am weak and my motivation for life is a “FLICKERING CANDLE”.

And then when I see Him for who He is I can’t do anything but care for others also. I am able to put Thessalonians 5:11-14 into practise “Therefore encourage one another and build up one another … encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with everyone” (NASB95)

I prayed with Nancy that day, that God would show her His purposes for her life as well as heal her. I assured her that God wasn’t into giving people strokes or into killing them. That was more the kind of thing Satan would do, not God. In John 8:44 Jesus says that Satan “… was a murderer from the beginning…” (NLT). In John 10:10 (NIV) Jesus says “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have LIFE, and have it to the FULL.” So Jesus makes it clear that His purpose is not to TAKE something from us that we have, but to RESTORE something to us that has been stolen.

Will Nancy be healed? I don’t know. I don’t have the full picture of what God is doing. I do know that I can experience life to the full as I know Jesus personally, whatever circumstances I face. “He will not break the bruised reed” (Matthew 12:20). I have HOPE in Him.

God bless you Church as you make a choice to respond to God and come under His authority rather than blame Him for what goes wrong. I can see a distorted picture of Him through the glasses of my circumstances and sin, or I can seek Jesus in my pain and begin to see Him for who He really is. In Him there is always HOPE.

Pastor Ross