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Saturday, November 6, 2010
The Lord's Discipline
1. To train and develop by
instruction and exercise.
2. To punish.
1. Training that produces
obedience and self-control.
2. Training (something painful) that
corrects, molds, or perfects.
I don't know about you, but usually when I have thought about the Lord's Discipline, I have automatically thought of it in it's verb form, with the meaning of "punishment". However, this week, I have been really pondering this word ... and it's meaning for my life.
In this past week's lesson for Bible Study Fellowship (B.S.F. Int'l), we read about the Lord's Discipline.
We had to answer the question: Explain why God's discipline is an expression of His love?
The lesson asked us to look up Hebrews 12:3-17 as a reference (and/or use any other scripture to explain or illustrate our answer).
When I read verses 5-6, my "punishment" definition fit.
"My son, do not make light of the Lord's discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son."
Thus ... "discipline" is used along with "rebuke" and "punish". Clearly, the Lord does use His discipline to "punish" us.
However, when I went on to verse 7, I began to wonder if the Lord's Discipline might have more than one meaning.
"Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons."
My immediate thoughts ...
We have endured much hardship this year. Therefore, is the Lord disciplining (verb) us for something? Have we done something that we are being punished for?!?!
I sought the Lord in earnestness.
"Oh, Father, have we done something wrong?"
"Lord, have we not seen something?
Have our eyes been closed to our sin, in any way?"
This was serious business.
We have sought the Lord throughout our trials this past year, and I couldn't imagine that we could have possibly missed something so big. But, I so wanted to hear from the Lord ... to KNOW if our hardship was due to some type of punishment.
Then ... I felt as if the Lord were wrapping His arms around me, as He showed me that there is more than one meaning for the word discipline.
In v. 7 (above), the word discipline is used as a noun, not a verb.
The Lord showed me that this time of hardship has been allowed in order to ...
"produce obedience and self-control"
and for ...
"training (sometimes painful) that molds and perfects".
While I absolutely believe that the Lord does, in fact, use discipline for punishment, I now felt confident that that was not the case for us in this particular instance. I felt His peace, that passes all understanding, showing me that He will use this time of hardship in order to grow us into the people that He wants us to be.
Verse 12 goes on to say ...
"God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in His holiness."
Of course God wants to train us.
Of course He wants to teach us obedience and self-control.
Of course He wants to mold us and perfect us.
God wants us to share in His holiness.
What an AMAZING thought!
Oh Lord, I pray that you will continue to discipline us ... to train us ... to mold and perfect us. I pray that we would not whine and complain when we endure hardship, in order to produce discipline.
Thank you, Lord, for treating us as your sons (and daughters). Thank you for loving us enough to discipline us (whether as punishment or as training).
And, Lord, while I pray that you would help us to be content in this time of hardship, I would be remiss to not admit that it is HARD. It is NOT fun!
Father God, I pray that you would move us out of this time of hardship, and that you would move us onto the next step of this journey. I pray that you would make it possible for us to live with Papa ... that we could live together ... worship together ... minister together ... once again.
Thank you, Lord, for ALL that you have taught us in this time. Help us to always remember the teachings learned in hardship, and not to become complacent once this current hardship is removed.
Thank you Lord ...
... for all that you are.
... for all that you have done for us.
... for all that you are teaching us.