Chastisement (discipline), ah yes, one of our favorite words in the Christian community. Although, it does seem as if some take this word to mean punishment; which in reality, is quite the opposite -believe it or not. Has it occurred to any of us that discipline actually leads to peace? Look at what the Bible has to say about it: Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby (Hebrews 12:11). Discipline leads to peace, but there is a stipulation: we must allow ourselves to be trained by it. We must be willing to learn the lessons involved. That might be stating the obvious, but you’d be surprised by how many resist it. The harder you fight against discipline, the harder the lesson will be to learn. It’s vital to stay teachable!
Successful discipline requires humility. You cannot point the finger at other people when you are experiencing hardship due to your bad decisions or even rebellion. You cannot hope to change for the better without a willingness to see things about yourself you may find distasteful. Sometimes, we can be blind to our shortcomings, and they require chastisement to expose them. Until you see things from God’s perspective, you may believe those shortcomings are okay; even though, they are doing you more harm than good. In fact, they are robbing you of peace. Without righteousness there is no peace. Any shortcoming void of righteousness is also void of peace. Moreover, they come between you and God, especially if they go unchecked. Remember, truth leads to freedom (see John 8:31-32).
While going through the experience of correction, you may feel as if God hates you, or is punishing you. Because God is love, He will always do what is beneficial to you. If it doesn’t benefit you, it’s not on Him; it’s on you. That may sound like a strong statement, but think about it. If you refuse correction, things may very well get worse. Peace will continue to elude you. Remember the stipulation.
Hebrews 12:3-6For consider Him that endured such contradiction of sinners against Himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds. Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin. And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of Him: For whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom He receiveth.
Who is the Ultimate Example of humility? Jesus. Consider another passage of Scripture: Though He were a Son, yet learned He obedience by the things which He suffered (Hebrews 5:8). By all means read the entire chapter to get full context of the verse. Now think about this: if Jesus endured hardship, who are we to not endure it as well? Chastisement is a sign of love on God’s part, and obedience is a sign of ours (see John 14:15).
Hebrews 12:1-2Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the Author and Finisher of our faith; Who for the joy that was set before Him endured the Cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
It’s easy to lose sight of hope at times, which is why it’s important to remember one thing: Jesus Christ is going to return. While it is true we do not know the day or the hour in which the Father will tell the Son, “Go get Your Bride,” rest assured He will return. This Blessed Hope is more important to our daily life than some may realize. Consider some things the book of Hebrews has to say.
Hebrews 6:17-19Wherein God, willing more abundantly to shew unto the heirs of promise the immutability of His counsel, confirmed it by an oath: That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us: Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil.
It is comforting to know God cannot lie, which means biblical hope is a sure expectation, as opposed to mere wishful thinking. Look at what hope does for the soul: it provides an anchor which holds us steady. It brings stability to our emotions, as it also centers our minds when thoughts want to go rampant during difficult times. Our Blessed Hope puts things in proper perspective: everything on earth is temporary. That means even the most long, drawn-out circumstance has a shelf-life. Even though it may appear to be something that will never go away, it will! To be clear, hope is not a message of escapism; it’s a message of victory and yearning to be united with our Father and Jesus in person -to go home.
Remember, Jesus said: “Occupy until I come” (Luke 19:13). What does that look like? And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto Me in Heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen. (Matthew 28:18-20).
It’s tempting to try to figure out when Jesus is coming back, but again, consider what He said to the disciples: Acts 1:6-8When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? And He said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto Me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.
We’re not supposed to get too hung up on the times and the seasons. Yes, watch and pray. And to be clear part of the Doctrine of Christ does include the resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment (see Hebrews 6:1-3). So, this is not to say we should avoid eschatology or the study of the end times. Notwithstanding, we should not get lost in the minutia of figuring out when Jesus is coming back. If what Jesus said isn’t enough, here’s a couple quick things to consider. How could you possibly make any sort of approximation of His return when God withheld specific things which were heard by His servants. Read Revelation 10:1-4 and Daniel 12:1-4. It’s very difficult to be accurate when you have missing information that can never be found out on this side of eternity. Essentially, we need to stay focused on the Lord’s business. We’ll leave this rabbit trail now.
When you combine hope with faith and patience you have a recipe for inheriting the promises of God. Hebrews 6:10-12For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward His Name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister. And we desire that every one of you do shew the same diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end: That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises.
Finally, no matter how wonderful things might be for you, or how not so wonderful they may be; remember, the best is yet to come. You’re not home yet!
How important is your reputation? How much do you protect it? This question runs deeper than it may appear on the surface. This states the obvious: if you consistently follow Jesus and do all things as unto Him, doing what is right in His eyes, your reputation will take care of itself. And honestly, it won’t be a consideration. On the other hand, if it becomes the forefront of your mind, you could easily slide off into hypocrisy. Why? Because you will likely become more concerned about outer appearances than who you are in Jesus, while overlooking things like character. It may actually rob you of integrity. When your reputation plays centerstage, your attention is completely on you. It becomes a place of pride, and gives place to the flesh. Instead of serving the Lord with your spirit, you would now rely on the arm of your flesh. Secondly, opinions of others would override your concern about how God sees you. Becoming a Pharisee is not that difficult. Our flesh loves attention and craves the praise of other humans. Consider some of the things Jesus said about the Pharisees. He called them hypocrites because they were pretenders. By definition it means actor. Therefore, everything is done for show, not purity of heart. Let’s bring it home: if you extend kindness to another for the sake of appearing kind, the act is not for the other person; it’s for you! It’s for your reputation. “Look at me,” cries the flesh. Luke 11:43Woe unto you, Pharisees! for ye love the uppermost seats in the synagogues, and greetings in the markets. Some people have been held captive by their reputation. Especially those who have had one that has been less than stellar. And we’ve seen those who’ve had a difficult time as children because of their family’s reputation. Of course, the opposite is true in other cases. Many have hearts that cry out: “I’m not the same as I used to be,” or “I’m not like my family, I am different!” Some will succumb to the reputation and act accordingly. Others will fight it with everything they’ve got. The former simply become who they believe to be true about themselves. And yes, actions often follow. Until they learn differently, they’ll never move on. The later may create a new one, but they may also find themselves fighting with imposter syndrome. Others may see them as being different, but they themselves might question whether they actually have the goods. In short, reputation can skew identity. Regardless of reputation, pride can take hold, making it difficult for legitimate change. Some take pride in their “badness,” while others take pride in their “goodness.” As it applies to family reputation, some take advantage of it. They simply use it as leverage. As disciples of Jesus Christ, our focus should be the glory of God. If we’re crucified with Christ (see Galatians 2:20), our reputation is no longer ours to hold onto. It’s counted as dead. Read 2 Corinthians 5:17. Be faithful to Jesus, and everything will be as it should. Proverbs 22:1A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favour rather than silver and gold. If you have Jesus, you have a good Name. His Name is the Name above all names. He is our righteous and He is our goodness (see 2 Corinthians 5:21). Colossians 3:17And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the Name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by Him. 2 Thessalonians 1:11-12Wherefore also we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfil all the good pleasure of His goodness, and the work of faith with power: That the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and ye in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.
We humans have a need for certainty, and one requirement for obtaining it is truth. Truth solidifies everything, and without it, there’s instability. Apart from the truth, no one feels completely at ease; in fact, most generally feel unsettled. When something feels amiss, there’s at least some element of truth missing. How many are fully confident in a given situation without having all the facts? If you want to make positive change in life, you need to know where you stand in order to assess what adjustments need to be made to move forward. Simply knowing where you’re at gives you a starting point.
In some instances, avoiding the truth is an act of fear, and for others it may be an act of rebellion. Some equate truth with pain, so they sidestep it. “The truth hurts.” Deep down many of them know they’re doing themselves more harm than good by doing so. If you were to reject truth, you would find confusion knocking at your door, along with anxiety. Interestingly, truth does bring a sense of freedom, along with certainty and peace. Jesus said it best: “If ye continue in My Word, then are ye My disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:31-32).
Why do so many reject the truth? They want what they want, and they don’t want it to interfere with their way of life. Insisting on your own way at the cost of truth leads to an unstable life. It’s the way of self-deception which leaves you vulnerable to blind spots. In one sense, it’s a form of self-sabotage, which may even affect your eternity. Truth begins with Jesus, as He Himself has said: “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me” (John 14:6). If you want absolute certainty, begin with Jesus. He is the Source of all truth, knowledge, wisdom and understanding. He is our Rock!
If I said, “God would stop the earth for my sake,” would that sound arrogant? It might, unless, you understood I’m not talking about me; I’m talking about His immense love. How far do you think God would move for you? Some might respond: “That’s fine for you and others, but I don’t deserve that kind of love!” Now that’s ridiculous! His love is not the type you can deserve, much less, earn. He freely gives His love. But then He is love (see 1 John 4:16-19). It’s His nature! This is not pie in the sky talk, this is Bible.
Romans 8:31-32What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not His Own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?
Do you know how many different pieces God has to move at the precise time in order to bring your prayers to pass? He has to move through circumstances and people, regardless of their willingness to agree with Him. Who knows what variables through which God navigates just for you. Your existence is proof in of itself. Try looking up the odds of you even being born. You’re a full blown miracle! Have you read Romans 8:28 lately? And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose. Consider this: our loving Father will take those circumstances and events that don’t look good at all, and use them to benefit us. That includes bringing our prayers to fruition. Is there proof in the Bible of His stopping the earth for someone? Try this on for size:
And Hezekiah said unto Isaiah, What shall be the sign that the Lord will heal me, and that I shall go up into the house of the Lord the third day? And Isaiah said, This sign shalt thou have of the Lord, that the Lord will do the thing that He hath spoken: shall the shadow go forward ten degrees, or go back ten degrees? And Hezekiah answered, It is a light thing for the shadow to go down ten degrees: nay, but let the shadow return backward ten degrees. And Isaiah the prophet cried unto the Lord: and He brought the shadow ten degrees backward, by which it had gone down in the dial of Ahaz (2 Kings 20:8-11 [read verses 1-7 for full context]). Check out Joshua 10:1-15.
Take a look at Genesis 37-50 which gives the account of Joseph’s life, and how God used circumstances that looked the polar opposite of what He revealed to him. Can you imagine, God gives you dreams which show you will one day rule over your entire family, and the next thing you know, your older brothers sell you into slavery? Not to mention throwing you into a pit just prior to that, along with conspiring to possibly murder you. And as if slavery isn’t enough, you’re falsely accused of a crime and thrown into prison. Of course more takes place, but this should suffice to paint the picture. It looks like you’re at the bottom to stay for the rest of your life. Then suddenly, God moves and you’re on top. That’s Joe’s story in a nutshell. God literally used everything Joseph experienced to place him in a place of authority which would lead to his saving his family and an entire nation from famine. Not to mention his ruling over his family.
Okay, one more: how good did it look when Jesus was on the Cross? You know the rest of the story! Perhaps, it’s time for you to receive His love and allow Him to move heaven and earth for you. He wants to bless you, the Cross and Resurrection of our Lord reveals this truth.
Romans 15:3-4For even Christ pleased not Himself; but, as it is written, The reproaches of them that reproached Thee fell on Me. For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.