Wednesday, 25 September 2013

The Lord's Discipline

E C, Bible Study, September 15, 2013

(Hebrews 12:5-12)
And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says,

“My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline,
and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,
 because the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.”

Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. “Make level paths for your feet,” so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.

If you love me, you should treat me better than others. However God’s method is that He disciplines much the one He loves.
The Proverbs says “Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them.” But some parents are indulgent to their children, so they have not the heart to beat him or her. He is the Lord who “lets his banner over me be love,” and rebukes even disciplines much more the one He loves. The illegitimate child is the one who He doesn’t discipline. He says discipline is for every son of God, each of them must have it.
We naturally don’t like discipline, just because today physical parents discipline their children in flesh, instead in God’s love and wisdom, so that we don’t like to be discipline. In the beginning, God would promise what I prayed for. That’s really the honeymoon with God. God was so nice to me that He would give almost everything I prayed for. However, after years, God would not listen to my prayer, even I don’t ask with wrong motives. What’s worse, God starts to set up environment to “love” me more and more (which means to discipline, because “the Lord disciplines the one He loves”) It turns out God loves me more and more each day, that means, I get disciplines more and more. I get doubtful and say “why things continue coming up before my original problem is solved.” I get less and less moved in the days of the Lord. It seems that God suddenly turns into a stepmother who always bothers from a lover who loves you.
There’s another important sign in this stage of life. That is the relationship between you and your church will get worse. There would be one or several guys who make you not eager to go to church.

After years in the wilderness, some people’s lives do change in quality. They finally win the battle and enter the land of Canaan. Their lives reveal purity, experience and staidness, abundance, and glory, which are so admirable. There are also some people wandering in the wilderness, and as last they don’t know where exactly they are.
Here is one instance. It’s like few lucky guys find out gold under wilderness, thus they follow fads to dig gold. However, most of them might dig no gold and cannot enter Canaan, and they end up a sheep wandering in wilderness for decades, a small and skinny sheep (ill and starving).
If we realize we are in this kind of situation, we should understand more about God’s disciplines. I want to enter Canaan, not wilderness.

What Is the Benefit of Disciplines?
For instance, we have the story of stepmother – to treat her own son – to treat the stepson – from a thief to a murder.
John 15:2 “He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.”
Branches which don’t bear fruit will be cut off, and then be thrown outside and get withered. Branches which bear fruit He prunes so that branches won’t grow randomly. Some branches grow so high, but bear only few fruits. The lord cut if off to prevent from continuing growing higher. It will be fruitful if it is cut short. For this reason, we can see some short trees bear much fruits. People like to grow higher to be honored by others. We don’t want to be short, but want to be raised. As a result, we can just bear few fruits.
God’s law: To be humble can bear more fruits and can have abundant life.
It’s a pity that so many Christians don’t realize why God treats me so rigorous but not to others. If I just have a wrong mindset and get mad, the Lord would leave me. It doesn’t matter if others usually lose their temper. Why do they still say the Lord is with them? Some people who don’t believe in Jesus still have a good life; they make money, and their houses are quite big. Contrarily, we have to be disciplined and to deal with ourselves.
What is the purpose of the Lord’s disciplines? The answer is in verse 11. He says, the purpose of discipline is to produce a harvest of righteousness and peace. He says, “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” Verse 10 says, “They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness.”
As a fallen sinner, how should we share in His holiness? The answer is discipline.

What Is the Consequence of People Who Don’t Want Discipline?
Psalm 73:1-6,8 “Surely God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart. But as for me, my feet had almost slipped; I had nearly lost my foothold. For I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. They have no struggles; their bodies are healthy and strong. They are free from common human burdens; they are not plagued by human ills. Therefore pride is their necklace; they clothe themselves with violence.”
And verse 12-26, “This is what the wicked are like— always free of care, they go on amassing wealth. Surely in vain I have kept my heart pure and have washed my hands in innocence. All day long I have been afflicted, and every morning brings new punishments. If I had spoken out like that, I would have betrayed your children. When I tried to understand all this, it troubled me deeply till I entered the sanctuary of God; then I understood their final destiny. Surely you place them on slippery ground; you cast them down to ruin. How suddenly are they destroyed, completely swept away by terrors! They are like a dream when one awakes; when you arise, Lord, you will despise them as fantasies. When my heart was grieved and my spirit embittered, I was senseless and ignorant; I was a brute beast before you. Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory. Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”
Verse 28 says, “But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign LORD my refuge; I will tell of all your deeds.”

What Is God’s Discipline?
How should we discern? (What is God’s law?)
What is the process in discipline?

Example: The days of Israel from Exodus to Numbers.

In Exodus, Israelites who escape from the hands of Pharaoh complained to God five times, however God satisfied their ask very quickly. For example:
1.    Near the Red Sea, as people complained, God separate the Red Sea right away. He gave a super miracle.
2.    At Marah, the wilderness of Sin, and at Meribah, people complained three times. God immediately gave water, Manna, and quails. Awesome!
3.    Finally, at the foot of Sinai, because people’s hearts were covered with fatness, they actually made a calf of gold to worship. God was so angry and valued them as “stiffnecked people.” However once Moses asked God, He immediately became “relent” and do not bring disaster on people.

4.    All of this happened within few months short after Israelites came out of Egypt.

After salvation and covenant at the foot of Sinai in Leviticus, the “honeymoon” between people and God was finished. What’s the next is several “ghastly wrath and punishment of Jehovah” in Numbers. There are ten more disciplines of God in Numbers.
1.       From big fire in Taberah and the disaster of quails;
2.       To the leader of God’s house, Miriam and Aaron provoked to Moses;
3.       To the time the spies who explored Canaan brought back the bad news, people were despairing and obstinate;
4.       To the company of Korah fell into the underworld, and the following big plague;
5.       To people irritated Moses to smite the rock, and the water came out, so that Moses cannot enter Canaan;
6.       To fiery serpents attacked people;
7.       To people indulged in sexual immorality with Moabite women, and it caused a big plague.
 Just in Numbers, at least millions of people died.  

Ten months stay at the foot of Sinai is the spiritual turning point. First, people made a covenant with God at the foot of Sinai and received the law and the commandment of God. Since then, this people will never be a spiritual baby who is coddled, in contrast, they have to take their own spiritual responsibility and obligation. So if people violate the covenant and are disciplined by God, it would be a matter of course. People cannot complain.
So I advise every brothers and sisters that if you make a covenant with the Lord, make sure you understand your responsibility and the future test, as long as you get the proof, please do not sign the contract so quickly just because you are zealous…… (Just joking)

The Second Example --- Track of Disciplines

Book of DanielNebuchadnezzar king deported young talents of Judah to Babylon.
Thousands of years ago, the patriarch Abraham in Genesis Chapter 11:31, Chapter 12 and 13 – His route - Ur of the Chaldeans (Babylon) – Harran (which is also called Paddan Aram. It belonged to Assyria later.) He stopped there and compromised until his father’s death – (crossed Euphrates River) – Canaan – Egypt – finally Canaan.

Cross the river:  it concerns to leave the world behind.
In Harran, he thought of Ur, which is a place people worship luna. He felt like going home, and stopped there, so he was half obedient.

The descendants of Abraham didn’t please God. How did God deal with and discipline?
There’s a story that a kid who eats ice cream eats too much so that he vomits.

1.       He only rooted out Israel. Here we can see the hands of God; (Israelites were deported to Babylon three times, for they disobeyed the covenant with God, including worshiping idols. The first time was in the era of Daniel. The second time was in the era of Ezekiel, 597 B.C. In the Book of Jeremiah, 587 B.C., Jerusalem was completely ruined.)
----- The betrayal and rejection of Israel became the biggest discipline and misery. They were unfaithful to God and went back to the worldly Babylon.
2.       The disciplines to ten tribes of Israel were the same. They returned to the original place where Abraham ever lived – Assyria (Paddan Aram) and stopped halfway. Next they were dispersed everywhere in the world and were completely downfallen now.
----- Because they didn’t care the testimony of God.
The descendants didn’t please God and offended God so that they ended up with capture.
1.    Ten tribes were disciplined by God. When they arrived at Assyria (Paddan Aram) and stopped halfway. Then they were dispersed everywhere in the world and now completely downfallen. – gone.
2.    Two tribes went to Babylon and God promised them to return 70 years later.
The responsibility and testimony of God’s temple is assigned by God to these two tribes.

In Babylon, God healed Israelites with heavy dosage at once. He healed them in 70 years. Daniel had turned white hair from black hair in 70 years. Israel learnt a lesson and God made them rooted out completely.

You like to worship idols? Okay, I make you return to the place of worshiping idols.
To discipline is first to break us down in order to build up us. After they return to Jerusalem, the disease of worshiping idols will completely be healed. Afterwards, they set up synagogues.

The principle: after they were fallen, they were in God’s discipline for a while. It was 70 years for Israel, and the time was not lessened. God’s grace was still with them.

What they have learned was that people should surrender in the hands of the Lord. When people fail, it’s time for them to fight against problems. The blood of Jesus will forgive our sin.
How innocent is Daniel? His ancestor and parents committed sin and offended God, but he and their descendants should bear their sin.

It’s a misunderstanding that when God blames and disciplines us due to His love, we usually consider disciplines as rejection. (rejected, shame, trauma)
We are the most loved of God. We should recall the enthusiasm of holiness inside us.


Three Kinds of Responses and How Should I Do to Finish Disciplines? What Is the Origin That Finishes Disciplines?
1. First: completely lose the fight
As long as people go into the wilderness, they get dispirited and lose the fight. They also do not have any life’s purpose. It seems not to be biblical for them to pursue the world and personal success, however as for the spiritual things, they don’t have any idea to bear. It seems like that walking on the heavenly road is horrible for them.

As for “the crown of life and the heavenly gift,” we just listen to others’ sharing. If you want me to take part in the sufferings, I will be frightened and uninterested. What’s worse, even if I triumph and enter Canaan, I will either need to pay more attention to live a godly life or fall into the dark era of Judges.

After we believe in Jesus, especially when we are in the wilderness, we begin to burst into tears. And sometimes “all night long I flood my bed with weeping and drench my couch with tears.” I wander and drift in the wilderness again and again.

The Lord said we should not be discouraged when we are disciplined by Him. But the response of the first kind of person is to be discouraged as they are disciplined and pruned by God. They don’t know God actually loves them so that He prunes them. Instead, they think that God don’t like them so He rejects them.

2. The second: God, please let me walk slower.

People, who are holier and after God’s own heart, will be more disciplined by God if they commit sin. For everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded. For instances, Moses was irritated by people so that he stroke the rock and water came out. It resulted that he can’t enter Canaan. They indeed have so much difficulty, risk, even helplessness behind their joyful services. The more I reflect over my own disciplines and spanking, the more I can’t help fall back due to difficulties.

We can see rascals, scoundrels, and baby among Christians who look so affluent. Of course small potatoes have their own problems, but if they are compared to those great and difficult blocks in the house of God, it will be nothing. It turns out that if I can choose, I’d rather walk slower on the road to seek God’s will and be a sweeper or a janitor in the Heaven.

The problem of the second kind of people might be that they can’t lay down things in the world. From their point of view, they set a low standard on the worldly things. To be frank, they just want to earn their bread easily on the Earth. In addition to reading Bible and praying on every single day, they just do some church works and try their best to be a good guy, and spread the gospel when they have an “appropriate” chance. Last, if God has mercy to them to talk with them, they would be satisfied. As for other things such as “the crown of life and heavenly gifts,” they are not interested and don’t want to pursue at all.

When the troop gets on the battlefield, recruits’ knees would knock together. However if they are in a killing frenzy, they will forget fright. In the real battle deserters would be beheaded, so they’d rather be in a frenzy to kill. But in the spiritual warfare of the house of God, there seems no responsibility and obligation to go to battlefront. It seems like things belong to pastors, missionaries, and elders. After pondering, it seems safer to mingle with baby soldiers.
The response of the second kind of people:
“because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.” While God disciplines them via others, they don’t want to accept, instead, they feel hurt and become bitter and even do not forgive.

God’s disciplines to Israelites can also apply to us. In the Old Testament, God rises up the enemy to attack His people. In the era of New Testament, the enemy is Satan. God usually gives us light and blames us via others, podiums, or other’s testimony. If we don’t want to obey, we will be disciplined or chastened. Their reaction is feeling hurt, becoming bitter, and not to forgive. While we have negative reactions in our mind, Satan would use them to push us around. Because we’ve built up its camp in our mind, it would use those things to irritate and hurt us, making us suspicious and insecure. If we don’t want to repent and be awakened while suffering, we would be captured.

3. The third: produces a harvest of righteousness and peace

Jonah 3:5-9 “The Ninevites believed God. A fast was proclaimed, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth.
When Jonah’s warning reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, took off his royal robes, covered himself with sackcloth and sat down in the dust. This is the proclamation he issued in Nineveh:
By the decree of the king and his nobles:
Do not let people or animals, herds or flocks, taste anything; do not let them eat or drink. But let people and animals be covered with sackcloth. Let everyone call urgently on God. Let them give up their evil ways and their violence. Who knows? God may yet relent and with compassion turn from his fierce anger so that we will not perish.”

When God wanted to judge Nineveh, He sent Jonah to proclaim that “Forty more days and Nineveh will be overthrown.” Ninevites did not answer “No way! How can you speak negative words to us? Are you cursing us out?”  No, they immediately obeyed God.  So when somebody gives us some warning that if you don’t change your attitude you will bla bla bla…, never feel like that “You always roast me. You enjoy cursing me.” No, we need to believe God.
Ninevites proclaimed not only fasting and prayer, but also leaving the throne. The most important is to make the old self leave the throne and take off royal robes, which stands for our social status. We should leave the throne and take off royal robes before we can remove social status. We need to take off the old self and be humble in advance, so that we can be healed and live in peace with everyone.

The response of Ninevites: “Let them give up their evil ways and their violence.”

Joseph knows it is God who sends him to Egypt beforehand to save many lives. Joseph is a natural person who also feels a big pain in his heart. However the response he has is not the second one, instead it’s the third one. Therefore, he has two sons and gives them special names. The firstborn is named Manasseh which means to forget. He says “It is because God has made me forget all my trouble and all my father’s household.” He forgets his former trials. And the second son he names Ephraim which means twice fruitful. “It is because God has made me fruitful in the land of my suffering.” When Joseph is pruned by God, he really forgets troubles in former days. To forget is exactly to forgive. You need to really forgive so that you are able to forget. If you can forget, that will be truly forgiveness. When he forgets his troubles, then God makes him fruitful. When God makes me suffer, He will make me fruitful in the land of my suffering. So when he faces his elder brothers.
Genesis 45: 5-8 “
And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you. For two years now there has been famine in the land, and for the next five years there will be no plowing and reaping. But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance. “So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God. He made me father to Pharaoh, lord of his entire household and ruler of all Egypt.”


If you ever got hurt in any environment in the past:
1.       Must have fasting and prayer. Seek God with all your heart;
2.       Rise from your throne and be humble;
3.       Give up your evil way;
4.       Give up your violence.
You must forgive before you can be healed. The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. He will heal you and redeem your life.

Our life should pass those tests and get pruned, so that we are able to bless others. All we suffer are under God’s hands.

God’s disciplines benefit us.
If God wants to give His gift and blessings to people, He doesn’t always use the pleasant way. At some time, I heard that when a little boy took medicine which is too bitter to swallow, his father said “The pill contains multivitamins.” The boy said “Dad, why is such good thing put in unsavory thing instead in ice cream?”  Vitamin is put in unsavory medicine.

I’ve heard a sermon of God’s servant, saying “I am usually grateful for disciplines and punishment due to sin, because if God treat me according to my downfall, I should be punished heavier. As for blessings and uses from God, I usually feel unworthy to them and am grateful, because I know my weakness and know so many people are more worthy than me. I usually feel worthy of suffering and humiliation for Jesus’s sake, thus I am grateful. For nobody in this world can love me so deeply that I can devote my life.”

“They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” (Hebrews 12:10-11)


(Deuteronomy  8:5)
Know then in your heart that as a man disciplines his son, so the LORD your God disciplines you. 

(Job 5:17)
“Blessed is the one whom God corrects; so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty.

(Proverbs 3:11)
My son, do not despise the LORD’s discipline, and do not resent his rebuke.

(Proverbs 12:1) 
Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but whoever hates correction is stupid.

(Proverbs 13:18)
Whoever disregards discipline comes to poverty and shame, but whoever heeds correction is honored.

(Proverbs 13:24)
Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them.

(Proverbs 15:5)
A fool spurns a parent’s discipline, but whoever heeds correction shows prudence.

(Proverbs 15:32)
Those who disregard discipline despise themselves, but the one who heeds correction gains understanding.

(Hebrews 12:5-12)
And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says,

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