This chapter talks about the discipline or the chastening of the Lord. When we go through difficult times, the devil tempts us to believe that it’s because God doesn’t love us or because we aren’t really believers or that we must have done something so horrible that He will no longer help us.
But in reality, the opposite is true. This chapter clearly tells us that “whom the Lord loves He chastens.” So whether we are chastened because of unrepentant sin, pruned so that we will bear more fruit (Jn. 15), or suffering the consequences of our own choices (Gal. 6.7-9), it is proof that God loves us.
As Psalm 119.71 says, “It is good for me that I have been afflicted, that I may learn Your statutes” and verse 75 adds, “in faithfulness You have afflicted me.”
Pastor James MacDonald has done a wonderful, life-changing series based on Hebrews 12.5-17 entitled When Life Is Hard. In it he explains the importance of understanding how God as the Perfect Parent lovingly disciplines His children, how He does it because He loves us, and how He uses it for our good.
He also outlines the dangerous process that can happen to someone who rejects God’s discipline. That person can become discouraged and then bitter. That bitterness can defile everything and everyone around it. And, if those attitudes are not dealt with, it can lead to profane living and, finally, rejection.
God continues to speak through the prophet, this time to Tyre, a coastal city in modern Lebanon famous for its trade and goods. In 28.11-17 he speaks to the King of Tyre. This passage and others in the Bible, especially in the prophetic books and the Psalms, have duel meanings. While it is addressed to the historical king and city, it also speaks of Satan who was the power behind the King of Tyre. Continue reading →
Verse 14, “The spirit of a man will sustain him in sickness, but who can bear a broken spirit?”
As human beings, we are able to withstand great physical and circumstantial difficulties. And as believers, who better understand how to respond to those difficulties, all the more so.
But when we lose hope (Prov. 13.12) or are undergoing spiritual pressure, even lesser problems can seem too much to bear.
Certainly spiritual pressure can be the enemy’s attempt to get us to quit when we are walking in obedience or stepping out in faith. That’s one reason why Scripture tells us to encourage one another (1 Thess. 5.11) and why we are not to forsake coming together with other believers, including church attendance and fellowship. Hebrews 10.23-25:
23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, 25 not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.
But spiritual pressure can also come from God Himself as He deals with us regarding sin. Hebrews 12.5-11:
5 And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons:
“My son, do not despise the chastening of the LORD, Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; 6 For whom the LORD loves He chastens, And scourges every son whom He receives.”
7 If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? 8 But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons. 9 Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness. 11 Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
While I don’t want to imply that all depression has a sinful cause, sin can result in increased spiritual pressure, depression, and anxiety.
Mike Wilkerson in his book Redemption says that we are all fellow sufferers and fellow sinners. Sometimes it’s us who sins and sometimes we suffer because of the sins of others. But even when the initial sin wasn’t ours, we often respond sinfully. Sometimes with fear and worry, sometimes with anger and bitterness, sometimes we turn to alcohol, drugs, food or some other false god instead of turning to God. Continue reading →
Philippians 1.6 being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.
What a great promise! We can be confident, not in ourselves that we’ll somehow make it to the end, but if we belong to Him, He will finish the work He has started in us. God Himself is the guarantor of His promises.
It would be nice if He just sprinkled some pixy dust over us and we were instantly changed. But that’s not the way God usually does His work in us.
And … We often wish He would do that in other people’s lives, too.
When we’ve been unequally yoked and a husband comes to know the Lord, we want them to immediately be where we are. When someone close to us surrenders his or her life to God, especially if it has been a difficult relationship, we can be unrealistic in our expectations.
There is immediate change in our lives and the lives of others. Before we were lost and now we belong to God. 2 Cor. 5.17 says we are new creations; we were born again by the Spirit of God, but it takes time for those changes to work themselves out in our daily living.
That’s not an excuse. In fact, as God shows us areas where we need to change and grow we need to respond to those promptings.
Heb. 5.12-14 says:
12 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. 13 For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. 14 But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use (the NASB says PRACTICE) have their senses exercised (TRAINED) to discern both good and evil.
Some of us are still babies sucking on milk because we don’t do the things God has told us to do. AMEN … or OH MY.
Even then, God doesn’t stop doing His work in us, but it’s going to take longer and probably involve more pain and hardship.
What processes does He use to complete the work He started in us? I like to talk about five major ways.
God changes us as we learn to do 5 things:
1. Count it all joy (James 1.2-8).
2 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. 4 But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t usually feel like being joyful when I’m in the midst of a trial. How can we count it all joy when we’re in a trial? Continue reading →
God continues to speak through the prophet, this time to Tyre, a coastal city in modern Lebanon famous for its trade and goods. In 28.11-17 he speaks to the King of Tyre. This passage and others in the Bible, especially in the prophetic books and the Psalms, have duel meanings. While it is addressed to the historical king and city, it also speaks of Satan who was the power behind the King of Tyre.
In both cases God addressed their pride and arrogance. It was pride that caused Satan to exalt himself above God and cost him his place in the heavenly kingdom.
Stuart Scott in his little book From Pride to Humility, says, “Pride is the epidemic vice. It is everywhere and manifests itself in many ways. As much as we may hate to admit it, we all have pride, each and every one of us. The question is not, ‘Do I have it?’ but, ‘Where is it?’ and ‘How much of it do I have?'”
Scott says, “… humility is the one character quality that will enable us to be all Christ wants us to be. We cannot come to God without it. We cannot love God supremely without it. We cannot be an effective witness for Christ without it. We cannot love and serve others without it. We cannot lead in a godly way without it. We cannot communicate properly without it. We cannot resolve conflict without it. We cannot deal with the sin of others rightly without it. We especially cannot resist sin without it.”
He goes on to list 30 manifestations of pride (what he calls, “just a sample list”).
Let’s pray that we allow God to root out pride in our lives and help us to grow in humility.
Does God cause someone to sin? And how does God use the sins of others for our good and His glory?
2 Samuel 23 & 24
2 Samuel 23 & 24:
David a man of strength and weakness
Here we are at the last two chapters of 2 Samuel. They read like a summary of David’s life, both at his best and at his worst.
Chapter 23 gives David’s last inspired words (vv. 2-7), calling him “the sweet psalmist of Israel.” What a great ending—or is it? Along comes chapter 24. Verse 1, “Again the anger of the LORD was aroused against Israel, and He moved David against them to say, ‘Go, number Israel and Judah.'”
There’s so much contained in that one verse. First, was it God who “caused” David to sin against the people? James 1.13-15 says, “Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am tempted by God’; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.”
David, like all of us, was first and foremost tempted by his own sinful heart. 1 Chron. 21.1 says, “Now Satan stood up against Israel, and moved David to number Israel.” So God, for His sovereign purposes allowed Satan to tempt David to do what was already in his heart.
So what was the sin that manifested itself here? Notice the last part of verse 2, “… count the people, that I may know the number of the people.” David counted the people out of his pride so that he would know the number of people over which he had rule.
What about the phrase, “Again the anger of the LORD was aroused against Israel …”? Remember these were the people who had followed Absalom in rebellion against David and then afterwards, many of them had followed Sheba. So God allowed David to be His instrument of discipline in the lives of the people while he used the situation to reveal to David the pride in his own heart.
Romans 8.28-29, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.”
So what or whom is He using in your life to conform you to the image of His Son? How might He even be using someone else’s sin as an instrument of discipline in your life? What does He want you to see? How did David respond and how should you respond?
Verse 17, “Then David spoke to the LORD when he saw the angel who was striking the people, and said, ‘Surely I have sinned, and I have done wickedly; but these sheep, what have they done? Let Your hand, I pray, be against me and against my father’s house.'” David took responsibility for his own sin. He didn’t blame the people. He understood that God was well able to deal with the sins of others.
Remember … remember … remember
God repeatedly reminds us to “remember” His deeds. In these verses David continues to recount the works of God so that he might “remember.”
Don’t rejoice in the calamity of others
Verse 5b, “… He who is glad at calamity will not go unpunished.” 1 Corinthians 13.6 says, love “does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth.”
So the works of God can be revealed
Verses 1-3, “Now as Jesus passed by, He saw a man who was blind from birth. And His disciples asked Him, saying, ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?’ Jesus answered, ‘Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him.'”
Often those things that we call “handicaps” are opportunities for the glory of God to be manifest whether through healing, as with this man, or through His grace in allowing that person to serve Him in a special, and just as miraculous, way.
What about you? Questions to ponder or journal:
Reread the questions in the 2 Samuel section. What or whom is God using in your life to conform you to the image of Christ?
What have you seen in your life as a weakness or handicap that God wants to use for His glory?