“I don’t believe God disciplines anyone,” she told me as we stood outside the back doors of the hospital on our morning coffee break. I have to admit, I was caught off guard. Linda (name changed for privacy) had been doing prison ministries with me for a couple years. I found her full of God’s compassion, and I enjoyed hearing her speak about the Lord’s guidance over our lives. “Linda, the bible clearly tells us He disciplines us as a loving Father would,” came my automatic answer. “I know, but that was like what He did to Eli, or those other people in the Old Testament” was her reassurance to me. My conversation with Linda that day brought me to more and more of an awareness of how many people don’t understand the discipline we receive yet today. And without understanding that it is there, it can be hard to receive it as it was meant and change our thoughts and deeds in accordance with God’s Will.
How often do you repent? I mean really pray for forgiveness, vow to do everything in you to stop, and ask the Lord to help you stop? How often are you completely turning away from your sin? This concept evaded me as a new Christian. Wasn’t admitting I was a sinner and accepting Jesus’ sacrifice as payment for my sins enough? Wasn’t that the end of the road? Well, that’s enough to be saved from hell. But I want more. I am ever so grateful to be pardoned for my past sins and accept Jesus as my Savior which affects my eternal existence. But I want to be affected now. I want more than to stumble frustrated and lonely every day through this desperate and broken world waiting to be in His Glory. I want something now—a relationship that gives the joy I need to live the physical life I have been given now. I want to walk with Jesus now. But as the saying goes, Jesus will not walk with you when you are holding the devil’s hand.
If you are a woman, or if you know one well, then you know they are their own encyclopedia of emotions. Along with the excitement, joy, and gratitude, they can also harvest resentment, embarrassment, and offense. For reasons no one (except another woman) could understand, things that probably shouldn’t hurt us do. And things that should only hurt for a little while hold on for a lifetime. It is our lot in life to be emotionally vulnerable. And the emotions we feel help us to feel great joy when others feel joy, to feel empathy for those in need, and gratefulness at the blessings bestowed upon us. We are not, however, to entertain the negative emotions to the point where they interfere with our lives, change our personalities, and run our days. So how are we to control our emotions when they are so good at controlling us?
If you love Jesus and the sweet words He whispers to you, then no doubt you spend time in His Word. Soaking it up. Breathing it in. Meditating on His every Word for you. Desiring to live His best plan for your life. You curl up with your favorite blanket, breathe in the sweet smell of your redeemed life, and you close your eyes. You ask for discernment for the precious Words you are about to read. When you are done, you settle in deeper and open up your bible. Today, however, is uncomfortable. Perhaps the words on the page are convicting. Perhaps they reveal sin. Maybe they squash a theory that you hold to be true. Maybe they even shed light on a loved one–in a way that you don’t like. Now what? Do you shut the Book? Or will you play the trail mix game–deciding what you like and what you will throw out? Can you just keep reading?
Do you ever get so down on the evils of this world that you just can’t believe there can be any good left here? That we must be living in the end days because the world is so filled with evil? And then just when it can’t get any worse, something happens. Something so inexplicable that it turns your stomach. Your emotions are swelled deep inside and all you can do is ask, Why God? How long will this last? Last week, this is exactly what happened. Most of us saw the unthinkable tragedy happen on television, the internet, or via newspaper on Wednesday night. For me, it was ten o’clock at night and the Farmer had just left to bale hay all night. I turned to a trusted news feed on my internet and was immediately overwhelmed by what I saw.
As for me and my house we will serve the Lord. Joshua 24:15 In our house, we serve the Lord. Most people who are reading this, I imagine, serve the Lord too. When you serve the Creator of Heaven and Earth, you fall in love. You crave relationship. Eventually, you worship–it can’t be helped. It’s like when you find the man of your dreams and you can’t help but gush over him all the time. But with God, it’s 100 times more amazing. Do you ever find yourself in a place where you are saying to yourself, I should be worshiping, and I know it’s supposed to be natural when you’re in love–and I’m in love. So how come I’m not worshiping? Could it be that you are worshiping something else for that time? […]
God has a lot to say about our eyes. They are far more important than carnal man understands. At first observance, our eyes are merely for seeing the physical things around us in order that we be able to make good judgments about the physical space we choose to place our own body, and it’s parts, to obtain the things we desire as well as to keep our physical being safe. Upon further maturation, our eyes are used to observe the physical presence of other animate things, and how the environment, animals or people interact with other such physical beings–may this be in person, or through the development of computers or television. One very important thing about them specifically that God tells us about our eyes is their human function and how to get the best use of them.
We are called to love each other. We are called to serve one another. And we are called to forgive. We will love those who don’t love us back–and it’s hard. I have heard story after story about parents whose children grow up and leave home–and don’t look back. Hard feelings are all that are left of the relationship. We will serve those who don’t serve us back–and we may feel as though we are “owed” something. Things just weren’t fair. But…where do we stand on forgiveness when the other person doesn’t apologize? Or even want forgiveness? Or don’t even believe they have acted wrongfully?
Friends, I want to ask you something today. Is your church body united? Or are you broken? I’ve been to a few churches that are really united. Many of the ones I’ve been to have a united team at the top and then kind of…fizzle on down the totem pole. And a few of them aren’t even united at the top. And you know what? That’s what Satan wants. He doesn’t want any of that unity talk for us. He wants us to hurt each other’s feelings, and hold grudges. He wants us to be proud when we help others in the church–in fact, he wants us to take credit for helping others instead of giving glory to God for it. And in some churches, he’s winning.
How do you respond to a confrontational situation? When someone says something you don’t agree with, are you responding in a way God would desire of you? Do you feel like you have to be right all the time? That you have to have control of the situation? If you are young, do you feel that the older generation are “out of touch” and you’re the one who really understands the world? Or, are you of the older generation who views all younger people as “just kids” who will never understand the world like you do? And if you do feel one of these ways, do you speak to people in this manner? Or do you keep it to yourself? How would Jesus want us to speak and behave around others with different interests than our own?