Loving Discipline

HEB 4:14-16 ESV
Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

PERSONAL COMMENTARY
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As a parent, I watch my child as we teach her and as she learns her way along this path in life. I see her make some mistakes, totally unaware of what she is doing because she hasn’t yet been taught and she doesn’t yet understand. Those are great moments to teach with love and tenderness to explain what she needs to learn. Sometimes it takes several times before she catches on, but sometimes she gets it the first time and then she knows it.

Not very often do I see her slip into open rebellion where I know that she knows better but chooses to do it anyways. In fact, I’m trying to come up with an example to use and it is hard for me to pick a clear example – but some of the best examples I have are when she is distracted and isn’t listening to her mommy or isn’t following her mommy’s instructions. When I see this happening, a different tone of voice comes from this daddy and says, “Listen to your mommy.” It is still spoken with love, but she knows the firmness in this voice, and she still fears what is on the other side of that voice.

But I know the time will come in the future where she tests the firmness of that warning. And when that happens, she will face the discipline that backs up the warning. Don’t get me wrong, at times she has already faced discipline of time out, etc – but even then it hasn’t been because of open rebellion. There is a different level of urgency involved when a child grows bold enough to try open rebellion, because I know the dangers that open rebellion leads to.

You see, I don’t get mad at my child for doing wrong versus right, because I know that she is part of me and I am part of her. Many of her weaknesses are those things in me that she inherited from my natural tendencies and urges, the same nature that I inherited from my parents and that weaves back through history. These are the temptations and traps that I know that I have fallen into in my life, so I hope that she won’t follow in my steps, but I know that she probably will if I don’t teach her and warn her.

So this strong and strict discipline that waits on the other side of my teaching and my warnings – I don’t want her to face that. I would rather she listen and believe what I tell her, because it is meant to protect her from the harm that comes from those traps of life. But she has me in her, so I fear that rebellion is inevitable. I know that this strict discipline and correction will be necessary to teach her when she crosses the line and tests my resolve.

And knowing the dangers that she faces if I don’t discipline her and teach her, I cannot hold back this punishment, even if it pains me that I am the one punishing her for the moment. But it is done in love, and not in wrath, but in loving discipline. Hoping to protect her from as many traps as possible.

If she loves me and understands that I love her, she will trust that what I do, I do for her. But if she did not love me back, if she distrusted me, if she did not understand, if she hated me, and all she did was rebel against me and receive strict discipline – might she mistake my loving discipline as wrath?

Isn’t it the same with the kingdom of God?

I’m so thankful that He knows my weaknesses and shows me mercy. If I was ungrateful, I would make excuses to stay in my sinful ways, thinking God to be full of wrath wanting to keep me away from the pleasures of life. But I am thankful that He cares enough to correct me and guide me, even in those times when I need strong correction.

And because I trust Him and know that He loves me and will guide me in the paths that avoid these traps, I draw near to Him, I seek His will for my life, I repent from those ways that He gives warning about – because even if I don’t yet understand His reasoning behind why I should avoid it, I trust in His guidance, just like a loving child trusts their loving father.

Doubt Devours

1PE 5:6-10 ESV
Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.

PERSONAL COMMENTARY
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A sin alone, a stumble, is not what devours. Doubt is what devours. Destruction of faith leaves one powerless, so this is the goal of the enemy.

Being tricked by the enemy into a trap that appears outwardly like sin, this is how the enemy tries to work against us – because he can’t see our heart. For example, if I am helping someone needy, and they use that help and twist it into a way to enable bad things in their own life, the devil will try to use that as an accusation against me. He might say things like, “You are empowering the enemy by helping someone that is doing evil.” He might tell you all kinds of things to try to make you doubt and question your purpose and direction.

And this questioning is good if you have vision to see it for what it is, because then that attack from the roaring lion can be used to sharpen you, not to tear you down. And it is good if you use it to examine and make any necessary refinements to yourself.

The armor that we wear in this spiritual battle is what protects us from these attacks from the roaring lion that is seeking to devour someone:

Ephesians 6:10-20 ESV
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.

This lion will try to twist words to make other men of flesh and blood out to be the enemy, when we should know that those men doing evil are just lost sinners, in slavery to the bondage of the true enemy, those evil forces unseen (like we once were ourselves).

And the weapon that we have to use is the Word of God. And not to be used as a weapon against another man, because we are not meant to use it as a club to beat over the head of our brothers of flesh and blood. No, this sword is a surgical instrument that is not meant to be used in the ways of the flesh, anger, accusations, slander, strife, For if we weild the sword against men, it will be weilded against us, and who can meet the requirements of the law?

No, we are to use the Word in the Spirit of God, in love towards our fellow man. It is used against the enemy, against the disease of evil and sin that has them condemned and corrupted. So our best weapons against the enemy are the fruits of the spirit.

Galatians 5:22-23 ESV
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

Because if how we are walking is bearing the fruits of the spirit, if we have the right reasons in our hearts for the things that we do, the enemy can bring all the evidence that he can find of our outward actions, but the Lord knows our hearts and our minds and our attitudes and our intentions. And these attacks that are meant to shame us and convict us by the tricks of the enemy, actually serve to prove our hearts more fully to the Lord.

Isaiah 54:14-17 ESV
In righteousness you shall be established; you shall be far from oppression, for you shall not fear; and from terror, for it shall not come near you. If anyone stirs up strife, it is not from me; whoever stirs up strife with you shall fall because of you. Behold, I have created the smith who blows the fire of coals and produces a weapon for its purpose. I have also created the ravager to destroy; no weapon that is fashioned against you shall succeed, and you shall refute every tongue that rises against you in judgment. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord and their vindication from me, declares the Lord .”

No weapon formed against me shall succeed of I have Christ in me. Because the enemy can influence the world around me, and can lay traps so that I might stumble, but the Lord can turn even that to his honor and glory.

Let us all have the vision to see the attacks of the enemy, to be equipped and prepared for them, and to hold firm in our faith, proven by the fiery trials of the spiritual battle.

Tears of Joy

Yep, I’m just like a sobbing woman.

Luke 7:36-47 ESV
One of the Pharisees asked him to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. And behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that he was reclining at table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment, and standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head and kissed his feet and anointed them with the ointment. Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner.” And Jesus answering said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” And he answered, “Say it, Teacher.” “A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more?” Simon answered, “The one, I suppose, for whom he cancelled the larger debt.” And he said to him, “You have judged rightly.” Then turning toward the woman he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.”

My tears are in joy.

Soar like Eagles

ISA 40:31 ESV
but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.

PERSONAL COMMENTARY
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Waiting for the Lord is not sitting idle. It is faithfully following, loving and serving, anticipating His return, so that our life can be an offering and an example that proves our heart of love towards Him and towards our fellow man. And this outward proof of our inner heart is not meant to prove to God, because He already knows. It is not meant to prove to other men, because they don’t know our true motives. But it is meant to prove to me whether I am serving the Lord and Honoring the Lord with my life.

When we do this, when we are patient for His return in this manner, we will find that we are changed and formed into a new vessel even as we wait patiently. We will find that our lives are filled with a new spirit, a new guide, a new teacher – the Holy Spirit. And we will soar like eagles on the wings of this Holy Spirit producing fruits in our lives.

So we choose whether to be worms in the mud, or eagles soaring in the sky – not by our works, but by our patient faith in Christ.

Put in Work

Luke 19:12-27 ESV
He said therefore, “A nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and then return. Calling ten of his servants, he gave them ten minas, and said to them, ‘Engage in business until I come.’ But his citizens hated him and sent a delegation after him, saying, ‘We do not want this man to reign over us.’ When he returned, having received the kingdom, he ordered these servants to whom he had given the money to be called to him, that he might know what they had gained by doing business. The first came before him, saying, ‘Lord, your mina has made ten minas more.’ And he said to him, ‘Well done, good servant! Because you have been faithful in a very little, you shall have authority over ten cities.’ And the second came, saying, ‘Lord, your mina has made five minas.’ And he said to him, ‘And you are to be over five cities.’ Then another came, saying, ‘Lord, here is your mina, which I kept laid away in a handkerchief; for I was afraid of you, because you are a severe man. You take what you did not deposit, and reap what you did not sow.’ He said to him, ‘I will condemn you with your own words, you wicked servant! You knew that I was a severe man, taking what I did not deposit and reaping what I did not sow? Why then did you not put my money in the bank, and at my coming I might have collected it with interest?’ And he said to those who stood by, ‘Take the mina from him, and give it to the one who has the ten minas.’ And they said to him, ‘Lord, he has ten minas!’ ‘I tell you that to everyone who has, more will be given, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. But as for these enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, bring them here and slaughter them before me.’”

PERSONAL COMMENTARY
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Yes, we who are called, we who are His, we who have received this blessing of salvation – we are not meant to hide it under a handkerchief, we are meant to share it and grow it.

If we believe that all are condemned without Christ, then do we not love one another enough to help others find their salvation?

Or do we just say that we believe, but we don’t truly believe in our hearts the Word of God is true? Are we instead picking and choosing which parts we think are right, relying on ourselves to build up a new religion of self that meets our own WANTS – but that in return leaves us lacking of our NEEDS which is truth and guidance.

Am I hiding in my faith quietly and without loving service to others when I should be rejoicing for my own salvation and crying out for the salvation of the lost? Am I putting in work for the Lord as a good and faithful servant, or am I so misunderstanding of my Lord’s love for me that I am expecting His wrath, so I cower in fear?

We do not have to face His wrath, us children of the one and only most high God. So I encourage you, friend. Draw near to Him, know that you are His, and receive this blessing of grace, and share it and grow it. Don’t hide it.

Be the change in the world that you want to see. Be the love and mercy and forgiveness towards others that we all need. Be the bearer of truth and the encouragement that all of us redeemed children of God need guiding or lives.
Do not hate the man of flesh, but detest the sin, the evil power that has him entangled and trapped on a close that leads to passion and destruction. Remember when you were trapped as well, and lovingly and gently reach out to help your fellow man.

Let’s rid our own lives from evil. Let’s all resist this temptation and watch the evil flee from us. But this is because we have the power of the Holy Spirit in us, so we should not forget that we were once imprisoned and a slave to this sin. So we have no reason to consider ourselves worthy of any less punishment or judgement than the poor sinner on front of us. Because we are not yet perfected either. In fact, it is our hope that God will show them the same mercy and grace that He has shown us. Because He is a just and merciful Good, and if He offers me grace and softens my heart to hear this truth, don’t I hope that He will touch so many others in the same manner?

So if this is my hope, and I believe that He lives in me, don’t I trust that He can teach them through me in one way or another? Don’t I believe that when I step out in faith to seek and honor Him that He will not forsake me? Isn’t myseeking Him the expression of that attitude of faith? So let me be equipped, let me be used, and let me stay busy for the Lord, even as I patiently await His return.

Which Voice?

Love, encouragement, sound teaching, forgiveness, mercy, gentleness, kindness, bearing one another’s burdens, patience, crying with those who mourning, rejoicing with those who are joyful, comforting those who are needy and lacking, making peace with those who are our enemy, forgiving those who persecute us – this is our blessing to be towards our fellow man, Christ follower.

Accusing and condemning is the way of that other voice, that one of evil who hates the children of God – so let us be sure that we are following the good shepherd, Jesus Christ, for in the end, we will be like our teacher.

Judgement, just and fair judgement is in God’s hands. If we have Christ as our advocate through our faith, who can be a greater advocate for us than Him?

So let’s stick to our own responsibilities, not helping that evil one with His work, nor thinking pridefully that we are in a position worthy to sit in God’s seat either.

Luke 6:37-41

 “Judge not, and you will not be judged;

condemn not, and you will not be condemned;

forgive, and you will be forgiven;

give, and it will be given to you.

Good measure, pressed down,

shaken together, running over,

will be put into your lap.

For with the measure you use

it will be measured back to you.”

 He also told them a parable: “Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit? A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother’s eye.

YOU are an Ambassador

I don’t claim to be perfect, I don’t claim to be faultless, but I do claim to know Jesus Christ as my Savior, and He is transforming my life, from the inside out.

It makes me laugh at the love and sense of humor that the Lord has, to send you such an unlikely ambassador as myself. I look around and think, “Really? Why me, Lord?”

And the answer that I think matters most is that I KNOW YOU.

And YOU are that next ambassador for the Lord that will touch lives and hearts with the message of your testimony. YOURS is the testimony that touches lives and makes the difference. YOUR salvation and witness is what turns the tide and wins your battle. YOUR love is the love that spreads the fire of Christ throughout your life and the lives around you.

I’m just passing the torch, knowing that YOU will make a difference. And maybe together, I might make a difference as well.

I love you, friend.

Please, pass the torch. Keep the fires burning bright.

2 Corinthians 3:18

And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.

Do You Hear It?

LUK 2:20 ESV
And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

PERSONAL COMMENTARY
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We have heard this good news and have ears to know the truth. We have a great reason to celebrate each day, because we are no longer condemned. We are so thankful for this free gift of salvation that we want to glorify God with our renewed lives of repentance. We lift our praise to God not just in our words and songs, but in a life seeking His will.

We obey as the result of our seeking God’s will and as a result of the Holy Spirit abiding in us and guiding us – not as an attempt to “earn or gain” our salvation. Because true belief leads to repentance. We can see the change in our own hearts and lives that is the result of our faith.

Let’s keep this good news fresh in our hearts, so that our faith will continue to grow – watering it with time in prayer, mediating on the scriptures, fellowship and encouragement with fellow believers, sharing this good news with the world in our actions of a fruit filled life, and even sharing this good news shouting it from the housetops in joy and love and excitement for this rescue from condemnation.

He loves YOU

Yes. Christ loves YOU.
Yes, He loves even YOU that laughs and mocks posts like this.
Yes, He loves you who claim to be a Christian but are far from God, living deep in sin and rebellion against God’s will.
Yes, He loves you who judge and condemn others, not seeing that you are blind, naked, and in darkness.
Yes, He loves even me, the great hypocrite who wallowed in my sin like a happy pig in mud, who myself mocked and scoffed at the truth, but who now speaks of faith and righteousness and repentance.

Jesus.
There is such power in that name.

Jesus.
There is healing in that name.

Jesus.
There is life in that name.

Jesus.

Is He yours tonight, friend?
Have you spoken with Him lately?
Is He alive in your life, touching hearts, serving others and bearing the fruits of the Holy Spirit through your daily walk?

I encourage you, friend. We can each be blessed with more love in our lives.
Remember your first love.
Hear His voice, feel His redeeming touch on your life tonight.
Jesus.

1 John 4:19

We love because He first loved us.

Fire saves too

Most of my Facebook posts focus on the message of grace, forgiveness and love, because that is an area of great need. However, I would rather share an open rebuke than foster a hidden love, because I get the feeling that not everyone sitting in pews on Sundays knows the information shared in this picture (because I didn’t just a short time ago).

Please, if we call ourselves Christians, let’s not just read Matthew 7:1, John 13:34, and Ephesians 6:12 – and then overlook Galatians 5:19-21 and Hebrews 10:26-27. We aren’t meant to use our freedom in Christ to continue in our sin. This is shared in love and is not directed at anyone specifically, but if this message convicts you, I encourage you to please dig deeper into this.

This was a game changer for my walk, when I realized that I had called myself a Christian for 30 years, only to find the scriptures bearing witness to my stumbling blind and lost in the darkness as a prodigal son. I thank God for healing me and opening my ears to what I NEEDED to hear instead of shut to only receive what I WANTED to hear.

God bless.

FORGIVENESS

We don’t know the heart of a person,

or the future of a person, therefore

WE LOVE ALL PEOPLE

and consider no man to be our enemy.

[Matthew 7:1] [John 13:34] [Ephesians 6:12]

But we who follow Christ

ARE NOT BLIND

but recognize those things that are the

ENEMY OF GOD

sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery,

idolatry and witchcraft, hatred, discord, jealousy,

fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissentions, factions and envy,

drunkenness, orgies, and the like.

I warn you as I did before, those who live like this

WILL NOT INHERIT THE KINGDOM OF GOD.

[Galatians 5:19-21]

For if we

GO ON SINNING DELIBERATELY

after receiving the knowledge of the truth,

THERE NO LONGER REMAINS A SACRIFICE FOR SINS

BUT A FEARFUL EXPECTATION OF JUDGEMENT

and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries.

[Hebrews 10:26-27]