The Love of God (part 8)
Greetings precious people. In todayís article we will continue to look at how the Love of God and discipline fit together and work together for the good of His children. We have been looking at the unchangeable truth as revealed in Godís Word, the Bible namely, "For whom the LORD loves He chastens (disciplines)." We have seen that the measure of discipline that God uses is often determined by our receptiveness to it.
We see this so vividly in Godís dealings with the people of Israel. In raising up and established the nation of Israel, God instructed them in the way that they should go, both physically and spiritually. In Deuteronomy 4:35-40, God said, "To you it was shown, that you might know that the LORD Himself is God; there is none other besides Him. Out of heaven He let you hear His voice, that He might instruct you; on earth He showed you His great fire, and you heard His words out of the midst of the fire. And because He loved your fathers, therefore He chose their descendants after them; and He brought you out of Egypt with His Presence, with His mighty power, driving out from before you nations greater and mightier than you, to bring you in, to give you their land as an inheritance, as it is this day. Therefore know this day, and consider it in your heart, that the LORD Himself is God in heaven above and on the earth beneath; there is no other. You shall therefore keep His statutes and His commandments which I command you today, that it may go well with you and with your children after you, and that you may prolong your days in the land which the LORD your God is giving you for all time." Godís love and discipline is always for the good of His people and Godís glory.
And in Psalm 32:8-10, God says, "I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with My eye. Do not be like the horse or like the mule,
Which have no understanding, Which must be harnessed with bit and bridle, Else they will not come near you. Many sorrows shall be to the wicked; But he who trusts in the LORD, mercy shall surround him."
The Hebrew words for instruct and teach have the meaning of, to correct; reprove; guide; teach and instruct. God was jealous for them; He wanted their best. In essence, God told them the best place for them to be was right close to Him. Tragically though, as we look at Israelís history, they were ever so prone to wander away from God. In an attempt to bring Israel back to Him, God would use various means and methods. At times He would allow various plagues to come upon them and at other times He allowed their enemies to overrun and conquer them. God took no pleasure in the suffering that this brought into their lives, but He knew that the road they were heading down would only lead them to their destruction.
Godís discipline is not always in the corrective form. Sometimes it comes as a preventive measure to keep us from sinning. At other times it is to purify us and make us holy. This may come as a shock to many of our readers but Godís ultimate desire for His children is not that we be happy, rather that we be holy. Godís desire is to conform His children into the image of Jesus. We read in Romans 8:29, "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."
This can only be accomplished by taking us through various trials and difficulties. We should never think that God takes any delight in our experiencing bruises, pain, or sorrows as we go through the trials, He doesnít. Rather His delight is in the end result that the trials bring namely a greater closeness to God and likeness to Jesus Christ.
It may be likened to a parent teaching a child to swim or ride a bike. As the child is learning, there will undoubtedly be a spill or two that cause a bruise or scratch. Or in learning to swim, times of inhaling of water followed by gasping for air and fits of coughing. The parent takes no delight in any of these, rather his or her delight is in the end result of seeing his or her child ride their bike or swim in the pool safely enjoying themselves.
As stated previously, Godís discipline is not always in the corrective form. Sometimes it comes as a preventive measure to keep us from sinning. This is clearly illustrated for us in the life of Paul the Apostle. In 2 Corinthians 12:2-7, Paul speaking in the third person, describes an experience in his own life. "I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago--whether in the body I do not know, or whether out of the body I do not know, God knows--such a one was caught up to the third heaven. And I know such a man--whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows-- how he was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter. Of such a one I will boast; yet of myself I will not boast, except in my infirmities. For though I might desire to boast, I will not be a fool; for I will speak the truth. But I refrain, lest anyone should think of me above what he sees me to be or hears from me. And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure."
In order to keep Paul from becoming puffed up and full of pride because of his experience, God allowed a messenger of Satan, no doubt a demon, to afflict Paul with some sort of infirmity. What exactly this infirmity was we do not know. But it was serious enough that Paul would pray three times that the Lord would heal him. No doubt he felt that he could be much more effective in his ministry for the Lord had he been healed. That would have been true in the physical sense, but if Paul had become proud, God would not have used him; he would have become of no use to God.
The Bible has much to say about pride. In Proverbs 16:5, "Everyone proud in heart is an abomination to the LORD." Proverbs 6:16-19, "These six things the LORD hates, Yes, seven are an abomination to Him: A proud look, A lying tongue, Hands that shed innocent blood, A heart that devises wicked plans, Feet that are swift in running to evil, A false witness who speaks lies, And one who sows discord among brethren." James 4:6, "But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: "God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble."
Did you notice what was at the top of the list of the seven things that God hates? Pride, God hates pride. The man, woman, or child that God reveals Himself to and uses must not be prideful but humble. In Isaiah 66:2, "But on this one will I look: On him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, And who trembles at My word." Psalm 51:17, "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, A broken and a contrite heart-- These, O God, You will not despise." Isaiah 57:15, "For thus says the High and Lofty One Who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: "I dwell in the high and holy place, With him who has a contrite and humble spirit, To revive the spirit of the humble, And to revive the heart of the contrite ones."
Let God do His work in your life dear ones. Turn to Him, trust Him. Let the love of God fill your hearts. In next weekís article we will be looking at the fear of the Lord.
If you have any questions, comments, or prayer requests you can contact me at: Calvary Chapel of Alpine, P.O. Box 1528, Alpine, Ca. 91903 or call 619-445-2589, or e-mail email@example.com
Drew Macintyre is pastor of Calvary Chapel of Alpine