Saturday, November 03, 2007

It's a Good Thing

There are times when I catch a glimpse of the majesty and awesomeness of God - it is truly overwhelming. Psalm 8 says:
3 When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, 4 what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?
What is it to fall into the hands of this almighty, majestic God? It can be a fearful and dreadful thing being in the hands of God. Jonathan Edwards' famous sermon "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" comes to mind.

So often that discipline and judgement feels to us like a bad thing. I've really come to see it as a good thing, a very good thing. It is good because it means I am a son and not just an employee of God. He pays attention to me. I am known by him and not just a speck of dust. Employees can be fired or bought out and left behind. But sons ... sons are remembered and thought about - even if they have disappointed us. Sons carry the bloodline and have a place in the inheritance even if they have been exiled or disowned. Sons are welcomed back even when they have been in a far country wasting their substance with riotous living (see Luke 15:11-32).

Sons are also subject to God's discipline - not merely for the purposes of punishment but because He wants to see them come into the fulness of their calling. He wants them to become everything He has created them to become.

Hebrews 12 has become an oft-read passage for me and reveals the love and purposes of God for me.

5And have you forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons:
"My son, do not make light of the Lord's discipline,
and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,
6because the Lord disciplines those he loves,
and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son."

7Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? 8If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. 9Moreover, 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 our spirits and live! 10Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. 11No 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.

12Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. 13"Make level paths for your feet,"[b] so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.

14Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. 15See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.

Discipline and judgment are actually a sign of love and grace. God loves us too much to allow us to continue along a path of destruction. His discipline - even to the Israelites - is always intended to be a course correction and a sign that He has not abandoned us. If we listen closely, and are obedient, the discipline is short and the blessings are eternal.

Part of my prayer for you.

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