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Divine Discipline

Divine Discipline

14 July 2011

Today’s Reading: Isaiah 22-24; Hebrews 12

Scripture:

7 As you endure this divine discipline, remember that God is treating you as his own children. Who ever heard of a child who is never disciplined by its father? 8 If God doesn’t discipline you as he does all of his children, it means that you are illegitimate and are not really his children at all. 9 Since we respected our earthly fathers who disciplined us, shouldn’t we submit even more to the discipline of the Father of our spirits, and live forever? 10 For our earthly fathers disciplined us for a few years, doing the best they knew how. But God’s discipline is always good for us, so that we might share in his holiness. 11 No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way. (Hebrews 12:7-11 NLT)

Responsible, caring parents develop responsible, caring children. The way to develop responsibility in children is through discipline and training. One of the problems with this, both in the attitude children have toward parents and the attitude Christians have toward Father God, is that we mistake loving discipline for angry punishment.

Punishment is past-oriented. Punishment inflicts pain or exacts payment for wrongs done. Its primary benefit is that, just as a child who burns her hand on a hot stove learns not to touch the stove, we learn that doing wrong hurts. And like the child who is burned by the stove, we may carry the scars of the punishment.

Training is future-oriented. Training teaches us to forego short-term gratification for long-term gain. Training places resistance against our weak muscles to develop strong muscles. Training requires us to apply present knowledge to gain new knowledge, and apply present ability to develop new abilities. Training is tough, but we grow strong, confident, and capable in the process.

Life’s often-painful challenges are not the petty punishments of an angry God, but the careful discipline and training of a loving, caring Father.

Prayer:

Father, Please help me embrace your discipline and training. Don’t stop just because I whine and complain! I’m learning not to think of training as punishment! I long to grow into the mature relationship you want to have with me. I know I’ve made progress, but there’s still a long way to go. I want to keep growing. Amen.

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