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Disciplined

            This week’s message is about discipline. In our society there are many views that are different than God’s people. Since there is often a lot of crossover influence from the world to the church some Christians may not have a clear picture of it. Let’s face it; discipline can be a confusing subject. We will go to the Word of God today since this is where God speaks to His children. All of us have a different view of this subject depending on the paradigm we learned about it in. Let me explain. Each of us grew up in a different culture. Not only do we have cultural differences from nations but also areas of those nations. In theUnited Stateswe speak a version of English which is not like the version inEngland. Not only is that different but my Southern English is different than Northern English. But there is an even further cultural difference. You see, in my family we have our own culture. We say things differently than our neighbors. Each family is its own microcosm and is a societal living organism.

            We eat certain foods, say certain phrases, react to things based on what our family believes and in general are our own world. We can decide to be like the rest of the world but we have certain distinct differences as Christians. Besides these differences we also have a mix of other micro-cultures. By that I mean that Angie came from her own family and I did too. These were blended when we married and we came to a new formation called the Burrell family. If you visited this family you would find many things different than your own. Some would probably even be humorous to you as they would be so different. But each family is its own world. In that world the members learn about life and what is considered “normal”.

            As I have shown that we are all different let me carry that into the idea of discipline. You and I have a view of discipline based on what we received as children. That can be a good thing or a bad one. If you had Godly parents and they disciplined you in a Biblical manner you grew up learning that disobedience brought consequences. You also learned, when it was administered in love, it was for your good. If you were raised in a non-Christian home you may have been abused, over disciplined or under-disciplined. Angie wrote an article some time back called “Revenge Parenting”. It was about parents who were so passionate about making sure they didn’t raise their children the way their parents raised them that they swung the pendulum to the extreme other direction. For example, if you felt that your Dad over disciplined you there could be a notion that no discipline was your goal with your children. Both abuse and no discipline are incorrect parenting.

            Getting back to our cultural differences think about how you were disciplined and they way you discipline your children. Our world is rapidly changing. When I grew up there was corporal punishment at public schools. Now the trend is changing and in many states it is illegal to physically punish children. In other countries it is also illegal to punish children in a physical way at home. As we go to the Bible let me remind us that what we are about to look at is God’s plan. It is not my opinion or yours that counts. All of us could (and would) arrive at different conclusions based on our experiences as children and the relationship with our parents. Let me pre-empt this reading by stating one thing. The greatest reason discipline needs to be Biblical is because we base our view of God on how we feel about it. Whatever your child grasps from you disciplining them is the same way they will view God as adults.

            In raising my daughters I came to a point where God taught me something one day. As I was trying to get obedient children one day I was struggling with at least one of them who didn’t understand the need for instant obedience. God opened my eyes in that I was not always serious with them. In some instances I had told them something as a joke and then told them I was only kidding. In others I gave them unreasonable requests bent on my bad mood at the time. They learned nothing as my standards were like the ocean tides. I was trying to get one of my daughters out of harms way once and they turned to question me as to why. That was the way God gave me the revelation.

            We all sat down after that and I apologized to them for not always being the consistent. I told them that I would correct this but that they also had to correct their side. We made an agreement that I would never fool around and then tell them I was kidding and that they would understand that when I told them something I meant it. When I told them that disobedience brought a certain punishment, it did. They quickly learned that Dad meant business and when he told everyone to stop walking in the woods there was most likely a snake. When we can learn discipline like this we can understand our relationship with God more clearly.

            Turn to Proverbs 3:11-12. Solomon, being the wisest man who ever lived wrote about discipline here. He reminded us that the Lord disciplines (chastens and corrects) those that He loves. Look at the parallel of God and an earthly father. Solomon wrote that God disciplines His children because He loves them. He said it was as an earthly father that delights in his son. This is not as easy to understand for those whose father beat them. But adults who were properly spanked as children can look back at the benefit of it and appreciate their Dads. (by the way-thanks Dad!)

            Turn to the book of Hebrews. In chapter twelve the writer reiterates that God disciplines His children. Beginning in verse four he says that we have not resisted sin to the point of shedding blood. Our crucifying the flesh needn’t be the outward action of actual crucifixion but the inward circumcision of the heart. He then quotes the Old Testament passages to remind the Hebrews that God disciplines His own. In verse seven he gives the analogy that God’s discipline is just like an earthly father in that it is for our good. In verse ten we discover that God’s discipline is so that we might share in His holiness. We are reminded following that verse that at the moment discipline takes place it isn’t pleasant or felt needed but that afterwards it produced righteous fruit.

            I am giving you the parallel today for two areas of your life. First, if you have children you must understand the view that your children have about God. Whatever manner you raise them in as parents is the way they think about the Heavenly Father. When they open their Bibles and read that God is our Father they immediately get the mental image of you. Second, I want you to see the parallel of your own walk and view of discipline. As an adult you should understand that it is for your good too. You have the ability to learn about proper parenting even though you may have been raised by someone who didn’t use it. When you err and don’t receive correction you show your spiritual immaturity. When you try to get around life’s knocks your show that you aren’t willing to learn from them.

            Perhaps you get pulled over by a police officer for speeding and you argue with him. As you pull away you see your son in the back seat and realize that you’ve just taught him to disrespect the law. Maybe he sees you cheat someone in a business deal because you aren’t willing to pay the price offered. I once knew a man who disconnected his speedometer/odometer every time he bought a new vehicle. He always made sure that he had a tachometer and learned which speed went with which rpm. Then sometime down the road he would reconnect it and drive it in with low miles and get more on his trade-in. He taught his children that it’s ok to lie and not pay for what you get.

            When we don’t follow the rules or accept the consequences we do not learn from God. The greatest thing we can do can be summarized in an aspect in basketball. When a player fouls another the referee blows a whistle and points a finger at him. He then raises his hand. He acknowledges that he made a mistake. Some people believe that it is just so the person scoring can know who it was. Others believe that it shows the referee that he made a good call and that, yes, I made a mistake. I like to think about the latter reason. When you sin and have done wrong you could try to hide it. You may deny that you did wrong. God, being the perfect example of a good father corrects those He loves. When He blows the whistle and points you out you might turn your head and ignore Him. But in 1st John 1:8-10 it says that if we say we don’t have sin we are lying to ourselves. If we confess our sin to Him He will forgive us. If we say we don’t have any sin we are calling God a liar.

            As I stated, my message today is for two reasons. First, if you have children (or anyone looking to you for an example) your reception of discipline shows them that when we fail God we should stand back up when we fall. And second, our receiving discipline in our relationship with God helps us to grow in Him and His holiness.

            Maybe you don’t feel as if you are doing anything wrong. God has put people around you to help you if you are wise enough to receive it. If you have a pastor (and I hope you do) he can help you immensely if you will allow accountability through him. Hiding things from him denies you of the help you need. God has also blessed many of you with friends. Not the kind of who tell you what you want to hear, but real brothers and sisters in Christ. If you are married and have a Christian spouse you have an automatic accountability partner. That is, if you will see that he/she can help you. Instead of nagging, why don’t men see that many wives are trying to help?  Wives, your husband was given to you as your head. Listen to him.

            For our final verses let’s go back to Proverbs. In Proverbs 27:17 it says that as iron sharpens iron so one man sharpens another. It’s normal to try and avoid someone abrasive. But this shows us that it can be for our good. Go back to verse six of that chapter. Solomon said that wounds from a friend are better than kisses from an enemy. Did you catch that? Our friends care enough about us to let us know when our hair is messed up! Someone who couldn’t care less might just smile. It might hurt your feelings when a friend tells you the truth. If you are wise you will realize that they really do care about you.

            Have you realized that a loving Father disciplines his children if he loves them? God loves you today. He has not given us rules to keep us from fun. His rules are for our protection. May we all grow in Him today!

            Prayer-Father, I ask that you help us accept Your discipline. When we fail and Your discipline comes help us to be wise enough to accept it. When You send someone in our life who cares about us help us to realize the rebuke they give as being done in love. May each of us grow in Holiness and Righteousness today.

            In Jesus’ Name-Amen

paul

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Philippians 3:13-14 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

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