Dec 3, 2010

The Love of the Father: Part 2

Remember back in part 1 when I said that the Lord began teaching me more about His role as my perfect heavenly Father when I was studying Hebrews 11 & Psalm 103 in tandem? I never really explained myself in the first post because I wanted to take the time to explore those passages a little bit more than I could have in that post alone. In that post I focused on God's fatherly love, but in this post I will be sharing more about what God has been teaching me about the way He lovingly disciplines His children.

Since February of this year, I have really been digging into Hebrews 12; it is a familiar passage, & I think that because it is so familiar that I sometimes have the habit of speed-reading, but it is such an incredibly rich chapter!
I hope you'll take the time to read through the eight verses that I would like to focus on. Verses 3-11 say:

"Consider him (Jesus) who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons?       

'My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,
nor be weary when reproved by him.
  For the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
and chastises every son whom he receives.'

  It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. "

God's discipline looks different in each of our lives, but His discipline always has the same purpose in every believers life: to make us more like His Son. It is often said that God loves us as we are, but too much to leave us that way. Verse 10 of this passage says that God "disciplines us for our good, that we may share His holiness." This passage is also honest in acknowledging the pain that comes with discipline. There are times when God is working in our lives to make us more like Christ, & we just don't understand what He is doing, or why. We can be hurt, confused, lonely, & afraid, & it is all for the sake of discipline. You might be thinking that this all seems a little unfair, but consider again God's love & purpose in transforming us by any means necessary. We already established in the last post that God as our Father loves us more than humanly comprehensible. It is in these verses that we are confronted by the fact that if God truly loves us, He must discipline us, otherwise we would be regarded as illegitimate children. Many of the sweetest times I have had with the Lord have been during some of the most difficult times in my life.

During the midst of trials, we have a choice. We can either accuse God of punishing us & then ignore Him, like we are somehow "getting even," or we can accept that trial as a chance to show Christlike-ness. To be steadfast in our faith & grow in grace & in the knowledge that God is enough in times of confusion & pain. He has promised to sustain us & comfort us in every circumstance, if only we will ask it of Him. This is where Psalm 103 comes in. I love this. I was in this passage one evening & actually getting a little bit bogged down considering the discipline of the Lord, when I turned to this Psalm & read verses 8-17:

"The LORD is merciful and gracious,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
  He will not always chide,
nor will he keep his anger forever.
  He does not deal with us according to our sins,
nor repay us according to our iniquities.
  For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
  as far as the east is from the west,
so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
  As a father shows compassion to his children,
so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him.
  For he knows our frame;
he remembers that we are dust.

As for man, his days are like grass;
he flourishes like a flower of the field;
  for the wind passes over it, and it is gone,
and its place knows it no more.
  But the steadfast love of the LORD is from everlasting to 
everlasting on those who fear him."

Isn't it comforting to know that the Lord doesn't punish us according to our transgressions? To know that He looks on us with compassion & sympathizes with our weaknesses? I don't know about you, but I think that the word "dust" is the perfect way to describe our human fragility. Although God our Father must discipline us for our good, He also understands our weaknesses & has compassion on us. I encourage you to really study these passages on your own & find more about the Lord's discipline. It is an encouragement to understand God's purposes in allowing us to go through hard times. As I close out this post, I'm going to end back where we began in Hebrews 12, verses 1 & 2. 

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. "

1 comment:

  1. Great post Alicia!! Hard to live at times, but I love how it ends. Pastor spent a good part of the year preaching on Heb 12 with the theme of finishing. How appropriate, the thought of finishing, not giving up when we go through hard times. Life is full of them!