June 7, 2015

In love, God disciplines His children

2 Chronicles 17:1–18:34, Titus 3:8–11, Psalm 99:1–100:5, Jeremiah 46:28

This may be a generalization, but it seems to me that throughout Scripture there are promises from God to bless those who obey Him. He does not say we “earn” His blessings by obedience, rather that He desires to bless us. However, rebellion and resistance to Him will interfere and those blessings can be pre-empted by discipline.

One example of blessing is in the story of Asa’s son Jehoshaphat. He reigned over Judah and strengthened himself against the other half of the kingdom that was resisting him. He fortified the cities in his realm and established garrisons in the land of Judah and in the cities of Ephraim (the other half) that his father had captured.

“The Lord was with Jehoshaphat, because he walked in the earlier ways of his father David. He did not seek the Baals, but sought the God of his father and walked in his commandments, and not according to the practices of Israel. Therefore the Lord established the kingdom in his hand. And all Judah brought tribute to Jehoshaphat, and he had great riches and honor. His heart was courageous in the ways of the Lord. And furthermore, he took the high places and the Asherim out of Judah.” (2 Chronicles 17:1–6)

While this is not a “prosperity” gospel taught by some current preachers, it is an important principle. Again, the difference is that an obedient person is set out to obey God and do good, not to make himself rich or blessed. He or she does it out of love for God and love for others.

The NT reading for today says it like this: “The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people.” (Titus 3:8)

Trusting God changes the way a person lives. By obeying Him in faith, I am blessed and so are others. That does not eliminate trials or hardships, but to be under the care of God as an obedient person makes tough experiences much different than they would be if I were fighting with God. His presence and strength are vital, and far more important than material wealth could ever be.

The psalmist repeats the principle, but notice this: He points out that although God blesses His people, if we disobey Him, He will discipline us. In other words, the blessing of God is not a freebie to be taken for granted. He does not look the other way whenever I go my own way!

Moses and Aaron were among his priests, Samuel also was among those who called upon his name. They called to the Lord, and he answered them. In the pillar of the cloud he spoke to them; they kept his testimonies and the statute that he gave them. O Lord our God, you answered them; you were a forgiving God to them, but an avenger of their wrongdoings. (Psalm 99:6–8)

These thoughts are repeated by the prophet Jeremiah, “Fear not, O Jacob my servant, declares the Lord, for I am with you. I will make a full end of all the nations to which I have driven you, but of you I will not make a full end. I will discipline you in just measure, and I will by no means leave you unpunished.” (Jeremiah 46:28)

As the NT also says, God disciplines those that He loves. That means His love is blessing, but so also is His discipline. He even says if I don’t experience it, I would not be His child.

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