"Oh, to be Disciplined by the Lord!"
Malachi 3; Heb. 12:7; 1 Cor. 9:24; Jer. 5:31
1. The children of God should expect to receive loving discipline from their Heavenly Father. The Lord routinely corrects those who belong to His family (which humanity intrinsically knows is a loving and caring action). Without the discipline of the Lord, humanity ‘drifts’ towards what will destroy and leave our souls barren. Therefore, to receive discipline from the Lord is a sign that you are most assuredly a child of God and that your Heavenly Father is actively shaping your heart and life.
2. There is a significant temptation to view and participate in corporate worship as a “consumer.” Meaning, church can become something that you observe, that you watch others do instead of participating in yourself. We can wrongly view a church service as a performance, which makes the biblical truths being proclaimed seem like nothing more than a product pitch. One must get past viewing church in this (or a similar) way if they desire to spiritually mature. Jesus is present when we gather, and He desires to speak to us and use us to encourage other brothers and sisters in Christ.
3. Humanity’s proclivity to sin presents us with a rather large ‘hurdle’ to get over as it relates to our spiritual growth. Our sinful proclivities make it difficult to rightly view and serve other people; our selfishness presents us with a hurdle that we must prayerfully and humbly try to get over. So much of the Bible is dedicated to helping us see that, as the children of God, putting the needs of others above your own is a powerful witness to the truth of the gospel and is extremely healthy for your own soul.
4. Failing to understand the discipline of the Lord can lead a believer to a very confusing place. The discipline of our Heavenly Father can make it appear as if there is this great ‘distance’ between us and the presence of God; as if the Lord is seemingly ignoring our prayers. And if we can’t discern when we are experiencing the Lord’s discipline, we will likely begin to murmur and complain (and ultimately accuse God of not being good).
5. Be aware—God pays close attention to how His children view, treat, and relate to the most marginalized segments of our society. And remember, when the Lord observes one of His children rightly caring for broken people, He joyfully blesses and shows favor to them.
6. Many of the promises that believers view as something personal (between only them and the Lord) are meant to be understood and received in the context of a local church. Meaning, many of the promises the Lord makes can only be received when one is rightly submitted to and participating in a local church.
TALK TO EACH OTHER:
1. What can a believer expect to experience when they are being disciplined by the Lord? Or, how can a believer discern when they are experiencing the Lord's discipline?
2. How can the children of God ensure that they are putting the needs of others before their own? Should we ever focus on self?
3. What are some healthy thoughts to have in your head as you prepare to come and worship Jesus with your spiritual family each week? In other words, how can one prepare themselves to rightly view church (Truth 2)?
4. How can you discern which "category" specific biblical promises should be placed into: personal or corporate (Truth 6)?
TALK TO GOD:
Pray as you feel led concerning the following areas:
- Caring for the most marginalized people in our society
- Rightly understanding and viewing corporate worship
- Being used by your Heavenly Father to encourage others
- That the 'discipline of the Lord' would be rightly understood and experienced