Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Fruitful discipline

Jn 15:1"I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.
Hebrews 12:5-6 And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons: "My son, do not make light of the Lord's discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, 6because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son."
------->KEEP THIS IN MIND---> The great truths that come from these passages, or the subject of discipline in the life of the believer, are these: That the Lord disciplines with a purpose, the purpose of our good, He does it while expressing His feelings, namely love towards His children! Why is not always important, sometimes because of our sins and sometimes it has nothing to do with what we have or have not done!

With that said, it is helpful to recall to mind those times of discipline.
If the discipline came from your disobedience then it will be good to remember the agony of such a time to discourage you from giving in to such sin or such circumstances. Perhaps you have been blessed to remember the steps that lead to such sin, or the gradual slipping of your devotion to Christ or involvement in Church. Perhaps you need to remember the fruit you bore from such an experience, maybe an unusaul (to you) time of clinging to the Lord and avoiding the world.
If through trials then you might recall such times in order to halt your doubts. Can you recall how God came through at such a miraculous time and how ridiculous you felt when things worked out after all. Perhaps it will be to close your mouth to complaints and open your lips to praise. It would be good for you to remember how softly the Lord ministered to your soul, kept your sanity and lavished His love upon you. It would be good to remember your trials because they were greatly used to strip you of vain pursuits. Perhaps your trials were used to convince you that God ALONE was your joy, your comfort, your security, and your strength!

My thoughts were refreshed concerning this topic due to the incredible memory of my 3yr old Malachi. Malachi has for over a yr, been able to see a picture (like an old slideshow) from months ago and recall his spankings. His accuracy is amazing, he'll see a picture and the exact area where he got in trouble at and remark 'Chi, Chi being bad, Chi, Chi, get smacked'. It's quite hilarious, but it could be a very useful thing.

I for one can and have recalled many 'pruning' points in my Christian walk and they have truly blessed me. I distinctly remember a very awful time of the Lord's disciplining that at the time was (from my perspective) crushing me! As a single man, the lord was gracious to humble me, to break me, to shatter my wicked pride and allow me to crash hard and suffer His rod for a season.
I can't count the lessons I learned from this experience. I can recall the allowances that i was giving my self at the time (others might not be able to handle it, I can), I remember my predominate use of the gift of discernment (maybe you have it too, it's a natural gift and it can also go by the name of the gift of criticism), I recall the busyness, the lack of devotions, the lack of any fruitful fellowship, and the lack of repentance.
I can recall the many friends who though they 'were' going to caution or rebuke me, decide not to because they reasoned the possiblities of sin were slim or that my previous zeal would keep me from such pitfalls. I remember confessing to the senior pastor before it really got out of control, and him telling me 'yeah i saw this one coming', THESE instances have been continual reminders to me NOT to avoid confronting fellow believers, they have strengthened my belief in Church Discipline, and in accountability of church workers.
The fruit of this time far outweighed the shame (what grace!), I can remember how incredibly fearful i was of myself. I was afraid in a very biblical manner of giving my flesh ANY room. I clung to Christ like someone who was just rescued. After church, after work, I would go straight to my room and seek the face of the Lord. I would pour over the scriptures while i ate, singing worship to the Lord till i went to sleep. I hungered for His presence like never before, i was so tired of chit-chatting, i didn't want to 'just hang out' I was longing for the Father, I wanted to lay upon His breast. It was a time where i could honestly say, i was experiencing personal revival, everything was heightened, everything was more real to me (if i was a fishing man, i probably would have tried to walk on water--->I remember one of my fanatical pentecostal friends who tried this, over and over). This also was the time where i finally left the thought of 'finding the one' i just wanted to be conformed to Him. This was also pre-puritan, pre-Spurgeon, pre-Piper, pre-Mcheyne days for me, and to a degree i am glad, because i WANT FRESH HELPINGS first!!!! No but really, i would recommend above all things that a man, a woman become familiar with the scriptures, familiar with prayer, before going to the thoughts of men even the best of them. It's only with a good grasp of the scriptures will you be able to properly discern things, and to an extent learn the life-long art of; taking the good and leaving the rest.

Above all, these times should teach us, should convince us, that MATURITY in CHRIST is absolutely linked to DEPENDENCE upon CHRIST. Did that register? That's the opposite of growth as defined by this world; which would say that the more independent you are the stronger you are (success). That's not the logic of Christianity, God would have us learn that we grow as we depend MORE on Christ. Let me address those of us in the reformed camp, have you noticed that you have struggled perhaps more now, then when you understood less about the scriptures? May i suggest that this is due to the fact that you have grown slack in your dependence upon Christ, because you have noticed such a tremendous growth in your knowledge that you have grown too comfortable (in other words; PRIDEFUL).
Repent therefore and beg the Lord to make dependence upon Him a REALITY!!!!

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