Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Saturday, 14 August 21:
Psalm 94:11-13 — “The Lord knows the thoughts of man; he knows that they are futile. Blessed is the man you discipline, O Lord, the man you teach from your law. Blessed is the man whom you discipline, O Lord, and whom you teach out of your law, to give him rest from days of trouble, until a pit is dug for the wicked.”
Throughout the Bible, God points out that “My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways.” (Isaiah 55:8) So, Proverbs counsels: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil…… Do not despise the Lord’s discipline and do not resent his rebuke, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in.” (Proverbs 3:5-12) Today’s Psalms remind us that it is from the study of God’s word that we learn to walk in spiritual discipline and are subsequently blessed.
“Blessed is the man you discipline, O Lord, the man you teach from your law.” The Hebrew word used for discipline here is “yâsar”, which literally means to chastise with a beating – to get spanked, and the Hebrew word for teach is “lâmad”, which means to goad – goads were very sharp sticks used by shepherds to poke animals to make them go the right direction. So, basically, this verse talks about painful correction, and the blessing which can come from it. You will either suffer the painful correction of the conviction of the Holy Spirit through God’s word (“Blessed are those who mourn”) or you will suffer the greater pain of living life outside of God’s will, which is sin. You will either have internal discipline (being guided by the Holy Spirit and producing the fruit of the Spirit), or you will receive external discipline (punishment). The wise respond to the Holy Spirit and walk joyfully in the Spirit. Romans 8:28-29 reveals that God uses all discipline for good, so we would be “conformed to the image of his Son.” In the Great Commission Jesus says, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:19-20) Jesus’ plan for His disciples is that they live disciplined lives obeying all of God’s commands, but you can’t obey them unless you first know them from study and are coached in them daily by the Holy Spirit – “And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
How important is prayerful Bible study in our daily walk with the Lord? Here are just a few thoughts from Psalm 119: “How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word. I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. Praise be to you, O Lord; teach me your decrees. With my lips I recount all the laws that come from your mouth. I rejoice in following your statutes as one rejoices in great riches. I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways. I delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your word.” Never have Christians had such access to God’s word along with so many resources and tools with which to study His Word. I pray that more and more Christians would return to God’s Word and receive the daily coaching of the Holy Spirit in order to win the prize –
- 1 Corinthians 9:24 — Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it.
- Philippians 3:14 — I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
Today, the Psalmist reminds us of the convicting power of God’s word and that God uses His word along with circumstances to teach us, rebuke us, correct us, encourage us, reward us, train us, and discipline us that we would grow up, or mature, in His word and our relationship with Him — “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16, 17) Better to be wise and respond to the conviction of the Holy Spirit through God’s word and to obey God’s word than to learn the hard way by experiencing the consequence of disobedience and sin – “A rebuke goes deeper into a man of understanding than a hundred blows into a fool.” (Proverbs 17:10) No need to experience a hundred needless blows. “Like a dog that returns to his vomit is a fool who repeats his folly.” (Proverbs 26:11) Don’t act like a sick fool and return to sin; instead, return to God’s word, and respond to the daily conviction of the Holy Spirit.
As a perfect, loving Father, God applies discipline when needed. God’s discipline is often painful but is intended to be a blessing to teach you how to live in the fullness of joy while growing closer to God each day. Those who don’t despise God’s blessings and who are willing to learn will be blessed. Those who defy God’s discipline and insist on repeating their folly will continue to suffer needlessly.
- Proverbs 3:11-12 — My son, do not despise the LORD’s discipline or be weary of his reproof, for the LORD reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights.
- Hebrews 12:7-13 — 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. Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 14 August 21: If you feel the conviction of the Holy Spirit today concerning a particular sin in your life, repent. Don’t delay. Don’t rob yourself of the blessings God has intended for you any further. Pour into God’s word every day and abide in it, not simply to receive the blessing of God, but to truly know and be one with Jesus who is the Word, the Way, The Truth, the Life, and the Light. Eternal life is knowing Him. (John 17:3)