Friday, February 28, 2020

Devotionals for the Heart: Discipline

God Disciplines Us

A devotional by Amy Odland

Moses saw that the people were running wild and that Aaron had let them get out of control and so become a laughingstock to their enemies. So he stood at the entrance to the camp and said, “Whoever is for the Lord, come to me.” And all the Levites rallied to him. Then he said to them, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘Each man strap a sword to his side. Go back and forth through the camp from one end to the other, each killing his brother and friend and neighbor.’” The Levites did as Moses commanded, and that day about three thousand of the people died. Then Moses said, “You have been set apart to the Lord today, for you were against your own sons and brothers, and he has blessed you this day.” 
– Exodus 32:25-29 (NIV)

“Your name is going on the board.”

If you’re as old as I am, you probably remember the dread you felt when your teacher said this.

Back in the 1980’s, if you were acting up or, as was the case with some teachers, if you were just talking when you weren’t supposed to, the teacher would write your name on the board. Your next infraction resulted in getting a check behind your name, and if you got enough checks behind your name, you “won” a trip down to the principal’s office.

If you were like me, you tried to avoid getting your name on the board at all, if ever. I think I could count on Mickey Mouse’s hand how many times I got my name on the board in elementary school. I was a hardcore people pleaser and usually did my best to stay out of trouble.

Nowadays, teachers don’t use such “barbaric” methods of keeping their classrooms on task. Writing kids’ names on the board for ALL TO SEE is apparently too damaging to the self-esteem, too harsh, or too whatever other excuses we’ve come up with over the years. Which explains why my kids responded the way they did – with eyes wide and gasps of horror – when I was trying to explain this concept to them on the way to school one day.

I imagine the Israelites’ response to the Levites going through the camp randomly killing people would’ve been similar to my kids, but turned up a notch or two (or ten). I also imagine there was a bit of chaos until everyone in the camp found out what was going on.

I think we sometimes get so caught up in the love and grace and forgiveness of God that we forget about His wrath and punishment. But the times when God unleashed His discipline are right there in the Bible, written in black and white (and bloody red). There are many examples of God disciplining His followers in the Bible, but especially so with the Israelites and their journey into the promised land. One may ask, WHY did God discipline them? Does God discipline us today?

Most of us who are parents don’t want our kids to grow up to be entitled, spoiled, and/or selfish non-contributors to society. God is the same in that He wants us to grow into the wise, giving, loving, discerning people He sees us to be, the creation He designed us to be. He needed the Israelites to enter into the promised land by HIS might, not by their own. He needed them to do it a certain way so they didn’t take all the credit and have their egos blow up. They were acting like knuckleheads and God wasn’t going to have it. His discipline doesn’t always make sense when it’s happening to us, and it may seem super harsh at times. But, just as we want our children to trust us when we say the stove is hot, God wants us to trust His ways and thoughts.

Lets read Isaiah 55:8-9 (NIV): “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

God needs us to learn to live by HIS might, by HIS ways, not by our own.

So yes, He still disciplines us today. God disciplines us because He loves us, because He wants us to experience a little of Heaven while we’re still here on Earth, just as we did in the garden.

God does it so we don’t “burn ourselves on the stove” or worse, make Him a laughingstock to our enemies. Now, HOW He disciplines us is also a whole ‘nother post for another day...stay tuned!

Author Bio:

Amy Odland has been serving in church ministry as a volunteer leader for over 16 years, in various worship, prayer and women’s ministry roles. 

Her passion for helping women stems from her own struggles and lessons learned in her journey as a Christian since first deciding to follow the Lord in 1994.

Amy’s priorities after her faith include her family — husband Rick, and their four kids — as well as extended family who all live close in proximity and the many friends she’s made over the years.

In addition to a love of teaching and helping her husband with the bookkeeping for their many businesses, Amy has recently expanded her stay-at-home work to include leading author’s book launch teams for publishing companies like Baker, Revell, Barbour, and Lifeway.

She also enjoys teaching new authors about platform building, self-launching, and online marketing.

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