Grace and Discipline

Godly discipline always involves grace. However, when we focus too much on grace, neglecting discipline, sin can go unchecked. That’s a slippery slope; one which often leads to misery and self-loathing.

Discipline and Grace are intermingled, working together. God’s laws are a blessing, given to protect us because He loves us. 1 John 5:3 Recently, someone shared with me the truth that if we will not self-discipline or receive godly discipline from others, we will be disciplined by God.

God has brought this point to the forefront of my mind lately as I have seen His will worked out in many areas of my life. I have also learned that there is a point when I must let go of my effort to correct rather than continue on a path that may destroy a relationship. I can choose to extend grace and simply give it over to God.

For the past three years I have pleaded and debated the reality of a loving God with someone who seemed to once love God but, after suffering heartache in life, grew angry, resentful and rebellious. I have prayed countless prayers.

2014-06-27_relationships-2

I believe that God will pursue us to the end. That He will bring us to our knees if we will not humble ourselves. I have prayed that this would happen sooner rather than later, and that there would be no missed opportunity for me to be used by God in this situation…that we will not run out of time whatever the cost. I continue to pray that the prideful spirit becomes broken and God is acknowledged, obeyed.

Submission to God’s will brings an abundance of blessing. God disciplines us out of love, just as a loving father disciplines his son, so that we may share in his holiness and live in peace. Hebrews 12:10 I am called Daughter of the King, blessed with Father’s relentless love.

Read more devotionals about God’s amazing love for us at #SheReadsTruth.

Advertisements

He is a Good Father

Psalm 139, Phillipians 4:5-7, I Peter 5:6-9

Overwhelmed by God’s great love for me, I sent a text to a friend that said: I don’t know why God loves me so much.

The reply, just these 5 simple words, made me cry: He is a good father.

Indeed. He is.

Daily, I see God’s provision. I’ve felt His presence and have been amazed and humbled by His blessings. I continue to experience His gentle patience with me as I adjust to and maneuver through major changes and losses in my life.

Life’s struggles can leave us wounded and weary. And although I am living in God’s love and grace, I sometimes lately feel isolated, and succumb to fear and stress.

In my darkest hour, when I am overwhelmed with life, overcome by despair, and operating only on emotion, no amount of reason can make me see clearly. Logic is no longer part of the equation.

You can tell me that things will get better, that my kids still need me, that a lot of people care about me – and right now I know that to be true. But the reality is that when I go over that edge, I lose hope and no longer am able to believe those things, nor do I care. Life is too heavy a burden and I begin to see the Exit ramp as a very appealing alternative.

I shared my struggle last week with a trusted friend and this was her reply:

You don’t have the right to enter into the Lord’s presence until He calls you home.

She said this gently and with love. Time and again, she has spoken wisdom and truth into my life, but this resonated with me more than anything else. Like an arrow hitting its mark, her words went right to my heart. The gravity, reverence and power in that sentence took me completely by surprise.

I don’t have the right…ouch. So true. How could I forget that God is at the center of the universe? And He is always in control!

I took my eyes off of Him. I stopped trusting Him. As I prayed for God’s forgiveness, I knew He already had. God the Creator of the universe chooses to know me intimately, to have a relationship with me. He chooses to set His love on me and my worth is defined by Him:

You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely. You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain. Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? Psalm 139:1-7

He will protect me from the attacks of the enemy, provide friends to come alongside, and He will give me strength, wisdom and discernment to navigate life’s crooked path. I love Him because He first loved me…and I know He always will.

Yes. He is a good father.

North of the 45th

Life north of the 45th Parallel is not for the faint-hearted. Winter is intense and long. 45th Parallel

Early last fall I suddenly found myself facing winter on my own, and ill-prepared to do so. Since I rely largely on wood for heat, splitting and stacking was my top priority. Through God’s faithful provision this was accomplished just in time.

Anyone who heats with wood knows that moving it takes a great deal of time and energy. So moving enough for each week’s use from the outside stacks to our garage became the weekend ritual for me and my kids, and there wasn’t time for much else as the weather got colder and we began to use more. Non-essential chores were temporarily neglected.

There is a large deck spanning the length of my house on the South side which gets full sun. In a typical winter, we will get some snow on-and-off throughout November and early December, but it usually melts away, not accumulating on the deck until late December. This year was very different. The snow came and came and just kept coming. And it stayed. Sub-zero temperatures beginning in December and lasting into March, along with record snowfalls, meant the snow didn’t melt away.

As the snow began to pile up, it crossed my mind that it should be removed, but other things demanded my immediate attention. Hauling wood in order to heat my home continued to be my priority. Isn’t it interesting how focused we can be, even with good intentions, that we fail to see a growing problem? Ignoring, procrastinating, or hoping it will resolve itself often leads to a bigger mess later.

The conditions were perfect for snow, and it continued to accumulate on the deck until it was impossible to ignore any longer. I vividly remember the morning I awoke to see snow piled over three feet high against my door wall, after another 15 inches fell overnight. I finally realized – This is going to be a problem when it starts to melt. Now what do I do? My son tried to shovel it away from the house, but under the top 2 feet or so, there was solid ice about a foot thick. It was overwhelming and unmanageable.

For my iniquities have gone over my head; Like a heavy burden they are too heavy for me. My wounds are foul and festering because of my foolishness. I am troubled, I am bowed down greatly; I go mourning all the day long. For my loins are full of inflammation, and there is no soundness in my flesh. I am feeble and severely broken; I groan because of the turmoil of my heart. Lord, all my desire is before You; and my sighing is not hidden from You. My heart pants, my strength fails me; as for the light of my eyes, it also has gone from me. Psalm 38:4-10

Like an open wound, sin left unattended will fester and eventually consume pieces of you. Who hasn’t let some small sin in their life slide? Careless words, selfishness, envy, a stubborn or unforgiving spirit. Maybe it seems trivial, especially in comparison to the sin of a neighbor, friend or relative. Perhaps it’s easier to spot their bigger sin – anger, jealousy, pride, self-righteousness. But who are we to draw a line? Does my sin require less sacrifice than yours? Does yours require less than your neighbor’s? In God’s eyes, is it not all sin? Jesus died on the cross once for all, so that, in accepting His blood as a covering for our sin, fellowship with God is restored. The same Salvation is freely offered to All.

For in You, O Lord, I hope; You will hear, O Lord my God. Psalm 38:15

No matter how cold a winter, it eventually will begin to warm up, and ice will thaw. On a sunny 40 degree day, I came home to soggy carpet spanning three feet from the door wall and water creeping onto the kitchen tile. The melting ice had no place to go except into the house. We tried a shovel and then a fishing spear, but made little progress on the ice. I told my kids that it would still be there the next day and we were not missing a family group Bible study that I had connected with by phone through our church. We were new to this church and didn’t know many people yet, and I hungered for fellowship with other believers and time together in the Word.

What a blessing it was to meet the families who welcomed us in. In closing, each person including kids were asked to offer a prayer request or praise. I mentioned that my family was going through a difficult time, then tried to cover the pain by laughing about our wet mess. On the drive home, one of the ladies called me to say that the men insisted on coming out the next day after work to try to help clear the ice.

They came with pick axes and shovels, and cleared my entire deck. I was never more humbled or grateful. The next night brought an incredibly heavy rain. Thank God my deck was clear of the foot of ice which would have directed the rain straight toward the house.

Friends, let us be attentive to the little sins that sneak into our lives. Left unchecked, a little sin has the power to destroy. Examine your heart in earnest, spending time in prayer, in Scripture, and in silence as you listen for God’s speaking into your life. God wants a contrite spirit, giving way to confession and repentance, which leads to spiritual growth.

For I will declare my iniquity; I will be in anguish over my sin. Psalm 38:18

…because I follow what is good. Do not forsake me, O Lord; O my God, be not far from me! Make haste to help me, O Lord, my salvation! Psalm 38:20b-22

We may stumble, but He will not let us fall. God knows our heart and He understands the struggles we face on this broken earth. He offers comfort and hope from the pain and hurt wrought by sin. Our obedience to Him brings restoration, peace and blessings.

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10

SheReadsTruth