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Biblical, battle-tested, real-life help for "living by faith in the Son of God" (Galatians 2:20). — Steve Fuller

How I Experienced The Discipline Of The Lord

writers block 3 from everystockphoto by photosteve101The Discipline Of The Lord

Usually I start the day reading God’s Word, and then praying over the upcoming day.

But last Tuesday I made a change.

I had already written that day’s blog post, and knew one section needed maybe 5 minutes of revising.

So I thought that after reading God’s Word, I’d do the revising and post the article before praying.

Then, after praying, I’d have the rest of the morning to finish an urgent project.

So that’s what I did.  Or tried to do.

I read the Word.  Then I got to work on the blog post.  I started rewriting the unclear section.

No, that’s not it.

So I tried a different approach.

No, that’s even worse.

Then I tried something else.

NO, that’s even WORSE.

I was 30 minutes into my 5 minute revision.  Then — an hour.  Then — two hours.

My brain felt like mush.  Nothing I wrote was clear.

What’s going on?

Hindsight

Then it struck me.  My plan had been to spend 5 minutes on the revision, and then pray for the day.

Which meant I had not asked for God’s help with the revision.

I had started writing as if I could do it without Him.

But then I thought — Wait a minute.  Surely he would not withhold his help just because I had not prayed, would He?

Prayer

So I thought I’d find out.  Most of the morning was gone, I was making no progress on the blog post, and that other project was not going to happen.

So I closed my laptop, grabbed my cap and memory verse cards, and headed out to the creek to pray.

And as I prayed, I sensed the Holy Spirit convicting me of my self-sufficiency.  I had thought that because it was just a little revision, I could do it without God’s help.

So I confessed my sin, asked God to forgive me through Jesus Christ, and felt assured of His forgiveness.

Then I prayed — and asked God to help me with the blog post.  I asked for wisdom, clarity, and focus.

Suddenly — an idea popped into my mind.  Exactly the idea I’d been fishing for all morning.

Then another idea.  And another.  The whole blog post was taking shape in my mind.

And when I got back home, it took about 10 minutes of writing — and there it was.  Finished.

And I wondered — What was that all about?

The Lord Disciplines Those He Loves

Then I remembered what the book of Hebrews says about the discipline of the Lord —

My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,

nor be weary when reproved by him.

For the Lord disciplines the one he loves,

and chastises every son whom he receives.” (Heb 12:5-6)

And I knew — God had lovingly disciplined me.

I was feeling self-reliant, and had not prayed.  So he lovingly showed me that I can do nothing without Him, so I would understand how much I needed Him.

He helped me see why I must not be self-reliant, and why my most important activity every day is to pray and ask for His help.

Fast Forward

It’s now Sunday afternoon.  I wanted to get this post written by 3 o’clock, because I’ve got a 4 o’clock meeting.

So at 1:30 I knelt down at my prayer bench in my office, and prayed.  I asked for His help.  I asked Him to give me wisdom that I’d never have on my own.

It’s now 3 o’clock, and the post is finished.

I know — that’s not how God always works.

But that’s how He worked this time, to teach me a crucial lesson — apart from Him, I can do nothing (John 15:5).

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(Picture from everystockphoto by photosteve101.)

Category: Help with Prayer

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19 Responses

  1. Claire says:

    Just the perfect message I most needed to hear tonight. God continues to amaze me with His gentle reminders that always come just at the right time. Steve, thank you for sharing your stories and letting others learn to live by faith through them.

  2. Brian says:

    Steve,
    Hebrews 12:8 further states that this discipline is proof that we are beloved sons, and not illegitimate children.
    Romans 8:15 says we have received the spirit of adoption by which we cry out “Daddy!” or “Abba!”.
    Can there be any greater assurance that we may carry with us?
    Two chapters later God’s word tells us to “consider it all joy when you encounter various trials … knowing … it produces endurance” (James 1:2).
    All this from our loving Father.
    Brian

  3. Ash says:

    Really encouraging, Steve. Discipline is a word that has a negative connotation for me. But when I think of God as my loving Father, who is working all things together for my good, it isn’t so scary. How wonderful is it that our God teaches us to abide in Him!

    • Steve Fuller says:

      Great point, Ash. I’ve had a hard time understanding what Hebrews 12 meant, but this recent experience made it much more clear to me.

      Thanks for stopping by and leaving your thoughts.

      In Christ,

      Steve Fuller

      • Brian says:

        Ash and Steve,

        In my discussions of Hebrews 12 it seems that many interpret God’s discipline to mean God’s punishment. I offer them and you that while it could include that it is not exclusively saying that.
        Look at 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 where Paul discusses running the race in order to win, which is not unlike Hebrews 12:1. What Paul says to the Corinthians in verses 26-27 is “Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.
        In my observation, only rarely does one think of a coach’s or an athlete’s disciplines as punishment. Unfortunately, too easily do we think of God’s discipline as punishment as from a cruel task master.
        We serve a righteous Master, a loving Father and blessed Savior. His disciplines are to teach us in ways that we, as parents, could only hope to do with our own children.
        Hebrews 12 is a profession of His love for His children. Bask in His great love for you!

        Brian

        • Steve Fuller says:

          Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Brian.

          I agree with you. I don’t think God’s discipline of His people ever involves punishment. All the punishment we deserve was already borne by Jesus on the Cross.

          God’s discipline does involves trials that He sends us. But the purpose of those trials is not to bring us harm; it’s to bring us the great good of holiness.

          Like you said, each of these trials is an expression of His love for us, and is part of His plan to bring us great good.

          So — just like you said — when we experience His discipline we can bask in His great love for us.

          Basking,

          Steve

          • Luke says:

            Just thought I’d give my two cents on this from my experience. I don’t think God ever punishes us, as in giving us what we deserve, when we sin because God has said that the punishment for sin is death. As you said Steve, Jesus took all of our punishment. However, I do believe that there is a difference between discipline and chastisement (Hebrews 12:6).

            I believe that discipline is when God allows trials to come into our lives to bring about perseverance and character and hope (Romans 5:3-5, James 1:2-4) but chastisement (which also can be translated as scourging) is when God lovingly allows His children to reap some of what they’ve sown when they have sown to the flesh (i.e. sinned; Galatians 6:7-8) so that they will repent and return to Him.

            It is important however to stress that whether he disciplines us or chastises us it is in his great mercy, grace, and love for us as our Father and not as some “cruel task master” as Brian and you, Steve, rightly pointed out. This is a wonderful reason to “bask in His great love for us” and rejoice!

            Luke

  4. Kathleen says:

    My initial thoughts are that I wouldn’t have put this scenario in the discipline category. It kind of reminds me of the example people give of one going to hell because of dying with any unrepented sins outstanding. Is God not gracious? I think of the myriads of things I do each day like cooking, washing, ironing, sewing, homeschooling & know that I don’t list each of these things out in prayer asking for help to do them. Perhaps I ought to be doing so instead of praying a more generic prayer that God would be sufficient in all I need to accomplish that day. I gather what you’re more focused on Steve is not that God is only helping because He’s requested, rather He wants us to come to Him first thing, before we engage in life’s responsibilities each day. If that is what you mean, I wholeheartedly agree, I just haven’t ever thought of discipline in this way, rather am thinking of this more as being led by the Holy Spirt or doing something in the flesh. Ultimately everything we do we must do to the glory of God so anything not done in faith is sin. Right?

    • Steve Fuller says:

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Kathleen, and for raising some crucial questions.

      You are absolutely right that God is gracious. No one who trusts Christ will ever receive any punishment from Him.

      But the discipline described in Heb 12 is not punishment. It’s God lovingly and graciously bringing difficulties into our lives to draw us back to Him and make us more holy.

      And my issue was not that I forgot to pray about something. It’s that I was thinking I could do it on my own. Like you said, anything not done in faith is sin — and I had been sinning in my self-reliance.

      I hope that helps — and thanks again for raising these important issues.

      In Christ,

      Steve Fuller

  5. David says:

    Perhaps if we think “training” instead of “discipline” it might clarify what is going on?

  6. Luke says:

    Great post Steve. This is an area that God has been refining in my life recently so I can definitely relate. He’s also been showing me how willing He is to give me strength and wisdom when I am lacking.

    A recent example is what God did for me last night. Me and my wife were recently on a vacation visiting family and we got home yesterday afternoon. I was going to be leading our small group that evening but I was in no way prepared to do so. I hadn’t gone over the chapter in Matthew that we were going to study all week and I was overwhelmingly exhausted from the full week of vacation and driving that I had done earlier that morning. God graciously reminded me that He is my strength and the giver of wisdom and that apart from Him I can do nothing. So I went to Him in prayer asking for strength and for wisdom and insight regarding the scripture we’d be looking at. I was amazed at how quickly He responded! A few minutes later God renewed my energy and began showing me wonderful things in His Word that encouraged me and that I could share with others.

    There are times when I wonder, “is God really going to answer me this time; is it really this simple?” and most of the time God is quick to remind me of His faithfulness. It truly is amazing!

    I’m so thankful that our God is a Father who loves to give good gifts to His children! Thanks for sharing your experiences with us for our benefit and growth in the faith that God has blessed us with in Jesus!

    Luke

  7. Brian says:

    Steve,

    I have been marveling as I have reviewed this commentary, again. From your initial comments about God’s discipline in your life. To the additional insights offered by Claire, Ash, Luke, Kathleen, David and even yourself. I see pearls of wisdom and iron sharpening iron where each pearl adorns the beauty of the subject, the deep, incomparable love of our Father.

    Thank you all for sharing your insights!

    Brian

  8. Laney Quiet says:

    This was a great message, I needed that today.

  9. Kristina Carvalho says:

    These blogs are great! Thank you for being so open and honest; I find it very encouraging! This is church – this is what I think His body of believers is supposed to be doing with one another: sharing, encouraging, uplifting. God bless your ministry!

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