How many of you can honestly say that it does not matter what the Lord God brings into your life, that you will follow wherever He leads? It can be quite easy and even uplifting to read of the accounts in the Scriptures, especially those in the Old Testament when trouble was allowed by God to come upon His children, and then of course the restoration of His blessings, but to experience them first hand I have noticed for many is quite a different story.
Words are easy, actions are not always applied with them though, trust is earned, but how many times does it take before we completely and totally trust someone, much less the Lord. We are not talking here about missing a birthday or anniversary, nor being late when we said that we would be there, but of those things that we have come to expect, and then are denied to us, and not just for a short period of time. Sometimes the Lord makes drastic changes in our lives that can never be reversed, and our minds begin to wonder, have I sinned. “For whom the LORD loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.” (Heb. 12:6) There is a big difference between being punished for unrepentant sin, and being chastened because we are loved.
Psalm 66:18 is just one example out of many in the Scriptures that inform us that our Lord is serious about our lives when it comes to what we would ask of Him, “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the LORD will not hear me.” But here we not are discussing these sins that we are responsible of and for our own selfish desires, ones that we willingly have committed and have, at least for the moment, no intention of repenting of, but instead the subject of this letter to you is the chastisement of the Lord, that which he allows to befall us to show us where we are in relation to our faith in Him. These can come in many forms, but almost all of them can fall into two distinct categories, he brings something into our lives or removes something from it.
Our Lord is more than knowledgeable in this area, He knows exactly where you are going to be and what you will be doing in a few million years from now, much less how you will handle the chastisement that He has decided to bless you with today. These do not come upon us for His enlightenment, but for ours, where are you standing right now for the Lord, and will you continue to grow within this period of time that He is allowing to enter into your life. What He is allowing to happen, whether we like to phrase it this way or not, is the testing of our faith for the further growth of it, the problem is that many who claim Him as Lord see these periods of time as some form of punishment, and so seek the wrong solution for the intended blessing.
Perhaps He has decided that it is time for you to live on less than what you have been earning, and to trust in Him more during this time, if so, do not make the mistake of thinking that He is intending to bless you with more finances than what you were previously earning, what you are now receiving may become the “new normal.” For some when this happens, the first thing to get cut in the budget is the tithe, for it just does not seem feasible to try to continue in the lifestyle that they have become accustomed to with the decreased earnings. Have you ever considered that perhaps it was time to change that perspective of the material wants in the first place, and God is using this time to try to show you other blessings that He has in store for you?
But that is not only where these chastisements may occur, those who you have considered friends, those who are still in the world, may be taken from you, your constant barrage of the truths of the Word of God, though always done in love, have become enough for them, and they have moved on, or better yet, Christ has moved them on. How will you respond in any situation that the Lord determines is best for you when these times approach is the main focus of this letter to you, who will you serve, and will your service to Him be diminished, how will your faith respond in the arena of lessened materialism and the things of the world. Some fail here my friends, for they cannot see the Love that He is pouring out on them, they see only what they consider loss, when He is showing them that He is all they need.
Many believers consider this statement one of the deepest ever of commitment to the Lord our God, “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him.” (Job 13:15) Take everything away from us and we still have all that we need, Jesus Christ, but there are few times I believe that it is necessary for the Lord to do this in the life of the mature believer. Though He slay me is the same as Paul saying, “For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” (Phil. 1:21) It is the weaker brother, not because of his age in Christ or his lack of the knowledge of the truth, but because of his lack of desire to be obedient in the areas that he knows he should be obedient in that our Lord sends these blessings upon many times. Those He has taught a lesson to once, and that have received and applied in love and wisdom the lesson, He has no need to repeat upon them, but those who have desired the things of the world and self are in need of times of chastisement, and always remember these are brought upon them in love, and to show them where their faith rests in themselves at this point in their lives.
If you are on the path to the kingdom, but still looking back over your shoulder occasionally at the view of the world as it recedes from you, and doing so in a sense of longing for those things that are being left behind, you might want to prepare yourself, or stop looking back. I speak not here for God, but simply show you one of the meanings of Philippians 3:13 + 14, “Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” Those who do not understand where they are in their faith but would ask of God to show them are chastised, and each of them see it as a blessing.
“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” (Rom. 8:28) It is the wise servant that has been blessed by our Lord to know when these times have come upon them, and recognizes them as good, far too many think of our Lord in these areas as one who only punishes, and if we keep in mind this verse, we can find nothing that He brings upon us that is not from the Love that He has for us, the love of a Father to His children. Would we not rather suffer daily at His table than be rejected of Him as one that is unprofitable, yet still a servant? No matter what you are going through today, no matter what it is, if you are a follower and obedient servant of the Lord Jesus Christ, and have been called according to His purpose, it is for good, it is from Him in love.
What He sends, what He allows to enter into our lives, we should cherish, as a gift to an obedient child from his loving Father. Will we begin with complaints, probably, but that is expected, will we seek His continuing will in our lives when these times come upon us, well, that is the reason for the chastisement, isn’t it? “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” (Jer. 29:11) Our expected end my friends is in the very courts of the Lord God Almighty, the path that He has determined for us to arrive there is safely in His hands, He knows the way, keep following in faith.