Purification through the Father’s discipline

Hebrews 12:5-11 (MSG)

‘My dear child, don’t shrug off God’s discipline, but don’t be crushed by it either. It’s the child he loves that he disciplines; the child he embraces, he also corrects. God is educating you; that’s why you must never drop out. He’s treating you as dear children. This trouble you’re in isn’t punishment; it’s training, the normal experience of children. Only irresponsible parents leave children to fend for themselves. Would you prefer an irresponsible God?

We respect our own parents for training and not spoiling us, so why not embrace God’s training so we can truly live? While we were children, our parents did what seemed best to them. But God is doing what is best for us, training us to live God’s holy best. At the time, discipline isn’t much fun. It always feels like it’s going against the grain. Later, of course, it pays off handsomely, for it’s the well-trained who find themselves mature in their relationship with God.’

Sometimes we feel God’s Hand of discipline stronger over our lives than at other times. Our trials are God’s training ground for our future.

It’s easy to get discouraged while we are in the midst of difficult circumstances but if we look towards God’s overall plan, we can rejoice knowing that it’s producing maturity of character.

Who can ever resist God’s workmanship? He will mould us one way or another even if it takes forty years.

If you are going through trials, look at your spiritual growth and see clearly how God is shaping and moulding the ‘new man’.

The sooner you submit to this discipline and walk in obedience, the quicker “you will become perfect and complete, needing nothing.” James 1:4

Allow God’s purification process to take place and you will come out as pure as gold.

Obedience pays off!

1 Samuel 15:22-25 (MSG)

Then Samuel said,
Do you think all God wants are sacrifices—
empty rituals just for show?
He wants you to listen to him!
Plain listening is the thing,
not staging a lavish religious production.
Not doing what God tells you
is far worse than fooling around in the occult.
Getting self-important around God
is far worse than making deals with your dead ancestors.
Because you said No to God’s command,
he says No to your kingship.

Saul gave in and confessed, “I’ve sinned. I’ve trampled roughshod over God’s Word and your instructions. I cared more about pleasing the people. I let them tell me what to do. Oh, absolve me of my sin! Take my hand and lead me to the altar so I can worship God!”

But Samuel refused: “No, I can’t come alongside you in this. You rejected God’s command. Now God has rejected you as king over Israel.”

Don’t you just feel gutted for Saul here? His blatant disobedience has cost him his place as king.

What a lesson for us all. We can be so caught up in how we are perceived, what people think of us and it is all a form of pride.

Pride is one of our greatest enemies, one that can even take out a king. God has called you to be a king, a leader and a ruler in your area of influence but as easily as he called you, he can just as easily get someone else to fulfil your dreams if you do not obey.

Samuel’s words propel the reader to listen to God, do what He tells us and to keep this as our focus. Failing to do this, he says is worse than witchcraft or communing with the dead. A harsh reality, right?

Although Saul is repentant, it’s too late. His people-pleasing and pride leads to his downfall. Don’t let that be your fate. Follow God’s promptings.

Stay on the course

1 Samuel 14:24-30 (MSG)

Saul did something really foolish that day. He addressed the army: “A curse on the man who eats anything before evening, before I’ve wreaked vengeance on my enemies!” None of them ate a thing all day.

There were honeycombs here and there in the fields. But no one so much as put his finger in the honey to taste it, for the soldiers to a man feared the curse. But Jonathan hadn’t heard his father put the army under oath. He stuck the tip of his staff into some honey and ate it. Refreshed, his eyes lit up with renewed vigor.

A soldier spoke up, “Your father has put the army under solemn oath, saying, ‘A curse on the man who eats anything before evening!’ No wonder the soldiers are drooping!”

Jonathan said, “My father has imperiled the country. Just look how quickly my energy has returned since I ate a little of this honey! It would have been a lot better, believe me, if the soldiers had eaten their fill of whatever they took from the enemy. Who knows how much worse we could have whipped them!”

Jonathan gets very distracted by a natural longing when he sees some honey and eats it from his staff. He wasn’t aware that it was forbidden by his father, much like Eve in the garden, and doesn’t particularly care saying “How quickly my energy has returned”. When he finds out about the curse he goes on to recommend they should have all tasted it.

His focus here is on a natural fix to a spiritual need. When we are in a spiritual war we can easily be dictated to by our hunger and natural senses.

“If only I can have a little flutter, a quick cigarette, a short gossip. That will keep me going until I conquer this enemy.”
Wrong! It actually sidetracks you from accomplishing the goal that God has set.

To make matters worse Jonathon uses the tool that God gave him, his staff, to eat the honey. Sometimes we can take a gift of God and use it in a sinful way instead of using it to defeat the enemy. So stay on the course, keep your eyes fixed on the challenge ahead and conquer your enemy!

Can a desperate cry capture the attention of heaven?

1 Samuel 1:15-24 (MSG)

Hannah said, “Oh no, sir—please! I’m a woman hard used. I haven’t been drinking. Not a drop of wine or beer. The only thing I’ve been pouring out is my heart, pouring it out to God. Don’t for a minute think I’m a bad woman. It’s because I’m so desperately unhappy and in such pain that I’ve stayed here so long.”

Eli answered her, “Go in peace. And may the God of Israel give you what you have asked of him.”

“Think well of me—and pray for me!” she said, and went her way. Then she ate heartily, her face radiant.
Up before dawn, they worshiped God and returned home to Ramah. Elkanah slept with Hannah his wife, and God began making the necessary arrangements in response to what she had asked.

Before the year was out, Hannah had conceived and given birth to a son. She named him Samuel, explaining, “I asked God for him.”

When Elkanah next took his family on their annual trip to Shiloh to worship God, offering sacrifices and keeping his vow, Hannah didn’t go. She told her husband, “After the child is weaned, I’ll bring him myself and present him before God—and that’s where he’ll stay, for good.”

Elkanah said to his wife, “Do what you think is best. Stay home until you have weaned him. Yes! Let God complete what he has begun!”

Through prayer Hannah received the wonderful blessing she was seeking from the Lord! After pouring her heart out to Him, God responded by bringing about her heart’s desire.

Have you ever gotten so lost in God’s presence during prayer that an outsider would look at you and assume you are drunk?

After birthing her child of promise, Hannah makes a declaration to dedicate Samuel to God. This is an act of surrendering what is so dear to her, much like Abraham was required to do with Isaac.

When God fulfils a promise in our lives we are required to do the same. We need to worship Him and give Him back the promise as if it were never even ours. This is a way of breaking any idol attached to the promise and making sure it doesn’t rule our life. It is proving that God is the highest in our life and acknowledging that our promise came from Him.

It is far too easy to take our gift from the Lord and run away with it, drifting away, not even looking back to thank Him.

So whether it’s a business that has grown, success and influence in your area of gifting, a healing you received or even like Hannah, a baby He’s given, come to Him and acknowledge that He alone is your provider, counsellor, guide, comforter and strength. Dedicate your answered prayer by taking the time to remember what He delivered you from, and what He has delivered into your hands.

Be brave! Shut the door in the enemy’s face.

Esther 8:5 (NLT)

Esther said, “If it please the king, and if I have found favor with him, and if he thinks it is right, and if I am pleasing to him, let there be a decree that reverses the orders of Haman son of Hammedatha the Agagite, who ordered that Jews throughout all the king’s provinces should be destroyed. For how can I endure to see my people and my family slaughtered and destroyed?”

Esther 8:11 (NLT)
The king’s decree gave the Jews in every city authority to unite to to defend their lives. They were allowed to kill, slaughter, and annihilate anyone of any nationality or province who might attack them or their children and wives, and to take the property of their enemies.

Has the enemy tried to annihilate you by placing a negative decree over you?

Maybe a devastating doctors’ report, threats of a job loss or bankruptcy.
Or it may be just accusations or threats in your mind with no basis or facts to support it, such as ‘you will make a lousy husband, you will never amount to anything, you will always suffer anxiety or there will always be dysfunction in your home’.

Like Esther we have the ability to come before the King and ask Him to reverse the proposal or threat.

Come before God in prayer and specifically ask Him for a reversal to the enemy’s plan.

Esther had the faith to rise up and stand for her people, the Jews, even after such a horrific decree was instituted. Whatever you face He will reverse that decree upon your life and replace it with His overriding ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’ Jeremiah 29:11

When facing your Red Sea…help is here!

Hebrews 11:29 NLT

‘It was by faith that the people of Israel went right through the Red Sea as though they were on dry ground. But when the Egyptians tried to follow, they were all drowned’.

Are you facing a Red Sea moment? Are you feeling hemmed in on every side, surrounded by the taunts of the enemy, deep water, mighty cliffs, huge waves and rushing winds?

The closeness, the sheer magnitude and ferociousness of such a situation can be overwhelming. Where do you go when you are blocked and restricted?

Don’t fear. This is a good place to be! You have nowhere to look but up. God now has the ability to do a mighty miracle through you.

As your faith rises up and the waves get closer God will part the sea right before your eyes. You won’t know how, but suddenly, what looked impossible will be transformed by the very miracle working power of God.

So come toward the raging sea and allow God to part it for you.

“Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” Exodus 14:13-14

The secret to life according to the richest King

Ecclesiastes 2:9-11 (NIV)

“So I became greater than all who had lived in Jerusalem before me, and my wisdom never failed me. Anything I wanted, I would take. I denied myself no pleasure. I even found great pleasure in hard work, a reward for all my labours. But as I looked at everything I had worked so hard to accomplish, it was all so meaningless—like chasing the wind. There was nothing really worthwhile anywhere.”

There you have it! Straight from the mouth of King Solomon! One who has done it all, seen it all and is the richest man that ever lived. Yet without God, he was completely empty.

Sometimes thoughts come into our minds of riches, glory, power or the heights of a drug experience. But why test what Solomon has already tried and come to this same devastating conclusion?

Our heart really longs for the One who created us, died for us and wants to be with us. No amount of pleasure will satisfy like a life with our King.

Why bother going around in circles searching for happiness or wealth? The One who will fulfil you is living inside you.

The enemy will try and seduce you with lusts of the flesh that are fleeting and empty. But they only result in a luring away from true joy and peace which comes only from a life of devotion to Christ.

Here is Solomon’s conclusion: ‘All has been heard; the end of the matter is: Fear God [revere and worship Him, knowing that He is] and keep His commandments, for this is the whole of man [the full, original purpose of his creation, the object of God’s providence, the root of character, the foundation of all happiness, the adjustment to all inharmonious circumstances and conditions under the sun] and the whole [duty] for every man.’ Ecclesiastes 12:13 (AMP)

The Father’s love

Luke 15:12-20 (MSG)

“So the father divided the property between them. It wasn’t long before the younger son packed his bags and left for a distant country. There, undisciplined and dissipated, he wasted everything he had. After he had gone through all his money, there was a bad famine all through that country and he began to hurt. He signed on with a citizen there who assigned him to his fields to slop the pigs. He was so hungry he would have eaten the corncobs in the pig slop, but no one would give him any.

“That brought him to his senses. He said, ‘All those farmhands working for my father sit down to three meals a day, and here I am starving to death. I’m going back to my father. I’ll say to him, Father, I’ve sinned against God, I’ve sinned before you; I don’t deserve to be called your son. Take me on as a hired hand.’ He got right up and went home to his father.

Can you imagine anything more humiliating than going from a palace where you enjoyed three luxurious meals a day to becoming a slave in famine longing for pig slop?

This kind of scenario can happen to us if we are undisciplined and take what we have for granted. This son’s fleshly desires took over his wisdom and common sense which led him far away from the father.

Sometimes our difficult circumstances will cause a change of direction. When our flesh dies through repentance our spirit becomes alive again!

It may be that you are experiencing some challenging times yourself and that God is drawing you back to Himself and changing your direction.

You can be thankful that this difficulty has caused you to run back home into the Father’s arms where you belong.

“The people I love, I call to account—prod and correct and guide so that they’ll live at their best. Up on your feet, then! About face! Run after God! Revelation 3:19 (MSG)

It’s coming…just wait

Habakkuk 2:2-3 (NIV)

‘Then the Lord replied: Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it. For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and not delay.’

What are you waiting on? What is the revelation or Word God has promised you? Is it a miracle? A job? A spouse? A healing? A baby?

If it’s truly from God you must write it down. Write it on paper, on your wall, anywhere, but most importantly on your heart.

God gives the revelation and desires of our heart by planting them in the form of a seed. This seed takes time to develop and grow. Let it grow through patience and endurance and at the perfect moment, BANG!

When the conditions are right and the fertile soil of your heart is in line to receive it, the revelation you were shown in the spiritual realm, will manifest in the natural.

There is a purpose in waiting. Waiting allows your faith to grow and mature in preparation for the blessing.

Have you written it down? Are you running with it? Now wait…it will certainly come and not delay!

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