Tag Archives: discipline
My New Book “Bless-ed” Is Now Out! Blessing #51!
Here are several specific points from the book of Proverbs about God’s discipline of His people:
My New Book “Bless-ed” Is Now Out! Almost. Blessing #37!
My new book, Bless-ed! Fifty-Two Weekly Blessings You Have as a Believer and How to Help Your Lost Friends Find Theirs will soon be available on Amazon here. I have advanced copies if you are interested. I will send you a copy for $10 (which includes shipping). Here’s Blessing #37 in Bless-ed:
BLESSING #37: The Blessing of Wisdom in Challenging Relationships
“Love is unselfishly choosing for another’s highest good.” (G.K. Chesterton)
One of the greatest blessings of the Word of God is that it teaches us about relationships. It is not just a guidebook on how to get to heaven. The God of the Bible is relational — and He gives us guidance on how we are to handle relationships here on earth.
How are believers to live in this world of unrepentant sinners? And how are we to relate to those who are in God’s family but are engaged in sin? One of our greatest blessings is that we believers —
37. WE HAVE WISDOM IN CHALLENGING RELATIONSHIPS!
THE BLESSING In a fascinating passage of Scripture we learn, from the mistake of the Corinthian Christians, both how to relate to those who are lost and how to relate to those in the family who are practicing sin.
THE BIBLE The Corinthian church had many problems, not the least of which was that a member was sleeping with his mother-in-law (yuck!). And the Christians in Corinth were handling the situation poorly. But let’s listen to what the Apostle Paul says —
I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people. What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. “Expel the wicked person from among you.” (1 Cor. 5:9-12)
The Corinthians had misunderstood Paul and were committing two serious errors. First, they read his words “not to associate with sexually immoral people” (v. 9) and thought he meant they were to isolate themselves from lost sinners. Paul corrects them and says if he had meant that, they would have to leave the world! And that would, of course, ruin evangelism.
Second, they assumed that they could tolerate sinning Christians. Paul corrects them by challenging them “not to associate” (notice this second use of this expression) with a sinning, unrepentant believer, but rather excommunicate them until they turn from their sin. Tolerating sinning, unrepentant believers ruins discipleship.
So, these two areas of relationships — with unbelievers and with rebellious believers — are tackled in this passage. We are to care so deeply about lost people that we will put up with their sin so we can lead them to the Savior. And we will care so intensely for wayward believers that we will refuse to fellowship with them until they have turned from their sin.
1. We believers are not in the behavior modification business for unbelievers. Our unsaved friends may do many things that are sinful, but we muddy the gospel if we only try to help them clean up their lives. We are to tolerate sinning lost people. That means spending time with them. Name one unbeliever with whom you can spend some time this week and simply be with them.
2. We are to isolate ourselves from sinning, unrepentant believers. This means we are to support our local church’s leadership when they have to exercise spiritual discipline. Pray each day this week for your leaders that they would have wisdom in dealing with believers who have fallen and refuse to turn back to the Lord.
3. Chapter 8 of my When Temptation Strikes: Gaining Victory Over Sin deals specifically with church discipline. Read over that chapter with a friend this week.
4. PRAYER So, how do I pray for my lost friend? It might be difficult to explain to him these two principles of toleration toward unsaved sinners and isolation from sinning, unrepentant believers, but we should be prepared to do so if the occasion calls for it. I should pray for my friend to understand God’s wisdom in such relationships and that he would want to join the family of God that cares that much.
With Friends Like These . . . Job’s Friends and Religious Foolishness (√IV. The Badgering of Bildad: Round One Ch. 8)
Job has held his own in this first round of exhortations from Eliphaz. He has defended himself against the accusation that he is under God’s discipline. And he has not caved in to Eliphaz’s claim of a supernatural vision that gives him godly wisdom. But Job’s despair continues. He wants to die. He sees himself as God’s target. Now a second friend begins his lecture.
IV. The Badgering of Bildad: Round One (Ch. 8)
Bildad is outraged at the words of Job, categorizing what Job says as “a blustering wind” (v. 2). He is angered that Job is accusing God of perverting justice, of violating what is right.
Bildad then uses words that must have deeply stung Job when he says, “When your children sinned against him, he gave them over to the penalty of their sin.” (v. 4) What evidence did Bildad have for such an accusation? He simply drew that conclusion based on the horrific death the children died.
Bildad then challenges Job to seek God and repent. If he does, Bildad promises, God will restore Job’s prosperity (vv. 6-7).
Bildad then employs what I would call an argumentum ad seniorum (an argument from age). He is certain that former generations will agree with him (vv. 8-9), that those who forget God will be like reeds withering without water (vv. 11-13). Bildad warns Job that he might well perish with the godless (v. 13).
Bildad continues with his analogies from nature, comparing the godless to those who lean on a spider’s web (v. 14). They are like a well-watered plant which, when torn from its spot, is disowned by the place where it grew, a place which even says to that plant, “I never saw you.” (v. 18).
Bildad then pontificates on the ways of God. God does not reject one who is blameless (which Job obviously is not). Then Bildad promises a restoration of laughter and joy when Job repents before the Lord (vv. 21-22).
How will Job respond to this second friend? That will be our discussion in our next post.
With Friends Like These . . . Job’s Friends and Religious Foolishness (√III. Job’s Response to Eliphaz Chs. 6-7)
We do not know if Job has left the ash-heap, but that place of silence and suffering now becomes a lengthy and painful platform of debate on the ways of God. This first friend Eliphaz, no doubt deeply concerned about Job, could no longer remain silent. His own understanding of life and the Person and works of God must be given voice. Now Job responds to this first lecture. Job matches Eliphaz’s two chapters of exhorations with two chapters of response.
III. Job’s Response to Eliphaz (Ch. 6)
Job begins by wishing that he could physically weigh his anguish, for it would be greater that the sand of the sea (v. 2).
But Job does not blame natural disasters or the wind or the marauding armies for his losses. He makes it quite clear that these are the Almighty’s poisoned arrows which have pierced him (v. 4). And it seems that all of God’s terrors are marshaled against him.
Job has one request: that the Lord would end his life. But he says he would have “joy in unrelenting pain.” What would be that joy? “That I had not denied the words of the Holy One” (v. 10).
Job then attacks his counselors and hurls a direct charge against his friends: They are guilty of withholding kindness from him and in effect are themselves forsaking the fear of the Almighty! (v. 14).
He compares his friends to intermittent streams that overflow when they shouldn’t and dry up when they are most needed (vv. 15-17). Caravans are desperate for their refreshing water, but find only dry disappointment. You, my friends, Job says, have proved to be of no help (v. 21). Job has not asked them for any sort of deliverance.
He then challenges them to show him where he is wrong, accusing them of casting lots for the fatherless and bartering away their friend (v. 27). His own integrity, he says, is at stake (v. 29).
III. Job’s Response to Eliphaz (Ch. 7)
Describing himself as an overworked, hired laborer, Job says he has been “allotted months of futility” (v. 3). He is unable to sleep and his body is clothed with worms and festering scabs (v. 5). Although some time has passed, his wounds have not healed.
He directly addresses the Lord by reminding Him that his life is but a breath and that his eyes will never see happiness again (v. 7). He anticipates his death, a time when he will “be no more”, never to come to his own house again. (vv. 9-10).
But Job is not resigned to silence. He will not keep silent; he will complain in the bitterness of his soul (v. 11). His torture even invades his sleep with terrifying dreams and visions (v. 14). He despises his life, would prefer to be strangled to death, and wants God to leave him alone (v. 16).
Job is convinced that God has made him His target, that he has become a burden that God will not forgive. And he hopes soon to “lie down in the dust” of death (v. 21).
But a second friend waits in the wings — and we will examine his intervention in Job’s life.
With Friends Like These . . . Job’s Friends and Religious Foolishness (√II. The Exhortations of Eliphaz: Round One Chs. 4-5)
Now Job’s silent companions break their silence and begin their lectures. We assume they overheard Job’s lament in chapter three. And to their ears those words of despair sounded like Job was not just cursing the day of his birth, but the God who allowed him to be born! Perhaps in their minds Job was indeed fulfilling Satan’s desire that Job curse God. They may have even thought that he was following the advice of his wife and was in reality cursing God and waiting to die.
II. The Exhortations of Eliphaz: Round One (Ch. 4)
Most of the rest of the book of Job records the exchanges between Job and his friends. If we take the testimony of chapter one seriously, most of their advice to Job is misguided. He did not bring these tragedies on himself by his sinful conduct. He is, as it were, a human actor in a cosmic showdown between God and Satan. He does not know this, nor do his “counselors.” And so the lectures begin.
Eliphaz begins his first lecture by reminding Job of the power of words. Job had instructed and strengthened many with his words (v. 4). Now he needs to listen so that he will be encouraged.
Eliphaz immediately raises one of the primary issues in this book when he asks, “Who, being innocent, has ever perished?” (v. 7). This concept, sometimes referred to as divine earthly retribution, insists that those who sow evil in this life will experience judgment in this life (v. 8). Eliphaz states that “At the breath of God they [the wicked] perish; at the blast of his anger they are no more” (v. 9). [We will deal later with the suggestion that the wicked will be put out of existence by God, a false view known as annihilationism].
Eliphaz then resorts to a time-honored approach of those who would counsel the broken: “I’ve had a vision from the Lord!” He claims a spirit “glided past my face” at night, terrifying me (v. 15). And the spirit had a message: “Can a mortal be more righteous than God? Can even a strong man be more pure than his Maker?” (v. 17). Compared to the angels, mortal man is like the dust from which he was formed, liable to being broken to pieces like pottery, subject to dying without wisdom (vv. 19-21).
II. The Exhortations of Eliphaz: Round One (Ch. 5)
Eliphaz’s round one lecture continues into chapter 5 of Job. He accuses Job of resentment and envy (v. 2). He even says that such a fool’s children are crushed in court without a defender (v. 4). Job’s children had been crushed by that wind which brought their house down! It is in this part of Eliphaz’s lecture that we get the very famous statement “man is born to trouble as surely as sparks fly upward.” (v. 7).
Eliphaz then pleads with Job to make his appeal to God, to lay out his cause before Him (v. 8). He then rehearses the mighty works of God: unfathomed wonders, incalculable miracles, rain for the earth. God thwarts the plans of the crafty, saves the needy from the powerful, “so the poor have hope” (vv. 9-16).
It is obvious to Eliphaz that Job is under the discipline of the Lord (v. 17). Eliphaz then recounts the actions of God for those who respond to His correction. God will heal, rescue, deliver from death. You will laugh at destruction and famine and not even need to fear the wild animals (v. 22). You will have confidence that your tent is secure; none of your property will be missing. Your children will be many and you will come to the grave in full vigor (v. 26).
Lastly, Eliphaz appeals to Job and says, “We have examined this, and it is true. So hear it and apply it to yourself.” (v. 27).
These words are hard and direct from Eliphaz. This first lecture is only the beginning. And Eliphaz appears to be the leader of these friends, as we see at the end of the book when the Lord specifically addresses him and says, “I am angry with you and your two friends because you have not spoken the truth about me, as my servant Job has.” (42:7).
How Job responds to this first well-intentioned “intervention” will be the focus in our next post.
Psalms of the Salter: Some Thoughts on Really Living for the Lord (Psalm 44)
For the director of music. Of the Sons of Korah. A maskil.
1 We have heard it with our ears, O God;
our ancestors have told us
what you did in their days,
in days long ago.
2 With your hand you drove out the nations
and planted our ancestors;
you crushed the peoples
and made our ancestors flourish.
3 It was not by their sword that they won the land,
nor did their arm bring them victory;
it was your right hand, your arm,
and the light of your face, for you loved them.
4 You are my King and my God,
who decrees victories for Jacob.
5 Through you we push back our enemies;
through your name we trample our foes.
6 I put no trust in my bow,
my sword does not bring me victory;
7 but you give us victory over our enemies,
you put our adversaries to shame.
8 In God we make our boast all day long,
and we will praise your name forever.
9 But now you have rejected and humbled us;
you no longer go out with our armies.
10 You made us retreat before the enemy,
and our adversaries have plundered us.
11 You gave us up to be devoured like sheep
and have scattered us among the nations.
12 You sold your people for a pittance,
gaining nothing from their sale.
13 You have made us a reproach to our neighbors,
the scorn and derision of those around us.
14 You have made us a byword among the nations;
the peoples shake their heads at us.
15 I live in disgrace all day long,
and my face is covered with shame
16 at the taunts of those who reproach and revile me,
because of the enemy, who is bent on revenge.
17 All this came upon us,
though we had not forgotten you;
we had not been false to your covenant.
18 Our hearts had not turned back;
our feet had not strayed from your path.
19 But you crushed us and made us a haunt for jackals;
you covered us over with deep darkness.
20 If we had forgotten the name of our God
or spread out our hands to a foreign god,
21 would not God have discovered it,
since he knows the secrets of the heart?
22 Yet for your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.
23 Awake, Lord! Why do you sleep?
Rouse yourself! Do not reject us forever.
24 Why do you hide your face
and forget our misery and oppression?
25 We are brought down to the dust;
our bodies cling to the ground.
26 Rise up and help us;
rescue us because of your unfailing love.
The Joy of Unit-Reading #49 (the Book of Hosea)
There is so much in the Word of God that I don’t understand. In unit-reading through Hosea, I am deeply impressed with God’s love for His people — but also with His hatred of their sins and idolatry. Here are my notes:
My takeaway from this reading: The Lord is One who can tear His people to pieces that they might return to Him. I dare not ignore His power to do what He needs to do to bring me back to Himself!
My prayer: “Lord, there is much I don’t understand about this book of Hosea. But thank You for Your abiding love — and the discipline You use in my life. In Jesus’ name. Amen.”
Psalms of My Life (Psalm 38)
A psalm of David. A petition.
1 Lord, do not rebuke me in your anger
or discipline me in your wrath.
2 Your arrows have pierced me,
and your hand has come down on me.
3 Because of your wrath there is no health in my body;
there is no soundness in my bones because of my sin.
4 My guilt has overwhelmed me
like a burden too heavy to bear.
5 My wounds fester and are loathsome
because of my sinful folly.
6 I am bowed down and brought very low;
all day long I go about mourning.
7 My back is filled with searing pain;
there is no health in my body.
8 I am feeble and utterly crushed;
I groan in anguish of heart.
9 All my longings lie open before you, Lord;
my sighing is not hidden from you.
10 My heart pounds, my strength fails me;
even the light has gone from my eyes.
11 My friends and companions avoid me because of my wounds;
my neighbors stay far away.
12 Those who want to kill me set their traps,
those who would harm me talk of my ruin;
all day long they scheme and lie.
13 I am like the deaf, who cannot hear,
like the mute, who cannot speak;
14 I have become like one who does not hear,
whose mouth can offer no reply.
15 Lord, I wait for you;
you will answer, Lord my God.
16 For I said, “Do not let them gloat
or exalt themselves over me when my feet slip.”
17 For I am about to fall,
and my pain is ever with me.
18 I confess my iniquity;
I am troubled by my sin.
19 Many have become my enemies without cause[b];
those who hate me without reason are numerous.
20 Those who repay my good with evil
lodge accusations against me,
though I seek only to do what is good.
21 Lord, do not forsake me;
do not be far from me, my God.
22 Come quickly to help me,
my Lord and my Savior.