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Heart Discipline

Believers are “heirs of God” via “being joint-heirs with Christ,” which engenders a tailor-fit life by God for us to “suffer with Him, that we may be also glorified together” (Rom 8:17). Christian, be comforted to know that each and every difficulty, regardless of how seemingly small or excessive, they are all controlled by our loving Father to the maturity level of the believer for the lesson at hand. We always receive from Him the right understanding in accordance with those trials that relate to our timely lessons.

No sorrow or joy enters the life of the saint that God has not foreknown, preapproved and prearranged, and all for the continued progression in the maturity to “the image of His Son” (Rom 8:29); and not only has our suffering been prearranged but He also has prepared us to “endure” it (1Cor 10:13; Jam 5:11). He knows how we are going to take each lesson and therefore, always with utmost care, adjusts the elements needed to benefit us the most at the time.

Heart Discipline

Scripture is a book for life; and as life is full of affliction, so the Word of God abounds with counsel and comfort for the afflicted. For to view and to bear affliction aright is not easy and it is impossible without God’s Word and Spirit, for we are inclined either to despise the chastening of the Lord, or to faint under it. We try to bear trials in pride, on our own strength, without recognizing that they are sent by our Father to humble us, to lead us to self-examination and repentance, to deepen our sense of dependence upon our Father, to fix our thoughts and desires more on heavenly things. The world generally endeavors, in time of sorrow or trial, to get over it; that is, to feel it as little as possible. Our Father does not mean us to get over it, but to feel chastisement and in and through it to be drawn nearer to Himself.

The spirit of Stoicism (endure without complaint—NC) is far removed from the spirit of God’s children. They are sensitive; they feel the displeasure of their Father; they stand upon the watchtower and ask, ‘Show me wherefore Thou contendest with me.’ The Christian does not harden his heart against sorrow and bereavement. He does not look upon suffering as an iron necessity, to be borne with an iron and impassive calmness; it is sent of the Father. There is the other danger of sinking into despondency. We think we cannot endure it. Darkness seems to swallow us up. Hard thoughts rise within us and our hearts fail us. The voice of thanksgiving and hope seems hushed forever.

Now knowing from the Word of God and our own experience that such is the tendency of our hearts, either in undue elation to despise the Father’s chastening, or in undue depression to faint, let us pray for ourselves, and for all the afflicted, that we may not lose the benefit of the precious, though sad gift of chastisement, that we may humble ourselves under that mighty hand of God, so that He may exalt us in due time. Chastisement is sent by fatherly love. In heaven, no chastisement is needed; in hell, no chastisement is possible; earth is the scene, and the children of God the subjects of this blessed child-training.

God is our Father, and therefore He chastens us. The Lord Jesus is our loving and faithful Savior, and therefore He rebukes us. The Holy Spirit , although it is His to comfort and sustain the believer, reveals unto us first, with piercing conviction, the sins and failings which are to be judged and given up. Chastisement has reference not, merely to sins, but the Father’s object is to conform us to the image of His Son. God has one Son, without sin, but not without sorrow.

The Father has chosen the saints and appointed the sufferings of the saints that they may win Christ. That they may be made like unto Him. That they may hereafter be glorified together with Him. We see the gentlest, the most heavenly-minded Christians tried. They themselves are the first to humble themselves under the mighty hand of God, and to acknowledge that the Father is trying and refining them to condemn sin in the flesh, to honor the Spirit.

This chastening is severe. He scourageth every son. Even an Apostle beseeches the Lord three times to remove it. There, where we are most sensitive, the Father touches us. The thorn in the flesh is something which we fancy we cannot bear if it were to remain life-long. We have emerged as it were out of a dark tunnel, and fancy that the rest of our journey will be amid sunlit fields. We have achieved steep and rugged ascents, and imagine the period of great and exhausting exertion is over. But Abraham was above an hundred years old when his faith was severely tested. The trial, deepest and sorest, seems to leave us for a while and yet it returns again.

For the Father’s love remains, and he scourageth every son whom He receiveth. If the Apostle Paul stood in danger of spiritual pride and self-trust (2Cor 12:7), and needed his perpetual scourging to cling to the Lord Jesus’ grace, which is all-sufficient, oh, let us remember that in each of us there is the same flesh which needs painful crucifixion. Although the Christian anoints his head and washes his face, he is always fasting; the will has been broken by the Father, by wounding or bereaving us in our most tender point; the flesh is being constantly crucified.

God is our Father, this present life is only a school, a period of childhood and minority; discipline and chastisement are the tokens of the Father’s unchanging love and constant watchfulness. Childhood is both solemn and peaceful. We look back on it with reverence and affection. For in childhood everything has the character of education; it is spiritual, and for the sake of the real inner man and his future.

Parents and teachers are constantly directing and rebuking; the whole life is under rule, restraint and guidance, but the only and constant object is the child himself, his good, his character, his future. The only motive is love. There is more reality in a child’s life than in our subsequent life; the whole day, with its lessons and recreations, is devoted to the true and real interests of the child. Hence, when we look back on it, we say “How happy we were!” Not that we forger the constant troubles, sorrows, cares and fears which children have; but we feel that then, everyone connected with us loved us and sought our welfare; that we were the object, not the means to the end, but the end itself.

Now, as childhood is to the rest of our earthly life, so is the whole of our earthly life to the future heavenly one. Let us cultivate then the spirit of childhood. Let us think it natural that we are daily rebuked and chastened, that our thoughts, words and actions need constant correction and alteration; let us receive this with the docility and meekness of children, and with the trustful and sweet assurance that love breathes in all our chastening, that we are in the most tender and fatherly hands. God’s only object is our blessedness, and this is our blessedness, to be like the Lord Jesus, the only begotten of the Father, the first-born from among many brethren.

Chastisement is one of the instruments by which the Father prunes the fruit-bearing branches. By affliction and the inward crucifixion we learn to seek our true life, treasure, strength and joy. Not in earthly affections, possessions, pursuits and attainments, however good and noble, but in Him who is at the right hand of the Father in glory.

- A Saphir (26 September 1831 – 4 April 1891)

Excerpt from MJS devotional for April 11:

“It is not so much a matter of our attainments or full conformity to Christ, but rather our progressive movement towards the final goal. Even if we were perfect in ourselves, that would not make us ministers, for ministry consists in the Spirit’s manifesting in our lives something more of Christ that was not there before, and then making it shine out for the blessing and transformation of others.” -H.F.
None But The Hungry Heart

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