God’s Loving Discipline

“You must carefully follow every command I am giving you today, so that you may live and increase, and may enter and take possession of the land the LORD swore to your fathers. {Remember that the LORD your God led you on the entire journey these 40 years in the wilderness, so that He might humble you and test you to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep His commands. He humbled you by letting you go hungry; then He gave you manna to eat, which you and your fathers had not known, so that you might learn that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.} Your clothing did not wear out, and your feet did not swell these 40 years. Keep in mind that the LORD your God has been disciplining you just as a man disciplines his son. So keep the commands of the LORD your God by walking in His ways and fearing Him. For the LORD your God is bringing you into a good land, a land with streams of water, springs, and deep water sources, flowing in both valleys and hills; a land of wheat, barley, vines, figs, and pomegranates; a land of olive oil and honey; a land where you will eat food without shortage, where you will lack nothing; a land whose rocks are iron and from whose hills you will mine copper. When you eat and are full, you will praise the LORD your God for the good land He has given you.

Be careful that you don’t forget the LORD your God by failing to keep His command—the ordinances and statutes—I am giving you today. When you eat and are full, and build beautiful houses to live in, and your herds and flocks grow large, and your silver and gold multiply, and everything else you have increases, {[be careful] that your heart doesn’t become proud and you forget the LORD your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the place of slavery. He led you through the great and terrible wilderness with its poisonous snakes and scorpions, a thirsty land where there was no water. He brought water out of the flintlike rock for you. He fed you in the wilderness with manna that your fathers had not known, in order to humble and test you, so that in the end He might cause you to prosper.} Deuteronomy 8:1-16 (HCSB, my emphasis)

I hope that you did read this passage and not just skim through. The Old Testament lectionary passage is often not clear when read as indicated. This week the passage from Chapter 8 was only verses 2-3 and 14-16. I indicated those verses with {}. Those five verses out of sixteen do not give me the context of the passage. It could be because I haven’t read the Old Testament as much as the New Testament but I need to get it. This is important stuff. It is not easy to read this because it speaks about the character of God and even the why of what He does in my life. It speaks to the discipline aspect of His love.

God is telling me that He set His commands, His rules, His regulations for my good. No child likes to hear that. As a child, we don’t like to hear, “If you do ____, then _____ will happen.” “If you do not do your homework and your grades fall, then you will not be allowed to play baseball.” Most children will push that and see if the parent will follow through on the consequence. I remember my son did. I did not want to pull him out of a sport. He was good at it and he really liked it. It was because it was so dear to him that it was a good teaching tool. He learned about consequences. He learned about making good choices. He didn’t like homework (let’s face it, sometimes it is dumb!) but he loved the sport more and was willing to submit to the discipline in order to get what he wanted.

Paul tells me that God does not let me be tempted beyond what I can handle and will show me how to stand up to that temptation (1 Corinthians 10:13). God will bless me with what I need to be victorious in whatever battles I must face. However, when these victories come, I must never forget where and how the victories happened. P R I D E is my greatest downfall that will cause me to stumble. And the world is the loudspeaker, the transportation for this message of pride. The world in so many insidious ways tells me that my success is dependent on my work and only me. God wants me to understand that it is He who has a plan and a path for me that is perfectly connected to the gifts that He has blessed me and the call that He has put on my life.

Yes, God allows me to be tempted and tested. He does this to teach and strengthen me so that I will be led to the Promised Land that He has for me.

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