Encouragement Through Discipline (New Year’s Resolutions)

Hebrews 12:4-13 

4 In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. 5 And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says,

“My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline,
and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,
6 because the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.”[a]

7 Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? 8 If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. 9 Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! 10They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. 11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

12 Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. 13 “Make level paths for your feet,”[b] so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.

Children need guidance (12:7-9)

The point of parenting is to teach our children how to make the best choices. Children need rules. They need limitations. They need boundaries. We love our children by not allowing them to hurt themselves. Verse 8 says that we are not legitimate if we have not undergone discipline. Verse 9 says that we learn to respect from discipline.

We need guidance (12:10-11)

We receive discipline and guidance because it is leading us to what is good.  We will receive a share in his holiness. Discipline is never meant to be easy or pleasant. The short term is not the goal. We are in this for the long haul. Verse 11 tells us that we can know righteousness and peace because we have been trained for it.

We become good examples for others (12:12-13)

We are being trained for a purpose. We should “strengthen” our arms and knees to support others. When you lift something up, you use your arms and knees. As we are lifted up, we should lift up others! We undergo training and discipline to strengthen us to be strong for others!

Graphic from the Ministry Toolkit and Lindsey Fleeman 

Walking in His "Majestic" Presence: Week 2

Note to reader: This is a single part of a multi-sectioned devotional series surrounding the transMission album, “Majestic.”  All of the devotionals will be filed under the category marked “Walking in His ‘Majestic’ Presence.”

My Morning Nemesis

Play track 2 of “Majestic” entitled “Awake.”  You can stream it live here.

It is the thing I dread in the morning.  I often plan its’ destruction.  I imagine its’ demise in many graphic ways.  What weapon will I use?  Will it be Col. Mustard in my bedroom with the lead pipe?  I have grown to loathe it.  I can only imagine a perfect world without its’ existence.  What is my morning nemesis?  What is it that fills me with dread?

It is my…(pause for effect)…my alarm clock.

You know what I am talking about!  Whether it buzzes, clangs, beeps, chirps, or hums a merry tune, I do not want to get out of bed!  I am perfectly happy and content where I am!  Does this machine not understand that the world is cold and cruel, but I am in a safe, warm place?  Why do you think babies cry when they are born?  Going from safety to reality is disturbing.

One of the most insidious of these vile creations is the easy waking alarm clock.  Hammacher Schlemmer peddle this loathsome device under the name, The Peaceful Progression Wake Up Clock.  Here is a quote from the item description:

At 30 minutes before wake-up, the clock’s light begins to glow softly, brightening over the next half-hour. The warmth from the lamp releases faint aromatherapy scents into the air to stimulate the olfactory senses. Fifteen minutes before wake-up, the clock generates your choice of six soft nature sounds, such as ocean surf or songbirds. A beeper sounds at the end of the cycle.

Do you see how sneaky and underhanded this is?

Back to reality…by now, you have heard the opening moments of “Awake.”  You have heard the opening “club” feeling of the synthesizer.  You have heard the bass drum and lower toms enter.  You hear layer after layer of sound being added to the mix.

Slowly, we are building and building towards a climax.  The introductory bars come crashing in to startle us with the power and energy.  We know and feel like we are moving towards something.

Awake, awake! Fling off the night!

For God has sent his glorious light

The truth about our own lives is that we need to “put our evil works away” and “let in the light, all sin expose.”  We need to look inward and see that the “light of life in us must glow.”  Like an alarm clock dispelling quiet and sleep, the “light” of God has come to “conquer death and night.”  We must wake up and move in holiness towards our example, Christ.  I can hear what you are thinking.  Why would I want to wake up?  The real world is cold and painful.  I can get hurt or hurt others.  We have to wake up because there are people around us who are dying, a whole generation of people drowning in “status quo”, “culture”, “apathy”, and whatever else was popular yesterday.  Holiness means to stand clear of those distractions, not to stand away from.  We must be willing to immerse ourselves in people, but not their distractions.

Ephesians 5:13-14 NLT – But their evil intentions will be exposed when the light shines on them, for the light makes everything visible. This is why it is said,
“Awake, O sleeper,
rise up from the dead,
and Christ will give you light.”

So, sing with me:

Awake my soul and sing, awake my soul and sing, awake my soul and sing!

Soli Deo Gloria!

Walking in His “Majestic” Presence: Week 2

Note to reader: This is a single part of a multi-sectioned devotional series surrounding the transMission album, “Majestic.”  All of the devotionals will be filed under the category marked “Walking in His ‘Majestic’ Presence.”

My Morning Nemesis

Play track 2 of “Majestic” entitled “Awake.”  You can stream it live here.

It is the thing I dread in the morning.  I often plan its’ destruction.  I imagine its’ demise in many graphic ways.  What weapon will I use?  Will it be Col. Mustard in my bedroom with the lead pipe?  I have grown to loathe it.  I can only imagine a perfect world without its’ existence.  What is my morning nemesis?  What is it that fills me with dread?

It is my…(pause for effect)…my alarm clock.

You know what I am talking about!  Whether it buzzes, clangs, beeps, chirps, or hums a merry tune, I do not want to get out of bed!  I am perfectly happy and content where I am!  Does this machine not understand that the world is cold and cruel, but I am in a safe, warm place?  Why do you think babies cry when they are born?  Going from safety to reality is disturbing.

One of the most insidious of these vile creations is the easy waking alarm clock.  Hammacher Schlemmer peddle this loathsome device under the name, The Peaceful Progression Wake Up Clock.  Here is a quote from the item description:

At 30 minutes before wake-up, the clock’s light begins to glow softly, brightening over the next half-hour. The warmth from the lamp releases faint aromatherapy scents into the air to stimulate the olfactory senses. Fifteen minutes before wake-up, the clock generates your choice of six soft nature sounds, such as ocean surf or songbirds. A beeper sounds at the end of the cycle.

Do you see how sneaky and underhanded this is?

Back to reality…by now, you have heard the opening moments of “Awake.”  You have heard the opening “club” feeling of the synthesizer.  You have heard the bass drum and lower toms enter.  You hear layer after layer of sound being added to the mix.

Slowly, we are building and building towards a climax.  The introductory bars come crashing in to startle us with the power and energy.  We know and feel like we are moving towards something.

Awake, awake! Fling off the night!

For God has sent his glorious light

The truth about our own lives is that we need to “put our evil works away” and “let in the light, all sin expose.”  We need to look inward and see that the “light of life in us must glow.”  Like an alarm clock dispelling quiet and sleep, the “light” of God has come to “conquer death and night.”  We must wake up and move in holiness towards our example, Christ.  I can hear what you are thinking.  Why would I want to wake up?  The real world is cold and painful.  I can get hurt or hurt others.  We have to wake up because there are people around us who are dying, a whole generation of people drowning in “status quo”, “culture”, “apathy”, and whatever else was popular yesterday.  Holiness means to stand clear of those distractions, not to stand away from.  We must be willing to immerse ourselves in people, but not their distractions.

Ephesians 5:13-14 NLT – But their evil intentions will be exposed when the light shines on them, for the light makes everything visible. This is why it is said,
“Awake, O sleeper,
rise up from the dead,
and Christ will give you light.”

So, sing with me:

Awake my soul and sing, awake my soul and sing, awake my soul and sing!

Soli Deo Gloria!

Walking in His “Majestic” Presence: Week 1

Note to reader: This is a single part of a multi-sectioned devotional series surrounding the transMission album, “Majestic.”  All of the devotionals will be filed under the category marked “Walking in His ‘Majestic’ Presence.”

Who Are You Walking With?

Play track 1 of “Majestic” entitled “Christ for the World.”  You can stream it live here.

You know the kind of afternoon I am talking about.  It warm with a breeze.  The sun is out, but it is not “out” to get you.  You are on a path surrounded by nature on all sides.  It is one of those moments that you just want to share with those that you are closest to.  You want to walk and share about old memories.  You can stroll along and make new memories.  You might glide along as you remember those who are no longer there.  Or, you can quickly hike along as you share new ideas that you are excited about.  Which ever way you see it, you are out and about with a friend or family member, just sharing the experience.

As the opening moments of “Christ for the World” are filling your ears, you get the sense of not one person marching towards you, but the sense of a group of people, an army.  When a voice emerges from the crowd, he does not sing about his own memories or his own accomplishments.  He does not tell about what he does not have or what he wants.  He is singing about OTHERS, and, not just any OTHERS, but the ones who are forgotten about.

 “The poor, despised and overborne,
The faint, the weak, and those who mourn,
The plagued and sin-sick, sorrow-worn”

He may be walking with those he knows.  They may be people with whom he has things in common.  They may be fellow laborers, but he is singing about OTHERS.

Zechariah 7:9-10 (New Living Translation)
This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: Judge fairly, and show mercy and kindness to one another.  Do not oppress widows, orphans, foreigners, and the poor. And do not scheme against each other.

These verses talk about another voice who is speaking out from a group, Heaven’s Armies.  Here, the Lord reminds us, the faithful, of where our concern should be.  We should care for “widows, orphans, foreigners, and the poor.”  The song today also calls them, “the wandering, the wayward, and the lost.”

The most common and easily understood definition of the word, “holy”, is to be set apart.  We were not called as God’s people to be set apart for our benefit.  We were not set apart for our glory.  We were set apart for OTHERS.  We were set apart for His glory!

The song ends with the group singing as they did in the beginning.  Today, who are you walking with?  Are you walking with those who are making a difference for OTHERS?  Are you making a difference for OTHERS?

Soli Deo Gloria!

Walking in His "Majestic" Presence: Week 1

Note to reader: This is a single part of a multi-sectioned devotional series surrounding the transMission album, “Majestic.”  All of the devotionals will be filed under the category marked “Walking in His ‘Majestic’ Presence.”

Who Are You Walking With?

Play track 1 of “Majestic” entitled “Christ for the World.”  You can stream it live here.

You know the kind of afternoon I am talking about.  It warm with a breeze.  The sun is out, but it is not “out” to get you.  You are on a path surrounded by nature on all sides.  It is one of those moments that you just want to share with those that you are closest to.  You want to walk and share about old memories.  You can stroll along and make new memories.  You might glide along as you remember those who are no longer there.  Or, you can quickly hike along as you share new ideas that you are excited about.  Which ever way you see it, you are out and about with a friend or family member, just sharing the experience.

As the opening moments of “Christ for the World” are filling your ears, you get the sense of not one person marching towards you, but the sense of a group of people, an army.  When a voice emerges from the crowd, he does not sing about his own memories or his own accomplishments.  He does not tell about what he does not have or what he wants.  He is singing about OTHERS, and, not just any OTHERS, but the ones who are forgotten about.

 “The poor, despised and overborne,
The faint, the weak, and those who mourn,
The plagued and sin-sick, sorrow-worn”

He may be walking with those he knows.  They may be people with whom he has things in common.  They may be fellow laborers, but he is singing about OTHERS.

Zechariah 7:9-10 (New Living Translation)
This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: Judge fairly, and show mercy and kindness to one another.  Do not oppress widows, orphans, foreigners, and the poor. And do not scheme against each other.

These verses talk about another voice who is speaking out from a group, Heaven’s Armies.  Here, the Lord reminds us, the faithful, of where our concern should be.  We should care for “widows, orphans, foreigners, and the poor.”  The song today also calls them, “the wandering, the wayward, and the lost.”

The most common and easily understood definition of the word, “holy”, is to be set apart.  We were not called as God’s people to be set apart for our benefit.  We were not set apart for our glory.  We were set apart for OTHERS.  We were set apart for His glory!

The song ends with the group singing as they did in the beginning.  Today, who are you walking with?  Are you walking with those who are making a difference for OTHERS?  Are you making a difference for OTHERS?

Soli Deo Gloria!

The Light and Fire of Holiness (CREST: An Army Standard)

Matthew 3:7-12 NLT

The “light and fire of the Holy Spirit” is what separates and defines us.  Even the word, “holy”, separates and defines us.  The original, pre-Christian definition is to “be preserved whole or intact, that cannot be transgressed or violated.”

Problem in the Text

The Pharisees and Sadducees have become too complacent with their position.  They thought that they were covered, because they were “descendants of Abraham” and because of their position.  John referred to them as a “brood” or group of vipers, basically poisonous snakes.  They represented generations of religious leadership that has constantly reinforced the understanding of their own superiority based on birth and position.  They were leading others in a misguided religion and not a true relationship.

These leaders considered themselves, and others considered them, holy.  They were seen as examples, set apart from the crowd.  They saw their holiness as being “better” than others.  They considered themselves superior to others.

They have been warned, just as earlier leaders of Israel, of the path that there pride was going to take them.  It was pride that destroyed the kingdoms of Israel and Judah.

Problem in the World

Calling yourself a Christian or going to church does not make you saved or create salvation.  Knowing every new Christian song and the ability to quote whole chapters of the Bible does not make you a “true” believer or “Christ”-follower.

Christians, in today’s world, are taking two paths.  They have either: a) pulled so far away from the world that they are no longer relevant or useful to anyone; or b) They are so immersed in the world that their message has become “watered down”, weak and ineffective.  Either way, they are not making any difference.  This church is losing its’ effectiveness in this world, because of its’ own pride, its’ own “self”-improvement.

Solution in the Text

The text does not provide any solutions or answers.  It actually provides a warning.  Matthew refers in v. 10 that the “ax of God’s judgment” is ready to cut them off.

John then tells that he baptizes with water.  This baptism is another marker of separation.  It was an older tradition that now has a new meaning.  People knew about “ritual bathing.”  This bathing was done in standing baths surrounding the Temple before someone could enter.  John was offering something different.  He was offering baptism in rivers and lakes.  He was offering baptism in living, flowing water.  Water that did not stay in one place, but had new life through its’ source.

After speaking of baptism, not only of water, but of light and fire, John says we will all be sorted and separated.  If we are useful and “produce good fruit”, we will be “gathered” like “wheat into his barn.”  If we are not useful or productive, we will be burned “with never-ending fire.”

These are three different examples of the separation that is to come if we are not “truly separated.”

Solution in the World

This warning applies to us today.  The irony is that if we do not separate, then we will be separated.

We are called to in the world, but not of the world.  It is possible to live I the world without becoming what the world has become.  We must be changed in order to affect change in others.

As Salvationists and Christians, we need to useful in the world, but not used by the world.

Holiness is supposed to be a mark of distinction not a mark of superiority.  Christianity should cause our life to produce certain proofs, or fruit.  These fruit, or proofs, are what distinguishes us from the world.

Conclusion

The sun represents the “light and fire of the Holy Spirit.”  Part of our Army standard is holiness.  This is especially important for front-line Christians who serve in a messed-up world every day.