Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Week Nine - Correction

“O Lord, correct me, but with judgment; not in thine anger, lest thou bring me to nothing.”  Jeremiah 10:24
Hebrews 12 is the place to go to read about the purpose and outcome of the Lord’s correction.  We are instructed to understand that as children of the King we should expect that our good Father would deal with us in correction.  It is a sign that we are His and it is for our profit.  His goal is to bring peace and uprightness to our lives.
Jeremiah is opening his heart and life for the Lord’s examination, asking to be corrected.  David did similarly in Psalm 139:23, 24, “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there by any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”
He adds a qualifier – with judgment and not anger. Again, he reflects the heart of David as in Psalm 6:1, “O Lord, rebuke me not in thine anger, neither chasten me in thy hot displeasure.” David and Jeremiah do not want to be in the hands of an angry God. Their desire is for loving and honest correction, to be judged and instructed.
The phrase, lest thou bring me to nothing, shows the natural result of punishment done in anger.  It diminishes the spirit.  Jeremiah’s prayer is that good will come from the correction, that it will yield good fruit.  God will surely answer this brave prayer.
When we come to God with this type of prayer, we, too, can expect that he will answer.  The key is being willing to give reverence to the instruction and to make the necessary changes.
Can you pray this prayer?  Are you willing and ready to hear from your loving, heavenly Father about the things you need to have corrected in your life?  Are you willing to make the changes necessary? Do you believe that his correction will be for your benefit?

“O Lord, are not thine eyes upon the truth?  Thou hast stricken them, but they have not grieved; thou hast consumed them, but they have refused to receive correction: they have made their faces harder than a rock; they have refused to return.”  Jeremiah 5:3
Refusing to receive correction.  What a sad state of affairs.  Can you see the description of Israel in this verse?  They have been under the corrective hand of God, but refused to yield.  They have become harder and harder as they stubbornly hold onto their rebellion.  There is no repentance, no grieving for sin. 
Sadly, this example is played out in the lives of so many even today.  Stubbornness and rebellion become a way of life and no matter how ugly life gets they refuse to change their ways.  Proverbs 13:15 says, “…the way of the trangressors is hard.”  Truly, a life bound in rebellion brings with it much heartache.
Proverbs 22:15 tells us that “Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child, but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.”  That tells me that refusal to receive correction is foolish.  It is not wise and not the best path to choose.  To be in a place where the hand of God is upon you in correction because of your rebellion is not a happy place.  It is also not a place God wants you to remain.
My heart goes out to those whose children have taken this path.  My heart also is broken for those who are on this path.  As I hear of their hurts and disappointments I can only watch as they refuse to hear truth and as they continue over and over to make poor choices.  All the time they are blaming someone else.  They can even say all the right words, but their hearts are far from the truth and their bent is toward stubbornly trying to make their sinful lifestyle work.  It results in a hard heart and a seared conscience.  Refusing to receive correction.  What a sad state of affairs.

“Thine own wickedness shall correct thee, and thy backslidings shall reprove thee:  know therefore and see that it is an evil thing and bitter, that thou hast forsaken the Lord thy God, and that my fear is not in thee, saith the Lord God of hosts.”  Jeremiah 2:19  
It is a distasteful punishment when we realize that we are reaping what we have sown.  There is no one else to blame and we have to admit that our own doings and rebellion have brought about the hardships we are facing.
Like teenagers, we insist on our own way without taking into account what will be the outcome.  Sometimes we are in open rebellion, and sometimes we are just simply ignorant.  I have been both!  Open rebellion brought me several lessons in my teen years, but ignorance brought it’s own lesson as well.
I always had the potential to be a good student.  My parents insisted on good grades.  So, I did just enough to keep them happy and to keep control of the educational pressure on myself.  I was in the top ten percent of my graduating class and that satisfied me until I realized that my laziness meant I was being overlooked for opportunities I would have enjoyed.  I watched as others, whom I considered beneath me, were elevated to places of reward I knew could have been mine. 
All of us have lessons like this from our teens, no doubt.  But sadly, we also have experienced similar lessons from our adulthood as we have faced learning about finances, cars, relationships and jobs. 
But saddest of all is the Christian who rebels against His Lord.  Who, by unscriptural choices and open rebellion goes out to have his own way forsaking God’s love and directives and not afraid of the consequences, nor respectful of His authority. 
The law of sowing and reaping remains consistent.  We will all give account of ourselves to the Lord.  It is an evil and bitter pill to swallow when we see that our own sin is being used to correct us.
Have you tasted that pill?  Are you in open rebellion against the Lord?  Are you doing just enough to get by and keep your head down when you know the Lord wants more from you?  Can you see the folly of forsaking the Lord, and, the danger of failing to fearfully respect Him?

“He that chastiseth the heathen, shall not he correct?  He that teacheth man knowledge, shall not he know?”  Psalm 94:10
Chastisement and correction go together.  In Jeremiah 10:24 we learned that the prophet requested the Lord do so with judgment and not in anger.  That was because he knew it came as a package.  If you think about it, most everything we learn, we learn by effort.  Learning to walk means we will fall.  Learning to obey our parents comes with stern warnings and maybe even a few whacks! Learning to play an instrument means practice and loads of wrong notes.  It is no wonder then, that getting something correct means loads of rebukes in the process.
This verse, though, is speaking about more than just learning to do something new.  It is talking about the right of the Lord to teach us how to follow Him.  Matthew Henry explains, “He chastises the heathen for their polytheism and idolatry, shall not he much more correct his own people for their atheism and profaneness?”
Hebrews 12 teaches that correction from the Lord, and, yes, even chastisement, is a sign that we are His children.  God will correct his children.  And, even as he chastises the heathen, he will chastise those of his children who do not yield.
Israel was a rebellious daughter.  She was prideful and haughty.  She was very willing to condemn the heathen around her, but thoughtless about her own failings before her Lord.  She ignored the prophets and even decided to not give heed to their words of warning.  (Jeremiah 18:18) She was bound up in her own way so God had to use strong punishments to get her attention.
It makes for a real attention-getter for us as well.  We can get self-righteous, judgmental and comfortable in our own way. We can think ourselves “above the law”.  And, we can simply go through the motions of Christianity ignoring the Word of God in our self-conceit.  But we need to take note.  God, who punishes the heathen, who we condemn, also holds his children to account.  We, who have the truth, are even more responsible to live in that truth.  God knows our heart.  He knows our true motivations.  We are not guiltless.  He will correct us.

“Correct thy son, and he shall give the rest; yea, he shall give delight unto thy soul.”  Proverbs 29:17
Correction can be a lovely thing.  Taking time to instruct your children pays benefits.  Getting them under control at a young age will give you years of peace in the future.
Having raised five children of my own, I can attest to the demands that wise correction makes on the parent.  To see the real benefits of correction there must be defined boundaries, understood outcomes, and consistency.  Those do not take away from the elements of grace and mercy, but rather, they give a foundation to correction that creates understanding between the parent and the child that will last a lifetime.
God does the same with us.  He has defined boundaries – the “shoulds and should not’s” of God’s Word.  He explains the outcomes of crossing the line – broken fellowship, chastisement, etc.  And, God is consistent.  He does not change.  He is always there with grace and mercy, but his foundations remain consistent.
God gives us correction throughout His Word.  Actually, II Timothy 3:16 even tells us that the Word of God is there for the use of correction.  We can go to God’s Word to find out where we are going wrong, and then use God’s Word to make the necessary changes.  His Word is there for our benefit and for our protection. Correction need not always be considered negative. 
I always found it such a delight when my children obeyed and especially when they obeyed because they had understood my words and made choices to stay inline with our family guidelines. They benefited as well.  Not only because they knew they had done right, but by following good guidelines, they stayed safe.
Now that they are all grown, they have each come back to thank their parents for good discipline and teaching – and yes – even for correction.  I can enjoy them now as adults.

Are you a consistent parent when it comes to discipline?  Or, do you fly off the handle disciplining in raw emotion?  Do you have defined boundaries and expectations, or do your children always wonder about what is right and wrong?  Do you use discipline to “beat your child down”? As a child of God, are you obedient?  Do you know His boundaries and expectations?  Are you living up to them in love?

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