And take…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17
Volume 14, Number
In this issue:
The Chastening of the Lord
Whenever God chastened an individual or a nation, the purpose was to turn them away from wickedness to righteousness. In the Book of Amos for example, we read of the different methods of chastening used by God to try and get Israel's attention.
The Lord sent His rebellious people famine, drought, blight, mildew, locust, plague, death and destruction (Amos 4:6-11). In spite of all these divine wake-up calls, “Yet you have not returned to Me," says the LORD (v. 6, 8, 9, 10, 11).
Since "the Most High" still "rules in the kingdom of men," (Dan. 4:17), do you think it is possible that this sinful and corrupt nation has in recent times been chastened by Him (Prov. 14:34)? It's possible right?
Perhaps, the recent tornadoes, floods, droughts, and earthquakes that have taken place in the United States is the chastening hand of the Lord. Perhaps, the recession and depressed economy in so many parts of the country is God attempting to get the attention of a wayward nation. Perhaps, unjust and wicked rulers in the land is another form of discipline to an ungodly people.
Of course, we cannot know with absolute certainty if this is what is going on behind the scenes, but one is made to wonder. What we do know with certainty is that: (1) God is in control, (2) God sees all, (3) Nations and individuals will give an account to Him.
As His children, let us heed the divine warning: "My son, do not despise the chastening of the LORD, nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; for whom the LORD loves He chastens, and scourges eve1y son whom He receives" (Hebrews 12:5-6).
Children would try the patience of Job! I watched one day as a young mother lifted her screaming little daughter (by one arm!) out of the family car in front of a store. I could not tell what it was the child was crying about, but the mother said to an older woman, who was likely her mother: "Will she ever grow out of that stage?" It was all I could do to keep from saying, "Yes, and before you realize it!" But I would not intrude.
While parents are right in the midst of bringing up their little ones it seems to them that it will be an eternity before they reach the place where they will not be such a "bother" and a worry anymore. Small children even at times will test the strength of a seemingly strong marriage; and appear to "get in the way" of success and progress.
A story from READER'S DIGEST several years ago, written by Robert W. Wells, of which I give only the first three paragraphs, is a beautiful and wonderful article. I hope every parent will read it slowly, digest it fully, and be impressed forever:
"To an adult a tree is a tree, a cloud passing before the moon is only a cloud like those that have gone before. But a child is not like that. Things happen for the first time to him. "I remember a July day when John was four. We had left the Manhattan apartment where we lived then and were spending the weekend in a small town. After dinner, my wife, the boy and I went for a walk. We came to an open field with a stand of oaks behind it. John had been holding my hand, but now he slipped free. He stood quietly for a moment, this big-city boy, surveying the largest expanse of earth he had ever seen that was entirely devoid of people. And then he was off, running hard.
"I can still close my eyes and picture him, this child whom I shall never see again, although he still lives concealed in a tall youth who has his name. Across the grass in the dying sunlight he ran, short legs pumping, under the trees, up a hill, then swooping back toward us, head erect, eyes half-closed. In spirit I was running with him, feeling the things he felt, and I was suddenly aware that the child who had loosed my hand and left me would never return, that in a brief instant of time his babyhood had ended and his boyhood begun. I could feel time ticking away."
Oh, mother! Oh, dad! Seize every moment you can lay hold upon in order to have some time with your children while they are so young, so tender, and so innocent. Relish some precious periods of play and lightheartedness with them! But, more importantly, show them by a good example what being a faithful Christian is all about. Prove to them that nothing is more important to you than the Lord and His church by putting Him first every day. Let spiritual matters take precedence in your thoughts, be first in your financial budget, have supremacy in your time, and take priority in all your activities (Matt. 6:33). In becoming parents, accept a most serious responsibility! "Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord, and fruit of the womb is his reward" (Ps. 127:3).
Quick! Parents, while the clay is soft, pliant and easily molded. Hasten to the task! Don't wait another moment! Later will be too late!" And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord" (Eph. 6:4). TIME IS "TICKING AWAY!"
Desensitize. Now that's a big word. What does it mean? It is defined "to reduce or eliminate the sensitivity of a person."
A country boy asked a city-slicker once, "Have you ever seen a pig holding his nose?" The city-slicker answered, "No, I haven't." The country boy then said, "He's been in the stench so long, he doesn't know he stinks." "Now, I've got it," said the city-slicker. Don't you love the way country folks can shuck it down where anyone can understand?
Desensitization happens when we expose ourselves to shameful things so long that we no longer respond to it as we once did. The Bible teaches us to keep our senses keen. Our senses are to be "exercised to discern both good and evil" (Heb. 5:14). We need to have discernment to make good choices and approve of things that are excellent (Phil. 1:1 0). But too much exposure to filth has a tendency to numb the senses. Our world is full of people who "having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more" (Eph. 4:19). It is possible for our consciences to become seared (1 Tim. 4:2). I'm reminded of a newly hired construction worker who hit his thumb with a hammer & doubled over in pain. His boss walked by & said, "You know, if you'll do that every day for a while, it'll get to where it doesn't hurt anymore." He's right. All the nerves will be dead. That's desensitization.
In the days of Jeremiah, things got so bad that Jeremiah said the people did not "know how to blush" (Jer. 6:15). It makes me wonder- are we there? Have we lost the ability to blush at anything? Are there things that used to bother you but they don't bother you any longer? Are you watching things on television that at one time you would not have watched? Are you going places that at one time you would not visit? Are you wearing things that at one time you would not have worn? Are you more silent about things that at one time you would have spoken out against? Has your zeal for the Lord reached the "lukewarm" level (Rev. 3:16)?
Have we been desensitized when we ought to be holding our noses? Think about it.
Created by Chuck Sibbing. 10/23/2011
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA