“Go sit on your bed until your father comes home!” Those were the most dreaded words my mother ever uttered to my eight year old ears. What miserable long hours (Well maybe minutes) those were. By the time I heard the car in the driveway the dread I had of what was to come had become a mountain before me. I knew everything that was to come. “You know this hurts me more than it hurts you” was always spoken just before the inevitable discipline was meted out..
Not long ago we visited Fort De Soto in Florida. At the fort are some of the largest artillery pieces I have ever seen. They were installed at the entrance of Tampa Bay during the Spanish American war. Though they were never fired in battle their presence at the harbor entry served as a warning and a preventive measure against an enemy attack.
Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. Hebrews 12:11
In the same way both our childhood discipline and the trials God allows us to pass through are not joyful events while we are passing through them. But God loves us and cares for us and He is teaching us some things that we can not learn any other way. We are learning timeless truths like:
We are not perfect
We will be held responsible for our actions
We have a father who disciplines us but he does not disown us.
This discipline is for our good!
So if like me you are going through a Winter of trials it helps to stop and realize that our chastening today will help to prevent the enemy’s attack tomorrow. It reminds us that we belong to Jesus. The worst (and the best) part of the punishment was getting a hug when it was over. So be patient, be open to correction and hold on for God’s hug!
A man who has friends must himself be friendly, But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. Proverbs 18:24
In the middle of our own battles and spiritual growing pains it is sometimes all too easy to take for granted our friends. My grandmother used to say that friends were special because you could not choose your family but you could choose your friends. We also need to remember that they must also choose us.
They take our phone calls and listen to our problems. They pray for us, tell us the truth and help us out of various ditches we fall into along the way. Today let’s be thankful for friends who act like family and for family who act like friends. As we remember our friends then also remember that Jesus has chosen to be our friend. He washed the feet of His friends. He, shared with them the cup and the bread and then He carried our cross to the top of the hill.
There’s not a friend like the lowly Jesus
No not one! No not One! Johnson Oatman
Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me. Matthew 19:21
Our day will be changed if we begin to be thankful for some of those treasures. Here is my own personal thanksgiving list Please feel free to add to my list as it is in no way complete!
Eternal life – forgiveness of sin – Acceptance and adoption by the Father – – My name written in the Book of Life – God Himself wiping every tear from my eyes – Eating the fruit from the Tree of Life – Seeing Jesus face to face – Embracing my Dad, my friends, William, Quina, Rick , Pastor Joe and many more who are there waiting on the other shore – Drinking from the Crystal River – Hearing His Voice – Worshiping Him forever!
Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! Psalm 100:4
When I was small my mother always made me wait till after we had said grace before we ate. In Spanish we would say muchas gracias (much grace). In my little mind I didn’t quite grasp why, but in the passing years I am learning that the word grace really is at the center of gratefulness. Yesterday was a complete failure for me in the gratefulness challenge. I found though that as I genuinely confessed my own failures at ceasing my complaining and faced my own lack of gratitude, a real sense of God’s peace and mercy came to me.
David gives a glimpse of this mercy
Psalm 103:11-13 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west,
so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
13 As a father shows compassion to his children,
so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.
How wonderful it is to know and experience the real grace of God. We will never really become grateful or stop our complaining until the cross of Jesus Christ (The center of God’s grace) becomes the center of our thoughts and attitudes.
At the cross at the cross where I first saw the light
And the burdens of my heart rolled away
It was there by faith I received my sight
And now I am happy all the day Isaac Watts
I confess to missing the mark on not complaining today. Missing the mark is something God calls sin so my determination is by his grace to be grateful tomorrow.
1 Thes 5:18 In every thing give thanks for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
In everything give thanks for this is the will of God In Christ Jesus concerning you. 1 Thessalonians 5:18
This week at church we were challenged to spend the week being grateful and not complaining.
I confess that I have failed the not complaining part but I have been truly grateful for the Winter for the first time this year. In the Bible snow is always good. He washes our sins whiter than snow. Snow at harvest is compared to a refreshing word. God brings the snow and ice out of his treasury. So thank you God for this blessed refreshing rich and clean Winter day!