Train Up a Child (Article) by Abidan Paul Shah

TRAIN UP A CHILD (Article) by Abidan Paul Shah

(Published in the newspaper Daily Dispatch, Henderson on March 31, 2018)

Proverbs 22:6 “Train up a child in the way he (she) should go, and when he (she) is old he (she) will not depart from it.”

Train Up a Child (1)The world is upside down. We have become W.B. Rands’ “Topsy-Turvy World” where “three times one was nine…the pony rode his master…the cats were afraid of the mouse…and the mamma sold her baby.” Now right is wrong and wrong is your right. The good guys are the bad guys and the bad guys are the heroes. Sin is freedom and morality is intolerance. As the late pastor Adrian Rogers would say, “sin that use to slink down the back alley now struts down the main street.”

As bad as all that is, we’ve hit a new low when children are being made to lecture adults on what’s right and what’s wrong! Now kids are being held up as spokespersons and activists against time-honored foundational values. There are some who are celebrating this but I believe that it will prove to be devastating to our kids as well as to our society and future. It is no different than giving those same kids a wire-stripper and setting them loose in an electrical panel or giving them a scalpel and letting them do critical surgery.

Train Up a Child (2)Don’t think for a moment that I am talking down about children. To the contrary, I am repulsed by the adage – “Children are to be seen and not heard.” Jesus welcomed children. He compared the reception of his kingdom to the humility of a child. He threatened those who would hurt children with the severest punishment. Repeatedly, the Bible commands us to treat children with the utmost respect and care. This requires that we understand that what they truly deserve and desire from us is right training. Proverbs 22:6 lays out the 4 non-negotiables in this process:

  1. The Child – The Hebrew word is “nahar,” which can mean anywhere from an unborn child to a young person. From the context, it is obvious that the training has to begin as early as possible. Delay in training will diminish the promise. Children are like a garden. The longer you let it go, the harder it is get it back.
  2. The Way – There are only 2 ways in life. The first is God’s Way and the second is the Sinful Way. One leads to life and the other to destruction. Once on the right way, you cannot keep going back to the wrong way and still expect to get to your destination.
  3. The Training – Read Deuteronomy 6:6-9. It is not a one-time event but a 24/7 job. It is not accidental but intentional. It is not irrational but logical. It is not authoritarian but empathetic. It is not cherry picked but balanced. It is not harsh but firm. It is not disheartened but patient.
  4. The Trainer – Training is more caught than taught. In other words, it’s not enough to just preach at your kids. You have to practice what you preach. Doing immoral and unethical things and warning your kids not to does not work. Dropping your kids off at church as you squeal your tires out of the parking lot does not cut it. As someone wisely said, “whatever you do in moderation, your children will do in excess.” You want your kids to follow Christ, then you follow him. If you do those 4 non-negotiables correctly, then only the promise is that those kids may lose their way but they will be back.

If Neil Postman was right that “Children are the living messages we send to a time we will not see,” what message are we giving to our kids? I see a bright future ahead as more and more parents are rising up and taking their rightful roles as trainers and models to their kids.

WHEN WE HIT ROCK BOTTOM

WHEN WE HIT ROCK BOTTOM by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

Running From God  (1)We are in our new series on the Book of Jonah, called, “RUNNING FROM GOD” and this morning we are in Jonah 2 for our third message titled “WHEN WE HIT ROCK BOTTOM.” All of us at some point in our lives have reached that place where the only way to go is up. Maybe some of you are there this morning. Don’t lose hope. Desperation can be a life-changing experience.

Jonah 2:1-3 1 Then Jonah prayed to the LORD his God from the fish’s belly. 2 And he said: “I cried out to the LORD because of my affliction, And He answered me. ‘Out of the belly of Sheol I cried, And You heard my voice. 3 For You cast me into the deep, Into the heart of the seas, And the floods surrounded me; All Your billows and Your waves passed over me. 4 Then I said, “I have been cast out of Your sight; Yet I will look again toward Your holy temple.’

Overall Background: Ask any child in Sunday School if they’ve heard the story of Jonah and the whale (big fish) and a smile will come across their face. We all know of the prophet Jonah whom God called to go to Nineveh and instead he ran in the opposite direction towards Tarshish. He got on a ship and went down to the lowest part, lay down, and was fast asleep. “God can’t find me here.” Really?!! God knows exactly where every person is every moment. Jeremiah 23:24 “Can anyone hide himself in secret places, So I shall not see him?” says the LORD; “Do I not fill heaven and earth?” says the LORD.

God knew where Jonah was and He sent a violent storm on the sea, so that the ship was about to broken up. Was God trying to punish him? Of course not! He doesn’t punish His children but he often disciplines them. Jonah knew that God was dealing with him so he told the sailors to pick him up and toss him into the raging sea and all will be well. Sure enough when they threw him overboard, the sea became calm. If that were the end, we would not be reading this book today. Listen to what came next. Jonah 1:17 “Now the LORD had prepared a great fish to swallow Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.” Jonah 2 tells us what went on for those three days and three nights.In Jonah’s own words, he went down to hell. He went so low that he could see the roots of the mountains. In other words, he hit rock bottom.

Application: Let me ask you – have you hit rock bottom in your life? Are you rock bottom right now? How are you dealing with it? By the way, you don’t have to be in the belly of the fish to hit rock bottom. It can happen in the form of a personal tragedy, horrible accident, terrible sickness, relationship crisis, job loss, or financial problem.

This morning we will learn what to do when we hit rock bottom from Jonah 2.

1. ACKNOWLEDGE YOUR HELPLESSNESS.

3 “For You cast me into the deep, Into the heart of the seas,

For e.g. Think of the missing Malaysian plane. It is more than likely in the Indian Ocean. With all our technology and gadgets we cannot seem to find it.

Jonah is inside a big fish in the sea. Imagine how lost and helpless he is.

3 “For You cast me into the deep, Into the heart of the seas, And the floods (Literally: river swirled about me) surrounded me;

The question in my mind is “Is Jonah in the Sea or in the River?” Sea is usually calm in the deep. So outside the fish it is calm but it is deep. Inside the fish it is like a river. Keep in mind that this fish is swimming. Verse 3again “All Your billows (breakers) and Your waves passed over me.” Jonah is not in some submarine taking a joy ride. He is being pounded left and right. Jonah is for the first time realizing how physically helpless and insignificant he is.

Some people trust in their bodily strength. Some people trust in their good looks. Some people trust in their connections. Some people trust in their wallets. When you are in the hospital room with your loved hooked up to all kinds of machines, that’s when you realize that you are not as big and tough as you thought. You would give everything you had to revert that situation but you can’t. I’m not suggesting that we need to act all helpless and weak. What I am saying is that we should acknowledge how small we are.

But it gets deeper – Verse 5 The waters surrounded me, even to my soul; Jonah is saying, “I felt like my soul was drowning.” What else? “The deep closed around me; Weeds were wrapped around my head.” At first reading, I want to laugh. I can picture Jonah with a bandana of reeds around his head. But what he is really saying is that he is choking.

Verse 6 I went down to the moorings (base) of the mountains; The earth with its bars closed behind me forever.” Jonah is inside the big fish, plus surrounded by water, plus jostled around. How can he see where he is?The language he is employing is more spiritual than physical. What Jonah is saying is that he no longer knows where he is. You may not believe me but there are people here this morning that are exactly in that spot. They may not be inside the belly of a fish but spiritually they feel empty and lifeless.

Application: Are you trusting in your physical strength, outside beauty, connections, wealth, or family? Are you willing to acknowledge your helplessness.It can all be taken from you in a millisecond. Sometimes you can even feel spiritually helpless. Daily in my prayer time I tell God that I am nothing more than a clod of earth.

2. AFFIRM GOD’S PROMISES. 

Jonah 2:1 Then Jonah prayed to the LORD his God from the fish’s belly.

Background: Did you get that? Listen again – “Then Jonah prayed to the LORD his God” = “El Yahweh Elohayaw.” So far it has only been Yahweh (Jehovah). It was all impersonal. Now he is in the belly of the fish. All the superficial is being stripped away and the prayer has become personal.It’s one thing to say, “The Lord is a Shepherd” but its quite another to say, “The Lord is My Shepherd.”

What’s more? Listen to verse 2 And he said: “I cried out to the LORD. This is no rote prayer. This is a real cry for help. I can’t help but think of Peter walking on water. As long as he kept his eyes on Jesus, he was fine. “But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, “Lord, save me!” (Mathew 14:30) The moment he focused on his circumstances he began to sink and he cried out = he screamed.

2 And he said: “I cried out to the LORD because of my affliction.

Let’s put Jonah on the stand. “Jonah you disobeyed God. What makes you think that God will hear your prayer?”

Jonah’s Answer: Because God said in Psalm 50:15 “Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me.”

“But Jonah you really blew it.” I know but Psalm 103:9-14 says “…Nor will He keep His anger forever. 10 He has not dealt with us according to our sins, Nor punished us according to our iniquities. 11 For as the heavens are high above the earth, So great is His mercy toward those who fear Him; 12 As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us. 13 As a father pities his children, So the LORD pities those who fear Him. 14    For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust.

So Jonah claimed the promises of God and prayed. As he prayed, his faith began to rise.

Jonah 2:2b-3  2b “And He answered me. ‘Out of the belly of Sheol I cried, And You heard my voice. 4 Then I said, “I have been cast out of Your sight;Yet I will look again toward Your holy temple.” 6 Yet You have brought up my life from the pit, O LORD, my God. 7 “When my soul fainted within me, I remembered the LORD; And my prayer went up to You, Into Your holy temple.

Application: What promises are you holding on to? Throughout my life I’ve had many – “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” “He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.” “All things work together for good to those who love God.” “My grace is sufficient for you for my strength is made perfect in weakness.”

3. ACT ON YOUR COMMITMENTS.

9 But I will sacrifice to You With the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay what I have vowed. Salvation is of the LORD.”

Many people make commitments to God when they are in the foxhole. If you will only get me out, I will serve you. God gets us out and we forget. Jonah kept his word. He wrote it down for us.

For e.g. Family in church back home that made a vow for their daughter to get healed and then forgot.

Application: Do you have an outstanding vow to the Lord? Do you have a pending commitment towards the Lord?

4. ALLOW GOD TO FINISH YOUR STORY

We know why Jonah asked the sailors to toss him into the sea. He knew that he had really blown his testimony with these guys. For him to stand before them and share the gospel was worthless. They wouldn’t listen. It was time to demonstrate the gospel. By the way, people are tired of our words. They want to see the gospel lived out in us. tweet this button

Jonah was acting out what Jesus would do one day. Jesus won’t be running from God. In fact, He is God Himself. He will come by “the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God” and human beings will take Him “by lawless hands” and crucify Him (Acts 2:23-24). That’s the only way God’s wrath against sin will be satisfied.

God says “Okay Jonah. You’re willing to let your life be a testimony to the death of Christ. I will make your life a testimony to the resurrection of Christ.

10 So the LORD spoke to the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land.

God can do the same for you. No matter how far you fall from God, the moment you turn and return to Him, your life becomes a living testimony. Isn’t that wonderful?!!

Do you know Jesus as your Savior?

WHEN GOD’S CHILDREN DISOBEY

WHEN GOD’S CHILDREN DISOBEY by Pastor Shah

Running From God  (1)

RUNNING FROM GOD – SERIES ON JONAH BY PASTOR SHAH

We are in our new series on the Book of Jonah, titled, “RUNNING FROM GOD.” There is a whole lot more to this tiny 4-chapter book than a man being swallowed by a whale. This morning we will see what happens, “WHEN GOD’S CHILDREN DISOBEY.”

Jonah 1:3-6  3 But Jonah arose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the LORD. He went down to Joppa, and found a ship going to Tarshish; so he paid the fare, and went down into it, to go with them to Tarshish from the presence of the LORD. 4 But the LORD sent out a great wind on the sea, and there was a mighty tempest on the sea, so that the ship was about to be broken up. 5 Then the mariners were afraid; and every man cried out to his god, and threw the cargo that was in the ship into the sea, to lighten the load. But Jonah had gone down into the lowest parts of the ship, had lain down, and was fast asleep. 6 So the captain came to him, and said to him, “What do you mean, sleeper? Arise, call on your God; perhaps your God will consider us, so that we may not perish.”

Application: This morning’s message is one of those that you wish about 10 people in your life could be sitting by you listening. We all know those people who professed to be Christians, claimed to be saved, followed through in baptism, served faithfully for a while, but now they’re not here. They are running from God. They are living in disobedience. They are willfully sinning. They are living opposite of what they know is the way. You have questioned whether they are truly saved. You have questioned whether they ever understood the gospel. This morning’s message will help you understand what’s happening in their lives. Also, this morning’s message will help you understand the difference between those who are saved and running from God and those who are lost and running from God. There is a world of difference between the two.

Let me also add something very important – there are many here this morning who are saved and who are not running from God. That’s wonderful! Keep serving God. But let me caution you – don’t ever think that it won’t happen to you. All of us are “prone to wander” and “prone to leave the God I love.” Guard yourself. Be humble. We’re all just a step or two away from losing our way. But, let me remind you – Nothing can separate us from “the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

5 things happen when God’s children disobey:

I. THEY THINK THEY KNOW BETTER THAN GOD.

3 But Jonah arose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the LORD.

Background: God called Jonah to go and preach the gospel to the people of Nineveh, the Assyrians. Instead, Jonah ran from God in the opposite direction. Reason he ran from God – because God is too gracious and too merciful. People take advantage of Him. They promise to obey Him and then once they have received His blessings, they go back to disobeying Him. God needs to change His strategy and step up His judgment.

Let me make a point here – Christians begin to backslide when they think they know better than God. The Bible is replete with such examples:

–       Adam and Eve – don’t eat the fruit of this one tree. “We want to be like you.”

–       Abram and Sarai – wait on my timing. I will give you a son. “How about the maid woman?”

–       Lot’s wife – don’t look back. “I just want to see what’s happening to my home.”

–       Moses – speak to the rock and water will come out. “No! I’m going to strike the rock.”

–       Peter – don’t follow me. This cross is not for you. “Even if they deny you, I won’t.”

How foolish we are when we think that we know better than God. Some of us need to write our own Bible and title it “The Holier Bible.” Lost people sin because that’s who they are by nature. Saved people sin because they think they know better than God. tweet this button

Application: Do you think you know better than God? That is the first step to backsliding.

II. THEY FEEL THE CONVICTION OF THE HOLY SPIRIT.

3 …He went down to Joppa, and found a ship going to Tarshish; so he paid the fare, and went down into it…5 …But Jonah had gone down into the lowest parts of the ship, had lain down, and was fast asleep.

Did you notice how many times it says “down?”Why does Jonah keep going down? He is trying to get away from the Presence of God, the conviction of the Holy Spirit.Anytime Christians sin, the Holy Spirit of God brings conviction on them.

Listen carefully – There is a world of difference between conviction and conscience. Everybody has a conscience, even lost people. We all know when something is wrong. Conscience says, “You shouldn’t do this,” and “You shouldn’t be here.” Conviction of the Holy Spirit is much more. He not only tells you, “You shouldn’t do this” but also tells you what you should do. He not only tells you, “You shouldn’t be here” but also adds, “Where you should be.”

For e.g. Sometime back I was on 85 behind a big truck. I saw a vehicle way back and I knew I had plenty of time to pass and get back in the right lane and I wasn’t going slow. As I turned my signal to get into the left lane, this vehicle decided to speed up. Well, I was already in the left lane now, so this guy decided to tailgate me. As I pass the truck, He gets into the right lane and passes me and cuts me off real close. My blood pressure begins to rise and my foot begins to press on the gas. Conscience told me to let it go or I may get a ticket or hurt someone but that wasn’t enough. Conviction had to step in and remind me – “what will this do to your testimony?” and “Will this please God?” That’s the Holy Spirit.

John 16:8 “And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment.”

 Application: When you sin, do you have a conscience or do you have a conviction? Do you hear what you should not do or do you also hear what you should do. Do you hear where you should not be or do you also hear where you should be.

III. THEY JEOPARDIZE THE LIVES OF OTHERS.

4 But the LORD sent out a great wind on the sea, and there was a mighty tempest on the sea, so that the ship was about to be broken up.

Background: God is proving to Jonah that he cannot run from Him. He has power over the land and the sea. The sea god was considered to be a powerful god. Once he takes a prisoner, no one can rescue them. Think of the Malaysian place – they’re still having trouble finding it. According to Canaanite myth, the false god Baal had to conquer the sea god Yam, in order to establish his throne. So also, among the Babylonian people, the false god Marduk had to conquer the sea god Tiamat before he could establish his throne. Our God can send a storm and He can calm a storm. He can control the sea creatures of the deep and He can walk on water!

But here’s the problem – It’s not just Jonah who is in trouble. The sailors are about to die as well. He endangered the lives of others because of his disobedience.

Don’t forget – Your actions affect other people. You can have your kicks but you cannot control your kickbacks. Your decisions will affect your children and your grandchildren and your great-grandchildren. It’s not generational curse but generational disobedience. What are you doing this morning that is destroying other lives?

IV. THEY DESTROY THEIR TESTIMONY.

The ship is breaking apart. The sailors are afraid; they are throwing their cargo overboard but Jonah is still asleep. What a sad testimony…He knows the truth but right now he is living in disobedience. Their captain even calls on him to pray but Jonah is still disobedient. Then they cast lots to figure out who is responsible and the lot fell on Jonah.

I think they already knew it was Jonah. Somehow they knew something was not natural about this storm. Somehow they knew that Jonah was connected to this storm. What do you think gave him away? There’s something about a child of God that is different from the world. They know you’re not one of them. You may pretend to be.

Listen to them in verse 8 Then they said to him, “Please tell us! For whose cause is this trouble upon us? What is your occupation? And where do you come from? What is your country? And of what people are you?” 9 So he said to them, “I am a Hebrew; and I fear the LORD, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land.” What is their response? 10 Then the men were exceedingly afraid, and said to him, “Why have you done this?”

What a sad testimony? He could have led those sailors in trusting in the creator God. He could have taught those sailors to pray to the living God. He could have calmed their fears to rest in the powerful God. Instead, he lost his witness before them.

Application: What are you doing this morning that is driving people further from God? Do people at work or in your neighborhood know that you are a Christian? Are they shocked to find out that you go to church? Is there a look of disbelief when you invite them to some program?

 V. THEY HAVE TO FACE GOD’S DISCIPLINE.

The sailors tried to make it row harder but it did not work. It just got worse. Jonah’s solution – “Throw me into the sea.” At first, they refused but then reluctantly, they asked God to forgive them and then

15 So they picked up Jonah and threw him into the sea, and the sea ceased from its raging. What do you think went through Jonah’s mind? This is the end. Oh no – this is just the beginning! 17 Now the LORD had prepared a great fish to swallow Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.

Background: Now begins discipline time. Some of you grew up in abusive situations that left a scar on your heart and mind forever. We are not talking about that. There is a big difference between PUNISHMENT AND DISCIPLINE.

PUNISHMENT

DISCIPLINE

GOAL – INFLICT PENALTY GOAL – PROMOTE GROWTH
FOCUS – THE PAST FOCUS – THE FUTURE
ATTITUDE – ANGER & BITTERNESS ATTITUDE – LOVE & FAITH
ACTION – TORTUROUS & LEAVES PHYSICAL, EMOTIONAL, AND SPIRITUAL SCARS. ACTION – PAINFUL BUT LEAVES NO SCARS. IT IS GIVEN CALMLY, QUICKLY, CONSISTENTLY, AND SPARINGLY.
RESULT – FEAR, GUILT, RESENTMENT, AND MORE ANGER RESULT – SECURITY, RESPECT OF AND FOR AUTHORITY

Application: Is God disciplining you? If you are His child, He won’t punish you. That’s double jeopardy. He has already punished Jesus for it. Don’t run from it. Don’t get angry about it. Don’t blame someone else for it. Recognize it, receive it, and run to Him.

Hebrews 12:7, 11  7 If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons11 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.

When God’s Children Disobey: 1. They think they know better than God.  2. They feel the conviction of the Holy Spirit. 3. They jeopardize the lives of others. 4. They destroy their testimony. 5. They have to face God’s discipline.

There is one thing that still remains to be said – You have to think about this one. 11 Then they said to him, “What shall we do to you that the sea may be calm for us?”—for the sea was growing more tempestuous. 12 And he said to them, “Pick me up and throw me into the sea; then the sea will become calm for you…”

If Jonah’s going overboard is going to save the people, why didn’t he just say “Adios Amigos” or “Peace Out” and do a back flip into the ocean?

He was demonstrating the gospel of grace. He was acting out what one day Jesus, the Son of God, would do. Listen to the words of Peter in Acts 2:22-24 22 “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know—  23 Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death; 24 whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it.

Invitation: You can either moan or groan over your past or let it become a testimony to God’s grace. The choice is yours.

You know what the sailors did in Jonah 1:16 Then the men feared the LORD exceedingly, and offered a sacrifice to the LORD and took vows. Meaning: They got saved.

Are you saved?

THERE’S ONLY ONE WHO WILL DISCIPLINE AND DELIVER

THERE’S ONLY ONE WHO WILL DISCIPLINE AND DELIVER

God the Father Disciplines and DeliversPeople, when they are going through a difficult time, will say something like “maybe God is punishing me for all the bad I have done” or “I’m getting what I deserve.” Listen carefully: God never punishes His children. He disciplines them. There is a big difference between punishment and discipline. The end result of punishment is fear, guilt, resentment, and anger. The end result of discipline is love, growth, respect, and security.

Nehemiah 9:3-8  3 And they stood up in their place and read from the Book of the Law of the Lord their God for one–fourth of the day; and for another fourth they confessed and worshiped the Lord their God….22“Moreover You gave them kingdoms and nations,
And divided them into districts.
So they took possession of the land of Sihon,
The land of the king of Heshbon,
And the land of Og king of Bashan. 23 You also multiplied their children as the stars of heaven,
And brought them into the land
Which You had told their fathers
To go in and possess.…26 “Nevertheless they were disobedient
And rebelled against You,
Cast Your law behind their backs
And killed Your prophets, who testified against them
To turn them to Yourself;
And they worked great provocations. 27 Therefore You delivered them into the hand of their enemies,
Who oppressed them;
And in the time of their trouble,
When they cried to You,
You heard from heaven;
And according to Your abundant mercies
You gave them deliverers who saved them
From the hand of their enemies.

Background:  For the past 5 Sundays we have been studying the 9th chapter of the Book of Nehemiah, known as the Levites’ Psalm. It tells us of the spontaneous revival that broke out among the Jewish people during the time of Nehemiah. They began by fasting, wearing sackcloth and pouring dust on their heads. Then, they stood and read the Bible for three hours and confessed their sins before God for the next three hours and worshipped Him. These people were truly broken over their sins. It was quite a sight!

It was true revival. We have signs in front of our churches announcing “revival in progress.” They had no sign but this was a real revival in progress. If you ask me as a pastor “what is my heart’s desire for Clearview at this point?”, it is to see revival come to our church. I want to see men and women, boys and girls, married and single, of all backgrounds broken before God and seeking His face.

These Jewish people affirmed 5 truths:

–       Truth #1 – There is Only One God;

–       Truth #2 – There is Only One Creator who Made Everything;

–       Truth #3 – There is Only One Plan of Salvation through Jesus Christ;

–       Truth #4 – There’s Only One Who Hears Our Cry.

–       Truth #5 – “There is Only One Who Will Freely Forgive.”

This morning we come to Truth #6 – “There is Only One Who Will Discipline and Deliver.”

Once again 3 Questions come to mind:

I. WHY DID THEY MAKE THIS CONFESSION? BECAUSE THEY HAD FORGOTTEN THE SOURCE OF THEIR BLESSINGS.

Listen to 22 “Moreover You gave them kingdoms and nations,
And divided them into districts.
So they took possession of the land of Sihon,
The land of the king of Heshbon,
And the land of Og king of Bashan. Meaning: When the people of Israel entered the Promised land, they asked Sihon, the king of the Amorites, to allow them to pass through their land. They even promised not to go off the main path into their fields and vineyard. But Sihon refused to let them pass through and, instead, went to battle against them. The people of Israel were not experienced in battle but they fought and won against Sihon and took the territory of the Amorites. Again, the people of Israel tried to pass through the land of Bashan. This time Og, the king of Bashan, went to battle against them. Again, the people of Israel defeated them. Both times they gained control of the territory east of the Jordan River and north of the Arnon River.

Now there are two ways to look at this:

  • One way is to say – “No one can stop us.” “Whatever we set our minds to, we can do it.” “You mess with us and we break you in two.” This is the earthly way. This is the fleshly way. This is how even many Christians look at life. Before the doctor’s visit, please keep me in prayer. After the doctor’s visit, thank goodness it all worked out. Before the crisis, please pray that this problem will go away. After the crisis, that was no big deal. I don’t know why I was so worried.
  • There is a second way. This way says in verse 23 “You also multiplied their children as the stars of heaven,
And brought them into the land 
Which You had told their fathers
To go in and possess. 24 So the people went in
And possessed the land;
You subdued before them the inhabitants of the land,
The Canaanites,
And gave them into their hands,
With their kings
And the people of the land,
That they might do with them as they wished.” Meaning: God is the source of all our blessings. He wins our battles. He gives us all good things. This is a life lived on gratitude for what God has done for us.

Application: How do you see the good things in your life? Do you see them as your personal accomplishments or do you see them as God’s blessings? Take our nation for example. Somehow people have to come to think that we have created this nation and we can do whatever we want to with it. Nothing could be further from the truth. Listen to verse. 25 And they took strong cities and a rich land,
And possessed houses full of all goods,
Cisterns already dug, vineyards, olive groves,
And fruit trees in abundance.
So they ate and were filled and grew fat,
And delighted themselves in Your great goodness. Do we realize the source of our blessings? Have we forgotten what God has done for us?

II. HOW DOES GOD DEAL WITH HIS DISOBEDIENT CHILDREN? HE DISCIPLINES AND THEN DELIVERS

Listen to verse 26 “Nevertheless they were disobedient
And rebelled against You,
Cast Your law behind their backs
And killed Your prophets, who testified against them
To turn them to Yourself;
And they worked great provocations. What a sad commentary on the people of Israel! They forgot what God had done for them. They disregarded His Laws. They killed His messengers. And, they provoked God with their sins.

So what did God do? 27 Therefore You delivered them into the hand of their enemies,
Who oppressed them;
Meaning: God gave permission to their enemies to come against His people. This seems harsh but it was not punishment. It was discipline. As our heavenly father, God disciplines us when we stray away from Him. Let me remind you that there is a world of difference between punishment and discipline. He does not punish because He has already punished Jesus Christ who took our sins upon His back. For Him to punish us who are saved would be “Double Jeopardy.”

Here’s how you can know the difference:

PUNISHMENT

DISCIPLINE

 GOAL – INFLICT PENALTY  GOAL – PROMOTE GROWTH
 FOCUS – THE PAST  FOCUS – THE FUTURE
 ATTITUDE – ANGER & BITTERNESS  ATTITUDE – LOVE & FAITH
 ACTION – TORTUROUS & LEAVES PHYSICAL, EMOTIONAL AND SPIRITUAL SCARS.  ACTION – PAINFUL BUT LEAVES NO SCARS. IT IS GIVEN CALMLY, QUICKLY, CONSISTENTLY AND SPARINGLY.
 RESULT – FEAR, GUILT, RESENTMENT AND MORE ANGER  RESULT – SECURITY, RESPECT OF AND FOR AUTHORITY

Does God leave us in our trouble forever? Of course not! Listen to the second half of verse 27 “And in the time of their trouble,
When they cried to You,
You heard from heaven;
And according to Your abundant mercies
You gave them deliverers who saved them
From the hand of their enemies. 28 “But after they had rest,
They again did evil before You.
Therefore You left them in the hand of their enemies,
So that they had dominion over them;
Yet when they returned and cried out to You,
You heard from heaven;
And many times You delivered them according to Your mercies,

Application: Maybe you are going through a situation right now where God is disciplining you. Don’t lose hope. Hang in there. Cry out to Him. He will deliver. He will not forsake you. Let me add something to this – you can only tell if you are going through a time of discipline. You cannot judge if someone else is being disciplined. Leave them in the hand of God.

III. HOW DOES THIS APPLY TO ME? DISCIPLINE IS THE PROOF THAT WE BELONG TO GOD

Listen to Hebrews 12:7-8    7If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten?  8But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons. 

Discipline is the proof that you and I belong to God.

Are you a child of God?

Story of Ben Hooper (the former governor of Tennessee) – A little boy was born in the Newport Tennessee, which is set in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains. He was born out of wedlock and even though his father later adopted him, he struggled as a child due to the stigma attached for being born out of marriage. In those days kids who did not know who their fathers were were ostracized. People would not even let their children play with that child. It was as if they blamed that child for his/her own birth. In school kids wouldn’t play with him so he would stay in his desk and study. At lunch he ate by himself. Then he heard about a new preacher who had come to town and he heard good things about him. So he went to hear him but he got there late, sat in the back, and left early. He didn’t want anyone to know him. But for the first time in that child’s life, he heard the message of hope. He kept going back and after 6th or 7th Sunday, he was so engrossed that he forgot to walk out early. Then the service ended and Ben got up to walk out but he couldn’t leave because of the people in the aisle. Suddenly, he felt a hand on his shoulder. It was the preacher. He asked, “Who do you belong to?” It became quiet. Then the preacher said with a smile. I know who you belong to. In fact, the resemblance is quite clear. You are a child of God. That little boy went on to become the governor of Tennessee and wrote his autobiography titled, “The Unwanted Boy.”

Invitation: All of us come into this world as orphans. Through Jesus Christ we are brought into the family of God.

John 1:12 “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.”

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