THERE’S ONLY ONE WHO WILL DISCIPLINE AND DELIVER
People, 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:
|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.”