By Kathi Pelton
God’s people are and have been in a great time of preparation. We are preparing for things that we do not know, nor even understand— but our Father in Heaven knows and in his love and mercy he prepares his sons and daughters. It may be that revival is coming and it may be that greater judgements are coming— or both. Yet, we do not know what either will look like when they manifest on earth. We surely did not expect the past two years, nor did we believe that it would continue for two years with no end in sight. Yet I believe that these past two years have been a great time of preparation and training for the days ahead. Some of that training has come through the discipline of God.
When we, as parents, raise our children, we prepare and train them for both the good times and the hard times. We teach them through example and training how to be thankful and humble in times of blessing and we train them through discipline and even momentary pain how to trust and obey in hard times. We do this so that they will honor their parents, honor authority and most of all honor God.
Children rarely understand why their parents make the rules that they make and then enforce them through the means of discipline. Yet, as parents, we know that we have made rules for the sake of safety, right-living and love for our children. As children, they don’t need to understand— but they do need to learn to “trust and obey” their father and mother. This will benefit them ALL the days of their lives. It is so much harder to learn discipline and honor when it was not taught to us a children than when it was instilled at a young age.
God has set up “rules or ways” that he has asked us to walk in as well. These commands include how we give money, how we love others, how we gather together and how we put him above all else. Within his Word we are shown how not to judge and how to serve others with their well-being put before our own. But also within his Word, it is made clear that we will know that we are his rightful sons and daughters when we receive his discipline and chastisement.
For days now I have had the Lord revealing to me the greatness of his love for his children that comes through training and discipline. He showed me that many have been in a season of experiencing the “discipline of the Lord.” He has been revealing wrong attitudes, misaligned focuses, wrong thinking, judgmental hearts, lukewarmness, and sin. This is his mercy toward his children. God has been parenting us— but are we listening— are we trusting and obeying?
I had a vision of many who were “in the valley of decision” about which way they would go in the days ahead and who they will serve. Some were leaning toward going their own way and rebelling against the discipline of the Lord, yet I knew that they were walking into a trap of death and deception. I also saw those who were receiving the discipline of the Lord and humbling themselves to allow their hearts and actions to be purified and aligned to put him first in every way. They were walking into his refuge of life and truth.
We all have been in a restaurant or grocery store where we have seen children that are out of control— or rather have taken control of their parents. We cringe when we see the parents do nothing and allow disrespect and disobedience to control the child that God entrusted to them. Yet, somehow many of God’s sons and daughters expect God to ignore their bad behavior. Do we think that when we sin or have a wrong attitude that he should just looks the other way?
Could it be that some of the “pains” we have gone through are part of the discipline of the Lord because he loves us so much? We know that the wages of sin are death and that Jesus took the wages of our sin upon himself so that we can receive mercy. But we also know that in the last days that even some the “elect” will fall away. God is girding us up with love and discipline so that we will not fall away.
The other thing that I heard him say was, “Many of my sons and daughters have turned my loving discipline into accusations against me.” How that broke my heart to hear! And how much more it breaks his heart.
It reminded me of when teenagers rebel against their parents rules and curfews. They will enter into accusing their parents of being unfair, controlling and shout things like, “I hate you.” Will God’s children hate him for loving them enough to discipline them and teach them to live within the safety of the commandments that he put in place? Will some rebel and accuse him of being unfair, even while knowing that he went to the cross for them? Will some dare to accuse him just because they do not understand why he is asking them to keep all of his commandments (not just the ones that they like)? Or he isn’t doing what they want, when they want? May it never be that his children turn away from him to serve a god that they created in the image that suits their desires.
IF you’re still reading this— well done. Some will have stopped because it does not say what makes them feel good— but this is good news!
Let’s look at what God says about the discipline of his sons,
“And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” Hebrews 12:5-11
There is a reward for those who respond to the training of Lord’s discipline: peace, fruitfulness, and righteousness. He is training us up in the way we should go! Just as every earthly parent should have in the forefront of their minds when raising their children (train them up!), so God is training us to walk in a way that will guard us, protect us and teach us to live.
For me personally, 2020 was like a “spiritual time-out.” During the few months in which almost all activity (ministry events, outings, normal activities) were stopped, I found myself sitting with the Spirit of the Lord as we took a spiritual inventory of my life and my heart. There was so much that needed to be put aside and simple but profound truths that needed room to become the center of my heart. Then 2021 has been for me a year of uncovering hidden fears (often hidden from even me), evaluating all that was inventoried in 2020 and of storing up my treasures in heavenly places. My sense for 2022 is that I will be buying oil— refined, pure, and processed by pressure, time and surrender— prepared in the crucible of discipline, training, trusting and obeying.
I will finish by telling a short story of a conversation I had with my precious eight year old grandson. The other day he was feeling angry with his daddy because he felt that his daddy was being unfair by not letting him win a game that they were playing together. He thought that love looked like giving him a “win” that was not legitimate. Then, in a passive/aggressive way this little boy began accusing his daddy of “being mean.” I gently took him into my office and sat him on my lap and we began to have a conversation about the negative result it would have on his life if his daddy always let him win and how to learn to face momentary defeats with a grateful heart and proper attitude. We prayed together and he seemed to understand. The next day, his little brother beat him in a different game. This time he appeared to be gracious and showed a good attitude about it. A few minutes later his little brother came crying to us saying that his brother whispered in his ear, “You cheated!” Once again, his daddy and I sat down to first discipline him but second to explain why this hidden area in his heart would harm him if he didn’t change this attitude. He had tears and apologies— which will have to be consistently reinforced with discipline and training. This is one of the sweetest boys I’ve ever met and yet this little “root of anger and bitterness” is trying to find access into his heart. As parents and grandparents we are cutting it off again and again. It is painful for an eight year old but if he will respond it will bring peace and the fruit of righteousness into his life. God is doing the same thing for us. He is finding all of the “little foxes” that can ruin the fruit in our lives.
“Catch for us the foxes—the little foxes that ruin the vineyards—for our vineyards are in bloom.” Songs 2:15
I want to challenge each one of us to stop and ask if there is any area that we have accused God of being unfair? Have we rejected his discipline because we do not understand and refuse to merely trust and obey him? Have roots of anger or bitterness come and taken root in any area of our hearts? Or, do we cry but continue to demand our way and accuse our brother rather than dealing with the speck in our own eye? Are their little foxes trying to spoil the blossoms in our lives? Or even spoil the blossoms of revival?
Let us enter 2022 by allowing (inviting) the Holy Spirit to search our hearts. Let us repent of any root of anger or bitterness. Let us leave behind every rebellious way and return to God with a determination to trust and obey. And let us repent of any and every place that we have accused God! May we receive his discipline as love and training so that we can live in peace and receive his the fruit of righteousness in the days ahead.
Proverbs 23:13 says that if we discipline a child, “he shall not die.” In other words, “Discipline brings life!” Let us choose life in 2022 and beyond. For the Lord disciplines those whom he loves and considers his legitimate sons and daughters.
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