Summary: Responding properly to God's discipline brings hope of God's blessing-- straining against it only brings more discipline!
How to Be Blessed
Our threefold definition of being blessed remains:
1) To be especially happy and content
2) To have inner peace within
3) To be confident and fulfilled
This morning’s message begins in II Chronicles chapter 7. The background is the dedication of the temple and God’s appearance to Solomon. Our focus will be verse 14, very familiar to most believers. As we look at this let me point out that this is a promise to the Jews, not to the believer. However, it is demonstrative of a pattern that God uses and therefore we can apply it to the believer.
The Lord appears to Solomon and is pleased with all Solomon has done. God then expresses His desire to make the temple the center of Jewish worship. The first thing God says in his appearance to Solomon is that He has heard Solomon’s prayers and would be responsive to prayers offered in that place.
Notice, however, how quickly God gets down to business. He describes Holy Discipline, the removal of His blessing. He indicates that the people need to respond properly to this discipline, which he describes as a loss of blessing by drought, plague or locust. Then He gives them a formula to follow which I believe is a proper pattern for believers to follow.
I have to take a moment to point out that God does discipline his children. In Hebrews 13 we are told not to despise the chastening of the Lord because he chastens us out of love, like a father chastens or disciplines the son he loves. God WILL discipline you. Do not think you can easily escape the judgment of God because it always begins with the believers first. Judgment begins in the house of God. It would be unfair of God to discipline unbelievers before He deals with His own children.
We are not to despise God’s chastening. It will come, but it comes for our good. God doesn’t discipline us to be mean or arbitrary, but always in order to mold us into His image and to minister to our character.
The first response to God’s discipline should be humility. Humility is admitting our need of God and God’s great superiority. It is the opposite of being full of pride and an independent spirit. It is where we kneel and confess, “Lord, I need you! I am nothing without you.” It is where we indicate our complete and absolute dependence upon His support and His leadership.
There are two kings I want to discuss to provide a contrast. First, King Jehosophat. When his kingdom was threatened, he fell upon his face in the presence of God’s people and cried out to God. Then he went out to battle, putting his choir in the front, praising God by raising their hands (comical, an army marching out to battle with their hands raised!) and went they got to the battlefield they found that battle was already over and God had already defeated their enemies. That’s humility.
Then there was King Asa. Asa built up the nation and brought about a great deal of religious reform. When a conflict arose between his kingdom (Judah) and Israel, he took the silver and gold items from the temple, melted them down and sent them to the Syrian (Aramean) king and asked him to go and attack Israel so that his borders would not be in conflict. When the prophet condemned him and reminded him that God had fought his battles (much as he had for Jehosophat) in times past he tossed the prophet in jail. When others joined the prophet in dissent he persecuted and oppressed them. King Asa’s end was the opposite of humility, but pride and selfishness.
Humility is realizing that we must depend on God. Every single time we read in the Old Testament of a king trying to accomplish God’s will in his own strength and without depending upon God we find sin. There used to be an old radio program and later a television program called “Father knows best.” It was pretty funny, because most of the time Father didn’t really know best. Oh, once in awhile he got it right and was spot on, but usually he was bumbling about trying to solve problems and usually made them worse. If you believe YOU know best, beware, you are probably just bumbling about.
The next part of the right response to God’s discipline is prayer. I saw a recent episode of “The King of Queens” where Doug and Carrie, the two main characters, begin to pray like mad after Carrie receives what she believes to be an answer to prayer. Before long, they are praying over football, raises at work, and even getting the last piece of their favorite fish at the supermarket. In a cleverly written episode, the idea of abusing prayer is demonstrated in broadly comedic fashion. Remember, prayer isn’t so much about things as it is about submission. Prayer means nothing if we act like God is a Genie in a bottle waiting for us to make our wish.