For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body. For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep. For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world. (1Corinthians 11:29-32)
When I called on God to save me in the bean market in October 1943, I knew little about what I was signing on to. But I knew it was better than what I had. I knew that Christ had come to seek and to save that which lost and that I was very lost and needed to be saved.
So, we made a deal. I furnished a lost boy and God furnished eternal salvation and wrapped me in it. I signed on for the duration, whatever that was. He was my Savior and Lord. It came in the package. He would come for me some day and take me to Heaven to live with Him. I understood that when I was nine. In all these years I have never debated whether I would be in church next Sunday. That was settled in October 1943.
I started reading my “Bible” right away, at age nine. A woman in a Santa Clause suit came along the street with a shoulder bag full of paper-back New Testaments. She gave me one. That was two months after I had been saved. I didn’t understand much of what I read but it was interesting and I gathered meaningful things from it. I didn’t read it through, just here and there.
It was years later that I learned how firm was my relationship with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. It included God’s watchful, loving, and caring eye on me. It also likened my heavenly Father’s relationship to me to me to be like my earthly father’s relation to me. Included in His love for me was the possibility that He might chasten me, should I decide to walk outside the path He had designated for me. He is the Father. I am the son. He is the authority. I am the one to submit to His authority.
One day, I came across this passage in Hebrews: For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure (experience) chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. (Hebrews 12:6-8)
I’m pretty sure I discovered this in my early teens, not from preaching or Sunday school, but from reading. Who are going to get upset with if it comes to you through your own reading? It’s laid out so clearly that a young teenager can understand what it’s saying. God loves us and He loves us too much to allow us to wander all over creation and making friends with bad company that doesn’t know God.
God will save you while you’re in the hog pen but He loves you too much to leave you in the hog pen. Expect it. Count on it. When you sign on with God and His Son and the Holy Spirit, He is not going to let you go. He is not going to let you wallow in the mud without showing you the bathtub.
If you know the Lord and you wander away from the Him and His gentle persuasion doesn’t draw you back to Himself, He is going to lay His hand on you and get your attention. God is very talented at touching you where you need touching the most. I have been to the woodshed several times. I don’t have to read a book or hear a sermon to tell you about this. If you can run your life with little thought about God and He doesn’t lay His hand on you in discipline, it is because you are a bastard and not a son. Tough truth! It’s in the verses above.
Some pastors are wearing themselves out trying to preserve fruit they’re not having. You can’t make disciples out of lost people. God does not chasten lost people to bring them back to Him because they have never been to Him. But God does chasten His own people who have been washed in the blood of the Lamb.
One day my mother was washing clothes in a big iron wash kettle that had been moved beside a wet-weather stream. She filled the kettle and built a fire under it with wood her father had dragged up with the mules. The fire was going good, the water was beginning to steam. I was about six and brought my tricycle to ride wherever it was smooth enough to ride. The smoothest place was around the wash kettle, just outside the reach of the fire. My mother told me 2-3 times not to ride around the kettle. She took hold of me and just short of a thrashing, she pointed up the path, away from the fire.
I had a brilliant thought. “You don’t love me.” There now. I have whipped my mama. I wasn’t prepared for her answer. She said, “O but I do love you. If I didn’t love you, I would leave you alone and let you ride around the fire until you fall into it and burn yourself to death.” (I had no answer for that.) Suddenly, I was ashamed. And I felt so dumb. I remember that scene like it was yesterday. Love is like that. Sometimes it has to be tough love. Sometimes her tough love was a peach tree switch that stung my legs. Those times made me pay closer attention to her words when she tried not to have to switch me. My father never laid his hands on me, not ever. He gave me gentle tongue lashings that went to the bone. I learned to say: ‘Yes sir. I won’t do it again.”
I loved preaching because preachers told good stories, even if they were Bible stories. One story I well-remember was about a shepherd that tried several times to restrain a frisky lamb that kept wandering off and getting tangled in bramble bushes. One day, the sad shepherd untangled the lamb and took it over to a rock and laid the lamb’s front leg on the rock. With another stone he broke the lamb’s leg. It hurt! My, how it hurt! He made a splint out of some small pieces of wood he found and wrapped the leg with a strip of cloth he ripped from his own robe.
Then he carried the lamb in one arm with the lamb pressed against his body under his heart, and used his other arm to manage his staff. This went on day after day. After several weeks he removed the splint and set the lamb down. It had not walked in several weeks and it staggered. But the leg was healed and the lamb could soon walk normal. But, the lamb had changed. From then on, he stayed close to the shepherd. Never again did the lamb wander off and get tangled in the bramble bushes.
So, if you know the Lord and He has to chasten you, just remember that it is because of His great love for you that He is using this to draw you to Himself, closer than you have ever been. He wants you to be close to Him. Ω
In Part Four we will look at 1John.
Read Through the Bible in a Year
October 21, 2017 - SATURDAY
A.M. Jeremiah 5-6 P.M. 1 Timothy 1
(BIBLE GATEWAY will read this to you if you like. Look for the speaker icon.)
Good Verse to Memorize:
For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it. (Hebrews 4:2)
2 Songs for Today:
Holy, Holy, Holy & Now Thank We All Our God (5:21) (Royal Albert Hall, London)
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