Peace in Christ,
When I think about God’s patience, long suffering, and kindness, I am left with such a thankful heart. When I think about his humor, I can’t help but smile and laugh a little. However, it is critical that we never overlook God’s fatherly characteristics of strictness. When I consider God’s strictness, I cannot but thank him for his guidance and protection that causes that strictness (Matt. 11:12).
Throughout the scriptures, I find the various ways that the LORD has revealed himself to us. For example, I see his strictness coupled with his helpful and guiding hand that leads us to victory. For those of you that experienced the firm loving hand of a good father, one that helped you succeed, you know how important his support and firmness was to your success and happiness. I also understand that there are others that might not have had a father who took the time, or even knew how to guide, and that experience also impacted you to understand the need of a good father. For tonight’s eMessage, when I mention a strict father, I mean it in the sense of a loving and caring father, one that holds high standards of discipline for his family, while creating an environment of trust, support, and guidance; such as our heavenly Father has done.
For those of you that were blessed with a strict father, how blessed you truly are, even though you might not have thought it at one time. In like manner, the LORD’s sting of correction is not always easy but it is always done with long suffering and with the emphasis of spiritual success (Jonah). Sadly, many neglect or misunderstand this aspect of God.
There are so many Biblical occasions where the LORD confronted people with the purpose of stretching them to repentance and or growth. In several instances we read about how the LORD confronted people by calling them hypocrites (Mark 7:6), as harsh as this might sound, the purpose was for the “hypocrite” to analyze their actions, repent, and be saved (Luke 3:6-8). In other occasions, we read about the LORD publicly rebuking (Matt. 26:40) and challenging Peter (Matt. 14:31), anyone weaker than Peter would have folded in anger and left from following the LORD, yet Peter maintained faithful. Then there were those times when the LORD’s preaching offended many people, as in the example described in John 6:60-70 (NASB):
66 As a result of this many of His disciples withdrew and were not walking with Him anymore. 67 So Jesus said to the twelve, “You do not want to go away also, do you?” 68 Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life.
The LORD’s words are not always about how he can help us, sometimes it’s about how we can serve him and often this might include requirements of sacrifice. Then there are those times of rebukes like the one found in Matthew 11:20-24:
20 Then He began to denounce the cities in which most of His miracles were done, because they did not repent. 21 “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles had occurred in Tyre and Sidon which occurred in you, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. 22 Nevertheless I say to you, it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment than for you.
However difficult the LORD’s message might be, always keep in mind that it is with a purpose, just like a strict father who loves his family, he will always do right with us and never wrong. There are times that we need a tight embrace of support from our heavenly Father. Sometimes we need compassion and patience, and many other times we need that hand of firmness that leads us to victory. Whatever it is, that we need, he will supply it; just trust him through it all, and in it all we will celebrate with our heavenly Father in joyful victory.
Your brother in the faith,