Training

by Carolyn Hope

Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. … Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. (Hebrews 12:7, 10-11)

Part of being a child is being disciplined. Parents discipline their children because they love them too much to let them run rampant and continue in destructive behavior. God is a very good Father who doesn’t want us to live anything less than His best for us, and so he disciplines us.

What is discipline, though? Our minds automatically interpret “discipline” as unpleasant consequences to wrong actions (some would call it punishment). The Greek word translated as “discipline” in this passage is paideuo. It can mean “to discipline” by implication, but it has other definitions listed first; these are “to train, educate, or tutor.” Such terms have more to do with teaching a child than punishing him.

I’d like to invite you to consider God’s discipline more as training than as punishment. Will there be times of correction? Yes. Will the Lord’s training, stretching, growing, and re-directing always be pleasant? No. Likely, it will be hard and challenging. Even so, it is for our good that God disciplines us. Rather than leave us where we are, His heart is to lead us into more. He knows we can be greater than we presently are, and so in patience and kindness, He teaches us and transforms us.

When you hear God’s voice, pay attention to what He’s saying. Listen to His wisdom. Make the changes He asks you to.

If you find yourself walking through a trial, see it as a chance to grow and to show yourself for who you are, as opposed to a punishment sent by your Father because you aren’t yet perfect. Dear child, Jesus paid the full and complete price for your sin and imperfections. Why would the Father then also punish you? It would be wrong and unjust of Him to do so. If He allows something hard to come into your life, it is not from a place of anger but from a place of love and trust. Perhaps the reason your situation hasn’t miraculously disappeared is that He knows you can overcome it and He wants you to triumph. God’s discipline, though usually more painful than pleasant, is never to break you; it’s always to shape you into more.

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Lighting: The Star That Shone

by Carolyn Hope

After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. (Matthew 2:9-11)

We often speak of how the Magi followed the star to the house where Jesus was, but what about the star itself? It was used of God just as much as any character. The star shone brightly and with a purpose: to lead the Magi to the Messiah. It even went ahead of them, only stopping when it came to the house Jesus resided in. We often view stars as fixed points in the sky. What if each star is only waiting for the signal from its Maker to move? This star moved, much like the pillar of cloud or pillar of fire that led the Israelites in the wilderness. The star came forth at the moment of Jesus’ birth, and it went before these mighty men from the East, showing them the way to the newborn king’s resting place.

It blows my mind that God would use a star in such a potent way. Imagine the awe of the Magi, men who had studied stars for much of their lives. This star was unlike any they had ever observed. God brought something that they related to and caused it to draw them to Jesus.

Each one of you is a unique and needed star. There are people who need to see your light, people who need to hear your words and know your love, so that they may be led to the Savior of the world. There are people that you can relate to, people that you can touch in a way that others can’t. God is sending you to them to shine bright and show them the way to everlasting truth. Let the light of your life shine for all to see. It is powerful, it is needed, and it is enough.

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