‘If you refuse to discipline your children, it proves you don’t love them.’ Proverbs 13:24 NLT
As a parent, there are three things you owe your child. The first is: affection. The Bible says if you love your child you’ll discipline them. And you’ll do it in love, and not anger. Don’t buy into the idea that good parents don’t discipline their children because they ‘love them too much’.
The truth is, if you don’t discipline your child it’s not because you love them too much, it’s because you love yourself too much. A Gallup poll revealed that more than 90 percent of graduating high school seniors wished their parents and teachers had loved them enough to discipline them more and require more of them. Like water, we follow the path of least resistance. It’s much easier to let things slide, avoid confrontation, stick your head in the sand, and hope things will get better, than it is to suffer the pain of disciplining a child you love. Keep in mind, however, that the only person who ever got anywhere by letting something slide was a trombone player.
Seriously, the Bible says, ‘Whom the Lord loves He corrects, just as a father the son in whom he delights.’ (Proverbs 3:12 NKJV) Let that sink in! The greatest and wisest father of all is God. He not only loves, He is love. Yet we read here that our loving God is one who disciplines. Any parent who refuses to discipline their child is really saying they are a better parent than God. Love always does what is best for the other person. And there are times when love demands discipline and training.
‘Go and be reconciled… Settle matters quickly.’ Matthew 5:24–25 NIV
Are your talents not being recognized and received? Do you have a particular talent, yet God doesn’t seem to be blessing you with success? This may be the key: ‘If you are offering your gift at the altar and… remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift… go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift. Settle matters quickly.’ (Matthew 5:23–25 NIV) Don’t be led by your wounded ego; be led by God’s Word.
You say, ‘The person I had the issue with is no longer around, yet I’m still troubled about it.’ Read these two Scriptures:
(1) ‘Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.’ (James 5:16 NLT)
(2) ‘If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.’ (John 20:23 NKJV) Share your feelings with someone worthy of your trust. Pray with them, openly confessing your wrongs and the guilt you feel. Prayer and the presence of an affirming friend can provide you with the peace of mind you seek.
After David murdered Uriah, his lover’s husband, his guilt was overwhelming and he sought God’s forgiveness. But Uriah wasn’t around to hear his confession; he’d been dead almost a year. So David turned to Nathan the prophet and poured out his heart saying, ‘I have sinned.’ Nathan listened patiently and told him, ‘The Lord has taken away your sin.’ (2 Samuel 12:13 NIV) Follow David’s example—then put the issue behind you and move on.
‘You will keep in perfect peace… all whose thoughts are fixed on You!’ Isaiah 26:3 NLT
Who are you trusting to solve your problems, God or yourself? Before you answer, read this: ‘You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in You… whose thoughts are fixed on You!… for those who are righteous, the way is not steep and rough. You are a God who does what is right, and You smooth out the path ahead of them.’ (Isaiah 26:3, 7 NLT)
What a great promise! If you want to maintain a peaceful state of mind, live by this principle: ‘Do your best, and trust God with the rest.’ Some of us grew up with the notion that it’s wrong to enjoy ourselves when we have problems. We’ve been conditioned to think that if we can’t do anything else—at least we can worry and be miserable. Paul addresses this: ‘Do not [for a moment] be frightened…for such [constancy and fearlessness] will be a clear sign… from God.’ (Philippians 1:28 AMPC)
Satan doesn’t know what to do when he can’t get you upset; you’ve taken a powerful weapon out of his hands. By trusting God completely, you’re no longer at the mercy of circumstances, other people, or your own emotions and limitations. Broadcaster Paul Harvey once quipped, ‘In times like these, it’s helpful to remember there have always been times like these!’
The question isn’t: ‘Will trouble come?’, it’s ‘How will you handle it?’ The Bible says, ‘We who have believed do enter that rest.’ (Hebrews 4:3 KJV) When things go wrong—don’t go wrong along with them. Follow God’s leading, stand on His Word, then rest in Him and trust Him to work on your behalf.
‘As the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are you in My hand.’ Jeremiah 18:6 NKJV
The prophet Jeremiah writes: ‘I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was, making something at the wheel. And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter; so he made it again into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to make. Then the word of the Lord came to me, saying: …“Can I not do with you as this potter?” says the Lord. “Look, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are you in My hand.”’ (Jeremiah 18:3–6 NKJV)
There are three important lessons in this story for you:
(1) As long as you stay pliable and responsive to God, He will never throw you away. Instead, He will mold you into something He can use.
(2) When others put you down, God will lift you up. A potter doesn’t press down on the clay, he continuously lifts it up and shapes it as it spins on the wheel. And God will do that for you too. David said, ‘He… brought me up out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my steps.’ (Psalm 40:2 NKJV)
(3) Notice whose foot is on the wheel. If he could, Satan would have thrown you off the wheel a long time ago, but he can’t. Look under the table and see whose foot is on the wheel: the Potter’s! Nothing can separate you from God’s love (see Romans 8:39).
The word for you today is: ‘As the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are you in My hand.’
‘Put off…your former conduct…and be renewed in the spirit of your mind.’ Ephesians 4:22–23 NKJV
Mindsets are patterns whereby your mind automatically operates a certain way. That means you can set yourself up for misery by reacting to the same people and circumstances in the same way, yet expecting different results. Maybe you are saying: ‘After all these years I thought he’d change… No matter how hard I try, my family doesn’t appreciate me… How come I’m the only one who makes an effort to stay in touch?’
It’s easy to blame your problems on others: ‘Look what he’s doing. Look how long I’ve waited. Why doesn’t she call?’ We think the answer lies in getting the other person to do what we want, but that kind of thinking is self-defeating; it gives control to others. Your happiness isn’t determined by other people, even though you’ve convinced yourself it is.
An experienced counselor writes: ‘If you don’t like the same results… try pushing a different button. Look at your relationships. Is there a situation that’s going downhill despite your best efforts? Are you waiting for something to change, instead of doing something different? Stop pushing the same button, and ask God for clarity to see the situation honestly and to act with wisdom and responsibility.’ You’re not a victim of circumstances; you don’t have to stay stuck or keep going round in circles. Paul says, ‘Put off…your former conduct …and be renewed in the spirit of your mind.’ The word for you today is: you can change!
‘Don’t lie to each other.’ Colossians 3:9 NLT
Deception in a relationship destroys trust and respect. One lie or one act of betrayal can cause a wound that takes years to heal and, in some cases, is never healed at all. The person who hides something is basically selfish, protecting their own interests. They care little about the feelings of the other person. There’s nothing shallower than empty words and lying clichés that have no real meaning.
There are some people who coerce others into a sexual relationship by claiming they love them. Deception at this level is emotional rape! It’s a terrible feeling to be used by someone. The deceiver may continually promise that they will leave their spouse, and the victim holds on to hope. But it never seems to come true. The deceiver makes every kind of excuse possible for taking advantage. When victims are vulnerable, they follow blindly along until the relationship has gone so far that they are trapped. As a sinner, you may have been excused for acting this way, but not as a redeemed child of God. ‘Don’t lie to each other.’ When someone has given you their trust, they’ve given you a priceless gift; don’t abuse it. And if your trust has been betrayed, confront it head-on.
Though you may love the person, back off until they show clear signs of repentance and a willingness to make amends. And don’t give up hope. Sometimes good people make bad choices. If you work at it, and seek God’s help, it’s possible to restore the trust you’ve lost and maybe even end up with a better relationship.
‘Do good to those who hate you.’ Luke 6:27 NKJV
When General Robert E. Lee was asked by Confederate US President Jefferson Davis to give his opinion about a certain officer, he gave a glowing report. One of the officers in attendance was amazed at his words and said to Lee, ‘General, do you know that the man of whom you speak so highly to the president is one of your bitterest enemies, and never misses an opportunity to criticize you?’ Lee said, ‘Yes, but the president asked my opinion of him. He didn’t ask for his opinion of me.’
It takes character, compassion and courage to speak well of a critic. But when you do, three good things happen:
(1) You increase your own value. You show you’re able to rise above criticism by bestowing praise on another.
(2) You defuse your enemy’s criticism of you. When people hear your praise of a critic and their disdain for you, their respect for you rises and they see you in a different light.
(3) People see you as fair-minded and generous. It takes very little effort to respond in kind to a critic, but it takes Christ-like character to turn the other cheek and bless them.
Jesus said: ‘Do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you. To him who strikes you on the one cheek, offer the other also… And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise.’ (Luke 6:27–31 NKJV) You say, ‘That’s a high standard.’ It’s the one Jesus set, practiced throughout His life, and is calling you to live by today.
‘Do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward.’ Hebrews 10:35 NKJV
How long should you keep praying and believing God for the answer? Until He tells you differently. In other words, go by the book! ‘Do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise.’ (Hebrews 10:35–36 NKJV) Many of God’s promises have timelines, and you need long-distance faith to receive them. The word endurance pictures a runner determined to reach the finish line. You say, ‘But I’m not sure what God’s will is.’ His will is revealed in His Word, and that’s what you must believe and speak over your situation. To say otherwise is to contradict God.
Abraham stood on God’s promise that he’d be the father of many nations when there wasn’t a shred of evidence to prove it. For twenty years he looked up into the night sky believing, ‘Lord, You said my children would be as numerous as the stars. I don’t know how You’re going to do it for I’m a hundred years old and my wife, Sarah, is ninety. But I’m going to believe You anyway.’ When you pray that way, you risk looking foolish in the eyes of others.
But receiving the miraculous often involves looking ridiculous, like Jesus telling the disciples to fill wine pots with water or rubbing clay in a blind man’s eyes. But the guests at the wedding in Cana drank the finest wine, and the blind man went home seeing. Why? Because they obeyed the word Jesus gave them. So the word for you today is: go by the Book.
‘I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten.’ Joel 2:25 NIV
Kristine Steakley writes: ‘Loss can make us feel forsaken and utterly destroyed… For many, divorce meant leaving the house we grew up in, our neighborhood, our friends, our school… even our church because we were ashamed and heard condemnation from those who should have been concerned for our souls. To use Joel’s metaphor, locusts ate our family; more locusts ate our friendships… and still more ate our church… But God promised, “Never again will My people be shamed” (Joel 2:26).
I can’t tell you what restoration will look like… or when it’ll happen. Some of us will see relationships with parents and siblings mended… others will build great marriages and loving families… and some may have to wait for Heaven where all wrongs will be righted, all wounds healed, all tears wiped away.’
Kristin Armstrong says: ‘Resist the temptation to despair or delve into disappointment. You may feel like you’ve forfeited years, opportunities, finances, and a significant return on investment of self. But hear the fantastic promise of redemption: “I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten.” No one on earth can make anything up to you. No one can pay. No one can set things right or make things fair. Pressure and manipulation won’t bring justice. So let it go and let God fill your life with new blessings. If you’re full of resentment and wrath He can’t find space for His gifts. God will make it up to you if you keep an expectant attitude of faith, and thank Him that His promises are yours.’
‘Nor will I flatter any man.’ Job 32:21 NIV
When Stephen Spielberg was a skinny teenager, he became the target of a bully. Fed up with the constant harassment which he later described as ‘hell on earth’, he decided to flatter the bully by telling him he looked like John Wayne and should consider playing the hero in an eight-millimetre movie about World War ll he was thinking of making. Once Spielberg outfitted him and cast him as a heroic squad leader, the bully became putty in his hands. However, unlike Spielberg’s bully, emotionally healthy people only appreciate sincere praise they have earned. And they can detect a compliment given with an ulterior motive or to gain their favor.
The paradox is that most people tend to look with disfavor on someone who compliments them, for no apparent reason. Elihu—the patriarch Job’s friend—said, ‘I will show partiality to no one, nor will I flatter any man; for if I were skilled in flattery, my Maker would soon take me away.’ (Job 32:21–22 NIV) And the psalmist tells us, ‘The Lord shall cut off all flattering lips.’ (Psalm 12:3 KJV) So here’s the question: is flattery worth being cut off from the blessing of God?
When you engage in or become susceptible to flattery, it’s clear evidence of your lack of faith in God’s ability to give you favor with other people. Favor is a fringe benefit of being in right standing with Him. ‘Surely… Lord, You bless the righteous; You surround them with Your favor as with a shield.’ (Psalm 5:12 NIV)