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Now, discipline always seems painful rather than pleasant at the time, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. Hebrews 12:11 NRSV

Sometimes, words get a bad rap. Discipline is one such word. Our first instinct upon seeing the word is one of negativity. Merriam-Webster does have the word punishment listed as a definition, but the second definition. The primary definition is "1. a: control gained by enforcing obedience or order, b. orderly or prescribed conduct or pattern of behavior, c. self-control." For example, in the United Methodist Church, we have The Book of Discipline, a theological document that orders the behavior of the body of the denomination.

The Bible, as the living Word of God, also brings about discipline. Instructions between its pages tell us how to bring about order in a world of chaos. Also, according to Merriam-Webster, the root of the word "Discipline comes from discipulus, the Latin word for pupil, which also provided the source of the word disciple." As followers of Jesus, we must yearn for discipline to become more like Him.

Yes, sometimes, what we encounter in the Word can be painful. Not from a physical standpoint, but the Holy Spirit convicts us of our sin, and our soul feels chastised because of our guilt. This is a good thing! While unpleasant, it helps to align us in faith and bring us closer to God. As we humble ourselves and permit ourselves to be molded by the discipline, we experience the fruit of righteousness.

At the heart of being a disciple is the desire to be disciplined and obedient to its guidance. If our spirit convicts us, but we refuse its guidance, we've gained nothing. But in our earnest desire to walk with God, we gladly accept His discipline.

Let us use the words of the hymn "O Master, Let Me Walk with Thee," which speaks of our desire for discipline as the prayer.

O Master, let me walk with thee

In lowly paths of service free;

Tell me thy secret, help me bear

The strain of toil, the fret of care.

Help me the slow of heart to move

By some clear, winning word of love;

Teach me the wayward feet to stay,

And guide them in the homeward way.

Teach me thy patience; still with thee

In closer, dearer company,

In work that keeps faith sweet and strong,

In trust that triumphs over wrong.

In hope that sends a shining ray

Far down the future's broad'ning way,

In peace that only thou canst give,

With thee, O Master, let me live.



Pastor Tim

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