Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Testing vs. Discipline

Recently I was trying to figure out the difference between spiritual warfare/trials/tribulations versus being disciplined by God through our circumstances. The question arose because our church was studying Haggai and our Bible study was discussing the way in which God was trying to speak to the Israelites (and often speaks to us). Through the prophet Haggai (in chapter one) God said more than once, "Give careful thought to your ways." Then He continued by letting them know that all the hard work they had been doing had resulted in little to no fruit from their labor because they had been putting themselves first and not God. Our group got into a discussion of how God can still use our circumstances to discipline us. I started thinking back to a rather rough time in our life and wondered, were these difficulties signs that God was disciplining us?  We had seen the trials as spiritual warfare.

Just last week I had an "Ah Ha" moment while reading the first chapter of Job. As with Job, God allows Satan to test us with tribulations = spiritual warfare; how we respond to the trials determines God's response to us. When God disciplined the Israelites it was for disobedience. I thought back through the events of that year and realized we had been seeking the Lord and I do believe that we were being tested due to this.

"... we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not disappoint us..." 
Romans 5: 3-5

It occurred to me that Paul welcomed (rejoiced in) heartbreak, disillusionment and tribulations (suffering) because that meant that he was doing God's Will and Satan was trying to discourage the work that Paul was doing. Are you in a period of tribulation? Search your life/heart ("Give careful thought to your ways.") - are you being obedient to God or have you been ignoring something He has asked you to do?

Lord, help me to see trials and tribulations through Your eyes that I may rejoice or change my ways.

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