The Lord's Discipline

On Friday evening February 19, 2000, I felt a strong urge to pray at our Community Prayer Room. While it is "officially open" I hadn't been there yet to pray.  Shortly after beginning to pray I received the following from the Lord:

After every earthquake, engineers examine structures in detail to see why they failed or why they stood. God in his love disciplines us, and his discipline is like an earthquake. Discipline or correction or reproof need not be negative. But it does change our life course. If we do not heed it we will see our life crumble, for our lives are not built on the Rock. But when we come to a place where we heed his correction we will stand strong and firm, for we are built on His firm foundation.
After praying for about an hour and a half, I felt a release to go home. But immediately I sensed an urgency to first look at Amos 3:11.  I had no idea what this verse was, but its message was sobering.

Amos 3:11 is: Therefore," says the Sovereign Lord, "an enemy is coming! He will surround them and shatter their defenses. Then he will plunder all their fortresses,"

Below is Amos 3:10-15:

 "My people have forgotten what it means to do right," Says the Lord. "Their fortresses are filled with wealth taken by theft and violence. Therefore," says the Sovereign Lord, "an enemy is coming! He will surround them and shatter their defenses. Then he will plunder all their fortresses,"

 This is what the Lord says: "A shepherd who tries to rescue a sheep from a lion's mouth will recover only two legs and a piece of ear. So it will be when the Israelites in Samaria are rescued with only a broken chair and a tattered pillow. Now listen to this, and announce it throughout all Israel," says the Lord, the lord God Almighty. "On the very day I punish Israel for its sins, I will destroy the pagan altars at Bethel. The horns of the altar will be cut off and fall to the ground. And I will destroy the beautiful homes of the wealthy - their winter mansions and their summer houses, too - all their palaces filled with ivory. I, the Lord, have spoken!"

Needless to say this led me to a time of grieving and repentance, for not only have we stolen money that belonged to HIM, but we have not kept guard of our hearts, and have allowed them to be stolen by worldly desires. Sometime ago I saw we are often guilty of stealing from the Lord, by taking credit for His work, that he should have received the glory for - not us. This passage is indeed sobering in light of the word I received regarding discipline - and perhaps a literal earthquake.

Cry out for the Lord's mercy, even as David did in I Chronicles 21: 16-17 (that morning's quiet time!). After ordering the census, and seeing 70,000 people die of a plague...

David looked up and saw the angel of the Lord standing between heaven and earth with his sword drawn, stretched out over Jerusalem. So David and the leaders of Israel put on sackcloth to show their distress and fell down with their faces to the ground. And David said to God, "I am the one who called for the census! I am the one who has sinned and done wrong! But these people are innocent - what have they done? O Lord my God, let your anger fall against me and my family, but do not destroy your people."
God was merciful, for just as the angel of the Lord was prepared to destroy Jerusalem, the Lord relented and stopped him. At that moment the angel was standing by the threshing floor of Araunah. Then the angel told Gad, the seer, to instruct David to build an altar to the Lord at the threshing floor of Araunah. So David build an altar and sacrificed burnt offerings and peace offerings.  When David prayed, the Lord answered him by sending fire from heaven to burn up the offering on the altar. Then the Lord spoke to the angel, who put the sword back into its sheath. Then David said, "This will be the location for the Temple of the Lord God and the place of the altar for Israel's burnt offerings!"

David experienced the Lord's discipline, but he came into alignment with His purpose. At that moment God answered David's probably decades long request - a permanent place for the Temple of the Lord. It was confirmed when God sent fire to consume the offering. While Araunah offered to give David his property, and the animals for an offering, David willingly paid handsomely for it. David said "I will not offer a burnt offering that has cost me nothing."

The sacrifice of our lives must cost us everything. It must not be taken lightly. God is pleased when we offer our lives, and will consume our old flesh, which is dead in sin. If we seek God desperately in repentance, he may, by his mercy, withhold the full measure of discipline he had in mind, and reveal the plans he has for us. As we offer ourselves as a sacrifice, God will confirm his word. The offering was placed on a stone altar. Even as we rest in and on Jesus, the Rock, and come to rely on him wholly, our flesh is consumed. He confirms his pleasure with our act of sacrifice by giving us a new heart with new desires, and new passion. Burning with the power of the Spirit. Then our life will be built on Jesus, the Rock, the altar of sacrifice, where we offer our lives daily as a burnt offering.

lmv 2/19/2000