Sermon: March 8, 2009

8 03 2009

As you endure this divine discipline, remember that God is treating you as his own children.  Who ever heard of a child who is never disciplined by its father?  No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening – it’s painful!  But afterward there will be peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way.

 

                                         Hebrews 12:7, 11

 

 

            When I say the word discipline, what is the first thing that comes to your mind?  I’ll bet that for many of us here this morning that the first thing that popped into our minds when we heard the word discipline was punishment.  Discipline implies punishment.  As a young boy when my mother said that when Dad gets home that he is going to discipline me for what I have done, she didn’t mean that Dad would have a talk with me.  It usually meant that I was going to loose some privilege – or I was going to be sent to my room for a certain period of time – or I was going to get a spanking.  If you are in the military and they talk about disciplining a soldier, it usually means some form of punishment for an infraction that a soldier has committed.  Messy bunk leads to walking guard duty.  Being late for a duty means doing KP.  That’s what discipline means.  Right?

            Well, that’s not the definition that we are going to use.  Discipline actually comes from a Latin word which means “instruction or learning.”  Therefore a “disciple” – one who “disciplines himself” – is a pupil or a student who learns through instruction.  A “disciple” is a pupil or a student who follows and learns.  A “disciple” is a pupil or a student who repeatedly practices something until he is prepared to go out and do it.

            You know, I remember when I played football I use to really hate practices.  We would go over and over and over certain things – angles of attacks – footwork – over and over and over again.  And finally one day I asked the coach why do we go over and over and over these things.  And he said, “We go over and over and over those things so that you will do them when no one is watching.  You will do them without having to think about it.  It will be who you are and not what you do.”  “It will be who you are and not what you do.”

            There is a parallel there between that and what we do here.  We go over and over things here too.  We talk about the love of God – over and over and over again.  We talk about how God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son – over and over and over again.  We talk about how this should motivate us to love God in return for all that He has done for us – over and over and over again.  We talk about Grace being the underserved love and kindness of God.  And we do that over and over again.  We talk about how being a child of God means that we should love one another – and that that love should be unconditional.  And we do that over and over and over again.  And why do we do that – over and over and over again?  We do that so that we might be disciplined.  So that these things become so much a part of who we are – how we think – what we do – that these things are who we are – not just what we were are taught to do.  We love God – because that is who we are.  We love one another because that is who we are.  We do these things when no one is watching.  We do these things without having to think about them.  We do these things because that is who we are and not just what we do.  We are the children of God who live out our lives as children of God.  Other people will do whatever it is that they do.  We, however, are the children of God and we live out each and every moment as children of God.

            And, I think that we can do that, if we always live each moment in the moment.  You know, I think that the problem that most people have with doing the right thing when no one is watching is that they fail to live in the moment.  They are always living in the next moment.  They become afraid – afraid that if they give away something in the “now” – that there won’t be enough for them in the “then.”  People become afraid to give up something in the “now” because they are afraid that they won’t have enough left over in the “then” when they need it.  If I give away some of money now, how do I know that there will be enough later for me.  If I give away some of my time in the “now”, how do I know that there will be time for me later in the “then.”  If I dare to love someone in the “now,” how do I know that I will be loved in the “then?”  If I focus on the needs of someone else in the “now,” how do I know that there will be enough left over for me in the “then.”

            And, you know, I think that the only way that can happen is if we remember that the then is already taken care of.  You know, God’s promise to us is that we don’t have to worry about the morrow, because the morrow is taken care of.  Jesus tells us that we should look at the birds of the air or the lilies of the field.  They live in the moment.  They don’t worry about the “then.”  They just live in the “now.”  And yet God takes care of them.  And if God takes care of birds and lilies in that way – how much more will He take care of us who are so much more valuable to Him than birds and lilies.

            And so God is telling us that we tell ourselves that over and over and over again.  We remind ourselves of that over and over and over again until it becomes a part of us – something that we believe down to our very DNA.  And once that happens – well then we will live in the now – because we know that the “then” is already taken care of.  We can live as children of God in the “now” – because the promise of God is that “then” is already taken care.  We can live as we have learned – as we have been taught.  We can live in the moment when no one is watching – because it is who we are and not what we do.

            I would like to leave you with this poem:

 

TODAY FIRST

 

In this time of change, help me to be patient, God.

Let me not run ahead of you and your plans.

Give me courage to do only what is before me

And to keep my focus on my responsibilities.

I am tempted to daydream about the future:

However, the future is in your hands.

Thus may I be close to you in all my thoughts,

Accomplish the task before me today,

And do it with all my heart.

 

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