June 4, Sunday

REPOSTToday’s Spiritual Food for Thought, first posted on May 22, 2015, is provided by Mei Lan Thallman—now, a friend of AMI—who had served in an AMI church for a long time.   

Spiritual Food for Thought for the Weekend

“What a Runaway Sheep and a Runaway Human Have in Common”

Hebrews 12:5-11

And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says, “My son (daughter), do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, 6 because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son (daughter).”  7 Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? 8 If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. 9 Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! 10 They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. 11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

Our family was intrigued as we were looking at the pictures of a runaway sheep that came home to his shepherd—after six years of MIA.  When he came home, he was buried under layers of thick and dirty fur, which made us wonder how the shepherd even recognized him in the first place.  But after the shepherd sheered him, he looked like a different sheep all together.  What a relief the sheep must have felt to be able to shed the extra built up weight off his little body. But what was comical to read was that he had run away in the first place because he disliked being sheered by the shepherd.

I have encountered many Christians—myself included—who have responded to God’s discipline in the same way as this runaway sheep.  Many of us gladly receive Jesus into our lives, initially, for what He does for us: unconditional love and acceptance, forgiveness of our sins, and eternal life. Then we realize that part of belonging to Him involves a high cost of radical obedience and a gradual death to our self, through submitting to His regular sheering of our lives called “sanctification.” This sanctifying process exposes our true state of depravity and calls for our cooperation to make necessary changes according to God’s truth.  So when the going gets tough, it’s easy for Christians to think, This Christian life is too hard and costly. It’s much easier to be our own boss, call our own shots and live our own life. 

This lost sheep discovered, after six years of living on his own terms, that it’s far better to come home to his loving shepherd.  The very sheering that he had run away from, was the very thing that he needed in order to be a healthy sheep that he was created to be.

What are you trying to run away from today?  What is causing you to question and doubt God’s goodness and faithfulness in your life?  No one likes to be disciplined or endure hardships, but it is a lifelong process that all God’s children must go through. Especially for believers, God’s discipline in our lives should point to an unquestionable evidence of whose we are.

Prayer:  Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for loving me so much that You take the time to discipline me and cut away thoughts, attitudes, habits and relationships that are bad for me.  Please forgive me for my childish and stubborn resistance to Your corrections throughout different points of my life.  Empower me to surrender all to Your Lordship so that I may enjoy true freedom in Christ. Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Leviticus 3