In the Christian walk, there are times when we need someone to step in and call out our errant behavior. We don't like it, but when we're doing something that's harmful, there's nothing like a well-timed rebuke that puts us back on the right path. Today, on Insight for Living, Chuck Swindoll describes these painful moments and how God uses discipline as an expression of His love.
Hebrews 12.6 says, For the Lord disciplines those He loves, and He punishes each one He accepts as His child. Chuck titled today's message, When God's Discipline Strikes. Warnings are specific and brief. They're meant to linger in our minds as a reminder, often, of that which has happened before which is never to be forgotten.
Sometime in just a few words it says it all. Remember the Alamo. Remember Pearl Harbor. Remember 9-11. You who were adults on the 11th of September 2001 will recall that there was a banner that was hung shortly after the tragic events that hit New York, Washington, D.C., and a beautiful field out in Pennsylvania. The banner was roughly put together, brash letters forming the words, We will never forget. A warning. Have you?
Will you? Being brief and specific, warnings have a way of putting a little chill up your back, lest you forget. The word warning doesn't appear at the beginning of the 10th chapter of 1 Corinthians as Paul sat to write this chapter, but a warning was in mind.
The way he begins is much like the banner that hung on that half-destroyed building. I do not want you to forget. The Greek reads, I don't want you to be ignorant. I don't want you to be unaware. Then he goes on to tell us what we're to remember. In three words, remember the Hebrews.
He's writing to those who are brothers and sisters and sisters in the wilderness, obviously in his mind, fellow Jews. But for all of us, we're all to remember whoever may read the letter to the Corinthians. I don't want you to be ignorant. I don't want you to be unaware. I don't want you to forget. Have a good friend who every time we have had finished a cruise or a tour would say to our group, I don't so much want to hear what you remember about the cruise. I want to hear what you will never forget. There's a difference. You filter from the many things you remember to the few things you will never forget.
This is in that category. Never forget the Hebrews in the wilderness. Now having given that warning and that reminder, he begins in a rather, well, almost pleasurable manner, repeating the same phrase, not once, not twice, but five times. He refers to all of them, all of them, all of them, all of them, all of them. That's very unusual in the biblical text. I do not want you to forget what happened to all of them. What did they experience, those Hebrews in the wilderness?
Well look for yourself. They were all guided by a cloud during the day, that marvelous protection from the searing rays of the sun, all day, every day, all the people had the cloud by day and the fire by night, all of them. All of them walked through the sea as if walking across dry land, all of them, no one was excluded. All of them walked across that sea as the waters were pushed back miraculously while the Egyptian army was racing toward them. And just as they crossed, the waters would come together and take the lives of those who were on the march to take theirs. All of them were identified with Moses, all of them. Paul uses the word baptized, brought into union with, identified with, numbered with. What a marvelous leader he was, not perfect. But obviously God's hand was on him and all of the Hebrews had the delight, the blessing, the pleasure, the privilege of being under his leadership, all of them.
Don't forget that. All of them, we read, ate the same spiritual food, remember? Many of you remember, it was called manna, I love the psalmist words for it, angel's food, catered every day, delivered by God to all of them. No one went hungry, no one starred, all of them had the food every day. All of them had water, amazingly miraculously water from the rock as it flowed even in the Judean wilderness where it can go for months and months without rain. But when they needed water out it flowed, all of them were blessed with this.
I think you get the picture. It was for all of them and none of us is to forget what happened to all of them. They had spiritual direction and protection from the cloud, spiritual deliverance through the sea, spiritual leadership, supernatural in many ways, supernatural food and supernatural water.
Everybody was overlooked, everybody was blessed, everyone had the privilege. But verse 5 begins with that severe negative particle but however, nevertheless, look at the change with most of them, God wasn't pleased. The contrast is meant to be jarring, all of them, all of them, all of them, all of them, all of them, but most of them failed to please their God and how seriously was he displeased into verse 5, their bodies were scattered in the wilderness.
Pretty serious warning, don't forget it, don't ever forget it, why? Verse 6 tells us, these things happened as a warning to us. Right at the end of verse 11, they were written down to warn us who live at the end of the age, that's us. So down through the centuries from the time shortly after it happened all the way through to this very day, this date, to this date, written down to warn us. How interesting, how serious was God?
Well, you would want to know what they did. So Paul even lists that and he ties it in with a warning to us back to verse 6. It's a warning so that we would not crave evil things. Verse 7, so that we would not worship idols, remember they built the golden calf and they worshiped it while Moses is on Mount Sinai getting the commandments. They're down here building a calf and worshiping it and as he puts it, indulging in pagan revelry. We must not be engaged in sexual immorality as some of them were and we should not put the Lord to the test as some of them did, doubting him, questioning him and don't grumble as some of them did.
Even mentions a bad attitude, complaining. How serious was God? In the middle of all of this we read, some of them died from snake bite.
When you go back to Numbers 21 and read the story, you will read how serious God was. It wasn't just a little slap on the hand saying, ah, don't do that. It was a life and death issue and because they continued in it, out came the snakes. Slithering snakes from the wilderness crawled into tents, bit the people and many of them died because of snake bite.
When you read it like this, as I have delivered it, you get an understanding that this was one serious warning. They had grown impatient. They had fussed about the food. They had complained against Moses. They had complained against God. You've taken us out of Egypt and here we are in this wilderness. We're going to die in this wilderness and they complained about being brought out of their homes in Egypt and they didn't even give thanks for the Exodus after a while and before you know it. They complained about the water and the food. We hate this manna.
We hate it. I've sometimes fussed about a meal but don't know that I've ever said, I hate this food but they did and they said it to God who had delivered the food. What an ethical moment when they looked up in the middle of the night and found snakes all around them. Some of them had bitten their children or bitten their family members and they were on their way to them.
That is a frightening, frightening experience. Saying God means business. How did they get so cynical? Why were they jaded? You sit here and you listen to this and you read first of all the, all of them, all of them, all of them. You think, man, it's like a, like a cakewalk. Looks like an afternoon in the park at a picnic.
What happened? Well, I'm going to remind you how long they were in the wilderness, 40 years. That's how it sets in. It's the difference between going to Disney World with your family for the first time and working at Disney World for 40 years. Look in the faces of those who worked there and you'll see there's a lot of difference between flying to Florida and walking onto Disney World and working there day after day after day after year after year after year. This is between going to a game at the stadium and selling hot dogs in the concession stand for 40 years at the stadium. After a while you don't care who's playing the game.
You just want to know when is it over. You've seen one game, you've seen them all. You get cynical. Here's another one. It's like going on a flight to Hawaii.
You've done that? Man, those people in the airplane, it's like this is so good, they bring on to my ties. Whoa! Here we go. And you're taking off. Look at the faces of the people who worked for the airline. They fly it every week. Another trip to Hawaii.
Here we go again. Cynicism kicks in. It's not fun going to Hawaii if you work for the airlines. I speak some time to Dallas seminary students and I talk about the excitement of the first week or two or three and it's so fun. You get the books and you get the courses and you get the syllabus and you get the props and you get these, it's a marvelous opportunity to sit at the feet of those you've been reading the textbooks about and how about the last four months at the school if you've been there four, five, six, seven, eight years.
Still excited? Rarely. What happens? Same song, 30th verse, 40th verse, like church.
I might as well say it. You come Sunday after Sunday. Sunday after Sunday you get your seat.
You got your seat. God help the guest who visits here and sits in your seat. Happened when I was a kid, my mom and dad went to the same church for years and I was just growing up and my mom would hold my hand and we'd walk in and they had their seats. That's why they went early, before all the selfish people came and got their seat. And one Sunday we, truth, truth, truth, true story, we walked in and we stopped at the door and my mom looked over there and there were guests. The church is virtually empty but those selfish guests had chosen our seats. My dad, my mom says to my dad, well Earl, what should we do?
I'm standing there, picking my nose, thinking if you sit anywhere you want to, you know, you got 800 seats to choose from. And you know what my dad said, well Lovell, I think we should go home. Well guess what, we went home.
You know why? Because we were spoiled like some of you. Here we are, now we're getting personal. We're not just remembering the Hebrews, we're looking at ourselves folks. And is there anything worse than a religious routine where you began to take God for granted and you seriously, you feel a certain way about those people that took your seats?
It can happen to a young person, I mean you can learn this early, early on, it can happen to a kid. I have a really good friend named Ron DeMuller who has been at Mount Herman Christian Conference Center in Northern California forever and he's seen kids come and go for years. He was there when they built Ponderosa Lodge, whoa, that was one fabulous lodge and still is, Olympic sized pool, great dining facility, nice places to sleep at night, wonderful outside activities, just absolutely great, all kinds of fun things and the problem was the kids that came were cynical. They were jaded, they'd been in church all their life, they were raised in a hot house. So when they'd come to camp it was like, okay, another meeting.
So Ron would come up with fresh ideas. He said to me on one occasion, I thought about a little, kind of a silly, almost stupid way to start the meeting but this group of church kids all got together for this meeting to begin with and I said, okay kids, everybody listen up, little quiz here, what's small and gray and fuzzy has a big bushy tail and runs real fast, climbs trees and hides nuts for the winter. No, come on, come on, it isn't a joke, it isn't a really, come on, come on, get into it. What's little and gray and runs real fast, fuzzy has a big bushy tail and climbs trees and hides nuts for the winter. What is it?
Little girl on the back goes with a big sigh, well, I want to say a squirrel but I'll say Jesus. Really? Well, sweetie, you're sick, you've been allowed to get jaded, the hot house is burning you up just like it is some of you. One of the telltale signs that I notice when it happens and I notice because I'm around it quite a bit is a seething anger that's just below the surface and it's an intensified anger in this generation, fuses are really short, you noticed?
Really short. You see it in traffic, you see it in our parking lot, you see it among folks that don't get what they want because they're spoiled. Well, they're in a hurry, you got stuff to do and they become angry like some of you.
I don't know who to look at because I don't have any one of you in mind so you got to look at yourself. You make a life miserable for those at home and you won't listen to their telling you that you're an angry person, you're hard to live with. You never miss church but you forgot the warning. Let me tell you, we're living in an ever increasing angry time, people have shorter fuses and more hostile reactions than I've ever witnessed before. I see it all the way to the top of our government, I see it all the way across the streets of our cities, I see it on tollways, I see it in businesses, I see it in grocery stores and yes, I see it occasionally right here in our church.
If God were to send the snakes today as he did in ancient days, how many of us would be strewn in the streets from snake bite? With most of them whom he had blessed eminently, he wasn't pleased. It's a haunting statement. Is he pleased with you or is it time for you to recognize and confess the condition of your heart, the habits of your life, the anger reactions and impatience of your mouth and your attitudes?
It's time maybe to listen to the kids who will rarely lie to you, it's time for you to deal severely with the things that are breaking relationships rather than building them. Well those are some convicting words. Chuck Swindoll has based his conclusions on the Hebrew nation and their arduous journey in the wilderness. This is a message about clinging to hope when God's discipline strikes. To learn more about this ministry, visit us online at InsideWorld.org. Well here at Inside for Living, our hope is that these daily studies have motivated you to dig deeper on your own. Whether you're dealing with anger or you're living with someone who has a short fuse, we believe the Bible teaching in Chuck's brand new book will help you. It's called Clinging to Hope. Here's a complete chapter on today's subject, plus Chuck addresses 11 other topics, each one designed to help you cling to hope even when your life takes an unexpected turn.
Again, Chuck's new book is called Clinging to Hope and you can purchase a copy right now by going to Inside.org slash Hope or call us. If you're listening in the United States, call 800-772-8888. It's possible you're listening to this program alone in your car, alone at home, or perhaps listening to the podcast by yourself with earbuds.
But in reality, you're not alone. Millions around the world are listening to this program today with you. For instance, one of your fellow listeners wrote to us and said, Dear Inside for Living, as a young busy mom, I grew in the Lord by a Chuck's radio ministry. Many years have passed and I still enjoy the teachings. My youngest, now in college, is also amazed at the nuggets of truth gained in such a short time listening.
May the Lord continue to bless Inside for Living. Well, we are so grateful for listeners like this mom in Wisconsin who affirm that God's Word is changing lives. And we invite you to participate financially in this effort to bring God's hope to people around the world. You can give today by calling us. If you're listening in the United States, call 800-772-8888, or you can give online at insight.org slash donate. I'm Bill Meyer. Join us when Chuck Swindoll continues to describe finding hope even when God's discipline strikes. That's Thursday on Insight for Living. The preceding message, When God's Discipline Strikes, was copyrighted in 2019 and 2022, and the sound recording was copyrighted in 2022 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights are reserved worldwide. Duplication of copyrighted material for commercial use is strictly prohibited.
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