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Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Church decoration in Donelson TN 11/30/14
The message of the Christmas season, "JOY" as evidenced in this decorative display at the Donelson Fellowship church we visited Sunday in Tennessee.

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"The Encouragement Of Rebuke"

"And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons: 'My son, do not make light of the Lord's discipline, and do not lose heart when He rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those He loves, and He punishes everyone He accepts as a son'" (Hebrews 12:5-6).

Mollie in her dog denWe returned home last night after our Thanksgiving trip to Tennessee. We had a great time, but of course it’s wonderful to be home safe and sound and to find our home and pets safe and sound as well! They were sure glad to see us and just couldn’t get enough TLC.

Mollie, our younger dog, who will soon turn four, just doesn’t seem to lose her puppy orneriness. This morning I walked into our living room and there she was snuggled comfortably in a chair which she knows is a no-no. Upon seeing me she immediately jumped off and dived into her dog den (as seen in photo - look carefully). I said to her, "Mollie, I kinda' think you like being rebuked" which got me thinking about the subject of rebuke. In Mollie’s case, although I am not a dog psychologist, I sort of think using a scolding tone gets her attention, gets her out of her testy mindset and moves her toward obedience!

Most would consider rebuke and encouragement as mutually exclusive.  Just the word, "rebuke" can set your heart on edge and very few would consider the act of being rebuked as encouraging! But let's read a perspective from Scripture today and consider the blessing of rebuke.

Read this verse through several times. "And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons: 'My son, do not make light of the Lord's discipline, and do not lose heart when He rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those He loves, and He punishes everyone He accepts as a son'" (The writer of Hebrews is actually quoting from Proverbs 3:11,12).

I can't recall any preacher/speaker quoting from memory this straightforward portion of Scripture excepting the portion "the Lord disciplines those he loves". Consider the phrase, "Do not lose heart when He rebukes you" (KJV "nor faint when thou art rebuked of Him"). I'll be completely honest: I much prefer commendation over rebuke.  Commendation makes me feel warm inside, kind of like I feel sitting at a dining room table when the colorful Thanksgiving feast is piping hot, ready to be dished up.

On the other hand "rebuke" makes me uncomfortable, sort of like being sent to the principal's office or like a throbbing toothache that won't go away.  Commendation is like getting a pat on the back telling us, "Don't make any changes. Keep on doing what you're doing." Contrast that with a rebuke that stops us in our tracks forcing us to do an internal search which also brings about humility and needed change. We like commendation because it's easier. But we also need rebuke to grow us and bring about needed disciplines, conforming us to be more like Christ. It might be the boss at work related to our work skills, the community policeman in our civic duties, or a spiritual authority helping us to conform to Christ.

The rebuke spoken of in our text, "Do not lose heart when He rebukes you" is from the Lord. The Greek word for rebuke in this passage is "elegcho" and means to confute or admonish and is translated convict, convince, tell a fault, rebuke, reprove in the KJV.

This is the same Greek word used in John 3:20: "Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed." I've pondered much on the question, "Why do people prefer darkness rather than light?" It seems to me at least a part of the answer lies in our response to God's rebuke (conviction and exposing of sin). The one loving darkness hates the light which exposes sin. Those of us who love the Lord respond to the disinfecting qualities of light with confession, repentance, and change even though it can be a very uncomfortable experience! That's why Solomon and later the writer of Hebrews cautions us, "Do not lose heart" at His rebuke.

Nathan rebukes David The rebuke from our Lord may come through His Word or a conviction by His Holy Spirit or through another person such as Nathan's rebuke to King David (2 Samuel 12) or Paul's rebuke to Peter (Galatians 2:11).

Today consider that the rebuke of our God is just as much an evidence of His love as those wonderful assurance verses that we have likely memorized and let us rejoice in the "word of encouragement that addresses you as sons."

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, it comes very naturally to encourage and instruct others in Your teachings.  But it is far more difficult to bring loving rebuke and correction to one who has chosen to live in disobedience to Your commands.  Help me to go forth as one pure in heart, humble in spirit, and earnest in prayer when I am commissioned to be Your messenger of a life-giving rebuke. It wasn't Nathan who went after David, but it was You who sent Nathan, which served as the beginning of David's spiritual restoration. When the messenger is pure in motive and obedient to the Spirit's prompting, and the message is received in the right spirit, then correction will take place, just as it did with David. Though I cannot be assured of the desired results help me to find blessing in having been obedient to Your Spirit's leading. When I am the recipient of a rebuke may I respond in humility and receive the correction as though it were delivered personally from You and respond accordingly.  In the name of Jesus I pray. Amen.

Some photos from Tennessee

Nachez Trace bridge 11/28/14
In the background is the Birdsong Hollow bridge on the Natchez Trace Parkway.

Natchez Trace Parkway 11-28-14
A scenic view along the Natchez Trace Parkway

Natchez Trace Parkway 11-28-14
What a pleasant drive along the winding road!

John and Joan Wiseman 11/29/14
On Saturday evening I met with our friends John and Joan Wiseman who were returning to Springfield, Missouri from visiting relatives in North Carolina. John is a fellow chaplain and has a burden to develop a canteen ministry in disaster response.

Ester with her cousin Cortny near Nashville TN 11/28/14
Ester with her cousin Courtney.

Brooksyne with her sister Elaine near Nashville TN 11/30/14
We enjoyed visiting with Brooksyne's sister, Elaine
, who lives in Texas but was visiting with her daughter, Courtney, who lives in Nashville. Sunday morning we attended Donelson Fellowship Church and will tell more about that experience in another message.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Thank You Lord"  Video  Dennis Jernigan  We had not heard this song for many years but what a joy to hear it in the church we attended in the Nashville area this last Lord's Day. We'll share more about this experience tomorrow.

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.

Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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