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  • Writer's pictureHenry Rafferty

Humble Discipline

Old Testament Reading- Deuteronomy 8:1-5

New Testament Reading- 1 Peter 5:1-7

By Henry J. Rafferty CP -October 16, 2022

God’s children have made an occupation out of finding ways to go against God. We don’t intend too, but it still happens. We are arrogant, prideful, spiteful, hateful, and a whole lot more words with ‘fuls’ on the end than we should care to talk about. Our ancient parents started it, and as the fruit isn’t far from the tree, we are no different than

those ancient parents; we just keep making the same mistakes repeatedly.

When the Almighty brought the ancient Hebrews out of Egyptian bondage; it wasn’t long before they were causing problems for themselves. Picture it, God performs miracle after miracle to show the Egyptians and the Hebrews just how powerful He really is. All the plagues, the Passover, and the parting of the Red Sea were no parlor tricks. I can imagine the Hebrews shouting for joy when the mighty Egyptians were shown what power was really like. I could just see the Hebrews standing on the far shore of the Red Sea, watching the Egyptian army coming towards them when the waters began to rush back into place, with their palm face up, they make a fist, then bending their elbow, and pulling their elbow into themselves with one swift motion the exclaim, “Yes!” This hand gesture of modern times tells us, “That’s right, we’re the best, don’t mess with us or you will get God’s wrath.”

After all this, you would think that the Hebrews would have done anything the Lord told them, but you would be wrong. It wasn’t long before they were complaining to Moses and Aaron that they didn’t have enough to eat, they didn’t have enough to drink, they were tired of walking through the desert, Waah Waah Waah. Why did Moses bring them from captivity, just to lead them around through the desert, at least in Egypt they had a roof over their heads and food to eat? Sometimes, I wonder why God didn’t tell Moses to lead them right back to Pharoah and drop them off, then see how they liked that. Then in their impatience, they created and worshiped a golden calf idol. I mean, really, are you really that bad off?

Fortunately, we have a God that puts up with our whining, knowing that we just don’t know what we are doing. God did do something though; He is never idle. He had Moses march them around the desert for forty years and wouldn’t show the Promised Land to the adults that complained the whole time. God chose to show their children instead and to give them the land filled with milk and honey. He did this to teach His people humility through discipline. God loves the humble, humility was a quality that some of the Hebrew forefathers portrayed. Noah humbled himself by listening to God and building an ark when others

laughed. Abraham listened to God when He told him to leave his home and go to another land and when He told him to lay Isaac at the altar. These were not easy things to do for these men, they were scorned and ridiculed, sometimes even by their own families, but they always humbled themselves before God.

Sometime later, the people cried out to God to give them a king, they were tired of the judges and wanted what other nations had. God warned them through Samuel the Prophet that a king was not always a good thing here on earth. Power has a way of corrupting even the best of people in time. But they would not be satisfied until they had a king. God listened and gave them Saul, which did not work out very well for them, so God gave them David. David was a man after God’s own heart, he was a good man, full of forgiveness and compassion for others. God blessed King David in all they he did and made him great, but as God had warned, even David had trouble. David’s trouble was not small either, his power, like many others, became his stumbling block when he fell for Bathsheba, who happened to be another man’s wife. David, even though he was a king, was not exempt from God’s law and was not allowed to be with another man’s wife. David used his power and position to get what he wanted and had Bathsheba sent to him at the palace. After this, Bathsheba had become pregnant, but her husband was gone away to war in David’s army. Her husband, Uriah the Hittite, would know that she had committed adultery and might turn her over to be killed, killing David’s child in the process. David must do something, after all he is the king.

David decides to have Uriah sent home from war, knowing that he would have relations with his wife while home. This plan would work well, Bathsheba’s husband would think she became pregnant from him and not detect any adultery. It was a great plan, except her husband was so dedicated to his fellow soldiers, he did not want to go back to the other men, knowing that he had been able to do what they could not. What would David do now? Again, he used his position, but this time he made matters even worse, by having Uriah the Hittite put in the front lines of the next battle and to be abandoned there, so to be killed. What a great plan this is, David now will have no competition from a husband, and he will be free to marry Bathsheba and have the child, but we know the saying about best laid plans. God was not pleased with all this scheming and killing by David, nor by his abuse of the power God had given him.

The Lord sent Nathan the Prophet to tell David what would happen because of these terrible things. 2 Samuel 12:1-19,

"The Lord sent Nathan to David. When he came to him, he said, “There were two men in a certain town, one rich and the other poor. The rich man had a very large number of sheep and cattle,but the poor man had nothing except one little ewe lamb he had bought. He raised it, and it grew up with him and his children. It shared his food, drank from his cup and even slept in his arms. It was like a daughter to him.“Now a traveler came to the rich man, but the rich man refrained from taking one of his own sheep or cattle to prepare a meal for the traveler who had come to him. Instead, he took the ewe lamb that belonged to the poor man and prepared it for the one who had come to him.” David burned with anger against the man and said to Nathan, “As surely as the Lord lives, the man who did this must die! He must pay for that lamb four times over, because he did such a thing and had no pity.”

Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man! This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul. I gave your master’s house to you, and your master’s wives into your arms. I gave you all Israel and Judah. And if all this had been too little, I would have given you even more. Why did you despise the word of the Lord by doing what is evil in his eyes? You struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and took his wife to be your own. You killed him with the sword of the Ammonites. Now, therefore, the sword will never depart from your house, because you despised me and took the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your own.’

“This is what the Lord says: ‘Out of your own household I am going to bring calamity on you. Before your very eyes I will take your wives and give them to one who is close to you, and he will sleep with your wives in broad daylight. You did it in secret, but I will do this thing in broad daylight before all Israel.’” Then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.” Nathan replied, “The Lord has taken away your sin. You are not going to die. But because by doing this you have shown utter contempt for the Lord, the son born to you will die.” After Nathan had gone home, the Lord struck the child that Uriah’s wife had borne to David, and he became ill. David pleaded with God for the child. He fasted and spent the nights lying in sackcloth on the ground. The elders of his household stood beside him to get him up from the ground, but he refused, and he would not eat any food with them. On the seventh day the child died. David’s attendants were afraid to tell him that the child was dead, for they thought, “While the child was still living, he wouldn’t listen to us when we spoke to him. How can we now tell him the child is dead? He may do something desperate.” David noticed that his attendants were whispering among themselves, and he realized the child was dead. “Is the child dead?” he asked. “Yes,” they replied, “he is dead.”

David must come to terms with the fact that his actions had consequences and that much calamity would befall his family in years to come. The Lord has a way of humbling us through discipline and allowing us to see the results of our sin in our lives and how our sin may affect other lives. These are hard lessons to learn. They were hard for the ancient Hebrews, and they were for King David, but God tells us in 2 Chronicles 7:14,

“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

To eat humble pie is not a great experience, but it is a vitally important life lesson given best by God. When God disciplines, He does not rub our nose in it, but patiently shows us the true way of things. If we continue in our sin, our discipline may get worse though, let’s face it, for some of us, our rock bottom is pretty far down the hole, but sometimes we must hit the bottom before we see well enough to come back to the top.

A young man of twenty-eight lived in Nashville, Tennessee. He had graduated from college with a business degree and was in real estate. Flipping houses and commercial buildings led to buying and leasing apartments. This went on for about five years during the 1990’s when the banks were giving loans to anybody and their brother. As the decade changed, so too did the real estate market, and the banks were no longer giving money out like they were. The young man’s properties had leaky roofs and faulty furnaces that needed fixed, and angry, paying tenants that were not at all pleased with their cocky, young landlord. The young landlord needed money and fast, but the bank that he usually relied upon was not giving any more money to him, his properties did not have enough debt paid back and where not equitable enough to allow him enough credit. In his arrogance, he believed he would just drive down the road in his Mercedes, stroll into the next bank in his Armani suit, and they would lie down and give him whatever he wanted. He was wrong though, dead wrong.

College had not prepared him for this, he did everything right, he bought and sold, he worked hard, he played hard, but he didn’t know enough to realize that life can be cruel, and the economy has a life of its own sometimes. He had overextended himself, badly. Now, he pulled up to the gas pump with his fancy suit to put gas in his Mercedes, but when he put his card in to pay, it was declined. He pulled out another card, declined. He was hungry, he popped into McDonald’s, his card declined again. He went to the pawn shop and sold his Armani suit that cost him $1,000 and got two hundred for it. He sold his car and walked, because he had to choose between a place to sleep and something to drive. This arrogant, prideful, young man was now stopping at soup kitchens for his next meal. What had become of him? Why was he in this position? What had he done that was so wrong? His next question, “Why me, Lord?”

"To eat humble pie is not a great experience, but it is a vitally important life lesson given best by God. When God disciplines, He does not rub our nose in it, but patiently shows us the true way of things." ~ Pastor Henry Rafferty

He was at a soup kitchen one evening when a man with a Bible sat down at his table. The man introduced himself as a pastor and asked if he could sit and eat next to him. The young man said, “Sure, have a seat.” The pastor sat down and began to eat when he noticed the young man holding his head in his hands. “What’s up, son? Rough day?” the pastor said. “Rough year,” said the young man. “Wanna talk about it?” asked the pastor. “No,” said the young man. The pastor began eating his meal again when, after a few minutes, the young man spoke up, “I just don’t understand, why God is allowing this to happen to me?” Over the next two hours the young man unfolded his life to the pastor. When he had finished, the pastor sat for a few moments without saying a word, then asked, “When was the last time you went to church?” “I don’t know what that has to do with anything, I mean, I believe in God, isn’t that all it takes?” said the young man. “Have you ever been really sick?” asked the pastor. “Well, yes,” said the young man. “Did you go to a doctor?” the pastor asked. “Yes,” said the young man, “Where is all this going?” “You can’t just believe the doctor can help you when you’re sick, you actually have to go to the hospital and see him, and when you get there, you will interact with the receptionist, the nurses, the aides, and the doctor, the whole staff.” “It is the same way with God, you can’t just believe when you need help, but you must seek Him out through His Church, and interact with His whole staff, who are all there to help you.” That is one way God answers prayers, we ask for help from God, but don’t realize that when another Christian talks to us, it may be God’s answer to your prayers,” the pastor said.

The young man got the picture and that Sunday, he humbled himself and attended the pastor’s church. After about a month of meeting new people and experiencing the life of the Church, he got involved in Bible study as well. The Church knew his story and they had compassion on him. They helped him get back on his feet. A businesswoman who was a member of the church helped him budget himself back to better footing and so many people supplied him with meals that he even started gaining weight again. In humility he had found the One true God and a family he never knew existed.

Today he is a budget consultant and a mighty witness for Jesus Christ and His Church. When asked what his favorite and most life changing Scripture reading is, he will tell you that for him it is Philippians 2:1-11 which says,

“Therefore, if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God,    did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross! Therefore, God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

Jesus said, “Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” (Matt. 23:12) This is a powerful lesson from God and one that is hard to wrap our earthly brains around, to put oneself below someone else to help them, you help yourself, this is one of the foundations of Christianity. Stay humble before God and others, look to serve others, not to be served, and all will go well with you. “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” (James 4:6) Go out and show others God’s humble grace that you have received, and you will begin to be a humbly disciplined child of God. Thanks be to God. Amen.

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