ODJ: Disciplined for Freedom

February 17, 2017 

READ: Hebrews 12:5-11 

No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening— it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way (v.11).

My dog has been trained to always come back to me the instant I call or whistle. It’s taken a lot of work to get this response. And now he consistently listens for me and responds immediately—no matter what distraction is vying for his attention. Since I can trust him, I’m able to take him off his leash and let him run around and explore the fields and woodlands. In short, because he’s been properly trained and can be trusted even when facing temptation, he can enjoy his freedom.

Most people don’t train their dogs like this. They believe that training puts too much pressure on their pets and is somehow unkind. But their dogs never gain true freedom— remaining leashed their entire lives.

Believers in Jesus almost invariably want to progress in their spiritual walk. And yet, when encountering the trials of life, do we see difficult times as training and preparation, or do we ask God, “Why is this happening?” or cry out, “Please take this away”? The writer of Hebrews expressed that “No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way” (12:11). Such trials prove the father heart of God and make for right living by His work in us (vv.5-7,11).

It’s those who have spent time experiencing God’s discipline who are uniquely prepared to live out His ways before others. Only when we’ve been tested and refined are we then free to be let off our “leashes” and walk as mature believers.

How have we been reacting to God’s recent discipline? Freedom comes as we learn and grow in His loving, refining hands.

—Russell Fralick

365-day plan: Exodus 40:1-38

Read Proverbs 3:5-6 and Luke 12:31 and think about how seeking God and trusting in Him during difficult times can help us mature in our faith. 
Are you facing a test or trial? Praise God for His faithful discipline. Is life easy? Praise God and display your gratitude to Him today!