Having read the previous chapter, you should be beginning to note that a large part of a walk of faith, and of seeing the supernatural presence of God in the lives of the saints, has to do with observation. We can either be oblivious to the presence of God in our lives, or we can be attuned to it. The book of II Kings relates an interesting account of one man who saw into the spiritual realms, and another who did not.
II Kings 6:15-17
Now when the attendant of the man of God had risen early and gone out, behold, an army with horses and chariots was circling the city. And his servant said to him, “Alas, my master! What shall we do?” So he answered, “Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” Then Elisha prayed and said, “O Yahweh, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.” And Yahweh opened the servant’s eyes and he saw; and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.
Both Elisha and his servant were in the same situation, having the same resources of God available to them. Yet one man saw God’s provision, and one did not. This is a picture of the lives of the saints today. God is present and willing to help all who call upon His name, yet only a few discern His presence. Most Christians have their eyes closed to the supernatural realm around them.
I believe the time is coming when Yahweh will open the eyes of many of His elect in the same way that is described here. No longer will they have to see through eyes of faith, believing things that their natural senses cannot detect, but they will have their eyes opened to see into spirit realms as clearly as they have been able to perceive things in natural realms. Yet I also believe that those who will have their eyes opened to perceive spiritual things in this way will first have proven themselves by trusting in things that their senses could not detect.
Elisha did not always have the spiritual sight that is described in this passage. He first spent a number of years “pouring water on the hands of Elijah.” Elijah had this sight while Elisha served him, but Elisha had to believe first in things that his eyes could not see. Only after proving himself faithful in “walking by faith, not by sight” was he granted his request that he might receive a double portion of the spirit that rested upon Elijah. He too then received an open heaven and was able to see into spiritual realms. Thus we see the principle at work throughout both Old and New Testaments that “those who are faithful in little things, will be given greater things.”
I am convinced that the reason many saints do not have any great witness of the supernatural working of God in their lives is simply due to unbelief. God is present in their lives, yet they choose not to recognize this presence. They may see some provision come in for a pressing need at the very moment that they desperately require an answer, yet they choose to interpret the event as chance and fortune. How often do the saints say, “I was sure lucky,” or “You were sure lucky,” when luck had nothing to do with it? Why not rather confess that God orders the steps of His children and causes His rain (blessings) to fall on the just and the unjust?
What I want to speak of in this chapter is recognizing God’s supernatural presence in the discipline we receive from His hands. This is an important matter, for it requires faith to recognize God’s hand of discipline even as it requires faith to recognize His presence to heal, or to manifest some much needed provision. In each of these things we must have eyes of faith to see into spirit realms in order to recognize God’s presence in our lives.
If you are a child of God then you have, and will again, experience the discipline of God. None are exempt, as Paul wrote:
But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons.
I suspect that I could have a conversation with a majority of Christians today and it would go something like this.
“Are you a child of God?”
“Oh, yes. I am most definitely a child of God!”
“Then tell me about God’s discipline in your life.”
“Um, well, I do not know what you mean. God’s discipline? I believe that God loves me and that His Son suffered for my sins so that I would not have to.”
“So then, you cannot think of a time when God has disciplined you?”
“I don’t think God would do that to me. God loves me and wants to bless me. I have had some bad things happen to me, even some painful things, but I don’t think that was God.”
I have actually had conversations with saints that were very close to this. One wife of a pastor even rebuked me when I shared with her about God’s discipline in my life. She said firmly, “My God would not do that.” If she is a child of the same God that I am a child of, then the Scriptures do testify that He will indeed discipline all those who are His children, for “all have become partakers” of His discipline.
The problem is not that God disciplines some of His children, and not others. Rather, it is that many refuse to acknowledge the discipline for what it truly is. These are also walking in “unconscious reality,” and because they fail to recognize God’s discipline they do not respond to His correction. As Paul wrote to the Corinthian believers, “For this reason many among you are weak and sick, and a number sleep” (I Corinthians 11:30). It is tragic that so many Christians experience the hand of God’s discipline upon them, but they refuse to recognize it. This results in God using more severe discipline, and even then many will not respond until God finally has to take their lives.
I have often been on the receiving end of God’s discipline, and at times this discipline has been most severe. If we read the words of the apostle we should expect that it would be so.
And have you [completely] forgotten the divine word of appeal and encouragement in which you are reasoned with and addressed as sons? My son, do not think lightly or scorn to submit to the correction and discipline of the Lord, nor lose courage and give up and faint when you are reproved or corrected by Him; for the Lord corrects and disciplines everyone whom He loves, and He punishes, even scourges, every son whom He accepts and welcomes to His heart and cherishes. You must submit to and endure [correction] for discipline; God is dealing with you as with sons. For what son is there whom his father does not [thus] train and correct and discipline?
I would like to relate to you a testimony from my life where I received a scourging from the Lord. This event was no less supernatural than His speaking to me and telling me that He was going to give me a daughter, and telling me what her name would be. It was no less a sovereign act of God than His Spirit leading us to buy groceries for a family when, unknown to us, the husband had just lost his job and his wife was just expressing her concern about where their provision would come from.
One of the areas of my life that I have struggled with is in the area of financial stewardship, and more specifically I would identify my struggle as being with covetousness. When my wife and I were first married we both felt a conviction that we were to live debt free, although we were not as clear as to whether a mortgage on a house was wrong. In all other matters besides a house we were committed to living within the means which we had and to not incur any debt.
We lived in such a manner for the first few years of our marriage, and we knew the blessing of God upon our provision. Even though we did not earn a lot of money, God seemed to always be providing for us in gracious ways. About the third year of our marriage my wife went through a pregnancy that resulted in the birth of our daughter. We had some medical bills associated with the birth that needed to be paid. We didn’t have the money, although it wasn’t a very large amount, and we decided to apply for a credit card in order to use it to pay these bills.
I must state that I knew in my heart this wasn’t God’s true provision for us. Rather than seeking Him and asking for His provision to be manifest, I decided to meet the need in my own way. A large part of my reasoning was that there were a couple of things I wanted to buy, and in addition to paying the medical bills, I could also use the credit card to get the things I wanted while not having to wait until I had the cash on hand.
We obtained the credit card and paid the medical bills. I then also purchased the things I was desiring. From this point forward, things changed in our finances and provision. We had formerly seen God’s hand of intervention on a regular basis. Now it was as if God said, “Ok, if you want to handle your money according to your will, then I will remove My hand of protection and provision and leave you to your own resources and devices.”
Over the next few years we accrued more and more debt. We ended up with several credit cards as well as a car loan and other debt. When things got difficult, we applied for a consolidation loan to reduce the burden of monthly payments, but then foolishly we kept the credit cards and used them again.
My wife was not working, having quit work when our daughter was born, and my income was very modest. Things reached a point where I was working two jobs, and sometimes three, and the bills were taking everything that I earned. We were living paycheck to paycheck, just barely keeping up with bill payments.
The pressure became so severe that I knew something had to change quickly. My wife and I began to discuss where we had gone wrong. We realized that we had been disobedient, and had turned aside from the path we were convicted was God’s will for us. We determined that our only recourse was to repent and ask God for His mercy. My wife and I did this as we knelt down in our living room and prayed to God, confessing our sin and asking our heavenly Father to once again be the provision for our home. We estimated that it would take many years for us to climb out of debt, even in a best case scenario, but God in His mercy had other plans.
Not long after we prayed about this, I was at work one day and I had an accident on a freshly waxed floor where I fell down and broke my ankle and tore ligaments in my knee. The injury to my knee was very painful and required physical therapy. It also left me with an impairment in my knee. I did not know that being injured on the job made me eligible for a worker’s compensation settlement, so I was surprised when I was told after my rehabilitation that I needed to be evaluated to determine what compensation I would receive. I ended up being awarded $19,000 dollars, and this went a long way toward paying off our debt. Soon after this my wife had an aunt die and we received an additional sum of money that allowed us to pay off all of the remainder of our debt. In less than a year from the time we prayed and asked God to forgive us for our sinful spending habits and covetousness, and to invite Him to once more be our source of provision, we were completely debt free. This was miraculous, to say the least, and it was evidence of God’s grace and mercy extended toward us.
After we were debt free God began to speak to me concerning my injury at work. God told me that He had broken my ankle and caused the injury to my knee that I might learn to walk more carefully in this area of my life. I was reminded of the Scripture from Hebrews that speaks of God’s discipline. It specifically mentions God causing an injury to a person’s limbs.
Therefore, strengthen the hands that are weak and the knees that are feeble, and make straight paths for your feet, so that the limb which is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather be healed.
God then began to show me parallels between the natural and spiritual applications of this discipline He had chosen for me. After the injury I became very careful about walking on the floors at work (a hospital). I was always looking for wet spots and paying close attention to how I was walking, especially during the months I was on crutches. God told me that He wanted me to walk just as carefully in the area of financial stewardship. He wanted me to learn to live within my means and not be covetous.
This injury affected me in a way that I had never experienced before, although I had known numerous injuries in my life. At times I would find myself walking down a hallway at work and I would begin replaying the accident in my mind. I would see myself setting my foot on the freshly waxed floor and falling. I would see myself lying on the floor unable to move my leg and foot. As this scene would be playing in my mind I would stop walking, and moments later I would realize I was standing still in the middle of a hallway. I would have to tell myself to move, and I would have to wrest my mind free from this image.
The Lord spoke to me about this. He said He wanted this injury to be a reminder to me to not transgress in this way again. The link between my injury and my disobedience in the area of coveting was clearly established, for the beginning of my getting out of debt was the result of the worker’s compensation settlement I received from this injury. When I understood the purpose of God’s discipline I did not mind the broken ankle and the torn ligaments in my knee. I began to praise God and to thank Him for His discipline. I confessed that He was righteous and just to discipline me in this manner. I had willfully transgressed in the area of financial stewardship by obtaining credit cards and walking in covetousness, and I could only agree that it was a just thing for God to discipline me in this way. I was reminded that God disciplines those whom He loves and counts as sons, and I knew all this was done out of love for me.
It is remarkable to think back about these events. I had disobeyed and as a result I had gotten in a real bind. I was working day and night to pay bills and I was barely staying afloat. In desperation my wife and I cried out to God. We confessed our sin and asked God to be our provider once more. In His mercy He answered our prayers, and along with His deliverance He sent me some much needed correction.
There is no possibility of my denying the presence of God in my life in any of these events. I will not say that what happened to me was mere chance, or luck. It was the sovereign hand of God manifested in my life. He ordered my steps, and one fateful step resulted in some painful discipline.
God uses many such things in the lives of His children to get their attention and to lead them back to righteousness. We read already where Paul informed the saints at Corinth that many among them were weak and sick, and some had even died as a result of God’s discipline for their sin. Not all physical infirmity is a result of sin, a fact that is easily proven through Scriptures. Yet the apostle informs us that some infirmities are God’s discipline. In Hebrews he also uses language that speaks of a limb being made lame. My right leg was lame for a period of time as a result of God’s discipline, so we see that God also uses bodily injuries to bring us needed correction. Paul also uses the word “scourges” to describe God’s discipline, and by this we can understand that this discipline may be severe.
There are a myriad of ways in which God brings His discipline. He may cause us to suffer a financial setback. He may discipline us by allowing us to be fired from a job, or exposing some sin we had been trying to keep hidden. He may allow us to experience open shame. As Paul stated, “all discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful.” Discipline is not supposed to be a pleasurable experience, “yet afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.”
If you are to begin experiencing the supernatural presence of God in your life, a good place to begin is to recognize His hand of discipline. Have you thought that all of the difficult experiences of your life were merely meaningless, chance occurrences to be endured? Consider for a moment those saints in Corinth. Some were weak, and others sick and some had even died. Do you suppose they all understood why they were weak and sick? Do you think they all perceived why they were dying? No! And I am sure there were some stubborn and carnal ones among them who still refused to acknowledge the hand of God’s discipline upon them, even after receiving Paul’s words, and that many more died.
Why was this true then, and why is it true today? It is largely due to unbelief. Though the saints may confess that God is all knowing and all powerful, though they may confess that He is omnipresent, even to judging the thoughts and intents of every man’s heart, they often live as if God is somewhere far removed from them. Many live as if God was unaware of what just occurred in their life, and that they must inform Him of the matter lest He should not notice. When things happen in their lives many Christians fail to discern that it is God who has ordered their steps, and they rarely consider that God may have some purpose in allowing them to experience the things that come into their lives. This is the “unconscious reality” that J. Oswald Chambers referred to, and truly it is deadly, for many saints today also have perished in their blindness.
It is not so difficult to discern when God is disciplining us, if we should merely develop the habit of listening to God. What Father is there who would discipline His children and not tell them why they were being disciplined? I am a father, and I have never disciplined my children without telling them why they were being corrected. It would serve no purpose to spank a child and not tell him why he was being paddled. God also knows this, and He will always tell us why we are being disciplined in order that we might correct our way and receive benefit from the sorrowful thing we are enduring.
It is an awesome thing to receive discipline from God. It is a testimony of His love for us, and a witness that He considers us to be His sons and daughters. When the Spirit revealed to me why I was disciplined, my response was one of thankfulness. I began confessing how right this discipline was. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if our children would respond similarly when we had to correct them? To have a son or daughter say, “Mom/Dad, you were right. I sure needed that correction. Thank you for loving me enough to not abandon me to disobedience.”
This is the third chapter of Evidence of Things Unseen.
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