Have we been in Camp Discipline or Camp Castaway

The bible is full of Gods promises beyond which we have not dreamed or imagined. It has been reported that there are at least 7,887 promises made by God to mankind according to Dr. Storms writing in the Contact magazine. Because God is Lord of all it is hard to single out a more important promise, but one of my favourites is found in Genesis 15 where God says to Abram – “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward." Gen 15

This is a wonderful simple promise – in Hebrew the word shield means what we expect it to mean; namely protection. God has promised that he will protect his children who walk by faith and are heirs to Abraham’s faith. God has promised to surround us with his hedge, and place a covering over us like a mother hen will shelter her chickens under her wings. What a wonderful picture this is of God who will keep us safe. The sun shall not smite you by day or the moon by night says the Lord for I am your protector.

God will keep us safe from the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Without Gods protection we would be eaten alive by the prince of this air and his henchmen. “For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favour and honour; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless. Ps 84

We take this protection for granted, often giving no thought to Gods covering and shield around us. But there are times when Gods shield can be lifted and we can be exposed and naked. As I see it we can loose our shield in two ways. In both cases it is probably more accurate to say that God lifts the covering; meaning it is at his discretion.

Firstly; so we can be’ sifted. ’ Think of Job and Peter. It is recorded that Jesus said to Peter – “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat.” Luke 22. This is a very similar request that Satan made to God concerning Job, and in both cases Gods permission is given and the shield is lifted. God does not do this for sport or to have fun with his children; no, for it is for refining and shaping which God calls discipline. To which we are reminded that God disciplines those that he loves. “; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness.11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. Hebrews 12. In Jeremiah there is that wonderful picture that the prophet recorded of the potter at the wheel shaping a vessel until the potter deemed the vessel to be useful.

Secondly; so we can repent and return to God . Those children that cease to walk in righteousness God can at any time remove his shield from them. Again this is not because God is spiteful or callus or mean-spirited, but rather out of love; so that the fallen child will come to their senses in a far off country and return like the story of the Prodigal son. We see evidence of this illustrated in the history of Gods children as recorded in the Old Testament. “What more could have been done for my vineyard than I have done for it? When I looked for good grapes, why did it yield only bad? Now I will tell you what I am going to do to my vineyard: I will take away its hedge, and it will be destroyed; I will break down its wall, and it will be trampled.” Isaiah 5 Time and time again God used the surrounding nations to bring his chosen people back to him.

Which camps have you been in?

Those of us whom God is training to be in the vanguard of his return may we count it all joy that he has chosen you to be re-made into his holiness. Let us rejoice knowing that no test will destroy us for as Jesus also said to Peter –“But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail.” We have Jesus our faithful intercessor who will not forget us, as the writer in Hebrews reminds us - but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them. Heb 7

Praise God from whom all blessings flow, for in Jesus are all the promises of God to those that walk in his light.