This week in the meeting for college students, we talked about the discipline of the Holy Spirit. Most of the fellowship was based on part of a chapter in the book Knowing Life and the Church by Witness Lee.
When I first read the title of our reading for the night, I was kind of scared. Wow, discipline. Really? I came here tonight to get disciplined? I should of stayed home.
But we actually had some really sweet fellowship.
Our reading starts off by saying “God’s arrangement, ordination, permission, and move in our environment are the discipline of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit rules over our environment, and He moves and arranges everything to break our person.”
Ouch. “Break our person.” That sounds awesome. Sign me up…not.
Further down the page, however, Romans 8:28 is referenced. “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” Usually, when I hear this verse, I think “Great. All things are going to work out for good. That means I’ll get an A on my test, none of my kids will go crazy today, all will be well.” But actually, that’s not the context of this verse. Romans 8 is all about freedom in the Spirit and the Christ who lives in us. Verse 17 says “And if children, heirs also; on the one hand, heirs of God; on the other, joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him that we may also be glorified with Him.” The verse following 8:28 says “Because those whom He foreknew, He also predestinated to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the Firstborn among many brothers.” So, according to these two verses, the good that is to be worked out in verse 28 is just the gaining of more God so that we can be full-grown sons of God, and even heirs of God.
In 2 Corinthians 12, Paul tells us that he petitioned the Lord three times to remove “a thorn in the flesh” (v. 7). This was not an actual thorn, but rather something in his environment or even a physical suffering arranged by God. I don’t know about you, but whenever there’s something in my environment that causes me to suffer, you better believe I’m praying to have it taken away. And you would think that Paul, someone who wrote 13 books of the New Testament, would surely be able to break through in prayer and miraculously turn a bad situation into a pleasant one.
But what was God’s reply to Paul’s thorn-removal request? “My grace is sufficient for you” (v. 9). Can you believe that? God wouldn’t even take away Paul’s thorn. PAUL’S. I mean, wouldn’t God want to take it away so that Paul would be able to do more? Write more? Travel more? Preach more? How could Paul do all those things if he was suffering?
This is why fellowshipping with others is so wonderful. The reading pointed out that “Our thorn (whatever it may be – family, work, roommates) will continue to pierce us, trouble us, and bother us. This is the environment that God has created to cause us to know the Lord’s grace and to experience the Lord’s power.” I find that the times I pray the most and rely on God the most is when I’m going through a difficult situation. Usually, when everything is smooth sailing I forget about God and live independently from His grace. No breaking. No conforming. But as soon as something pops up that gives me a hard time, I’m forced to turn to Him once again.
“If we submit ourselves to the Lord and receive this, we will meet the Lord within, and we will be blessed by having life as the power that carries us through and enables us to endure what we could not endure.” The Lord is so sweet. Every single person on this earth goes through difficult situations, but one thing I saw last night was that the difference between an unbeliever and a believer. A believer has the potential to gain God and experience God’s grace and power when he is going through a difficult situation. We don’t have to do anything! Hallelujah! We can just sit back and enjoy God. We don’t have to be like the unbelievers who struggle through hard times and have to rely on their own limited strength to carry them through. We have the almighty God who is just waiting for us to open up and call on Him so that He can be everything to us and meet our every need. This is a real enjoyment in the Christian life.