December 23 - 29
To Make a Disciple
DISCIPLINE IS NOT SYNONYMOUS WITH PUNISHMENT. A disciple is a convinced follower of a school of thought or an individual teacher. One who is disciplined is also a disciple (the two words share the same root) and comes to reflect characteristics of the mentor.
Christians are disciples of Christ. Are children disciples of their parents? If parents were to see their job as making disciples, how would their methods of discipline change? If parents understood discipline to be the whole, broad spectrum of instruction and experience, and if their correction were redemptive rather than punitive, what could be the results to those disciplined.
To be trained like animals is not God's plan. "Every human being, created in the image of God, is endowed with a power akin to the Creatorindividuality, power to think and to do. . . . It is the work of true education to develop this power, to train the youth to be thinkers, and not mere reflectors of other men's thought."Education, p. 17.
What is the goal of discipline? Do we ever grow out of being a disciple? Why do we need correction at all? And what is it that God wants from us? Discussion of these questions should provide valuable insight for all of us, for we are all disciples.
THE WEEK AT A GLANCE:
I. Parenting (Prov. 22:6).
II. Discipling (Prov. 3:11, 12; 13:24).
III. Despise Not Correction (Prov. 12:15).
IV. What God Hates (Prov. 6:16-19).
V. Heart Work (Prov. 3:1).
MEMORY TEXT: My child, do not forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments (Proverbs 3:1, NRSV).
"To parents is committed the great work of educating and training their children for the future, immortal life. . . . No work ever undertaken by man requires greater skill than the proper training and education of youth and children."Child Guidance, pp. 38, 39.
What is the meaning of the action word train in Proverbs 22:6?
Other versions read: "Teach a child how he should live, and he will remember it all his life" (TEV).
"Teach a child to choose the right path, and when he is older he will remain upon it" (TLB).
"Train up a child in the way he should go [and in keeping with his individual gift or bent], and when he is old he will not depart from it." According to Cynthia Tobias of Learning Styles Unlimited, the original Hebrew of the verb translated "train" is used uniquely in Proverbs 22:6. It referred to the clearing out of the mouth of a newly born baby, and meant, "Create an environment for life."
Thus, we could understand the verse to mean, "Create an environment for life for a child, in keeping with his gifts or bent, and when he is old he will not depart from it."
What relationships between children and parents do the following passages speak of?
Prov. 10:1 _________________________________________________________________________
Prov. 27:11 ________________________________________________________________________
Prov. 28:7 _________________________________________________________________________
Prov. 29:15 ________________________________________________________________________
Prov. 30:11-14 ________________________________________________________________
The last phrase of Proverbs 22:6 states a general principle to which there are exceptions. God gives freedom of choice. We all decide our own destiny. Thus, negligence or faulty parenting is not necessarily to blame for wayward offspring. God Himself lost one-third of His angel family through no fault of His own.
|Aside from parental guidance, name some of the influences that instruct your child. How do these influences work, and why are they so influential?|
How does Proverbs 3:11, 12 and 13:24 suggest we should discipline children?
God loves us; He has only our best good at heart. Therefore, and to that end, He disciplines us. We should follow His example in the way we discipline our children.
"To direct a child's development without hindering it by undue control should be the study of both parent and teacher. Too much management is as bad as too little. The effort to 'break the will' of a child is a terrible mistake. Minds are constituted differently; while force may secure the outward submission, the result with many children is a more determined rebellion of the heart. Even should the parent or teacher succeed in gaining the control he seeks, the outcome may be no less harmful to the child. . . . The will should be guided and molded, but not ignored or crushed. Save the strength of the will; in the battle of life, it will be needed."Education, pp. 288, 289.
When all else has failed, physical punishment may be necessary. But violent physical abuse is contrary to the spirit of Christ and is counterproductive in itself. Punishment administered in anger only creates bitterness, resentment, and future problems for all concerned. "And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath," "don't overcorrect your children or make it difficult for them to obey the commandment" (Eph. 6:4, TEV, Philips).
"Do not provoke." "This negative advice is essential if the obedience required of the children is to rest on a moral basis. The parallel passage in Colossians gives the reason for this admonition: 'Lest they be discouraged' (Col. 3:21)."The SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 6, p. 1041.
"There is great strength and blessing in praying together in our families, with and for our children. When my children have done wrong, and I have talked with them kindly and then prayed with them, I have never found it necessary after that to punish them. Their hearts would melt in tenderness before the Holy Spirit that came in answer to prayer."Child Guidance, p. 525.
If you are a parent, can you say that the training you are giving your children is helping to make them faithful disciples of Christ? Examine your heart and your conduct to determine how you need to improve your child training.
|How do the basic principles by which we should train our children relate to manager-employee and teacher-student relationships? How do the same principles affect the manner in which a church should discipline unfaithful members?|
Independence is an instinctive aspect of human nature. We feel that we can handle situations alone quite successfully. In our haste to do things our own way, we ignore Christ. God exercises much patience with His self-deceived, self-reliant children.
What does God know about our choices that we tend to forget? Prov. 16:25 (compare Jer. 10:23).
Jesus said," 'Without Me you can do nothing,' "(John 15:5, NKJV). But by relying on Him, we can do everything we need to do. (See Phil. 4:13.) A disciplined disciple studies His Word to understand His will, chooses to follow that will, and relies on His power to resist temptation. Discipline also has practical, everyday connections, for God wants our temporal lives to be successful, even as the spiritual lives prosper. (See 3 John 2.) This level of discipline will not look the same for everyone due to the different needs and temperaments of each individual. But whatever your struggle, take it to God and keep growing. As victory comes, it will be sweet.
But "fools think their own way is right" (Prov. 12:15) and "there is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death" (Prov. 15:25, NIV; see also 13:18; 29:21). The last chapters of the book of Judges provide a tragic illustration of these verses: "In those days there was no king in Israel; all the people did what was right in their own eyes" (17:6, NRSV). There is no record of anyone following the counsel of Jehovah. Confusion and violence reigned.
But God is never caught off-guard; He is still the Ruler and Over-ruler. "Above the distractions of earth He sits enthroned; all things are open to His divine survey; and from His great and calm eternity He orders that which His providence sees best."The Ministry of Healing, p. 417.
What kind of instruction does Proverbs 16:22 urge us to avoid?
Isaiah 8:20 invites us to test all counsel by the teachings of the Bible, and John 14:26 encourages us to seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit in every situation. If we are listening, God has ways to get through to us. The Bible is the ultimate test (see Isa. 8:20), and the Holy Spirit will guide us into all truth (John 16:13). There still may be "gray areas" when we do not know exactly what to do; but where we have a "Thus saith the Lord," "openmindedness" to a contradicting philosophy is no virtue.
|Ask yourself, What kind of instruction am I allowing to shape my life? Is it helping me along the right road?|
List some of the things that are especially hateful to God.
|Text||The Things God Hates|
|Prov. 20:10, 19, 20, 22|
"A proud look" (Prov. 6:17). "Self-exaltation prevents a man from confessing his sin and humbling his soul before God. As long as it persists, salvation is impossible. The proud man is barred from the gates of life just as surely as if God hated him (see Job 21:22; Ps. 18:27 )."The SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 3, p. 967.
Children sing in Sabbath School, "Jesus loves me when I'm good, when I do the things I should; Jesus loves me when I'm bad, tho' it makes Him very sad." Is this true? Indeed it is! God loves the sinner but not the sin. The great problem in salvation is how to save the sinner without saving (and thus perpetuating) the sin. God, however, found a way of escape for us. Jesus died to give us another chance at life. Through the provisions of the Cross we can be made free from "the law of sin and death" (Rom. 8:2).
There are those who become so bound to sin that it is inseparable from them. When the sin is destroyed, they must be destroyed with it.
What attitude does the Lord have toward religious practices that are not motivated by our love for Him? Prov. 15:8; 21:27; 28:9.
The sacrifices and prayers of pretenders are worthless to God. They are a farce. Gifts and righteous works do not earn favor in heaven for the unrepentant. God is not bought. And what does He want, besides our hearts?
But when sinners acknowledge their need and accept Christ's merits, they are no longer considered sinners. Their prayers are welcome, for God has promised, "Anyone who comes to Me I will never drive away" (John 6:37, NKJV).
|Why do you engage in certain religious practices? Does tradition dictate that you do so? Or, is it because you truly love the Lord?|
What problem persisted among God's chosen people in both Old Testament times and during the period when Jesus walked among them? Isa. 29:13, 14; Matt. 15:7-9. To what extent does this problem still exist today? Rev. 3:14-20.
We are Laodicea. Our problem stems from the spiritual condition of our hearts. We are lukewarm. If we were cold, the Lord says we would be better off. We would be more likely to wake up, recognize our pathetic condition, and seek His help. If our heart were truly filled with His Spirit, we would be "hot." Too often we attempt to change by attempting to conform to mere rules and regulations without genuine heart surrender to God.
Where does God begin the work of transformation? "My child, do not forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments" (Prov. 3:1, NRSV). (See also Prov. 23:26; Rom. 12:2.) Having our names on church membership books is not enough. "Profession is as nothing in the scale. It is character that decides destiny."Christ 's Object Lessons, p. 74.
The majority of God's people still worship in churches around us, waiting to be called out by the moving invitation of the Holy Spirit. (See Rev. 18:1-4; The Great Controversy, pp. 390, 464; Testimonies for the Church, vol. 8, p. 41.) If we seek Him with all our heart, the Lord will pour upon us the Holy Spirit so that we will have the spiritual power to reach honest souls who need to hear the final invitation of mercy.
What remedy for our condition does the Great Physician offer? Ezek. 36:26, 27 (compare Rom. 7:14, 24, 25).
"Who can say, 'I have kept my heart pure; I am clean and without sin'?" (Prov. 20:9, NIV). No one can make such a claim. "For all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God" (Rom. 3:23). "Be not discouraged because your heart seems hard. Every obstacle, every internal foe, only increases your need of Christ. He came to take away the heart of stone, and give you a heart of flesh. Look to Him for special grace to overcome your peculiar faults."Messages to Young People, p. 112.
|The Lord's plea to us is: "Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life" (Prov. 4:23, NIV). Today, hear Him making that plea to you personally. Pray to Him now that He will help you to guard your heart, the wellspring of eternal life with Him.|
FURTHER STUDY: Review an incident in David's life that illustrates the principles of discipline we studied in this week's lesson: 2 Samuel 11-12:1-25; Psalm 51. Name the specific principles involved. How can you illustrate these principles in your life?
Read "Discipline," pp. 287-297 in Education.
"Trials and obstacles are the Lord's chosen methods of discipline and His appointed conditions of success. He who reads the hearts of men knows their characters better than they themselves know them. He sees that some have powers and susceptibilities which, rightly directed, might be used in the advancement of His work. In His providence He brings these persons into different positions and varied circumstances that they may discover in their character the defects which have been concealed from their own knowledge. He gives them opportunity to correct these defects and to fit themselves for His service. Often He permits the fires of affliction to assail them that they maybe purified.
"The fact that we are called upon to endure trial shows that the Lord Jesus sees in us something precious which He desires to develop."The Ministry of Healing, p. 471.
SUMMARIZE this week's lesson by answering the following personal questions: *Do I represent God accurately to the children with whom I have contact? Do I combine love, justice, mercy, and truth in all my dealings with them?
*How do I learn to depend on Christ to direct my steps? How can I come to the point of accepting His leading in my life?
*Do I learn from the experience of others, or do I insist on trying everything myself?
*How will my life change when I cease living it my own independent way and allow God to recreate me as a true disciple in the image of His Son?
It is exciting and faith strengthening to see how powerful God is and the miraculous manner in which He guards His truths and His people when it will bring glory to His name.
The church in Terchire, Ghana, is young. And Ghanaians, as with many other cultures in Africa, are strongly influenced by dreams and miracles.
Stephen Badu is the youthful first elder of the church. Recently he became seriously ill. He was sent to several doctors and even hospitals for treatment, but the doctors could not diagnose his illness. He could neither eat nor drink, and he rapidly grew weaker. Eventually doctors declared that the illness was "spiritual" and sent Badu home to die. Soon he fell into a coma.
To see their beloved elder lying near death at such a young age was a blow to the members' faith. The church elders called all the church board members to take part in three days of fasting and intercessory prayer on Badu's behalf. Immediately nearly all of the church members joined in the fasting and prayer vigil.
The church planned to end the fast with an evening prayer watch for the entire church. But before the fast ended word came that Stephen Badu had died. Friends urged the church members to cease their fasting and praying. But the determined believers refused to give up. They claimed God's promise that "nothing is impossible with God" (Luke 1:37, NIV).
As the three days of fasting and prayer ended, Stephen Badu, who had been pronounced dead, regained consciousness. Witnesses reported that he sat up and asked for something to eat. Doctors who had declared his case hopeless cannot explain his sudden revival except that it is a miracle.
Today Badu is alive and well, as fit as a soldier, and working for Christ. Word of the miraculous way in which he was healed brought many visitors to the church. They wanted to see for themselves the power of God that these Adventist believers called down from heaven. So far four people have been baptized who first came inquiring about Badu's healing.
John Osei Acheampong is a member of the Terchire Seventh-day Adventist Church in Ghana.
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Last updated November 13, 2000.