Hebrews 12: 5
“My child, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his own.”
Some mornings it feels like your neck is screwed on top of your body the wrong way. Relief comes only through monthly physical therapy where a therapist tugs and kneads every sinew and muscle fiber back into obedience. Your neck and shoulder muscles have begun to weaken as you creep toward middle age. Your therapist shows you examples of simple, quick exercises you can do daily to strengthen them to alleviate a lot of pain.
But you have ignored those, the Lord said to me, simply because you don’t want to. Your mother had exactly the same muscle pain issues and as she headed into her menopausal years, yet she refused to allow osteoporosis to destroy her posture. Multiple times, she showed you the daily exercises that worked for her and scolded you for your on-going dependence on physical therapy. She was disciplined in her exercise and fitness routine well into her 70s.
Did you know that the image of “stiff-necked” comes from steering a draft animal in ancient times? The demanding tasks of plowing, threshing, and pulling cars and chariots employed the strength of horses, donkeys and oxen. Through the use of harness, yoke, and rein, the rider or driver put pressure on the draft animal’s neck in order to turn it this way or that. An animal that resisted these commands was said to have a stiff neck. So when humans exhibit resistance, they, too can be called stiff-necked.” (The Baker Illustrated Guide to Everyday Life in Bible Times; John A. Beck; 2013)
Did you know that I called the Israelites a “stiff-necked people?” I was ready to destroy them all and start fresh with Moses, but Moses intervened and I spared the people. Exodus 32:9-10 “I have seen these people,” the Lord said to Moses, “and they are a stiff-necked people. Now leave me alone so that my anger may burn against them and that I may destroy them. Then I will make you into a great nation. But Moses sought the favor of the Lord . . . then the Lord relented and did not bring on his people the disaster he had threatened.” These first uses of the expression reveal just how serious this condition is: stiff-necked people are thoroughly rebellious people who live within a hair’s breadth of My destruction.
This is no different from your own refusal to discipline yourself in terms of diet, exercise, and spending time with me.
You live in a culture where there is easy, convenient access to all kinds of pleasure, but not all pleasure is necessarily beneficial to growing spiritually. 1 Corinthians 10:23: “I have the right to do anything,” you say – but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything” – but not everything is constructive.”
What do you need to add or cut out in your daily routine that will ultimately be more beneficial in your relationship with me? What is sapping your energy rather than giving you energy? Please make wiser choices with how you spend your time, so that you devote some to Me every day. I’m always here, waiting for you, and My mercies are new every morning. You’ll need My encouragement for what you will face this week and this month. Discipline strengthens you spiritually, mentally and physically, and prepares you to do battle with the Father of Lies. When you do not obey My discipline in your specific areas, your end result is a woundedness that our enemy uses against you.
You must thank Me for My willingness to intervene in the middle of your undisciplined painful mess and push and pull those weakened neck muscles back into place. I will gently speak to your spirit in the middle of physical therapy and inspire you to change. Listen to My prompting in other areas of your life.
How much pain, anxiety and struggle comes from not doing what I am prompting you to do? What small change could you make in your daily routine over a long period of time that would benefit your walk with Me? Where do you sense the need to add some discipline, or new habits to your routine? Make wise choices.
Thank you, Heavenly Father, for your loving discipline over your people. Help me change my thinking and my attitude and re-prioritize how I spend my time. Help me set my mind on things above and not allow the changing whims of culture to influence me. Thank you that your mercies are new every morning. Amen.