"THE BLESSINGS OF DISCIPLINE"
(A Series on Hebrews)
Westgate Chapel 2/25/90 a.m. (9/11/97) Hebrews 12:4-13
PROPOSITION: The high calling and eternal consequence of the kingdom of God in our lives warrants the use of discipline by our heavenly Father who speaks of it in His Word, uses it because of His love for us, and fulfills in us His holiness, righteousness and training.
- TEN times, in Hebrews 11, we read that the men and women of faith lived with a certainty for a God whose kingdom they did not see.
- NOW that is not easy to do.
- WE live in a visual world. We are dominated by visual images. We are stimulated by visual images. Madison Avenue sells us what we need and what we don't need based on visual stimulation.
- OH, many of us read Consumer Reports, but we are tremendously influenced by what the car looks like, or the boat, or the house (curb appeal), or the suit.
- BUT when it comes to the most significant part of our lives.....the only part of our lives that will have eternal consequence.....life and death hanging in the balance.....it is a kingdom for which we have no visual images.
- THAT is why faith is so crucial. Do we really believe? Are we living like we believe in a kingdom we have never seen?
- OR is the visual world so dominating our lives that instead of living here like strangers, we are living as if this is all there is.
- NOW living as if this is all there is, is OK as long as things are going great. But what happens when hardship and difficulty hits our lives? Where is our security, our purpose when we are in tough times? How real is our faith then?
- THE believers to whom the book of Hebrews was written had run into hard times and didn't know how to deal with life. Some had lost family over their Christian faith. Some had lost their livelihood. Others had lost home, country and future and didn't know where to turn.
- MANY of them were giving up.
- IT is rough running into hard times.
- IT is even worse when you don't know what is happening and you don't see any purpose in it all.
- AND that is where the writer of Hebrews directs his attention, in 12:4-13.
- HE establishes that during those hard times, God is doing the work of the unseen kingdom in our lives that will have eternal consequence.
- LET'S read it for ourselves starting in verse 4.
ii. god's word on discipline
- HE says,
"In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons: "My son, do not make light of the Lord's discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son." (vv4-6)
- WHAT must have happened is that these believers had allowed the world to creep into their lives and they were not in deadly earnest about the kingdom of God in their lives.....enough to be actively resisting sin.
- MANY had resisted sin even when it cost them their very lives. These believers had not.
- HALF-HEARTEDNESS towards the God they could not see had put them in jeopardy, and God was using hard times to bring them back on course.
- AND it appears that many of them had not counted on hard times. They didn't realize that the race would be this tough, and were thinking about dropping out.
- THEY had forgotten what God's Word had to say about those tough times and places in our lives.
* April 15 had rolled around and they had no idea where the shortfall in taxes would come from.
* Boeing was laying off, and they were next in seniority for the cut.
* King County had their building plans, and there was no guarantee when they would have a home again.
* The lab results were back and the doctors were concerned about an abnormality they found.
* Stress levels around the house had reached an all time high, and relationships in the family were like two bare 220 wires waiting to be touched together.
* Depression had set in and there was no more joy in living.
* Fear gripped their hearts and uncertainty concerning the future.
* After working as hard as you could on an assignment at school, or at work, you got the worst review......and you thought you had done your best.
* The family car was on its last legs. The roof on the house had a new leak. And last week you got your third speeding ticket in a year.
- THINGS have a way of piling up on you, and you wonder what is going on. You wonder if God cares any more. If He did, surely He would not allow all of this to happen to you at the same time.
- WHAT is needed at times like this is the Word of God concerning what is going on in your life.
- WHAT is the Word of God concerning your trials? You need an anchor that will hold your life during the time of the storm.
- THERE is a Word of encouragment concerning what you are going through
- IN our "struggle against this life of sin" verses 4-6 shows us three fairly typical responses to hard times in the lives of the believers of that time.
1. Some were indifferent (verse 5 calls it "making light"). They didn't know what was going on and their response was to turn it all off. They had as good as given up already and they didn't care. They weren't looking for God. They weren't looking for anything. They were just existing.....as if God were not in all of their lives.
2. Some were overwhelmed (verse 5 calls it "losing heart"). Since there seemed to be no purpose that they could see in their trials, they were like a man overboard in high seas. They were numb with the pain of it all. They were beyond feeling.
3. Some see it as the hand of God (verse 6 calls it the "love of God" at work, so the believer can rejoice in all things).
- YOU are not part of some random, haphazard series of events. Your life is not an accident.
- GOD is at work in all the parts that make up the whole of your life (Romans 8:28 says "all things").
- GOD'S Word assures us that there is nothing accidental about anything in the life of men and women of faith.....especially in the time of trial.
iii. god's care in the discipline
- THE amazing thing about these verses is that the author identifies the hardship, the trial, the difficult time as a proof of the love of God towards us. For the Christian, every trial says, "God cares! He loves you! He is proving He is your real Father!"
- (Tell story about refridgerator and sticking tongue out at my Mom.......Dad's discipline was his love in curbing a spirit of strife and rebellion against all authority that cripples our lives. I didn't appreciate it at the time, or see the long range benefits. But it was his love for me and my future that produced most of his discipline.)
- HERE is what we learn of God's care in the hard times that we experience.
1. God values you as a true son or daughter ( verses 7 and 8 say,)
"Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father?If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons."
2. God corrects His children (verse 9 says,)
"Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live!"
* He knows you intimately and sees your potential.
* He knows the eternal consequences of your choices and decisions.
* He has your eternity in view in His discipline.
3. God equips His children.
* He is preparing you for eternity through the discipline that He allows in your life.
- I KNOW it is hard to accept and incorporate into our lives, but that trial, that hardship, is evidence of the love on God. It is because He cares for you.
iv. GOD has a purpose in the discipline
- WHAT is God doing in your life through that trial you are in?
- UNFORTUNATELY there are times that as earthly parents, our discipline is capricious, arbitrary and a release for our own anger.
- BUT God's discipline always has pure purposes and is administered in love for our good....not as a release for His anger. Nahum 2:1 says that HE has reserved His wrath for His enemies.
- NO, there are holy purposes in all that the Father does in my life and yours.
- VERSES 10 and 11 tell us.
"Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness.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."
- FIRST, there is immediate benefit to the discipline. We share in His holiness.
* There is a seperation between the holy and the profane in the kingdom of God.
* And while our sin is removed by faith in Jesus Christ, it is still His goal and ours that we live a holy life as followers of Jesus Christ.
* And that takes training and discipline.
- SECOND, there is the ultimate outcome of discipline in a harvest of righteousness and peace.
* Now, harvests don't happen as soon as the seed is in the ground. It takes time.
- LASTLY, the permanent effect of the discipline of the Lord is that we are trained by it.....in other words, we are equipped for this life and the life to come by the work of the Lord in our lives. He works with eternity in view.
- DIVINE purposes in time of hardship.
- NOW, the conclusion to this message is covered in verses 12 & 13.
"Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees.Make level paths for your feet," so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed."
- LET me paraphrase. "Since this discipline that has discouraged you is for eternal benefit......lift up your hands that hang down limply.....strengthen your knees that are idle....and make tracks for the kingdom.....because there are those who are waivering between which direction to take for their lives who are watching you......and they need to be healed not eternally crippled.
GREAT IS THY FAITHFULNESS