Summary: Often we don't understand God's discipline. But take heart and struggle on. He is bringing you up as his dear child and has a wonderful goal in mind for you.
Text: Hebrews 12:4-13
Theme: Our Father's Discipline Achieves Eternal Good
A. His discipline reminds us of who we are
B. His discipline encourages us to struggle on
Season: Pentecost 13c
Date: August 22, 2010
Web page: http://hancocklutheran.org/sermons/Our-Father_s-Discipline-Achieves-Eternal-Good-Hebrews12_4-13.html
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen. The Word from God through which the Holy Spirit strengthens our patient endurance in Jesus is Hebrews 12.
"You have not yet resisted to the point of blood as you've struggled against sin. Now don't completely forget the encouragement which speaks with you as sons: "My son, do not make light of the Lord's discipline and don't give out when rebuked by it. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves and beats every son whom he accepts." Patiently endure, as discipline works toward its goal. God is dealing with you as sons. For what son is there whom a father doesn't discipline? Now if you are without discipline, which all have shared in, then you are illegitimate and not true sons.
"Furthermore, we used to have our human fathers as disciplinarians and we kept respecting them. So then will we not much more submit to the Father of the spirits and live? For they were disciplining us for a little while as seemed best to them, but he does it based on what's actually beneficial so that we share in his holiness. Now no discipline seems joyful in the present but grievous; nonetheless, it later yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness for those who have been trained by it.
"Therefore, restore the limp hands and disabled knees. Make straight pathways for your feet, so that the lame are not turned away but rather are healed. " (Hebrews 12:4-13)
Dear friends in Christ, fellow saints washed clean in the blood of our risen Savior:
"God's disciplining you!" I don't know how well I'd take those words during a time I was suffering. They could certainly come from a kind heart with good-intentions. But depending on who said them and how they were said, I could take them to be telling me: "You're only getting what you deserve. God's punishing you like a small child. He's not unfair. You must have done something. So buck up and get over it." That's basically what Job's friends told him as he sat their in agony with his body covered in sores -- not that my suffering has ever come anywhere close to his.
But, dear friends, that's not the message in the words from Hebrews 12. Rather to the contrary, as we take to heart what the Holy Spirit says through these words, we gain comfort, courage, and strength to bear up and patiently endure. For you see, our Father's discipline achieves eternal good.
With that theme in mind, we come to the first part: His discipline reminds us of who we are.
A. His discipline reminds us of who we are
Notice how God addresses us as he talks with us about his discipline. "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" (Hebrews 12:5, 6 NIV). His discipline reminds us of who we are: sons and daughters of God. We're not disciplined by some far away deity who punishes us at his whim, but we're disciplined by our Father. He treats us as his dear children, and what child is not disciplined by his parents? He treats you as his son, his daughter, for that is what you are through faith in Jesus.
Consider what his beloved apostles endured. The book of Acts tell us how they were imprisoned and flogged for speaking the Good News of forgiveness in Jesus. James, the brother of John, was behead by order of Herod. Think of the imprisonments, stonings, beatings, and threats that the Apostle Paul received in his missionary journeys. Church history tells us that all of the Apostle but John died a martyr's death. Their blood confessed Jesus as their Savior.
The writer reminds his readers, including us, that we have not suffered to that point. "In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood" (Hebrews 12:4). How much had these first readers endured for Christ? Chapter 10 tells us, "Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you stood your ground in a great contest in the face of suffering. Sometimes you were publicly exposed to insult and persecution; at other times you stood side by side with those who were so treated. You sympathized with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions" (Hebrews 10:32-34 NIV).