Inscription: Writing God’s Words on Our Hearts & Minds
Part 89: Strengthened Through Discipline
September 16, 2012
TEACHING KIDS THEIR PLACE
I am really excited about something we are starting today: On the 3RD SUNDAYS, we will have the 4th – 6th graders and up serving or being in church.
* Some are helping in the classrooms, others helping over here.
Talking to JANNA and HEATHER, we are all excited about this. We believe we are doing something UNIQUE here: Training our kids to be fully INTEGRATED and SERVING AS ADULTS.
* We will treat them with RESPECT as such.
* We will let them TRY and FAIL and LEARN as such.
This church would not exist if it weren’t for a YOUTH PASTOR who treated many of us that way. I would not be a pastor if it weren’t for my parents and ministries that did the same.
* If you want YOUR KIDS serving, let us know.
SCRIPTURE READING: Hebrews 12:7-10 (Keelie)
Q How often do you ask yourself “WHY is God doing this to me?”
At STARBUCKS, one of our partners was “on bar” (making drinks) and was going so slow it was killing me, especially since the customers were staring at me.
I finally got to SWITCH her OUT and I just could not get my act together: I was knocking over milk pitchers, the espresso machine was pulling bad shots, and I was mixing up drinks.
* At one point, I thought to GOD, “I bet you think you are HILARIOUS. But you’re NOT.”
Sometimes it’s TRIVIAL things, like catching every RED LIGHT, other times it is SERIOUS things – cancer, losing your job, having your spouse leave you.
* It is very natural to ask “WHY? Why me?”
The original READERS of HEBREWS were thinking the same thing: They were facing all the NORMAL PRESSURES and pains of life, and on top of that they were being PERSECUTED for their faith.
In light of all this, Hebrews offers some STRANGE ENCOURAGEMENT:
Hebrews 12:5-6 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, 6 because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.”
That’s a “word of encouragement”?!? I’d hate to see you on a bad day! But this is very encouraging:
As they read the OT, they knew that the NORMAL PATTERN was for God to bless you when you obeyed and for you to suffer when you sinned. Did their SUFFERING mean that they were SINNING?
Q Doesn’t THAT sound very familiar?
* When we suffer, it’s easy to think we did something WRONG – deep down we believe in KARMA more than GRACE.
With karma, you have the right to expect BLESSINGS when you do RIGHT and suffering when you do wrong. Karma isn’t simply CONSEQUENCES.
* Sometimes suffering is the RESULT of our sin.
* Sometimes suffering comes from WEAKNESS and growth areas.
* Sometimes they are NOT our FAULT at all.
That is DIFFERENT than GRACE vs. KARMA. Karma says “the reason I got caught in the SPEED TRAP is because I didn’t TIP.” “The reason I caught all GREEN LIGHTS is because I picked up TRASH.”
With GRACE, all sins are FORGIVEN by Christ’s sacrifice, we don’t PAY anything thing. There might be direct CONSEQUENCES, but not PUNISHMENT.
* So the encouragement is: This ISN’T KARMA.
* Take heart: HARDSHIPS don’t mean God HATES you, it means he LOVES you.
DON’T WASTE HARDSHIPS
Hebrews 12:7 Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father?
The key word here is “AS,” “for the purpose of” in Greek. Your hardships MAY or MAY NOT be a CONSEQUENCE of something you did, but you can still VIEW it as an OPPORTUNITY for DISCIPLINE.
* DISCIPLINE doesn’t mean punishment, it MEANS TRAINING.
Basically, Hebrews is far less interested in “WHY?” than “WHAT NOW?” Now that you are in hardship, how can God use it to make your BETTER, STRONGER, more LOVING, more DEPENDENT on him?
* That means that no hardship has to be POINTLESS; God can use a STUBBED TOE as discipline if you let him.
We waste so many HARDSHIPS because we see them as something to GET PAST rather than GROW THROUGH. We think, “When will this HEADACHE, FINANCIAL trouble, RELATIONSHIP trouble, be OVER so I can get back to NORMAL.”
* We want to get past the hardship and get back back to NORMAL, by which we mean “EASY,” but there is NO such THING as normal.
NORMAL LIFE is HARDSHIPS with the OCCASIONAL BREAKS, and we WASTE amazing OPPORTUNITIES if you are waiting for things to get back to “normal.”
* Being DISCIPLINED is NORMAL.
WHAT WE SIGNED UP FOR
Hebrews 12:8 If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons.
* How we RESPOND to hardships shows what we think of God and what we EXPECT from HIM – GOOD or EASY?
If you thought God PROMISED “EASY,” you were sold a bill of goods. There never was the promise of easy. In fact, the promise has always been GOD’S BEST, which requires DISCIPLINE.
* Because God CARES, he WORKS US HARDER (cf. talking to Starbucks partner because I wanted her to stay).
Basically, God wants BETTER for us than we want for ourselves. We want to be NICE PEOPLE who get along. He wants to present us to Christ as a GLORIOUS BRIDE.
WHAT WE SIGN OTHERS UP FOR
We need to be careful how we PRESENT FAITH to others, we can’t make it all about how MUCH BETTER LIFE is with Jesus.
* That would be like making the TREATS you get in the MARATHON the big selling feature.
Especially with our KIDS: Are we teaching them that Jesus makes EVERYTHING OKAY or that he is WITH US in the midst of it?
* HOW can WE MAKE the MOST of every hardship and not waste it?
MAKING THE MOST OF IT
Hebrews 12:9 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!
We SUBMIT to it. If you go KICKING and SCREAMING and POUTING, a tragedy can pull you FARTHER from God. In SUBMISSION and trust, a STUBBED TOE can teach us PATIENCE and KINDNESS under PRESSURE.
* Taken in the right attitude, a stubbed TOE can be more effective discipline than CANCER.
Here are the TWO BEST WAYS I know of to submit to discipline “and live!”:
1. Learn what can be learned
Every situation, taken in the right way, is a chance to LEARN. There are two great questions that will help us learn:
a. What SIN and/or WEAKNESS is this hardship aggravating?
* Catching every LIGHT: IMPATIENCE?
* SICKNESS: INDEPENDENCE from others?
* Lack of MONEY: Improper SPENDING?
b. What does God want me to LEARN?
* Catching every light: Smell the ROSES?
* Sickness: Call for HELP?
* Lack of money: Go to MARRIAGE RX?
2. Lean into God
More importantly, we need to let hardships send us to the FEET of JESUS. What we need MORE than MONEY, freedom from PAIN, good GRADES, or PUNCTUALITY is to fall at the feet of JESUS.
* HARDSHIP STRIPS away the PROPS we use to keep ourselves up, which will either send us to NEW PROPS or to HIM.
Hardships are an opportunity to FEEL his LOVE and LEARN DEPENDENCE.
Q How will you respond?
It amazes me how DIFFERENTLY TWO PEOPLE can respond to similar circumstances. Some grow CLOSER to God, others ABANDON him. It think that is caused by:
a. What you EXPECT from God (which is why we need to know DISCIPLINE is NORMAL and LOVING).
b. If you TRUST GOD to be good.
Q Do you trust God can and will WORK all THING to the good of those who love him and are called according to his purposes?
* E.G. my FEAR at doing this SERMON, but then “WHATEVER you have for me.”
* You have to PREPARE in ADVANCE by KNOWING his PURPOSES.
WHAT are God’s purposes for hardship?
Hebrews 12:10-11 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. 11 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.
Our PARENTS hopefully did their BEST, but even at their best made MISTAKES. Their discipline sometime came from MIXED MOTIVES, to make them look good.
* E.G.: The FORTIERS
But God makes no such mistakes. He doesn’t need to make himself FEEL GOOD about HIMSELF. He is not EMBARRASSED by you; he is able to discipline us “for OUR GOOD.”
* E.G. When my daughter hit her sister during BENEDICTION; had to discipline for HER SAKE, not my EMBARRASSMENT.
* Please text “Sunday School Teacher” ; service is almost over
This doesn’t mean it is fun, “no discipline SEEMS PLEASANT at the time.” But God’s goal is the LONG TERM effects:
* “The peaceable fruit of rightness.”
In other words, RIGHTEOUSNESS and HOLINESS bring PEACE. But peace is not the same thing as tranquility. It comes from the idea of shalom. The OPPOSITE of shalom is not war, but CHAOS.
* In the CREATION, the VOID over the earth was CHAOS, but rather than subdue it (in ANE MYTHS), God ORDERED it by his word.
In light of chaos, shalom is “WELL BEING,” it means “it is WELL with MY SOUL. Shalom does not mean LACK of TRIALS but PEACE in the MIDST of the STORM.
* OBEDIENCE, RIGHTEOUSNESS, RELATIONSHIP with God, don’t bring EASE, but SHALOM in the midst of the hardship.
This is God’s PURPOSE for us, not to make the troubles go away but to find COMPLETENESS and PEACE in him.
GET TO IT
Hebrews 12:12-13 Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. 13 “Make level paths for your feet,” so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.
Scripture is a continual BALANCING of GOD’S PART and YOURS – he FORGIVES, you REPENT. He ENABLES, you ACT. He DISCIPLINES, you get to it.
* You STRENGTHEN your arms and knees, he heals.
Q What hardships are you enduring now?
Q How can they be used for discipline?
Q & A