- Sermon Notes
The Instruction of the Lord
The writer is challenging them to arise in their faith and that applies to us as well. We need to run the race set before us and to run with endurance. In other words, there are many troubles and trials that come from the turbulence of life and, by faith, we run the race set before us, enduring many troubles.
They were being pressured and even persecuted by the other Jews in Jerusalem to go back to the ways of the Old Testament, back to the laws of Moses, and instead of giving in, instead of giving up, they needed to press on and be stronger in their faith.
In chapter 10 he wrote, “You have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised.” Enduring trouble is part of faith. At least it should be.
In chapter 11 he reminded them of Moses who chose to endure ill-treatment with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin; considering the reproach of Christ greater riches than all the treasures of Egypt; for he was looking to the reward. He endured much ill-treatment because of faith.
Moses had everything a man in the world could want. He grew up as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. He had position, he had privilege, he had access to wealth and all the accouterments that come with it, and no doubt he could have had as many wives as he wanted. But he wanted more than that; those things are all tied to the world, his sights were heavenward.
In chapter 12 he connects the enduring of trouble and trials to the discipline and instruction of the Lord. In other words, God uses difficulties for our instruction; it strengthens faith when we look to Him in the midst of the storm.
But if they shrink back, if they give in to the pressures and persecution and go backward in their faith, they can be sure that they will receive discipline from the Lord, for those whom the Lord loves He disciplines.
And in a same way, God is also our Father and if He brings discipline, it is for our instruction, it’s to strengthen our faith, it’s for our good.
- The word ‘discipline’ comes from the root word for disciple. In other words, a disciple is someone who is learning from his master. Someone who receives discipline is receiving instruction.
- He uses the analogy of a father who disciplines his son because of his love for that son.
Ephesians 6:4, And, fathers,… bring your children up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
- It’s interesting that he specifically calls out fathers. God wants fathers to be engaged in raising up their children. Many delegate this to their wives. I can’t tell you how many wives are asking for the husbands to be invested in their family.
Illus - When we got pregnant with our first child, I decided I wanted to be involved as much as possible. I even wanted to be the one who delivered the baby – and the doctor let me!
- There is an aspect of faith that is part of receiving instruction, knowing that God intends good for us.
Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans that I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans for welfare and not for calamity, to give you a future and a hope.”
- Our ways often get us in trouble; but by faith, trust that the discipline of the Lord is good.
Proverbs 14:12, There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.
Illus - It’s like when a teenager comes to the point when he realizes that his parents really do have good judgment and says, “Mom and dad, your wisdom is high, I cannot attain to it, please speak, for your child is listening.”
- Okay, maybe that’s a stretch, but, in verse 5, when he writes, “Do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,” he means the same thing. Regard the discipline and instruction of the Lord as a serious matter because God is for you.
- The key is to have a teachable and sensitive heart to welcome His authority in your life.
- That’s the key, that makes all the difference between someone who is growing in faith and someone who is resisting the Holy Spirit at every turn.
Illus - When Stephen was arrested in Acts 7 he gave a speech before the Council where he went through the history of Israel…
Acts 7:51, “You men are stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears are always resisting the Holy Spirit; you are doing just as your fathers did.”
- A person who is stiff-necked doesn’t want God’s hand on their neck, but the person who is teachable and sensitive welcomes God’s hand of authority.
- The idea of being stiff-necked really comes from a plowman that would direct oxen by pressing a pole on their necks. If an ox was hard to control or stubborn, it was stiff-necked.
- Don’t resist the hand of God on your neck or on your heart; don’t “kick against the goads.”
Psalm 32:8-9, I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you. Do not be as the horse or as the mule which have no understanding, whose trappings include bit and bridle to hold them in check.
B. Don’t faint when God reproves
- Verse 5 – Don’t faint when you are reproved by Him; for those whom the Lord loves He disciplines.
- In other words, don’t respond poorly to the discipline and instruction of the Lord. Instead, receive God’s training with a good heart.
- Some people withdraw from the Lord and withhold their heart because they’re angry.
Illus - One of our girls needed correction, which was strong enough to get a surprising reaction, “I don’t love you anymore,” she said. I responded, “Loving me is not required, but obeying me is.”
- She was overreacting and became angry.
- Sometimes people get angry with God, too, but it only hurts us when we pull away from Him. If we get angry with God, it only shows how little we understand of His love, His goodness, and His purpose for our lives.
- Sometimes people get angry with God when they don’t understand why something happens. I can’t tell you how many times over the last two years our granddaughter has asked us that very question – why.
- But here again faith is the answer. By faith we trust that God can bring beauty out of ashes and that His plans for us are to give us a future and a hope.
Isaiah 61:1-3, The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the afflicted; to bind up the brokenhearted… To proclaim the favorable year of the Lord… to grant those who mourn in Zion, giving them a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting. They will be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.
II. The Lord Deals with You as Sons
- Verse 7 – it is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline?
- By faith we believe in God’s heart for us; that he deals with us as a father loves his children.
- Therefore, there is a lot to learn about our relationship to God by understanding how a good, good father relates to his children.
A. First, God brings correction
- Most Christians will tell you that God gave them a warning to correct their course before they made that bad decision. How many here would say the same?
- The Lord corrected the disciples several times for their lack of faith;
Illus - When the disciples were crossing the Sea of Galilee in the middle of the night through a raging storm, the Lord came up to them walking on the sea. Peter said, “Lord, since it is You, command me to come out to You on the water.” But when he saw the wind and the waves he became afraid and began to sink, crying out, “Lord save me!”
Matthew 14:31, Immediately Jesus took hold of him, and said, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?”
- If Peter had little faith, what did the rest of them have? Jesus wanted to encourage Peter to have more faith so He said this word of correction.
- … and when necessary, the Lord could also bring a sharp rebuke.
Matthew 16:23, Turning to Peter He said, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s.”
B. God may bring a correcting storm
- There are many types of storms that come into our lives. Certainly storms can be terrible and frightening. We even name storms so we can distinguish one storm from another.
Illus - Some names of hurricanes just don’t seem appropriate; there was Hurricane Fiona, and Hurricane Richard; that’s just not right. Then there was Hurricane Igor, that one was named perfectly.
- There are ‘protecting storms,’ where we think we’re being blown off course, but in reality God is protecting us and taking us where we need to be.
- There are ‘perfecting storms,’ where God uses the storm to increase faith and to see His great power and authority.
- But then there are ‘correcting storms.’ Sometimes the only way a person can learn, at least we hope they learn, is by going through hardship. For some people, that is the only way; they have to hit bottom.
- Probably the classic example would be Jonah who was running from God’s purpose and direction in his life. Then there was the prodigal son in Luke 15 who spent his entire inheritance on worldly living, and after he had spent it all a famine hit the land and he couldn’t even find a job.
- But God used it…
Luke 15:17-19, When he came to his senses, he said… ‘I will get up and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son; take me as one of your hired men.”’
- The Lord knows what it takes and if we have to hit bottom to get our attention, then we will. The Lord knows what it takes and there’s no manipulating Him.
Illus - When I was a young boy and misbehaved to the point where I would need a spanking, I tried to get mom to laugh in the hope that my discipline would be much less severe… But that never works with God.
Galatians 6:7-9, Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for that which a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.
C. God’s purpose is to share His holiness
- Verse 10 – they disciplined us for a short time as seem best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, that we may share His holiness.
- First of all, when God disciplines us as sons, it proves that we are legitimate, adopted sons and daughters… Verse 8 – If you are without discipline, then you are illegitimate children and not sons.
- You don’t discipline other people’s children you see misbehaving at the mall (though I have wanted too many times). No, you discipline your own children because you love them and are for them.
Illus - I had many corrective conversations with my teenage children that would come down to this question, “Am I for you or am I against you?” God is always for us.
- When God disciplines us so that we might share in His holiness, there are two parts to that verse.
- First, He wants to save us from many troubles.
- Second, He wants to build in us His holiness. What is the holiness of God? It is the character of God. When we share in His holiness, we are sharing in His character.
- God wants us to increase in patience, in love, in forgiveness, in mercy, in kindness, because when we lack these things we make many troubles for ourselves and fall short of what He desires in our lives.
2 Peter 1:5-8, In your faith supply moral excellence… and godliness, and brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, supply love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Hebrews 12:5-13 NASB