05 Sep Hebrews 20: God’s training ground
Hebrews 12:3-17 – 3 Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. 4 In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. 5 And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. 6 For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” 7 It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? 8 If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. 9 Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. 11 For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
12 Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, 13 and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed. 14 Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. 15 See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled; 16 that no one is sexually immoral or unholy like Esau, who sold his birthright for a single meal. 17 For you know that afterward, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no chance to repent, though he sought it with tears.
One of my favourite comedies of all time is the movie “Click”. It is Adam Sandler at his best. If you have not watched it, do whatever it takes to watch it. Just don’t download it illegally. What makes a good comedy? A good comedy not only make you laugh, but it also makes you cry. I watched Click several times and there was not a single time where I was not in tears. So watch it. After this service. Not while you are listening to this sermon. Or else you will be struck by lightning. But do take some time to watch it. You won’t be disappointed. Let me try to give you a synopsis of the story without any spoilers. A man named Michael Newman is a hardworking architect who loves his family and his job. And like every hardworking father out there, he struggles to find the right balance between work and family. He wants to be with his family but at the same time, he also wants to please his boss. This creates frustration and lots of conflict in his life. Till one day, he meets a mysterious man, named Morty, who gives him a universal remote control. What’s amazing about this remote control is it allows him to fast forward and rewind his life. So, every time he is faced with a difficult situation, all he needs to do is click fast forward. And before he knows it, the situation is already over. Just think about it. How amazing it is for us to have that remote control. Exam, fast forward. Work, fast forward. Fight with a spouse or parents, fast forward. Broken heart, fast forward. School, fast forward. Lockdown, fast forward. Holiday, rewind. Right? That’s how we like life to be. We want to enjoy all the good parts without experiencing the difficult parts.
Timothy Keller made a very interesting observation of the culture that we live in. He said, “There has never been a culture who are less equipped to deal with the brutality pain of life than ours.” And I think he is right. Our culture is becoming less and less equipped to deal with the hardship of life. Today, we want everything to be as easy as possible. That’s why we have apps for everything. There is an app for us to order our coffee at the coffee shop so we don’t have to wait. There is an app for us to tell a random person with a random car to pick us up at a random place and take us to a random destination. There is an app for us to find the nearest public bathroom. There is even an app for singles to find another single to mingle with. Swipe right if we like what we see, and swipe left if we do not like what we see. I installed the app many years ago. True story. But let me be clear. I was not desperate. I was simply curious why so many people raved about this dating app. I deleted the app the next day. Don’t judge me. The point is that we live in a culture that is not equipped to deal with the hardship of life.
I mean, we love the happy part of the Christian life. We love to hear that God is gracious and loving and kind and slow to anger. We love to hear that God is all about restoration and healing and a bright future. To which I say “Amen” to all the above. But there is another side of the Christian life that is unpopular. One that we often don’t enjoy and delight in. It is the difficult part. It is the part that if we could, we want to click fast forward and get it over with. But if we’ve been walking with Jesus for a while, then we know that it is in hardship that we grow the most in our relationship with Jesus. It is in hardship that we experience his sweet tender love. Whoever tells us that following Jesus is easy has never followed Jesus. Jesus did not come to make our life better. Jesus came to show us that he is better than life. And hardship in life is oftentimes when we experience that Jesus is indeed better than life.
Remember the context of the book of Hebrews. The recipients of the letter were Jewish Christians who struggled to follow Jesus. They were persecuted by both the Government and their Jewish communities. They experienced rejection from people around them. They were under tremendous stress. Some of them became weary and started to lose heart. And without a doubt, the question that came to their mind was, “If God is good, why did he allow us to go through this hardship?” And the author of Hebrews tells us the answer in this passage. And if I can sum up this sermon in one sentence, it is this. The best response toward hardship is not to run from God but to run to God because he is our loving sovereign Father.
I separated this sermon into three different parts: The proof; The purpose; The plan.
Hebrews 12:3-8 – 3 Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. 4 In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. 5 And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. 6 For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” 7 It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? 8 If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons.
In verse 3, the author reminds the Jewish Christians to consider Jesus. Why is it important to consider Jesus? Because Jesus was no stranger to hardship. Jesus went through what they went through and more. As much as they struggled, they did not struggle as much as Jesus. At the time this letter was written, none of them had yet to die for their faith in Jesus. Persecuted? Yes. Mocked? Yes. But killed for their faith? No. But Jesus did so much more for them. Jesus was persecuted and killed for them. And the author tells them to consider what Jesus went through for them so that they may not grow weary or fainthearted in their struggle against sin. Note carefully. The struggle against sin in this context is not a struggle against sin inside of them. This is not referring to their struggle against lust, pride, anger, greed etc. This struggle against sin is a struggle against sin outside of them. It is referring to sin that another person committed against them. So, they were struggling not because of their sin but because of other people sin. Maybe people stabbed them in the back. Maybe their spouse cheated on them. Maybe their business partner lied to them and stole their money. It is sin that was outside of their control. But pay attention to this. The author tells them that the sin committed against them might be outside of their control, but it does not mean that it is out of control. There is one person who oversees all the hardship they went through. It is their heavenly Father, the Sovereign God of the universe.
Now, this is shocking. It means that every hardship, every struggle, every difficulty we experience in life, all come from the hand of God. The means by which hardship come might be our enemies, but it is purposed by God. As we are about to see, God is the one who planned and purposed all the hardship that his people experience. God is the one who is in charge. And God is not a passive observer. He does not look at our hardship and scratches his head in heaven saying, “Hmm, I wonder what I should do with the attack of the enemy that Yosi experience right now.” No. The God of the Bible is in absolute control over every little detail of what the enemy does. God does not show up on the scene trying to repair what the enemy has broken. God is not in the repair business; He is in the discipline business. And his discipline is planned and measured. In other words, the hardship we are going through is part of God’s discipline. God disciplines us as his children.
Look at verses 5 and 6. Hebrews 12:5-6 – 5 And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. 6 For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” The author tells us that there are two wrong responses to God’s discipline. The first wrong response is to make light of God’s discipline. It is to be indifferent. It is to say that because we cannot see the purpose behind our hardship, it means that there is no purpose to our hardship. We walk around with the attitude that because we can’t see any good in our struggle, it is meaningless and worthless. We walk with our heads down and become very pessimistic. It’s like when a father disciplines his daughter for not doing her homework and tells her, “Because you did not do your homework, you can’t go to Jennifer’s birthday party.” And the daughter replies, “Fine. I don’t want to go to Jennifer’s party anyway” and walks away. The second wrong response is to become weary. It means to lose heart. It is to believe that God does not have our best interest at heart. So, when hardship comes, we point our fingers at God and say, “God, you don’t know what you are doing. You are too dumb to run my life.” So, going back to the father-daughter analogy, instead of walking away, the daughter replies, “I hate you for not letting me go to Jennifer’s birthday party. You are ruining my life. You don’t love me.” She makes her father the bad guy. How many parents know what I am talking about?
And that’s how we respond to God’s discipline a lot of times. We either become indifferent toward God or we make God the enemy. But this is not how we are to respond to God’s discipline. The author tells us that God disciplines us not because he does not care about us, not because he does not have our best interest at heart, but because he loves us as his children. God disciplines those he loves. In other words, God’s discipline proves that we are loved by God. So, the right response should be, “Dad, I realised that I was wrong in not doing my homework. And you disciplined me because you love me as your daughter, and you did it for my good. So, thank you, dad.” That’s the right response. But parents, if your children ever respond that way to your discipline, you would have a heart attack. It takes a miracle for them to say that. But the author is extremely clear. The fact that God disciplines us proves that we are his children.
Think about it. What is the worst thing that parents could do to their children? It is to never discipline their children. I am sure you have met those parents who refused to discipline their children. And let me tell you, that is not loving; that is cruel. Because parents who do not discipline their children set their children up to spend the rest of their life either in jail or mental hospital. That’s what happened in many Korean dramas. I think in the last decade or so, there is this trend where parents try to be their children’s best friend. They want their children to like them and not simply love them. And there is nothing wrong with trying to be friends with your children. But that is not parents’ primary role. Parents, your primary role is to train your children in the fear of God. And that means sometimes you have to be their enemy for their good. Sometimes you have to inflict pain to discipline them. As parents, you do not want your children to remain childish but to grow in maturity. Parental love and discipline go together. You can’t separate the two.
In the same way, we cannot separate God’s love and God’s discipline. The two go together. If we are God’s children, he will discipline us. In fact, do you know what is the worst thing God can do to us? It is to leave us alone. A lot of times, we think God’s wrath is when he punishes us for our sins. And that is certainly true. But there is another side of God’s wrath. In Romans 1, Paul tells us that the wrath of God also involves letting people indulge in their sinful appetites. The wrath of God is when God let people do whatever they want to do. So, if we live in sin and God does nothing, we should be extremely afraid. We should be extremely worried. Because that means we are not God’s children. Parents, you understand this right. When your children have their friends over to your house, and they collaborate to destroy the house together, you discipline your children. But you don’t discipline their friends. Why? Because they are not your children. You don’t spank other people’s children. You go to jail for that. Do you see? We might be in church, but if God does not discipline us, then we are not his children. We are someone else’s children. But if God disciplines us, it shows that we are his children, and he loves us. So, God’s discipline is proof that we are God’s children. If we understand this, we should not take lightly nor be weary of God’s discipline. But rather rejoice that God is treating us as his children.
Hebrews 12:9-11 – 9 Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. 11 For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
Now before we go on, it’s important to note the difference between discipline and punishment. Punishment has a negative connotation. Punishment is something that is done as retribution or payback. So, if I punch you in the face just because I felt like it, and then I’m fired from the church, that’s punishment. But discipline is different. Discipline has a positive connotation. It is not retribution or payback. It is what we do for the good of the other person. It is what loving parents do to their children for the good of their children. God’s discipline involves corrections, but it is not punishment for our sins. The punishment of our sins is already paid by Jesus at the cross so what’s left for us is God training us to grow in holiness.
In verse 9, the author gives a comparison between our earthly fathers and our heavenly Father. Our earthly father disciplined us, and we are grateful to them because of it. But they only disciplined us for this temporary life. The effect of their discipline lasts about 70 years on average before we die. But our heavenly Father disciplines us for eternal life. The effect of his discipline is forever. And if we respect our earthly father for their disciplines in this temporary life, should we not subject ourselves to our heavenly Father who disciplines us for eternal life? And not only that, but God’s discipline is also tailor-made for us. It means that there is not a single discipline that is wasted or useless. Everything God allows to happen in our lives is tailor-made specifically for us. And this is something that no earthly father can do.
Let me give you an example. I grew up in a very strict family. Both my dad and mom love God and they understand the need to discipline their children to raise them well. And as you can see, I think they did a very good job. I thank God for my parents. However, I did not always appreciate their discipline. When I was young, whenever I disobeyed my parents, my dad would discipline me. In those days, we did not have “time out.” I was never told to stand at the corner of the room to reflect on what I did. For an introvert like me, time out would not be a discipline; it would be heaven. It was always, “You did what? Kappooow.” That’s how we rolled in Yusuf’s family. And before my dad belted me, he would often say, “This is going to hurt me more than it hurts you.” To which I thought, “If that’s true, why bother? Just let me off the hook and we can save ourselves some pain.” But of course, I didn’t speak it out. Otherwise, it won’t be “Kapooow” but “Kapppoow Kapppow”. But let’s put it out there. My dad disciplined me for my good. He did it out of love and concern for my well-being. But it didn’t matter how well-intended he was, his disciplines were imperfect. He disciplined me as it seemed best to him, but he is not all-knowing. He is limited in knowledge. He did not know for sure how it would turn out. His disciplines were imperfect because he is imperfect.
But not so with our heavenly Father. Our heavenly Father never disciplines us unless it is for our good. He knew exactly what he was getting when he chose us before the foundation of the world. He knew exactly how we were going to react and behave. He knew what we did yesterday and what we will do tomorrow. We cannot surprise him, and he is never frustrated. So, when God disciplines us, he does so perfectly. He never does it out of frustration. He allows only what we need for our good. Not one spank too many nor one spank too little. Not one millimetre more nor one millimetre less. God’s discipline is exactly what we need for our good. It is tailored made for us. No discipline is done without purpose. Just because we cannot see the purpose does not mean there is no purpose. And what is the purpose? The purpose is that “we may share his holiness.” In other words, God disciplines us so that we may become like him. He wants us to grow in Christlikeness.
Look at verse 11. This is crucial. Hebrews 12:11 – For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. God’s discipline is always for our good. But when we are going through it, it doesn’t feel like it is for our good. All discipline is painful when we are in it. But over time, we will be able to see the good fruit of God’s discipline. And the word that the author uses here is the word “trained” which come from the Greek word from which we have the word “gym.” So, God’s discipline feels like going to the gym to work out.
A few years ago, my friend took me to a Christian workout. It is very popular. Some of you might know about it. It is called CrossFit. Did you get that? Cross fit. At the time I only knew a little about CrossFit. And my friend who took me there was a lot chubbier than me. And by chubby, I mean fat. So, I thought, “It could not be that hard right? If he can do it, I am sure I can. I am a lot slimmer and fitter than him.” And when we got to the class, the instructor wrote on the board what we were going to do in the next 40 minutes. 10 minutes run for warm-up. Followed by a total of 160 squats, 120 sit-ups, 100 lunges, 100 burpees, 100 push-ups, 100 mountain climbers, and 60 jump squats in four different sets. And I was like, “Is this a workout place or a death camp?” I died after two sets. And the trainer yelled at me, “Don’t stop. I know you have what it takes. You are not that weak. You are stronger than you think.” And I replied in my head, “No, I am sure I am that weak. Leave me alone.” I literally collapsed on the ground, trying not to puke. But what surprised me the most was that my friend who was a lot fatter than me was able to finish all four sets. Apparently, he was a lot fitter than me. So, at the end of the workout, I asked him, “How did you do it? I was gone after two sets.” He replied, “When I first started CrossFit, I was only able to finish one set. But I kept coming back. And every session, I was pushed to what I thought was my limit and I kept going. That’s how I got stronger.” Do you see what happened? This is the irony. We do not get stronger by staying in our comfort zone. We do not get stronger at a point at which we feel strong. No. That’s not how it works. We get stronger at our weakest moment. At the point when every muscle inside of us screams out telling us to stop, but we fight for just a little bit more, that is the point where we become stronger. The weaker we feel the stronger we are becoming. It does not feel like we are getting stronger, but we are. That’s what happens during training. We might not think we are getting stronger at our weakest moment, but we are.
Don’t miss this. Through disciplines, God is making us who we were meant to be through the means we would not choose on our own. Our faith will not grow if it’s not tested. Our commitment will not grow if it’s not threatened. Our patience will not grow if it’s not stretched. Our courage will not grow if it’s not challenged. So yes, all discipline is painful. But it will yield the fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. After God’s discipline, we find ourselves stronger, fitter, kinder, more patient, more committed, more courageous. We find ourselves growing in Christlikeness. Do you see what happened? You are I are a limited being. All we can see is right now. But God is eternal. He sees life from a different perspective than us. He knows more than we do. We care about right here and now, about what we feel right now. But God not only cares about right here and now, but he also cares about tomorrow. He cares about who we are becoming. And God disciplines us at exactly the right amount and the right duration to produce the fruit of righteousness in us. So, it does not matter what sort of hardship we are in right now, we do not get there by accident. God is not surprised at where we are in life. He orchestrates us to be where we are because he is more committed to our good than we are. Whatever struggle, whatever hardship, whatever discipline, we can rest assure that they are motivated by God’s love for us as his children. Can you see how comforting this is?
Hebrews 12:12-14 – 12 Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, 13 and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed. 14 Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.
Remember that we talked about Christian life as a race last time. And the race is not a sprint but a marathon. It is long, difficult, and exhausting. In these verses, the author tells us the plan for us to finish our race well. And the plan involves two different types of responsibility. First, personal responsibility. Note the word “therefore.” It means that whatever the author is going to tell us next, is based on the fact that we know that God is our heavenly Father who disciplines us for our good. He says that because we have God as our loving Father, we should not be discouraged. Because our race is long, we will get tired in our race. But the encouragement is that God knows exactly what he is doing. He is not putting us in the wrong race. Our race is tailor-made for us, and our challenges are designed specifically for us. It is part of God’s discipline to train us to be like Jesus. So do not take a detour. We should lift our drooping hands and strengthen our weak knees and keep running. And yes, there will be injury along the way. And this is counterintuitive. When we think of injury, we think of hitting the pause button and take some time to rest. But in the Christian race, the way to get better from injury is to keep running on the path that God has set for us. So do not be discouraged and keep running.
We also have a personal responsibility to pursue peace with everyone. As Christians, we are called to be agents of reconciliation, not agents of retaliation. And once again, pursuing peace does not come naturally, especially if we are the offended party. That is what happened with the Jewish Christians. They were persecuted not because they did wrong but because they did right. But the author tells them to strive for peace with everyone. But there are also times that peace is not possible because even though we try everything we can to pursue peace, the other party refused to be at peace with us. In that case, we are no longer obligated to pursue peace with them according to Romans 12:18. And the third personal responsibility is to pursue holiness by which no one will see the Lord. It simply means to live a life worthy of the gospel. Those who believe in the gospel will live by the gospel. Or another way to put it is, faith without works is dead. If we claim to love Jesus but we are not growing in holiness, we are a liar. But there is another type of responsibility besides personal responsibility.
Hebrews 12:15-17 – 15 See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled; 16 that no one is sexually immoral or unholy like Esau, who sold his birthright for a single meal. 17 For you know that afterward, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no chance to repent, though he sought it with tears. The second type of responsibility is corporate responsibility. The phrase “see to it” indicates that this is the responsibility of every Christian and not only pastors. As we often say, Christianity is a personal faith but a community project. We desperately need one another to finish well. So, what are our corporate responsibility? First, we are to see to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God. In other words, we are responsible to help and watch over one another in their walk with God. So, when we see people around us start drifting away from the Christian faith, we do not remain passive, but we come to them and encourage them to continue running their race. We remind them of the gospel and the grace of God that is available for them.
Second, we are to see to it that no root of bitterness springs up and causes trouble. Remember that the Christian race is long and difficult. Many people will get injured and become bitter. They expect that if they follow Jesus then their life will be happy and awesome. But then life does not work out according to their expectations. Maybe their loved one passed away of sickness. Maybe their spouse does not change for the better. Or maybe their business went bankrupt. They are not happy, and they want someone to blame. And rather than run to God, they are disappointed in God, and they question everything. They complain about God, the church, the pastors, the community, the ministry, and they might cause constant troubles. Instead of running their race, they distract others from running their race. They might also promote unbiblical teaching and practice in the church. So, whose responsibility is it to help them? The author does not say, “Let Yosi take care of it. That’s what he is paid for.” No, he doesn’t. It is not only my responsibility, but it is our responsibility as a church to help the bitter people in the church.
Third, we are to see to it that no one is sexually immoral or unholy like Esau. Let me explain. This is not only a rebuke against sexual sin, but it is a rebuke against driven by sinful appetite. And the author uses Esau’s story as an example. Esau was the twin older brother of Jacob. Esau loved to hunt while Jacob loved to cook. So, one day, Esau was weary and tired from hunting. And when he got back, he saw Jacob cooking red stew. And he said to Jacob, “Jake, give me some of those stew. I am starving.” Jacob replied, “Sure, but it is going to cost you. I’ll trade some of this stew for your birthright.” Now, this is a very illogical trade. In that culture, a birthright was not simply a bragging right of who was older. If you were the firstborn in the family, you received the firstborn blessing and you were the one who carried your family’s name and reputation. In this context, Esau would be the one who received and carried God’s blessing to Abraham. It was a marvellous blessing. It was priceless. But did you know what Esau say? “Sure, I’ll trade my birthright with some of your red stew. What use is my birthright if I am going to die of starvation?” And he swore to give his birthright to Jacob. Now, that is probably the dumbest transaction in the history of the world. Can we agree? It is like trading a brand-new Ferrari for an old Hyundai i20. No one would make that trade. But Esau did. Esau was driven by his worldly appetite and only cared about what felt good at the time. He chose short term satisfaction over long term pleasure.
And before we badmouth Esau of how dumb he was, we need to remember that we are guilty of doing the same thing. Every time we open that porn website, every time we lie, every time we sleep with someone who is not our spouse, every time we gossip, every time we take that drug, every time we abuse our spouse, we choose red stew over a birthright. We choose what feels good right now over the promise of God. We indulge in short term satisfaction over pleasures forevermore. And listen to what the author says in Hebrews 12:17 – For you know that afterward, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no chance to repent, though he sought it with tears. This is a very strong warning. Esau eventually regretted what he did but by that time it was already too late. Esau was in tears but there was nothing he could do about it. The lesson is not that God will not forgive us when we repent. No. God will always forgive genuine repentance. But what Esau sought was not true repentance. What Esau wanted was the firstborn blessing. He was in tears not because he hated his sins but because he was sorry for the consequences of his sin. His heart had become so hard that he could no longer repent. And the author is telling us that it is our responsibility together that no one around us become like Esau. We must have the courage to warn them before it is too late. It is our corporate responsibility to make sure that none of us walks away from the Christian faith.
Let me close with this. The Christian race is long and difficult. It is filled with hardships and challenges. And it is very easy for us to become weary and tired in our race. So how can we keep running our race and finish well? The answer is in verse 3. Hebrews 12:3 – Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. The strength for us to finish well is to consider Jesus. Think about Jesus. Ponder on Jesus. Jesus did not have to endure such hostility from sinners. Jesus did not have to suffer at the cross. But he did. Jesus endured such hostility as our substitute. He took everything that we deserved at the cross. He absorbed the punishment of God toward sin. Jesus obeyed God the Father perfectly, but he was punished at the cross for our disobedience so that we can have the confidence that God is not punishing us in our hardship. When we put our faith in Jesus, we can rest assure that all the hardship we experience is not punishment but the loving discipline of our heavenly Father. Jesus sought us in his hardship so that we can seek him in our hardship. If we ever doubt God’s love because of the hardship we experience, consider Jesus. Jesus has paid all the punishment of our sin and he is with us in our race. So, do not grow weary or fainthearted. Keep on running the race. And in hardship, do not run from God but run to God because he is our loving sovereign Father. Let’s pray.
- Rate yourself in how well you deal with hardship (1 = very poor, 5 = hardship is my bestfriend). Explain the reasoning behind your answer.
- “God is not in the repair business; He is in the discipline business.” What does this say about our hardship and how does it encourage us?
- There are three possible responses to God’s discipline: Indifferent, lose heart, rejoice. Which one describes your most frequent response and why?
- Have you ever experienced being “trained” by God? What happened?
- Look at the corporate responsibility of Christians. What can we do to improve our corporate responsibility? Be specific.
- How we can we know that God’s discipline is not his punishment but rather his love for us?