Our Father’s Loving Discipline

Dr. Steve Viars October 31, 2021 Hebrews 12:1-17
Outline

Hebrews 12:16 - …that there be no immoral or godless person like Esau, who sold his own birthright for a single meal.

Genesis 25:30 - Please let me have a swallow of that red stuff there, for I am famished.

Genesis 25:31 - But Jacob said, “First sell me your birthright.”

Genesis 25:32 - Esau said, “Behold, I am about to die; so of what use then is the birthright to me?”

Hebrews 12:11 - All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.

Stewardship – God-given responsibility with accountability

Four Factors of Stewardship

1. God owns everything, you own nothing

2. God entrusts you with everything you have

3. You can either increase or diminish what God has given; He wants you to increase it

4. God can call you into account at any time, and it may be today

Hebrews 12:11 - …the peaceful fruit of righteousness…

3 necessary responses to challenging times

I. Remember God’s Exhortation about Discipline

v. 1 – let us run with endurance

v. 2 – for the joy set before Him endured the cross

v. 3 – whose has endured such hostility against Himself

v. 3 – not grow weary and lose heart

v. 5 – nor faint when you are reproved by Him

v. 7 – it is for discipline that you endure

v. 10 – He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness

v. 11 – to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness

v. 13 – so that the limb which is lame may not be put out of joint

v. 16 – who sold his own birthright for a single meal

v. 17 – even afterwards…he found no place for repentance

Hupomone – a steady determination to keep going

Hebrews 12:2 - …Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

A. Do not diminish its potential value

Hebrews 12:5 - …and you have forgotten the exhortation which is addressed to you as sons, “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord…”

B. Do not quit

Hebrews 12:5 - …and you have forgotten the exhortation which is addressed to you as sons, “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor faint when you are reproved by Him…”

C. Believe discipline is a sign of our sonship

Hebrews 12:7 - 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?

D. Pursue discipline’s goal

Hebrews 12:11 - All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.

II. Take Steps to Steward Trials Well

A. Strengthen weaknesses that discipline revealed

Hebrews 12:12 - Therefore, strengthen the hands that are weak and the knees that are feeble…

B. Straighten your path

Hebrews 12:13 - …and make straight paths for your feet, so that the limb which is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather be healed.

C. Pursue peace with others

Hebrews 12:14 - Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord.

III. Embrace God’s Grace Which Makes Such Endurance Possible

Hebrews 12:15 - See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God…

2 Corinthians 12:7 - Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me—to keep me from exalting myself!

2 Corinthians 12:8 - Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me.

2 Corinthians 12:9-10 - And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.

Ephesians 2:8-9 - For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.

A. To avoid bitterness

Hebrews 12:15 - See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled…

B. To reject immediate gratification

Hebrews 12:16 - …that there be no immoral or godless person like Esau, who sold his own birthright for a single meal.

Genesis 27:34-36 - When Esau heard the words of his father, he cried out with an exceedingly great and bitter cry, and said to his father, “Bless me, even me also, O my father!” And he said, “Your brother came deceitfully and has taken away your blessing.” Then he said, “Is he not rightly named Jacob, for he has supplanted me these two times? He took away my birthright, and behold, now he has taken away my blessing.”

C. By repenting quickly

Hebrews 12:17 - For you know that even afterwards, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought for it with tears.

Hebrews 12:2-3 - …fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

- Reportedly Lou Holtz, the long-time coach of Notre Dame once said…

Wanna be happy for an Hour? Eat a steak. Wanna be happy for a Day? Play golf. Wanna be Happy for a week? Go on A cruise. Wanna be Happy for a lifetime? Put your faith in jesus Christ.

- Now of course we have to be careful these days about quotes attributed to well-known people, which is why I always try to remember the wise counsel of Abraham Lincoln..

“Don’t believe everything you read on the internet just because there’s a picture with a quote next to it.”

- I don’t have the exact date when Lincoln said that – perhaps right after the Gettysburg Address…but anyway, back to what Holt reportedly said…

- those words aren’t just corn-bread advice…that’s a biblical principle…to avoid the temptation of immediate gratification, and instead make choices after considering the long-term results…

- one of the key examples in Scripture is Jacob’s brother Esau, whose story is summarized in the book of Hebrews with the words…Hebrews 12:16 - that there be no immoral or godless person like Esau, who sold his own birthright for a single meal.

- in other words, he gave up his position in God’s covenant plan to satisfy his hunger…his exact words in Genesis 25 were - Genesis 25:30 - “Please let me have a swallow of that red stuff there, for I am famished.”

- so Jacob, his conniving brother said -- Genesis 25:31 - But Jacob said, “First sell me your birthright.”

- to which Esau responded -- Genesis 25:32 - Esau said, “Behold, I am about to die; so of what use then is the birthright to me?”

- do you see how powerful, and deceptive the temptation of immediate gratification can be?...

- I’m about to die – what use is my place in the plan and purposes of the eternal God of heaven and earth?...

- can you think of decisions you had to make even this week, or this past month…where it came down to immediate gratification or developing a lifestyle of faithfulness, and endurance, and fruitfulness?...

- no doubt…whether we’re talking about finances, or relationships, or eating & exercise, anger, lust, entertainment…and dozens of other topics we could mention…

- and we’ve all learned the hard way that immediate gratification rarely takes you to a good place…

- here’s another important piece of this puzzle…one of the tools our God uses to help us in this matter is His fatherly discipline…the writer of Hebrews says it like this…Hebrews 12:11 - All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.

- that’s a very good way to look at all of life’s choices…what will happen afterwards?...

- with that in mind, since we’ve already referenced this passage twice, please open your Bible to Hebrews chapter 12…page 176 of the back section of the Bible under the chair in front of you…

- we’re talking this morning about Our Father’s Loving Discipline…this is part of our emphasis this month on Stewardship of Challenging Times

- we set aside every November to focus on stewardship – which simply means – Stewardship – God-given responsibility with accountability.

- for decades now, our church family has reminded ourselves of the…

Four Factors of Stewardship

1. God owns everything, you own nothing.

2. God entrusts you with everything you have.

3. You can either increase or diminish what God has given; He wants you to increase it.

4. God can call you into account at any time, and it may be today.

- because of everything that has been occurring in our culture and our world and in our individual lives…we thought it would be timely and appropriate to focus on the stewardship of trials and hard times…

- but especially with an emphasis on how the God can empower us to handle such difficulties well…in a way that produces a kind of character and faithfulness that trips to the ice cream shop probably won’t…

- now, in addition to hearing a series of messages on this topic this year, we’ll also be featuring stewardship testimonies like the one you heard this am…

- part of the joy of being in a church family is seeing and hearing the stories of your brothers and sisters in Christ and how the Lord is helping them take steps in a particular area of stewardship…

- we also have our annual stewardship celebration…which is always the Sunday evening before Thanksgiving…

- this year it’s the evening of November 21st …at the FECC…and the theme of that evening is Portraits of Perseverance

- we’re planning an entire series of stories from men and women, who by God’s grace have endured…they’re moving toward what this passage promises…Hebrews 12:11 - …the peaceful fruit of righteousness…

- Let’s find out how that’s possible – read Hebrews 12:1-17

- so we’re talking about Our Father’s Loving Discipline, and with the time we have remaining, let’s consider Three necessary responses to challenging times.

- first of all,

I. Remember God’s Exhortation about Discipline.

- we probably need to get this issue out of the way at the outset…the Bible uses the word discipline much more broadly than we often do in our culture…

- we typically think about punitive discipline…in other words, a person is doing something wrong and now they have to face the consequences…they are being disciplined…

- and the Bible’s definition includes that concept…but as I mentioned, it is much broader…

- a better synonym might be the word “training…”…it’s everything the Lord brings into our lives, including the difficulties of living in a sin-cursed world…that can help mold and conform us into the image of Jesus Christ…

- now, undoubtedly you saw the emphasis here on developing endurance…the opposite of instant gratification…

- v. 1 – let us run with endurance

- v. 2 – for the joy set before Him endured the cross

- v. 3 – whose has endured such hostility against Himself

- v. 3 – not grow weary and lose heart

- v. 5 – nor faint when you are reproved by Him

- v. 7 – it is for discipline that you endure

- v. 10 – He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness

- v. 11 – to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness

- v. 13 – so that the limb which is lame may not be put out of joint

- v. 16 – who sold his own birthright for a single meal

- v. 17 – even afterwards…he found no place for repentance

- you might want to pause and ask yourself…how are you doing at the issue of developing endurance?...hupomone – “a steady determination to keep going”…

- is that the way you live…is that the path you’re on?...

- now, a couple of other observations from the first three verses…thankfully, we don’t have to go first…we have this great cloud of witnesses…the men and women highlighted in chapter 11 which is commonly called the Faith Hall of Fame…

- they are real life examples of people who handled God’s discipline well…

- but all of that points ultimately to our Lord Jesus Christ… Hebrews 12:2 - …Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

- there’s the ideal example of how not all discipline is punitive…because this book and many others tell us that our Lord never sinned…yet He was the model of faithful endurance…

- so how do we get there?...we choose to remember God’s exhortation about discipline…or, another way of saying that is – we choose to think biblically about the challenges we face…

- before we walk through the logic of these next several verses…let me ask you think about a difficulty you’re facing right now…and how the world might encourage you to respond, or perhaps how your own flesh might encourage you to respond…and then what it would be like to put on a biblical pair of glasses…like the outlook explained in verses 5-11…

A. Do not diminish it’s potential value

- Hebrews 12:5 - and you have forgotten the exhortation which is addressed to you as sons, “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord…”

- so let’s say for example…that you’re having a difficulty with a friend…that person disappointed you in some way…

- what’s the immediate gratification approach to that one…what’s the “helping of that red stuff” to use Esau’s terminology…

- blow up, cut the person off…just go find another friend…

- for some people…that’s their entire life story…short term friendships that get discarded as soon as there’s a problem…

- what’s wrong with that approach?...frankly, a lot…including how it fails to see the value of relationship problems…as part of God’s Fatherly discipline in our lives…

- don’t “regard challenges like that lightly”…because if you learn to communicate and solve problems biblically, you can develop the “peaceful fruit of righteousness.”…

- another facet of God’s exhortation is…

B. Do not quit

- Hebrews 12:5 - and you have forgotten the exhortation which is addressed to you as sons, “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, Nor faint when you are reproved by Him;

- sociologists are suggesting this is the year of the grand resignation…

- it’s amazing how many people are quitting their jobs…and I’m not saying that’s always sinful…but if you quit whatever you’re doing whenever it gets hard…you’re often missing out on a great growing opportunity…

- some of us were raised in homes where if you joined a sports team…you stayed on that team until the end of the season…and it didn’t matter if you liked the coach, or got all the playing time you thought you deserved…

- the disappointments that came with that pursuit were part of the equation and we weren’t allowed to quit…(it’s part of God’s discipline)…

- I don’t know if this is true or not, but I recently read that the average marriage in the US now lasts 8 years…

- and that’s not a swipe at people here who might be divorced…and we believe the Scripture has grounds for divorce…

- but there are trends in our entitlement culture that want to label all problems everyone else’s responsibility and therefore a justification for heading for the exits…in complete disregard for what this passage is saying…

- every one of us has to ask the question – what role does the concept of God’s “loving Fatherly discipline” play in the way you process disappointments in your life?...

- I’ve had the occasion many times over the years to encourage pastors to stay in there and ride out whatever challenge they were facing in their church…

- I remember one particular occasion where I was just holding the receiver of the phone in one hand and telling him, don’t quit…don’t quit…

- because often such a person is on the cusp of a significant growth opportunity and all of that is short-circuited by an early run to the exits…

- then the writer adds…

C. Believe discipline is a sign of our sonship

- Hebrews 12:7 - 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?

- any of us who have raised children know this to be true…

- I was in a parking lot the other day where there was a poor mom with a toddler who was pitching a royal fit…and this little guy had perfected, even the tone at which he was screaming, to be especially annoying for everyone within what felt like a one-mile radius…

- there’s the temptation just to give the child whatever he or she wants…(just make it stop)…

- but is that what a loving parent, with an eye to long-term results, going to do in that moment?...

- then we have this crucial verse which reminds us to…

D. Pursue discipline’s goal

- Hebrews 12:11 - All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.

- it might be helpful for us for a moment to back up and think about this book’s original audience…

- the epistle to the Hebrews was written to a group of Jewish persons who had left the temple and become followers of Jesus Christ…or at least chose to associate themselves with the church even if they had not yet personally believed…

- the problem was that the newness was wearing off…and the pressures they were facing were “for the moment seeming not to be joyful…”…

- do you have anything in your life that fits under that heading?...

- have you ever thought of that as a stewardship?...as something that your heavenly Father has entrusted to you?...

- and what would be different if you focused more on the long term result and less on the short term pain or discomfort?...

- to help us in that endeavor, the next verses give us…

II. Take Steps to Steward Trials Well

- often we have to…

A. Strengthen weaknesses that discipline revealed

- Hebrews 12:12 - Therefore, strengthen the hands that are weak and the knees that are feeble,

- for example, someone here may say – often when I face times of uncertainty, I start giving in to sinful worry…

- that’s the sin that so easily besets me mentioned in verse 1 of this chapter…

- and what is it that reveals that weakness?...an occasion of God’s fatherly discipline…

- so what ought to happen next?...the answer is – put yourself on a work-out plan…

- pick up a book on how to handle worry biblically…

- establish some accountability partners…

- strengthen the hands that are weak and the knees that are feeble…and…

B. Straighten your path

- Hebrews 12:13 - and make straight paths for your feet, so that the limb which is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather be healed.

- someone else might say – my problem is that when I face adversity, I start complaining…and to make matters worse, I’ve surrounded myself with a bunch of friends who also love to complain…or media influences who love to complain…and after a while I realize I haven’t been making any progress because I’m just wandering around in this endless loop tape of grumping…

- you might need to bring some people into your life who have learned the art of thanksgiving even in difficult times…

- you might have to limit or eliminate some of those media influences…

- what would it look like to be on a straight path of benefitting from each instance of God’s discipline in a way that is consistent with His desires?...

C. Pursue peace with others

- Hebrews 12:14 - Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord.

- one of the many reasons we have to celebrate during this stewardship month is the great unity the Lord has given our church family through what has possibly been the most significant series of trials we have ever faced together…

- when you consider the various issues related to the pandemic, and all the political issues that continue to churn, and then topics like racial reconciliation and critical race theory and all the rest…

- we’ve faced plenty of examples that could fall under the heading of our heavenly Father’s loving discipline…

- yet there is a delightful number of people who have chosen to do exactly what this passage is teaching…

- they have become closer to the Lord not the other way around…

- they’ve grown in love for their brothers and sisters in the church even in spite of whatever differences there might be in opinions about masks, and vaccines, and politics, and social challenges…

- and all of that looks like the peaceful fruit of righteousness…it’s peace with all men and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord…

- [develop our upcoming outreach opportunities at Christmas – we couldn’t do that if we had a bunch of people at one another’s throats, or a bunch of quitters]…

- so what’s at stake here?...if the Lord hasn’t fully gotten our attention about the importance of this subject quite yet, these last three verses show why all of this is so very important…

- and we can think about it either positively or negatively…

- positively, we could say…

III. Embrace God’s Grace Which Makes Such Endurance Possible

- Hebrews 12:15 - See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God…

- this is where the gospel becomes front and center…

- a Christian’s endurance isn’t secured by pulling ourselves up by our own bootstraps…

- it’s crying out to our crucified and risen Savior for strength and enablement that only He can give…

- the approach articulated in these verses makes you want to reach out for help and power that is divine in nature…

- can you think of a wonderful example of this in the NT…where a man was experiencing God’s loving Fatherly discipline in His life…so he cried out for deliverance and found a fresh measure of God’s sufficient grace?...

- Paul, as he wrestled with his thorn in the flesh in 2 Cor. 12…do you remember how he described it?...

- 2 Corinthians 12:7 - Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me—to keep me from exalting myself!

- that is a great way to think about the role and importance of God’s Fatherly discipline…

- but he didn’t just “suffer in silence”…

- 2 Corinthians 12:8 - Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me.

- that’s spiritual authenticity…so, did God remove it?...

- 2 Corinthians 12:9–10 - And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.

- when we steward challenging times well, we have the potential to receive God’s grace, and learn about God’s grace, in entirely new ways…

- let me pause and speak to someone who is not yet a follower of Jesus Christ…this is the ultimate sense in which you do not want to fall short of God’s grace…

- that very well may be why God has allowed the trials you’re currently facing…to bring you to the end of your strength, and your resources…so you will reach out with empty hands and acknowledge…I need the grace of God only available through the finished work of His Son…

- that’s why Paul said… Ephesians 2:8–9 - For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.

- so, back to the main point we’re pursuing -- when we steward challenging times well, we have the potential to receive God’s grace, and learn about God’s grace, in entirely new ways…

- but what’s the alternative in our passage in Hebrews?...

A. To avoid bitterness

- Hebrews 12:15 - See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled;

- whenever you and I fail to steward God’s loving fatherly discipline well, bitterness is the inevitable result…

- and did you see how the passage describes the process?...

- it’s like a root…terminology that comes from Deut 29 which emphasizes the role of unbelief in all of this…

- and you might say – I don’t have any bitterness in my life?...are you sure about that?...have you checked the garden of your heart carefully?...because it starts very small…

- and if it’s not addressed both quickly and completely….what’s bound to happen…

- it will spring up…

- have you ever noticed in a garden how if the person in charge doesn’t pull the weeds right away…you neglect for a week or two and then what do you have?...a jungle that’s quickly taking over the flowers or the vegetables or the fruit…

- and when that happens, what’s next?...it will cause trouble…

- it will lead to words you shouldn’t have said…or choices you shouldn’t have made…

- all the while you’ll be convinced it’s someone else’ fault…

- but at the core – it’s often a failure to steward God’s fatherly discipline well…

- and I realize that there might be someone here who is a bit upset about what this passage is affirming…

- can I give you another word of pastoral caution?...bitterness will make a liar out of us every time…

- the longer you fail to steward God’s loving Fatherly discipline well…and instead stew in your every growing batch of bitterness…

- the more times you’ll rehearse that story in your mind…

- and each time you’ll come out a little better, and everyone else will come out a little worse…

- you say, how do you know that?...because that’s what happened to Esau…

- this passage is trying to help us…

B. To reject immediate gratification

- Hebrews 12:16 - that there be no immoral or godless person like Esau, who sold his own birthright for a single meal.

- if you know your Bible well, you might be thinking – hey, wait a minute…that’s not exactly the way Esau told the story…

- no, it’s not…

- because after Esau’s brother Jacob and his mother concocted a plan to deceive daddy and receive the firstborn’s blessing…

- Genesis 27:34–36 - When Esau heard the words of his father, he cried out with an exceedingly great and bitter cry, and said to his father, “Bless me, even me also, O my father!” And he said, “Your brother came deceitfully and has taken away your blessing.” Then he said, “Is he not rightly named Jacob, for he has supplanted me these two times? He took away my birthright, and behold, now he has taken away my blessing.”

- I’m not suggesting that Jacob and their mother were innocent – this was one messed up family…

- but what detail is it that Esau got terribly wrong?…Jacob didn’t take away his birthright…he sold it, for a mess of that red stuff…

- I’m convinced that Esau had repeated that lie to himself over and over and over to the point he actually believed it was true…

- do you realize what this means?...the longer you fail to steward God’s loving Fatherly discipline well, the more likely it is that your recollections are filled with self-induced falsehoods…

- bitterness will make liars out of us every time…

- which is why it would have served Esau to repent far sooner than he did…

C. By repenting quickly

- the passage ends with one of the more haunting verses in the Bible…

- Hebrews 12:17 - For you know that even afterwards, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought for it with tears.

- can you think of times when you reached for immediate gratification when facing an occasion of God’s loving Fatherly discipline?...

- repenting quickly when we haven’t stewarded it well will prevent bitterness from springing up, causing trouble, and defiling many…and position us to receive and understand God’s grace in new and refreshing ways…

- Let’s…Hebrews 12:2–3 - fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

Authors

Dr. Steve Viars

Roles

Senior Pastor - Faith Church

Director - Faith Legacy Foundation

Bio

B.S.: Pre-Seminary & Bible, Baptist Bible College (Now Clarks Summit University)
M.Div.: Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min.: Biblical Counseling, Westminster Theological Seminary

Dr. Steve Viars has served at Faith Church in Lafayette, IN since 1987. Pastor Viars leads and equips Faith Church as Senior Pastor with a focus on preaching and teaching God’s Word and using his organizational skills in guiding the implementation of the Faith Church mission and vision. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith Church ministries. Dr. Viars serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation. Steve is the author, co-author, or contributor to six books and numerous booklets. He and his wife, Kris, were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and four grandchildren.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

View Pastor Viars' Salvation Testimony Video