Jesus Is…!

Jesus Is…!
Hebrews 12:4-15
October 1, 2017

I really love what former Dallas Cowboys coach Tom Landry once said about his football players, he said, “The job of a coach is to make players do what they don’t want to do, in order to achieve what they’ve always wanted to be.”

That’s so great and so true! Other coaches call it “No pain, no gain.”

I’m not sure of anyone who really enjoys the pain! There are times when I go to workout and I really don’t want to be there. Sometimes I have to force myself to go, and amazingly once I’m there, it’s not a big deal to get to work, it’s just getting there. And sometimes, it kind of feels good to feel the pain in your muscles, because you know you’re benefitting from it.

If we’re exercising, we may be able to accept that pain. We may at times embrace the pain, because we know it’s for our own good. However, when we’re going through difficult times in our lives, when we may be disciplined, we’re not too happy! We don’t raise our hands when God asks “so who wants to receive my discipline today?”

Yet, to become a spiritual champion, means we often have to do the things we don’t always want to do. It means we have to make time to do the things we know we should do, yet struggle doing. Again, think about Tom Landry’s quote . . . and consider God the coach.

Most of us want to grow closer to God, we want to do the things which make a difference in the world, yet, we struggle with getting there, so God helps us become who we want to become, even though we don’t do what we need to do to become who we’re called to become.

Often times, spiritual growth will not occur without discipline and discipline often involves pain. Sorry, it’s a reality.

As we continue on our journey through the book of Hebrews, as we are discovering more and more who Jesus is in our lives, today – – we’re looking at something we really don’t want to hear . . . the discipline of God. Let’s look at Hebrews 12, beginning in verse 4 and hear the word of God ~

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. (Proverbs 3:11)

6 For the Lord disciplines the one He loves, and chastises every son whom He receives.” (Proverbs 3:12)

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;

Now, I’m going to jump around a little in this passage, because I believe the end of this passage really explains the beginning. It’s like a parent explaining why they’ve disciplined their child. I want to start with verse 14. It’s super important to understand what God wants us to understand and trust who He wants us to become.

14 Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.

The author tells us to strive for peace with everyone. WOW! How vital is that in the church? Remember, he’s not talking to nonbelievers, he’s talking to the church. He’s talking to you and I. We think God kinda thinks we should be at peace with everyone. It sounds great on paper – – doesn’t it? But in reality, it’s not so easy. Let me tell you what the word STRIVE really means ~

STRIVE = aggressively chase, like a hunter pursuing a catch. Pursue with all haste.

Let me ask you this question – – are you aggressively pursuing peace with your brothers and sisters in Christ? Or are you passive aggressively allowing bitterness and anger, malice, slander and wrath eat away at you. Remember . . . get rid of that baggage you are so used to bringing into church. So, that’s the start. FUN STUFF, huh?! Hopefully . . . I’m gently stepping on your toes!!

Now, the writer tells us not only do we pursue peace, but we just as aggressively pursue holiness, for without holiness we will not see the Lord! Say what?! And this really is leading us into the heart of the message. Remember pursue peace!

When he refers to holiness, he’s referring to clean living — living above sin. In verse 16 he specifically names living a sexually pure life. But this also applies to other actions and attitudes — greed, jealousy, anger, bitterness, envy, pride, abuse, addictions, lying, gossiping, cheating, stealing, arrogance, self-centeredness and that list could go on an on.

He says, “Without holiness, no one will see the Lord.” The phrase “no one will see the Lord,” doesn’t refer to heaven. He’s not saying you won’t go to heaven if you don’t achieve holiness here on earth. You don’t earn your way or work your way into heaven. It is a gift from God.

The phrase, “no one will see the Lord,” is referring to life on earth, right here, right now. When he talks about seeing the Lord, he’s talking about living your life in the presence of God and walking in the power of God. Without holiness — which means living a clean life above sin – a life in which you’ve been set apart – a life of growing in who Christ calls you to be – – – if you don’t seek holiness, then living in the power of God is not going to happen.

Here’s what I want you to understand. And if you only take something from this message, this is what I want you to get . . . God is not out to smite you! He’s not out to get you! He does not want life to be miserable for you. In fact – – – – – and here’s the cool part . . . .

God wants this to happen. He wants you to live in His presence. He wants you to live a life which is spiritually full, spiritually vibrant, fully connected to Him. He wants you to enjoy the power and joy of a relationship with Him. He wants you to have the power Paul told us is available in Ephesians 1, the same power God used to raise Christ from the dead, the same power God used to bring Jesus to heaven . . . that same power, we are told is available to us.

Think for a moment about all the intangible things you want in life. Not cars, homes, jewels, electronics — but things intangible: you want peace, you want fulfillment, you want joy, you want comfort and assurance, love, belonging.

None of us want intangibles that are either bad for us, or that are sinful. Who says, “I want more hate in my life. I want more anger. I want more bitterness. I want more resentment and jealousy?” No one in their right mind says that.

We want those intangible things that are good for us – – and God wants them for you, too. He wants you to live a life filled with joy, contentment, peace, spiritual power, a life in which we are fully connected to Him.

God doesn’t want us to be imprisoned by habits, attitudes and actions which are destructive. He wants His people to live above that — so much so that God is willing to correct us, to discipline us, so that we would learn to live a holy life.

All that comes from that phrase to PURSUE PEACE and HOLINESS!! Are you?

Now, the writer of Hebrews says that God treats us just like a father – – and I’ll add, a mother treats their children. The writer then quotes the book of Proverbs ~

5 “My child, 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.” – Hebrews 12:5-6 (Proverbs 3:11-12)

Discipline is never fun. Remember, God is treating us as His children. Now under stand this – and this is really important because nobody wants to be disciplined.

This leads to something we really don’t consider . . . In verse 8 we read ~
8 If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons.

In other words, God’s discipline is an indicator that He considers believers to be His sons – to be His children – – since God chastises every son whom He receives. The point is this – – – God deems you worthy of disciplining because He loves you and has called you to be His child.

That’s a huge statement! Have you ever worked with someone who just never understood something you were trying to explain to them? After awhile, you stop trying to explain things to them. It’s the same here with God.

If He didn’t love you, if He didn’t call you His child, if He didn’t create you in His image . . . then He frankly wouldn’t care about your spiritual growth. He would just let you go and do your own thing and that would lead to your destruction. But that’s not who God is. God loves us! And He wants us to become the people He’s called us to become.

Parents, why do we correct and discipline our children? To make them miserable? (Don’t answer) It is to prove who’s the boss? Is it to get revenge? Of course not.

You do it because you’re trying to help them become good and grow into the people you believe they should become. So you make them go to school when they don’t want to, you make them do their homework when they don’t want to, you make them go to bed when they don’t want to — not because these are just your arbitrary rules, not because you really enjoy being the boss and giving them orders they won’t like . .. but because these are habits they need to develop. They need to do these and more so that they grow and develop.

If a child throws a temper tantrum or hits other kids or tells a lie or takes things that don’t belong to them, you do what you have to do to correct that behavior. Why? Because you’re a bully? No! You do it because you want your child to develop into a person who is able to function in a healthy way in the world.

You correct and discipline your children in order to train them to be good. The writer of Hebrews says this is how God treats us, as well. He explains God corrects you and disciplines you not because He’s an arbitrary bully, but in order to teach you not to do things that are harmful to you and harmful to others.

That’s because sin is always hurtful. It always brings misery into your life and the lives of others.

God’s discipline flows out of His love for us. We’re His children. When faced with the hardship of God’s discipline, we should accept it as God’s method of training and as a token that we’re loved by God.

God loves us just the way we are, but He refuses to let us stay that way. He wants us to be just like Jesus. Don’t take His discipline as God’s rejection toward you, take it as affirmation that you’re His child, that He believes in you, and wants the best for you. God is that loving parent who refuses to give up on us.

We read in verse 11 ~
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.

Ain’t that the truth. I remember a few times I was disciplined. It was never fun! It’s helping teach and grow; to understand. Again, we never volunteer for it. But it happens and it’s painful. The apostle John spoke of being pruned, just as we do with plants. In a sense pruning is painful to the plant, since you are cutting off part of it, but the goal in that process is to spur new growth. The same is true in God’s discipline in our lives.

Now, I will say this and this is the difficult part of discipline. How do we know if something is from God or a natural occurrence from living life? We need to take a realistic look at our lives. What sins are we committing which are pretty obvious to us? I’m not talking about asking others to evaluate us, but do an honest self-evaluation. Do it as part of prayer – – God help me to see myself as You see me!

Have you got a problem with your temper, anger, a critical spirit, addictions, greed, bitterness, lust, you name it? Look at what it’s doing to you.

Now, allow yourself to imagine what it would be like with that thing gone from your life. Imagine what it will be like to walk in victory – – to be free from that sin.

Remember what the writer of Hebrews says ~
1 let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us

When you recognize the damage that sins does, when you realize how much it weighs you down, it’s something you want to get rid of. Imagine the relief, the freedom you experience when you give that sin issue to God and don’t take it back.

Now, as we move towards the end, I want to go back to a question I mentioned a few minutes ago – – how do you know if you are being disciplined by God or this is just part of life?

In some respects that is the million dollar question. Let me tell you this. We don’t always know when we’re being disciplined. Sometimes, it’s really difficult to distinguish, but here’s what we’re called to do . . .

Honor God with what we’ve got! What are you going to do with what’s happening to you? Are you going to sulk and kick and scream and have a temper tantrum? Or are you going to seek God, fall on your knees and cry out to God for help?

No matter if it’s discipline or a part of life, how will you react when life isn’t so good? No matter what’s going on, call out to God asking for God to reveal His plan to you, ask Him to help you.

Finally, I want to encourage you through verses 12 and 13 ~
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.

It sounds like this guy knows what it’s like to fall down. It sounds like he knows what it’s like to struggle day in and day out. Sometimes it’s all you can do to get back on your feet. Your hands are tired, your knees are weak – – and you’re not sure you can stand again. The writer of Hebrews says, “Get up. Get on your feet. Stand tall. Take another step. Don’t be afraid to try again.”

If you’re facing difficulties right now — whatever the reason — and you’re tempted to give up and admit defeat, I encourage you – – lift up those dropping hands, stand tall, walk a straight path to the Lord . . . so that what is lame, what is hurting, what is wounded, may not stay out of joint . . . but so that what is wounded may be healed which will bring rejoicing and celebrating!

And lastly, it leads to verse 15 ~
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;

Basically the writer is telling us to look out for one another. Do you see that first part of verse 15? Make certain nobody fails to receive the grace of God! It’s your job church! If someone is struggling, if they are weak kneed, if their spirits are drooping, then help them to see and experience the power and majesty and glory of God. Make sure they receive His grace!

Otherwise . . . do you see what’s going to happen? There will be bitterness. It will be a root which grows and grows and destroys the body and kills off the fellowship. That’s not what is to happen.

What does all this mean, it means you MUST Strive for peace. You must pursue it, you must aggressively chase it down like you’re chasing your last meal.

Every one in this room has one ugly thing in common. We all struggle with sin. Some of us have sins more visible than others. But we all struggle with sin. But, you don’t have to quit. This is a battle you can win.

But don’t do it alone. Have someone walk alongside of you. Admit your sin. Repent. Seek peace. Seek Christ, the great physician, the great healer! The only true God, our Lord and Savior. He’s the Beginning and the End, the Alpha and Omega. He’s your Redeemer!! And as the writer of Hebrews tells us ~

2 Look to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith.

Your salvation is secure in Jesus Christ. He paid all there is to pay. And now He’s calling you to follow Him, in holiness and obedience, so that you can live a life connected to Him, living in His presence and walking in His power.
You’re His child; this is what He wants for you.

Comments(2)

  1. Reply
    Robyn Carpenter says

    Excellent

    • Reply
      Robyn Carpenter says

      This was a very good sermon. I understand the weight of sin and pray to Jesus to help me pass through this part in my life’s walk. To show me how to better myself in holiness and obedience. To better my connection, his presence in my life and to walk in his shoes. Jesus is the founder and protector of my faith. I’m saved by the blood of Jesus and walk in faith by the grace of God. Amen

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