Live Like a Champion – Week 45

The Promise of the Father’s Discipline

Hebrews 12: 5-11


— Kids’ time: 

Do your parents ever tell you ‘no’?

What is something your parents have said NO to, or told you that you can’t do that you really want to do. Why do they do that? Don’t they want you to just be happy?


What would happen if you got everything you think you want?

Do they ever make you do something you don’t want to do?

What would happen if you never had to do something you didn’t want to do?

(Examples: What would go wrong if you never…. cleaned your room? went to school?)


SOMETIMES there are things we really, really want, something that seems so good and we think it would make us so happy, but it’s actually not good for us. And in fact, not only would it not make us happy, it would make us hurt or sad.


And SOMETIMES there are things that don’t seem appealing at all, things we really do NOT want to do or have, but they’re actually very important and we need them very much.


God gave us parents to help us know the difference, because right now you’re little and you need help making decisions. At some point, you’ll be big and your parents and the people who take care of you, they won’t tell you what to do anymore (well, not if your family is functional and healthy, although you might end up like Everybody Loves Raymond). But mostly, parents stop telling you what to do and at some point its YOUR job to take care of yourselves.


You know what though? They tell you no sometimes and make you do things sometimes because they love you very very much, and they want to help protect you and keep you safe so that you eventually make it to THIS big, and so you’ll know how to be a good, and kind, and wise person who has a healthy and meaningful life. That’s what they want. They want you to be ok and to be well.


And guess what guys- OBEDIENCE isn’t just something kids have to do. I know it might seem like someday you’ll grow up and then you’ll get to do whatever you want, and you’re going to eat all the candy you want. But there is still someone who knows better than we do, and who we have to trust to tell us what to do and that’s God. God is like a parent but even better because he is PERFECT. Right now you’re practicing learning how to trust and obey. God is your Father in Heaven and He knows so much better than we do, and he invites us to trust him and obey him, now when you’re young but also for the rest of your life. [PRAY].
(Dismiss kids.)


Read Hebrews 12: 5-11

Background:  This passage written by a preacher, who is not currently with his congregation. The preacher wants to encourage his people because they’re weary and at risk for simply giving up their pursuit of Jesus. They’re worn out. Hebrews is written to a group of Christians whose commitment (for some) is waning and attendance is lax. Perhaps the challenges of their lives had demoralized them, because they had hoped Christ’s return would have come sooner, and they are losing hope. So the preacher is encouraging them to not give up but keep going with Jesus.


The Christian life is hard. Following Jesus and having faithful and obeying God is hard. Sometimes it may feel like it’s not even worth it, and maybe it would be easier to just stop trying to have faith and obey God. The preacher reminds them that they aren’t alone, that their struggle is the great struggle of all Christians, in all times and all places. It’s not just you; this struggle is our common experience as brothers and sisters, here and globally, now and for hundreds of years. “True participation in the Christian faith always carries a price.” Life is hard for everyone- but for a Christian, in the midst of all the common challenges of being a human, faithfulness to Jesus is especially costly.


The preacher here is like a night nurse coming to the bedside of his hurting congregation to reassure them that the pain they feel is not a destructive anguish but a healing one. The suffering they are experiencing may seem like it is generated at random from the harsh forces in this world, but it is actually the expression of God’s parental discipline, which is a good thing.


How is God’s correction a good thing?


  1. Because it proves that god loves us. The only children who aren’t disciplined are those who are abandoned and unloved.
  2. Our parents disciplined us as kids, and at the time we grumbled or fought it, but as we got older we recognized it was actually for our best. “As children we were rarely enthusiastic about our parent’s control over us or their correction”, but looking back it was necessary and even good.
  3. The end result is worth the pain, because the end result is that we grow up to be like God our father, and to mature into his image and share in his holiness. Peaceful harvest of right living… peaceful= good. He wants peace and goodness and meaning and joy for us. He is not arbitrarily wounding us, but rather guiding us into the best possible way of life. Right living=a good life of virtue and value. Peaceful confidence that we have spent our life well.


To a child, something that is very appealing might actually not be good for them, and consequently something that is very unappealing may be exactly what is needed. So the rules, demands, correction, words of advice are not arbitrary at all, but full of purpose and meaning, like the guide wires on a young sapling, helping it have the best chance to grow tall and strong and healthy.


**The idea that all of human suffering is the result of God trying to teach us a lesson is untenable. This is not meant to be an absolute principle, but a pastoral encouragement, a way to make sense of the struggle to be faithful, and encouragement to not give up. He is not trying to explain all suffering. This passage is not meant to be interpreted as a broad theology for suffering. We may not find useful lessons in things like war and famine. God is not cruelly creating pain to teach us things. This is a pastor trying to encourage his congregation to see how God is at work in their challenges, because often those very circumstances make us stronger, wiser, more faithful and loving. That doesn’t mean we look back on our suffering and say, “sorrow has its lessons” but rather we look back and say “Thank you Jesus for being faithful to help me”. He is offering them a perspective on their struggles, that will encourage them and also help them to see what they are going through not as evidence of God’s anger and rejection, but a sign of his care and embrace.


Vs. 1-4 give us the example of the suffering of Jesus, as a MODEL, (not as a judgement), of how to endure struggles. It’s not that “what you’re going through is nothing compared to what Jesus went through”, but rather, “you can get through this if you keep your eyes on Jesus, who was victorious over every kind of struggle and can carry you through your own”.


Vs.12-13 concludes with an exhortation, to a group of people who were stumbling and faltering, to recover their strength and stay the course. Don’t fall down- don’t quit. Keep going. Renew your trust and commitment.


What is the big idea of this passage?


God disciplines us because he loves us and wants us to grow up to be like him.


Consider how God wants to teach and develop you through the difficult challenges of life. If you’re feeling weary and starting to give up, don’t. Don’t quit. Resolve to trust Jesus, look away to him, and endure what life is throwing at you. God is not abandoning you or being cruel to you- he is a good and caring father. He wants to make you more like himself so that your life will actually be full of joy and goodness and peace.


Read: Lamentations 3:19-33

God is not cruelly using our pain and suffering just to teach us some lessons!


Questions to ponder: 

Where in your life is God trying to discipline and shape you?

Are you resisting Him, or submitting to Him?

Can you trust that He knows what is truly best for your life?


You can listen to the message here:


You can watch the message by clicking HERE.

For a copy of the Handout Katie used, click on this link:  2021-11-07 Promises of Victory Wk 45 – Katie Kinnaird – Handout.