Disciplined faith

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Prepare

Do you feel convicted, guilty, or too ashamed to approach God? Rather than hiding or keeping your distance, come to God now, confident of meeting Love face to face.


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Bible passage: Hebrews 12:1–13


Hebrews 12

 1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

God Disciplines His Children
 4 In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. 5 And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says,

   “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline,
   and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,
6 because the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
   and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.”

 7 Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? 8 If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. 9 Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! 10 They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. 11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

 12 Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. 13 “Make level paths for your feet,” so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.



New International Version (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society


Audio Bible passage


The audio version of the passage is taken from the Contemporary English Version (CEV).


Explore the Bible


Don’t lose heart
It was a eureka moment. I had been feeling terribly low, steeped in shame for how I’d let God down; regretting foolish choices and chasing self-centred goals. I believed God’s promise of forgiveness… but my knees were weak (v 12).

It was this passage that cut through my mild spiritual depression in an instant. ‘Do not lose heart, Anne. God LOVES you! That’s why he is disciplining you. It’s for your absolute good’ (vs 5,6,10).

Sharing in God’s holiness
God neither wants us to treat sin flippantly, nor to drown in condemnation. He wants us to share in his holiness (v 10). In other words, God wants us to experience a kingdom- orientated life which is distinguished from worldly values; one that nurtures peace, purpose, contentment, well-being, satisfaction and fruitfulness (see John 10:10).

Our heavenly Father is not vindictive. He truly wants what is best for us. Discipline may be painful, but in time, its effective purpose becomes clear (v 11). Compare yourself with Jesus (v 2). Where are you lax in your resolve? What habits or pursuits do you need to break (vs 1,13)?


Respond


Pray these words, then give time for God to speak. ‘Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting’ (Psalm 139:23,24).

Anne Le Tissier


Deeper Bible study


Having pointed to a whole string of faith-filled characters from the past in chapter 11, the writer now redirects our gaze to Christ (v 2). He is the finest example of what faith and obedience to the Father’s will achieves. As fellow-runners in that race, we must keep our gaze firmly fixed on him. Running a race is a powerful image of the Christian life. To compete effectively we need not only to keep our focus on winning but also to clear out anything that holds us back, even down to the tiniest stone in our shoes. Some suggest that the Christian’s race is a marathon rather than a sprint, but it is both – at different times. It also intersperses seasons of intense struggle and perseverance with times of rest (Hebrews 4:9,10).

Jesus faced other obstacles in his race, such as fierce opposition from sinful men. At times during more than 45 years of following Christ I have turned to these verses to remind myself that in my struggle against evil I have not yet resisted to the point of shedding my blood, no matter how tough the going seems to get! Jesus had, and so offers us an example that should encourage us in our perseverance (v 3).

Running in the race of life involves training as well as commitment. The discipline that training requires can seem unkind and hard to bear. Joni Eareckson Tada said, ‘When it comes to His discipline, He only has my best interest at heart.’1 If you fear that your harsh circumstances are a sign that God has forsaken you, remember that God only disciplines those who are his much loved children (v 6) and that your situation may actually be a sign that you truly belong to him.

Eric Gaudion

 

1 Joni Eareckson Tada, A Place of Healing, David C Cook Publications, 2010, p119


Bible background: Welcome discipline?


What is discipline?
The Greek word used here is defined in the standard dictionary of New Testament Greek as, ‘… upbringing, training, instruction …’ We often associate discipline with punishment, but the idea is wider than that. The primary reference is to education or training.

● The schoolroom – in the Graeco-Roman world education involved providing the knowledge and the wisdom to operate effectively in the adult world.

● Athletics – the picture in Hebrews 12 is of running a race. Athletes go through hard training in order to achieve results. It will often involve strict discipline.

● Military service – soldiers train so that they can respond quickly and effectively in battle situations.

This illustrates the wider aspect. Discipline – whether self-imposed or imposed by others – provides the structure in which learning and development can take place. It means hard work, concentration and direction.

Often the trainer or teacher will have to ensure that the pupil or trainee does things that they might not choose for themselves. Correction is part of the process.

How does God discipline?
Hebrews 12:1–13 picks up Proverbs 3:11,12 and suggests that much of the pain and difficulty we experience is part of God’s process of making us into the people he wants us to be.

In 2 Timothy 3:16 Paul uses the same word telling us that the Bible is useful for training in righteousness. The Bible disciplines or trains us by telling us what God expects of us, by encouraging us to go God’s way and by giving us examples of good (and bad) behaviour.

More than that, as Hebrews 13:12,13 points out, there is power in the Bible to get deep into our minds and hearts and bring change into our lives.

Bible in a year


Read the Bible in a year:

Ecclesiastes 4,5

2 Thessalonians 3

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Audio


Song: Fear not O little flock (Rise up)
Composer:
Godfrey Birtill
Copyright:
Copyright © Copyright (c) 2005 Thank you music
www.kingswayshop.com/shop


There is a hope so sure
Graham Kendrick
Copyright © 2002 Make Way Music
Buy this and other great worship songs at www.kingswayshop.com




Comments
  • Rachael Hampton | Wednesday, 24 August 2016

    Someone has said, 'God will use whatever is to hand.' Our Father does not send cruel things into our lives to discipline us, any more than a good father would. The reasons for the sufferings we go through are many- faceted, and God can and will use them to teach us about Himself, and about ourselves. Coupled with the instruction, comfort and strength we gain from the Word of God, we can set our wills to 'count it all joy' as James says, whenever we encounter trials of any sort, knowing that our loving Father will train us through them so that we can enjoy Him and the benefits of being in His Kingdom more and more.

  • Gilvin Crisifeca | Thursday, 25 August 2016

    Agreed RACHAEL. I need to live a holy separated, disciplined life, not to change God's heart but my heart toward God.

  • Adrienne Winter | Thursday, 25 August 2016

    We would love to know where the images attached to the readings come from... How can we find out?

  • Brenda Hill | Thursday, 25 August 2016

    #Biblepassage:Hebrews12:2 & 3 "fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart." Running the race with Jesus at times can get very weary with opposition to what Anne says in Explore "God neither wants us to treat sin flippantly, nor to drown in condemnation. He wants us to share in his holiness (v 10). In other words, God wants us to experience a kingdom- orientated life which is distinguished from worldly values; one that nurtures peace, purpose, contentment, well-being, satisfaction and fruitfulness (see John 10:10)" Lord we need lots of patience, acceptance and allowing your Holy Spirit to move in ways we do not know - Lord please fill us with your Holy Spirit so that your Kingdom may come in those difficult times we wait on you. How Deep The Father's Love For Us https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zSWC7XozVgY May His grace flow today for those who are struggling - blessings my W/L family.

  • Tim Berry | Thursday, 25 August 2016

    When things are not going so well in my life, I always think of Horatio Spafford. He was wealthy, but lost everything in the great Chicago fire. His only son died, and then his three young daughters were killed in an accident crossing the Atlantic. As he crossed the Atlantic to join his wife he wrote the hymn below. WOW! What an example. Love and blessings to you all today. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AHe_qmo3gX4

  • Derek Forster | Thursday, 25 August 2016

    When we walk with the Lord In the light of His Word What a glory He sheds on our way! While we do His good will; He abides with us still, And with all who will trust and obey. Not a burden we bear, Not a sorrow we share, But our toil He does richly repay; Not a grief or a loss, Not a frown or a cross, But is blest if we trust and obey.

  • Brenda Hill | Thursday, 25 August 2016

    Thank you Tim - one of my favourites and his story is amazing.

  • Adam Julians | Thursday, 25 August 2016

    Rachael - I like what you wrote about joy. Isn't this what this is about, when hardships come along seeing purpose and hope in enduring them - "a harvest of righteousness and peace?" I find this passage easy to relate to with being ex Royal Air Force regarding discipline and hardship. The motto of the RAF is "per ardua ad astra", meaning "through adversity to the stars."

  • Adam Julians | Thursday, 25 August 2016

    Rachael - I like what you wrote about joy. Isn't this what this is about, when hardships come along seeing purpose and hope in enduring them - "a harvest of righteousness and peace?" I find this passage easy to relate to with being ex Royal Air Force regarding discipline and hardship. The motto of the RAF is "per ardua ad astra", meaning "through adversity to the stars."

  • Jenny Yohannes | Thursday, 25 August 2016

    Adrrienne, I so agree. It would be great to have some description of the picture & its source. Brenda that is such a beautiful hymn. I will sing it to my sister who had Alzheimers when I visit her today. It made me weep. Such love!

  • Brenda Hill | Thursday, 25 August 2016

    JENNY so glad you were blessed by it and may His grace flow as you sing it to your sister - we have a lass here in PE that is doing marvelous ministry to Alzheimers by just singing to them.

  • Hugh Skeil | Thursday, 25 August 2016

    I'm trying to think of ways/times in which the Christian life is more like a sprint than a marathon (Deeper). I certainly agree that there are more intensive times but this is true of long distance trail runs - climbing hills and pushing to catch up with someone a bit ahead of you. Sprints are purely intensive, no chance to rest till the end (which I guess is actually the rest Heb 4 is talking about). In endurance activities (if we're not out to come first) there are times when perhaps we can take a breather - more gentler sections, a brief chat with volunteers at the aid stations and the occasional pause to take in the view at the top. Unlike a marathon, in a sprint there's no point in stopping to get rid of a stone in your shoe, or shedding any other encumbrances that you find around you once the gun goes off - you just have to go for it. One of the nice things about the long distance runs I have participated in is that all the finishers get a medal, not just the winners. You don't need to be elite to be valued and congratulated at the end. And we really are a mixed up bunch, men and women, kids to oldies, super fit to distinctly overweight. And everyone encourages and smiles at everyone else - even when it really hurts. And nothing like having a good pacemaker alongside you and a crowd of witnesses cheeringnyI'm trying to think of ways/times in which the Christian life is more like a sprint than a marathon. I certainly agree that there are more intensive times but this is true of long distance trail runs - climbing hills and pushing to catch up with someone a bit ahead of you. Sprints are purely intensive, no chance to rest till the end (which I guess is the rest Heb 4 is talking about). In endurance activities (if we're not out to come first) there are times when perhaps we can take a breather - more gentler sections, a brief chat with volunteers at the aid stations and the occasional pause to take in the view at the top. Unlike a marathon, in a sprint there's no point in stopping to get rid of a stone in your shoe, or getting rid of any other encumbrances that you find once the gun goes off - you just have to go for it. One of the nice things about the long distance runs I have participated in is that all the finishers get a medal, not just the winners. You don't need to be elite to be valued and congratulated at the end. And we really are a mixed up bunch, men and women, kids to oldies, super fit to distinctly overweight. And everyone encourages and smiles at everyone else - even when it really hurts. And nothing like having a good buddy/pacemaker to keep you going and a crowd of witnesses cheering you home. A lot of similarities to the Christian life and of course the crown that awaits us if we persevere to the end. Anyone for a run?

  • Hugh Skeil | Thursday, 25 August 2016

    Sorry a lot of that got doubled up somehow.

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