The “D” Word

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Hebrews Chapter 12. I wanna set up the basis for where we’re going in the story and today we’re gonna talk about the ‘D’ word. I don’t want you to assume what that is yet until I tell you what that is. But it is a scary word. It’s a sobering word that I’ll describe in a minute, but sometimes when you come to scripture, there are certain phrases, ideas that are a little bit sobering.

For me, James 3:1 is one that I think about constantly, especially on Sunday mornings. It says, “Not many of you should become teachers because in so doing you incur a stricter judgment on you.” You’re accountable for the things that you say about God if you’re claiming to represent the mind of the Lord in communicating the scripture. That’s not something that I take lightly in what I say and share.

Hebrews Chapter 10, the chapters that we’ve unfolded here recently start to explain to us how we respond. Now, in light of everything that we’ve heard, we looked at the beauty of who Jesus is. We’ve spent this summer communicating how incredible God has orchestrated His plan of redemption throughout history. How this is obvious that is not just something He just haphazardly spewed out to us, but He has been communicating this to us from the beginning.

Go back to the book of Genesis. God shares with us from the seed of a woman, not from the seed of a man, virgin birth, that someone would come to crush the head of the serpent, Satan. He would suffer a piercing in the process. We see that in Jesus starting in Genesis 3:15. God sets up then for Israel a system of worship and all of, within the context of that system, all of it is a shadow of what Jesus would ultimately fulfill.

We’ve looked at Old Testament passages that have said that and how Israel looked for a new covenant. This coming of the one who would fully redeemed them through the pictures of the Old Testament practices, and we talked about what those pictures were. The temple, the law, the Sabbath, the prophet, the priest, the lamb sacrifice. All of those pictures in the Old Testament weren’t intended for us to live for today. They’re all shadows of what Jesus would ultimately accomplish for us, that we could find our identity now in him.

Jesus paid it all on the cross. He said, it is finished, paid in full. And so, for us today, as we think about singing as we think about God’s word, it’s an engaging of who you are in response to who God is. God desires to make himself known to us and for us to know Him as He desires to make Himself known to us. We’re created as worship beings. This morning is about your heart seeking God and us collectively as a community in pursuit of that.

Now, in light of all of that, how do we respond? Hebrews Chapter 10 is really blunt and honest with where the believers are, in this passage of this scripture. I think the author knows that the church is about to face persecution, extreme persecution. Persecution that would last 250 years of the existence of the early church. In Chapter 10, he even begins to say in verses 33-35, that these people have suffered the loss of their own possessions and have ministered to one another in prison because of their faith in Jesus and the way it’s costing them.

Then in Chapter 11, it then encourages us to live this life by faith. It goes to this representation of throughout biblical history, those who have walked by faith. And it ends Chapter 11 and saying, “And they haven’t even seen the fullness of the promises.” Because what was fully promised to them comes in Jesus. So, you see these giants of the faith, or at least we oftentimes think of them as giants of the faith, but a lot of them were greatly flawed.

Actually, all of them were greatly flawed and they’re living this life by faith in the Lord. But the promises that God has given them weren’t fully brought until Jesus brings the new covenant for us. So, in Chapter 11 it starts showing us those that have walked by faith.

And then as you get into Chapter 12, it then start speaking more directly to you and says, “Now, you run.” And more specifically, it said this to us, “Therefore,” in the summary of that idea, “… since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.” Now is your time. Now is your opportunity to make much of Christ in this world, to run your race and to glorify God.

Under the backdrop of all of that, there’s a hesitation in reading a verse like this because when it says, “run,” which I’m not that fast, and then it says, “in endurance,” and well, I don’t want to do that either. So, running sure short distances, got that, Jesus, right? But we’re talking about endurance for the duration of my life. How in the world am I going to do this, right? Maybe not right now. It’ll come back to me in about five minutes. Let me think about this for a second.

But, 12:1 is talking about running this race for God. How in the world can we do this? I think when you run this race, and we talk about endurance, it outlines for us what that endurance is, where it needs to come from, is because there is sin and there are things that can entangle us. Life’s not easy and pursuing Jesus isn’t always easy. There’s a cost that comes with it.

It affects the way you do things. You may have to let go of certain things that you hold to his idols in your life. The sin, right? I want to run my race my way, right? I don’t want to hold a little bit of my Jesus and then whatever else in this world that I love. This race is a calling of complete devotion. Everything that Christ is and letting go of that and doing it with endurance. How in the world do you run this race? We’ve looked at this together.

We started this idea of what race running is all about. It tells us in this first verse that we’ve been surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses. If you remember, and talking about this idea of witnesses is everyone that’s gone before us. We saw in Chapter 11. It has this view of like the Olympic Games, this greater arena, and seated in this arena, are all the witnesses that have gone before you that have pursued Christ with their life or pursued the Lord with their life.

Now, you’re in the middle of the stadium and everyone’s cheering for you and watching you, and you’re about to run this race. When you see this words, “Witness,” it can be very intimidating. It’s like all eyes are on you. Don’t screw this up, but this word for witness means more than just spectator. It’s actually where you get the English word, “martyr.” What it’s saying to us is not that they’re witness of us, but rather they’re a witness to us.

This idea of martyrdom is their lives standing around us as a testimony to demonstrate that God is faithful. You’re able to run what God calls you to run in Him because God created you for that purpose and if you trust in him, God is faithful. That’s the proclamation of these witnesses. So, it goes on and makes the second point in verse 2, “Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of the faith, who for the joy set before him, endured the cross despising the shame and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Fixing our eyes on Jesus.

Jesus is our price. It’s not about what you accomplished and accolades. Christianity is about faithful. Being faithful. God called you into relationship with Him. The pursuit and priority of our lives is to make much of Him in everything that we do. God is most glorified in me when I am most satisfied in Him. So, the aim of our lives isn’t about accomplishment. It’s not about even doing good. It’s about Jesus.

Now, the fruit of that is obedience, but the pursuit of our heart in our lives is to know Him. So, Paul says in Philippians 3:10, “That I may know him.” So he says, “Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before him, endured the cross, despising the shame, sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” And then verse 3, “For consider him who has endured such hostility by sinners against himself so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” I can’t do this, right? But, do you know the price?

All the examples you’ve seen in Chapter 11 of those that walked by faith. In verse 3, then it makes Jesus the ultimate prize. And here’s the great thing about Jesus. Not only is Jesus’s death give us life, but Jesus’s life itself gave us an example. When Jesus lived his life on this earth, yes, he was God that became flesh, but he walked this earth in humanity. He demonstrated for us what it was like to live faithful in light of the father, in relationship to him.

Jesus, in that position, was able to successfully live out in the flesh what it means to walk in obedience before God. So, he’s saying in verse 3, “It is possible.” Because Jesus being the greatest example for all of us, the one in which we’re to emulate our lives, he lived that life obedience in the flesh. And so, calls us, don’t grow weary and lose heart.

He goes on in verse 4, and he says, “You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding of blood and you’re striving against sin.” Like he’s saying, truthfully, you haven’t even tapped into what you’re capable of doing in the glory of who God is as Christ works in you and through you. Jesus is against sin to the point of shedding his blood and you haven’t even hit that point yet. There’s an opportunity in the lives of believers were God can supernaturally work through us.

We oftentimes look at the challenges we face and think, “How in the world are we going to do that?” But, if you remember the marks of the Apostle Paul, he says, “His grace is sufficient for me.” Looking at the moment ahead of us. We wonder that how can we make it through that? Well, Paul found out in his life when he got to that moment. God’s grace is supplied.

So, he’s saying this, “Look, in the life of the believer, of we haven’t even begin to understand what we are able to do through the power of Christ that works in us. If we would just simply trust in him in those moments.” Another pursuit of American life is pleasure. Like, I’ll follow you Jesus as long as it’s easy. When it’s not, I’m gonna do my thing, I’ll come back when it’s easy again, right?

The joy of our life is simply pleasure or whatever makes life easy. But God is saying there’s so much more about learning in your relationship with Him if you would simply trust Him and the challenges because in those challenges you find out that his grace is sufficient. What God is after here is the growth of you as a believer in Him. I had this theology that I created and maybe it’ll catch on one day, but I call it, “Trashcan theology.”

Every once in a while I’ll mention it in the office, but it’s a place where God brings you to and you’re like, “I can’t do this. I think I’m going to throw up. Give me trashcan.” You look at the circumstance, you’re like … it’s happened to me a few times in doing ministry here. Like, when we bought this building. I know today it’s like we need a bigger building. But before we bought this thing, just the construction, everything took place. Sign your name to the dotted line.

I’m like, “This is beyond me, God.” And seeing what can happen in these circumstances, but God brings you to that place, that’s the end of yourself. Why? To experience the glory of who He is, to become a part of the greater cloud of witnesses demonstrating to the next generation. He is faithful. So, in verse 5 and 6, He brings up the “D’ word. All discipline. All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful.

And verse 5 and 6, let’s skip this verse when it say, “And you have forgotten the expectation which is addressed to you as sons. My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord nor faint when you have reproved by him, for those whom the Lord loves He disciplines and scourges every son whom he receives.” God brings discipline.

You think about running this race and you say before Lord, “Okay. God, I see the race you’re calling me to run. I see the witnesses around me. I see how you endured this race in your humanity, but I’m not you. How in the world am I going to run this race the way that you’ve called me to run this race? I don’t think I have it me.” And then God shows up and He’s like, “Oh, it’s easy. Here’s the answer. It’s discipline.”

I don’t want to say that,” That doesn’t sound like a good thing to me. How is saying the word discipline a good thing. I know that sometimes you get those freaky spiritual Christians who are like, “Oh yeah, bring it on. Give me discipline.” For those I just say, “Killed the corner for a second.” Because when I look at a word like this, I’m like, “Yeah, let the other people do that. Discipline, sign me up.” That’s crazy. Discipline, we should consider that the curse word, right? Let’s talk about all the things that make Christianity easy. Let’s not worry about discipline this morning. Let’s talk about something else.

But then you read verses like verse 11. That makes it feel better. “And all discipline for the moment seems to not be joyful but sorrowful.” He’s already saying to you, “Look, it is a normal tendency within our lives and not be like, I will be the first to sign up for discipline, please.” Like, discipline is not the most popular thing to bring up in a discussion. But He goes on and he says this in verse 7, “This is for discipline that you endure.”

God deals with you as with sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? When you start something new, for the most part, it never comes easy. It takes training routine. When you look at running the race and the Christian life, there are challenges that come with doing this. And he’s saying to us in the beginning, “Look, here’s the target eyes on Jesus. No one ever starts climbing Mount Everest by waking up tomorrow and be like, “Today I feel like I’m just gonna climb Mount Everest, right?

There’s training that’s involved with this. What is this discipline thing? If it’s gonna be in scripture, we need to deal with it, right? If there’s a way to get rid of it, don’t worry. I’m going to help us work through that today. I don’t wanna I don’t wanna do this anymore that I have to. So, what is discipline?

I think it’s very important to distinguish this word from the idea of punishment. Discipline is not punishment. God does not punish his people. In fact, God punished Christ in your place. Punishment is about vengeance, it’s about retribution, it’s about wrath. Discipline does not mean punishment. Discipline rather is about training, nurturing, maturity, virtue, righteousness. In fact, the idea behind this word is to help a child mature in their lives.

I mean, how many by show of hands … don’t raise your hand. Don’t do that. How many of you will be like, “Man, you know what? My favorite room to be in is a room loaded with undisciplined children. Please put me there.” What joy? That is not a blessing to the world. It’s like a test of your patients like God’s teaching me discipline in that moment by not killing somebody right now, but it’s not the room that I want to step into, and the life of the believer the same way.

God puts you in this world and knowing Him to be light in darkness, so the joy of what it is to pursue Jesus. You know how you allow people to experience that around you? You, yourself mature. You can’t lead people any further than you’ve been led. I mean, you thinking in a local church context that the leaders sort of set the precedent of what it means to pursue God and to know God and to live in light of that. I know it shouldn’t be the case, but oftentimes it becomes the ceiling.

So, discipline is about maturity. This is about God being for you, God wanting to see you grow. And the idea of punishment, God is a judge, but the idea of discipline, God is father. In fact, that’s where He takes these next verses. He says in verse eight, “But if you are without discipline of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us and we respected them. Shall we not much rather be subject to the father of spirits and live for. They disciplined us for a short time, as seemed best for them, but he disciplines us for our good so that we may share in his holiness.”

God’s desire is to see you maturing and growing and thriving. God wants you to run, and in order to run well, discipline is involved, right? It’s interesting when you study the word discipline because the root of the word discipline is actually the word disciple. When you study the idea of disciple in scripture, I know the popular phrase for us today, we call ourselves Christians, but it’s interesting to note that the word Christian is only used three times in the New Testament, but the word disciple is over 250 times in the New Testament.

There’s something to be said about the idea of disciple and what it’s pursuing. The word disciple in its basic context is a follower or a learner? If I were to define it in the context of a scripture, when it talks about disciple, how it lays it out, a disciple is one who’s adopted, formed, and empowered to pursue the things in which God calls them to. If I gave you a verse to base that off of, here’s a popular one that we can look at together.

Matthew 28:19 and 20, Jesus is talking to his disciples about making disciples. Coincidentally, involves discipline here. It says this, “And not by word, but by definition involves discipline.” Look at this. It says, “Go therefore talking to the disciples and make disciples.” The text actually reads as you’re going into the world, here’s the command for you as disciples of Jesus to make disciples. That God’s desire for us to reproduce.

If what you produce isn’t reproducing, then do something different. God’s call for his believers are to make disciples like who is in your area of influence in this world? Please have influence for Jesus, and the way that you do that is to mature in Jesus so you have something to impart in the world.

Seek Jesus. Then he says, “Disciples, go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the father, son, Holy Spirit. Teaching them to observe all that I’ve commanded you so you’re reproducing what’s been produced. And lo, I am with you always to the end of the age.” When he talks about going to the world and make disciples, very interesting statement follows, baptizing in the name of the father, son, and Holy Spirit.

The last Sunday we had baptism Sunday for our church family, just an annual celebration that we do for those that wanna pursue Jesus and make that publicly known. It’s a great time to celebrate what God’s doing in life with people, but one of the ways to think about it is what’s said in this verse, baptizing in the name of the father, son, and Holy Spirit. Now, what in the world does that mean? Baptizing in the name?

When it says name, notice it says the unity of God. Father, son, and Holy Spirit. It doesn’t say names of, but it says in the singular name of. So, it’s a promotion of the trinity here. Baptizing in the name. During the time of Jesus’s day, your family was an identity. Okay, thinking about Jesus’s early disciples, James and John. When comes to James and John and he calls them out, he refers to them as the sons of Zebedee.

The sons of Zebedee are communication in the scripture of their identity. They are from that family. When you think of that father, it’s an identity of who the children are. In addition to that, the father was a fisherman, so it’s known that what the children would do is to grow up to become fishermen as well. And so, the name had very much to do with identity and represented the family which you belong to in the position which you would carry forth in this world.

And so, when God is saying you’re baptized in the name of the father, son, and Holy Spirit, it’s communicating the same thing about us as disciples, make disciples. This is what a disciple is. It’s one who belongs to the family, shaped in this identity, empowered to carry out the positions that they’ll have in the Lord. Make disciples of all nations.

Here’s where they find that identity. You find out what God has already taught to them. I would say for us in Hebrews 12:5 and 6, and when God is calling us to this discipline in Him, He goes back to scripture. He’s saying this is what it looks like. Remember Proverbs? He quotes from Proverbs 12: 5 and 6. It’s saying the identity of a discipline, the identity of a disciple finds himself in the word of God because that’s where the truth and identity of who God is proclaiming to us.

So, if you’re shaping yourself in light of this, if you belong to this, if you want to live for this, this is your book. So, the idea of disciple, this adopted belonging, it’s this formed and shaped and it’s this empowered to live this life and mission. Because look what it says at the very end, “I am with you always even to the end of age.” That’s the beauty of this discipline, is what it’s saying to us in this passage. Punishment, I don’t want anything to do with you. But discipline, I’m right beside you.

I’m about your growth and maturity. I care about you. You think about what it means to be a parent. When you parent your kids, the scope of parenting isn’t just to correct the problem, right? When it happens with your child, but rather you do want to correct. But what is this about? Is the end goal. What kind of person do I want my son or daughter to be?

Because those ideals, that character, that way of living, that’s what you hold before them. So, the idea of disciplining kids, yes, when they do wrong, you can help correct them and their behavior because they have a deceitful heart in sin. But in addition to that, as a parent, you also, when they live that kind of life, you want to see them emulate as adult, blessing this world. You want to praise that.

You think about the characteristics like when your kid comes home with good grades, you don’t say, “Where did you get the A,” but it’s like you want to take it a step further with him. You want to say to them, “I know sometimes getting an A in this particular subject isn’t always easy because this isn’t necessarily the best subject, but the hard work you showed fourth, the discipline, the perseverance, that character says something about you. The A is great, but I’m so thankful for the way you displayed yourself throughout that course of your class.

You’re thinking long-term, promoting that. Discipline doesn’t have to be bad. It’s about maturity. It’s about training. It’s about growing. It’s about the journey, not running away from God because every time I got near Him I think he’s going to punish me. That not a good way to parenting like you come to your kid and constantly just bash them over the head of everything they’re doing wrong. They’re gonna disdain your appearance and they’re gonna dislike her God for always telling them everything they’re doing that’s not right in this world.

But you got to celebrate, and cheer, and root on. I love the way it starts in Hebrews Chapter 12, “You’re surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses.” Man, they’re cheering you on in this because they know God is faithful. He’s got this. Just trust Him. Look onto Him. Finish line. Yes, maybe sometimes you want to grab a trash can. God is faithful.

God is faithful. So, this idea of discipline becomes important for us. Let me just ask this question, how do I know if God is disciplining me? That’s a good one, right? How do I know of God is disciplining me. Sometimes the answers to this can get a bit ridiculous. I’ve seen in scenarios where people have just gone through some bad things in life. I think well-intentioned people have come to them and try to give their best advice in those moments to help. But I have heard some horrific things that. I would just … if we could just strike that from our mouths.

Like when someone goes through a bad thing, you just happen to be like, “Well, this has happened to you because you’re stronger than me,” right? How do you know? I think it’s a very dangerous thing to speak on behalf of God as He wants to orchestrate the course of history outside of things He specifically told us. I don’t think in Christianity we can say to everyone why exactly every difficult thing happens to us, but here’s a couple of things we can say.

Regardless, God always loves you. God cares about you in those moments. God hates the destruction of sin as much if not more than we do. So, His heart agrees with us. God grieves with us in those things. But in addition to that, God is more than conquer. I don’t specifically know why everything always happens to us. I wouldn’t want to pretend to tell you why, but I do know this, God will take into account every wrong. There’s no pain you will go through, there’s no tear that you will ever shed, that God will not hold accountable to him. God is a good God. God will reconcile it all. Romans 8 tells us that.

So, just simply trying to slide it under the rug, when people go through difficult times to say foolish things that don’t help the person in the process, that’s not good for us. Romans Chapter 12 even tells us, “Weep with those who weep and mourn with those who mourn.” For me, when I go through hardships, I can tell you I’m a verbal processor. I know my goal is to glorify God, but sometimes you go through circumstances, you’re looking for the best way to do that in your scenario.

Here’s some hardships and I’ve learned, in following after God in my life, I have learned where I’m clinging to Jesus and where I’m not. The hardships in life really teach you that. Believe it or not, we need difficult things to really show us if we are truly depending on God, because when life is easy, it’s easy to say, “You trust in God,” but sometimes the difficult personalities in the room, and that’s none of you, you guys are all perfect, right?

But sometimes the difficult personalities in the room show you what you’re really holding onto. Sometimes when things in ministry happened that they didn’t go exactly the way that you wanted it to, it shows you … are you doing it for the glory of the ministry? Are you doing it to just honor God? Because I have in my mind sometimes the way I want things to go to, but they don’t always go that way.

The result isn’t there, but what am I after? Is it results? When someone gets mad at me, what am I after? To please them? We all want to seek peace with all people, the scripture tells me to do that, but at the end of the day, I can’t make everybody happy. The truth, when you preach the truth, and people naturally are going to disagree with that anyway, I want to make it hard for people to hate me, but at the end of the day, if I got to choose between you and Jesus, I choose Jesus. But what does that adversity show me? It shows me what I’m really trusting in.

It shows me where I’m mature or not mature. When my kids are losing it and I lose it. Walk in the flesh or in the spirit. Those moments are used from my maturity. Now, I can’t say everything that happens to me. I’m not gonna come to you and say everything that happens to you is because God just wants to discipline you, right? I can’t say that. But I can say God can use those circumstances for that reason. I don’t have to be thankful for everything in life. I’m not gonna stop and say, “God, thank you for the cancer. That was awesome.” But I can be thankful in everything.

In those moments, it shows me where my hope really lies, are my eyes on Jesus? If not what was it trusting in? And guess where God is in all of that? Right beside me. Now, I know that’s what the word discipline means. It’s a father walking with you. He is for you, not against you. To bless this world, and to allow His glory to shine through you and for you to find out as a cloud of witnesses with the witnesses that God is faithful.

So, how do I know God is disciplined me? Well, a couple things I would say real quick. one, God’s not smiting everyone and that could be a result like bad things happen and God just kills them all. Sometimes when bad things happen we go, “All right. God, wrath please.” Right? You see them? Not you, but whoever out there in the world. Wrath, right? So, God’s not doing that or God isn’t ignoring me because He calls me His own, and He tells me I belong to Him.

Those are two options. I could totally ignore the situation. I could run away from it. Like, Discipline, no, thank you. I’m just going to go over here by myself, God. How do I know God’s disciplining me? Because I continue to walk in this world. God can use circumstances of every moment of my life from my maturity as I surrender myself to Him. As a pastor, I have learned that in many ways in ministry than I’d never anticipated that coming to Utah, we lived very poor for many, many years just to be here to do ministry.

Turning down many of opportunities to go elsewhere to make a lot more money. Why? Because I think this is where God called me and this is where God wants us to mature me, right? Or here’s one I never anticipated, like I hate goodbyes. God moved us to an area where it’s growing so rapidly that it’s become very transient in nature. Just so you know, no one here ever allowed to leave. That is a rule out by Bible church, you can never move.

If you’re here, you’re stuck forever, okay? I hate goodbyes, but here’s what I’ve learned in that and I didn’t want to learn this. I didn’t want to learn this. People don’t belong to me. I’m not trying to hoard people, but I love people and I hate goodbyes, but people don’t belong to me. They belong to Jesus, and so here’s what we have an opportunity to invest in people for the work of his kingdom. So, however long you’re with us, which is forever, just so you know. But, however long you might be with us, that’s my hope for you, in your life, and your family.

That you could know him, that God can mature you, grow you. You could celebrate that in Him. I got to move on. Let me close with these thoughts. What discipline is and is not. Discipline isn’t moralism guys. It’s interesting in the 1930s that Christian pastors actually heralded Hitler as a great example to follow because he didn’t smoke, he didn’t drink, he encouraged all modesty and he opposed pornography. What a great guy, right? God’s not after moralism. He’s after you.

He cares about your heart and He cares so much that He doesn’t want to leave it the way it is. He wants to see it flourish in this world for His glory. So, discipline helps me. In a position of being a pastor, it puts you on a platform sometimes where you get a lot of encouraging things and you get criticism, right? The good part, you experience a lot of highs and you experienced a lot of lows with people. What’s important in those circumstances is that it really teaches you where you find your identity. Who has shaped you? What have you built your foundation on?

This is what I’ve learned in those things. I don’t want credit when things go really well. I don’t want any credit for it. You know why? Because I don’t want any credit when things go bad. It’s the Lord doing all those things. I don’t want credit in any of that stuff, but here’s what I hope happens in all of it, I’m faithful.

When you think about the experiences of your life, all the things that you’re gonna go through, your moments don’t define you, they refund you. You’re not stuck in your circumstances, it’s just something that you’re going through. If you’re faithful, as a great cloud of witnesses, you find the glory of a God who stood with you in all of it. In fact, the scripture tells us even when we’re not faithful, He is. So, discipline helps me and at the same time, discipline helps others.

This is what I’ve found in life, is that when I go through ups and downs of life, it makes me very sensitive to the need of people. As I’ve learned the course of life of what life can take from you, and what life can give you, and I walk life with people going through those circumstances. It helps me better relate to them. It shows me in my life that my identity and my circumstances, it’s really never been about me. It’s been about him working through me in all of that and able to minister with other people in the circumstances that they are facing as well.

If I just gave you an illustration of someone I think did this beautifully in his life, He just remained faithful despite everything and the up and downs that happened, it would be a man by the name of George Mueller. Let me skip to this, sorry. I got to close the end because we’re running out of time.

George Mueller was born in the early 1800s. He lived 100 years in England and he had an orphanage that at one point had over 2000 kids in it. In his lifetime, had over 10,000 kids that he cared for in this orphanage. The interesting thing about George Mueller is he never beg people for money. In fact, he just simply trusted in God. What he found in the light in the course of his life is that God always supplied. He had this quote, I think is important for all of us as it relates to discipline. “The only way to learn strong faith is to enter a grade trials.”

That’s really how we know if our faith is genuine. It’s why James says, “Consider it all joy my brothers, when you face various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance and let endurance have its perfect work.” You don’t just say, “I love Jesus,” but you have a life that really demonstrates it. I have a relationship with Jesus, based on what? You never read the word. You don’t get involved with people that are part of God’s community. You rarely show up for church. It’s like Easter and Christmas. What relationship man?

Your life should bear fruit, and when your life is tested, then your faith is demonstrated. Now, I’m not saying all those legalistic things necessarily prove you have a demonstration with God, but if you really love Jesus, you want to be a part of the things that Jesus cares about. The only way to learn strong faith is to dirt gray trials. When George Mueller had young people that would move on from the orphanage, when they’re old enough to go out into the world, he would take a bible and place it in the right hand and a coin and place it in the left hand.

He would say, “If you seek God with what is in your right hand, he’ll make sure to give you what you need in your left hand.” Run the race. God is for your maturity. Let me just ask, how are you going to run the race before you? Where is God growing your faith right now? Naturally, we want to walk away and seek pleasure rather than the adversity in Jesus, but the encouragement in this passage is to step out and let God show you He is faithful. That He is for your maturity.

Ministry is about leading from weakness because of what Jesus is able to do in you. The story of this journey, your journey, my journey. It’s not about the way we impress God, but rather the way God impresses himself upon us that we may glorify Him with our lives.

Running the Race

Audience of One