Date: April 8, 2018
Pastor Matthew Burt
Title: Never Give Up!
Text: Proverbs 3:1-12; 1 Peter 2:13-25; Hebrews 12:3-11
Wellspring Church, Springfield, Mass.
SCRIPTURES: Hebrews 12:3-11
3 Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. 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.
6 For the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
and chastises every son whom he receives.”
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.
BIG IDEA: Never give up!
Fatigue and weariness seems to be a bit of a mantra in our world today and our lives. Pastor Tracy told a story of a woman in Africa who introduced herself as “I’m tired’.When asked if tired was really her name she replied No but that is what I hear all the Americans saying when they introduce themselves! We all have weariness and fatigue and tiredness in our lives. What are we going to do about it? You have heard the story of how Churchill was invited to an American University to give the commencement speech and said “never nevernevernevernever give up” and he sat down. Actually it never happened but it’s an urban legend. These words were part of a 20 min speech that Churchill gave at his own boyhood alma mater, Harrow. When we come to the end of ourselves and are ready to give up – Churchill’s words are inspiring but there is something missing. There is the challenge but there is no ability, no helpful resource of how we are never, never, never to give up. In these verses in Hebrews we have instruction as we have opposition.
Over the past few weeks we have seen that we are called to lay aside every weight, put aside sin in our lives and pursue life. But there is within us fatigue. There comes a time when we think we cannot stand. How will we make it to the end?
OUTLINE FOR TODAY:
Point 1: Continuing instructions – Consider Jesus
Point 2: Exhortation – challenge given to us (v5): two parts – the warning and the teaching
Point 3: Application
Point 1: Continuing instructions (v3) – Consider Jesus
Consider Jesus the Founder and the Perfecter of our faith. Don’t miss this. In our lives we have an incomplete, immature faith but thanks be to God that there will be a time when our faith will be completed and perfected. It will be Jesus who does that. When we see Him it will all make sense. He who endured the cross. We have considered the agonies of crucifixion but that’s not the end of the story as we saw last week. The tomb opened up! The stone was thrust away. In a few weeks we will celebrate the Ascension. His work is an ongoing work where He is seated at the right hand of the Father. He continues to live and He lives ever to make intercessions for us.
A) We need to continually, even as Easter people consider and think on the suffering of Christ on the cross. Yes, He is risen! Yes He will return in Glory! But we need to remember that all of that – the death of Christ that precedes the wonders- is my fault that Jesus died. It is for my sins that He took the full weight of God’s wrath. We sing these words:
Behold the man upon the cross
My sin upon His shoulders
Ashamed, I hear my mocking voice
Call out among the scoffers.
It was my sin that held Him there
Until it was accomplished.
We are to think of the death of Christ even in the brightness of the resurrection. Jesus told us to do this as He gave us the Lord’s Supper. So there is nothing wrong and everything right with us thinking often and carefully and personally about the death of Christ. Consider Jesus who endured the hostility of the sinners – not just those Jewish rulers and the soldiers and the world that was there at the time but all sinners at all time in all places. It’s you and me! Consider Him who considered the hostility of the sinners – that’s us today. This brings humility and sorrow to our own lives.
B) The word “consider” is an interesting choice. One way we think of consider is the opposite of inconsiderate; be nice; be thoughtful. But the language here is more like analogy. It is a mathematical term that the author uses that means compare one thing to another; consider your fatigue and put it in proportion to what Jesus suffered. Compare the two. Frankly, every bit of our complaining and self-centeredness would evaporate. In that word consider is compare proportionally. This is not meant to discount the real pain, suffering, fatigue or difficulty that you or I might be facing in our lives. It just says if you want to understand how to deal with your situation put it in proportion to Jesus’ suffering.
You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood. IF the thing I am fighting against is a temptation to live my life apart from God; consider that there has been not time yet in my life where I have actually shed blood. This is one of the most humbling and challenging concepts for us. Yes of course you are struggling but have you actually shed blood to say no to this temptation yet. Well no, actually I haven’t. It humbles us right to the core of our being because Jesus did resist sin to the point of shedding blood. My resistance and fight is small potatoes compared to that. There’s another way to see this. These people who were being talked to here were being physically persecuted and there are Christians today in that same situation. The author is saying continue because so far you have not shed blood; others have and you might.
Be careful how we use the word struggle in temptations of our own sins. Sometimes we use the word struggle when we are not struggling at all. We use it to say that we give in to this temptation. I don’t really struggle. It could be giving in to worry, anger, anything. The thing that you fight. Sometimes we use the word struggle when it’s not much of a struggle at all.
Consider Jesus – thing carefully; remember; list; keep it in front of you at all times.
Point 2: Exhortation – challenge given to us (v5) : two parts – the warning and the teaching.
A) At the end of this instruction, there’s an exhortation. He says: Have you forgotten? The answer is yes! Have you forgotten this exhortation that speaks to you as sons. The Bible is speaking to you. When I read the word of God, what the scripture addresses is me; we have a word from God speaking to us today. Here is our common challenge when we come to the word of God. We are tempted as seeing it as dead letters on paper. But we are to read it as if we are hearing God speak to us because it has a voice! The scripture has a voice to us and it speaks and it is the voice of God when He speaks.
We could say not it’s actually Solomon speaking to his son. It does contain wisdom that we are overhearing. But have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons. The HS is not only the author of these words but he is the one speaking to us now just as he has spoke to all people at all times. So I come to the word of God with a prayer that I would have ears to hear the words. He could have left this out – have you forgotten the exhortation of scripture when it speaks to you as sons. We come to scripture today and we need to remember this.
Shouldn’t this teach us with what reverence we should approach the scriptures. We need to come back to this exhortation because every one of us today are faced with some painful or confusing situation in our lives. If you are not in a confusing, painful situation right now you can think of one in your recent past or there’s one coming soon. There’s a storm brewing! When it comes, do not forget what I am going to tell you. How we deal with that storm will say something about our relationship with God. This is not like the law of the land that is written for everyone but it is a personal address to you as a child of God if indeed He is your father. It cannot get any more personal than this.
B) We need to hear this because there are not only rough and sad circumstances but there are also a variety of responses to those times in our lives.
1) One of those responses is we try to be a stoic; unemotional – just buck up. That is a stoic, uninvolved response – I’m not going to let anything touch me. It’s a challenge for us. As people who believe and declare the sovereignty of God we say God wills it. But the child of God understands that the God who is sovereign and powerful is good, wise and loving God who cares intimately and personally for His children. He has a perfect and precious plan for you. So we take these things not just stoically but our response is grateful, joyful and anticipate what will come.
2) Another response is to grumble. Isn’t it amazing how many people complain about the weather. Where does the weather come from? It’s the sovereign God. When the hot times, winds, floods come into our lives we have no more reason to complain than the God who brings the nor’easter. The one who complains about the circumstances of their lives is saying something like this: I deserve a better situation than the one I am getting; why me?; hasn’t God seen the good things I have done. When the good times come, we invite people to join us in our gladness and when the hard times come we are wrongly just as anxious to invite them to our pity party.
3) The third response to these hard times is this – do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord. There are three terms here that we need to get.
a) The first one is “my son”. This is a term of intimacy here. The word sons is a technical term. Within the Roman legal world in order to be referred to as a son it was a legal action of adoption. The father This word says the God of the universe is speaking to you as persons that He has deliberately called, saved and adopted and He has given the rights and privileges of His son Jesus Christ.
b) The second term here is “discipline”. We think of pain or punishment. The word has to do with training and instructing. It’s a child instructing kind of word in Greek. He guides us, He helps us, He warns us in the same way that a father disciplines his son. Never ever are we to understand that the discipline is a punishment. God is not punishing us for something in our lives. The scripture tells me that the punishment and penalty against God was meted out and poured out on His Son instead of me. You cannot and you will not be punished for a sin that God has already punished His son for. It is easy for us to look at the rough times in our lives and look at my sins as the reason. He cannot because that would be unjust to you or Christ. So why do these painful things come into my experience.
c) The third term here is chastisement. This is probably the most troubling and difficult. It’s actually a beating or a scourging. Sometimes the discipline of God is like a whipping. It’s the same word used when Pilot turned Jesus over to the Roman soldiers. Sometimes we need a scourging if we haven’t gotten it with consequences, preventions and lessons.
PB was taking driver’s education as a 10th grader. Brake on both sides of the car! One day he slammed on the brake and slugged PB in the stomach and yelled at him. He thought there was only one way to get to PB and that was by hitting him. This instructor acted out of anger or fear and God will not do this. We may have gone right past the electric fence. Everything that comes to you from your heavenly father comes through His hand and heart of love and His unfailing determination to mold you into the vessel most fitting to bring Him glory.
Point 3: Applications –next time.
Conclusion: Do not forget this exhortation which speaks to you by the very spriit of God; those He loves He disciplines. In all things don’t give up because He hasn’t given up on you.