God Corrects His Children

October 4, 2015   Hebrews 12 :1 – 17Correction 

 

   We see in this first verse that we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses.  We are creatures who can be moved by motivation.  We get motivated to get out of bed sometimes to eat or go to the bathroom.  In this cooler weather we are more motivated sometimes to stay in bed.  The Holy Spirit is seeking to motivate us in this passage by a a number of things.   The first thing mentioned is a cloud of witnesses.  Who is that cloud of witnesses?   Well there those who have gone before.   The book of Hebrews makes it plain that though they have passed their life still speaks.  That does not mean that we are to perform for them.  We are not trying to impress them.  They are examples to us.  We are not called to please them because Paul makes it plain that our goal is to please God.

   Certainly we know that the angels and God are watching.  We know the demons are watching.  We also know there are other witnesses to our life.  Christians see us and people that do not know Jesus also observe us.  Our life your life is a witness.  If you are having a bad day it is a witness.  The other day Sally wanted me to send her a picture from my smart phone.  My smart phone is a lot smarter than I am believe me.  So she ask at a time when I had something else that I wanted to do and so I put aside what I wanted to do to get the picture sent to her.    After a period of time I got up to do what I wanted to do and she ask me if I had sent it.  I kind of briskly said no.  That was a witness.  It was not a good witness but it was a witness to a bad attitude.   I returned and then got the picture and sent it to her but she had already had done it.  Our lives witness to others.  It is not always good but you can have a good witness when you have a bad day.  Folks watch how you handle yourself.   You can have a tough day and bring glory to God.  You can have a difficult day and be more of a witness to Jesus than when you are having a good day.  Life is not perfect.  I know the folks in the office watched me.  Everybody has a bad day. 

    Then we see that we are to throw off the stuff that hinders us in the race.  We should ask ourselves once in awhile what are the things in our life that hinders us from being holy and running the race that is before us?  What do we do with our spare time?  How do you think I would do running a race with this on me?  Our sins and our bad attitudes hold us back from running the race that God has set for your life.  For some people the meaning of life found with the things of this world but not for the Christian.    I think we would say no.  It is found in Jesus and in doing what Jesus wants us to do.  This passage says let us persevere in this race. 

   It is a lifelong race.  This is not a quick sprint. If you get sick generally you know it will heal in time.  If you break a bone it generally will heal in a period of time.  We buy a computer and hope to get a few years out of it and the same for a car.   This is not a 2 hour race or a 2 day race or a 2 year race.  This is a lifelong race.  Marriage is to be for the long haul and it should be beautiful in God.   Roger Zerbe, who suffered from early onset Alzheimer’s disease, journal this to his wife after a particularly troubling bout of forgetfulness.   Honey, today fear is taking over. The day is coming when all my memories of this life we share will be gone. You and the boys will be gone from me. I will lose you even as I am surrounded by you and your love.  I don’t want to leave you. I want to grow old in the warmth of memories.  Forgive me for leaving so slowly and painfully.

    Blinking back tears, Becky wrote: My sweet husband, I will continue to go on loving you and caring for you — not because you know me or remember our life, but because I remember you. I will remember the man who proposed to me and told me he loved me, the look on his face when his children were born, the father he was, the way he loved our extended family. I’ll recall his love for riding, hiking, and reading; his tears at sentimental movies; the unexpected witty remarks; and how he held my hand while he prayed. I cherish the pleasure, obligation, commitment, and opportunity to care for you because I remember you!   — Becky Zerbe, “Penning a Marriage.”  What a beautiful picture of memories.  What a picture of commitment.    You want good memories at the end of your life.  When we get to heaven you want good memories of your service to God.   If you have children that commitment is certainly lifelong unless something bad happens.  Once we receive Jesus it becomes a lifelong pursuit.  God is for us and on our side but we have an enemy who does not seek our good.  What a great gift that God has given to us that we can chose to walk with him.  We can choose to honor God in this race. 

    Since this is a marathon and not a sprint we are admonished by the Holy Spirit in this passage to persevere in the race.  The first admonition is to lay aside those things that hinder us.  We should look at Jesus and then look at our life and consider the things in our life that hinders us from Jesus.  For most of us that does not mean that we walk out on our family or our work.  God does call some to leave work and go to seminary and to serve him.   This race is important.  Jesus said what will it profit a man if he gain the whole world but lose his soul or what would a man give in exchange for his soul?   That verse gives us a sense of the how important the race is that we run so we must look carefully at our life.  It is important to think about what we are doing with ourselves. 

    Next in this passage we are told to keep our eyes on Jesus.  One point for us to consider here is that Jesus endured and he persevered and Jesus did it for the joy that was set before him.  Jesus could see beyond the pain.  Can we see joy in this race?   He did not want to endure the suffering of the cross.  This was not easy for him.  Jesus endured the cross.  Some Christians think when they have some issue in life that they are enduring or carrying their cross.  Not all of life’s trials are crosses that we carry.  Jesus said if any man will come after me let him take up his cross and follow me.  I would say that taking carrying the cross in that situation is dying to self to live for Jesus.  I also think that if we are persecuted for sharing the name for Jesus that is bearing our cross.

    Jesus ask God 3 times if he could avoid the cross but submitted to the Father’s will.  Jesus went before us and he endured.  Jesus understands pain.  When or why should we consider Jesus?  The passage tells us.  Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.  Think about Jesus when you want to quit.  Think about Jesus when life is tough.   It is God’s intent that we receive strength and be resolved to follow God  in our battles, trials and temptations.  One source of strength is by looking and considering Jesus and what Jesus suffered.  The point is don’t grow weary, don’t lose heart and don’t quit.  We have not resisted against evil as much as Jesus did.  Jesus finished well and that is something we all can be thankful for. 

   Finishing the race well is important.  How we finish our life is important.  How do people feel about a person who makes a mistake and then quits?  How does it look for someone to run a 5 mile race and they can finish but 30 feet before the finish line they just start walking even though they could finish?   Many people have left the ministry under shameful circumstance.  Finishing the race properly was important to Paul.

     In I Corinthians 9 Paul writes do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize?  Run in such a way as to get the prize.     Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.   Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air.   No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.   I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have kept the faith.   Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing. 

    There is a crown and there is a prize for carefully running this race.  It is far better than any earthly crown.  It is far better than any earthly prize.  It is very meaningful and important.  That crown is a real prize.  It is very precious.   It is eternal and never loses its value so we want to run the race with patience and endurance.  At times it is not easy.  Jesus did not always find it easy.   There is satisfaction and joy in this life from following the Lord but the best rewards are yet to come.  We look ahead with hope. 

    Another issue that can hinder our race is that of discipline.  We have a word for us in this passage do not despise the Lord’s discipline.  God corrects his children.  God works in our life so that we are not condemned with the world.  This passage states that we submitted to our father’s discipline that was not perfect.  I know my father’s discipline was not perfect – often done in great anger.  There is a lot of good news about God’s correction.  He knows us perfectly.  He disciplines us out of great love and concern for us.  God does not make any mistakes.  The discipline is always for our good because God looks out for us.  He has our back so to speak.  God’s discipline is not pleasant but it can build holiness in our life.  The fruit of his discipline is good.  The results of man’s discipline are not always the best because we are imperfect.  So we need to endure God’s correction and welcome it.   We need to thank God that He is involved in our life. 

     I believe that not everything bad that happens to us is God disciplining us.  We live in a very troubling world and I am concerned that Christians may blame God as the world unravels more and more.  God is good.  God did not create World War I and II.  We are playing with the environment and we are polluting the world and man reaps what man sows.  God gets a lot of blame today when someone dies or when things do not go as we want and people get their feelings hurt and curse and deny God.  Many things in this fallen world do not go the right way.   In John 9 the disciples asked Jesus who sinned the blind man or his parents and Jesus said neither.  We as people like to label things.  It can be easy at times to point the finger at someone else and we need to be careful with that.    

    Can we see the joy that is ahead of us?  Can we run the race in such a fashion that Jesus swills ay to us one day well done you good and faithful servant come and share in your master’s happiness.   The only way we will persevere to the end is to develop a close loving intimate relationship to Jesus.  We need to grow that relationship.   I fear if you are not growing in your love and relationship with Jesus that you may fall.