Dear Student of the Word,
I am in an airport lounge getting ready to go to Kenya, so I had some time to prepare this next to the last installment of our study in Hebrews (before we move on to Luke). In this tenth study, we take a look at the remainder of Hebrews 11, the chapter on faith. Every installment is divided into seven segments and I wrote this in the seventh segment (the entire study can be downloaded below):
Part Ten, Day Seven
10 Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, 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.
12:10 – The goal of God’s discipline for you is for you to share in His holiness. God knows what He is doing and disciplines you with perfection. At times, it may not seem like there is a reason for what is happening in your life. That is where faith comes in, for you can be certain that there is – a reason that is based in love and God’s perfect justice.
One thing you will never hear God say is “I’m sorry!” He never apologizes for what He does or what He puts you through, for His ways are perfect – there is nothing to apologize about. You must be careful not to think or accuse God of being unjust or unloving. If He is, that would make you more righteous than God and that is not a possibility.
If you had a less than pleasant experiences with you earthly father, you must be careful not to project that bad experience onto God and His Fatherhood. Your earthly parents were and are imperfect, some painfully so, but you must now learn to trust you heavenly Father and His discipline in your life. Are you struggling with trusting God in the midst of your current struggles? Then tell Him and ask Him for grace, not to understand, but to release your perspective to Him and trust!
12:11 – Discipline is seldom enjoyable. I don’t think you have to enjoy the season of discipline you may be in. You accept it in faith, confess that the destination is worth the price you are paying and ask God’s grace to endure the season you are in. I am thinking of the verse in Thessalonians, which states:
Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).
Paul did not say to give thanks for all things, but in all things. Seasons of discipline are certainly times in which we give thanks, but not necessary for which we give thanks. Can you thank God now in the midst of what you are going through? Can you find other blessings on which to focus while certain other parts of your life seem to be spinning out of control or in ways not to your liking?
By the way, the word “trained” in this verse is the Greek word from which we get our word “gymnasium.” All of this talk on discipline has an athletic sense of training to it. The athlete endures many hours of rigorous training for an athletic performance. It is the same for the believer.
11:12&13 – There is no room for self-pity in this spiritual “athletic” preparation. You cannot allow yourself the luxury of feeling sorry for yourself in what you are going through. The writer, who was addressing believing Jews who were undoubtedly enduring hardship for their faith, was telling these believers to strengthen themselves, to “get on with their lives,” so to speak. Are you wallowing in self-pity right now? Do you think you have earned the right to do so?
Paul warned us that there are many hardships that the Christian must endure:
They preached the good news in that city and won a large number of disciples. Then they returned to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch, strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith. "We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God," they said (Acts 14:21-22).
The news that there are many hardships may not encourage some people. You may encounter things in your walk with the Lord that cause you to stumble. Even those who walked with Jesus heard Him say things that caused those people to withdraw (see John 6). It is possible for your limbs to be out of joint as you walk out your faith.
If you are discouraged or perhaps a bit disillusioned at this point in your walk with God, then these verses in chapter 12 are for you. You need to strengthen yourself and move on. If you are limping, then get those joints back in place. I know this may be easier said than done, and I certainly don’t know what you have been through. God knows, however, and He will help you. You must do your part and that is to choose to move on and get through this season of training and discipline.
You may not know where all this is going, but you can take solace in the fact that if you endure, you will share in God’s holiness when all is said and done. May God strengthen you today and may you walk on with grace and peace. Amen.
As always, I welcome your comments to this week's study. For additional Bible studies, check out my website archive, which contains a complete collection of all my verse-by-verse New Testament studies, along with the daily devotional entitled What Would Jesus Ask You Today? Thank you and I hope you continue to enjoy this study of Hebrews from God's word.
KENYA UPDATE: I have two Kenya updates this week, and I still have an urgent need. The updates will tell you about the impact our container goods are making among our friends. I am in Kenya now and I know our ministry friends there are counting on our help when we come. There are needs in the orphanages, at our library and among the widows. You can give through my website or by sending a tax-deductible check to PurposeQuest, PO Box 8882, Pittsburgh, PA 15221-0882. If you give now, I can access it here and distribute face-to-face.
I still have a sense that someone out there reading this is considering a large gift to Kenya. If you are that person, I can only encourage you not to be afraid. Have faith, trust God and be obedient. I promise we will put it to good use.
NEW BOOKS: I released another new book two weeks ago, a devotional entitled A String of Pearls: Wisdom for Productive People. A few weeks ago, I released two other devotionals: A Daily Taste of Proverbs and earlier this year What Would Jesus Ask You Today? All three of these books are available in Kindle or paper version and make great gifts for individuals or study guides for small groups.
BASEBALL GAME: The annual fundraising baseball game at PNC Park to benefit Kenya widows and orphans will take place this year on Tuesday, August 19. For the mere price of $1,000, you will be treated to great food, wonderful fellowship and a great baseball game (we hope) between the Pirates and the Braves. Perhaps you can't attend but you can give so that someone can represent you that evening. Perhaps your organization can contribute and buy a ticket for someone. Contact me now to reserve your ticket(s) for the game. So far I have sold eight, so make sure you respond soon to be part of the big night.