Sermon:  Insight on your Struggle


Summary:  We will be able to run the race with perseverance and win if we have the correct perspective on the challenges and difficulties that come in the race.  We need to recognize that the difficulties are God's way of training us because of his fatherly love for us so that we can win the race.


Know:  Hardships are not necessarily a bad thing, but can actually have results that are so immensely good, they far outweigh the difficulties in them


Feel:  Encouraged


Do:  Discuss the overall message of the passage, what it reminds us about God, the resulting attitudes we should have, the response we should have toward various struggles and challenges, and what it would take to achieve this.


Text:  Heb 12:4-11


Scripture Reading:  Rev 3:18-20



 1.  Is life hard?  Is being a Christian hard?

            a.  All of us have struggled in one way or another

            b.  Some of us are struggling right now

2. What is your reaction to it all?

            a.  We sometimes get tired of it all - want rest, sleep, not have to struggle

            b.  Maybe we complain, react passively aggressive toward our challenges

            c.  Look for someone to blame, take it out of people close to us

            d.  Maybe we give less attention to God because of our disappointment

3.  This is the sort of thing this passage is dealing with

            a.  After long exposition on the necessity of Christ as our center

            b.  And after exhortation to draw near, assemble, encourage

            c.  And after examples of enduring faith that is completed in Christ

            d.  We now come to this passage

4.  (Heb 12:4-11)

            a.  Have not resisted to the point of shedding blood

                        - In other words, no one in family killed, you are not killed

                        - It is not as difficult as if really could be

            b. So stop feeling sorry for yourself

            c.  Passage says we will do well if have right perspective on our struggles

                        - What perspective do we need to have?

                        - Will look at several insights about our struggles:


I.  They are for discipline

            A.  There is a purpose behind hardship, which is discipline

            B.  Winning the race does not come without discomfort

                        1.  Many have difficulty grasping this due to feeling about discipline

                                    a.  Many feel that causing discomfort in children is harmful

                                                - Many see it as barbaric

                                                - Some have made spanking illegal

                                    b.  I suppose it comes from unbiblical view that children are

                                         somehow flawless and good - Mt 18

                                                - We often over-idealize childhood

                                                - Use incorrect understanding of Jesus' teaching

                                                  about children

                                                            = Said, "kingdom belongs to such as these"

                                                            = In context, issue was about pride, having a

                                                               place of prominence and status

                                                            = Uses child as illustration of one with no

                                                               prominence or status - that is how we to be

                                                            = If children were innocent and good, why

                                                               would they ever need correction?

                                                - Do children lie? steal? cheat? selfish?

                                                            = The seeds of corruption already there

                                                            = God not hold them accountable, but this does

                                                               not mean they are flawless

                                                            = They need moral and spiritual instruction

                                                            = Will ultimately need transformation from God

                                    c.  Look what the Bible says in Proverbs:

                                                - (22:15) Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a

                                                  child; the rod of discipline will remove it far from him

                                                - (23:13-14) Do not hold back discipline from the child,

                                                   Although you strike him with the rod, he will not die. 

                                                   You shall strike him with the rod And rescue his soul

                                                   from Sheol.

                                                - (29:15) The rod and reproof give wisdom, But a child

                                                   who gets his own way brings shame to his mother.

                                                - (13:24) He who withholds his rod hates his son, But

                                                  he who loves him disciplines him diligently.

                                    d.  This is not a lesson on parenting, so why bring this up?

                                                - If not grasp this, will have trouble with this passage

                                                - If assume discomfort always bad, not understand

                        2.  What is discipline?

                                    a.  What it is not:

                                                - Punishment - Purpose of punishment is to punish

                                                - A whipping - May or may not be disciplinary

                                    b.  Word is paideuw

                                                - Instruct, train, educate, correct, give guidance

                                                - English word, "pedagogy," which refers to the art of

                                                   teaching, is related to this word

                                                - The word was used of the moral and intellectual

                                                   instruction of children

                                    c.  So discipline is not just punishment, but training

                                    d.  English word, "disciple" is related to "discipline"

                        3.  Notice what text says about their hardship

                                    a.  Do not regard it lightly

                                                - In other words, don't blow it off

                                                - ILL: I remember blowing it off - "I don't care"

                                                            = Not right attitude

                                                            = Discipline got harder

                                                - Discipline is serious business

                                    b.  Nor be faint

                                                - Do not be discouraged or disheartened by it

                                                - It is discipline, not punishment

                                                - Discipline is training, tomorrow is a new day

                                                - Not the end of the world

                                    c.  It is for discipline you endure - Not meaningless suffering

                        4.  Did Jesus have to be disciplined?

                                    a.  Heb 5:8 - Learned obedience through suffering

                                    b.  Jesus had to be trained, he had discipline

                                    c.  He was no stranger to hardship

            C.  ILL:  I remember seemingly ridiculous requirements in Basic Training

                        1.  Everything had to be perfect or would get bed turned over

                                    a.  Shoes lined up perfectly, bed pulled tight

                                    b.  Hanging shirts spaced perfectly and sleeves overlapped

                                    c.  Footlockers everything folded in six inch square

                                    d.  Had to keep updated money list with serial number

                        2.  What was the big deal?  This hardship was unnecessary

                                    a.  Many guys ridiculed the whole thing

                                    b.  Some tried to cut corners

                                    c.  Many resented it

                        3.  Then we learned - They were training us to have eye for detail

                                    a.  This was very important, it was a matter of life and death

                                    b.  Wrong calibration, cold solder joint, misreading blip on

                                         radar, etc. could be fatal

                        4.  Discipline may not make sense at first, but it is for our good 

            D.  This is why the text says we need to have the right attitude about it

                        1.  Don't blow it off, but take it seriously

                                    a.  How do you do this?

                                    b.  Ask yourself - What can I learn from this?

                        2.  Don't be discouraged

                                    a.  How do you do this?

                                    b.  Recognize that this is discipline, not punishment

                                    c.  Don't spend all your time complaining

                        3.  Consider Jesus (v.3)

                                    a.  Even Jesus endured discipline

                                    b.  It wasn't because God was angry, but God loved him


II.  They are a demonstration of God's fatherly love

            A.  A sign of a father's love and his care is discipline

            B.  The passage affirms this for us as God's children

                        1.  Phil 1:27-30 - Saw that hardship, the agwn is a sign of salvation

                                    a.  Hardship means you have been made holy to God

                                    b.  It is much more - a sign of our relationship with God

                        2.  Discipline is a sign of sonship (v.8) 

                                    a.  It demonstrates you are his child

                                    b.  If you were not God's child, he wouldn't discipline you

                        3.  Discipline is a sign of love (v.6)

                                    a.  He scourges (whips) every son he receives

                                    b.  God takes you out behind the barn with a hickory switch

                                    c.  God allows you to suffer and learn from mistakes

                                    d.  Not punishment, but training, correction, you are his child

                        4.  Passage quotes from (Prov 3:11-12) - God delights in you

                                    a.  God wants the very best for you

                                    b.  Don't blow it off, don't be discouraged

            C.  ILL:  Suppose you had script of newborn's life & could edit out things

                        1.  What would you edit out?

                        2.  Learning disability, friend die of cancer, lose eye in accident,

                             you lose job & they have to go without, etc.

                        3.  Would want to edit out all the things that cause them pain

                        4.  Is this wise?  Would they reach full potential without it?

            D.  God used the difficulties in our life as discipline

                        1.  He is not an absent father who does not care

                        2.  v.9-10 - We were subject to imperfect dads, how much more

                             should we be to our heavenly Father?

                                    a.  Earthly fathers disciplined as seemed best to them

                                                - Sometimes dads are wrong or mistaken

                                                - Sometimes children are treated unfairly by dad

                                    b.  But God disciplines for our good

                                                - It is always for our good, he knows what we need

                                                - Don't blow God off

                        3.  There will be good that comes from your discipline


III.  Perseverance brings eternal dividends  (v.10-11)

            A.  This is not purposeless hardship, God will use it to shape you

                        1.  Not a pleasant experience - that may be understatement

                        2.  May be a sorrowful experience

                        3.  But there will be a good result in the end

            B.  It will have two effects

                        1.  v.10 - We will share in his holiness

                                    a.  He will develop a godly character in us

                                    b.  We will be the type of people that pleases God

                        2.  The peaceful fruit of righteousness

                                    a.  NIV - A harvest of righteousness and peace

                                    b.  Whether translate fruit or harvest, idea is the same

                                    c.  There will be a good result in the end

            C.  ILL:  Makes me think of my mother who has always had a garden

                        1.  Used to go out and till the garden with a shovel

                                    a.  Dig the soil, turn it over, break it up, soften it up

                                    b.  Afterwards, we could plant seed in it and it would grow

                        2.  God does the same to us to prepare us to bear a harvest

                        3.  The shovel and spade are not a pleasant experience

                                    a.  We feel like we are being torn to pieces

                                    b.  Turned upside down, broken up, it may seem like the end

                        4.  But, then we see a sprout, then before you know it, a harvest

            D.  God is preparing us for the seed to take root in our lives

                        1.  There will be a harvest

                        2.  We will have a harvest of peaceful fruit of righteousness

                                    a.  We will grow in righteousness

                                    b.  We will grow in peace

                        3.  May be hard to see how, but God says it will have dividends

                        4.  Ultimately, the harvest means eternal life



1.  This is the correct perspective on our trials

2.  Remember the exhortations

            a.  Be subject to the Lord as our Father

            b.  Don't blow off his discipline

            c.  Don't be discouraged by it

            d.  God is preparing you to produce a peaceful, joyful harvest

3.  What struggles do you have in your life?  It is for discipline you endure

            a.  Financial - Is God saying you need to reprioritize your life?

            b.  Marriage - Is God saying spend more time together?

            c.  Illness - Is God showing you not to rely on physical ability?

            d.  With people

                        - Brethren - Is God trying to teach humility, patience, forgiveness?

                        - UnChristian friends - Maybe get new friends, or share Gospel?

                 need to share the Gospel?

                        - Enemies - Maybe God is trying to drive you closer to him

4.  It's like playing basketball - Takes  & training in order to play well & win

            a.  What is the most valuable skill in basketball?  Rebounding

                        - Why?  You miss a lot of shots

                        - Key to winning is how you handle the rebound

            b.  You are going to miss a lot of shots

                        - Game is not over if you miss, don't quit, don't complain

                        - It's all about bouncing back, stronger, wiser, and better

                        - If you bounce back on the rebound, you will score!

            c.  Game is not over till the timer buzzes, so keep on going

            d.  If give up you have lost - Don't stop pray, worship, read, encourage


Small Group Notes:  Insight on your Struggle


Summary:  We will be able to run the race with perseverance and win if we have the correct perspective on the challenges and difficulties that come in the race.  We need to recognize that the difficulties are God's way of training us because of his fatherly love for us so that we can win the race.




- What was the hardest training you have ever been through?



Explore (Heb 12:4-10)


1.  Why does the text tell the readers, "you have not resisted to the point of shedding blood" ?


2.  What does the text remind the readers about God and about them?  How should this encourage them?


3.  Discuss the insights the readers should have concerning the struggles they have been facing.


4.  What are the differences between dads and God concerning discipline and training?  In what ways should this affect God's children?


5.  What specific exhortations are the readers given in this passage?  What should they do or not do and why?





6.  How does this passage instruct you to face your struggles?  What do you find challenging about this?


7.  What are some possible ways some of your struggles could be discipline, training, or transformational?  What might hinder them from being discipline for your good?


8.  When experiencing God's discipline, what are some things that can help you to keep from "regarding it lightly" or "being faint"?