All of us know what we individually classify as being a difficult struggle in life. Hopefully, everyone in the auditorium this morning was handed a sheet of paper. First, I want you to listen very carefully to my encouragement. (1) You will not be asked to turn anything in. [I do ask you to take your paper with you when you leave.] (2) You will not be asked to share what you write on the paper with anyone. You are only speaking to yourself when you write.

"Okay, David. I understand. I have 'got it.' So what do you want me to write to myself on the paper?"

What I want you to write down is the answer to just one question: what do you regard to be life's greatest struggle for the majority of people? You might answer with one word. You might answer with a short sentence. You might answer with a long sentence. [I doubt you will answer with a paragraph!] The wonderful thing: there are no wrong answers!

For the majority of people in our society, what do you think is people's greatest struggle? By greatest, I mean hardest, or most difficult, or most challenging, or most complicated, or most demanding.

Have you written something down? Good! Now immediately under what you wrote down, I want you to write one word: parenting. Does what you wrote down naturally "fit" some part of parenting as a struggle?

  1. Let me make some observations about being a parent.
    1. Once you become a parent, you are a parent until you die.
      1. When you have a preschool child, you are a nurturing parent.
      2. When your child starts to school and is in school for those first years, you are a guiding/teaching parent.
      3. When your child enters adolescents, your are a terrified parent.
      4. When your child goes to college, you are a hopeful parent.
      5. When your child begins independent adult life, you are a concerned parent, and you never stop being a concerned parent.
    2. At each stage of your child's life, the struggle constantly changes, but it is always there.
      1. When your child is a preschooler, at some point of personal weariness, you will say:
        1. "I will be so glad when my child no longer needs diapers!"
        2. "I will be so glad when my child can tie his or her shoes!"
        3. "I will be so glad when my child can dress himself or herself!"
      2. When your child begins his or her early years of school, at some point you will worry about:
        1. Him or her learning what he or she should.
        2. Him or her NOT learning things he or she should not learn.
        3. Personal development.
        4. His or her interaction with other children.
      3. In adolescence, at some point you will be deeply concerned about:
        1. Your child's values.
        2. Your child's priorities.
        3. Your child's sense of responsibility.
        4. Your child's choices.
      4. When your child leaves home for college or some type of training:
        1. You will wonder about how they will handle being completely free.
        2. You wonder if they understand the consequences of choices.
        3. You wonder if they will play all the time.
        4. You wonder who will "keep them on track" since you are not there.
      5. Then when your child begins adult life, you are concerned.
        1. You are concerned about how much debt they acquire.
        2. You are concerned about the choices they make that will affect them morally.
        3. You are concerned because you either know too much or too little.
        4. You always want to help, to "be there for them," but you dread requests that you cannot fill.
    3. In the entire process, you always want to do what is best for your child.
      1. That does not mean your always know what is best for the child.
      2. That does not mean that what you decide to do is always best for the child.
      3. It just means that is what you want.

  2. God has children, too, and hopefully you are one of them.
    1. There are some similarities in God being our Father.
      1. He loves us.
      2. In that love, He can be extremely kind.
      3. He KNOWS when we are making bad choices that will produce horrible consequences.
    2. Consider a statement made in Hebrews 12.
      Hebrews 12:4-11 You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin; and you have forgotten the exhortation which is addressed to you as sons, "My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, Nor faint when you are reproved by Him; For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines, And He scourges every son whom He receives." It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? 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 to them, but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness. All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.
      1. The context:
        1. Those to whom this statement was written were enduring some really tough times.
        2. Consider some of the past struggles these Christians endured.
          Hebrews 10:32-34 But remember the former days, when, after being enlightened, you endured a great conflict of sufferings, partly by being made a public spectacle through reproaches and tribulations, and partly by becoming sharers with those who were so treated. For you showed sympathy to the prisoners and accepted joyfully the seizure of your property, knowing that you have for yourselves a better possession and a lasting one.
      2. Did you hear all the things that happened to them before the writer sent them this message?
        1. They were made a public spectacle by verbal and physical abuse.
        2. They were not ashamed of Christians who received the same abuse.
        3. They were not ashamed of Christians who were put in jail.
        4. When their property was confiscated because they were Christians, they accepted the confiscation with joy.
      3. I do not know what happened, but something happened that was just too much.
        1. Whatever happened, they blamed Jesus Christ.
        2. They decided that if they left Jesus Christ, the suffering would stop.
        3. Throughout the entire book, the author is explaining to them why they must not do that.

  3. One of the last challenges he gave them was this: understand God's discipline.
    1. "Wait a minute. You mean that God practices discipline?" Discipline, yes. Abuse, no.
      1. "Are you sure that God practices discipline?"
      2. Yes, I am sure--for two reasons.
        1. If a parent loves his or her children, love demands that the parent discipline the children because the parent's love cares.
        2. We have a lot of lessons we need to learn for our own good, and we will not learn some of those lessons unless we are disciplined.
    2. Is that not the same reason that you discipline your children?
      1. Please note that I said discipline, not abuse.
      2. As parents, why do you discipline your children?
        1. Because you love them.
        2. Because you want to teach them lessons they need to learn.
    3. God's our parent! We commonly call Him our Father! We are supposed to look to Him as our Father!
      1. He knows when we are making horrible choices.
      2. He knows when we are following awful values.
      3. He knows when the consequences will be terrible.
      4. He knows when we are going in the wrong direction.
      5. And He cares! He always has cared about His children!
    4. If you doubt how deeply He cares, consider this illustration.
      1. When Moses explained the wilderness experience that lasted 40 years to the second generation Israelites, he made this statement:
        Deuteronomy 8:5 Thus you are to know in your heart that the Lord your God was disciplining you just as a man disciplines his son.
      2. Israel had a lesson they desperately needed to learn if God was going to be able to help them: they desperately needed to trust God first.
        1. They did not learn that lesson from the ten plagues in Egypt.
        2. They did not learn that lesson from the exodus from Egypt.
        3. They did not learn that lesson at Mount Sinai.
        4. God tried to teach them to trust Him, but they did not learn to trust Him--they had so much idolatry in them they would not learn what they needed to learn.
      3. They left a caring God no choice.
        1. The only hope they had of learning the lesson they desperately needed to learn was discipline.
        2. So God used the discipline of 40 years in the wilderness to seek to teach them.

  4. The writer of Hebrews declared that his recipients of his message should understand divine discipline because they understood basic truths about fathers disciplining their sons.
    1. The truths:
      1. God disciplines, and His discipline is not to be considered insignificant.
      2. God disciplines because He loves--the absence of discipline is the absence of love.
      3. The purpose of God's discipline is to produce endurance and respect that are essential to life.
      4. God without fail disciplines us for our good.
      5. At the time of discipline, it hurts, but the results produce the joy of appreciation.
    2. What do you want God to do when He knows that as a Christian you are making a horrible choice or a terrible mistake?
      1. Do you want God to ignore the situation and let you do as you please to your own hurt and destruction?
      2. Do you want God to stand by and let you destroy yourself?
      3. Do you want God to lie to you [He won't!] and make you think everything is fine when it isn't?
      4. Do you want God to ignore you and just let whatever happens happen?
    3. To these very same people, the writer wrote:
      Hebrews 10:29-31 How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know Him who said, "Vengeance is Mine, I will repay." And again, "The Lord will judge His people." It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

Those who have been saved by God's grace will be judged by the way they live as God's chosen, God's redeemed. When that moment comes [and it will come for all of us!], will you thank God or curse God for His discipline? I want God to do anything necessary to help me be His person!

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Morning Sermon, 3 August 2003
Study Along With David Chadwell
A Worship Worksheet
August 3, 2003

What is life's greatest struggle for most people? _________________________________

Observations about being a parent:
Once you become a parent you are one until you ________.
When you have a preschool child you are a _____________ parent.
When your child is just starting their education you are a ______________parent.
When your child is an adolescent you are a ________________ parent.
When your child goes to college you are a _________________ parent.
When your child begins independent adult life you are a ____________ parent.

As parents why do we discipline our children?

We are to look to God as our ___________________.

As our Father, God _____________ us.

He can be very ________________.

He ________________ when we are making bad choices that will produce _____________ consequences!

In Hebrews one of the challenges given is to __________________ God's discipline.

Truths regarding discipline:
God disciplines and it not to be considered ________________.
God disciplines because he ______________.
The purpose of God's discipline is to produce ______________ and _________ that are essential to life.
God without ____________ disciplines us for our good.
At the time of discipline it ____________, but the results produce the joy of appreciation.

provided by Gary Brown

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