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Friday, November 15, 2013

Punishment or Discipline (Insights)

Before reading these insights, I encourage you to do the Bite Size Study Punishment or Discipline. I apologize that this study ended up being a bit longer than "bite size." My goal is to make each study something you can ponder and pray over throughout the week or do quickly in 5 minutes, which ever suits your needs. But this one probably couldn't have been done in 5 minutes. I intend to make future ones shorter and I would love to hear any ideas, suggestions, or improvements you have for Bite Size studies.
Suffering is one of the mysteries of life and faith. It doesn't fit into our neat little faith formulas. Good people and bad people suffer alike, but God uses suffering in the life of a believer for productive character-building.

1. Hebrews 12:1-3 below: Underline or write down the two things to avoid in verse 3. Have you experienced these? How do these verses tell us to avoid them? 

♥ Hebrews 12:1-3: Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

We avoid growing weary and losing heart by focusing on Christ and our future home with Him in heaven, not our present suffering. See also Galatians 6:9 and Luke 18:1 
2. Hebrews 12:4-8 below: Note the the different words used for discipline in verses 5 & 6. ♥ How do you think we "make light" of the Lord's discipline (v.5)? ♥ How do verses 2-3 and 6-8 (above) give us encouragement and strength?

Hebrews 12:4-8: In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. 5 And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says, “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, 6 because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.” 7 Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? 8 If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. 

♥ The Lord disciplines, rebukes and chastens. A good father gives his children rules, chores/work, exercise, and study. He tests them to make sure they are ready for certain responsibilities and he punishes them when they disobey. I encourage you to read this passage in the Amplified Bible for more understanding. 

♥ The Amplified Bible translates "make light" this way: "do not think lightly or scorn to submit to the correction and discipline of the Lord" 

♥ Verses 2-3 and 6-8 encourage us to look at Christ's example and remember God's love. These two things will reverse attitudes of self-pity. 

♥ The Greek word used in verse 8 means illegitimate children. Several versions, including the King James translate it as "bastard." During the time Hebrews was written, many Roman noblemen had illegitimate sons whom they might support but not discipline. Legitimate sons were strictly educated, disciplined and trained so they would be prepared to take over their father's position and responsibilities. 
3. Hebrews 12:9-11 below : Do you think our view of our parents affects our view of God? ♥ What benefits of discipline are mentioned in these verses?  
The way we judge our parents affects our personal well-being. Most parents make mistakes, and (aside from abuse) we need to respect their attempts to discipline us (Ephesians 6:2-3James 2:12-13). ♥ Benefits underlined in passage below.

Hebrews 12:9-11: Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! 10 They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order 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

When we are discouraged by our trials, it's good to read about the life of Joseph who was trained, prepared and honored through the undeserved mistreatment of others.

4. Hebrews 12:12-13: Verse 13 (below) is a quote from Proverbs 4:26: "Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways."  How does the Proverb help clarify the meaning of Hebrews 12:13?

Hebrews 12:12-13: 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. 

Suffering produces good things in our lives when we're careful to follow God's path instead of the human paths of self-pity, anger, and resentment. 

copyright 2013, Gail Burton Purath, BiteSizeBibleStudy.com
All Scripture NIV unless otherwise noted

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