Do You Remember our starting point? EVERYONE READ ALOUD Hebrews 11:1-2 The fundamental fact of my existence is that I trust in God. This faith, is my firm foundation, my title deed, for everything that makes my life worth living. It's my handle on what I can't see. This act of faith is what distinguishes me from the crowd.
The theme of faith as a race is found through out the Bible.
Hebrews 12:1-3 (TNIV) 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.
STRIPPING DOWN TO BARE ESSENTIALS ● The Jesus Trail is a marathon …a lifetime of perseverance. ● Stuff that slows us or trips us… Well, it’s gotta go!
HERE I AM STARTING A NEW LEG OF THE JOURNEY… ● What interests (even healthy ones) tend to compete for my loyalty and commitment to God? ● In talking to an inquirer…how would I explain my purpose in life?
IMAGINE THAT! CAN I PICTURE THE HALL OF FAME BELIEVERS (from Hebrews 11) CHEERING ME ON FROM THE GRANDSTANDS, NOW THAT IT IS MY TURN TO RUN THE ‘FAITH RACE’? “ Surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses…let us run…the race marked out for us.” --Hebrews 12:2
What are the Great One calling to me? ● Moses…his main message of encouragement? ● Abraham?
“ THROW OFF EVERYTHING THAT HINDERS!” v.1 ● The runner takes off some perfectly good clothes in stripping down to the lightest gear. There goes the sweatpants, the warm-up jacket. Nothing wrong with those duds, except that they impede the runner.
AND EVEN NOW I HAVE TO ASK GOD TO DO SOME PRUNING ON ME, SINCE SOME HURTFUL, SHAMEFUL AND DISTRACTING STUFF STILL DOGS ME, SUCH AS… 1. 2. 3. 4.
I believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God. I choose to follow Jesus as my Lord and trust Him as my Savior.
Returning to God out of our abundance. A gift of thanks.
WE CAN SEE THAT OUR STORY WAS ALSO THE STORY OF THE ONES WE CALL OUR ‘HEROES’ OF FAITH ● The Apostle Paul spoke of an ongoing conflict. “What I want to do, I don’t do (and vice versa)” Romans 7:15 ● David, Abraham and the others had their flaws and chinks in their armor.
EVEN REVERED RELIGIOUS LEADERS HAVE HAD HABITS AND FLAWS THAT SOME MIGHT FIND DISTURBING ● Smokers ● Drinkers ● Sometimes Arrogant ● And worse
OUR FOCUS IS NOT ON OUR WEAKNESSES BUT ON THE TRAILBLAZER WHO CHARTED THE COURSE AND RAN IT TO THE FINISH LINE. “ Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame…” Hebrews 12:2
The joy that kept Him running? ● Opening the door for others to a relationship with the Father ● The ruination of Satanic forces ● Victory over death ● More
A CONSTANT THREAT TO MARATHONERS …GROWING WEARY AND LOSING HEART ● Run with a pack ● Keep pace with somebody ● Run lots of little races ● Remember there really is a finish line …and who will be there to greet you! ● For beginning marathoners …rest along the way, stop for water ● Don’t compete with every guy who passes you. ● He is not your enemy. Quitting is!
LISTEN TO THE VOICE OF THE MARATHON MAN OF THE NEW TESTAMENT: “ I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, 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.” Paul in his letter to young Timothy
ANTICIPATE THE VOICE AT THE END OF IT ALL… “ Well done my good and faithful servant …enter into the joys of your Lord.” WITH ALL OF THIS IN MIND …IT IS ABOUT TIME I DID SOME STRIPPING AWAY OF THAT WHICH COMPETES FOR MY HEART, STRENGTH AND TIME.
Commit to finishing the race for the pleasure of God.