Posted by: pastortomvabeach | November 14, 2017

Thought for the Week November 19, 2017

It looks like we have finally turned the corner and summer is in the rear-view mirror. The days are cooler or downright cold and the nights call for the down comforter. I hope you enjoy this season as much as I do. The best thing about it is it comes with college football attached!

This morning I opened my devotional on the YouVersion Bible app and read these verses in Hebrews, Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (12:1-2).

The Hebrews writer says that the Christian life is like running a race. Now that is something right up my alley. I began running for fitness in 1979, and soon it became fun. I know that, for some, the words running and fun just don’t reasonably go together, but for me it is exhilarating and stress relieving. Since I began I have run in many races, usually of the 5-10 kilometer variety but the high point for me was completing one, and only one, marathon in 1990. That race took more training, more endurance, and more discipline than any I had attempted.

That is the main thought the Hebrews writer is presenting here. As Christians we are not in a 100 yard dash but in a life-long marathon. It is the sort of race that demands consistent and regular training. No one would try to run a 26 mile marathon if the extent of their training was to run a mile here or a mile there every week or so. Neither should we expect success in Christian living if we only read the Bible on Sunday (if we happen to be in church) or pray only when things are in crisis.

Christian training consists of three basic exercises that we should do on a regular basis (pray, ready the Bible, and go to church). Bible reading or study and prayer should be a daily exercise. Attendance at worship should be at least weekly (on the Lord’s day). These exercises may not always be convenient and may not always seem effective but the cumulative affect over months and years keeps you fit for the race and contributes to your endurance which is absolutely necessary if you are to finish the race.

Endurance is about sticking with it no matter how tough it gets. When I ran the marathon, it was the hottest day for that particular run that anyone could remember and there was a 30-35 mile per hour wind blowing in our faces the last six miles. No one expected to have to compete in those conditions but to finish you had to plod through. The thing that kept me going was focus on the finish line. I didn’t look at the heat or the wind but making it to the end.

If we want to make it successfully through this marathon of running with Jesus, the best thing we can do is keep our focus on Jesus. He is the source of our faith, the purchaser of grace, and the one who will carry us through to the end. The key to endurance is trusting that Jesus is with us in every situation and circumstance. Through His Holy Spirit we are empowered in the spirit and given everything we need to make it with flying colors.

The Hebrews writer touches on something else of great importance to success in the race. Removing distractions and sins that hinder us in the race. There are so many things in life that can trip us up and slow us down. We have a very real enemy who is constantly throwing obstacles in our path, so it’s important that we lay aside any of our own encumbrances so we can run with ease. In the ancient world, athletes stripped down to a loincloth to run the race. Today marathoners typically wear a tank top, shorts, and their shoes. Anything more would be heavy and slow them down.

As a follower of Christ, we can look to Jesus as the example of a disciplined life that reached the finish line. Hebrews 12:3 says, consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls. Training and endurance are hard work and require discipline so that we don’t allow weariness or discouragement to sidetrack us. Jesus did just that. He stood up even when the hostile religious leaders brought everything against Him. He’s given you everything you need for this (II Peter 1:3) His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue.

Let me ask you, what is slowing you down? Is there something good that you pursue so strongly that it keeps you from the best? Is there a sin that continually beats you down and sometimes makes you think you should drop out of the race? May I suggest that you take the writer’s advice and fix your eyes on Jesus, decide today to implement that training regimen (Bible, prayer, church), and commit to persevere regardless of what comes. I can assure you that doing that will be the tactic that brings you to the end a winner! We’re in this race to win! Just a thought.

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