We’ve been on Proverbs since March; and still going strong! But today is all about encouragement. I know the Lord let me hear a message so I can pass it onto you. The message is centered around Hebrews 11… you may know this as the “Faith Chapter.” The main thought is endurance and perseverance. I immediately added verses 1-4 from Hebrews 11 underneath the header in this blog. These words spoken by Paul seem to sum up the reason for this blog and also for my life…
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up. After all, you have not yet given your lives in your struggle against sin.” ~ Hebrews 12:1-4.
There are quite a few analogies about athletes in the New Testament. It’s probably safe to say Paul enjoyed the sports of ancient days, being a fan or maybe even participating in them when he was younger – it doesn’t matter. I think the main thought behind him using these analogies is to put this into plain words… Runners who win are disciplined! Some of us have gotten off course. Some think of this race as a sprint, rather than a marathon race. Think about when you first gave your heart to God… you started off well, it could have almost felt like a pure high. Life happens…trials come and we get tired and weary. We may even ask if it’s worth it to be a Christian. We may stumble, lose heart, and eventually give up.
This is precisely when we need God’s Word to encourage us. We must remember the Heroes of Faith. They were everyday people just like you and me. “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith…I don’t think that means that these old saints are watching every move we make and cheering us on (the Bible never tells us if anyone in Heaven can see us, besides God). What it probably means is that the way they are witnessing to us is through the pages in the Bible. If they can finish the race through faith, so can we! They proved it could be done. Let’s look at Romans 15: 4,
Now it’s our turn to run. We can trust God because they did. I think it’s really interesting that the word “race” comes from the Greek word “agon.” I think it’s interesting because we get the word “agony” from that same root word! The problem with some of us is we have our eyes fixed on some person or people other than Jesus (maybe a well-known preacher, writer or teacher?). We may have our eyes on ourselves, looking only at our problems. That’s when you need to open up your Bible to the Gospels and fix your eyes on Jesus! Read how he lived – by faith. 1 Peter 2:23 says, “He did not retaliate when he was insulted, nor threaten revenge when he suffered. He left his case in the hands of God, who always judges fairly.”
And don’t forget what Jesus said while he hung on that cross… He said, “Father, into thy hands I commit my Spirit.” My friends, anything you and I go through will never be what Jesus went through. Genuine faith perseveres to the end. Finishing is a choice. God will always give you the grace.
Enjoy a clip of “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus” by Third Day…