Summary: Keys to running the race of life in the way that pleases God.
*ILL>In 1863, as Abraham Lincoln prepared to sign the Emancipation Proclammation he took his pen, moved it to the signature line, then dropped the pen. When asked why, the President replied: "If my name goes into history, it will be for this act; and if my hand trembles when I sign it, there will be someone who asks why I hesitated." He then turned to the table, took up the pen, and bodly signed his name.
<>In the first century, as Christianity was taking root, the first converts (Jewish) were undergoing intense persecution and suffering.
Many of them hesitated, even considered giving up their walk and returning to practicing Judaism, compromising their beliefs for the sake of a more comfortable life.
In the middle of all that the writer of Hebrews wrote this letter to show how Jesus has fulfilled Jewish Law, has called us to spread the truth of the good news, and why it’s imperative that we not quit, but instead move forward in the mission God has called us to.
In the first eleven chapters the writer lays out the arguments, finishing with a listing of the "Hall of Faith," chapter eleven.
But then, in summing up the entire first eleven chapters and moving to his main points, he begins chapter twelve with a sports metaphor: that of running a race, equating that to running and being successful in the game of life, and the commitment of faith.
To be successful in OUR race, we need to heed those lessons:
As we run, there are two things we need to anticipate, and four keys to pleasing God amid the race...
1) We should expect conflict.
*Heb.12:3-4 -- "Consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart."
We’ll face opposition as we’re confronted with pain and suffering that God allows to come our way.
And yet, through it all, we can learn to see God’s hand involved in leading us through it, being confident that...
2) We can and should anticipate victory.
*Heb.12:28 -- "Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude..."
If we look to the finish line we’ll see that Jesus is already there, having already turn the race ahead of us, and having already won the race that is now set before us.
FOUR KEYS TO RUNNING THE RACE, LIVING OUR LIVES IN A WAY THAT WILL PLEASE GOD...
1) We’re to run with enthusiasm and energy.
*Heb.12:1 -- "...let us RUN...the race..."
We’re not instructed to jog, walk, or trot...we’re called to crank up the level of our energy, and run.
>There’s an intensity about running: it requires energy to move forward.
--We’re to set our sights on our goal and run with haste, enthusiasm, and excitement.
*ILL>An easterner who walked into a western saloon was amazed to see a dog sitting at a table playing poker with three men. He asked, "Can that dog really play cards?" One man answered, "Yeh, but he ain’t much of a player. Whenever he gets a good hand he wags his tail."
Well, that’s how we should be...we’re to run with such enthusiasm we can’t keep from showing it.