Summary: No one is impressed with the guy who registers for a marathon. But no matter where a person finishes a marathon, it is impressive. Same with God. It is not impressive to start well, only to finish well.


HEBREWS 12:1-4 (1-13)

Pastor Jim Bohrer

November 30, 2008

With all the pomp and prestige that the Chinese government went to in order to put their best foot forward, there was one person who they honored who stood out. He is now in his seventies, but China brought him to Bejing as an honored guest. Why? The odd thing is that John Steven Akwhari is not famous for being a champion. In fact, he was the last place finisher of the 1968 Olympic Marathon in Mexico.

Why would China who put all of their focus on winning as many gold medals as possible focus on a 70 year old last place finisher? Because John Akwhari understood why he was in the Olympics like no one else. He represented Tanzania in the Marathon that year. Early on in the journey, John stumbled, fell and injured his knee and ankle. He was immediately out of medal contention. By 7 p.m. an Ethiopian runner won the race. John stumbled into the stadium with a bloody leg and injured ankle over an hour later which is a lifetime in an Olympic competition. Yet, thousands of fans remained in the stadium awaiting his arrival. And has he limped and hobbled, the people stood and cheered him on. Even though he was not a medal contender, he was a true competitor.

Reporters could not understand why he continued to run despite his injuries and the plain and simple fact that the he was out of the race early on. He somberly explained to reporters what they had missed about the Olympics. It was not simply about him and his achievement or failure. He represented something bigger than himself. He said, now this is translated but you get the jist: "My country did not send me 7,000 miles to begin a race; they sent me to finish the race." God teaches us to follow Him no matter what. : "Even if good people fall seven times, they will get back up" (Proverbs 24:16). God teaches us in Hebrews to keep going: "Let us run with determination the race that lies before us" (Hebrews 12:1).

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 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, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. 4 In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.


From Careless Sin to Consistent Focus

Sin just catches you. You don’t have to do anything to get tripped up. In fact, if you just go through life without focus you will definitely get tripped up. The word for sin here is harmiteau, it means to miss the mark, to not cross the finish line. To be unfocused at the task at hand.

2139. εὐπερίστατος euperístatos; gen. euperistátou, masc.–fem., neut. euperístatos, adj. from eú (2095), well, easily, and periı̈́stēmi (n.f.), to surround, which is from perí (4012), around, and hístēmi (2476), to stand.

This is a compound word that means sin is good at getting around the feet of those who are simply standing around without a focus and run toward Jesus.

Usain Bolt took the media by storm in the 100m and the 200m sprints breaking records and winning gold. But there was a sub-story that is all but forgotten now. I would like to share it with you and comment on it as we continue in the sermon.

Before the Olympic games began there was an article written about the gold contender for the 200 meter sprint, the AMERICAN Shawn Crawford

It was entitled:

SHAWN CRAWFORD ON THE RIGHT TRACK: 200m sprint star going for the gold, again.

It recounted a silly escapade in this very talented runner’s past who had taken gold in 2004. He has a penchant for getting distracted in his quest:

In 2002, Crawford decided to sport a Phantom of the Opera mask at a meet in Milan. During the run, the mask shifted and with obstructed vision, Crawford ran out of his lane and was disqualified.

Perhaps if Shawn had read the Bible more, he would have thrown away that mask.

The Bible says that we must cast aside the weight which hinders or gets us off track.

In 2003 he raced animals for a TV stunt: Crawford appeared on the show “Man vs. Beast” where he raced a giraffe and a zebra for 100m. The giraffe – no contest, but the Zebra bested the Olympian twice.

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