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Summary: (3) Principles for Overcoming the temptation to lose heart and grow weary. 1. Preceive The Great Cloud Of Witnesses 2. Persevere In The Race Set Before Us 3. Pursue Christ, the author and finisher of our faith

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Introduction

• The author of Hebrews defines faith as: being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see (Hb. 11:1). In my walk with Christ, this has been one of the most difficult lessons I have had to learn, namely, how to live a life of faith without losing hope, even when things look bleak.

Illustration

• As I considered today’s sermon, I reflected on the some of the stories my father would share with me. In his youth he carried a pilot’s license and once and a while he would rent a small Cessna and fly around with a couple friends. I once asked him what the hardest part of flying was? He told me that it was trusting in your instruments. He described what it was like getting caught in a storm and not being able to see, everything in you wants to look out the windshield and figure out what’s going on but that is a fatal move, you must fully trust your instruments, they do not lie.

• It would seem to me that this is very similar to living a life of faith. We are called to trust not in our feelings but rather in the unseen God who does not lie.

Interrogative Sentence

• The epistle to Hebrews (12:3) calls Christians to “not grow weary or lose heart” while living out this life of faith, have you? Are you growing weary in trusting in the unseen promises of God?

Sermon Preview

If this is you, I wanted to encourage you today, by pointing out from (Hebrews 12: 1-3) some very practical ways to live out the life of faith. In our sermon today, we will see that not growing weary and losing faith happens when we:

• Perceive The Witness Cloud – (Encouragement)

• Persevere In The Race Set Before Us – (Perseverance)

• Pursue The Author And Finisher Of Our Faith – (Power)

Transition

Overcoming weariness and the loss of faith happens when we firstly…

I. Perceive The Witness Cloud – v.1(Encouragment)

Exegesis:

Read Passage, Then read Hebrews 11:36-38

In the previous Chapter (11), known as the hall of fame of faith, the author of Hebrews outlines some of the incredible moments of the greats of the faith…

V.1 “THEREFORE” - Our passage today beginning with vs. 1 comes directly after this great declaration of faith, it opens with the word “therefore” τοιγαροῦν. This word, “therefore” prepares the audience for the point of the authors discourse in chapter 11, the “so what” if you will on these faithful men and woman of time past.

V.1 “SURROUNDED BY… CLOUD OF WITNESSES” - gives the idea that we are “ running a race before a great crowd of people who encompass us left and right and have already finished the race with honors”.

V.1 “Throw Off” - Literally means to cast aside or lay down (Gk. ἀποτίθημι)

V.1 “Everything that hinders” – See 10:38,39 “But my righteous one will live by faith. And if he shrinks back, I will not be pleased with him…”, “we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved.

Interpretation:

What the author is saying is that when we perceive that we are not in this alone (Matthew 22:32 “He is not the God of the dead but of the living.”), that there is a cloud of witnesses that surround us and a history that carries us. Their stories of faith and their prayers encourage us to move forward, “throwing off” the stumbling blocks of fear and of shrinking back from the challenges of life. If they did it and so can we! We can overcome the entanglement of Sin in our lives, just as they did, by God’s grace. The lives of those represented in the cloud of witnesses need to serve as encouragement for us today.

Illustration:

There is a big difference between batting practice and playing ball. It is common for pro- ball players to describe the overwhelming power of the of the sound of thousands cheering them on. In a sense our life is the game and the cloud of witnesses, heroes, our audience cheering us on in a similar fashion.

Application:

• Part of the reason we struggle with faith and lose heart, is because we do not perceive the many who went before us, who felt the same way we do, AND YET MADE IT! Paul said in (1Tim 4:7) “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. ”

• A practical way of overcoming the temptation to lose heart is to “Perceive The Cloud of Witnesses”, whose lives cheer us ever forward in the faith.. What are you facing today? The author of Hebrews calls on you to remember Phillip (who was scourged, thrown into prison, and afterwards crucified) is cheering you on! Remember Mattias who was “was stoned at Jerusalem and then beheaded.” is cheering you on! Remember Peter who was crucified upside down, Thomas who was thrust by a spear, Luke who was hanged on an Olive tree, Mark was dragged to pieces! They are just a small fraction of the heroes cheering you on! If they can make it, so can you.

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