Summary: This message seeks to encourage God’s people to faithfully endure the hardships of the Christian life, as good soldiers of Jesus Christ.
Text: Heb.12: 1c “…let us run with patience the race that is set before us.”
Intro: Today we celebrate Veterans Day. This holiday was formerly known as Armistice Day, which commemorated the signing of the Armistice (truce, or peace agreement) that ended World War I. However, due to the presidential proclamation of Dwight D. Eisenhower, on June 1, 1954, the name of the holiday was changed to Veterans Day. In short, it is a day set aside to thank veterans for their military service to our country, and their contribution to our national security. It is a time for our nation to show appreciation for the sacrifices made by its veterans, both living and deceased. It is interesting that: “Major hostilities of World War I were formally ended at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918 with the German signing of the Armistice” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Veterans_Day).
Defending a nation usually isn’t simply a matter of giving military personnel a few basic instructions on how to operate a weapon, and assigning them to a post. Young men and women must go through a conditioning process. They must be prepared mentally, emotionally and physically for the demanding, and often, dangerous and deadly task of defending our country’s freedom. For that reason, recruits are not pampered or coddled. They are made to endure rigorous physical and mental challenges meant to prepare them for the hardships of battlefield conditions. The point is that they must be prepared for the worst. They must be prepared to endure difficulty.
In principle, the same is true of Christian soldiers. “The circumstances of a saint’s life are ordained of God. In the life of a saint there is no such thing as chance” (Oswald Chambers, My Utmost For His Highest, published by Barbour and Company, Inc., Westwood, NJ. 07675; pg. 231). The circumstances through which God brings us are engineered to produce faith in our Creator, and endurance as Christians.
Hebrews chapter 11 is commonly referred to as the “faith chapter.” The list of people found there, as examples of faith toward God, is often referred to as “The Heroes of Faith.” Of the sixteen people mentioned in that chapter, four were military people (Heb.11: 32). All of these people had learned to endure hardship; for faith in God and Christian endurance go hand in hand. As we think today of those who have faithfully endure while doing their duty for our country, I want to also point our minds toward the faith and endurance needed as soldiers of the Cross.
Theme: As we think about endurance today, let’s look at:
I. THE EXAMPLES OF ENDURANCE
Heb.12: 1a “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses…”
NOTE:  The idea of the words “…so great a cloud of witnesses…” is not that of those who are merely onlookers or spectators. The word “witnesses” comes from the Greek word “martus,” which “…was used in the early Church to designate those who have proven the strength and genuineness of their faith in the Lord Jesus by undergoing a violent death” (Kenneth S. Wuest, Wuest’s Word Studies In The Greek New Testament, Volume II, published by Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 49502; Hebrews In The Greek New Testament, pg. 212).