Summary: We are called to finish the race, and it takes endurance. We need to be (1) prepared for the struggles that will come, and (2) focus our attention on Jesus. Ministry flows out of a love relationship with Christ. Our vision of Him will enable us to fini
[Some of the thoughts in this sermon are taken from Max Lucado’s book Just Like Jesus.]
Let’s learn about endurance today. We want to finish strong, not just starting well.
I don’t always finish what I start. Chances are I am not alone.
• We have unfinished tasks lying around - like a book half-read, a project half-done, a meal half-eaten, or a letter half-written.
• We all know it is one thing to start something; it is quite another to complete it.
To start is easy, to end is not. To start can be simple, but to end takes sacrifices.
• Every marathoner can testify to that. It is not the start that counts but the end, and it takes lot of hard work.
• To start feels good, but to end requires every drop of sweat and strength from you. It requires something from us - not just time, but perseverance, patience, endurance, and discipline.
• To finish strong, you need to be prepared to pay a price.
Some people swing to the other side - “Don’t start what you cannot finish.”
• That’s not right too. You need to start, if it is something good and right. Why not?
• But there are times we need to stop what we have started - if it’s not working, if you have taken a wrong route, then stop. Re-calibrate and start anew.
To be honest, I don’t believe you should finish everything you start.
• Let me qualify that - except your homework, school project, or your work in the office. You better finish them.
• Otherwise, we need to evaluate and maybe try something new. Why keep riding on a dead horse?
So the purpose of the sermon today is not to convince you to finish everything.
• But to challenge you to finish the RIGHT thing, that is, to finish the tasks God has set for us. Don’t quit. Don’t give up. No matter how difficult the ministry has been.
• We are called to finish the race (Heb 12:1-3) God has set for us:
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.
The Christian’s life or race, as the author paints for us, is not a jog but rather a demanding and sometimes agonizing race.
• It’s a picture of a marathon. It will take a lot of effort to finish strong. The author calls us to persevere and to endure.
Reminds me of what Jesus says to a man who said, “I will follow you wherever you go.” (Luke 9:57)
• Jesus replied, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”
• In other words, if you follow me, realize that there will be difficulties. There will be times when you will not know where you will sleep, or what your next meal will be.
• And then He said, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:62)
• Never put Jesus in the HR department in charge of recruitment. He will scare the candidates away.
But that is what we are called to, and that is what we need to prepare our hearts for.
• At the start of any race, the mood is usually good, the people are happy, the crowd cheering away; it’s a party at the start-point.
• Everyone starts the race with ease, but not many will end it. Weariness set in. The crowd thins out. The sounds of cheering die down. The front runners have gone out of sight. You’re alone on a stretch, catching every breath. A handful of bystanders watching by the side. Few show any interest. And you are far from the end.
That’s a marathon. That’s our race. It is difficult to finish strong, as Jesus warns us, but we must.
• I’m obviously not a marathon runner. But marathon runners tell us that there are 2 critical times in the race. The first one is at the beginning. When you begin to run you feel so good, and the temptation is to run too fast too soon. So you expend all your energy and don’t have enough left for the end of the race.