Summary: Sermon calling us to throw off the old, and run the race with everyone else.
Have you ever been lost? I have. I’ve been told the story of when I was 3 or 4 and my mom couldn’t find me. She called my dad at work. He simply told her to find lonesome and she would find me. Let me explain who lonesome is. Being a only child until I was nine, Lonesome was my bestfriend. Lonesome was a dog. Lonesome was a very large dog. Lonesome was a two hundred and eighty pound St. Bernard. I’ll tell you a quick story about when lonesome went to the vet. I don’t remember why he went to the vet. All I know is that while he was out there in the back he decided he wanted to leave so he broke through the back wall of the veterinarian hospital and left. When my dad got there they had this 280 lb monster stuffed into a wire crate so small that all you could see was hair poking out around all the sides. I think my dad offered to pay to have it fixed. If I remember right the vet told him not to worry about the wall, just promise to never bring the dog back out there again. So anyway, back to my story, so my mom went outside and yelled for lonesome. When she saw him stick his head up out of the ditch, she ran down there and saw lonesome sitting beside me asleep there in the ditch. I don’t remember it, but I’m sure that was a pretty good spanking.
So today we are talking about being lost or not knowing where you are going. Was anybody here in Vietnam? So then you’ll know what I mean when I talk about cat eyes. You see in the jungle at night it’s hard for two people to stay together, much less a whole unit. So the lead man will wear these things on the back of his helmet, called cat eyes, that will glow so bright that, if you lose your bearings for a minute, all you have to do is look up and you see the cat eyes looking back at you.
Turn if you will to Hebrews chapter 12:1-2. Read along with me if you will.
1. Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great crowd of witnesses.
What does that mean?
Mitch what does that mean?
Since you are here in this church, and you are surrounded by such a great group of Christians. Since you have decided to attend here. Since you have family around you, and that you are surrounded by such a great group of Christians.
How important is it for us as believers to be surrounded by such a great group of witnesses? It’s very important. Why? The next section is why let’s read.
2. Let us throw off everything that hinders, and the sin that so easily entangles.
By being a Christian and being around believers, surrounded by such a great crowd of witnesses, we don’t have to wear our masks. I look really happy, but behind this mask, I really don’t know what my purpose is here on this earth. I often feel lonely, depressed, angry, bitter, and selfish. I am the perfect Christian, everything I say and do revolves around Christianity and furthering the gospel of Jesus Christ, but behind the mask I’m just a sinner like everyone of you. See that is what differentiates us and the world, we don’t have to hide behind masks. I know that each and every one of you is a sinner, because I know that I am. If you weren’t a sinner, you wouldn’t still be here. Romans 3:23 “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”. So being around witnesses, believers is good, because we don’t have to pretend to be who we are not. You’re a sinner I know it. You can’t hide it. You are going to make mistakes; you are going to allow your own selfish pride to get in the way sometimes. So what. So throw off everything that slows you down. Then what?
3. Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.
Okay, I know how to run. But how do you run with perseverance? What is perseverance? According to Webster’s college dictionary, perseverance suggests effort maintained in spite of difficulties or long-continued application. So in spite of difficulties, I’m going to run this race. In spite of back pain, I’m going to run this race. In spite of hurt, anger, bitterness, loneliness, I’m going to run this race. Okay so we’re running… we’re running through difficulties and through long-continued application. But the question is are you going to run the race that is marked out for us? How many of you have ever watched the Boston Marathon, or any marathon? In marathons everybody starts from the same place. Everybody wants to get to the same place. A lot of people even run together, and everybody runs the same course. In the marathon, when they get to the city, you always see these guide rails set up. Do you know that those guide rails are just as important for keeping runners in as they are for keeping spectators out? That’s right. Some marathons have cheaters. Do you want to know the problem with the churches today? The church has some cheaters. We’re all in a race. It’s just that some of us are in our own race. Some of us have said, “I’m going to get to the same place they’re going, I’m sure they won’t mind if I cut through here. No. We’re all in the same race. If you go around what everybody else is doing so that you can get the prize, then your not even running the same race. Your running by yourself, and in a one-man race, there is no prize. So what do the marathoners do? They fix their eyes on the finish line and run the race that is marked out for them. So how does this apply to me? How can I change my life so that I’m running the same race as everybody, so that I’m not cheating? I want to be on the same page as everybody else, so how do I do it? Scripture tells us…