Summary: sermon looks at Jesus as the ultimate mentor and how we can throw off distractions and unbelief that keep us off the purpose and Christian race that God has for us
HOW TO PERSIST IN OUR FAITH
50 Days of Faith Part 4 of 8 – Hebrews 12:1-3
Acknowledgement - Rick Warren
We’re in this series “50- Days of Faith. The Bible tells us we have many mentors, witnesses who lived a life of faith. But the Bible tells us our ultimate witness and mentor is Jesus Christ.
So this morning as we continue our 50 days of faith we want to answer the question how do I keep going? How do I persevere when things are tough?
Hebrews 12:1 says, “We have around us many people (talking about these lives in the Bible) whose lives tell us what faith means so let us run the race that is before us and never give up.”
The Bible tells us that life is like a race, like a marathon. Unfortunately very few people finish the race of life well. We get discouraged, distracted, hurt, and sidelined. We give up. And we end our lives with unrealized dreams and unfulfilled potential.
Why do we give up? Why do we get sidelined? What do we need to remove in order to get going? The Bible tells us there are five things we need to do if we want to finish the race of life well. The first thing is this:
1. Remove all distractions.
One thing we learn about God is everything God starts He finishes.” Every promise of God is guaranteed to be completed. But that is not true of us. Have you ever started something you did not finish? We start something and get tired, bored, distracted, and then move to something else. Our lives are strewn with the rubble of unfinished projects, unfulfilled commitments, and un-kept promises. Because we get discouraged.
Were going to look at how to finish what God calls you to even when you feel like giving up.
The rest of the verse, Hebrews 12:1 says, “Let us run the race that is before us and never give up. We should remove from our lives anything that would get in the way and the sin that so easily holds us back.” He says remove anything that gets in the way that keeps us from running the race.
God created you for a unique race. Only you can run your race in life. All of us have a different life to live; a different race to run. The problem is other people want you to run their race. As you go through life people well meaning people start putting expectations on you.
Believe me, as your pastor I face all kinds of expectations I cannot meet. I can only live the life God meant me to live. I cannot do what the Holy Spirit is asking me to do by focusing on expectations and distractions. Neither can you.
The Hebrews writer says the key to finishing a good race is to simplify your life. Get rid of the baggage, remove the diversions, eliminate the distractions, the time wasters in your life that keep you from what is best that God wants for your life.
What could distract you from your life mission, the purpose God has for you?
a. Trying to be like others
b. Making wealth your primary goal in life
If wealth is the primary goal of your life obviously God’s purpose is not the primary goal and you are being distracted.
c. Bad habits can distract you from finishing the race.
d. The wrong kind of friends can distract you from what God put you on earth to do.
f. Good things can distract you. The Bible says remove those things.
g. The biggest distraction of all is our past. Your past keeps you from finishing the race. It loads us down.
So many people are loaded down with either guilt over things that we have done wrong or resentment, things that other people have done wrong to us. When you’re carrying guilt, resentment, shame, and bitterness – it’s like trying to run the race carrying a bag of weights on your shoulders. It’s going to slow you down from running the race God meant for you to run.
The apostle Paul had a lot of regrets. Paul was a religious terrorist who killed people. But notice what he says, “Forgetting the past (circle that) and looking forward to what lies ahead I strain to reach the end of the race.” He says I’m not going to let the things in my past keep me stuck. I have a race to run. I’m going to focus on Jesus at the finish line. I will not focus on the hurts that have been done to me or the hurts I’ve done to other people.
I learned something in ministry and life. To be persistent in life, to finish what I start, I have to focus my emotional energy for the future, not for the past. I cannot worry about the past. The Bible tells us in Isaiah 43:18 “Don’t dwell on the past.” Because it will be a distraction.