Summary: 1. We are called to action 2. Our action must be decisive. 3. We must decide to release ALL distractions.

“It’s A Challenging Race.” v.1b

1. We are called to action

2. Our action must be decisive.

3. We must decide to release ALL distractions.

Opening Illustration (video of runner tripping in tape from 00:02-00:51 )

Turn to Hebrews 12:1-3. We continue our series entitled RUN. We saw last week that if you’re a Christ-follower, God has called you to run in THE race. You may be racing after financial accumulation. You may be racing after recreation and entertainment. You may be racing after comfort and security. You may be racing after yours our your children’s dreams. But if you’re a Christ-follower, the only REAL race is the race God has set before you. It’s a race of excitement and sacrifice. We saw last week that it’s a worthy race: worthy because saints through the centuries have gone before us and are cheering us on, worthy because it changes our lives and those around us; worthy because God Himself has set it before us and called us to run it. God has called you to a race: to follow the path He has individually set out for each of us.

Now this morning we’re going to unpack another aspect of this race: not only is it a worthy race, but it is a challenging race. To pursue Christ and His path for our lives with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength is not easy, is it? To be a fully devoted follower of Jesus is, I think, the greatest, most difficult, most challenging pursuit anyone could possibly have.

How so? To be all in financially is a challenge, right? Some of us struggle to take care of basic necessities. Some of us struggle with addictions to accumulation and comfort. It’s a challenge to be generous with God. To be all in relationally is a challenge. We have so many demands on our time and energy that to give God the best time of the day and to seek intimacy with Him early and often is quite a challenge. To be all in with our passions is a challenge. We get passionate about a hobby or travel or a career, but to become white hot passionate for Jesus is quite a challenge. To be all in with our faith is a challenge. Life is tough. It knocks us down; it smothers us; it brings heartache and pain. And to trust God that He is in control and He is sufficient and He will work this out for our good and His glory is quite a challenge.

So this text we’re going to study today will help us respond to the challenge. I’m assuming of course that as a Christ-follower, you desire to run this race faster and better and harder than you ever have--and to do it in a manner worthy of your calling.

So let’s stand and read Hebrews 12:1-3 (on screen) together. Go back to v.1, the 1st part. Let’s read that again: “Therefore, since we also have such a large cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every hindrance and the sin that so easily ensnares us.” Be seated. I hope you’re memorizing this passage. I promise it will be such a blessing to you, encouraging you in your faith and giving you hope in the midst of the challenges of life.

Let’s focus on that one phrase this morning: “Let us lay aside every hindrance and the sin that so easily ensnares us.”

(Video of me putting on overalls, boots, big coat and trying to run down the track…)

No way I could run a race well with all that stuff; all those encumbrances.

To face the challenges of this race, we must remember that:

1. We are called to action

Some people think that the Christ-life is a very private, internal thing. That’s a misconception. The gospel does begin deep in the heart and soul. Your heart and soul are private and internal. But the gospel regenerates us an renovates us from the inside out so that it becomes a very public, very external thing.

Notice the phrase, “let us lay aside”. Lay is a verb, right. If I lay something down, it is an action. When my 2 year old granddaughter picks up a pencil that her older sister has been drawing with, and I’m concerned she’ll start running with it and hurt herself, I’ll say, “Put the pencil down—or you’ll poke your eye out, kid!” Movie? Lacy will just stare at me. She doesn’t move. She doesn’t respond to my command. I’ve called her to take an action, but she doesn’t always respond.

Just because you made a decision last month to follow Christ, or last year, or last decade, or last century—doesn’t mean that you’re finished with the whole thing.

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