Summary: Vision comes from clearly seeing what God has planned from the foundation of the world in Jesus. He calls us to develop fully devoted followers, those that do what He says because they love Him. We must have eyes only for Jesus if we are to succeed.
Intro: The entire message of Hebrews seems to be that there is something better. What we find is that faith in Jesus doesn’t take away from our lives actually it brings better things. As I like to say, “The longer you know Jesus the gooder life gets.” Hebrews is a letter written to Jews who are thinking about going back to religious practices as their way of worship and salvation.
The writer to the Hebrews clearly communicates that Jesus is far superior to anything that was found in the Old Testament. The festivals, feasts, and sacrifices were a shadow a picture that is fulfilled in Jesus. He is a superior person, a superior priest and he teaches us a superior principle and practice for living. Jesus is better than the prophets, better than the angels, better than Moses, better than Aaron Jesus brings a better order of things, a better covenant, a better sanctuary, a better sacrifice. Really we shouldn’t say better we should say best. Jesus brings to our lives the best of what God had and has planned for our lives.
There is a lot of talk about vision these days and Larry’s teaching sparked something in me to finish for now this series on Giving up Superficial Christianity. If we are to clearly see the task for each of us as the body of Christ and the Church called Immanuel the only way that happens is to look to Jesus. We are told in Hebrews 12.2 “Jesus, the Author and finisher of our faith.” We are counseled, challenged, called, maybe commanded to look to Jesus. True vision doesn’t come from us coming up with a plan but accepting the one already wrapped up in Jesus. The Great Commission is Jesus’ plan for us. We are called to look to Him to receive the compassion, endurance, wisdom, needed to live as fully devoted followers of Christ.
I. Spiritual vision comes from looking away from the outward appearance (getting rid of baggage)
The Greek word here means to look away in order to look at. Be careful you don’t miss the forest for the trees.
A) Encouragement from the witnesses to lay aside the encumbrances
Based on the life of faith of the people of God from chapter 11 and faithfulness of God we are called to lay aside anything that hinders us in our relationship with Jesus.
Apotithemi, is the Greek word translated lay aside and it literally meant take off your clothes in order to compete in the races of the Coliseum. The word is in the aorist tense meaning an effective once for all action. It is in the middle voice which speaks of the subject initiating the action to lay aside and participating in the action.
We must learn that we don’t run the race of the Christian life by asking is this ok to do, or is there anything wrong with smoking, gossip, etc. Ask does it hinder my relationship with Jesus, does it help me run the race and end up a good and faithful servant having endured. Don’t ask about your movies, music, parties, habits, attitudes, is it a sin, is there something wrong with it ask does it help me know Jesus more! Hebrews 12.1 is a command to examine your life in light of your relationship with Jesus. What needs to be taken off or out of your life so that you can be a fully devoted follower of Jesus Christ? It is not saying get rid of these things to come to Jesus, it is saying because of the encouragement of the people of faith get rid of what hinders your growth in Jesus. Pay attention to what seems innocent and which is not condemned clearly in the Bible but you know hold you back from growing in faith, love, holiness, and freedom. Pay careful attention how you make excuses for computer games, hidden candy, hidden alcohol, television, videos, magazines, novels, relationships. What about people that weaken you? Write all this down and bring it before your heavenly father and ask Him to guide you to lay aside all that hinders your relationship with Him. God will break the strongholds; give you new holy habits, healthy relationships. Know this He will not force you to lay it aside but He will fortify you so you can.
B) Encouragement from the witnesses to look away from circumstances
Let us run the race that is set before us. If you are trying to change the conditions of your life you are missing what God is trying to do in you. He wants us to run the race set before us. That means that we must change not what circumstances may surround or seem to strangle us. It is walking with God in whatever we face that transforms us. Not Him always taking the pain, pressure, or persons out of our lives that are difficult.