OUT OF THE SALTSHAKER AND INTO THE WORLD
Part Five—Paving the Way for Perseverance
Sunday, August 19, 2007
Pastor Brian Matherlee
Key verse: “Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” Hebrews 12:1
A young fellow wanted to be a star journalist but lived in a small town (not much possibility). One day the dam upstream broke and the town was flooded. He got in a rowboat and headed out to look for a story. Finding a lady sitting on her rooftop, he tied up the boat and told her what he was after. (They both watched as various items floated by).
She says, "Now there’s a story." But as he surveyed the sight he said, "No, that’s not a story." Finally he watches a hat float by and then turn 180 degrees, go back upstream a ways, do another 180 degree turn, and go back down stream again.
The fellow says, "Now there’s a story. I have never seen a hat do that before!" "Oh no, that’s not a story the lady said. "That’s my husband Hayford. He said that he was going to mow the lawn come the devil or high water!" (sermoncentral.com)
Making a difference in the world around us requires staying power!
I see 4 keys in this passage to sticking with God’s plan to love and reach the world we live in:
1. We’re on a great team
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses.” (v.1)
a. We are not alone-one of the great things about coming together on a weekly basis is that we see our teammates, our Christian family and we know that whatever has happened in the past week, somebody will care about us and support us on Sunday.
b. Three kinds of people are watching
i. People of faith-who’ve gone before and are with us now and they’re cheering. The author of Hebrews tells us of these people in chapter 11. Which of the people in this chapter inspire and encourage you?
ii. People who are spiritually hungry
iii. People who are antagonistic-and they hope we will fall.
2. Lighten up!
“Let us throw off everything that hinders.” (v.1)
a. The Greek word translated “hinders” refers to any kind of weight. It was used in the sense of making training and competing most effective.
b. These weren’t bad things. They were things that could have prevented a better outcome.
c. The people of the day wore flowing robes. Trying to run in that kind of get up would be difficult so they ran naked! At least without the flowing robes. I suppose they ran faster because of embarrassment too!
d. There are many good things in life that hinder our excelling in the Christian life. It doesn’t mean we aren’t Christian…it just means we don’t have the depth of living God would really want us to experience.
e. 1Corinthians 9:24-25, “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.”
f. It takes discipline to get rid of good things to take hold of the best things.
g. Is there something good in your life that might be holding you back from fullest surrender to God?
3. Break the chains
“…the sin that so easily entangles.” (v.1)
a. This verse tells me that I have a part to play in overcoming sin. Paul says, “Let us throw off…the sin”.
b. Obedience in this area is critical to being Christian.
c. Entangling sin is a drag on Christian living.
d. It is going to take effort to throw off sin.
e. In his book Fuzzy Memories, Jack Handey writes: There used to be this bully who would demand my lunch money every day. Since I was smaller, I would give it to him. Then I decided to fight back. I started taking karate lessons. But then the karate lesson guy said I had to start paying him five dollars a lesson. So I just went back to paying the bully. (Too many people feel it is easier just to pay the bully than it is to learn how to defeat him.)
f. How do we break the chains? ABC’s of success:
i. Acknowledge sin-don’t gloss over it
ii. Begin a different pattern
iii. Confess your sins to one another
4. Watch where you’re going
“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus” (v.2)
a. Author and perfecter of our faith-Jesus made faith possible and showed us how to live.
b. For joy…endured-Pain, shame & humiliation of public disgrace for the pleasure of eternal life.
i. A young musician’s concert was poorly received by the critics. The famous Finnish composer Jean Sibelius consoled him by patting him on the shoulder and saying, ’Remember, son, there is no city in the world where they have a statue to a critic.’
c. Consider him who endured such opposition-Jesus wants us to know that it is worth it no matter the struggle or cost. Keeping that in mind helps me keep on and encourages me.
These actions will lead to success in your walk with Christ. They will make you effective in your world. You’ll show people God matters and that you care.
Linda Down discovered real power and she needed it. She had dealt with the limitations of cerebral palsy all her life. One day, she got this crazy idea of running the New York Marathon. But Linda walked with difficulty, so running seemed out of the question? She used canes with arm clamps to steady her arms. On top of this she was 25 pounds overweight and jobless. In a state of depression, she began reading in the Scriptures about the power of God at work in people’s lives. She read Philippians 4:13- I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. While training, she listened for God. She thought as she was running in the dark at night: Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction about things not seen (Hebrews 11:1). She thought about her limited dreams, her inability to see beyond the obstacles of life. Faith, she said to herself, was running in spite of the insurmountable obstacles. As the New York Marathon began that cold morning, some 12 years ago now, she wore gloves on her hands to soften the impact of the crutches. It was windy on the bridge and uphill. She had not expected the beginning to be so difficult. As she finished the mile long Verrazano Narrows Bridge, there were no runners in sight ahead of her. Spectators were gone for the most part. But one little girl ran out into the street and cheered her on, “You can do it!” Others on the curb later applauded and cheered and shouted. They brought tears to Linda’s eyes and helped her to keep going. Ten hours later Linda was still running in the dark through dangerous neighborhoods. Some admiring spectators walked with her for safety. Then an ABC-TV camera crew showed up and followed the story of her courage. She continued to run. She wore a hole in one sneaker from dragging it across the ground; her hands ached and throbbed; her arms became black and blue and swollen; she couldn’t speak to anyone because of fatigue, but she continued to run because she prayed: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Then two parks and recreation trucks in Central Park came by and stayed with her to light the way. After 11 hours of struggle and over 26 miles, Linda crossed the finish line. People were crying and Linda was crying at the response and support that she had received from God and these people. She thanked God for the power to do such a miraculous thing. Later she was invited to the White House and was pictured on the front page of the New York Times. Her story was not just a story of noble effort; it was the story of the power of God at work. (sermoncentral.com)