Summary: Even amidst the difficulties, trial and troubles of this life, we must be willing to continue in our journey of faith, knowing that Heaven awaits us.

Hebrews 12:1-2

1 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,

2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

What Witness?

1. The ancient men of faith who walked uprightly before God always holding on to the promise of a soon to come Messiah.

2. The faith that God formed everything that is in existence from absolutely nothing. He spoke the planets into existence. The stars were hung by His word. The expanse of time was created by Him. He separated water from atmosphere. He formed the vegetation. All species of animals were spoken into existence by Him, and with His own breath, he breathed life into mankind.

3. Abel, in faith, offered his very best sacrifice to God which was accepted.

4. Enoch walked so closely to God and had such faith that God determined this world was not the place for him and carried him to Heaven.

5. Noah was moved to action to build an ark even though there had never been a need for such a vessel, nor would there ever be again, and in doing so saved his family and mankind.

6. Abraham began walking with no earthly idea where God was taking him based upon his promise from God. He held faith that he would become a great nation even while he had no heir of his own. He dwelt in the land promised to him as though not his own because his eyes were fixed upon the eternal. By faith, he laid Isaac on the altar believe God would raise him from the dead.

7. Sara, well beyond child bearing age, gave birth to a child and raised that baby by faith in God’s ability to surpass age and physical limitations, all the while giving birth to the one who would become a great and mighty nation.

8. Isaac spoke blessings to Jacob & Esau.

9. Jacob held faith in the land of promise and wanted his bones carried there.

10. Moses was saved alive from Pharaoh to become the deliverer of the children of Israel.

11. By faith, Moses instructed the Israelites of God’s directions for the Passover in turn sparing the firstborn of all the Israelites.

12. Moses led the children of Israel between two walls of water into the midst of the Red Sea with Pharaoh and his army trailing them.

13. Joshua led the Israelites around the city of Jericho to conquer the city without a single act of war watching as the walls fell flat.

14. Rahab saved her family escaping the destruction of the city.

15. Gideon defeated the Midianite army with 300 men.

16. Samson slew more Philistines in his death than during his life.

17. The widow’s son was raised from the dead

18. The Shunamite woman saw her son live again

Because of this witness to the goodness of God, the faithfulness of God, the power of God, we must be willing to be wholly dedicated to our walk with Christ.

A. What is involved in running this race? (v.1)

A race in order to be ran most effectively requires a runner to have nothing holding them down or back. They need to be freely able to move. No runner has won a race pulling a wagon of their ‘stuff’ behind them.

a. We must lay aside some things

i. Ourselves and our own will (Mt 16:24 - “Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.”)

ii. Old Self – (Eph 4:22 - “That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts;”)

iii. Anger, wrath and our tongue (Col 3:8 - “But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth.”)

iv. Distractions

v. Our weaknesses (…the sin that doth so easily beset us)….the sin we are most willing to do…the things that we do and justify to ourselves.

A well-known author once told this story of an account he had with sea gulls: “Several years ago our family visited Niagara Falls. It was spring, and ice was rushing down the river. As I viewed the large blocks of ice flowing toward the falls, I could see that there were dead fish embedded in the ice. Gulls by the score were riding down the river feeding on the fish. As they came to the brink of the falls, their wings would go out, and they would escape from the falls. “I watched one gull which seemed to delay and wondered when it would leave. It was engrossed in the fish, and when it finally came to the brink of the falls, out went its powerful wings. The bird flapped and flapped and even lifted the ice out of the water, and I thought it would escape. But it had delayed too long so that its claws had frozen into the ice. The weight of the ice was too great, and the gull plunged into the abyss.” How sad that even though the bird had plenty of time to fly away, because it delayed it paid the price. Now think of this story in terms of the Christian life. When we become overly enthralled with the things of this world, they can bring us down and cause our spiritual death. The finest attractions of this world become deadly when we become overly attached to them. If we cannot give up the things of this world and focus on Christ, we cannot be used by Him. Our eyes must be upward on Christ rather than downward on this world.

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