Summary: How we run the race will determine if we finish.
“Run the race to finish”
“How we run the race will determine if we finish.”
Sunday Morning Sermon
Intro: (Start with Title and Text)
If the Christian life is a race – my question this morning – are you running the race to finish it? Are you preparing yourself, your family, your spouse, and your children to finish the race? I will never forget what my father in law told me about my spiritual responsibility, right before we got married – it was my duty to make sure we were in church, active in fellowship and growing in our relationship with God. My responsibility increased when we had Hailey.
Sometimes I think we get the idea that we should be running this race, but we’re in it all alone – Actually the opposite should be true – the church should be a place of confession, encouragement and love – people who are willing to run beside you in this Christian life. Really the goal of the church should be to take those who are inactive runners and help them – start or start up again, and then run beside them. Unlike church league softball this isn’t about winning this is about finishing.
I don’t want you to quit – I don’t want you to walk off the track, I don’t want you to look around, make excuses or get discouraged. Yet I know the very nature of the Christian life – it’s sometimes easier to walk off the track than it is to keep going. Church, I’ve been there in my own Christian life – at different stages ready to walk off the track. I’ve had good friends – men I would trust with anything, walk off the track, away from Christian service. My prayer for you this morning – is that we together would keep running this race that is the Christian life – and although discouragement might come our way – although challenges might present themselves – we would keep running, to finish.
Are you running the race to finish it?
The author of Hebrews – that sounds so official – it was Paul – Paul writes a house church in book of Hebrews. His encouragement to them is the same as my prayer for us – is that we would keep going, regardless. We would keep running – regardless.
Turn with me if you have your Bibles to (Advance) Hebrews 12:1-3 (Read)
I see three things this morning – three things that will encourage you to keep running – your Christian life – Remember the goal is long term.
I. Look Behind you (1)
98% of the time when you are running a race this is not the proper thing to do. In fact the quickest way to lose a foot race is to look behind – take your eyes off the finish line and put them on those who will only pass you if you slow down.
a. We should look to our past – for encouragement
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses…
i. We can receive hope and encouragement
1. From those who have gone before us
2. Those who remained faithful and did things because of their faith.
3. Those who suffered loss, and kept going
4. Those who had excellent victory because of their faith.
It’s not so much that they are looking at our lives – but that we are looking at the lives of Abraham, Moses, Isaac, Jacob, Joshua, Rahab – the list goes on and on. Paul’s encouragement to the house church – you want to run the race – remember the old stories, remember times gone by, remember the victories that God gave his people – and know he hasn’t changed and will give you the same. Listen, church the same God who told Joshua to fear not, I am with you always is the same God you pray to – and we have the same promise. Are you running the race to finish it?
When you line up to start the race – don’t bring your robe.
Actually, a runner in those times would strip down to almost nothing – so that he would not be hindered in running the race. Which is why Paul would tell the house church – and they both went to these races – they would have been familiar with this process – you get rid of and remove anything that hinders.
b. The Christian life is no different
If you truly want to run the race to finish it, if you are honestly leading your family to run the race so they can finish it – get rid of what does not belong in your life. It can be a sin (probably not though, cause he will deal with that in a moment), or it can simply be a distraction.