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Summary: exposition of Hebrews 12:1-3

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Run with the Winners

Hebrews 12:1-3

Outline

I. The witnesses that comfort us - "cloud of witnesses"

II. The weights that confine us - "let us lay aside every weight"

A. Call to discern what handicaps us - "weight"

B. Courage to discard what handicaps us - "lay aside"

III. The wickedness that checks us - "the sin that doth so easily beset us"

IV. The weariness that may confront us - "ye be wearied and faint in your minds"

V. The winner to challenge us - "looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith"

A. Direction of our gaze

B. Dependence on His grace

Our generation is generation that loves sports. Many of you ladies can identify with the wife who was told by her husband, "Honey, now before football season starts, is there anything you would like to say to me?"

If the Apostle Paul were alive today, he would no doubt read the sports pages of the newspaper and follow the progress of various teams and athletes. Those who are familiar with the epistles of the Apostle Paul are fully aware of his frequent use of athletic references in his writings He referred to boxing, wrestling, and in our text to running.

Paul writes in Hebrews to a group of persecuted, beaten down, discouraged Hebrew believers and encourages them to keep moving forward in the Christian lives.

In considering the Christian life as a race I want us to note several things......

I. The witnesses that comfort us - "cloud of witnesses"

We are all creatures of inspiration. We need a reason for doing things and we need encouragement while we are doing them. One of the greatest inspirations and comforts should be all the believers from the past who have gone before us.

They are "witnesses." Not watching us as we perform. The idea is not that we should faithful lest they are disappointed. They are examples, not onlookers. They have proved by their life that the live of faith is only life to live. The same God who was their God is our God. The God of yesterday is the God of today and tomorrow. They are not witnessing what we are doing, but rather they are witnessing to us that God can see us through.

Christians on earth are to comfort on another (II Corinthians 1:4). The OT saints mention in chapter 11 witness to us of the faithfulness of God who led and upheld them through all their conflicts.

When facing family opposition, remember Joseph!

When facing moving to a new place, remember Abraham.

When facing problems on the job, remember Moses.

They shouted down the wall of Jericho, conquered kingdoms, shut the mouth of lions, quenched the power of fire, received back their dead by resurrection, were tortured, mocked scourged, imprisoned ..... they are a testimony that the life of faith is the only life that wins.

II. The weights that confine us - "let us lay aside every weigh"

One of the greatest problems runners face is weight.

A man once went to the doctor with back trouble. After examine the patient the doctor said, "You are not having back trouble. You are having front trouble." What he was saying is simply the excess weight is causing you the problem.

A. Call to discern what handicaps us - "weight"

This weight that could constrict us is not necessarily bad in itself. Often it is something perfectly innocent and harmless. However it weighs us down, diverts our attention, saps our energy, dampens our enthusiasm for the things of God.

The weights are the things that hinder our progress. A winning runner does not choose between the good and the bad, but between the better and the best.

Legitimate things can hinder us: careers, possessions, hobbies, pleasures, relationships, and personal goals. These things have the potential to consume our energy and keep us from running the race with all that we have.

The problem is not in what the weight is, but in what the weight does. It keeps us from running well. A weight is something that is lawful, but yet it is not helpful. All that does not help, hinders!

B. Courage to discard what handicaps us - "lay aside"

Suggest something which must be thrown off like a garment....must rid yourself of it. It takes discipline to be a winning runner.

J. Wilbur Chapman once said, "My life is governed by this rule: Anything that dims my vision of Christ or takes away my taste for Bible study, or cramps my prayer life or makes Christian work difficult is wrong for me, and I must, as a Christian, turn away from it."

III. The wickedness that checks us - "the sin that doth so easily beset us"

Every weight is that which encumbers us; the sin is that which entangles us. The weight is the unnecessary things, and the sin is the unrighteous things. "Beset us" - means to place itself around us. The sin is that will trip us up and check our progress. Now obviously all sin hurts our running the Christian life, but the use of the definite article (the) seems to indicate a particular sin. If there is one particular sin that hinders the Christian life, it is unbelief, doubting God. Unbelief entangles the Christian feet so that he cannot run. It wraps itself around us so that we trip and stumble every time we try to make progress for the Lord. Faith moves us forward, but unbelief trips us.

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