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Summary: We must learn to lay everything aside and renew our fellowship and communion with God. We must “keep our eyes on the prize.” We must keep our eyes fixed on Christ. We must pace ourselves when we run the race of life. Only then can we survive and win.

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Have you ever struggled with your faith? Have you ever felt like giving up? If so, the writer of the Letter to the Hebrews has a word for you---don’t! Don’t give up. The road of faith has been compared to a race. The race is not a sprint. It is a marathon. At the end of the race, we will receive the ultimate prize-eternal life in heaven.

The image of a race that the writer of Hebrews used included a stadium filled with the great athletes who had finished their races and who have come to cheer on the new runners. The spectators included Abel, Noah, Abraham and Sarah, Enoch, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph and Moses. They were not perfect, but they depended on God’s strength and power in their lives every day. If we feel that God can’t use us, we must remember that:

Noah was a drunk

Abraham was too old

Isaac was a daydreamer

Jacob was a liar

Leah was ugly

Joseph was abused

Moses was a stutterer

Gideon was afraid

Samson had long hair and was a womanizer

Rahab was a prostitute

Jeremiah and Timothy were too young

David had an affair and was a murderer

Elijah was suicidal

Isaiah preached naked

Jonah ran away from God

Naomi was a widow

Job went bankrupt

Peter denied Christ

The disciples fell asleep while praying

Martha worried about everything

The Samaritan woman was divorced more than once

Zaccheus was too small

Paul was too religious

Timothy had an ulcer

AND

Lazarus was dead!

We do not have any excuses. God can use us to our full potential because we are the messenger and not the message.

The race will not be easy. We will suffer like Jesus did. The promise of a future reward will give us the strength we need to endure the hardships we will face. It is the same promise that gave Jesus the strength he needed to face the cross.

Jesus ran the race of suffering and servanthood because of the joy he could see in the future. He saw the blessing that his suffering on the cross would bring, so he was able to set aside the consideration of the pain and humiliation he would have to endure. When we see the cross correctly, we see that Jesus is the author and finisher of our faith. We see that the cross was a milestone on the way to Jesus’ joyful coronation. The writer of Hebrews hoped that we will also be able to withstand our suffering and remain on top with perseverance because we can see the same end result that Jesus did. Jesus knew that he would face hostility, and we will also face hostility and opposition.

The hardships we will face are God’s way of disciplining us. The writer of Hebrews focuses on perseverance in the painful tests of life. Discipline is more than perseverance. It is a common term for raising children through instruction, training and correction. On the road of faith, there will be times where God will teach us and train us and correct us when we disobey him. As a loving parent, God disciplines us for our own good, just like most of our parents disciplined us for our own good.

God’s discipline will prepare us for this opposition. His discipline is motivated by his love for us. His ultimate discipline is for our own good, because the result of his discipline is holiness, a likeness to God. We must not let life’s difficulties get the best of us. We must endure and get our second wind so as to be renewed to continue the race. During the race, we must not look back. Looking back is dangerous. We must stay focused on our objective if we are going to succeed. That is God’s purpose for us.


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