Summary: The race we are called to run...
HEB 12:1Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. 2Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
Nowhere in the Bible are we promised that the Christian life is going to be easy. In fact, often the opposite is true; John 16:33 says "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." Yes, difficulties will come and trials will cross our paths and often, we will be tempted to quit on God and drop out of the race.
The author of Hebrews is comparing he Christian life to a race. He isn’t talking about a 100 yard dash. Instead, he is referring to a marathon. A race that requires endurance and preparation. Now most of us know that we are in no physical shape to run in a marathon, we know that we can be in the kind of spiritual shape it takes to run the Christian race.
In a day when runners seem to be dropping out on every hand, there are times when it is easy to be discouraged about your own race. When trials come, there may be the temptation to drop out for a while and let others do the running. Today, I want to help you stay in the race! I want to share some steps that are given in these verse that will help you and me run this race we are in. I do not know what you may be facing this evening as you run your race, but I do know doing the things revealed in these verses will help us all to be runners who are pleasing to the Lord God. As the Lord gives liberty, allow me to share with you these Steps For Staying I The Race. My goal in preaching this message is that when we reach the end of this race we might say with the Apostle Paul, "I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith." 2 Tim. 4:7
I. V. 1a STEP 1: CONSIDER THE SAINTS
(As the author begins this chapter, he draws our attention back to chapter 11, where he mentioned many of the great heroes and heroines of the faith. These people are the great cloud of witnesses that surrounds us as we run the race we have been given. Three truths about these witnesses can give us encouragement as we run our race.)
A. They Have Run Their Race - These were people who ran the race they had been given. They did not run perfectly, but they ran. They did not quit until the race was finished. They endured unspeakable pain and suffering, still they ran. Now, they are seated in the grandstands and observe the race we are running tonight. In doing so, they stand as an encouragement and a challenge to the rest of us. If these people could run their race, then so can we. None of these were extraordinary people. JAMES 5:17 tells us that even Elijah was a man just like us! Just like you and just like me......the people God uses do not have to be extrodinary people. Plain folk, as we call ’em here in the country.They were merely common men and women who evidenced a profound faith in God. If they could live for the Lord and serve Him, then you and I can as well!
B. They Have Received Their Reward - These people ran their race and now they are able to rest in the Father’s presence. Because they ran well, they have received their reward. The prize is theirs because they ran and they ran well. Again, this should give us encouragement to run for he Lord. When the race is over, we will go to be with Him, where we too will receive the rewards earned during the course of our race here on earth. This was Paul’s expectation in 2 Tim. 4:8 Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.
C. They Have Revealed That God Is Reliable - The greatest encouragement that we can derive from these saints is the fact that they are proof positive of the reliability of the Lord. If God took care of them, honored their faith, sustained them, kept them, used them, blessed them, and got glory from their lives, then He will do the same in your life and mine! When the Bible calls them witnesses, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are watching every move we make. Although that may be the case. It does mean that they are witnesses to the faithfulness of God. What it means is that they ran their race and so can you! And, since God knows no respect of purpose, He will be with you just as He was with Moses, Abraham, David or any of the others great heroes of the faith. God is absolutely dependable. HEB 13:5 says "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you". God doesn’t lie!