Summary: A sermon on Hebrews 12:1-3 on running the Christian race


Dr. Johnny Pressley is coming on October 23- 26. He loves to run. He runs every day. He will run a marathon on the weekend if he has a light week after it. Runs several marathons a year.

Since many of us have the day off tomorrow let’s run. There’s a race at the Lunken Airport Playfield tomorrow morning in Cincinnati. It’s only 10 kilometers. “I’m not running.”

I must confess. I am not a runner. I have tried it and after much pain and agony, I give up. I love to play basketball and I gladly endure suffering for it, but just to run is not worth it.

In this passage the Christian life is compared to a race. “let us run ... the race marked out for us.”

We don’t need to just walk it. We need to run this race well.

Thesis: Let’s run the race with resolve, determination, perseverance and endurance. To do this, we need to throw off two things, and we need to be encouraged by two things.

For instances:

Throw off two things:

1. everything that hinders- Hebrews 12:1

Need to get rid of those extra pounds. A good runner is thin. A runner in good condition weighs not more than two pounds per inch of height. I’m 76 inches tall- 152 pounds. A person who is 5’5” should weigh 130 pounds to be a good runner.

An extra pound in running is an extra 4 pounds of pressure on the knees.

David Posman was arrested in Providence, Rhode Island, after allegedly knocking out an armored car driver and stealing the closest 4 bags of money. It turned out they contained $800 in pennies, weighing 30 pounds each, and slowed him to a stagger during his getaway so that police officers easily jumped him from behind.

David Posman is not the first person to make the mistake of trying to run while being weighed down. In fact, it happens spiritually all the time.

Some times it is difficult to lay these things down. “It’s not wrong and I enjoy it.”

J. Wilbur Chapman- "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."

Every year, about 1,500 hikers set out to walk the entire Appalachian Trail in a single season. Only 10% complete the 2,160 miles of terrain stretching from Georgia to Maine. One reason some people drop out early is that they haven’t learned to travel light. One man launched his hike carrying a seriously overloaded backpack. At his first stop, an experienced hiker helped him go through his pack and decide what to keep and what to send home. After examining each item, he sent home 26 pounds of unnecessary weight. How many of us are trying to walk the trail of faith weighed down? When Jesus was on this earth he traveled light, shouldn’t we do the same. What do we need to unload today?

2. (Throw off) the sin that so easily entangles- Hebrews 12:1

It all began on Sunday, December 11, 2005, when a fisherman spotted a 50-ton humpback whale tangled up in crab trap lines off the coast in northern California. His call for help was answered by a group of Coast Guard divers and whale experts. The rescue operation was both difficult and dangerous. Crew members found the whale entwined in some 20 ropes, each 240 feet long and wrapped so tight they were slicing into its flesh. The lines had to be cut by hand, which required diving perilously close to the whale and its powerful tail. It took about an hour, and no one was injured. In interviews with reporters, some of the divers remarked on the whale's "affectionate" behavior. One said the creature watched and seemed to wink at him as he was cutting a line that went through its mouth. Once freed, the whale began circling and approached the divers one by one to "nuzzle" them. Mick Menigoz told the San Francisco Chronicle, "The whale was doing little dives and the guys were rubbing shoulders with it. It's something that I will always remember. It was just too cool."

Something cool has happened to us as Christians. Galatians 5 tells us that Christ has set us free. Set us free from what? Romans 6 tells us it is sin. If we get entangled in sin again, how effectively can we run the Christian life? Not very well

On November 4, 1978, Dennis Rainear entered the Grand Valley Marathon. Hoping to finish the run in 3 hours, Rainear had just reached the 10 mile checkpoint when an object struck his head. At first, he assumed he’d been hit by a brick: “It landed just to the right of the top center of my head. I remember there being a thud when it struck me, and it took me off my feet. I looked around to see who’d thrown it, but there was nobody there.” Although seriously affected by the blow- “I was wobbling, and my eyes were going in different directions”- Rainer continued to run. He crossed the finish line at 3 hours and 9 minutes. It wasn’t until a few hours later that a doctor discovered Rainear had been shot in the head with a bullet from a 22 rifle. Imagine what this runner could have done if he hadn’t been struck by a bullet?

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