Summary: This sermon is about things that creep into our lives slowing down our Christian life race.

What's Really Necessary?

Hebrews 12:1-2

1 Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,

2looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

In 1874 Jules Verne published a fictional novel

called The Mysterious Island.

In the book, Verne says on March 24, 1865,

the final days of the American Civil War,

5 Union soldiers are prisoners of war

held captive in Richmond the capital of the Confederacy.

During a terrible storm,

they make a daring escape in a hot air balloon.

Instead of carrying the 5 men to freedom on the ground,

the storm carries the balloon out to sea.

Fear grips the men when they realize

their balloon is losing altitude

and will eventually fall into the ocean.

If they are to survive, they must lighten the load.

The first choice is easy: the bags of sand ballast are emptied.

That buys they some time, but not much.

Soon the balloon begins to lose altitude again.

The men throw over all unnecessary provisions.

Guns, extra clothing -- almost everything goes.

It's a losing battle.

Each choice buys them time, but only for a while.

Next the men agree to throw out their food,

then their gold, and finally,

with the men clinging to the netting of the balloon,

even the gondola they had been riding in is cut off the balloon.

The balloon carries the men further and further out to sea.

After 5 days and flying some 7,000 miles,

the balloon lands on an uncharted island.

Jules Verne’s fictional story carries a lesson.

It agrees with what our Scripture for today says.

1 Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,

The Bible compares the Christian life to a foot race.

However, it is a marathon, not a sprint!

The word translated in English to "race"

is the Greek word 'agon'.

From that, we get the English word ... "agonize".

My son Tony has run the 26.2 miles of the Boston Marathon.

He has experienced the pain and agony of running a marathon.

It takes stamina and endurance.

It does not matter how fast you start to run,

if you do not finish the race.

Two gas company service men were out reading meters.

They parked their truck at the end of the alley

and worked their way down the street.

At the last house, a woman looking out her kitchen window

watched the two men as they checked her gas meter.

When they finished,

the older worker challenged his younger co-worker

to a foot race back to the truck.

So off they ran as fast as they could run.

Suddenly they realized that the lady from the last house

was huffing and puffing right behind them.

They stopped running and asked her why she was running.

Gasping for breath she said,

"When I saw two men from the gas company

running full speed away from my house,

I figured I better run too."

That lady was running,

convinced that her life depended on it.

It would be a big blessing

if people who call themselves Christians

would run the race of faith like that lady.

The Bible makes it clear.

Jesus wants us to keep running this race

when everything within you wants to slow down ... or give up.

Far too many church people today are not running like they should.

It is time for them to run!

Too many church folks are spiritually speaking out of shape.

My son Tony runs every morning to keep himself in shape.

He has to do that to be able to run 26.2 miles in a marathon.

Why are so many church folks spiritually out of shape?

It’s because they don’t attend church regularly.

It’s because they don’t read their Bibles every day.

It’s because they don’t pray like they should.

Brothers and Sisters... it is time to get up ... it is time run!

Paul says in 2 Timothy 4:7-8

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.

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