The Finish Line

Hebrews 12:1-2 ESV

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

I am not a runner. Are you? I mean, I don’t physically run in races. I prefer walking, and I do really enjoy walking, too. But, I am a runner spiritually. Yet, the race I am running is not to win a trophy in this world, which I would then just put on a shelf, and then I would just have to keep dusted.

The race I am running is the race called life, but it is in honor of my God, and it is for his praise and his glory, and the goal of it is holiness and godliness. And, the purpose of this race is that I might live in freedom from the control of sin over my life, and that I might conduct my life in the ways of my Lord, in his righteousness, and in his power at work within me. And, the end result is eternal life with God (See: Rom. 6:1-23; Eph. 4:17-24).

But, I am not running this race on my own, in my own strength and willpower, nor did I even initiate this race. The Lord Jesus called me to run this race, by his grace, and in his power and strength. And, I am only able to be in the race because he already won it for me. So, by faith in him, I am putting my life in his hands, and I am surrendering my life to him. Thus, I just have to follow his lead, and do what he says, and he gives me everything I need to keep running until the day he takes me home.

But, what if I get sidetracked? What if I see something on the sidelines that I want, and so I take that on myself, too? And, then, what if later on I see something else off to the side, and I take that on, as well? Am I going to be able to run like I did before? Not likely! For, those things will weigh me down and they will slow me down, plus then my focus will be on those things rather than on my Lord and on running the race he set out for me to run.

Thus, I must shake off those extra weights, whether they be distractions which keep me from obeying the Lord, or other good things that I think I should be doing, but which also hinder me in running the race, or whether they might be anything that pulls me away from the race that God has specifically called me to run. I must lay these down, and keep running.

Sometimes the things that weigh us down are hardships, rejections, persecutions, and heartaches. Thus, we get our eyes off Jesus and on to the waves crashing all around us, and we lose our focus.

Sometimes, too, they may be sinful thoughts or behaviors which we have not surrendered to God, and they, as well, will keep us from walking in purity and in holiness. So, we must throw those off, too, so that we can live the lives God has called us to live, and so we can be the light of Christ to the world around us.

So, when we are struggling with whatever, and we begin to have a “woe is me” attitude, or when we allow ourselves to get off course or to take upon ourselves things God does not require or permit, we must look to Jesus. And, we must bring to recall all that he endured for you and for me so that we can walk (or run) in freedom from slavery to sin and so we can walk in his holiness and righteousness. And, in his strength, we must keep going.

Hebrews 12:3-11 ESV

Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons?

“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,
nor be weary when reproved by him.
For the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
and chastises every son whom he receives.”

It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

Our Lord allows us to go through difficulties. He allows us to be mistreated, rejected, lied about, and betrayed. And, although he does not tempt us to sin, he does allow Satan to exist, and he does allow him to tempt us, within limitations. He permits us to suffer, to grieve, to hurt, to have pain, to be troubled in our spirits, and to be strongly opposed by the enemy. Why?

Our God allows suffering and temptation in our lives to humble us, to get us to call on God, to help us to realize we can’t go it alone, and so we will turn to him for help and for strength and for guidance instead of doing it ourselves. Through our troubles and difficulties, when we turn to him, he is making us holy, set apart for God, and set apart from the world of sin.

All of these troubles and hardships are part of his plan for our lives. And, they serve his purposes, and they are for our good. They are part of that race of life we are called to run.

So, we need to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus and not let these trials and temptations take us out. We have to give them all to Jesus, and take his yoke upon us, for his yoke is easy and his burden is light. Yet, not “easy” because life will now be “easy street” for us, but because he is the one carrying the load for us, and we are learning to rest in him.

The whole purpose, too, of trials and temptations is to test our faith, and to teach us endurance and perseverance, and so we will comfort others with the comfort we receive from God.

And, they are for the purpose to train us in godliness, for when life is smooth with no bumps in the road, it may be easy to drift away and to become self-sufficient rather than to find our dependency in the Lord and in his strength. So, they help us get refocused, and to get back on course, and to keep our eyes on the finish line.

Hebrews 12:12-17 ESV

Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed. Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled; that no one is sexually immoral or unholy like Esau, who sold his birthright for a single meal. For you know that afterward, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no chance to repent, though he sought it with tears.

So, this is a call to us to come out from under yokes of slavery. It is a call to us to be strengthened spiritually in our inner being in the ways of the Lord and in walks of purity and godliness. It is a call which says to us to get rid of all the things in our lives which are distracting us or which are keeping us from walking in obedience to our Lord. And, it is definitely a call to purity, to holiness, to righteousness, to honesty, to integrity, and to a life of love.

The holiness without which no one will see the Lord is the holiness of God in our lives because of what Jesus did for us on that cross, and by God’s grace, and through faith in our Lord Jesus. But, that faith is God-given, thus it is divinely persuaded as to God’s holiness and righteousness and of our need to walk in holiness and righteousness and to forsake our former lives of living for sin and self.

This holiness which comes from God, though, must be applied to our lives through what we practice. For, scripture commands that we be holy in our conduct, which means to not be like the world, because we are being conformed to the image of Christ. For, if we continue living our lives for ourselves, and we don’t obey our Lord by walking in his ways, then we won’t have eternal life with God (See: Lu. 9:23-25; Rom. 8:1-17; Gal. 6:7-8).

We have to know here that our salvation is not just forgiveness of sins and the promise of heaven when we die. Faith in Jesus Christ means we die with Christ to sin that we might live with him to righteousness. So, if we keep walking according to the flesh, know that we will die in our sins. But, if by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, then we will live.

For Our Nation

An Original Work / September 11, 2012

Bombs are bursting. Night is falling.
Jesus Christ is gently calling
You to follow Him in all ways.
Trust Him with your life today.
Make Him your Lord and your Savior.
Turn from your sin. Follow Jesus.
He will forgive you of your sin;
Cleanse your heart, made new within.

Men betraying: Our trust fraying.
On our knees to God we’re praying,
Seeking God to give us answers
That are only found in Him.
God is sovereign over all things.
Nothing from His mind escaping.
He has all things under His command,
And will work all for good.

Jesus Christ is gently calling
You to follow Him in all ways.

Men deceiving: we’re believing
In our Lord, and interceding
For our nation and its people
To obey their God today.
He is our hope for our future.
For our wounds He offers suture.
He is all we need for this life.
Trust Him with your life today.

Monday, November 26, 2018

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