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Looking Back, Looking Within, and Looking Up

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Preparing the Church for the Future  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  37:55
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Hebrews 12:12–13 ESV
12 Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, 13 and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed.
This poetic expression, couched in Old Testament language (Isaiah 35:3; Proverbs 4:26), is a message of encouragement.
We need messages of encouragement—because we live in an environment that leads many to despair.
God has destined you, not for despair, but joy.
How do we experience this joy?
Hebrews 12:1–3 ESV
1 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, 2 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. 3 Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.

Remember the witnesses.

Hebrews 11:1–2 ESV
1 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. 2 For by it the people of old received their commendation.
Old Testament heroes of the faith.
Men and women throughout human history have chosen to live by faith (trust in God and His plan).
Psalm 89:1 ESV
1 I will sing of the steadfast love of the Lord, forever; with my mouth I will make known your faithfulness to all generations.
Cloud: many—a multitude.
Key Point: You are not the only ones to go through the difficulties of life. Look to those who have gone on before for encouragement, inspiration, and direction.

Run with Endurance.

Hebrews 12:1 ESV
1 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,
In light of those who have gone on before, a person of faith lives to win this race called life.
Lay aside anything that impedes faith in Christ (weight)—our plans, hopes, and dreams. The busyness of life. Things that may distract us from serving God.
Lay aside sin. The nature of the clinging sin is not defined, so as to have the widest possible application.
Easily avoided.
Easily surrounding (besetting)
Once we have jettisoned those burdens that my hold us back or trip us up, we...
Run with perseverance.
Pressing on to the end in spite of the difficulties.
This is not our own race—we are conforming to God’s will (plan, purpose).

Refocus on Jesus.

Looking to Jesus implies a definite looking away from others and directing one’s gaze toward Jesus.
It suggests the impossibility of looking in two directions at once.
In any contest a single eye for the finishing-post is essential.
We need to set our full attention on the most perfect example of what it means to be a person (as God intends us to be).
Look at His Credentials
the founder and perfecter of our faith.”
Jesus pioneered the path of faith Christians should follow.
He also perfected the way of faith since He reached its end successfully.
Look at His Joy
who for the joy that was set before him.”
How can one be filled with joy in the face of suffering?
John 15:11 ESV
11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.
The joy is in what the suffering (the cross) brings: salvation, restoration, fellowship with God.
The joy of what would be accomplished takes precedence over the momentary hardship.
Philippians 3:10–14 ESV
10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. 12 Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
Look at His Endurance
Jesus endured the cross.
1 Peter 2:24 ESV
24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.
The cross of Christ represents the greatest suffering in history, for Jesus not only suffered physically but also experienced God’s just wrath in taking upon himself the sin of the world.
Look at His Attitude
Despising the shame...
Crucifixion, performed naked and in public, and inflicting prolonged pain on the victim, was intended to cause shame as well as death.
Jesus possessed the attitude of not ignoring the shame, but holding it to be of no consequence in view of the joy.
Look at HIs Authority
And is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
In the New Testament, the cross is at once linked with resurrection and exaltation. It is never seen as an end in itself.
Philippians 2:9–11 ESV
9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Christian! We are called to life by faith—a faith that is filled with joy.
We are given a clear path to faith and joy:
Remember the witnesses (the people of faith that have gone on before).
Run with endurance (be persistent and deliberate in your actions and attitudes as a follower of Jesus Christ.
Refocus on Christ—our supreme example of living a life that please and glorifies God.
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