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Faith that Sustains

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In order to run the race the LORD has for us, faith is essential. A faith that sustains is one that is fixed on Christ, and takes Him at His word.

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Faith that Sustains

Good Morning and welcome to the end of family camp. Before we begin I wanted to briefly introduce myself for those who do not know me.
*Introduction*
Now we will have a quick word of prayer and we will dive into our text today.
*Prayer*
I want to first begin by giving you a question to consider and then give you my main point I want to prove to you today.

Question: What is it that drives you in your daily life?

What is the thing that gets you up in the morning?
Is it coffee?
What is the thing that keeps you going through the day?
Again, is it coffee?
But on a more serious note:
What is the thing that is the motivation behind each of your decisions?
What is the guiding principle that gets you through hard times?
Because for many people, they look inward
They look towards themselves in order to find motivation, or energy or some magical gusto that will bring them through this moment or this life
Even if you’re Christian, this idea of Karma/prosperity gospel (on top of a lot of other pagan ideas) have inserted themselves into the lives of Christians
And the thing about doing that, is it always tends to get worse (in terms of motivation)
We have this idea that gets us through our days and through the hard times that if I just do enough good for other people, my life will get better, whether by unknown means (karma) or because I did enough good that God will give me good things (prosperity gospel)
Because looking inward, we will always tend to see our flaws
And no matter how hard we look inwardly, it can seem impossible to find some motivation or thing that you didn’t have before to get you through this life, or as we have been hearing, this race the LORD has placed you in
With that being said, here is what I want to prove to you today:

Main Point: In order to to run the race the LORD has for us, faith is essential. A faith that sustains is one that is fixed on Christ, and takes Him at His word

Hebrews 12:1–2 CSB
Therefore, since we also have such a large cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every hindrance and the sin that so easily ensnares us. Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us, keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of our faith. For the joy that lay before him, he endured the cross, despising the shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
With this as our main passage I want us to look deeply into really just a few words and then we will begin moving through scripture building the rest of our points
The author of Hebrews in Chapter 11 gives us a list of faithful believers throughout the narrative of scripture building us to these verses here. The author gives us these “cloud of witnesses” to spur us on in our race
While these “witnesses” are vital, this will not be our focus. Continuing on the author tells us to run with endurance the race that lies before us....

“...Keeping our eyes on Jesus...”

This right here is the point that I will prove out from here
In running our race, we are not called to look inward for something that sustains us but rather outward and upward.
Let us from here look at why and when we fix our eyes on Christ in our race.

1. Run the Called Race (Given by Jesus)

What do I mean by the “called race?”
This is what I mean:
Matthew 28:16–20 CSB
The eleven disciples traveled to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had directed them. When they saw him, they worshiped, but some doubted. Jesus came near and said to them, “All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Matthew 28:18–20 CSB
Jesus came near and said to them, “All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Matthew 28:18–20 CSB
Jesus came near and said to them, “All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
And
Acts 1:7–8 CSB
He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come on you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
Acts 1:7–8 CSB
He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come on you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
This is the “called race.”
As a follower of Christ you were called, just as they were, to go and make disciples everywhere. But what that means is, it is not a race that you initiated or planned out but rather that Christ initiated in His resurrection (and in your resurrection to new life as a Christian as He brought about faith in your life) and He has planned out.
Your race was initiated based on God’s authority (the Son’s in Matthew, the Father and the Holy Spirit’s in Acts)
If you’re a Christian that means you were given new life IN Christ, which also means that it is new life FOR Christ
This means what you do, where you go, and what you say is either working for the “called race” (i.e. you’re living in the manner Christ and the Word have called you to OR you’re running a race contrary to the one the LORD has for you meaning you are running AWAY from the called run and therefore are in disobedience to what the LORD has called you to.
You were not given new life in Christ to return to pursuing things that will not last but rather things of Christ’s eternal kingdom
So in running our race we are to run the “called race” but also...

2. Run Looking Forward (At Jesus)

Philippians 3:12–14 CSB
Not that I have already reached the goal or am already perfect, but I make every effort to take hold of it because I also have been taken hold of by Christ Jesus. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and reaching forward to what is ahead, I pursue as my goal the prize promised by God’s heavenly call in Christ Jesus.
Notice here, Paul, in speaking about achieving the goal (the end of the race, perfection in Christ) he say that he hasn’t achieved it but he makes “every effort” to take hold of it why...

“..because I also have been taken hold of by Christ Jesus...”

That is our almost an exact rephrase of our first point right?
Paul says he is striving to reach the goal in his race BECAUSE Christ has taken hold of him
Moving on in this point though, Paul is pressing ahead. He is not dwelling on his old way of life which is dead
Paul is not saying he does not focus on the past referring to his coming to salvation (because Christ is still alive making us further like Him everyday, therefore it is a past, present and future event)
So we are to run the race we have been called to, looking ahead at Christ but in running...

3. Run in Humility (Like Jesus) because He is King

Philippians 2:5–11 CSB
Adopt the same attitude as that of Christ Jesus, who, existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with God as something to be exploited. Instead he emptied himself by assuming the form of a servant, taking on the likeness of humanity. And when he had come as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death— even to death on a cross. For this reason God highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow— in heaven and on earth and under the earth— and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
James 4:6 CSB
But he gives greater grace. Therefore he says: God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.
Notice Paul says in Philippians:

“adopt the same attitude as that of Christ Jesus...”

Running your race in anything except humility, means you are running in direct opposition to the God of the universe

Period.

4. Run Your Race, No Matter the Cost...

Here we are going to look at numerous passages because I think it necessary to really sink this point down deep.
Acts 4:1–3 CSB
While they were speaking to the people, the priests, the captain of the temple police, and the Sadducees confronted them, because they were annoyed that they were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead. So they seized them and took them into custody until the next day since it was already evening.
Acts 5:17–18 CSB
Then the high priest rose up. He and all who were with him, who belonged to the party of the Sadducees, were filled with jealousy. So they arrested the apostles and put them in the public jail.
Acts 5:16–18 CSB
In addition, a multitude came together from the towns surrounding Jerusalem, bringing the sick and those who were tormented by unclean spirits, and they were all healed. Then the high priest rose up. He and all who were with him, who belonged to the party of the Sadducees, were filled with jealousy. So they arrested the apostles and put them in the public jail.
Acts 6:8–15 CSB
Now Stephen, full of grace and power, was performing great wonders and signs among the people. Opposition arose, however, from some members of the Freedmen’s Synagogue, composed of both Cyrenians and Alexandrians, and some from Cilicia and Asia, and they began to argue with Stephen. But they were unable to stand up against his wisdom and the Spirit by whom he was speaking. Then they secretly persuaded some men to say, “We heard him speaking blasphemous words against Moses and God.” They stirred up the people, the elders, and the scribes; so they came, seized him, and took him to the Sanhedrin. They also presented false witnesses who said, “This man never stops speaking against this holy place and the law. For we heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and change the customs that Moses handed down to us.” And all who were sitting in the Sanhedrin looked intently at him and saw that his face was like the face of an angel.
This is where we hit the important points.
Because often time we talk about faith like we talk about love:
Like it’s this mushy feel good thing in the Christian life
But we DON’T want to talk about this
Because somehow we think the LORD would never do that to us
Or that was just circumstances, that can’t be a part of the race the LORD would have for me…right?
What if it is?
What if the LORD would call you to a place and a people that would result in you’re own personal suffering for the sake of the Gospel?
We think this question inconceivable because of what our Christian experience has been here in America
We ignore the fact that our experience as Christians is a geographical and historical ANOMALY.
But brothers and sisters, this in fact is where “the rubber meets the road”
It is the testing of your faith that proves it genuine
It is the testing of the metal that proves it worthy, or fools gold
To use a parable Jesus Himself did, it is a testing of your faith that proves if the seed was rooted in good soil, deep and sustaining for the scorching sun, or whether it is only rooted on the surface, which we dry up in the heat of the sun
Let’s look here at a couple more specific examples:
Acts 9:10–16 CSB
There was a disciple in Damascus named Ananias, and the Lord said to him in a vision, “Ananias.” “Here I am, Lord,” he replied. “Get up and go to the street called Straight,” the Lord said to him, “to the house of Judas, and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul, since he is praying there. In a vision he has seen a man named Ananias coming in and placing his hands on him so that he may regain his sight.” “Lord,” Ananias answered, “I have heard from many people about this man, how much harm he has done to your saints in Jerusalem. And he has authority here from the chief priests to arrest all who call on your name.” But the Lord said to him, “Go, for this man is my chosen instrument to take my name to Gentiles, kings, and Israelites. I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.”
2 Corinthians 11:22–29 CSB
Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they the descendants of Abraham? So am I. Are they servants of Christ? I’m talking like a madman—I’m a better one: with far more labors, many more imprisonments, far worse beatings, many times near death. Five times I received the forty lashes minus one from the Jews. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I received a stoning. Three times I was shipwrecked. I have spent a night and a day in the open sea. On frequent journeys, I faced dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my own people, dangers from Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers at sea, and dangers among false brothers; toil and hardship, many sleepless nights, hunger and thirst, often without food, cold, and without clothing. Not to mention other things, there is the daily pressure on me: my concern for all the churches. Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to stumble, and I do not burn with indignation?
You might say…well that, well that is just Paul right?
Well what about this where Paul speaks about the disciples as a whole as “God’s ministers” ...
2 Corinthians 6:3–10 CSB
We are not giving anyone an occasion for offense, so that the ministry will not be blamed. Instead, as God’s ministers, we commend ourselves in everything: by great endurance, by afflictions, by hardships, by difficulties, by beatings, by imprisonments, by riots, by labors, by sleepless nights, by times of hunger, by purity, by knowledge, by patience, by kindness, by the Holy Spirit, by sincere love, by the word of truth, by the power of God; through weapons of righteousness for the right hand and the left, through glory and dishonor, through slander and good report; regarded as deceivers, yet true; as unknown, yet recognized; as dying, yet see—we live; as being disciplined, yet not killed; as grieving, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet enriching many; as having nothing, yet possessing everything.
Brothers and sisters I ask you, is your faith one that is set on Christ and so sustains you no matter the cost?
Why, might you ask?

5. Because Christ is Sufficient for this Life and the Next

2 Timothy 4:1–8 CSB
I solemnly charge you before God and Christ Jesus, who is going to judge the living and the dead, and because of his appearing and his kingdom: Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; rebuke, correct, and encourage with great patience and teaching. For the time will come when people will not tolerate sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, will multiply teachers for themselves because they have an itch to hear what they want to hear. They will turn away from hearing the truth and will turn aside to myths. But as for you, exercise self-control in everything, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time for my departure is close. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. There is reserved for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on that day, and not only to me, but to all those who have loved his appearing.
Here in 2 Timothy, Paul knows he is at the end of his life
Shortly after this, Paul will be executed as a Christian and Citizen of Rome.
Yet here at the end of his life he says this:

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith”

Why? Why endure all that he endured?
How enduring all that Paul did, could he speak like that:
2 Timothy 4:8 CSB
There is reserved for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on that day, and not only to me, but to all those who have loved his appearing.
Let me ask you again, what is it that drives you in your daily life?
Is it Christ? Is it His finished work on your behalf that you gave upon in the joys and trials of life?
Because trials will come, but we can find a rest when they coming knowing Christ endured the greatest trial, the punishment for our sin to bring us to life and secure our reward, Himself.
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