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Finish Strong

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Good morning church family. I am so glad you are here today. Today I will be finishing up the the message I started on Hebrews 12:1-2. The author of Hebrews is using the image of a racer to encourage a group of Jewish Christians. The way this passage is laid out reminded me of my high school foot ball team. Every Friday night before a football game our coach would sit us down on the field under the lights and give us a stone and a piece of paper with encouragement to help inspire us for the game. I still have these rocks. The words that were given to me over 21 years ago still are a part of who I am. Words like “There are no great men just great challenges that some men over come” or “It is hard work that turns talent into ability” or “It is one thing to itch for something, it is another to scratch for it”. These verses are like those pieces of paper with saying on them. They will encourage and help us if we are willing to trust in them and follow through with them.
Last week we were given three stones.
The first was “Be encouraged by those that came before you” the great testimonies of people in the bible who demonstrated steadfast faith should spur us on to greater things.
The second was “Remove the hindrances that slow you down.”
Third was “Change your state of sinning, so that you will not be ensnared by it.”
As we continue where we left off pay attention for the words of encouragement and the instruction that is given in this passage.
Join me as we read the verses again this morning.
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.
Today we are going to start with “ Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us.” There is a race that lies before us.
So here is a question for you today, What race are you running? have you ever watched the summer or winter Olympics. almost every event has a course laid out for them. Each course or field has boundaries, lanes, obstacles and rules. The officials expect the athletes to stay on course. They also expect the athletes to follow the rules. There are some here who have run marathons and it is frowned upon if you take a short cut, right? There are huge penalties and even disqualifications for athletes that fail to follow the rules.
The bible says that God lays out plans or His will for us.
Psalm 40:5 CSB
Lord my God, you have done many things— your wondrous works and your plans for us; none can compare with you. If I were to report and speak of them, they are more than can be told.
Romans 12:2 CSB
Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.
God lays out plans for us. His will for us. Through the Word He sets boundaries, guidelines and rules. He shares wisdom and gives power to fulfill them. He even gave us his Holy Spirit to discern His active will for our lives. But time and time again we are told that if we are not careful we will stray from the course, we will go out of bounds and many will even stop running the race.
Take a trip through Israel's cycle and you will see it over and over.
Sometimes other people influence us off course
Matthew 24:24 CSB
For false messiahs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders to lead astray, if possible, even the elect.
Sheep are being lead astray in our country right now. This morning with word that have been twisted and manipulated for their own benefit. We must be very careful of the authors we read and the blogs we follow. There plenty of Christian leaders out there that are leading people astray. But they are not the only ones that cause us to go off course.
Many times we are our own worst enemy. We make our own plans.
Romans 13:14 CSB
But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and don’t make plans to gratify the desires of the flesh.
Psalm 81:12 CSB
So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts to follow their own plans.
We what to be in control of our own lives. To give that up is so foreign to us that we will fight tooth and nail to prevent it.
It actually requires our minds to be changed for us to be able to follow God’s plans for us.
Romans 12:2 CSB
Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.
We know we are on course when we can discern the will of God. When our minds have been transformed. So how do we stay on course. We must keep our eyes on Jesus.
Hebrews 12:2 CSB
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.
Keeping our eyes: to look to (undistractedly) v. — to look to something without having one’s attention diverted.
We live in a world of distraction. Lets be honest, who here would admit to being easily distracted. Or having a hard time paying attention. Our attention spans are trained to be short. The creators of our entertainment have studied how to keep us locked onto a movie or a tv show. It is so hard for me to not be distracted. Ask my wife. I am always amazed by people who can have singular focus on what they are doing. It is something that takes training and discipline. But we are to undistractedly look to Jesus.
Does this mean that we sit at home and read day in and day out? never leaving the house? No. When we fix our eyes on Jesus our perspective changes. We start to discern his will for us. We start to see the world and the people in it the way Jesus sees them. We see our neighbors with the same compassion of the paralyzed man who was lowered through the roof of the house. We start to see our coworkers as people who need Jesus as much as we do. We see our children as gifts from God to raise, train, nurture and love unconditionally. We see our spouses as created for us by Him. the most important relationship we will have other than our one with Jesus. When we undistractedly focus on Jesus our world view goes away and His spiritual view is revealed. But why, I can just here my children after statement like that. but why should we focus on him. because
He is the source and the perfecter of our faith.
He established the way to overcome the separation between man and God after the fall of Adam and Eve. Source can also mean trailblazer and other translations use the words like Author. Jesus is the source of our faith and not only is he the source but He is also the perfecter. He brought our faith to completion without defect or blemish. The Gospel, the good news, starts and ends with Jesus. As Jesus died on the cross he said “it is finished” and he ment it. When he died he not only finished it but he perfected it. There is nothing more pure then the perfect Gospel of Faith that he completed on that day.
And why did he do it? Because it was God’s perfect will. Jesus’ life was the perfect race. it was the perfect score. He never once deviated from his father’s will. He accepted the blessings and the pain willingly and in line with the will of God.
He never took his eyes off of the joy that was before him and because of this he endured the cross. He accepted one of the most painful punishments known to man at the time. Have you ever stopped to think about the pain that he went through. I have never felt pain like he did. And that was just the physical pain.
What about the emotional pain. The pain of knowing the ones you are trying to save are the one who yelled crucify him. Verse three reads:
Hebrews 12:3 CSB
For consider him who endured such hostility from sinners against himself, so that you won’t grow weary and give up.
Think of the largest betrayal you have ever felt and that pails in comparison to the emotional pain he went through that day.
What of the spiritual pain. he become sin for mankind. to pay the penalty in full. to be cut off from the father and to feel the penalty for all sin for all time. That is what he endured on the cross. Don’t take for granted what Jesus did for us.
He looked right past the shame of the cross to the end. To the goal. He endured the cross to sit at the right hand of the foot of God. To sit in the place of honor.
Jesus ran the race keeping focused on the prize. He glorified God on earth by following and obeying God’s commands.
We also race toward a prize: the promises of God
Philippians 3:13–14 CSB
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.
We also glorify God on earth and we do this in our obedience and faithfulness to Jesus. Jesus said if you love me you will obey me.
We are running a race following Jesus example. Paul said imitate me like i imitate Christ. Our lives should reflect Jesus to the world around us.
What stones of advice are you going to take away today?
Stone 1: Know what course you are running.
Stone 2: Fix your eyes on Jesus and only Jesus.
Stone 3: Jesus paid it all, all to him I owe.
So how does this play out into the life of our church? It starts with our purpose
Colossians 1:28 CSB
We proclaim him, warning and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone mature in Christ.
We all must strive individually to continue to mature in Christ. And how do you do that here? You must be willing to participate in the opportunities that God provides. The christian life is not a solo sport or a passive one. It is an active one. Here are some steps that will help you stay on course and run an amazing race:
Make church a priority.
Be an active member of a small group.
Find a place of service. (5 focus areas)
Take the gospel to the Spokane Valley
Do everything in prayer.
As we sing this next song i am going to ask that you stay seated. I would like you to respond in any way that God would have you.
I would also like everyone to take out the connection card and during the song.
write down one area that you can grow in.
One thing you want to get better at.
One thing that might be hindering you.
Maybe you need help with a sin that you are struggling with. ask for help right it down. you don’t have to name it on the card just write down you need help.
we all need to grow in something Jesus was perfect we are not. Kids you can write something down too.
At the end of service i am going to ask some kids to collect them at the door. So take a minute and respond to god.
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