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Greater Than: Greater Strength

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Hey everybody...
Thanks for joining s for the stream tonight.
To be honest I have been debating whether or not to continue doing these because we are only getting a few people checking in.
The thing that has kept me doing thes is that I know that other than Wednesday nights we are getting over 100 views over the week, so that is encouraging. I dont know whetehr the time is bad, or what. Or if the format of a streamed video is just not what is needed right now.
So here is what I am going to do. Over the next 2 weeks, I am going to finish off this series and starting on the 10 of June we are going to go live via Zoom so that we can see each other face to face and engage more. I will give a short reflection and we will check in and spend some time in prayer together.
So please spread the word so that we can have a substantial amount of people to gather and spend some time in comunity. Starting June 10th. I will give you more info next week to let you know what we will be walking through content wise.
Alright, we are continuing through our series tonight geting close to finishing our Greater Than Series : looking through the letter to the Hebrews in the NT.
A reminder that this letter was written to a church that was having a hard time, They were being persecuted.
Property taken, jobs being taken away, the threat of deathm and their tempation as you can imagine was to leave the faith. For some it was to return to Judasim which many of them had once been a part of, and for some it was just to give up completely.
And the point of this letter is to say, basically....where are you going to go?
There is noithing better than Christ.
These kingdoms that ave sway over you right now, the patterns of this agev are going to go one day, but Jesus is securly seated at the side of God becasue his work of salvation is done, and eternal, and so is worth the full iunvestiment of your life.
Do not give up on Christ AND steer others from wandering as well.
Ladt week David talked to us about the Hall of Faith. Those who’s lives recorded in the Hebrew scriptures or what we call the OT, who lives lifes of faithfulness to the lives God had called them.....and it cost them dearly. Persecution and for some their lives.
Chapter 11 is a whose who of those who followerd and trusted God into the uncertainty of life becasue they believes their was more going on than what they culd see.
Today we are going to look at Heb 12:1-13
Hebrews 12:1–13 NLT
1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. 2 We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. 3 Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up. 4 After all, you have not yet given your lives in your struggle against sin. 5 And have you forgotten the encouraging words God spoke to you as his children? He said, “My child, don’t make light of the Lord’s discipline, and don’t give up when he corrects you. 6 For the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes each one he accepts as his child.” 7 As you endure this divine discipline, remember that God is treating you as his own children. Who ever heard of a child who is never disciplined by its father? 8 If God doesn’t discipline you as he does all of his children, it means that you are illegitimate and are not really his children at all. 9 Since we respected our earthly fathers who disciplined us, shouldn’t we submit even more to the discipline of the Father of our spirits, and live forever? 10 For our earthly fathers disciplined us for a few years, doing the best they knew how. But God’s discipline is always good for us, so that we might share in his holiness. 11 No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way. 12 So take a new grip with your tired hands and strengthen your weak knees. 13 Mark out a straight path for your feet so that those who are weak and lame will not fall but become strong.
PRAYER
Back in June 2012 I ramn tough mudder-
Tough Mudder is 12 miles of running thought the mountains, climbing walls and swimming through icy lakes.
I was super impressed with myself.
Until I went on social media to boast about and realized that everybody and their grandparents had run the race.
One of the thngs that makes Tough Mudder so attractive is the idea that althoguht there is plaenty of difficulty.... are in this together. Helping, dragging, carrying cheerings, bleeding together and not giving up on people.
Whwn I was preparing for TM I ate differently during the training.
Ate differently on the morming of becasue I knew what it was going to take. Or at least I thought I did.
I ran in a group. A group that looked out for each other.
A group that wanted to cross the finish line together.
Some moments were easier for some of the team, and at other times we had to wait for others. But the entire time we encouraged and motivated. Reminded each other of the finish line.
we werent prepared over night. We didnt train while we were running, we had to have some things in place ahead of time.
AND we werent the only ones running!!!
There was a bigger picture going on than the individual.
Bigger than our small team of runners.
Because not only were we helping each other out and encouraging each other on the trail and over the obstacles, we were being encrouraged by other teams, other groups saw themselves as a part of each runner making it.
Everyone was not our for themselves.
Entire team were waiting for other teams and where they saw they could not gety past an obstacle, entire teams would help other teams.
The object of the race was not the pace or the finess, it was the solidarity of running together and looking out for each other.
NOW.....
there are certain types of people you want on your team.
You want people who offer a hand (when you used to be able to do that)
You want people weho encourage......AND you want people who know the importance following the path.
And the dangers of going off the pathe.
What you do NOT want or need are those who continually say....let’s stop now.
You do not need those who contiually says, I found another path, I am going to go off the path we were told to stay on and take a short cut.
AND I know there is nourishment for the runb, but I am going to neglect it.
That kind of person does damage to themselves but also to the team, and to the entire venture.
Thee were areas where there were signs that told people to be careful becasue of loose rock.
And I would see people barrelling past yelling freedom as they went, declaring their independence and distain for the warnings. And I would see them minutes later around the next corner with their team huddled around them wrapping an ankle or a patching up a wound.
Ending the race for them, and making it difficult for the rest of the team to finish well.
The author of Hebrews is saying this....listen…
Hebrews 12:1 NLT
1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.
We have seen others run before us.
and this is important ---the visual many get here is that we are surrounded by the crowd as if they are in the stands and cheering us on.
As F. F. Bruce says,
“It is not so much they who look at us as we who look to them—for encouragement.”
And we look beyond them.
Oh we cna learn from them, they ran well, yet not perfect, BUT Jesus ran the race perfectly.
So do you want to run well....
Hebrews 12:2 NLT
2 We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.
That is where our eyes are drawn.
When my son first got interested in soccer, he just consumed information of players and historical games and scores. I remember I bught him a soccer encyclopdie filled with all these facts, and he would look through it over and over again and recite the information.
The author of Hebrews is saying....as we heard last week, hey remember all those runners before you.....remember and learn from them....kind of like a sports magazine..flip through these pages of those who have trained and run before you, but ultimately look to Christ. He is the front cover!!
He perfected the game! And is retired at the father’s side! Because there is nothing left to be won!
In fact it says, he put up with the ultimate obstacle, sin and death on the cross.
Disregarding its shame.
He took the very shaming symbol of the ancient Roman world (the cross) and thought of it as nothing in order to get to the joy awaiting him.
As one author says, he
...he has cleared the path of faith so that we may run it. The way is open, and although hurdles exist, the roadblocks have been removed.
Hebrews 12:3–4 NLT
3 Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up. 4 After all, you have not yet given your lives in your struggle against sin.
Look he says....life is rough.
You are a church being persecuted, and your temptation is to give up omn the race.
To find an easier path ( basically to giveup on the path Christ has laid out to you) but ....let’s ne honest.....
Christ gave his life to carve out this path that leads to life!
Listen for some of you this may be your path, and if it is ....then keep your eyes omn Chrsit so you see where following his path faithfully leads, but for most of you it will not lead to death, so keep faithful in your battle against sin.
And this is not sin as in sins committed, but in comntext the power of sin in the wrold warring against you and tempting you to give up on the path created by Christ.
Now one the least favourite things about trying to run, and preparing to run is the training. The eating, the contant thinking through food, and practices.
Many people do not allow certain foods in house.
Nothing woirse than rying to eat right and bags of chips and licorice making their way into the house.
Especially if you are not great at self-discipline.
See there are two ways that discipline can take place.
I tell my kids this everytime I want tyhem to be careful with threir time on their devices, or whatever,
I say you can discipl9ne from within or you can be disciplined from without.
Scriputre has made it clear.....I have made it clear to myself, that I am not very good at self-discipline and am in need of someone outside of myself hwo loves me enough and is concerned enough about me to discipline me from the outside.
Not a popular word these days.
There is so much negativity associated with the word.
Abuse associated, anger, lashing out maybe. and in a wolrd that tells us we have no right to even suggest what is right or wrong to our children and we should just let them follow their heart, this kind of language may fall on deaf ears for many.
But....
One of the ongoing comnversations that Lalainia and I have is about how well we are preparrng our children for adulthood. Not just to survive it but to live it well.
To be wise, loving , God-honouring individuals.
And to be honest there are times when we will look at other people’;s children and say.....why are those parents alllowing their children to do what theuy are doing with no consequnce.
We of course say that while others are compiling a list of how we are failing as parents no doubt.
But here is the point---discipline is not a negative word. it is a word that implies a love and concern for the one being discilines.
Challengd and formed.
The author of Hebrews brings up this idea by quoting Proverbs ....
Proverbs 3:11–12 NLT
11 My child, don’t reject the Lord’s discipline, and don’t be upset when he corrects you. 12 For the Lord corrects those he loves, just as a father corrects a child in whom he delights.
notice the connection of words here…far different than the warped versions we might have to dismiss as we look at this text.
correction and love are connceted
correction of a chilad and the love of that child are connected.....
So here is the point......
God has no right to call Himself your Heavenly Father if He does not give you opportunity to grow in your faith
You have no right to call yourself His child if you dismiss opportunities to grow in your faith
In fact you are illigitiamate it says in v 8 of Heb 12 if either God sees no reason to discipline or if we are unwilling to accept it.
It is not a sign of his giving up on us, it is a sign of his fatherhood!!
You rthink it is important for fathers to dicsiline their kids? (and everyone did) how much more important is is for God to grow us and challenge us?
Hebrews 12:10 NLT
10 For our earthly fathers disciplined us for a few years, doing the best they knew how. But God’s discipline is always good for us, so that we might share in his holiness.
It doesnt mean we take at it like a masochist, he says in v. 11 it isn’t enjopyable, it is painful, but it “brings about a harvest of right living.”
--
So all this to say....as God allows persecution, the power of sin that we deal with daily, something bigger than our comfort is going on.
something divine (v7)
God is using the difficultes of the dfay top form you into holiness, to chisel you, conform you and make you more like himself.
James 1:2–4 NLT
2 Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. 3 For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. 4 So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.
1 Peter 3:14 NLT
14 But even if you suffer for doing what is right, God will reward you for it. So don’t worry or be afraid of their threats.
1 Peter 4:14 NLT
14 If you are insulted because you bear the name of Christ, you will be blessed, for the glorious Spirit of God rests upon you.
SO, in light of those who have fought and died for the faith, in light of Christ’s full giving of himself so that you and I can run the race ....ALREADY MARKED OUT, in light of the fact that God is attempting liker a good father to grow and mature you, take a new grip with tired old hands.
Hebrews 12:12–13 NLT
12 So take a new grip with your tired hands and strengthen your weak knees. 13 Mark out a straight path for your feet so that those who are weak and lame will not fall but become strong.
Be encouraged in these truths to not waiver, to not wander off the path and to not give up!
Set an example so those who are weak around you.....can see you as one with the cloud of witnesses they can look to as a faithful runners of the faith.
That is the invitation.
You can be one of this crowd.
But not without keeping your eyes on Jesus the champion and perfector of our faith.
Not without accepting the challenging, growing, and legitimizing discipline of our heavenly father!
That means we dont complain!!
It means that in time of COVID 19 that otghers will look to us to see how well outr eyes are focused on Jesus.
People will look to us to see if we are growing and re-organizing our beliefs during this time to strip ourselves of those things that so easily entangle and find strength.
Like tough mudder, we are a part of a group, which is part of a larger group, following a path that has been set out before us, that takes stamina but also a wisdom that says I will stay on the path blazed for me by the champion of my faith, and I will not stray.
That says, I will fight for those who are on this race so that they are also able to run as well.
I will encourage them to stay the path even when it is difficult, when it gets uncomfortable, when we are asked to strip ourselves of those thoings that easily entangle.
Becasue we learn from Jesus who is our example and champion, NOT only how to run but also where we are running toward.
The place of honour at God’s side!
"The path of spiritual growth is painful, but the product is worth the price!"
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