Hebrews 12: Our Turn to Run!

running the race of faith
running the race of faith

...let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus  Hebrews 12: 1-2

God calls us to own our lives...to hug them to our breasts and to live them with all our hearts!  No place do we see this truth more clearly than in the letter to the Hebrews, chapter 12.

Using the imagery of running, God says that now it's...

...our turn to run our lap in the race of faith! 

And as we run, we each need to remember these truths:

1.  I’m part of something bigger than myself.

Since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us... Heb 11:1 - 12:1a

See the  Hebrews 11 blog to meditate on this truth.

Hebrews 11
Hebrews 11

2.  There are hindrances to my running.

...let us also lay aside every encumbrance [weight], and the sin which so easily entangles us... Heb 12: 1b

spider web photo July 2011
spider web photo July 2011

See Caught in the Web.

3.  My lap is uniquely mine.

    ...and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us...  Heb 12: 1c

For encouragement to be who God made you to be and stop comparing yourself to others or letting others deter you by their own insecurity, see: The Green-Eyed Monster and other Fruit Killers

eric liddell
eric liddell

4.  My success in running depends on my focus.

...fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of  faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you may not grow weary and lose heart.”   Heb 12: 2-3

See Lessons from a Family Vacation: We become like what we focus on.  Glory and grace when we focus on HIM!

fix eyes on Jesus
fix eyes on Jesus

5.  Submission to my “Coach’s” training program is key.

--His process is "discipline" (complete child training):

You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin;and you have forgotten the exhortation which is addressed to you as sons, “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,Nor faint when you are reproved by Him;

Father's discipline
Father's discipline

--His motive is love:

For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines,

--His method is ruthless, but fatherly:

And He scourges every son whom He receives.” It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but...

See The Father's Pruning

A Pruned Branch in the Vine 138_5713
A Pruned Branch in the Vine 138_5713

--His goal is holiness; family resemblance:

He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness.

--His result is fruitfulness--righteousness, peace:

All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.

See Return to the Vineyard: Reflections on Growth

fruitful vine
fruitful vine

--His exhortation is "cooperate":

Therefore, strengthen the hands that are weak and the knees that are feeble, and make straight paths for your feet, so that the limb which is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather be healed. Heb 12: 4-13

See Love's Abiding Harvest

finish lines
finish lines

6.  I must be a “team participant”.

Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled; that there be no immoral or godless person like Esau, who sold his own birthright for a single meal. For you know that even afterwards, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought for it with tears. Hebrews 12: 14-17

It's so easy to get bitter over life's hardships and the "irregular people" in our lives...even "irregular Christian people."  Yes, there are fellow teammates who just don't get it...actually we may be one of those at times, huh?

I love this quote by Henri Nouwen entitled, "Stepping Over Our Wounds."

Sometimes we have to "step over" our anger, our jealousy, or our feelings of rejection and move on [a.k.a. run on].  The temptation is to get stuck in our negative emotions, poking around in them as if we belong there.  Then we become the "offended one," "the forgotten one," or "the discarded one."  Yes, we can get attached to these negative identities and even take morbid pleasure in them.  It might be good to have a look at these dark feelings and explore where they come from, but there comes a moment to step over them, leave them behind and travel on [a.k.a. run on]. Bread for the Journey, Henri Nouwen.

Conclusion

Do you see what all this means -- all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on?  It means we’d better get on with it.  Strip down, start running -- never quit!  No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins.  Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in.  Study how he did it.  Because he never lost sight of where he was headed -- that exhilarating finish in and with God -- he could put up with anything along the way:  cross, shame, whatever.  And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God.  When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that will shoot adrenline into your souls. Hebrews 12: 1 - 3(The Message)

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We’re pilgrims on the journey Of the narrow road And those who’ve gone before us line the way Cheering on the faithful, encouraging the weary Their lives a stirring testament to God’s sustaining grace

Surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses Let us run the race not only for the prize But as those who’ve gone before us Let us leave to those behind us The heritage of faithfulness passed on through godly lives

Chorus Oh may all who come behind us find us faithful May the fire of our devotion light their way May the footprints that we leave Lead them to believe And the lives we live inspire them to obey Oh may all who come behind us find us faithful

After all our hopes and dreams have come and gone And our children sift through all we’ve left behind May the clues that they discover and the memories they uncover Become the light that leads them to the road we each must find

Class notes:  MY TURN TO RUN -- Hebrews 12

Homework: Read Hebrews 12:25-13:25 Answer questions in Hoping for Something Better, p. 203-205 Read chapter 10 & Conclusion,  Hoping…