I thought I would give you a glimpse into Carol’s love of God and His Word by posting some of the notes she taught from on various occasions. I don’t remember where all of these different things were delivered, some though were to the women on this Church in devotional studies and get-togethers. I haven’t done any editing on these other than to format them for the Blog. So these are “raw” notes that she taught from…the first one was for a woman’s morning coffee devotional. More to come so stay tuned! Bless you all,
“Run the Race!” Hebrews 11:30-38. Hebrews 12:1-3
(Read from the Amplified version) Today – a word of encouragement for us all. To fix our eyes on Jesus in faith. This faith is introduced to us in Hebrews 11. The chapter tells us of men and women who lived life and faced trials and circumstances much bigger than themselves. How did they make it through? By faith and obedience to God. These men and women believed God’s promises to them and then acted in faith upon that. It is the response of obedience that qualifies the characters in Chapter 11 as people of great faith. Abraham and Sarah believed God, so they obeyed Him regardless of the consequences. It is this kind of willing trust that pleases God.
Chapter 11’s heroes take us right into Chap 12 – remember in the original manuscript there were no chapters and divisions. Chapter 12 starts with “so” great a cloud of witnesses. This phrase conveys the meaning of a “vast mass of clouds”. It is a metaphor referring to a great amphitheatre with the arena for the runners, and then tiers upon tiers of seats rising up like a cloud. They are not just mere spectators – but witnesses who testify from their own experience. They went before us and testify to the God who enabled them to live (and if necessary die) by faith. They live the life and show us that we can too!
We are 1st encouraged to throw off everything that hinders – to lay aside every unnecessary weight. Weight meaning that burden, that mass we bend under, that hindrance. Luke 21:34 – says “Be on guard, that your hearts not be weighted down with dissipation, drunkenness, and the worries of life. The amplified version of this verse says “take heed to yourselves and be on your guard lest your hearts be overburdened and depressed – weighed down with worldly worries and cares. We can be knocked off course, and distracted by worries and cares and burdens and what I like to call old tapes we carry around in our brains. We are to throw all this off along with the sin that so easily entangles us.
Ephesians 4:22-24 tells us to put off the old man which grows corrupt and to be renewed in the spirit of your mind and put on the new man which was created according to God in true righteousness and holiness. We do this by soaking our mind and heart in God’s word and in prayer. The goal of Satan is to take our eyes and minds off Christ at every turn. Whether by circumstances and worries and cares of by sin – he constantly seeks to separate us from Jesus. The runner knows he cannot run to win with weights on. He would not wear a long garment that would be apt to wrap around his legs and hinder him from running. So we are exhorted to look deep into the lives of the men and women of Hebrews 11 – this great cloud of witnesses for encouragement. We are to get rid of sin, and any burden that slows us down. We are to run, not sit down and wallow! We are to keep moving. Run is an action word.
The comforting thought to me is that I am to run the race that is “marked out” for me. This is how the NIV translates this portion of the verse. This is not some arbitrary trail. This course has been carefully and thoughtfully laid out by God for me. He has gone before me and knows every rock and pebble. It is designed lovingly for me. That is a comfort to me. Then we are told to look unto Jesus which means to consider attentively. For some reason this reminds me of my cats when I am eating ice cream. They are fixed on my every spoonful. Their eyes do not leave me. They are wholly focused on me and will not be distracted by much else! What attention – what focus! Well, we are to focus on Jesus. This looking to Jesus describes an attitude of faith, not just a single act. It is a daily act of the will. We are to look to and gaze at Jesus for faith for all we face. Isaiah 45:22 – says “Look to me and be saved, all you ends of the earth. For I am God, and there is no other.” Micah 7:7 says “Therefore I will look to the Lord, I will wait for the God of my salvation; My God will hear me. That is an attitude of trust and faith. We are to cultivate this. We are to fix our eyes on Jesus – the Author (or the originator and beginner) of our faith, and the Finisher, the Completer and Perfector of our faith. Oh, what a relief! He originated my faith, He will complete it. Philippians 1:6 remind us; “Being confident of this very thing that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.
So, what are some keys in running this race?
1.) Look, read and meditate on the heroes and heroines of Chapter 11. Romans 15:4 says “For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.” One of the best ways to develop endurance and encouragement is to know the godly men and women of the Old Testament who ran the race and won. If you are having problems with your family, read about Joseph. If you think your job is too big for you, study the life of Moses. If you are tempted to retaliate see how David handles this problem.
2.) Look at ourselves. Athletes used to wear training weights to help them prepare for events. No athlete would participate wearing the weights because they would slow him down. What are the weights that we should remove so that we might win the race? Anything that hinders our progress. Fear, being self absorbed, or lack of obedience. Or it may be choosing between good things and the best thing – spending time with Jesus. We are to lay aside every sin that entangles us. Unbelief, unforgiveness, bitterness, unloving attitudes etc. etc.
3.) We are to look to Jesus – which means looking away from others to Him. We are to trust Him. We are to consider Him who endured such hostility by sinners against Himself so we do not grow weary and lose heart. Looking to Him takes our eyes off our circumstances. Looking at Him gives us something to be thankful for. We have someone to be grateful for. Looking at Him show us love. Looking at Jesus reminds us Who has won on our behalf and where we are going to be for eternity. So fix and focus your eyes on Jesus!