Thursday, August 02, 2012

The Great and Grueling Race- Hebrews 12

Hebrews 12: 1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
Hard to believe I am down to 2 chapters in this study of all of the chapter 12's in Scripture for 2012.

Hebrews is a marvelous and mysterious book. We don't know the author. I have always been intrigued by the theory that it was written by Apollos. But regardless of human authorship, there is no doubt of its canonicity and value.

The beginning of chapter 12 is one of those WOW moments. I'm sure Hebrews 12:1 goes up there as a hall of fame verse.

It begins with "another great OUN"- THEREFORE... and when we see these 'therefore's' we need to look back at what the writer is referring to. It is like clicking on a computer ICON and opening up a whole lot of stuff.

In this case the 'Therefore' is referring to the "Hero of Faith Hall of Honor" from Chapter 11. Chapter 11 gives a beautiful definition of faith, then examples of this faith, and leads to us... Therefore since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses.

Have you ever considered who is cheering you on?

When I ran the Music City Marathon it was inspirational to see the people lined up to watch and cheer. The live music and energy of all the participants just lifted me up in the quest.

Then around mile 8 or 9 I picked up the face of the first of three individuals who were there to look and cheer for me. I saw this sea of faces and then, I KNOW that one! It was Rod Thurley! He was one of my football parents, always had been a great encourager,  he just smiled and hugged my neck and I was hit with some GO JUICE.

According to Hebrews 12- we are being cheered on. These great heroes of the faith are not standing in folded arms of condemnation or doubt. These are men and women who finished before us and now are cheering us on. They are our inspiration and role model.

In your corner is Noah and Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, Moses and Gideon, David and other lesser known Saints of old. They were given a baton of faith and they ran their race well- it is now your time- it is my time.

let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us
We need to run lean and light. The less baggage we pack, the better the progress. I believe there is an inference here to leaving behind good things, acceptable things AND sinful things. The verse here says 'every weight and sin which clings so closely'.

What weights am I carrying. What are time consumers? Distractors?  For me, I fall back into many of my same comforts: leisure, food, self promotion.

AND the sin. Here I am, a disciple of Jesus Christ, following Him for over 30 years now, and still have close clinging sin.

The greek word for sin is harmateas. The english translators borrowed a term from archery. Hitting the bullseye is a PIN- missing the mark is a SIN.

The problem is that I don't see the seriousness of sin. It is a poison. It is a killer. When I miss God's mark, I am setting myself up for consequences that are contained in the sin itself.

"Sin will take you further than you want to go, keep you longer than you want to stay and cost you more than you want to pay."
Setting aside weights and sin puts me in a better position to RUN WITH ENDURANCE.

In a world of microwave moments and instant gratification- I'm finding less will to persevere.

Are we running the race with endurance? How quickly do we give in or give up? How many marriages end because we just aren't happy or it is hard? How soon do we let go of people because it doesn't look like it is working? What are we teaching our children about endurance or do we let them quit on a whim?
let us run with endurance the race that is set before us
God has a marathon for you. Your race may be different from mine. All will be tough. All will be worth it.

THE BEAUTIFUL EXAMPLE: Jesus Ran His Race to Victory

looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
When I read Hebrews 11 I say : "I don't have faith". But Jesus is the author of my faith.
When I read the heroes, I say: "I am no good for God's glory". Jesus is the perfecter of my faith.


I grumble going up a hill or slipping over a hurdle. I cry because I am tired or behind. I fall down and just lay there.

Jesus ran His race with JOY.

He was misunderstood, under appreciated, lied about, spit upon, scorned, beaten. He fell down under the weight of the cross and got back up. He was deserted and betrayed. He maneuvered the shadow of the cross all alone, even crying out 'forsaken' under the weight of propitiation.

At any point He could have quit. He could have cried out and legions of angels would have obliterated the hate and venom. Instead, He cried out "Father forgive them".

And the joy set before Him? It was you. It was me. He saw down the corridors of time, people having their robes washed. He saw sinners crying under the weight of brokenness and loneliness and emptiness and finding peace, hope, love, and redemption.

I will finish today's blog with a famous inspirational poem:

Get up and win the race– attributed to Dr. D.H. “Dee” Groberg

‘Quit’ Give up, you’re beaten!‘ they shout at me and plead.
There’s just too much against you now, this time you can’t succeed.’
And as I started to hang my head in front of failures face,
My downward fall is broken by the memory of a race.
And hope refills my weakened will, as I recall that scene,
And just the thought of that short race rejuvenates my being.
A children’s race. Young boys, young men, I remember well.
Excitement, sure, but also fear; it wasn’t hard to tell
They all lined up so full of hope. The thought to win that race.
Or tie for first, or if not that, at least take second place.
And fathers watched from off the side, each cheering for his son,
And each boy hoped to show his Dad, that he would be the one.
(The whistle blew).To win, to be the hero there, was each boy’s young desire.
And one boy in particular, his Dad was in the crowd,
Was running near the lead and thought. ‘My Dad will be so proud.
But as he sped down the field across a shallow dip,
The little boy who thought to win, lost his step and slipped,
Trying hard to catch himself, his hands flew out to brace,
And mid the laughter of the crowd he fell flat on his face.
So, down he fell and with him hope. He couldn’t win it now.
Embarrassed, sad, he only wished to disappear somehow.
But, as he fell, his Dad stood up and showed his anxious face.
Which to the boy so clearly said, ‘Get up and win the race!
He quickly rose, no damage done, behind a bit that’s all,
And ran with all his mind and might to make up for his fall.
So anxious to restore himself, to catch up and to win,
His mind went faster than his legs. He slipped and fell again.
He wished that he had quit before with only one disgrace.
I’m hopeless as a runner now, I shouldn’t try to race.
But, in the laughing crowd he searched and found his father’s face,
That steady look that said again, ‘Get up and win the race.
So up he jumped to try again, ten yards behind the last,
If I’m to gain those yards,’ he thought, ‘I’ve got to run real fast.
Expanding everything he had, he regained eight or ten
But trying so hard to catch the lead, he slipped and fell again.
Defeat!‘ He lay there silently, a tear dropped from his eye.
There’s no sense running any more, three strikes, I’m out, why try?
The will to rise had disappeared, all hope had fled away,
So far behind, so error prone, closer all the way.
I’ve lost so what’s the use?’ he thought, ‘I’ll live with my disgrace.
Get up‘, an echo sounded low, ‘Get up,’ it said, ‘you haven’t lost it all.
For winning is no more than this: to rise each time you fall.
So he rose to win once more, and with a new commit,
He resolved that win or lose, at least he wouldn’t quit,
So far behind the others now, the most he’d ever been,
Still he gave it all he had and ran as through to win.
Three times he’d fallen, three times he rose again.
They cheered the winning runner as he crossed the line, first place,
Head high and proud and happy; no falling, no disgrace.
But when the fallen youngster crossed the finishing line, last place,
The crowd gave him the greater cheer for finishing the race,
And even though he came in last, with head bowed low, un-proud,
You would have thought he won the race, to listen to the crowd.
And to his dad he sadly said, ‘I didn’t do so well.
To me you won.‘ His father said. ‘You rose each time you fell.
And now when times seem dark and hard and difficult to face,.
For all of life is like that race, with ups and downs and all,
And all you have to do to win is rise each time you fall,
Quit! Give up you’re beaten!‘ they still shout in my face,
But another voice within me says, ‘Get up and win the race!

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