Hi everyone! This Sunday we continued with our study on Hebrews and so below are my notes as well as the audio, which you can also get on iTunes.
Hebrews just finished chapter 11 which was a look back at how their ancestors ran the race of faith. How great things were in the old days. They looked at them with great fondness and purpose and now Hebrews shifts gear from the past to the future.
That now, we don’t know what the future holds, but we know who holds the future and so we run to it. So many people from our past are watching us and cheering us on that we must throw out anything that is going to hold us back and run with everything we’ve got in us.
For me, there are so many people in my past that were praying for me and cheering me on and now are part of that great cloud of witnesses that are cheering me on and so for their honor and not to destroy the work they have done I have to throw off anything that is going to hold me back and just run with everything I have.
In competition you fix your eyes on the prize. The goal, what you want to achieve. That is where you look and you focus only on that. Hebrews is saying that our prize is Jesus. That Jesus is our pioneer and we don’t walk, meander, mosey, or crawl, we run as fast and as hard as we can, straight toward Jesus. We do what Jesus did and go where Jesus went.
When we run we look to our final goal. Jesus. Church is not our goal, prosperity, comfort, a nice retirement, a nice family, being nice to people, easy life none of that is our goal. Our goal is Jesus. And so we run to Jesus.
When a runner is running they do not take the shortest route or the easiest route. They take the route that will get them to their goal. Whether that is a better time or a better location. They make decision based on their goal and everything about what they do is about getting to their goal. Everything about eating, sleeping, stretching, thinking, what they buy, everything relates to meeting that goal. I had a friend in high school who was a runner and to help him meet his goal he shaved his legs and his arms because he believed it would make him just a little bit faster. He also didn’t buy the cheap 50 dollars shoes. He spent the big money on his shoes, like 250 dollars on running shoes because they were better designed so that he could better meet his running goal.
That is what we are called to do. To make our whole life revolve around our goal.
- 2 Corinthians has this idea in chapter 10 when it says to take every thought captive and make it obedient to Jesus.
When you run diet, equipment, strength, all of these things are very important but the most important thing in running is what you think about. And Hebrews knows this which is why verses 3-6 are so important.
When you run this marathon called life think about the one who endured opposition for you.
- The “Word on the Street translation” put it this way: “While you’re running, lock your mind on to him and the pain barriers he pushed through, the blockades put up by messed up men that he had to dive through. Lock on to him and fatigue won’t touch you, you’ll have that deep inner belief and you’ll keep going.
- Runners will experience “walls” and “barriers” and their thoughts are the most likely culprits. In order to push past those walls into a second wind it becomes about thinking about the right things. Sometimes it is the way your foot hits the ground, or your breathing or your arms. But For us, in this race of life we need to think about Jesus.
- Think about the fact that if Jesus can endure the cross for us we can put up with this stupid job one more day so that we can share the gospel with someone we work with.
- If Jesus can endure the beatings for us then we can sacrifice our 4 dollar coffee drink so we can give more to the work of God’s kingdom.
- Everything Jesus went through:
- Spit On
- Stripped Naked
- Lied about
- Falsely accused
- Stared at
- left naked in public to die
If Jesus can endure all of that for us, then surely we can endure a little hardship for him.
It’s like this, hardships will come. As we run this marathon of life we will hit walls, we will trip, get cramps, and want to quit. but for runners those hardships create endurance, strength, and the ability to get better. So, sometimes God gives us those hardships to make us stronger, create endurance, and help us to be the best at life we can be. Somethings happen that are just bad but even those things God can use to make us better.
- Romans 8:28 says that all things work together for good for those who love God.
- Don’t get upset when walls show up. They show up because God loves you. God is making you stronger. God has better planned for you than where you are right now and God has to get you ready for that. If your life was never hard it is because God doesn’t love you. If your parents don’t put boundaries on you it is because they don’t love you.
Have you heard the term helicopter parent? These are the parents who hover over their kids. These are the ones who do everything for their kids. Never let them fail, never make them work. They say phrases like “I want my kids to have it better than I did.” These are the parents who buy every toy and give into every whim of the children. What happens is these kids grow up with a distorted view of reality and in a recent study Dr. Michele Borba found that college freshman who were raised by helicopter parents are 3 times more likely to commit suicide than other college freshman. So parents, the best way to raise your kids is to let them mess up, let them struggle, let them figure some things out for themselves. This is what God does for all of us, so why would parents be any different? We should not get upset when things are hard, this is what God uses to teach us.
but don’t misunderstand There are injuries that are simply bad, wrong, evil. Those aren’t from God, but God can use them. There is a difference between an injury and a wall. Those injuries need to be called out and dealt with. Abuse, neglect, etc…those are injuries and God can and will use them but they are very different from hardships that God puts in front of you.
Example: I have a friend of mine who lives in the UK. “across the pond” if you will. She has Lupus. Lupus will eventually stop her from running but until then she will run with all she has. Lupus is one of those things that will attempt to destroy a person. God will use that. God is using her as an inspiration to others with Lupus so that they can know that Lupus is not the end all of life. God didn’t want those bad things to happen to you. But because of free-will and sin, they did. But God will use them.
In running posture and form is important. Your feet have to hit the ground just right. Your arms have to swing at the right pace in the right form. Your knees have to be a certain way. When your form is off is when injuries happen. If your foot hits the ground wrong you put too much pressure on your bones and then fractures happen. If your knees aren’t just right then you can pull muscles. Poor form in general makes you run slower and lowers your endurance to the point you can’t finish.
So then, if we are going to apply this to our life of faith, we need to have proper posture. Which Hebrews gives us:
1. Pursue Peace and Holiness, with everyone. Neighbors, kids, parents, co-workers, other drivers on the road.
2. Make sure no one misses out on God’s grace
3. Do not allow bitterness to be in your life
4. Do not be sexually immoral or ungodly.
Because I do not run I spent some time talking to people who do run. I spoke with Christians and non-Christians and there were two responses that we common among them all.
1. You can do it alone. You need people to encourage you. To keep you motivated. You can run faster and better with a friend than you can alone. You need people to correct your form and challenge you.
- For us, this is where Cell Groups come in. In our mentoring and our multiplying we are encouraging each other to run this race of life with better form and we are bringing in new runners to run this race with us.
2. You need to be hydrated. Before, during, and after the race taking in fluids that are full of electrolytes is very important. Water is good, but Gatorade is better. The need to constantly hydrate is very important to replace the necessary nutrients, salts, and body water that runners lose while running. Without it runners will cramp up, pass out, and be unable to finish.
- For us this is communion. Our bread and cup is where we take in the necessary nutrients to run this race of life. It is where we come together as one and replenish what we have lost because of all we have been through. This meal is where we come to get our strength back. This meal is where we come together as one with our goal, Jesus.