Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize. 1 Cor 9:24-27
Hebrews Chapter Eleven is referred to as the “Faith” chapter because it gives so many examples of accomplishments by men and women and their faith. Chapter Twelve talks about God disciplining His sons.
Reading this chapter spurs one toward some honest inventory and some change when we consider the message. First of all, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, those we read about in chapter eleven, the writer of the letter says; let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Heb 12:1
We are to fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Heb 12:2-3
In 1 Peter 2:9 the KJV reads that we are to be a peculiar people. The world should be able to recognize that we are different than they are and that we belong to God. Can the world see that we are different? This is where the honest inventory comes in. If we are not different then we need “throw off everything that hinders and get rid of the sin that so easily entangles us”. We can’t do that until we are honest enough to look for and recognize “what hinders us and what sins are entangling us and then be honest enough to admit it.
As the Olympic runners got rid of everything that might slow them down in their race, Christians must also get rid of whatever weighs us down or ties us to the world. It can be one thing or many and it is likely different for each one of us. A few examples could be television, sports, work, the list is endless.
This world is not our home and we are encouraged to remember that heaven is our goal. We are to stick with it and keep our eyes on Jesus our example. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. Heb 12:3-5
What a reminder! How many of us have resisted sin to the point of shedding our blood? I certainly know I have not! Remember the joy set before us. Just like those before us, those following Jesus grew weary, they wanted to go back to what they were used to, and things were getting tough. Then they got these words of encouragement… “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.” Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. Heb 12:5-7
No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. Heb 12:11
The joy set before Jesus was reconciling us to God. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. Eph 2:15-17
And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. Eph 2:6-8
I believe I have mentioned before that Russell has been teaching Hebrews in our Wednesday night class. We studied from chapter twelve last night. I pray I have effectively shared the wonderful message in this chapter the way Russell shared it with us and I sincerely pray you will find a quite place and a quite time and reflect on these scriptures and thoughts.