Monday, September 23, 2013

The Christian Marathon pt. 1

PART 1: HEBREWS 12:1-4

Title: The Christian Marathon
Scriptures: Hebrews 12:1-4, Philippians 3:7-14, 1 Corinthians 9:24-27
1. A good runner is focused! Hebrews 12:1-4
2. A good runner perseveres! Philippians 3:7-14
3. A good runner runs to win! 1 Corinthians 9:24-27

Scripture Reading: Hebrews 11:31-40

Anyone out there a Marathon Runner?  If you are a runner, or even if you aren’t a runner, there is an object in each marathon that causes a lot of stress & strikes fear in the mind of the runner.  This obstacle is typically between mile marker 18-20.  Just when a runner is running along, it will suddenly come out of no where, even upon skilled runners it will appear, right smack dab in the middle of the course.  This obstacle, is never seen by human eyes, yet it is there.  It is a large, brick wall.  The wall.  The notorious wall. This wall is the bane and ruin of many runners.  It is at this point, where the runners training, preparation, & stick-to-it-ness is really challenged.  Either they will break through this wall, or the wall will break them.

Well, you don’t have to be a runner to be able to relate to The Wall.  We all face them.  We all face a lot of them.  Places along the marathon of life, where there are seemingly impossible situations or circumstances.  Today, I want to start a series with you titled, “The Christian Marathon”  and encourage you with God’s word, kind of like Apollo Creed alongside Rocky, so you will be able to run your race with honor. And one day, cross the finish line, fall in the arms of Jesus and hear him say, “Well done my good, and faithful servant.  Welcome home. Get some rest.”

Prayer thanking God for His encouraging words.

Book & Look
Hebrews 12:1–4 (NLT)
1.The runner’s setting
1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith,
-Remember the people from last time I was here?  The ones sawn in two, murdered because of their trust in Jesus?  This is our crowd.  These are our examples, our inspirations, our fans who cheer us on and yell, “Go.  Go.  Go. It is worth it.  It is so worth it.”

2. The runner’s presentation
let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up.
-I picture here a runner, at the gate.  Removing the warm up pants, the jacket, the headphones, and preparing to slim down, to get rid of all unnecessary weight so they can run their best.
-I also picture a conversation I had with a patient, who is a police officer.  He told me that the police love people who wear saggy pants. It is so easy to catch them.

Q: What slows you down from running for Jesus?  What creates drag to your pace?
Q: What sin do you hold on to that is slowing you down from running your race? 
Q: Luke 14:16-20. These made excuses of why they couldn’t follow Jesus. What excuses do you hold onto, that keep you from running? Most people are accustomed to comfort.  They want peace here (which is a good thing, right?) But God has called us to stand up, get out of the bleachers, get over your sins & yourself & run.  So let’s get over excuses & run. Go for it.

3. The runner’s pace
And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.
-I don’t know if God has set before you a short race here on earth, or a long race here on earth.  But what I do know is that God has set your race before you & he wants you, he enables you to run it well. 
-prokeimenon -present, MIDDLE/PASSIVE, participle.  The race is not one of our making, it is the race that is set before us.  God has set this path before us, for our good. For our best.
-upomonhv- endurance, to remain under, to bear up under, persevere, be patient. And there are at times during every runner’s race, where we will need to remember this word. 

So how do we do this?  How do we endure when we face the walls in life?

4. The runner’s focus
2 We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.
-The 100yd. dash in Cadets-my focus, my dad
-Trypho the Jew accuses us of likening Jesus a Greek champion of the Pantheon.[1]
-Jesus is our focus (ie dream of me preaching at Moody), he is our example on how to run, he initiates & even helps us run the race.

Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. 3 Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up. 4 After all, you have not yet given your lives in your struggle against sin.

So, Christian, how is your race? Are you focused, are you running lite?
-Eric Liddell, “I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. And when I run I feel His pleasure.”[2]

Christian, the gun has sounded.  God has called you to run.  So run! Yes there will be walls.  Yes there are temptations & difficulties ahead.  But we have a great champion & helper, who will never leave our side.  It is time for us to step up & get going, running in such a way that as we run, we, like Eric Liddell, can feel God’s pleasure and one day, when we run into His arms, will hear him say, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”

[1] Martyr, Justin, “Dialogue With Trypho”, 2nd century AD.
[2] Chariots of Fire

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