Where is the joy and excitement we once had when we first came to know the Lord Jesus Christ? For many, they feel its been lost forever and whatever joy or excitement they do experience, it’s like a meteor lighting up the night sky for one joyous moment and then disappearing. So how do we keep that joy and excitement alive, especially in our older age when we are fraught with illnesses, physical limitations and unusual maladies? How do we keep it alive when we are facing various trials and tribulations? The simple answer, which begs for an explanation, is get back in the race. Unfortunately, many well many Christians are still sitting on the sidelines allowing Christianity to become little more than a good habit with poor results. So how do we leave this quagmire of constant learning without meaningful application; how do we return to the joy of our salvation where every day is a new day in the Lord filled with unbelievable excitement? Get back in the race. The Bible says, “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith” (Hebrews 12:1-2).
Let us run the race. I will tell you from personal experience it’s a hard thing to do when you struggle with health problems, which can cause difficulty even getting motivated. Yet, through all this we can stay in the race, we can run to win the prize. Although we may feel as if our life is already being poured out as a sacrifice to the Lord, we can press on by keeping our eyes upon the goal, our upward calling in Christ Jesus. The Bible tells us to lay aside every weight so that we can run the race. Think about the many distractions in our life that keep pulling us in one direction and then another. We live in a world full of distractions. I have discovered as of late that politics even with good intentions can be a huge distraction if left unchecked. We can add to that many other things that can distract us from running the race, from social media, to a host of videos and movies, sports games, worldliness, or anything that would keep our eyes off the goal. The Bible says lay aside every weight. It also says to lay aside every sin that so easily besets us. We all without a doubt have our own besetting sins. Each person must examine his own life to determine which one or ones he still holds onto tightly. It could be little or could be big, but it’s still a sin that can trip us up and keep us from running the race. It could be pride, the love of money, bitterness, refusal to ever turn the other cheek, quenching the Holy Spirit, doubting God, unbelief or anything that would keep our eyes off Jesus Christ the author and finisher of our faith.
Through all this we all need motivation. The Bible says, “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses” (Hebrews 12:1a). In fact, we are greatly motivated by those witnesses who have gone on before us running the race set before them by keeping their faith in God. These witnesses were actually martyrs giving up their lives in their service to God by proclaiming His truth. When Jesus Christ came, He blazed the trail by being the author and finisher of our faith. He was the premier example of possessing a faith in God to fulfill all His promises to the Son and to the world. It’s this kind of faith that keeps us in the race, headed for the goal, and cheered on by the great cloud of witnesses. This is much more than just believing all the right doctrine. It believes that God fulfills all His promises, for which Bible students know, there are many. For this article, we will only look at two, to me the two most sublime of all promises made to those who believe in God.
The first promise to the believers is the security for those who have genuinely died to self and taken up the cross to follow Christ in obedience to His commands and believing that God has power to save them from their sins. Our security believes that nothing can snatch us out of the Father’s hand (See John 10:29) and that nothing can separate us from His love (See Romans 8:35). There is great joy knowing that you are safe and secure in the Father’s hands and that literally nothing can separate us from His divine love. This takes faith believing that God will fulfill on all His promises and most assuredly it includes our salvation. The second promise is to believe that God makes every true believer into a new creation. The Bible says, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (II Corinthians 5:17). Just how important is this point? Can I effectively run the race and not believe it? The short answer is no, because like the first point it is tied irrevocably to our salvation. You simply cannot have one without the other. The whole purpose of salvation and running the race set before us is spiritual growth. Growing us from one degree of glory to another (See II Corinthians 3:18), and by putting off the old life and putting on the new (See Ephesians 4:22-24); to being made into the perfect image of the Son (See Romans 8:29), who is the author and finisher of our faith.
So, to run the race we must allow the Holy Spirit to do His job of growing us into this new creation where old things pass away. This is where your witness to the truth will put you in the cross hairs of Satan and the world who wants to keep you in the old sin-filled life ministering to it through their psychobabble and addicted to their mind-altering drugs. It takes God given faith to break loose and escape the bondage imposed upon them by the world. Believing that God can cure all our emotional and psychological problems. Believing that all the old hurts from the past life will eventually fall away with every step we take into the new life. At this point we have not shed any blood as a true witness. Yet, we are living in the midst of the rebellion against God, and in time this will all change, especially when we as true believers resist their counsel and refuse their drugs. So, what’s needed my friends is patient endurance as we run the race keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus Christ.
Finally, we look to the finish line and to our crown of righteousness given to all who complete the race. Although we may not feel that our departure is immediately at hand, we should have no problem if it was, because should we not all long to be in heaven with our Lord, experiencing all that heaven offers. Like the Apostle Paul, we should all feel as though we have fought the good fight by not only running the race set before us, but having stood for the truth that salvation in Christ gives us a brand-new life in Him. At times in the midst of the rebellion we may feel as though we have stood against the entire world and have suffered greatly for it. From my own personal testimony, even so called Christians can be very cruel launching a volley of arrows piercing our heart with false accusations, hateful language and even threats. Therefore, it is necessary to run the race with patient endurance not allowing distractions, besetting sins, or even the abuse from others to keep us out of the race. My prayer is that at least a faithful remnant will come together in these last days to stand for truth and righteousness and will be able to carry the light of God’s salvation message to the lost even in the face of violent opposition. When it’s finally time to depart, to cast off into a greater sea bond for the shores of Heaven then you can say along with the cloud of witness that we had kept the faith in God and finished the race.
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