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Strip off and run the race
The title of my message today is, “Strip off and run the race”. Don’t
worry about the title, it will make sense as we go on…hopefully!
Every year God gives me a passage or a verse as a theme. This usually
comes in the last week of December or the first week of January. The
theme sometimes makes sense straight away and at other times it takes a
few months to fully understand.
In 2017 the theme was Stand and was from Ephesians 6 that talks about
the armour of God. In 2018 the theme was Dwell and John 15:5-7 that
talks about the vines and the branches and remaining in Christ was key.
Last year was Restore and looked at 1 Peter 5:10. It says, “In his
kindness God called you to share in his eternal glory by means of Christ
Jesus. So after you have suffered a little while, he will restore,
support, and strengthen you, and he will place you on a firm
foundation”. After the two previous years we had, this was a great
This year Hebrews 12:1-3 has been bubbling up in my spirit. Upon reading
it I knew this was my theme for 2020.
My message today is in two parts. In the first part I will look at the
passage, and in the second I will give us some tips to help us stay on
track this year.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to
the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down,
especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with
endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes
on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of
the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now
he is seated in the place of honour beside God’s throne. Think of all
the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary
and give up.”
Hebrews 12:1-3 NLT
Several things jumped out at me as I read. Some things to strip off and
some things that will motivate us.
1.Things to strip off…
There are two things that we need to strip off to run with endurance…
A. Strip off every weight that slows us down –
we all have things that slow us down of make us put our hands to the
plow and look back (Luke 9:62). It might be fear, anxiety, bad habits,
wrong relationships or bad attitudes. It is different for all of us.
B. Strip off the sin – all of us sin at times.
Romans 3:23 tells us that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory
of God. 1 John 1:8 tells us that we are deceiving ourselves (and others)
if we say we don’t sin. But the good news is the next verse tells us if
we do confess it to God, he cleanses and purifies us. Then we ask for
strength to stay pure.
As I was preparing I had the image of a hot air balloon. The pilot cuts
away the sandbags to rise high into the air. They need to do this to
allow the wind to take it where it needs to go. It is the same for us.
If we cut away our “sandbags” we can let the Spirit take us to where we
need to be.
Once we have stripped off the things that hold us back and slow us down,
we can then run with endurance as the text says.
When I think of running with endurance and I think of a marathon runner.
A marathon runner wears light clothing and they carry nothing, not even
water. And they are usually very slim so they don’t have to carry extra
bulk. This helps them to run with endurance.
A marathon runner also needs to pace themselves to last the whole
journey. They can’t sprint off like Ussain Bolt, they have to run the
right speed to last the distance. Just as a matter of interest Bolt ran
at 44.72 kph during the 60-80 metre point of the 100m race. The average
elite marathon runner runs at 20-21kph to complete the 42.6 km marathon.
It is much slower and more conservative at last the distance and not hit
the wall as runners often say.
2.Things to motivate us…
In this passage there are three things to motivate us
A. The great cloud of witnesses - These are
the heroes of faith mentioned in Hebrews 11. They have run and won their
raises. And their names are recorded in the Bible as an inspiration to
B. Jesus as the author and champion of our
faith - He is always working on us and is never finished (Philippians
1:6). This gives me comfort knowing He loves me as I am, but doesn’t
want me to stay this way.
C. The suffering of Jesus - Jesus left the
glories of heaven to die on the cross for our sin. He moved heaven and
earth for us and suffered greatly. When I think that He gave up His life
for me, it makes me want to give my life back to Him and not grow weary
in doing good.
For us as Christians, we need to keep our hand on the plough and keep
moving forward. We need to keep motivated to be all we can been for
Christ and His Kingdom. To do this we need to keep our eyes on Christ
and strip off the things that hold us back.
Four things to keep us on track this year
Now for the second part of my message. Just before I finish I want to
give you four things to help us all keep on track in 2020.
Those who know my preaching know that I like to use acronyms to help get
my message across. Today I have another one – W.A.S.P. I want is all to
be a W.A.S.P. in 2020.
W – Word
Be a person of the Word this year. Be found in the Bible. Read it every
day. Studies tell us that Christians who read their Bible four or more
times a week have the strongest faith and trust in God.
Why do we need to read the Word? Because…
“All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true
and to make us realise what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when
we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.”
2 Timothy 3:16 NLT
Blessed is the man...[when] his delight is in the law of the LORD, and
on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by
streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does
not wither. Whatever he does prospers.
Psalm 1:2-3 NIV
A – Action
Be a person of action this year. By this I mean use your gifts to serve
God by serving others. We are all uniquely gifted to do what God wants
and needs us to do. So focus in on God’s race for you and run well.
“God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual
gifts. Use them well to serve one another. Do you have the gift of
speaking? Then speak as though God himself were speaking through you. Do
you have the gift of helping others? Do it with all the strength and
energy that God supplies. Then everything you do will bring glory to God
through Jesus Christ. All glory and power to him forever and ever!
1 Peter 4:10-11 NLT
S – Spirit
Be a person of the Spirit. Allow God’s Spirit, the Holy Spirit, to fill,
equip and empower you. Lean on His leading and ask for His wisdom and
guidance in all you do. He knows what He needs and He knows how it is to
be done. Trust Him.
And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in
you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your
mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.
Romans 8:11 NIV
But the Counsellor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my
name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have
said to you.
John 14:26 NIV
P – Prayer
Be a person of prayer. My day works out best when I pray in the morning
before the day starts. It ends well when I finish my day with prayer. It
goes super well when I pray right throughout the day! Prayer is how we
keep connect to God throughout the day, so pray.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and
petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace
of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and
your minds in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:6-7 NIV
Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances,
for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NIV
So today we have read Hebrews 12:1-3 and we saw two things.
1. We need to strip away the things that hold us back from being all we
can for Christ.
2. We saw that we have the great cloud of witnesses, the thought that
Jesus keeps working on us, and the suffering of Jesus to motivate us.
We also saw that should try to be a W.A.S.P. this year.
- Be a person of the Word
- Be a person of Action
- Be a person of the Spirit
- Be a person of Prayer.
By Dave Quinn
Founder of PASSIONAustralia.org
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