Sunday, April 20, 2008

Looking Unto Jesus


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; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds. Hebrews 12:1-3
This whole book is full of life. It's source is God the living one. (God on His throne.) It's mediator is Christ the risen one. (On the right hand of God.) It's power is the Holy Spirit of God. For this reason God's salvation is not something which has only historically happened and was completed in the past, but it is a continual process. It is not a gift received once and for all, but a giving which increasingly presents us with something more. Every grace is a vital dynamic action given to us by God in Christ through the Holy Spirit. There is no standing still but a marching forward, no looking aside or backward, but a striving towards the goal of heaven.

This morning I want us to look the Christian race that we are in. The author of the Hebrews declares that we should run with patience the race "that is set before us." This race is God-appointed. This means that you must take your personal responsibility very seriously. Concentrate on the goal. The new birth is not the finishing post but the starting post. Live in the holy energy of a consecrated life. That is the picture which this text brings before our eyes, as the likeness of the Christian life.

We are in the arena; the race has to be run by all Christians. All around and high above us, are fixed gazers beholding us as we run. On His throne God is looking on, Whose smile is better than any crown that we might win.

We have at least three that we are responsible to:

1. To Jesus. Hebrews 12:1: Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith. He gave His all and finished the race!

2. To ourselves. Our Spiritual warfare is both honorable and necessary!

"Every Christian is enlisted under Christ’s banner, to strive against sin, against sinful doctrines, sinful practices, and sinful habits, and customs, both in himself and in others." Matthew Henry.
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; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1-2
Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees; And make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed. Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled. Hebrews 12:12-15
3. To others.
Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled. Hebrews 12:14
What a dreadful thing to be responsible for others failures. Because we fail others fall, too.

This verse is taking about Apostasy and it’s results. It bankrupts us of the grace of God. It produces a root of bitterness in a person which produces bad fruit in themselves and others.

When we fail, others are looking on and may fail also because of our actions. Then we are responsible!

Weigh seriously all the paralyzing powers which emanate from the enemy. Satan, the great adversary, who will never admit being beaten until his final overthrow (Revelation 20:10) is out to paralyze you so that you can't run the race set before you.
For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Ephesians 6:12-13

What attitude of mind must we have if we wish to win the race?

A poet has rightly said: "To fight is not enough alone; 'tis only victors mount the throne!"

In order to be a winner a very definite spiritual attitude of faith is required.

"Let us look unto Jesus," the victor. The battle which He fought on Golgotha is at the same time our example for our own personal race. His victory is the foundation for our victory.

The remarkable thing about the race of faith is that we do not properly have to strive for victory but we possess it already!

We have the victory in Christ, our forerunner, our Conqueror. Therefore we do not have to battle for victory but we can fight from the victory He has won. For this reason we can live out of His fulness. In Christ is opened unto us an everlasting source of riches. Joy in Him is our strength to conquer.
"For the joy of the Lord is your strength." Nehemiah 8:10
During the first world war in the German cities was every kind of suffering and need. Many housewives had great difficulty in giving their loved ones enough food from the small rations obtainable. One day a simple woman arrived at the seaside from a north German city. It was the first time in her life that she had been able to enjoy a sight of the vast ocean. She was quite overwhelmed with the magnificence of the view and with the endless waters. In her astonishment she cried out: "At last, something which they cannot ration!"

Well, God's help for us is not rationed!

I was born right after the depression in 1942 and we were taught to save because things were still hard to come by. But according to our scripture we have the inexhaustible heavenly resources at our asking. We can have them by faith. Three words from our scripture covers them all. "Looking unto Jesus."

Did you know God's children are royal children? They should live royally by enjoying these spiritual riches in their life of faith in Christ.

Paul talks about the greatness of Christ, by using words that express a greater meaning.
Wherein he hath abounded toward us in wisdom and prudence. Ephesians 1:8

And what is the exceeding greatness of His power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power. Ephesians 1:19

But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherein he loved us. Ephesians 2:4

That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. Ephesians 2:7

Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of His power. Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ. Ephesians 3:7-8

"For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man. Ephesians 3:14-16


The expression "according to the riches of His glory" conveys very much more than if the writer had only said: "out of His riches."

If a beggar were to meet a millionaire in the street and if the rich man were to give him at his request $1,000 then we could say that the rich man had given "out of his riches." But had the gift been according to His riches then the gift would have been greater.

How does our God act? Does He only give "out"of His riches or does He give according to His riches?
As thy days so shall thy strength be. Deuteronomy 33:25
This is the reason one of Paul's favorite expressions was abound.
  • Abounding faith... I Corinthians 8:7
  • Abounding love... II Thessalonians 1:3
  • Abounding liberality... II Corinthians 8:2
  • Abounding diligence and knowledge... II Corinthians 8:7
  • Abounding hope... Romans 15:13
While you are running this Christian race and fighting this Christian warfare, stop once in while and fill up on God! Pace your self for the long run.

When I was in the 8th grade we had an interschool track meet between the 7th and 8th grade. That was before the days of traveling between schools for the lower grades. I did the high jump, the 100 yard dash and the 440 relay. I won the high jump and came in second in the hundred yard dash. Now it was time for the 440 relay. I was the last leg on our team. When the baton was passed to me, my team was behind about 20 to 30 yards. I knew the other boy who was on the other team and I knew that he was not very good. I kept my eyes on his back while pacing myself. I wanted some kick left for the last ten yards. I caught him on the last turn before the finish line. Because I had paced myself at the beginning I knew that I had him. With fifty yards to go I blew by him like he was sitting still. I won by more than 20 yards. I still remember the victory celebration the class had.

I want that feeling one more time. But since I am old and fat I will not be able to see it on earth. But, boy, wait until we get to heaven. "What a day that will be!"

God does not merely want us to be victors but he want us to be super victors.

See you at the finish line!!!

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