15 September 1999

"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 he 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 Here we find the apostle seeking to encourage his Hebrew brethren with a nostalgic review of their faithful ancestors. This "great cloud of witnesses" hovered around their hearts and their cots as a constant reminder of faith's triumphs by men and women just like themselves. If God was with them, surely He will be with His faithful in every age. Paul compares the life of faith to the footrace of the Olympic games of his day, "the race that is set before us." Indeed, the race is there. We must run it. But how shall we run? First we must lay aside "every weight". The word "weight" describes the runner's hindrances. Runners must not pick up weights before they run. Nor should the faithful in their endeavors to live by faith. What is your hindrance today? What is it that keeps you from God's house; from prayer's paths; from the Bible's pages; from God's will in your life? Whatever, or, whoever it is, we must consider it as a weight to the runner. And, yes, it may be great. But is it greater than God? Call upon Him and He shall help you to lay it aside by putting it in its proper place. Secondly, we must lay aside the "sin". How long must we be reminded that sin besets the runners pace? It causes the runner to stumble and even fall. But do not let this discourage the runner. I have never known a runner that did not stumble from time to time. Even the best of runners have fallen. David stumbled; Moses stumbled; Abraham stumbled; even Peter had his trip ups. Some falls are private and some are before all. But the faithful runner must get up and finish the race. And if he stumbles and falls he is not alone, "The LORD upholdeth all that fall, and raiseth up all those that be bowed down"-Psalm 145:14. Is there a particular sin, past or present, strapped to your back? Let it no longer hinder you. Take it to the cross. There you will find it crucified and your pace will be light once again. We are next told how to run: "with patience." The life of faith is not a 100 yard dash. It is a long distance run; moment by moment; day by day; week by week; year by year. It must be approached with a prayerful attitude. Therefore, patience must be a Godly virtue. And how does one come by this? According to Paul, "tribulation worketh patience". The trials and tribulations of life teach us how to run. Let us learn from them. It is never too late to learn. The hoary head has much to teach us in this arena. Consider our great cloud of witnesses. Finally, the runners eyes must be fixed. Looking back is a deadly distraction of Satan. We must be "Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith." The look at our cloud of witnesses was indeed encouraging. But here we find the perfect example. One who never stumbled or fell. He is the author. He wrote the book on the life of faith. If we are to learn, let us learn from the Master! Let us notice how He ran. Have we the faced the trials; the mockery; the hatred; the blasphemy; the lies; or even the physical torment the He endured? We must keep on running! He, too, ran with His eyes open. He looked straight ahead at the "Joy set before Him." The runner can endure a lot of pain when the trophy is in sight. Jesus endured the cross, despising the shame because He had victory before His eyes: The redemption of His people. He must have obtained His prize because He is "set down at the right hand of the throne of God." This is the winners circle! He rejoices today. Let us rejoice with Him for His work. While our days may become lonesome and dark and our feet may grow weary in our run we must keep our eyes upon Him. With this heavenly view we can gain a glimpse of where we will be seated one day. This joy is set before the eyes of every believer. Lord, help us to be a witness for our posterity! Come and worship with us at Harmony Primitive Baptist Church, at Donaldson, where God is sovereign, and salvation is by His abundant and amazing grace. Services begin at 10:30 each Sunday morning. By His mercy and grace, Neil Phelan, Jr., Pastor