Week Commencing 28th October 2018  

With a PDF found here

Notes for next Sunday’s sermon on Hebrews 12:1-3, “Run the race set before us…”

Next Sunday we begin a 4-week series entitled: “That’s from the Bible?” It’s staggering how many phrases are in common use in our language, which people have no idea are actually from the Bible – such has been the influence of the Bible over centuries on our language and culture.

Please remember that due to the Noosa triathlon, next weekend, our Sunshine Beach service will be held on Saturday (3rd Nov) at 5pm.

Here’s the plan:

4th Nov (Noosa triathlon) Run the race set before us Hebrews 12:1-3
11th Nov (Remembrance Day) Greater love has no one than this John 15:15
18th Nov Led like a lamb to the slaughter Isaiah 53:7
25th Nov Eat, drink and be merry Luke 12:19; 1 Cor 15:32

DAY 1: Read Hebrews 12:1-3

Every couple of years during my training at Moore College, the Archbishop of Sydney would have everyone from my year who was to be ordained, over to his place in Darling Point for lunch. It was always a nervy time. We all wanted to be on our best behaviour. We would all wear our suits and ties, and practice our manners and discuss how to use the cutlery properly etc. There is a little chapel at the Archbishop’s place, and the day would always end with Evening Prayer and a hymn.

I remember one afternoon as we were discussing prayer points, one of my fellow students asked how we might pray for the Archbishop and his wife. Now – what do you think the Archbishop asked for prayer for? What would you say if I told you that the first thing he asked prayer for was ‘that he would remain Christian’?

A great silence descended on the chapel… what was that? Had we heard correctly? He asked for prayer that he would remain Christian! Surely Archbishops don’t stop being Christian do they?

I don’t think for a moment this was a sign of weakness. I don’t think he was in immediate danger of giving up his faith! I don’t think he was having a crisis of doubt at the time. But it was a great mark of his humility; a great mark of his dependence on God from start to finish, and a sobering reminder that without the grace of God and left to our own resources, it is possible stop being Christian!

Brian was an ISCF leader at my school. ISCF was a Christian fellowship within state schools. When Brian prayed sometimes I would open my eyes; you could see the smile on his face; the joy in his heart that he had in the Lord; his love for God. I was shocked some years after school to find that he was no longer Christian. He had completely turned his back on God.

A friend of mine (Chris) hadn’t confirmed his baptismal promises with me. He didn’t feel he could mean the promises then. He thought long and hard about it. He wanted to ensure he meant it. So it was two years later than me, when he finally decided he could mean what he said and stood boldly to confirm his promises. Some years later he came to me to ask whether he could be unconfirmed – he wanted to publicly renounce his faith…! I want to ask you today – will you ever turn away? Will you ever renounce your faith? Will you ever want to be “unconfirmed”? Can we wind the clock forward and see that in 10 years, 20 years, 30 years, 40 years will you still be faithfully serving the Lord?

I want to urge you today – never give up! Do not grow weary and lose heart….!! But how are we going to keep going?

DAY 2: Read Hebrews 12:1-3

12:1 – therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. Friends – whenever I run a marathon(!), I always make sure that I am not wearing clothes that have any weight to them! I would never run a marathon with a suit, or an overcoat, or with heaps of stuff in the pockets. I mean it would be stupid. No – you want to be as lean, and as light, and as free as possible. And our author here is making the simple point that the Christian life is like a race – a marathon. Just as you get rid of anything in a marathon that would hold you back or tangle you up, so in this race, you get rid of everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.

There are two categories. One is morally neutral, one is sinful. There may be things in your life which are not sinful at all, but they may hold you back from your relationship with God e.g. TV, computer games, a relationship, a hobby, sport, the gym. These can hinder you, slow you down, retard your growth. Make the decision to rid your life of anything in this category that is keeping you from the Lord; keeping you from Church or connect group; keeping you from prayer or Bible reading; keeping you from serving the Lord.

But then there will be other things which are definitely sinful, and they entangle. That is, they don’t just slow you down, they trip you up! It might be pornography or some other sexual failure; it might be your anger or selfishness; it might be bitterness and failure to forgive; it might be a relationship that needs mending; it may be ignoring God; it may be a modern idol – anything that you’ve allowed to become more important than God! Is there repeated, habitual sin in your life – that you are returning to often and excusing – that you have giving up even fighting?

Keep hold of it, take no action, and it will tangle you up well and truly. I think it’s true to say that often when people give up their faith, there has been some moral failure at the heart. There is some sin that they have become hooked to and giving up their faith is easier than giving up their sin!! Take action today. Make a decision to break with the sin before it brings your downfall!!

DAY 3: Read Hebrews 12:1-3

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus! Ultimately, you and I will keep going, by looking to Jesus. The original readers were suffering for being Christian in ways that we cannot imagine, and God-willing will never have to face. Jesus was their inspiration. Convinced that on the other side of the cross there would be the joy of resurrection, Jesus endured the shame and pain of the cross.

Brothers and sisters, convinced of the joy that awaits us on the other side – the joy of resurrection, the joy of seeing Jesus face to face, the joy of our perfection, the joy of living in the presence of Jesus for eternity, we can press on. We can persevere through the struggles we face now, through the ridicule, the temptations, the discrimination, through the hardships of our ministries, through the tiredness, through the confusion, and through the distractions.

Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and tired. The Lord Jesus was the author of this kind of faith. And he perfected it. Triumphing at the cross, to the glory on the other side. Here is the author’s claim. Keep looking at his example – at what he went through – at how HE endured, and you will not grow weary or tired.

DAY 4: Read Hebrews 12:1-3

The Noosa triathlon is this weekend. Imagine the number of athletes who have been preparing since this last time year for this event. They have controlled their diets, followed a strict regime of exercise, and put all sorts of distractions out of their lives, so that could be at the peak of physical and mental condition for this competition. They have endured pain and hardship along the way, perhaps even persevered through an injury and recovery. For the joy set before them of gaining a good place and perhaps achieving a PB, they have endured all manner of challenges.

Brothers and sisters, ought not our focus on serving the Lord Jesus be all the more focused? Shouldn’t we be more committed, more energised, more self-controlled, more determined in running the race set before us, knowing that our race is ever so much more significant than theirs? Let’s examine our lives to see what we ought to shed, so that we are in peak condition and best position for the best race ever!

By Mark Calder