Scripture:

[1] Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, [2] looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

[3] Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. [4] In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.

 

Observation:

Hebrews was written to Christian Jews who were being persecuted and possibly imprisoned due to their faith in following Jesus.  At every turn, the book of Hebrews encourages readers to remain faithful to Jesus in spite of any persecution.

Here are some observations from the first three verses.

..lay aside every weight.. Not just sin – they were to lay aside anything keeping from running the race.  This would include a lot of distractions.

..sin which clings so closely.. It’s hard to shake sin sometimes but to really follow Jesus, they must try.

..run.. This means not sitting and waiting with patience for something good to happen.  This is very much an action that must be taken.

..with endurance.. This means no quitting, overcoming obstacles and it’s not meant to be an easy process.

..the race set before us.. The race is living for Jesus.  As a race is a competition, so is living for Jesus – a competition between good and evil.

..looking to Jesus.. Run the race with Jesus, remembering what He has done.

..endured the cross..  He endured the cross for sinners.

..from sinners such hostility.. even though it was sinners who put him on the cross.

..consider that and not grow weary or fainthearted.. If you keep in mind what Jesus has done for you, endurance will come easier.much

..have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood..  Knowing that He shed his blood for you, should make running the race easier.

 

Application:

Similar to the Jewish Christians that needed encouragement.  So do we.

The race is a competition between what we know to be right in Christ, and the satanic forces working against us in our lives.  While there is a lot of good in the world, often times, evil surrounds us.  We are exposed to it on a daily basis.

We are called to shake the sin and other worldly distractions, and to live for Jesus.  Living for Him means taking action, not just waiting for something good to happen.  Praying is action, but that’s not enough.  The real action comes from talking with God, listening to Him, and actually doing what He tells you.

In our day and age, while in some countries people are severely persecuted and imprisoned due to their faith in Christ, we find the persecution mostly in the form of external worldly pressure.  We get constant pressure to go along with the rest of the world to call evil good and good evil.  We must be aware this is going on and fight against it.  This is the race, the competition.  This is where we need to be strong and endure pressure when we feel beat down.  He is with us the whole time, during the whole race.  When we pull a hamstring, He is with us.  When our heart is racing, He is with us.

We can always get our strength to endure by looking to Him and the Spirit within us.  It’s not just a trite saying – the same power that raised Jesus from the grave really does live in us as true believers.  Certainly that’s enough power to provide the endurance we need.  We just need to look to the Lord and use it.

Remember what He has done for us.  He shed His blood and died on a cross for us!  He did this even knowing how imperfect we are and that we have a sin nature.  If He can do that for us, it shouldn’t seem that hard to run the race for Him!

 

Prayer:

Lord, thank You for all You’ve done for me.  Thank You for my salvation.  I pray you will give me the strength and endurance to run the race with You.  Let me always be aware of Your power living in me and that I can call on You when I need to overcome obstacles in running the race for You.  In Jesus’ mighty name I pray.  Amen.