The Christmas Season is always great...because of Jesus, our best Friend!
Family togetherness and receiving cards from friends around the world,
adds to the special-ness of the Season.
Now, we face a new year....2006. Can you believe it?
It's amazing how fast time flies! Our eldest son's 51st birthday was on December 29th, yet it seems like only yesterday that he was born!
It seems that years pass like months, months like weeks, and weeks pass like days!
I was talking via phone with my baby brother Keith, who turned 70 today.
I welcomed him to the '70's....for I am 77 and our other brother Ed is 73.
Keith and I ended our conversation on a high note....
about how great God is.....and how good He has been to our family.
This is part of the reason for this week's article, 'Let Us Go On'.
Truly, each day is the day that the Lord has made and
we need to rejoice and be glad in each one.
The important thing is not just 'growing older',
but growing toward the maturity that God has for us.
Two of my favorite Old Testament Scriptures are Psalm 90:10-12:
"We may live to be 70 or 80 or more, but the most important thing is to apply our hearts to knowing God's wisdom and doing God's Will."
Deuteronomy 30:25 & 27: "As your days, so shall your strength be.
The Eternal God is your refuge and underneath are the everlasting arms of God."
Here are some quotes that speak to today's subject:
"He who ceases to be better, ceases to be good."
"Where there is life, there is growth."
"The Christian life is new-birth...not a still-birth."
"Let us go on, from living in the wilderness, to living in Canaan. Some make Canaan to be 'Heaven', but Canaan is 'to have and to become all that God wants for us....and from us....now." (Heaven is far greater even than Canaan)
"Our reach must exceed our grasp, for it's not just what is 'at hand',
but The Hand of God."
"Our tendency is to say, 'Lord, make my problems smaller'.
But God says, 'No, I want to make you bigger!'"
"There was a time when Israel was to 'stand still' and see the glory of God,
but there was also a time to 'go on'."
Our Scripture today is Hebrews 12:1-4:
"Wherefore, seeing we also are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight that so easily besets us and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith; 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."
1) LOOKING BACK AT GOOD EXAMPLES OF FAITH: (Hebrews 11)
Vs. 4: Able had 'WORSHIPING FAITH' and offered a better sacrifice to God.
What about our worship and sacrifice?
Vs. 5-6: Enoch had 'WALKING FAITH' and he pleased God.
Does our 'walk of faith' please God?
Vs. 7: Noah had 'WORKING FAITH' and he feared and obeyed God,
in spite of public ridicule. Do we?
Vs. 8-19: Abraham and Sarah had 'WILLING FAITH' in spite of their ages of 90 and 100 yrs.
They were willing to be MADE willing, to see the miracle of God in the birth of their son, Isaac.
Are we willing to be 'made willing' (I don't mean to be willing to have a child (:o)...
but to be a Child of God!)
Vs. 20-22: Isaac, Jacob and Joseph had 'WAITING FAITH'
and God rewarded their patience.
During this time, they grew in maturity. Do we have the patience to mature?
God can grow squash in a few months, but it takes years to grow an oak.
Vs. 23-30: Moses had 'WARRING FAITH' which brought the Israelites out of Egypt and took them through many trials.
Are we fighting the 'good fight of faith' in our trials?
Vs. 30-31: Joshua had 'WINNING FAITH' to take the Israelites into the Promised Land. Do we have 'winning faith'?
2) LOOKING TO THE PRESENT:
"Laying aside every weight and the sin which beset (hinders) us." (Heb. 12:1)
There are weights from our past, as well as weights in the present, that can hinder us.
This is 'baggage' that must be left behind, in order for us to FREELY serve our Lord.
Joseph's success in Egypt led the Pharaoh to say to him in Gen. 45:20:
"Bring your family from Canaan and tell them, 'Never mind your baggage. The best of all of Egypt is at their disposal."
They left their baggage behind and we need to do that as well, so that God can fill us with His best.
David did this in Psalm 51 when he asked for God's forgiveness.....and received it!
3) LOOKING TO THE RACE:
"Let us run with patience, the race that is set before us."
This speaks of the constant, intense effort of 'keeping on' until Jesus comes...
or until He calls us Home through the door of death.
It means to have the ability to 'endure' an opponents' charge, yet still have the strength to 'counter-charge' to victory.
For example: The war in Korea would not have been won, without a counter-charge.
The Chinese Communists joined the North Korean Communists pushing the Americans and allies all the way to Southeast Korea.
The war seemed to be lost, but Gen. Ridgeway led his troops in a 'counter-punch', joining Gen. MacArthur's troops, landing at Inchon on the West coast of Korea, pushing the Communists back into North Korea.
This took a LOT of patience and perseverance, but thank God, 40 million South Koreans are free today...and around 30% are now Christians!
This could not have been done without the proper equipment to fight the enemy.
We must have the proper equipment to defeat our daily enemies. (Ephesians 6)
In fact, Hebrews 12:4 says: "We have not resisted to the point of shedding blood, striving against sin."
4) LOOKING UNTO JESUS....THE EXALTED 'AIM' OF THE RUNNER: (Vs. 2-3)
This involves a strong faith in 3 dimensions:
a) Believe the Bible record about Jesus
b) Trust in Him as Savior
c) Commit to Him as Lord, of all of life
I did not sing solos many times in my ministry.
I married a great singer, so if I sing, I sing with her.
However, I have sung this song:
'Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face.
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.'
The first Sunday in a new pastorate, I usually preached on the subject, 'Keeping Your Eyes on Jesus', for I wanted the people to keep their eyes and hearts on the Lord....not on the pastor. When I left that church for another pastorate, the last sermon I would preach there would be on that same subject, 'Keep Your Eyes on Jesus'.
I might be leaving, but Jesus would NEVER leave them, nor forsake them!!
(Heb. 13:5 & 8)
Our prime example of what we've been talking about today, is Jesus.
However I would like to share a poem written by one of my favorite poets,
Annie Johnson Flint.
It speaks to today's subject, 'Let Us Go On'....as she suffered pain from extreme arthritis.
In order to even sleep at night, she had to surround her body with pillows.
God hath not promised
Skies always blue,
All our lives through;
God hath not promised
Sun without rain,
Joy without sorrow,
Peace without pain.
God hath not promised
Smooth roads and wide,
Swift, easy travel,
Needing no guide.
God hath not promised
We shall not bear,
Many a burden...
Many a care.
But God hath promised
Strength for the day,
Rest amid labour
Light for the way,
Grace for the trials,
Help from above,
........Annie Johnson Flint
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