Endurance

Hebrews 12:1-3
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, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.


Endurance. Not something for the faint-hearted. There have been times in my life when I’ve been tempted to give up, to quit before reaching the goal. The most challenging situations are those times when the goal is an unknown entity, an undetermined distance, or a vague point in the future. It’s difficult to pace yourself when you don’t know how much longer the trail is.

I have a disability which sets off a chain reaction of pain and mechanical failure, and pacing makes the difference between reaching my goal or not. And if the “not” is half-way up a mountain, I’d be in serious trouble. If I don’t know how much further away the half-mark is mentally, I can’t ration my movements with the confidence that it will be “enough”, and panic can set in. A slow rhythm helps only so far, but is no compensation for thorough planning. And it’s those times of uncertainty that tempt me to quit. But exactly at such moments is the time to determine my action: I may need a pause in the journey, but my attitude determines whether it’s a comma or a period. If I determine to reach my goal, it’s just a matter of time.

Spiritually we face the same process: when the way is harder or the waiting is longer than we anticipated, it is then we must choose in faith to stay our course, and decide to win. I have a Guide on this journey of Life who will never leave me or forsake me, and He knows the course set before me like the back of His nail-scarred hands. He won’t ever leave me behind, but adjusts His pace to mine. It’s my choice to keep trusting Him and keep moving forward.



Lord give us the courage to stay the course, even when the going gets rough. Let us focus on You, the perfect example, who endured far more and far worse than we'll ever know, to forge the way ahead and allow us unbroken fellowship with you. Amen.

By Stephanie Huesler, Switzerland

THE REST OF FAITH--NO. 2

SERMON BY CHARLES FINNEY

Text. Heb. 3:19, & 4:1.--So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief. Let us therefore fear, lest a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it.

 

Upon these words I remark:

1. That this rest, into which they could not enter, had been expressly promised to them.

2. That though no condition was expressly annexed to this promise, yet faith as a condition was necessarily implied; for if they had no confidence in the promise, they would of course neglect the necessary means to gain possession of the promised land.

3. Unbelief rendered the fulfillment of the promise impossible, in as much as it prevented their going up and taking possession when commanded to do so.

4. In my last, I showed that the land of Canaan was typical of spiritual rest or the rest of faith.

5. This spiritual rest is expressly promised, and it is said that some must enter therein, yet faith is an indispensable condition to its fulfillment.

These remarks prepare the way for the discussion of the two following propositions:

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THE REST OF FAITH.[--NO. 1]

SERMON BY CHARLES FINNEY

Text. Heb. 3:19, & 4:1.--So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief. Let us therefore fear, lest a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it.

 

The following is the order in which I will direct your attention.

I. INQUIRE OF WHOM THE APOSTLE IS SPEAKING IN THIS TEXT, AND INTO WHAT IT IS SAID THEY COULD NOT ENTER.

II. WHY THEY COULD NOT ENTER IN.

III. SHOW THAT TEMPORAL CANAAN WAS TYPICAL OF THE REST OF FAITH.

IV. WHAT IS IMPLIED IN THIS REST.

V. HOW WE MAY SEEM TO COME SHORT OF IT.

VI. HOW WE MAY TAKE POSSESSION OF IT.

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CHRIST TEMPTED, SUFFERING, AND ABLE TO SUCCOR THE TEMPTED

SERMON BY CHARLES FINNEY

"For in that He Himself hath suffered, being tempted, He is able to succor them that are tempted." --Heb. 2:18.

 

The connection, commencing back with the tenth verse of this chapter, presents Jesus as one of the brethren among his people and assigns reasons for his assuming human nature into union with his divine. Because the children were partakers of flesh and blood, He also Himself took part of the same, to the end that by his own death He might destroy Satan who had power to make death terrible, and might so deliver his people from the fear of death though otherwise under its bondage their lives long. For indeed, of the race of angels Christ did not take hold, to save them; but He did take hold of the race of man. The former, falling by sin, sank to hell, unredeemed; the latter, tempted and fallen, the Son of God rushed to rescue and save. Hence the necessity of putting on their nature, since he had undertaken to rescue and save them. Therefore He must be made in all things like them, "that He might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people; For in that He Himself hath suffered being tempted, He is able to succor them that are tempted."

The subject presented in our text, if discussed fundamentally will embrace the discussion of several points.

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THE DOOM OF THOSE WHO NEGLECT THE GREAT SALVATION

SERMON BY CHARLES FINNEY

"How shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation?" Hebrews 2:3

 

Escape what? What can Universalists say to such a question as this? They whose first doctrine proclaims that there can be no danger--what will they say to this solemn question and its startling assumption of peril from which there shall be no escape? How shall we escape?--says the inspired author--as if he would imply most strongly that there can be no escape to those who neglect this great salvation.

Salvation;--the very term imports safety or deliverance from great impending evil. If there be no such evil, there is then no meaning to this term--no real salvation.

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THE SPIRIT OF CHRIST, AND THE SPIRIT OF TRUE CHRISTIANITY

SERMON BY CHARLES FINNEY

"Who for the joy set before him, endured the cross, despising the shame." Hebrews 12:2.

 

These words are spoken of Jesus Christ. They stand in the following connection. "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."

To develop fully the sentiment of our text, I will consider

I. WHAT THIS JOY SET BEFORE CHRIST WAS NOT.

II. WHAT IT WAS.

III. WHAT IS IMPLIED IN THE STATE OF MIND HERE DESCRIBED.

IV. SHOW THAT NOTHING SHORT OF THIS IS REAL CHRISTIANITY.

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LOOKING TO JESUS

SERMON BY CHARLES FINNEY

"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."--Heb. 12:1-2.

 

In this text, an allusion is plainly made to the foot races that were run as an exercise to develop strength.-- At the time of the writing of this epistle, and for a long time previous, it had been the custom of the Government of the East to celebrate certain athletic games; of which the foot race was one.

In those days, armies fought hand to hand; and therefore the prowess and power of an army depended not merely upon its courage, but also upon its real physical strength. Hence, it was the policy of Government in every way to develop to the utmost the physical strength of their subjects.

They established at certain periods, the celebration of games, with great pomp, ceremony, and expense; and these games brought out the exhibition of muscular strength. The apostle, in his writings, makes frequent allusions to these games, for the purpose of illustrating certain great truths of the Christian religion; and it is with reference to these games that he so frequently speaks of the Christian life as a race, and as a battle. In these races, the race-grounds were often prepared with great expense. Seats were built along the course from the beginning to the end; and these seats rose one above another in such a manner that those that sat upon the back seats could see the runners as well as those that sat in front. Upon these seats were piled vast multitudes--often scores of thousands of people; the seats rising one above another till they appeared like a great cloud, such masses of human beings were present as spectators.

Between these rows of seats lay the race grounds.-- As they proceeded in the race, they were cheered on by the shouts and enthusiasm of the crowds on either side that were seated to witness the race.

At the end of the race course sat the judge; whose business it was to observe accurately how they came out, and to award the prize to the one that first reached the end of the course.

In the eleventh chapter, the apostle had been giving us a great number of examples of the nature and power of faith. Beginning with Abel, he quotes numerous examples all through the patriarchal age, and many instances of eminent faith among the prophets and holy men of the Jewish nation.

Of these he speaks as witnesses of the Christian race of those to whom he is addressing his epistle. He here assumes that the saints who have passed from this world are greatly interested in the Christian career and the progress of those left behind. Hence he addresses as he does those to whom he is writing, in the first verse of this twelfth chapter: "Wherefore," says he, "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." And then in the second verse: "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."

The race here spoken of is plainly the Christian race; the cloud of witnesses are the saints of God; the judge who awards the crown is the Lord Jesus Christ.

In speaking further from these words, I inquire,

I. What it is to look to Jesus in the sense that is here intended?

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Question about Israel in the Old Testament and New Testament

Q. Do we learn more about God's relationship with the nation of Israel in the New Testament more than the Old Testament?

A. Dear Friend, thank you for your question concerning God’s relationship to the people of Israel. I am not a Bible scholar, just a person who loves the Lord,There are different thoughts among Christians as to how God will deal specifically with the nation of Israel in the end so I will give you what I understand in a general way. Hebrews 8:10 says that God will give them a new covenant ( the first being the law of Moses) and that His ways would then be in their minds and hearts and that then He will truly be their worshipped God and they will truly be His people in the way that He had always intended for them to be. You see, God wants us (Gentile or Hebrew) to love Him with all our heart, mind, soul and strength. I am encouraged to know that God loves people so deeply that He gives second chances, to individuals and even to a nation. Thank you for your question which has strengthened my own faith!

Traveling Light

…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… Hebrews 12:1-2 (KJV)

I packed and repacked my backpack and duffel bag until I was confident that I had everything I would need during our team's climb of Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, East Africa.

Every ounce mattered. Carrying weight at altitude is a different ball game to carrying weight at sea level. With each mile that I climbed, certain items that I had deemed important at the base of the mountain began to lose their significance and I began to shed additional weight from my backpack. There is a glorious freedom that comes with traveling light. You learn quickly that you can live without a lot of life's “necessities”. When you're on a mountain, it's you, God and nature. Pared down to the bare minimum, I was forced to focus on priorities.

Life is a lot like climbing a mountain. For each of us, the tangible and intangible baggage weighing us down might be something very different, but it is anything that hinders our relationship with the Lord. On the trail of life, we must cast off those weights which hang heavy around our necks, which may be invisible to others, but not to God – regrets of the past, fear of the future and discouragement with today.

Give me strength, Lord, to discard the burdens You never intended me to carry. Help me to focus on Your priorities. May I come to know the freedom of traveling light and the joy of ascending higher peaks with You! Amen.

It's a Colorful Life

. . . make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is wellpleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever.  Hebrews 13:21 (KJV)

We have a very complicated relationship. My computer's printer and I can make beautiful colors together when it wants to cooperate. Other times I am left with faded inks, a mis-matched color palette, or maybe even nothing at all.

Working in the graphic arts industry, I am constantly rushing to complete the next project. One night while working the wee hours, I was desperately trying to output the perfect rendition of what I had created on my computer screen. The printer had other ideas. While I kept asking it to print out the wonderfully vivid colors I had designed into the project, all it would give me was pale yellows and grays mixed with blue tints, which really messed up the look I was after. I tweaked the colors, I coaxed the inks, I tried everything to sweet-talk that printer into giving me all it had. But it just wasn't listening. I was ready to pick up that machine and throw it across the room. Surely it would never work for me again!

Then I started thinking how I make my relationship with God equally as complicated. He has designed a perfect plan for my life which He longs to see unfold. How many times have I refused to listen, spewing out pale attempts to follow that plan instead of the vivid workings expected of me? How many times do I mix in some shades of my own instead of following the specs of the Master's design? How many times can I fail to follow directions before I am given up on?

As I carefully reviewed my options, I decided to be a little more patient with my printer. I put my project on hold and steadily followed through the steps to re-callibrate the colors. Only after meticulously following that re-callibration process, the inks finally combined to fulfill my colorful expectations. I ultimately had a great project to present to the client the next day.

Dear Lord, please help me to give You the vivid colors you have planned for my life. Help me to stay focused on your perfect design instead of mixing in my own ideas. And thank you for the ultimate plan of re-callibration through Jesus Christ your Son. Amen.

From We to Me

God has said, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you." Hebrews 13:5 (NIV)

I’d done it again! In my hand I held a birthday card that read, "We wish you the best birthday ever."

The problem? There was no more we, only me.

After all the years of togetherness I was now alone, and the transition had been too abrupt for me to adjust. What happened to the "two become one" at our wedding? Someone to share my dreams and problems with, someone who cared what happened to me--that was a welcome adjustment.

Now there was no more waking up to a cup of coffee brought to my bedside, no plans to be discussed for the day or day’s events to be shared in the evening. The solitary meals were barely choked down, and the privacy I’d often longed for through the years of child rearing now screamed in my ears.

Yes, I still trusted God. How anyone can go through severance from a loved one not believing that God is sovereign is more than I can imagine. Though now I couldn’t share thoughts and questions about the Bible with my life-companion, I was spending more time in prayer and reading scripture than before. Comfort, purpose for tomorrow, any strength I had came from God’s Word.

I looked again at the card in my hand. We? Then I realized I was not alone. When I accepted Christ into my life He and I became one in spirit, and His living within me will never cease. He promised me he’d never leave me or forsake me. I won’t ever have to face the devastation of losing my spiritual husband from desertion or death.

I’m still part of "we."

Lord, help us to remember You are always with us. In busy days or quiet, crowded rooms or solitary, may we really know Your presence and never-ending love.

Paper Cuts

"For the Word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do." Hebrews 4:12-13 (The New American Standard Bible)

Have you ever experienced a paper cut? The thin edge of a piece of paper slices a tender part of the finger or the palm of the hand leaving one with a burning sensation and perhaps a small drop of blood. The pain seems disproportionate to the cut, and some people seek relief by washing it in cold water or applying a bandage to prevent the onset of an infection. Other people simply try to ignore the cut, but the pain remains as a constant reminder each time the sensitive area is touched.

The application of God’s living Word has a similar effect for many when it makes us aware of the thoughts and intentions of our hearts. His paper cut cannot be ignored. Nor will applying the cold water of indifference and the bandage of “cover-up” serve as adequate remedies for the incision that has been made. Only the Savior’s healing touch of forgiveness can reduce the pain and restore one to health and usefulness.

Jesus, help us to draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and may find grace to help in time of need.