Covenant Words
Covenant Words

Episode · 6 years ago

Running the Race (Hebrews 12:1-11)

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Rev. Duane Vedders (Guest preacher)

One of the difficult things of preaching in a strange pulpit is dealing with a different order of worship, and I ask you to sit when I should have had you remained standing. And so I'm going to ask you to stand now, when you'd probably rather be sake, remain seeding. Please rise and turn in your bibles, if you will, to the book of Hebrews, Chapter Twelve. The Book of Hebrews, Chapter Twelve. I'm going to read there the first eleven verses. This is God's word. Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endureance the race that have set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfector 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. Consider Him who endured from sinner such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or faint heartened in your struggle against sin. You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood and have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons. My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him, for the Lord disciplines of one he loves and chastise, as every son whom he receives. It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating your sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which we all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides, is we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us, and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the father of spirits and live?...

For they disciplined us for a short time, as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment, all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields a peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it thus far. The reading of God's Holy Word, you may be seated again. I always feel just a bit of ease, of ill ill at ease, in preaching to a congregation with the pastor sitting there listening. Perhaps that arises from my first experience in preaching. I was a student at mid America Reform Seminary and had a summer assignment and Hayward and Iowa in the first Sunday morning I preached there. Doctor P Y the young one of my professors, sat in the second row from the Front with a legal pad and a pen taking notes. I presume, master Cholka, that I will receive as kind a letter from you as I will as I did from him. You'll have noticed that we came to chapter twelve of a book of Hebrews this evening, and that indicates something, that indicates that there was a chapter eleven as well, and we need to know that because the first word of chapter twelve is the word there for and whenever you come across the word therefore, in scripture or I suppose, otherwise in life, it means that there is something that has proceeded before that. Now, I spoke with Vanni the other day and she told me that during the past time the Ladies Bible Study has been studying chapter eleven. So you can ask her later on whether or not what I'm about to say is correct. I'll tell you this. I used to dislike...

...chapter eleven greatly, and there was a reason for that. The reason I disliked chapter eleven of the book of Hebrews was this. I read through that list of what we have come to know as the heroes of faith and was discouraged. I mean, here we have guys like like able in Enoch, who walked with God and was not for God took him, and Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and David and all the rest. And if I would compare myself to them, I would think these are here as my examples, these good, godly, righteous men. I am not in any way like they are. Their lives are meaningless to me. They lived righteous, holy lives. They are the saints of God, not doing. And then I began to examine it. I'll tell you this. I don't know much about Abel other than that he offered a better sacrifice than his brother can and I don't know much about Enoch other than that he walked with God and that God took him. And what I know of Daniel, he was a pretty good man, so were the rest. But I want you to look at that chapter with me. For just a moment before we go on with Chapter Twelve, I want you to consider for a moment noah, a good and godly man who, as soon as the flood was over, planted himself a vineyard and got stone drunk. I want you to consider Abraham, the father of faith. Now, Abraham, a good and Godly and faithful man, was given a promise by God. But when Sarah came to him and said, look,...

...here's Haygar, why don't you take her, he's yeah, okay, that's a good idea, and he did it well. I think of Isaac. Now, that must have been some prime family, Isaac and Rebecca with his two sons, Jacob and Esau, and Isaac loved Esau and Rebecca like Jake Love Jacob. What kind of dynamics was that in that family? I look at Jacob, no, there's a scoundrel, Huh. Or think, for instance, of Moses, who was a murderer, and when God came to him at the burning Bush, Moses kept saying, to him, Oh no, not me, God, not me, I'm not capable of this. Until finally, if I may put it like this, in his frustration, God said, okay, here's Aaron, your brother, he'll speak for you. Well, what more can I say as the as the Apostle says here, for time would fail me to tell of Gideon hiding in the winnowing down low so that the MIDIAN nights can see him, or barrick, who made a WHO would go to war without Deborah coming with him? Or Samson, you know about Samson, O Jeffson, who made this fool is vowel about his daughter and sacrificed her. Or David who as an adult, or murderer, Samuel, who had two ungodly sons. What more can we say other than this? Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, these men and women who have gone before, is our placed here in this eleventh chapter. I'm convinced, not because they are so much better than us, so much different from us, but because they are so much like us. They are men and women of faith who are sinners.

And Therefore, the apostle says, therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses and the scene is that of an arena, perhaps you could think of the Coliseum, or perhaps it would be easier for us to think of the stadium over here off Campbell Avenue. I believe it is the big a you stadium. No, imagine yourself in the middle of that stadium or on the ground of that stadium, and the stadium is surrounded with all of those saints that have gone before. They're watching you and they're encouraging you and you can hear the grown when you mess up, but you can also hear them applauding when you do it well. They are witnesses watching you and how you live. Therefore, because we're surrounded by these, the apostle says, let us also lay let us also lay aside every weight and the sin which claims so closely. Let us run with endurance the race that is set before the picture here is of a marathon. It's not a sprint, and life is a marathon, not a sprint. I mean, you run a sprint, you might be slow, but you can run a hundred yard. But a marathon is how long? Twenty, twenty six point whatever, mylespot really really now I'm not a runner. The last time I ran was many years ago, probably twenty five years ago, and my oldest son said...

...to me, Dad, you look you run like an old man, so I just quit. But here this is a runner that's running a marathon and Paul says lay aside every weight. Now, a few years ago my wife and I had opportunity to to spend a long weekend in London and it was the same day as the London Marathon, and so while we didn't go out and watch it in person, because it was on a Sunday or because it was too far to walk, but we watched part of it on the telly on the telly and I learned something about running from watching those people. I learned that not many of them, not any of them, had much clothes on. The idea here is that how, how could one of these ancient Hebrews run a marathon while wearing a robe? You have to grow up as loins right the agent Greece, I understand, road ran naked or next to naked. Why? Nobody puts on a snowmobile suit, sorry, that's Michigan coming out, or a heavy coat. Nobody puts on their work shoes in order to run a race. That's why we are called upon to lay aside all those things that would hold us back from running. What are some of those things? Well, you know in your own case what those things out that might hold you back. Maybe it's a lack of devotions, maybe it's a lack of reading the Bible, spending time in prayer or or spending time with Christian friends, or who knows what. But the apostle tells us to lay aside those weights, every weight, every weight, and the sin which...

...clings so closely. I like the old King James Translation, which is so easily besets us. He stuck in here two believers. If you notice that in your life, that's sins sometimes so easily besets us. Many years ago I used to visit old Tina and Oregon our church. He was ninety seven years old and she could barely see and she could hardly hear anything and she lived in her mobile home by herself, with her daughter and son in law next door caring for her. And now would visit her and she would say to me, old dominial pastor, the son is so bright and wind the breeze is so cool, it's such a beautiful day, but Oh, my sin, my sin, my sin, and I would think your sin, you're here by yourself at ninety seven or ninety eight years old, all by yourself, what opportunity you have or sin? As I've grown older, I've discovered that each of us has opportunity, no matter how old, and also that the older we get perhaps the more sensitive we become to the sin, the sin that clings to us, that so easily besets us. Have you ever had it happened to you, when you wake up in the middle of the night and you think, Oh, what was I dreaming about? What was I thinking about? This pastor Chelcu pointed out this morning those things,...

...those things of the world, those things so easily be said us. So the Apostle says, let us run with endoorance of race has said BEFOS. Now, as I watched that London Marathon, I noticed that from time to time these marathoners would come to what was called a refreshment station, but they would never stop and drink their liter of water. They were grabbed the bottle of while they ran and they would drink a swallow or two and pour the rest o their heads and keep running. Why? Because if they stopped and drank that whole bottle of water they would get such severe stomach cramps they wouldn't be able to ruin again. They ran right past the tower of London, where are the crown jewels? And not a single one of them stopped to look. And I'm telling you this. If you think in your Christian life you can get off the road for a few minutes and rest and relax or go after the things of this world for just a short period of time and come right back, the apostle says you're wrong. Run the race. Another thing I noticed about these people while they are racing is that sometimes they were running groups. I understand that they they drafted on one another. I think they do that in auto racing as well, don't they? You auto racing fans, where one person takes a lead and the others. He kind of...

...makes a way for the others who follow him, and then after a while they switch places and somebody who's been rested a little bit we'll take the lead. Is that right? And this is important also in the Christian life, you can't run by yourself. You can't run by yourself. You need others and sometimes you'll be taking a lead, but sometimes you got to fall back in somebody else. They can lead. I learned as well. Then not everybody finished at the same time. And in the same way I remember those canyons and Ethiopians. You'll twenty, six, point whatever miles and there they come across the finish line, but I'm done, I've got it. And then I see those others four or five, six hours later, hanging on to each other, limping across your sore. They're tired there and the reason they're there is because they've kept their focus on the finish line. Because I understand that if you're running a marathon, if you stop thinking about the finish line, it's going to be too far. And that's what the apostle tells us here. Let us run with endures. The race, has said before, is looking to Jesus, the founder and perfector 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 God. When I was a kid, my grandmother lived with us and I think she was a handful for my parents. I'm sure she was handful for my parents, but I remember one time she said to my father, Oh, oh, I just...

...wish a Lord would take me so that I could go home and be with friend. My Dad said to her, as long as you're hoping to be with Fred, you're going to stay here. You hope has got to be in seeing Jesus. You See, he is our goal. It isn't heaven, it isn't the new heavens and the new earth. Those things are far too small. But our goal is Jesus himself. Aren't focuses on him? To see him, to know him, to love him, to live like him, see him, follow him, the Apostle says, look at how he lived. Consider Him who endured from sinner such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or faint hearted in your struggle against sin. You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. I don't know. I don't know you and I'm not a betting man, but if I were, I would bet that not a single one of us here has ever had rocks thrown at us or through our windows or at our car, because we are so righteous that the people our neighborhood can stand us. And I don't mean an appearance of righteousness, I don't mean hypocrisy, I mean true righteousness. Who of us is so holy that people hate us the way they hated Jesus Suos, you apostle says here. None of you have yet done that, although there are there are those who have. Have you forgotten...

...exhortation? Address as you are sons. My son did not regard lightly to discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him, for the Lord disciplines of one he loves and cherishes every son whom he receives, chastises every son whom he receives. It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating your sons. One of the great sins I will leave of the world of televangelism is a sin of trying to convince everybody that wants to becoming a believer everything is going to be good. Your Life is just going to change, you're going to be rich, you're going to be satisfied, you can have a good family. And that's not what the Bible teaches us. The Bible teaches us that life is going to be hard. I don't have to tell you that. How hard is it for you when your husband dies or your wife over, your child dies? My sister died. My mother said it's not right for a child to die before it's parent. No, but it happens, doesn't it? How do you deal with it when you hear that you have count cancer, or works yet that your your child has cancer or Cyril Palsy or who knows what? Things not come by...

...accident. These things come to us by the perfect will of God and his providence in order to make us strong. If you know, the Apostle Paul says that there's some profit in physical exercise but much in spiritual exercise. In every way. I'm telling you, these folks that go to the gym and want to get buff, want to get big. They might start out lifting ten pounds, but they don't stay there. Perhaps you seen the TV commercial the woman that does one sit up says, okay, I'm good. It's one piece of Chale, says, okay, I'm good. It's not the way life is. In order for you to get strong physically, you have to go to the gym again and again and again and again. In order to finish a race, you have to practice and run and run and run and run. In order to live a godly life, you have to endure the things that are tough, things are hard, because then you know how faithful God is, how much he cares for you, how strong he is, and so often little sins just kind of get us down. But perhaps...

...you think, well, I'm okay, I don't really sin all that much. You know, I'm not a philander or I'm not a homosexual, I'm not a drunk, I'm not a drug addict. He secil tells us that's a sin of Sodom. It doesn't mention sexuality. He mentions a failure to care for the poor. What's your turn with me, if you will for just a moment, to the Book of Matthew, Chapter Twenty Five. I know you know this passage, but no, I think you know this passage Meta. I want to turn there with me, but just Moan. Matthew Twenty Five. Your Jesus speaks of the final judgment and how he separates a sheep from the goats. I wants to think for just a moment about the goats. Verse Forty One and following then he will say to those on his lefty part from me. You cursed into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels, for I was hungry and you gave me no food. I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me naked and you did not close me sick and in prison and you did not visit me. And they also will answer saying, Lord, when we when did we see you hungry or thirsty or stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you? Then he will answer them saying, truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me. And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life. I ask you this question. For which sin are these goats sent to eternal punishment? Which sins does Jesus name? The...

...sins of adultery, a murder, of theft, a failure to keep the sabbath, of idolatry. It wasn't what these people did, but rather what they left undone. I'm so grateful to know that, because of all the things that I've left undone in Jesus has filled for me. Listen once again, back to math or he was twelve verse. If you are left without discipline, in which all that participated, then your illegitimate children are not sons. Besides, as we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them, shall we not much more be subject to the spirit of father, the father spirits, and live for they disciplined us for a short time, as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. Those of you out there who are fathers will understand me, I think, when I tell you that, having had raised more or less seven kids, I have no clue as to what appropriate discipline is. What's appropriate when when your son lies to you? Is it to stand him in a corner? Is it to watch his mouth? I was so. Is it to spank him, or is it to ground him? Or is it to have a stern talk with him? Or is it to say well, that's just the way kids are? No, it's not that. What's the appropriate discipline when your daughter talks back to her mother, as she will when she's thirteen, because that's the way girls are? How...

...do you I have a clue? Well, we do as father's. It's the best we can and we mess up, but when God disciplines us it's a whole different matter, because he knows how he knows when he knows what to use precisely and exactly for each of us in our own particular circumstance and situation. A pastor friend of mine recently said from the Pope and that God uses a chisel to conform us into the image of his son, Jesus Christ. For the moment, all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later he yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. Later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness. See, that's what happened to all those folks in chapter eleven. They received, they receive eve, the gift of eternal life, and that's why they, as a great cloud of witnesses surrounding us, are witnessing to us and cheering us on as we run this race which God has said for us. There's no marathonors ever set the own course, for his own course, for the race that'scept by other authorities. We do not set the course for our own race either. We...

...run the race that God has given us. Want to close with this read this week from the old Presbyterian commentator Albert Barnes. I have never known a Christian who was not benefited by afflictions. I have seen none who is not able to say that as trials produced some happy effect on his religious character and on his soul, real happiness in life. If this be so, then no matter how severe are trials, we should submit to them without a complaint. The more severe they are, the more we shall yet be blessed, on Earth or in heaven. A man. Let's pray.

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