Wait on the LORD: be of good courage,
and he shall strengthen thine heart;
wait, I say, on the LORD.
- Psalm 27:14
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Keeping Our Eyes On Jesus 8.21.2016
KJV Hebrews 12:1 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,

2 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.

Here are some questions to stimulate and provoke meditations in our own minds as well as talking points for discussion with others over today's message. As we think on these two verses which are meant to apply the entire letter that has been written, may the Holy Spirit in His gracious way call our hearts to turn from ourselves and look upon our Saviour Jesus.

1.How does having such a great cloud of witnesses/believers/martyrs who have gone before us and are waiting for us encourage and inspire us?

2. Are there weights and sins that are burdening me down in the race that we are running together? While we acknowledge that sin is always a hindrance to our faith walk, yet not all weights are hindrances, but rather some are helps and for the purpose of working patience/perseverance in us.

3.How does the fact that Jesus is both Author and Finisher of our faith give us assurance and encouragement?

4. Does the reality that Jesus joyfully suffered and despised the shame move us to greater joy as we go through suffering times in our life for His sake?

5. How does knowing "seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them/us" (Hebrews 11:25b) encourage you and I?

We are encouraged from the examples of steadfastness to the end by those who came in the OT, we have learned from those in the NT and we have also been encouraged and inspired by those in our own lives who have influenced our faith journey to date. As we think about the race we are running, we realize that it is a race that we certainly want to finish. It is not like a short sprint race, but it is more like a 26 mile marathon. We, like those to whom the writer was writing to in this letter, can draw on the life, works, trials and sufferings of those who have gone before or are yet living in this world approaching the finish line.

"We may see many things to dishearten us as we run the race, even to the point of dropping out entirely, but by keeping our eyes on the Author and Finisher of our faith, our speed will increase rather than lessen and our stamina will grow rather than fade out." RCH Lenski

The last verse of our meditations last week went like this:

Heb. 11:39 And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise:
40 God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.

Heaven is not complete without us being there, and he calls us to consider the great multitude of people who have trusted to the end in Christ as their Savior. He uses the analogy of a race, emphasizing that what is important is that one finishes the race. The meaning of the word race is not as we look at it today, but it means more that we are in a conflict or in a battle to get to the finish. We are called to run the race unemcumbered as much as possible, leaving aside any burden that is weighing us down, which includes sin and to run with endurance through the difficulties that come along the way to our eternal finish line.

But....we struggle at times, we stumble, we fall, we get weary, we get afraid that we might drop out, but God.........but God is mindful of our struggles, He.knows....waits.....and comes..........just when we need Him to come......

In our Scripture readings today we heard of King David and his testimony of faith,(23rd psalm) which tells us that he had tough times in life, and we heard from the book of Genesis of the life of Joseph, who God had set on a pathway, but which had many obstacles which not only tested Joseph, but also strengthened him. In both cases as with all those who walk by faith, they trusted God above every thing else. And not only that, what really shines through them is there believing God for their future. How so? The both exhibited in their lives that the future was already secured by the promise of God and they clung tenaciously to God's promise.

KJV Psalm 23:6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.

KJV Genesis 50:24 And Joseph said unto his brethren, I die: and God will surely visit you, and bring you out of this land unto the land which he sware to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.

KJV Genesis 50:25 And Joseph took an oath of the children of Israel, saying, God will surely visit you, and ye shall carry up my bones from hence.

KJV Hebrews 11:22 By faith Joseph, when he died, made mention of the departing of the children of Israel; and gave commandment concerning his bones.

Therefore, in light of such a great crowd of witnesses (martyrus) let aside (laying aside) the weight and the sin which can so easily entangle us, let us run with perserverance on the pathway that is set before us by our God.

But it is not easy, it is like a fish swimming upstream......It is very difficult at times. The disciples had their struggles also....

Mark 6:45 And straightway he constrained his disciples to get into the ship, and to go to the other side before unto Bethsaida, while he sent away the people.
46 And when he had sent them away, he departed into a mountain to pray.
47 And when even was come, the ship was in the midst of the sea, and he alone on the land.
48 And he saw them toiling in rowing; for the wind was contrary unto them: and about the fourth watch of the night he cometh unto them, walking upon the sea, and would have passed by them.
49 But when they saw him walking upon the sea, they supposed it had been a spirit, and cried out:
50 For they all saw him, and were troubled. And immediately he talked with them, and saith unto them, Be of good cheer: it is I; be not afraid.

Jesus is mindful of our struggles, will come to us when it is the right time, and often this is through a friend that comes to us in some manner. May we recognize Him when He comes to help us in our time of need.

Who are those that have been a helper of our joy in our faith journey? How have they encouraged us, assured us and inspired us to keep on keeping on? Has it been those who have encouraged us to keep our eyes on Christ? How have they showed to us who Christ is by their life?

I would like to give a couple of personal illustrations so that all of our minds would be stimulated to think on just how it is that we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses, testifiers or examples of those who lived by faith, or as we said last week, those in whom Christ lived and displayed Himself through.

I had a sister whose name was Nancy who was a few of years younger than myself. She was diagnosed early on in life with lupus and died at the age of 20. She showed me Christ in her life as she patiently bore her illness, loved people even when they did not love her in return and lived her life in light of God's promises, just like David and Joseph did.

Of course it is my mother that demonstrated to me of what it means to persevere, having lost her husband at 44 yrs of age and a daughter 6 years later and then raising all 10 of us in the country where we warmed bricks for heat when we went to bed, in the summer we packed water from the creek to wash clothes and kept a big garden to feed us all.

The biggest lesson that speaks of perserverance is her having to get a driver's license, failing it five times but not giving up, getting it on the 6th try. I want that kind of perserverance, don't you?

Keeping Our Eyes on Jesus

A bicycle rider told me that if you keep your eyes on the road ahead, you will not swerve which causes you to fall over. Runners have looked back as they approached the finish line to see where others are, have stumbled, fell and have not finished their race. In both cases, it is important to remember to fix our eyes ahead of us.

KJV Hebrews 12:2 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.

ESV Philippians 1:6 And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

Yesterday my wife and I were talking about life in general and she was commenting as to how foolish it is for us to be weighed down by weights of this life when we have a Savior who had guaranteed us heaven. I agreed and said that is exactly right, but yet because we are so easily encumbered with numerous things which detract from the reality that is before us, we need to be reminded of our eternal victory which we are living in now, but yet see only as through a welding glass. It is there, but our vision is clouded by, as she said, the consequences of the fall, namely sin and all that goes with it.

We are not only told to lay aside the hindrances to our faith, but more importantly we are told to look, fix our eyes upon Jesus, our Saviour. We sang two hymns today that illustrate just how this works. "Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look on His wonderful face, and the things of this world will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace." We also sang "I look not back, which again illustrates these verses from Hebrews 12:1-2

1 I look not back; God knows the fruitless efforts,
The wasted hours, the sinning, the regrets.
I leave them all with Him who blots the record,
And graciously forgives, and then forgets.
2 I look not forward; God sees all the future,
The road that, short or long, will lead me home,
And He will face with me its every trial,
And bear for me the burdens that may come.
3 I look not round me; then would fears assail me,
So wild the tumult of earth's restless seas,
So dark the world, so filled with woe and evil,
So vain the hope of comfort and of ease.
4 I look not inward; that would make me wretched;
For I have naught on which to stay my trust.
Nothing I see save failures and shortcomings,
And weak endeavors, crumbling into dust.
5 But I look up--into the face of Jesus,
For there my heart can rest, my fears are stilled;
And there is joy, and love, and light for darkness,
And perfect peace, and every hope fulfilled.

I also recall how one of the men in my life whose staunch life of faith encouraged me, a pastor under whom I heard the Word preach many times. He would quote these words of Trust and Obey, from the third verse: "But we never can prove, the delights of his love, until all on the altar we lay, for the joy he bestows and the favor He shows, are for them who will trust and obey."
As we continue to have fellowship with saints of all ages, may our hearts be stimulated to greater joy and perserverance as we seek His help in laying aside the weight and sin that so easily can trip us up. And may we look to our Savior who has gone before us, is running with us and will not leave us behind.
In His Almighty Name, Amen
Pastor Orval Wirkkala
Posted on 21 Aug 2016 by Pastor Orval Wirkkala
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