This month’s Devotional will be on the instructions we find in Hebrews 12:1-3. “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. For consider Him that endured such contradiction of sinners against Himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.”
I have ministered on this Scripture in the month of March and want to summarize these instructions so we can get the full scope of what the Lord is saying personally to us. The previous chapter shares about those in the Old Testament who were faithful to God even in major challenges. They were accounted faithful to God, thus their names are listed in the Hall of Faith. But the last two verses in Chapter 11, bring to light a truth that the Church today must see. “And these all have obtained a good report through faith received not the promise: God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.”
Let me simplify those verses for you. Even though the men and women of the Old Testament remained faithful to God, they had not the experience of knowing Christ as their Saviour, but those of us today do have that privilege of knowing Christ. Those in the Old Testament that loved the Lord their God and served Him will one day experience the fulness of knowing Christ when the graves burst open on the day the Lord returns and at the same moment all of us will experience through our new bodies the glorious honor of living with Christ forever and ever. As Pastor Mike leads us to sing often, “What a Day That Will Be!”
So now we look at Chapter 12 and those who have gone on before us are a cloud of faithful witnesses that testify God is true to His promises, yet there are continued instructions to us who are still on this earth.
The first one is “Let us lay aside every weight.” The words “lay aside” are a mild translation of what the author of Hebrews was stating. It actually means “cast off” or “throw aside.” The word “weight” means “every unnecessary burden.” So it is better translated “throw off every unnecessary burden.” A great many of us carry unnecessary weights. How often do we worry about things that never happen? How often do we carry stress upon ourselves concerning things we cannot change?
The Pharmaceutical industry has exploded with medicinal attempts to assist us in battling unnecessary worries and every one of those pills are temporary tranquilizers to a deeper issue. Jesus told Martha in a compassionate, loving voice, “Martha, you are so anxious and troubled about so many things. Please, just sit down and spend some time with Me.” So often our excuse is that we don’t have enough time to sit down with Jesus because there is so much to do; but the reality is if we spend time with Him, those duties will be done more efficiently.
I believe we see that very truth in 1st Peter 5:6,7. “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God that He may exalt you in due time. Casting all your care upon Him for He careth for you.” We humble ourselves by laying down the pride of thinking we can do all our duties without Him. We cast, throw, all our cares upon Him, knowing we can do nothing without Him (See John 15:1-5.). As we humble ourselves before Him and cast our cares upon Him, then He lifts us up above our worries and anxieties. Notice it says “casting” meaning it is a continual practice for us in life.
The second instruction is “Let us lay aside the sin which does so easily beset us.” Once again, “lay aside” means to “throw off.” Notice it doesn’t say every sin, but that sin that so easily sets us back. Of course, we know the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin, but it seems that this Scripture
is saying throw off that one sin that you struggle with constantly. Have you ever had one or maybe two issues that it seems you are dealing with consistently and you just can’t shake it off? Yes, it is possible a believer can be dealing with several temptations to sin, but much of the time it is one or two things that seek to weigh you down with guilt and defeat. Let us together cast off the sin that easily entangles us and proclaim the blood of Jesus has set us free. Why would this Scripture even be stated if it were not possible to throw aside weight and sin? The fact is that it is possible. I will tell you how it is possible later in this Devotional, but first we look at instruction #3.
“Let us run with patience the race that is set before us.” Quite often Paul illustrates life as a run. One of those instances is found in 1st Corinthians 9:24-26. “Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run with purpose in every step.” As an athlete in my younger years, I always wanted to run with a goal in mind whether it was the next base in baseball or toward the rim in basketball. I wasn’t much to run just to be running. God has created you. He has given you life. He has a course set before you. Sometimes we see a long distance of that course before us. Sometimes just a short distance. Either way, we run this race of life with patience and confidence that our life is in the hands of the One Who created us and the One Who created the course.
Let me give you three brief descriptions of those who ran. Jonah ran from God’s call in his life. Instead of running to the call, he ran away from it. Why would anyone run from God and board a ship?! Jonah was running right into a God-given storm. It was because of that storm that Jonah ended up in the mouth of a great fish that God created just for him. It was while Jonah was in that fish that he repented and got back on course.
Elijah experienced one of the greatest victories recorded in Scripture over false gods. An evil woman then threatens to kill him and he runs. He finds himself in a cave thinking he is the only Christian on the planet when he hears a great wind, feels an earthquake, and experiences the heat of a fire. But he did not realize he was running from God until he heard God’s whisper.
The third example is an illustration that Jesus uses of a well-to-do young man. He had it made in his race of life until he asked his father for his portion of inheritance so he could move away and change his course of life. His father gave him his portion and the boy moved to a far country and spent all his inheritance on riotous living. The next thing he knew, he was working for a pig farmer in the midst of a famine and eating pig food. One day he came to his senses and decided he was going to go back home and see if his father would at least allow him to be a servant, not dreaming that he would ever be a son again. As he approached his homestead, he could see his father outside. How would his father react? Would he disown him? Or at least allow him to work on the farm? The father rushed to his son that he missed so much and welcomed him back as a son. The son had run into the world, but when he returned home, his father ran to him.
There is much to be said in those three stories about running. Why would we run from Him? Why would we run from His call? His protection? His provision? Do not run from God. Let us run with patience the race that is set before us. If you are off track, get back on track. What is the first step in getting back on track?
Instruction #4. “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2). Laying aside the weight, laying aside the sin, and running the race are only accomplished as we look unto Jesus. The Amplified Translation says, “Looking away from all that will distract us to Jesus.” As we run this race there are many things that will tempt us to be distracted from Jesus. The world is full of schemes and devices that desire to attract us to temporary pleasures and distract us from eternal joy. Jesus had to stay focused on the reason He came to earth.
The remainder of Hebrews 12:2 says, “Jesus, 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.” That joy that was set before Him while He was suffering was the joy of redeeming mankind to a relationship with His Father. Jesus remained focused on the end result of victory. Let us remain focused on Jesus knowing as well the result is eternal victory. Together let us lay aside the weight, lay aside sin, run this race, and look unto Jesus. Look to Jesus Who endured the cross. Look to Jesus Who despised the shame. Look to Jesus Who now sits at the right hand of the Father.
Are you still unsure you can lay down the weight and the sin? Are you still questioning that you can get back on course? Are you weary of trying and failing? Are you tired of the ups and downs?
Then look with me at Hebrews 12:3. “Consider Him. Think of Jesus Who endured the opposition and hostility of sinners and sin so that you will not grow weary or exhausted or lose heart and think you can’t make it.” Consider Jesus. Think about what He went through for you. Our opposition pales in comparison to what He experienced. You can lay aside the weight and sin because He has provided the victory for you. Yes, it is an everyday decision in life to deny ourselves, take up our cross daily, and follow Him; but every day brings new mercies and peace that can only exist in Christ. Let us together look unto Him and consider Him and experience that victory found in Him. Together let us run this race and press forward to the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
Running with you, Pastor Wes