Today Pastor Ed Allen preached a sermon on the theme "Run Well, Finish Strong" from Hebrews 12:1-3
In every race, runners aren't judged by what they look like or anything but how well they run and how well they finish.
We've all inherited "the quitter's gene" in some way. We quit in many ways. Sometimes it's by lowering our expectations or no longer making the effort.
While there are times when we should change direction, how do we get going when things get tough?
Hebrews 12:1-3 gives us a helpful image, which includes five themes to help us run well and finish strong.
1) People who run well and finish strong are inspired by others who have done it well.
"surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses"
We've just looked at the Hall of Fame of Faith in Hebrews 11. We need people around us and books around us with stories of people who have done it well. Find mentors in your life.
2) People who run well and finish strong know that it takes effort.
"let us run with perseverance"
We need to run the race marked out for us. Don't move to an easier trail. It will get tough.
James 1:2-5 -- God uses the difficulties to build perseverance and character in us.
Value improvement over comfort. God is building high performance. To do so, he uses discomfort.
3) People who run well and finish strong are mindful that God is deeply involved in their lives.
"the race marked out for us"
In cross country, someone other than the runners marks out the course.
Focus on the course and not on your own discomfort. It's not about you. It's for God's purposes. Our job is not to run someone else's race.
4) People who run well and finish strong know that finishing our race will require subtraction.
"let us throw off everything that hinders"
It's by running that we know what the encumbrances are. Start moving!
You may need to do violence to part of your life and habits to eliminate hindrances.
5) People who run well and finish strong focus on Jesus.
"fixing our eyes on Jesus"
If you want to plow a field in straight lines, you need to focus on a fixed point.
Fixing our eyes on Jesus means relying on his provision and focusing on his example. He looked to the end and he was tenacious, enduring even the cross.
Keep running, like Jesus did, in single-minded devotion to the Father and to us.