Messages from Pastor Raddatz


August 14, 2022, Mount Olive Church Houston TX, Other texts for the day: Jeremiah 23:16-29 & Luke 12:49-53


LOOKING TO JESUS 


Grace, mercy and peace to you from God the Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,


Hebrews 12:1-3, Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us 2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter 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. 3 Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. ESV


          If you are sailing, I am told that you pick out a point on the horizon and you try to keep that focal point in the center of the bow.  It is impossible to keep it right in the center, so you tack:   you go a little bit to the right, then, you turn the wheel a little bit to the left.  You keep doing this until you get to the location where you are going.   


          Much the same in following Jesus: we are called to look to Jesus.  The greatest comfort for us is that Jesus is always with us, Matthew 28:20.  Life is set before us.  Today we are called to run the race set before us: lay aside those things which can hinder our running the race AND KEEP OUR EYES ON JESUS.


LOOKING TO JESUS, LET US RUN THE RACE


Right after the Chapter on the great heroes of the faith, the writer to the Hebrews tells us that we have witnesses which encourage us.  


The first three words of this verse range us along side of the Old Testament believers mentioned in chapter 11. They are witnesses in the sense that they are examples to us of faith and endurance. They surround us. God has placed them all about us in our thinking to encourage us.


"Let us lay aside everything which hinders." Paul is using the metaphor of a runner. Runners put off every encumbrance.  Today a lot of technology goes into what an elite runner or skater wears.  It is meant to cut down their time, so they have the best chance of winning the race.


"Which so easily besets us, which clings so closely, which holds on to us to tightly, which we easily fall into, that which so readily entangles our feet." Don't limit this to besetting sin. It denotes the flesh, (the Old Adam) the sinful self that we were born with. Read Romans 7.


"Let us run." This is the God-given ability to stand up under trying circumstances. Running a race is strenuous work. We are told that it is laid before us. God has laid it before us. God has placed a mighty host around us and has laid the strenuous race before us.


    The faithful who have gone before us are to move us to persistence.  Their lives have told of God’s faithfulness.  The Old Testament Saints of Hebrews 11 are not watching us, but we have watched them endure the troubles on earth.  (Bul’s Notes)


Then, there is the story of the late great American golfer, William Ben Hogan (1912 - 1997), whose car was hit by a bus - an accident which left him laying by the roadside wounded! A great career was ended, we thought! It was doubtful if he would ever walk again, let alone play golf! However, as soon as possible, he got braces and began to swing his golf clubs. It was a painful process; however, he kept on swinging and later came back to win both the United States Open and the British Open championships!


[Sources: "When The Heart Is Hungry," by Charles L. Allen, c1955 Westwood, New Jersey: Fleming H. Revell Company, pp. 70-75. "www.wikipedia.com," 


JESUS, THE AUTHOR AND PERFECTOR OF OUR FAITH


In this verse Jesus is pictured solely as Savior. How do we run? By looking exclusively to Jesus. The word means to rivet one's attention on one person or thing. Note that Jesus is place last for emphasis. The name "Jesus" emphasized His humanity here. He is called "the Author and the Completer of the faith."


          WHAT JESUS DID FOR US ON THE CROSS HIS HOLY SPIRIT CONTINUES TO DO FOR US AS WE FOLLOW HIM!


  • He placed faith in us (Westcott).  He gives us the power to follow him.  

The promises of God in the Old Testament caused the faith in the Old Testament believers. Paul tells us: "For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us." 2 Corinthians 1:20. Look at John 8:56. There is only one, true faith. That is the point of Hebrews 11:39-40.


God laid the joy before Jesus. Look at John 15:11; 16:20-22,24; 17:13. Jesus endured the cross. He stood up under very trying circumstance. How did He endure? By despising the shame. On this look at Galatians 3:13 and Philippians 2:8. This indicates Jesus' attitude, not the lack of intensity of shame. The point here is that His suffering came to an end, He was victorious and now reigns forever. That should hearten us in our daily battle with sin as we run the race.  (Bul’s)


The joy is that he made it to the end=resurrection and ascension to God.  Therefore, we have received the same victory.  We have it now, but not fully yet.  Jesus focused on the joy: the joy of being called to perform this loving act. 


  • An attitude which does not ignore the shame, but hold it to be of no consequence in view of the joy (Guthrie).
  • This disgrace Jesus disregarded, as something not worthy to be taken into account when it was a question of His obedience to the will of God. (Lenski)

HOW DO WE RUN?  CONSIDER HIM, DO NOT LOSE HEART


This verse portrays Jesus as the example of endurance. The verse says that we must do this OR ELSE we fall away.


We do not focus on ourselves.   If we focus on our actions we can fall into apostasy and unbelief, not mere tiredness. It is a picture of an athlete relaxing before his goal is reached. That is a pitiful sight. We dare not give up. (Bul’s)


Think of Jesus' many verbal conflicts with Jews, Pharisees, etc. They are summed up here with the word "his sinful enemies." Their hatred was aimed at Him.


          It was not just the hatred of others that fell upon Jesus, it was also God’s hatred for our sin that fell upon Jesus.  If Jesus freely gave up himself, for us, then let us persevere.


(Westcott) If the leader bears the brunt of the battle the soldier can follow.


(Lenski) Now at last the example of Jesus is touched upon in one point, and that is perseverance. In verses 1-2 we are to keep our eye on the beginning and finisher of the faith, on what he did to make him this. Now we are to take him into consideration as the One who has perseveringly endured in order that we may not grow tired and relax.


The writer makes certain that the reader will not understand mere physical tiredness. He adds a word that means spiritual weariness, apostasy.  We can burn out and turn bitter, therefore we should keep encouraging ourselves, so we don’t have long seasons of spiritual fatigue.


(Sermon Central: Illustration-Endurance) The tragedy of life is not the wound because life is so constituted that the wound is inevitable! The tragedy comes when we quit or give up on life because of the wound - when we fall down, and we can’t get up! There are times, however, when we simply must grit our teeth and say, "I may be down; but I’m not out!"


Our first President of the United States of America, George Washington (1732 - 1799), fought nine (9) major battles in the Revolutionary War against the great British empire! He lost six (6) of the nine (9) battles; but he kept on fighting and coming back until he won the war!


 The Lord has us in the race and in the fight for the faith until our last breath.   Through God’s help we are called to lay aside those things which can weigh us down. Let’s keep our eyes on Jesus: listening to his word and focusing on his calling on our life and our work.   


He who has begun his work in us will perfect it on the day of Christ.  May this peace of God which passes all human understanding keep your heart and your mind in Christ Jesus till life everlasting, Amen.


Pastor John Raddatz


 


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