Forty Days of Focus – Wednesday April 1st – Sunday, May 10th
Hebrews 12:1–2 – 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.
We are in a marathon not a sprint when it comes to dealing with this virus and its effects on those we love, on our neighbors and on our city. Right now it may feel like we can’t get through this or we can’t get through this without losing our minds and maybe even our faith. I am confident that with the Lord’s help we certainly can. The author of Hebrews, writing in the first century, knew how hard things were going to get for the followers of Christ under the Roman Persecution. He gives them some very pointed and sound advice near the end of His epistle in Hebrews 12:1-2.
He tells them first that we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses. He is talking about those individuals found in Hebrews 11. These people, by faith, did some amazing things and made it through some very tough times. Look at the ones highlighted in Hebrews 11:35-37
“Women received back their dead by resurrection. Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life. 36 Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. 37 They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated— By faith others have made it through some very hard times and so can we.”
He also tells us to “lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely”. We can’t run if we are carrying extra weight. Our bad habits serve only to slow us. Our pettiness only weighs us down. We will not make it to the end of the race if we are being tripped up by the sins that we want to hold on to. They will cause to slip up and cause us to stumble. They race is hard enough. Let’s drop the baggage of bad habits and pettiness and cut the cord to the sins that will trip us up so that we can run unencumbered.
He goes to tell us that we must “run the race that is set before us”. This is a good reminder that everybody’s race is going to be different. There are similarities in our journey, but no two journeys are the same. You shouldn’t try and run my race and I shouldn’t try and run yours. I have a race to run so I am to do everything I can to run it.
The writer also tells us to run this race of ours with perseverance. The race is hard. The race is long. We will need to persevere. The Greek word for perseverance here is “upomene” which means “to remain under”. The pressure is very great and we must remain under the pressure in spite of our desire to flee it or to check out.
So far we should take these specific truths from this text. First, we are surrounded by a group of witnesses who give testimony to the fact that the race can be run. Secondly, we must lay aside our weights and sins so that we are not hindered in running this race. Thirdly, we are to run our race and run it with perseverance.
Finally, we are being told that we are in for some tough days ahead, very tough days. Remember. this is a marathon beloved not a sprint. How are we going to get through this spiritually intact? How are we going to be strong in the storm? The author of Hebrews concluded this charge with some powerful advice as his readers were facing a marathon of trials called the Roman Persecution. That advice applies to us today. He told them to be “Looking unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of Our Faith” – We are told in the middle of our marathon to fix our attention on Jesus. That means we are to keep our focus on Him. With everything else going on Jesus needs to be the center of the attention of our hearts and minds. He ran the race start to finish with success. He is our example, our strength and our goal. A simple but profound command. “Fix Your Eyes On Jesus.”
How are we going focus on Jesus in this crisis? I suggest for the next 40 days each of us resolve to do the following:
- We are going to “let the Word of Christ dwell in us richly” – Attached is a reading schedule for the next 40 days. Jump in anywhere you join us on the journey.
2. We are going to attempt to pray every day using the Lord’s Prayer as an outline. Attached is a basic outline to use.
3. We are going to focus on Jesus through the teaching of Michael Youssef – Check him out below at Right Now Media – https://www.rightnowmedia.org/Content/Series/244919 – Watch and enjoy the series. Here’s a link to set up your own free account
4. We are going to seek to be the hands and feet of Jesus in our neighborhoods to our neighbors – Everyday please pray for your neighbors and regularly check up on them. You are the shepherd of your neighborhood. You are Jesus to them.
5. We are going to seek to be a witness for our Lord by sharing with others about Him via text messaging, Facebook, Instagram and emails. We will be sending you a link to do that with the people you know in the next day or so.
I am confident that Hebrews 12:1-2 and the strong advice it gives applies directly to us and our situation. I am equally confident that by focusing on Jesus for the next 40 days we can not only survive but also thrive in these difficult times. So my brothers and sisters, let us run the race set before us fixing our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith.
Pastor Dave Watson