"Keep Going"

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“Endurance Part #2”
Last week we took some time to address the fact that this Christian race that we call life is not always easy. There are many days where we as believers can grow weary and tired. There are many believers who get sidetracked and weighed down by the sinful darts thrown their way by the enemy Satan. So, how do we continue to endure for the days ahead of us? Well there are some things we must throw off or get rid of however the quintessential must, the key essential is training ourselves to focus on Christ. How did that go this week? When you got discouraged or felt attacked or tempted by the enemy were you able to focus on the Lord? I hope so. Today the message is much the same as last week, we need to keep going and keep moving and act on the truths that we have heard about faithful endurance. Today we are going to cross a bridge from what we looked at last time to the believers focus on our corporate responsibility to support one another as we endure in this Christian race. In this race there are several must’s the we as believers need to see. Let me give you 3 today.

1. Believers Must support the weak and wounded runners.

Hebrews 12:12–13 ESV
12 Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, 13 and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed.
So, the training that we talked about last week from verse 11 helps us to see this athletic imagery that the author is addressing here. Clearly we see that there must be some things that we as believers get rid of that can hinder us from running in this Christian race. Our endurance in this race can and will be threatened. How does this happen? Sometimes runners grow weary and tired because of trials and difficult circumstances. There are other times this happens because of sin. We get off course and grow weary in the face of opposition.
Let me encourage you today with these important truths:
-Get your second wind by diving into God’s Word.
-Get your renewed energy and strength by stopping by the aid station of prayer and praying with other believers.
-Seek Godly Biblical counsel so that you can endure this race.
So, come full circle all the way to these verses that we have just read, we see the extreme importance that the whole congregation of believers play in supporting and strengthening the weak members around us. The author here is really just drawing from the prophet Isaiah when he shares verse 12 with us. Listen to these words from Isaiah 35:3.
Isaiah 35:3 ESV
3 Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees.
The symbolism of the weak hands and feeble knees here was interpreted in the prophecy itself. Verse 4 tells us, “Say to those who have an anxious heart, be strong; fear not! Behold your God will come with vengeance, with the recompense of god. He will come and save you.”
Think about this with me. When the Lord returns for his bride, blessings will come. In fact, God will heal those who are lame, lose who cannot see, those who are weak He will make strong. The ESV version here used two verbs, (lift) and (strengthen) to represent a single Greek verb, which has two objects.
drooping hands.
weak knees.
This Greek verb helps to explain here not only strengthening but also straightening. Clearly we need to come along side our weak brothers and sisters and strengthen them and encourage them, however we also see the importance of staying on course. This points us to another wonderful Old Testament text in Proverbs which the author of Hebrews points us to in verse 13.
Proverbs 4:26–27 ESV
26 Ponder the path of your feet; then all your ways will be sure. 27 Do not swerve to the right or to the left; turn your foot away from evil.
The author of Hebrews is taking from Proverbs the father’s advice to an individual son and changing this exhortation to an entire congregation. Make straight paths for your feet. These paths should bring healing rather than dislocation. These paths should be free of stumbling stones or dangerous cliffs, and finally the path should be straight, straight to the finish line, so that the runners don’t get off course.
We as believers help support the weak and wounded by encouragement. We can do this in many ways. Calling others, checking up on them at home or at church. Praying for them and with them. Reading God’s Word to them. The bottom line is this, we all need encouragement. We also help other believers by teaching them and training them (give them God’s Word) so that they know how to handle themselves or to be discerning.
2 Timothy 3:16–17 ESV
16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
We are also at times to speak truth in love. This may be difficult at times, however it is needed so that our brothers and sisters can grow and not stay in sin or a destructive habit.
Ephesians 4:15 ESV
15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ,
And finally, just like Proverbs tells us there are times where we as believers need to warn others of the dangerous and destructive paths ahead. Watch out for the cliff ahead. Watch out for the pitfalls of sin ahead, stay on course, stay on the straight and narrow path that leads to life.
Matthew 7:13–14 ESV
13 “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.

2. Believers Must run towards Peace and Holiness.

Hebrews 12:14 ESV
14 Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.
If we as believers are to keep going and to endure through this Christian race we must keep on the straight path that is set before us. This path is marked by two virtues that we must pursue.
1. The first virtue is that we strive for peace. This virtue is found throughout God’s Word. We see this in Psalm 34.
Psalm 34:14 ESV
14 Turn away from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.
If we are going to help our weak and wounded brothers and sisters than we must strive to live peacefully with each other. We should desire to get along and have unity with other believers. Let me ask you today is this true of your life? Are you looking for strife and fighting, or are you looking for peace and to get along with other believers?
But, here the command is also to strive for peace with everyone. This would mean that we must keep peace with other believers and with outside opponents and this can only come because we as believers look to the peacemaking sacrifice of Christ, and the heart-changing power of his Spirit.
Romans 5:1 ESV
1 Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Galatians also tells us that the Fruit of the Spirit is Peace.
2. So, along with Peace, we must also pursue Holiness. Are you pursuing a life of holiness today? The reason why this is so important is because when you don’t you don’t see God.
The Gospel of Matthew tells us plainly of this and even pronounces a blessing of those who are pure in heart.
Matthew 5:8 ESV
8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
The Old Testament law revealed that lack of holiness prevented worshipers from drawing near to God, but the good news today is that through the blood of Jesus, we as believers have been sanctified in our standing with God, so that we can draw near to Him. We see this in Hebrews 10:10.
The author of Hebrews is using the term holiness to describe those who are pursuing the Lord. Is this true of your life today? Do you have a desire and passion to follow the Lord and to obey His commands? Now this does not mean those who run are perfect or sinless, but it does mean they are fighting sin and desire to live holy and obediently for Christ. As believers we do this so unbelievers are drawn to God, and so they see the qualities and lives that God desires. Let me encourage you today to run after a life of peace and holiness.

3. Believers Must run away from unhealthy situations.

Hebrews 12:15–17 ESV
15 See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled; 16 that no one is sexually immoral or unholy like Esau, who sold his birthright for a single meal. 17 For you know that afterward, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no chance to repent, though he sought it with tears.
Verse 15 begins with this short little phrase, “See to it.” This phrase can reflect and refer to oversight of others. Like that of the overseers in the church, which would show the responsibility and for the spiritual care and protection of the elders for their flock. But, here the entire congregation is called to take responsibility and watch out for any influence that can threaten the unity and purity of the Christian community. In fact, we see 3 different things that we need to run from if we are to endure this Christian race. The author of Hebrews draws on an Old Testament passage from Deuteronomy as he writes this short passage to the Hebrews.
Deuteronomy 29:18–21 ESV
18 Beware lest there be among you a man or woman or clan or tribe whose heart is turning away today from the Lord our God to go and serve the gods of those nations. Beware lest there be among you a root bearing poisonous and bitter fruit, 19 one who, when he hears the words of this sworn covenant, blesses himself in his heart, saying, ‘I shall be safe, though I walk in the stubbornness of my heart.’ This will lead to the sweeping away of moist and dry alike. 20 The Lord will not be willing to forgive him, but rather the anger of the Lord and his jealousy will smoke against that man, and the curses written in this book will settle upon him, and the Lord will blot out his name from under heaven. 21 And the Lord will single him out from all the tribes of Israel for calamity, in accordance with all the curses of the covenant written in this Book of the Law.
Beware lest there be among you a root bearing poisonous and bitter fruit. These people are not just weak and wounded folks who need healing, they are harmful people who are endangering the body’s survival. People like this can hurt others and bring others down with them. So watch out! Beware! Let’s look at the first thing we must be aware of.
1. Watch out lest anyone falls short.
Verse 15 tells us the one who fails to obtain the grace of God. These people are like those in Israel’s wilderness generation who fell short of God’s rest through their unbelief. These people never trusted God fully and eventually died off before the came to their promised land. All of humanity has sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. So, clearly there are some who profess to be Christians and we know that visibly they are not, but there are times where we can’t see this, so we need to watch out and see to it that we ourselves and others don’t turn away from the Lord.
2. Number two, Watch out for bitterness.
The author of Hebrews is writing this to warn us to watch out for a smug and rebellious attitude that can infect and defile others. In fact, the Old Testament laws of ceremonial purity defined conditions and contacts that would defile people and make them unfit for worship. As believers we must be on guard against the poison of bitterness. Bitterness is a sign of serious spiritual trouble. It is never helpful to those around us and is not the mark of righteousness. Don’t allow bitterness to fester so that it takes deep root in your heart. Confess it to the Lord and others and know that Christ can forgive you of this.
3. Watch out for godlessness and sexual immorality.
Esau’s godlessness is shown in the fact that he gave up or disregarded his birthright which was his god-given position. He gave up this position as Isaac’s heir and thus being heir of God’s covenant promises.
But, there is a second part to Esau’s sin that we need to see. For this sin we have to go back to Genesis 25:29-34. And we have to go back to Genesis 27:1-39 to learn about Esau. Cleary Esau desired God’s blessing in his life, but he did not truly desire God, or want to live for God. Esau was sexually immoral taking two Hittite wives, who grieved his parents. (Genesis 26:34-35) His mindset was unholy and he did not fear God. All of this shows us, is that he did regret what he had done, but he did not turn from his sin or repent from his sin. Esau is an example for us today of someone who willfully chose to sin even though he knew it was wrong. Eventually his heart was hardened to sin and there was no longer a chance to turn from it. You may be here today and say well is there still a chance for me to be saved or for my family members? What does this mean?
So, if you are here today and you are living in sin and you know it’s wrong and feel convicted of it, confess that to God, then turn from it and repent of it and run to the Lord knowing that He will forgive you if you are genuine and sincere. No more willfully choosing to walk in sin. Repentance is a change of mind, change of heart, a change of will, so that a particular sin is not a continual habit or practice of your life.
Closing: Let me put all of this together for us today. Christian our responsibility now and everyday is to come along side of, and help protect those believers who are wounded and weak. You may be there today or know someone who is limping along the Christian path. We do this in several ways, but mainly to run after peace and holiness together. As God the Father disciplines us, and we run this race, we see his love and care for us which helps us to come along and encourage others who have drooping hands and weak knees. I want you to know today that we do this because they are our teammates and even though they are injured or feel like giving up, they are still in the race. So, together we pursue peace and purity so that we can help others to watch out for complacency in sin and a short-sighted fixation on the pleasure of sin. Let’s get going, let’s keep going and run with endurance until we cross the finish line.
(Pray and Lead into Communion)
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