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November 14

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“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us” (Hebrews 12:1 NLT).

From: November 14, 2019

CAN MY DADDY SEE ME NOW?

Who is this “huge crowd of witnesses?” They are those who have already run life’s race “by faith” as Hebrews 11 has listed. They have already crossed life’s finished line and have now joined other believers, who the author of Hebrews here visualizes either metaphorically or literally, as now being spectators at an olympic-like race of faith. If he means it metaphorically, then it serves as a reminder and an encouragement that we are running a race that many faithful have run before us. They endured. They finished well. So can we.
 
Yet if he means it literally, it means that and more. How much departed believers are permitted to see of earthly life, if at all, is not clear in the Scriptures. But if taken literally, then they bear witness of our race of faith in some form or fashion.
 
When I was eight years old, my father died. I had two questions for our pastor when he came to talk with us. The first was, “Where is my daddy now?” His answer was clear and confident, “The Bible says ‘absent from the body, present with the Lord’ (2 Cor. 5:8). Your daddy trusted Christ. He is with Jesus now.”
 
Encouraged by his answer, I quickly asked my second question, “Can my daddy see me now?” He paused for a moment and with just as much confidence as before, he replied, “Well son, the Bible says that we’re surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses who are watching us run life’s race. So I take that to mean that your daddy is able to see how you’re doing. How much he sees, I don’t know. But I think he sees you.”
 
Those two answers helped me as a little boy grieving the loss of my father. It still helps. Yet now, it’s the next verse that helps most. For the Bible says that we are to run life’s race by “looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith” (Heb. 12:2). Jesus is the One that I know is watching over me and not only that, He is empowering me to persevere in this race called life.
 
PRAYER: Dear Father, thank You that through Your Son the sting of death is removed. We are able to run life’s race with a confident faith and hope in You. We may grieve the loss of loved ones, but we do not grieve as those who have no hope. You are our hope. Give us strength to run for You this day. In Jesus’ name, amen.

“And the day will come when I will cause the ancient glory of Israel to revive, and then, Ezekiel, your words will be respected. Then they will know that I am the Lord” (Ezekiel 29:21 NLT).

From: November 14, 2018

PREACHING FOR GOD’S APPROVAL ALONE
Ezekiel, like many of God’s prophets, was not respected by his contemporaries. He was tasked with making known God’s future plans for men and nations that would soon come to pass. Yet, no generation wants its comfort disturbed. They would rather risk the warnings of an approaching hurricane than leave their beach vacation early. Today, Ezekiel is respected. His prophecies have been borne out. But people have not changed. God’s Word is still warning us to get ready, while much of humanity continues in its deafness to His voice. This does not excuse us from being like Ezekiel and warning them anyway. We do this for God’s approval, not theirs.

“Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it” (Hebrews 12:11 NKJV).

From: November 14, 2017

Don’t waste the pain. God cares more for your character than you comfort. His “chastening” may be painful, but it yields Christlikeness in you when you submit to its training. One day, you will look back on your life and see how God has disciplined you as His own child for your sanctification. He is conforming you to the image of Christ. Stop rebelling and start submitting. Pray as Jesus prayed, “Not my will, but Yours be done.”

“And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect.” (Hebrews 11:39-40 ESV)

From: November 14, 2016

The saints of the Old Testament longed to see the promised fulfillment of their faith in the coming of the Messiah, but they passed from this world before that day came. That which they longed for, we have received, that is–– the good news–– that Christ Jesus came, died for our sins, and was raised from the dead for our justification (Rom. 4:25). Yet, God has not failed to keep His promise to them. It will be fulfilled on that day when Christ returns and the dead in Christ will rise together. The former will not precede the latter, nor the latter the former. Abraham will rise together with Paul, Moses with Peter, and Isaiah with John. For the Old Testament saints will not be “made perfect” (“complete”) apart from the saints of the New. And now, we long for that day, when we will all be raised together, the perfect and complete Church, with Christ as its Head.

“As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend” (Proverbs 27:17 NKJV)

From: November 14, 2015

This is one of the purposes of fellowship: mutual “sharpening.” The life of faith is to be lived out in community. First, to be in communion with God and then, with other believers. The life lived in a community of faith offers accountability, so that spiritual growth is encouraged. Sure, when iron strikes iron the sparks may fly, but those committed to the family of God do not pull away, rather they cling to one another, knowing that this is the will of God. This verse is the motto for our church’s men’s ministry, which we call the “Ironmen Ministry.” But the verse is appropriate for all that would desire to live out their faith in community as God commands.

“And the day will come when I will cause the ancient glory of Israel to revive, and then, Ezekiel, your words will be respected. Then they will know that I am the Lord” (Ezekiel 29:21 NLT)

From: November 14, 2014

Ezekiel, like many of God’s prophets, was not respected by his contemporaries. He was tasked with making known God’s future plans for men and nations that would soon come to pass. Yet, no generation wants its comfort disturbed. They would rather risk the warnings of an approaching hurricane than leave their beach vacation early. Today, Ezekiel is respected. His prophecies have been borne out. But people have not changed. God’s Word is still warning us to get ready, while much of humanity continues in its deafness to His voice. This does not excuse us from being like Ezekiel and warning them anyway. We do this for God’s approval, not theirs.

“Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted” (Hebrews 12:3)

From: November 14, 2013

When we get tired or discouraged we can look to Christ’s example. Many a pastor, missionary or Christian worker has quit because of the complaint of one or two people. We tend to over-estimate the number who complain and under-estimate those who encourage us. We say things like, “Everybody is against me” when there are only a few. Looking to Jesus, who endured even unto the cross is more than a model to emulate. He is the risen Lord and therefore able to live in and through us, so that we have His indomitable life and resurrection power available to us. Consider this Jesus who never gave up the next time you feel like quitting.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us” (Hebrews 12:1)

From: November 14, 2012

A reminder that we are running a race that many faithful have run before us. They endured. They finished well. How will we run life’s race? Will we “strip off” worldly weights that slow us down? Will we avoid the sin that trips us up? There is a crowd of faithful finishers watching and waiting for us to cross life’s finish line! How are you running life’s race of faith?

“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2)

From: November 14, 2011

Running the race of faith, it is Jesus who sets the pace. We must keep our eyes on Him, sprinting and leaping when He does and resting too. It is Jesus who wrote the gospel in His own blood. And it is Jesus who finishes the work in us by His resurrected life. Keep your eyes on Jesus.