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Thursday, February 18, 2010
Photo by Howard J. Blichfeldt (used by permission)
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"Laying Aside Every Weight"
"Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us" (Hebrews 12:1).
When we travel I am thankful that Brooksyne and Ester allow me to pursue one of my favorite "tourist" activities. I enjoy taking factory tours! Sometimes they go with me, other times we may find something else for them to do. Several years ago we took a vacation to the Pacific Northwest, rented a car and traveled all through the region in Washington and Oregon, including a closeup trip to Mount St. Helens (although we didn't climb up to the rim).
During our tour we were unable to get up close to the planes as they were being assembled but I read this interesting tidbit: huge weights are hung from the wings in place of the engines to keep the planes balanced during construction. The solid-steel weights are bright yellow and marked "14,000 lbs." Stenciled on the side of each weight is this very important warning: "Remove before flight." I certainly hope assemblers don't miss it!
The writer of Hebrews also instructs us to remove nonessentials in our daily verse and it has long been among my favorite Scriptures. As I recall, the first sermon I ever preached was at a state lung hospital in Mount Vernon, Missouri and I preached from this text. I had been involved in both Track and Cross Country when I was in high school and, as a runner, Scriptures that use running as an illustration of our spiritual journey have long blessed me.
"Let us lay aside every weight." Foundational to good running is shedding all the weight possible. I recall as a serious runner the importance of this especially in footwear. Although the athletic footwear industry was not nearly as developed then as it is now much emphasis was placed on the shoe for running, the lighter the better.
What then are the “weights” that we should remove so that we might win this spiritual race? In general terms, anyone or anything that hinders our spiritual progress. Such encumbrances might even be “good things”. Continuing with the athletic metaphor, a winning athlete does not choose between the good and the bad; he chooses between the better and the best. So strip off and cast away even harmless things if they hinder your progress, divert your attention, sap your energy or dampen your enthusiasm of the upward call we have in Christ Jesus.
"And the sin which so easily ensnares us." The word for "easily ensnares" is the Greek "euperistatos" which has the sense of "thwarting in every direction." There are two different views as to what the writer of Hebrews is referring to here. One view sees it as sins common to all believers such as doubt or unbelief, although he doesn't specify the sin. The other view is that this is a specific sin each individual believer deals with which easily ensnares one's spiritual growth. For some it might be lust, others anger, etc. There are issues that I deal with that you don't and vice versa. We are told to "lay aside" this sin. Common forms of ensnarement that I have noted are bitterness, resentment, lack of self-control, etc.
Today, let us deal forcefully with these issues in our lives and "Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us."
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Father, we often find ourselves running the Christian Marathon with burdensome weights that slow us down, weary us and obscure our spiritual vision of those beyond the clouds who are cheering us on. They bore the same kinds of temptations and trials, yet remained victorious as they ran with endurance the race marked out for all of us. Help us to throw off troublesome weights and soar on wings like eagles. In doing so we will run and not grow weary; we will walk and not faint, no matter the burdens we bear, since we cast them on You, our Burden-bearer. We do so in the name of Jesus. Amen.
For several years now I have used an outstanding online resource in my personal study and preparation of these messages. Here's the notes on Hebrews 12:1.
A photo of a plane being assembled at the Everett Boeing factory. I believe you can see the yellow weights mentioned in today's message off each engine pod. I actually think someone was just having fun with the stenciled warning on each weight, but given the legal climate who knows!
An arial photo of the Boeing factory.
Here's the factory on a Google map.
Information about Boeing factory tours.
One of my favorite TV shows is "Modern Marvels" on the History Channel. I like to know how stuff works.
Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
Click on the link to open and play.
(In some cases you may also need to click again to start the song.)
"I Will Serve The Lord" Video
"Running The Race" Video
"Oh, I Want To Know You More" Video
"You Are So Faithful" Video
Today's photo is by our friend Howard J. Blichfeldt and is used with his permission. His website is here. Howard has also given me permission to place a Scripture verse, hymn portion or part of a quote on his work (as I did today).
Yesterday I had several notes from readers concerning the future. Certainly there are aspects of the future hard for us to understand. One critical element will be how time is reckoned.
My understanding is that when we die our soul and spirit go to be with the Lord immediately. Paul wrote in Philippians 1:21-24: "For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body." He spoke of departing and being with Christ.
However our bodies remain till the event in 1 Thessalonians 4. Certainly after one's death we who remain still see the body; it's not immediately resurrected. I hope this is helpful but certainly encourage you to do additional study. Here's a study note on Philippians 1:23.
"Death Means" (Our Daily Bread) - For the believer, death means entering into the glorious presence of Christ. The 18th-century Bible commentator Matthew Henry expressed this confidence in words he hoped would be read after his death by anyone who might unduly mourn his passing. He wrote:
“Would you like to know where I am? I am at home in my Father’s house, in the mansions prepared for me here. I am where I want to be—no longer on the stormy sea, but in God’s safe, quiet harbor. My sowing time is done and I am reaping; my joy is as the joy of harvest. Would you like to know what I am doing? I see God, not as through a glass darkly, but face to face. I am engaged in the sweet enjoyment of my precious Redeemer. I am singing hallelujahs to Him who sits upon the throne, and I am constantly praising Him. Would you know what blessed company I keep? It is better than the best on earth. Here are the holy angels and the spirits of just men made perfect. I am with many of my old acquaintances with whom I worked and prayed, and who have come here before me. Lastly, would you know how long this will continue? It is a dawn that never fades! After millions and millions of ages, it will be as fresh as it is now. Therefore, weep not for me!”
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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.
Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."
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