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The online Bible teaching ministry of Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
A daily, Bible-based perspective of hope, encouragement and exhortation.
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Friday, January 13, 2017

Lancaster sunrise 1/12/17
Lancaster County Sunrise
Yesterday was unseasonably warm with temps in the low 60s'.
This photo is taken from a company loading dock.

"May I Run The Race Before Me"

Last Sunday we concluded our church service with "May The Mind Of Christ My Savior". It's a hymn that is essentially a 6 part prayer petition. As I listened to the six stanzas I considered that this prayer set to music would be a good foundation for a week of daily encouragement messages. We've used a verse from the hymn each day, although today we share the last two stanzas since there are six altogether. A video link to this song is posted below, which was written by Kate B. Wilkinson, who sojourned on this earth from 1859-1928. The accompaniment is St. Leonard's tune. Today we will consider a race we are all running and a challenge from an apostolic coach.

ListenListen to this message on your audio player.

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God" (Hebrews 12:1,2).

May I run the race before me,
Strong and brave to face the foe,
Looking only unto Jesus
As I onward go.

Coach Kreiter 1/12/17
I normally associate coaching with sports and athletics. Of course now we have all kinds of coaches such as health coaches, financial coaches, life coaches and many others.

In my younger years I ran in both cross country and track (long distance). To this day I recall how I esteemed my coaches.  The photo to the right shows Joel Kreiter, who works in a company we visited yesterday, who has coached youth for many years in a variety of sports.

Some 30 years ago I was the high school tennis coach for both the boys and girls tennis teams at Saint Marys Area High School when we lived in northern Pennsylvania. Although most are probably unaware of this coaching during a tennis match is permissible only if there is a split after two sets. Decorum dictated no coaching from the sidelines as the match proceeded. Of course during practice you had the opportunity to teach and help the players improve their game. I hope some of those students who would now be in their late 30's and 40's still remember me!

Stephen running track relay in high schoolThe photo to the left shows me some 45 years ago when I was a just a bit younger, trimmer and better fit. Being a member of the 2 mile relay team I am in position to receive the baton.

There are all kinds of coaches, but today let us consider a lesson from an apostolic coach. Based on the illustrations the Apostle Paul uses, I believe he enjoyed sports or at least recognized their value in "connecting" with his readers.

All of us who follow Jesus Christ are participating in a great race. The writer of Hebrews alludes to this in our daily Scripture portion (many believe the writer of Hebrews is Paul though it is not specified). The writer is certainly an apostle and speaks to us like a coach so let's examine four lessons from this apostolic coach:

1) Our apostolic coach informs us that "We are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses." These witnesses are the men and women of faith chronicled in Hebrews 11 and those all throughout the church age who have gone on before us after a life of faithful service to Christ. They include Biblical people of faith and well-known heroes in the church with names many of us recognize such as D.L. Moody, A.W. Tozer, Billy Sunday, D. James Kennedy, and many other great gospel preachers and hymn writers such as Fanny Crosby.

But I also receive spiritual encouragement as I consider among the witnesses those who personally ministered to me such as my mom and dad, along with many dedicated people that most of you have never heard of like Pastor John Howard (my first pastor after receiving Christ), Elbert Sherrell, Tracy Sutherland, Bill Shibilo, Earl Martin and many, many others. (It might be well for you to develop a similar list of those who spurred you on in your spiritual race.)

Race to run 2) Our apostolic coach calls us to "Throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles." This speaks of singe-minded dedication, surrendering all to the Great Cause. Sin still entangles! Is there any question about that?

Bluntly speaking, it seems with such an emphasis on praise and worship, we may fall short on songs that specifically call us to a consecrated life. We need balanced music and sermons that preach of God's goodness, grace and blessing, but also His holiness and His call to us to live holy lives as well.

We also need to hear warnings and at times rebukes which was certainly a vital part of New Testament teaching.

Hebrews 12:1 truck decal
3) Our apostolic coach specifically calls us to join him in a race, "Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us." We saw the decal to the left on a truck window in the church parking lot at CityView Church in San Diego last fall. This race is most analogous to a marathon, which begins the moment we accept Christ and continues throughout the remainder of our lives until we either meet the Lord in death or in the rapture. It certainly requires perseverance since it's a lifelong race. All great runners are characterized by perseverance. They overcome pain, rejection, adverse weather, injuries, and all kinds of setbacks to achieve their goal. This race is marked out with the Scriptures as our guide. Good coaches (pastors and teachers) help us understand this marked out guide. Strong, persevering followers of Christ just keep pressing on in spite of the hardship.

4) Our apostolic coach calls us to keep looking unto Jesus as our greatest example, "Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith." In athletics it's important to keep a focus on the goal. As followers of Christ our goal is finishing well and seeing our Lord face to face. Throughout the race we must passionately "fix our eyes on Jesus" so that we are not lured to the passions of this world.

Today let us stay faithful and keep running this great race with perseverance!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, the race You've marked out for us doesn't require nearly as much physical stamina as it does spiritual endurance. Those who are physically weak due to disease, illness, and aging are just as qualified to run as those who have young athletic bodies. It's a spiritual race where You call us to perseverance as we discard anything that would break our stride or cause us to drop out.  You cheer us on by Christ's example and by the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit that sustains us in our struggle against sin. Keep us faithful to the end, for the end is only the beginning. We seek to run the race before us, strong and brave to face the foe, looking only unto Jesus as we onward go. Amen.

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There is one more verse to the hymn
"May The Mind Of Christ My Savior". It would certainly be worthy of musing, especially the intriguing line, "And may they forget the channel, seeing only Him."

May His beauty rest upon me,
As I seek the lost to win,
And may they forget the channel,
Seeing only Him.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"May The Mind of Christ My Savior"  Video  Jake Amerding  (Vocal and acoustic)

"May The Mind of Christ My Savior"  Video  Congregational singing

"Worth It All"  Video  Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir

"My Greatest Devotion"  Video  Andy Bromley (We heard this on our local radio station and enjoyed not only the singer but his message)

In 2012 we shared a five part series of messages on "Lessons From Life's Marathon" beginning with this message. (Use "next message" link to read each message.)

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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 make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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