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Friday, February 2, 2018

Rise up o men of God

"The Greatest Contest

Message summary: Today let us stay faithful and keep in this greatest contest with perseverance!

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"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).

I hesitate to use a Super Bowl illustration to begin today's message. After all, many of our readers are international and even here in the states many have no interest at all in football. What's more many of us are rather disappointed at the direction of NFL football.

Football But for football fans here in America this is the BIG weekend, and I guess many around the world will also be watching. In fact it's called Super Bowl weekend. Some have proposed making the day after the Super Bowl a national holiday! In our case we have an interest in both teams, having lived in New England during the nineties and of course most in the area we now live in are big fans of the Philadelphia Eagles.

I enjoy various sports, in my younger years as a participant and now as a spectator, although I still enjoy riding a bike, playing yard games, and throwing a Frisbee over and over for our border collie Mollie to fetch. But I'm way past having any ability or interest in contact sports!

Based on the illustrations he uses, I believe that the Apostle Paul enjoyed sports. And the writer of Hebrews (whom many consider to be Paul) uses running a race in our daily text. If he were writing today I think he might use the Super Bowl as an illustration to "connect" with his readers.

All of us who follow Jesus Christ are also participating in a great contest. The writer of Hebrews alludes to this in our daily text reminding us that, "We are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses." These witnesses are the men and women of faith chronicled in chapter 11. I believe they are those who have gone on before us after a life of serving the Lord.

We are to take this event seriously and are instructed to "Throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles."

This contest is specifically likened to a race, "Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us." This race is most analogous to a marathon, which begins the moment we accept Christ and continues through our lives until we either meet the Lord at our death or in the rapture. It's a lifelong race!

A great character quality essential in any athletic contest, but certainly a long distance race, is expressed in the phrase "Run with perseverance." All great athletes are characterized by perseverance. They overcome pain, rejection and all kinds of setbacks to achieve their goal. 

Likewise strong, persevering followers of Christ just keep pressing on in spite of the hardship; looking unto Jesus our greatest example, "Who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God."

Today let us stay faithful and keep in this greatest contest with perseverance!

Be encouraged today.

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Thankful manDaily prayer: Jesus, 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 trip us up or lead us on a disastrous detour. The great cloud of witnesses spur us on; those from the Biblical period, throughout history and from our own generation. But above all I thank You, Jesus, that You endured the cross and all the suffering that accompanied it being spurred on by the joy You knew would be Yours on the other side of the cross. You cheer us on by Your own example and by the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit when we become weary in our struggle against sin as we participate in this greatest of contests. Keep us faithful, Lord. Amen.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Too Much to Gain to Lose"  Video   Mark Trammell Quartet

"The Super Bowl, the Bible, and a Winning Marriage" Our friend David Penley's article with some spiritual marriage lessons from the Super Bowl!

Christian convert in Uganda loses everything for his faith in Christ

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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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