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Message

How to Run the Race
Marcus Preciado - December 31, 2017

Message Recap

As we reflect upon the last year of our lives, we look forward to the hope and successes of a new year. So let us take a look at God’s Word to give us an understanding of how to “run the race with endurance” and be truly successful.

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, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1-2

Verse 1 begins with the word “therefore,” following a long list of iconic figures from the Old Testament. The author of Hebrews is unknown, but the audience is the church of Jewish believers who know their history well. They are very familiar with the names and stories mentioned in Chapter 11 and the amazing and powerful events they describe. Here are some of the verses contained there:

By faith, the walls of Jericho fell down after they were encircled for seven days. By faith the harlot Rahab did not perish with those who did not believe when she had received the spies with peace.

And what more shall I say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah, also of David and Samuel and the prophets: who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. Women received their dead raised to life again. Hebrews 11:30-35

We desire these same experience in our lives: for walls to break down because we worshiped God, for our enemies to be thwarted by God’s power, for dead things to be resurrected, and for breakthroughs in finances and relationships because God showed up. But there’s another side to the victories. What else is expressed about these great men and women of God?

Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection. Still, others had a trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented— of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth. Hebrews 11:36-38

Wait a minute! These amazing and celebrated people went through horrible times, too?

Though world wants us to judge things by their wow factor, this is not how God views us.

We are very results-driven, so this is how we measure success; when we take a look at our past year and see results that don’t look great on paper or aren’t very exciting, we can get caught up thinking that because we didn’t become rich or lose weight that we weren’t successful.

Today’s Scripture highlights the realities of pain, sorrow, and loss that come from living in this world. Though world wants us to judge things by their wow factor, this is not how God views us. These people that had indescribable hardships and pain are God’s heroes.

There are more examples in the New Testament as well. Out of the 11 disciples that remained after Judas’ betrayal, 10 died as martyrs. If anyone should experience the blessing and abundance of following Jesus, it should be them, right? But we would view their deaths as having arrived too soon and definitely something we would never want to experience. Even so, God views them as the rocks on which He built His kingdom.

Or consider John the Baptist, whose prophecies came after 350-400 years of prophetic silence. What would people have thought of his sudden messages from God? How would we judge the description of his adult life -- looking wild, never married, homeless, jailed, and decapitated? We might see him as a loser, yet Jesus says, “Assuredly, I say to you, among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist” (Matthew 11:11).

This is because God judges success by the measure of faithfulness and obedience in our lives. As you look toward 2018, you cannot know what’s going to happen with your relationships, finances, health, or job, and neither can you control these things. But you can absolutely control the things God cares about: your faithfulness and your obedience. Hebrews 12:1-2 gives us three ways that we can run our race well.

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, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1-2

1. Run your race with freedom. (let us lay aside every weight)

Pastor Marcus shared that when he used to have training camp for the college football season, the training was stressful and intense, as he wanted to get rid of every single ounce of fat and everything that wasn’t necessary for him to perform well.

In life, we must throw off the entanglements of sin, past relationships, burdens, failures and painful losses. Don’t carry all that heaviness on your back, for it only slows you down and none of it is from the Lord. Don’t just get through the year struggling with the entanglements of sin. Instead, lay them at His feet and experience freedom!

2. Run your race with focus. (looking unto Jesus)

In order to run with perseverance, we must fix our eyes on Jesus and focus on His Word. As powerful as lasers are, they are created just by intensely focused light, and we can have powerful lives if we intensely focus on Him.

Racehorses need to wear blinders while they run because if they are influenced by the peripheral distractions around them, they will not win. Likewise, if we are distracted by the world, news, social media, drama, anxiety, possessions, etc, then we cannot run an effective race for the Lord.

But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Matthew 6:33

3. Run with faith. (the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God)

We need faith in the author and finisher of our faith in order to run strong. In Hebrews chapter 11, the words “by faith” precede 18 different success statements, and we also know from verse 6 that without faith, it is impossible to please God.

Ask you turn the page to 2018, what will be said about you? “By faith, (insert your name here and what you will do to show faithfulness!)

There are lots of things you can accomplish, but if you do them on your own, you don’t need God and they won’t be supernaturally significant and spiritually powerful! Let’s desire for our faithfulness and obedience to define the 2018 success stories on which God will build His kingdom.

This Message

In this message, Pastor Marcus discusses success in the new year. He explains that God views our successes differently than we view our successes and that we can have a successful year by faith and focus on Jesus.

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