The Bible often uses the word picture of a distance race to describe the Christian life. I have been impressed this past year with our need for endurance, thus the marathon metaphor has really rung true for me. As I thought about my need for endurance, the passage that came to mind first is in Hebrews.
Therefore, since we also have such a great cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let’s rid ourselves of every obstacle and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let’s run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking only at Jesus, the originator and perfecter of the faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God (Heb 12:1-2 NAS20).
The “witnesses” of verse one refers back to the heroes of the faith mentioned in chapter eleven. These heroes showed us that by faith, we can endure, we can finish the race. And so it is important that we do what they did, rid ourselves of every obstacle and sin which entangles us and look to Jesus for the endurance to run the race that has been set before us. We also see in the second part of the passage that Jesus was able to endure the cross because of “the joy set before Him.” Let us embrace the “joy” that has been set before us, an eternal future with our wonderful Savior!
The other “run the race” passage I thought about is in First Corinthians.
Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win (1Cor 9:24, NAS20).
The Holy Spirit inspired Paul to write this during a time a great turmoil and uncertainty in the church and for Paul personally. In effect, he is reminding us that the circumstances are part of the “race”. This is where we are so we need to stop waiting for changes our circumstances that may never come. We must run the section of the course we are on at the time and not wait around for the course to change.
A great deal of uncertainty remains as we move into February of 2021. But our Lord Jesus remains constant. He never changes, He is always faithful, and nothing is too difficult for Him. So what we need in these uncertain times is endurance. To press on to keep running this race on the section of “track” on which we currently find ourselves.
On another note, thanks to all who attended the Annual Congregational Meeting on January 24th in the Amphitheater. We had a quorum of members present and so were able to vote on the three agenda items. First, we elected Dominic Heiden to be the Church Moderator. He will preside over our business meetings. Scott Reynolds was elected as the Vice Moderator. Second, the membership gave a vote of affirmation to the two Elder candidates, Glen Kippel and Jorge Rodriguez. And third, we approved the proposed 2021 Budget (copies are available in the church; call ahead to arrange a time to pick one up).
May God bless us all to run with endurance the race that has been set before us!
In Christ our living hope,
FROM THE PASTOR’S DESK
I begin this year with a few questions.
Covid was the dominant feature of 2020. What will be the dominant feature of 2021?
While we all hold out hope that with the new vaccines Covid will soon become a thing of the past, what if it doesn’t?
Do we face 2021 with boundless optimism, or an uneasy dread?
Will this year see the return of the Lord? And if He does come back this year, will you and I be among those who love His appearing? Or, will we be among those followers of Jesus waiting to “get around to it” but just ran out of time?
Will we see a great revival? And if we do will we be ready for it?
Will we see the rise of wholesale government sponsored persecution against the followers of Jesus? And if so, will we be among those faithful ones who stand firm against the schemes of the devil?
No doubt you too have a lot of your own questions as we embark on this new year, especially considering the year we just completed. As far as the specific details for each answer, we’ll just have to live this next year and find out. But overall, we have from Jesus the answers we need to excel in this new year. He said in John 15,
Remain in Me, and I in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit of itself but must remain in the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; the one who remains in Me, and I in him bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. (Jn. 15:4-5 NAS20)
Success for the follower of Jesus is that we bear fruit for His kingdom. I think sometimes we redefine success to mean our own personal prosperity or advancement. We triumph in this life only when we seek to promote the program of our Lord Jesus. When Jesus promises that God will provide us with our material needs, it is only after we seek first God’s kingdom and His righteousness (Mt. 6:33). Jesus also said My sheep hear My voice, I know them and they follow Me. In addition, He said, the ones who persevere to the end will be saved. So we have the task in 2021 to “follow” and “persevere”. We can only do that when we “remain” in Him.
I hope Jesus comes back to gather His church to Himself in 2021 (1Thess. 4:13-17; 1Cor. 15:51-52). If not and we have to live out the year here on planet earth, I would love to see a mighty revival take place in our land. That boys and girls, women and men by the thousands put their faith in Jesus and are born again. Revival comes when God’s children pray earnestly, fervently, regularly. One of the best ways to “remain” in Jesus is to pray and pray often. God answers prayer when we pray; we do not receive answers to prayer when we do not ask.
So, let us be among those in 2021 who dedicate themselves, their time, their property to furthering the kingdom of our Lord Jesus. Let us be instant in season and out of season to preach the word. And let us earnestly, fervently, regularly go to our God to ask, seek, and knock! May God bless you richly in 2021!
In Christ our living hope,