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
Regularly, we see reports of a heroic finish by a competitor in a long-distance running event. Dehydrated, some have collapsed and completed their race by crawling across the finish line. Sometimes a fellow competitor gives up his or her own chance of winning by helping a faltering runner—or a parent or friend comes down from the stands to assist. And in marathons, a parent is often seen pushing a cart carrying a disabled child who wanted to compete. In all these cases, these competitors are not heroes because they won but because they finished.
Finishing the race is the image of the Christian life as presented in the New Testament—with endurance and perseverance being the traits called for. We are not running anyone else’s race; we are running “the race that is set before us.” Since every race is different and unique, to finish is to win the race God has set before us individually.
Look at this day as one step in your race to glory, fueled by endurance and perseverance.
Beginning well is a momentary thing; finishing well is a lifelong thing. Ravi Zacharias
The Race of Faith (Hebrews 12:1-3)
I will sing of your strength, in the morning I will sing of your love; for you are my fortress. Psalm 59:16
When French villagers helped Jewish refugees hide from the Nazis during World War II, some sang songs in the dense forest surrounding their town—letting the refugees know it was safe to come out from hiding. These brave townspeople of Le Chambon-sur-Lignon had answered the call of local pastor André Trocmé and his wife, Magda, to offer wartime refuge to Jews on their windswept plateau known as “La Montagne Protestante.” Their musical signal became just one feature of the villagers’ bravery that helped save up to 3,000 Jews from almost certain death.
In another dangerous time, David sang when his enemy Saul sent nighttime assassins to his house. His use of music wasn’t a signal; rather, it was his song of gratitude to God his refuge. David rejoiced, “I will sing of your strength, in the morning I will sing of your love; for you are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble” (Psalm 59:16).
Such singing isn’t “whistling in the dark” during danger. Instead, David’s singing conveyed his trust in almighty God. “You, God, are my fortress, my God on whom I can rely” (v. 17).
David’s praise, and the villagers’ singing in Le Chambon, offer an invitation to bless God today with our singing, making melody to Him despite the worries of life. His loving presence will respond, strengthening our hearts.
Reflect & Pray
How do you feel when you’re singing your favorite praise song? Why do praise songs inspire us to feel stronger?
Dear God, strengthen my heart with praises that transform my fears and worries into worship of You.
2 Corinthians 1:20
God’s Word is our source of comfort and hope because the Lord always does what He says. Every prophecy in the Bible either has come to pass or will be fulfilled in the future. In fact, Scripture is so trustworthy that Jesus said, “It is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one stroke of a letter of the Law to fail” (Luke 16:17).
However, we must not assume that every promise recorded in the Bible is for us. The Lord’s biblical pledges fall into several categories, and it’s important to understand the difference so we don’t mistakenly claim one that is not meant for us. When we misapply Scripture, we can develop an inaccurate view of God, and that usually leads to disappointment and distrust of Him.
Some biblical promises are limited—they apply to a specific person, nation, time, or purpose. For instance, in Genesis 18:10, the Lord assured Abraham that Sarah would have a son, but we cannot presume that He will do the same for us. He can certainly use this passage to teach us about His providential care and provision, but we shouldn’t grab verses and expect them to be fulfilled in our life regardless of their context.
Other promises in the Word are conditional and apply only if we meet the qualifications, as in Proverbs 3:5-6 and 1 John 1:9. However, there are some promises that apply to all believers—these are assurances that are certain because of our union with Christ (Eph. 1:7-14). They have been given to us by our loving heavenly Father for our benefit, hope, and encouragement.
“Therefore I write these things being absent, lest being present I should use sharpness, according to the power which the Lord hath given me to edification, and not to destruction.” (2 Corinthians 13:10)
The Greek word oikodomos (translated as “edification”) pictures the building of a house. We still use the word edifice to describe a structure of some importance. Paul specifically said he had the “power” to edify and later called himself a “wise masterbuilder,” an architekton, who laid the foundation on which we would later build (1 Corinthians 3:10).
When Jesus used oikodomos to depict those who might build their house on a rock (His Word) or the sand (the ideas of men), He was painting a picture of how we should edify each other (Luke 6:48-49). The various gifts of leadership are to be used to “perfect” the saints in the work of ministry (Ephesians 4:11-12), using the living “stones” that will build the “spiritual house” of God (1 Peter 2:5).
And like any good builder, the Christian carpenter has tools of the trade to assist the process. There are “things which make for peace” that must be employed (Romans 14:19). Most certainly “charity” is a major tool (1 Corinthians 8:1), along with good communication that does not “corrupt” the building work (Ephesians 4:29).
Since “all things” are to be done so that the church is edified (1 Corinthians 14:26), it surely follows that “fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions” are not helpful (1 Timothy 1:4). Effective communication demands that those with whom we are speaking understand what is said, hence a mysterious “tongue” does not publicly edify like prophecy does (1 Corinthians 14:2-4).
An “edified” church walks “in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost” (Acts 9:31). HMM III
And he said unto them, Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God.
To God quality is vastly important and size matters little. When set in opposition to size, quality is everything and size nothing….
Man’s moral fall has clouded his vision, confused his thinking and rendered him subject to delusion. One evidence of this is his all but incurable proneness to confuse values and put size before quality in his appraisal of things. The Christian faith reverses this order, but even Christians tend to judge things by the old Adamic rule. How big? How much? and How many? are the questions oftenest asked by religious persons when trying to evaluate Christian things….
The Church is dedicated to things that matter. Quality matters. Let’s not be led astray by the size of things. BAM072-073, 075
Encourage all those pastors who are discouraged today because they don’t match up to the “success” of the big churches. Amen.
My soul melteth for heaviness: strengthen Thou me according unto Thy word.—Psalm 119:28.
That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love.—Colossians 2:2.
When I am with Thee as Thou art with me,
Life will be self-forgetting power;
Love, ever conscious, buoyant, clear, and free
Will flame in darkest hour.
Everything becomes possible to those who love. The commands of the Lord are no longer grievous, for the soul that loves is gifted by that love with fresh energies; it discovers in itself unsuspected possibilities, and is supplied with ever-flowing currents of new vigor. We shall be enabled to do so much if only we love. We live by loving, and the more we love the more we live; and therefore, when life feels dull and the spirits are low, turn and love God, love your neighbor, and you will be healed of your wound. Love Christ, the dear Master; look at His face listen to His words, and love will waken, and you will do all things through Christ who strengtheneth you.
Henry Scott Holland.
The noble love of Jesus impels a man to do great things, and stirs him up to be always longing for what is more perfect.
Thomas Á Kempis.
“Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven.” Matt. 10:32
Gracious promise! It is a great Joy to me to confess my Lord. Whatever my faults may be, I am not ashamed of Jesus, nor do I fear to declare the doctrines of His cross. O Lord, I have not hid thy righteousness within my heart.
Sweet is the prospect which the text sets before me! Friends forsake and enemies exult, but the Lord does not disown His servant. Doubtless my Lord will own me even here, and give me new tokens of His favorable regard. But there comes a day when I must stand before the great Father. What bliss to think that Jesus will confess me then! He will say, “This man truly trusted me, and was willing to be reproached for my name’s sake; and therefore I acknowledge him as mine.” The other day a great man was made a knight, and the Queen handed him a jeweled garter; but what of that? It will be an honor beyond all honors for the Lord Jesus to confess us in the presence of the divine Majesty in the Heavens. Never let me be ashamed to own my Lord. Never let me indulge a cowardly silence, or allow a fainthearted compromise. Shall I blush to own Him who promises to own me?