So great a cloud of witnesses

Hebrews 12:1-2

New International Version (NIV)

12 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, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

We have a wall at our church that has photographs of every senior pastor who has led our church.  Each time I walk through that hallway, I am reminded of this scripture,“Therefore, we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses.” It gives me comfort to know that these men who went before me had difficulties and hardships, yet they endured.  In fact, the above scripture tells us that these men and other Christians before them marked out the path for us to run. 

Living the Christian life is not always easy.  Jesus said we must take up our cross if we are to follow Him.  But notice in the above scripture that we are to “throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.”  We can hardly run the Christian race if we are encumbered with distractions and sin.

How do we focus on Jesus so that we can finish the race? We must remember that the key to being a disciple is discipline.  John Wesley taught that the spiritual disciplines of reading the scripture, prayer, and class meetings (called works of piety) along with works of mercy (caring for those who cannot care for themselves) were all part of being a disciple.  If we want to grow in relationship with God and with man, we must follow the disciplines of daily Bible reading, prayer, and meeting with other Christians in praise and worship.

Will God love us more if we follow these practices?  No, but we will love God more. 

PRAYER:  Father, as we seek to grow in discipleship, help us to remember those who have gone before us.  Help us, Father, to develop the discipline to make time for you each day so that our joy will be made complete and we will focus upon you for the duration of our race.  Amen


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