3 Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up. — Hebrews 12:3 NLT
The people we read about in Chapter 11, successfully completed the course Jesus had laid out for them. Now, they are in heaven, cheering us on as we run our races. Just as we see worldly runners using lighter and lighter attire for their races, we must get down to our spiritual running weight. We do this by getting rid of all the cares and worries of this world. Jesus instructs us to “cast our cares upon Him”. When we do this, we are spiritually lighter and ready to run. We must stay focused on the prize, an eternity with Jesus. We do this by focusing on what Jesus did while He was here on earth and imitating Him. He is our hero and our champion. If we stay faithful and run with endurance to the finish line, we will be rewarded. We will be offended in this world, but most of us will never be offended to the point of dying for Jesus. Since we probably won’t have to die for Jesus, let’s live for Him.
13 “With your unfailing love you lead the people you have redeemed.
In your might, you guide them to your sacred home. — Exodus 15:13 NLT
God led the Israelis through the Red Sea and across the desert with the physical presence of a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. It was possible for them to travel twenty-four hours a day without getting lost. It must have been very reassuring to see the presence of the cloud and the fire and know that they were traveling in the exact direction God wanted to travel at all times. God did not lead them in a straight path from Egypt to Canaan. There were detours that avoided certain areas and dangers. There were delays and a lot of murmuring and complaining. We have a guide that is with us twenty-four hours a day as well. He lives inside us. But for us to know and understand His directions, we have to spend time talking with Him and meditating on His Word. There will be detours in our lives as well. Some of those detours are caused by God and are designed to teach us and to keep us safe from harm. But just as the Israelis spent way too long in the desert because of their disobedience, some of our detours are caused by our mistakes and bad decisions. Most of us will probably spend more time complaining than we do studying the Word. Nevertheless, God is faithful and forgiving and just as He eventually got the Israelis to the Promised Land, He will guide us safely to His eternal, sacred home. He has never failed and He never will. Trust Him with all your heart, mind, soul and body.
1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. 2 We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. — Hebrews 12:1, 2a NLT
38 After these things Joseph of Arimathea, being a disciple of Jesus, but a secret one for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus; and Pilate granted permission. So he came and took away His body. 39 Nicodemus, who had first come to Him by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds weight. 40 So they took the body of Jesus and bound it in linen wrappings with the spices, as is the burial custom of the Jews. 41 Now in the place where He was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid. 42 Therefore because of the Jewish day of preparation, since the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.—John 19:38-42 (NASB)
God is waiting to show you the Way.
After the death of Jesus, Joseph of Arimathea asked for permission to take the body and bury it. Joseph was a man wealthy enough to have his own tomb dug for him. He was also a member of the Sanhedrin, as was Nicodemus. Nicodemus was wealthy enough to purchase the hundred pounds of myrrh and aloes, both of which were very expensive items in that day. It would have taken someone influential and well-known to approach Pilate and ask for the body of Jesus. Though they were both influential and wealthy men, they were both secret disciples of Jesus because they feared both the Romans and the other Jewish leaders. They could have been imprisoned (as Joseph was in later years), beaten or sentenced to death. The question we need to ask ourselves today is this: “What are the fears that keep us from openly serving Jesus?” What keeps us from telling family, friends and neighbors about Jesus?
1 This is my second letter to you, dear friends, and in both of them I have tried to stimulate your wholesome thinking and refresh your memory. 2 I want you to remember what the holy prophets said long ago and what our Lord and Savior commanded through your apostles. 3 Most importantly, I want to remind you that in the last days scoffers will come, mocking the truth and following their own desires. 4 They will say, “What happened to the promise that Jesus is coming again? From before the times of our ancestors, everything has remained the same since the world was first created.”–2 Peter 3:1-5 (NLT)
God is waiting to show you the Way.
We are to be in the world, but “not of this world”. While it is true that we need to be cognizant of the things going on around us everyday, we should not allow those things to weight us down. With all the bad news we are subjected to everyday, how do we avoid negative thinking? We do what Peter suggested here, we refresh our memories of all of God’s promises and how He has never failed or gone back on His word. When satan tempted Jesus, Jesus rebuked him with the Word of God. We must be so grounded in the Word, that we do the same thing. We must remember that even Jesus said He did not know when the end would come.
32 “However, no one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son himself. Only the Father knows. 33 And since you don’t know when that time will come, be on guard! Stay alert!—Mark 13:32,33 (NLT)
Yes, there are those that mock and say “Oh, I have heard that for years and Jesus still hasn’t come back.” While that statement is true today, it may not be true tomorrow.
We do not need to waste our time trying to figure out when Jesus will come back. We have plenty to do while we wait. We must be on guard against the wiles of the devil and we must stay alert! Do not be deceived, Jesus will come back at the appointed time. We just need to stay ready.