Today we begin a study of the amazing birth of Jesus Christ. Over the next few weeks, we will consider the role various people such as John the Baptist, Zachariah and Elizabeth, the shepherds, Mary and Joseph and even the wise men played in the birth of our Savior. My prayer is that through these studies each of us will be drawn closer to Him.
We begin our study by taking a look at the birth of the one known as John the Baptist.
Hebrews 12:1 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, 2 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. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
The writer of the book of Hebrews tells us that there are two things we must do in order to run a victorious Christian race:
1) WE MUST REMOVE ALL HINDERANCES FROM OUR LIVES
Just like a runner will remove any piece of clothing that might slow them down in their race, so must the believer remove anything that will keep them from living completely for Christ. For the original recipients of this letter, this included the old Jewish law and customs. For many of us, it may be something entirely different. Regardless of what it is that might hinder us, it is our duty as a follower of Christ to cast off.
Hebrews 12:1 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…
Sometimes living for the Lord can be very difficult. Therefore, the writer of the book of Hebrews encourages us to run the race with endurance. How do we develop greater endurance as a believer?
Yesterday we saw in our study that God’s Heroes of Faith include both those who witnessed the miraculous and those who didn’t. Some experienced the rescue from lions and others were forced to endure torture. What is the significance of their testimonies?
The book of Hebrews was written to encourage Jewish Christians who were being persecuted. Therefore, Hebrews chapter 11 is an example of how to live by faith – regardless of our situation. As we look into the next chapter we read “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)The author’s thought is – if these individuals could live by faith, so can we.
Over the last three months, we have been making our way through Hebrews chapter 11. This chapter of Scripture is often referred to as ‘God’s Heroes of Faith.’ This week we bring our study to a close and consider how this list of mighty heroes fits into the book of Hebrews.
Hebrews 11:32 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: 33 who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, 34 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. 35 Women received their dead raised to life again.
Have you ever prayed a prayer that God didn’t answer; or at least He didn’t answer it the way you wanted Him to answer it? I’m sure we all have. Why is that? Why did Jesus tell us that if we ask anything in His name He will do it (see John 14:14) but then the Father not immediately answer all of our prayers?