Running the Race of Faith with Perseverance

“And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith” (Hebrews 12:1b-2a).

The last several daily verses have focused on the need for our effort and commitment to know and grow in our faith. Because of the emphasis on our efforts, it may seem like the journey of faith has more to do with our effort and less with God’s grace.

Let’s get a couple of things straight.

These verses that deal with growing in our faith and understanding assume we are already children of God. These verses deal with sanctification – growing and becoming more like Christ as a disciple. Sanctification is a partnership between the Holy Spirit and us. The Holy Spirit guides, nurtures, and inspires. But we must work at doing what the Holy Spirit calls us to do. We become more like Christ when we practice the things that the Bible and the Holy Spirit tells us to do.

The reason why this is important is because our effort is done in response to God’s salvation. Salvation is all God. It’s all grace. We don’t do anything but believe and accept everything God has already done for us in Jesus Christ. Whereas, sanctification is a partnership between the Holy Spirit and disciples, justification is 100% the work of God.

Once we have received and accepted God’s gift of eternal life in Jesus Christ, we commit ourselves to growing in Christ. That’s where sanctification comes in. This is an ongoing journey until the day we die or until Christ returns. This part – sanctification – will take our best effort, commitment, and work.

If we are disciples, we respond to God’s grace by seeking to become more like Christ. That’s what it means to be a disciple.

There are two things from our verse of the day that I’d like for us to focus on in regards to discipleship.

First is the call to run with perseverance the race marked out for us. The Holy Spirit invites us to become more like Christ. This journey is not a sprint. This is a lifelong marathon. Therefore, what’s required is the perspective of perseverance. We will have good days and bad days. But the main thing is that we keep going. We’re in this for the long haul. We’re in this for eternity.

Second is our motivation. How can we persevere when things are hard? When we don’t feel like it? The text tells us to “fix your eyes on Jesus.” Fix – don’t take your eyes off him. Keep your focus on Christ. Fix it on Christ. The reason for this is because the things of this world are so “blingy”, so shiny. It is too easy to lose focus. It’s too easy to take our eyes off of Christ.

The longer we take our eyes off Christ and focus on the world, the more we forget the reality of the kingdom. We know that this world is not our permanent home. We know that the things of this world are not the totality of reality. We know that we are children of eternity and that what matters most is eternal things. But the longer we focus on this world, the more we forget the reality of the world that is coming.

You know I play golf. When a golfer takes his/her eyes off the ball the result is always painful. Nothing good ever happens when a golfer takes their eye off the ball.

Same goes with our faith journey. Nothing good ever happens when we take our eyes off Christ.

  • We are in this for the long-haul. We will run the race that has been set before us with perseverance.
  • We will fix our eyes upon Christ. This world is a passing world. Christ’s kingdom is coming. We are children of eternity.

Seeking God with All Our Heart

“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13).

The verse of the day promises that we will find God and his will when we seek him with all our hearts.

If that’s the case, why is God so difficult to understand? Why is it so hard to find God and his will?

The key is the phrase “when you seek me with all your heart.” Discovering God and God’s will takes great effort. In fact, it will take our ultimate commitment and pursuit. This is not a half-hearted effort. Pursuing God and God’s truth will take our greatest commitment.

Let me explain it this way.

How does a couple grow in emotional intimacy? How does a couple grow closer together? Knowing another requires great commitment and effort. There are times when it is so much easier to let things be, to leave things alone. In fact, there are times when it would be easier to leave the relationship than to work through the difficulties and misunderstandings. But when we do, we will never experience intimacy. We will never be truly known and we will truly never know another.

When things get hard what keeps couples together is not a feeling of warmness for one another but commitment. It’s the determined commitment that one has to another that keeps us in the conversation. It takes great effort, work, determination, and commitment.

The same is true with God. What do you think seeking God with all your heart means? It means to make knowing God your ultimate priority and importance. It means to seek God and his righteousness above all other things.

What does it mean to seek God first? It has to start with seeking God first in God’s word. You have to be committed to reading, studying, and understanding God’s word. Secondly, it means being committed to worshiping in a church where the Word of God is faithfully preached. Not someone’s idea of what God is. But preaching God’s word as it is. Thirdly, it means being committed to studying the Bible with others.

I confess that I don’t consistently live that way. And it’s when I don’t that I lose my way, and the same is true for you as well.

This is your friendly reminder. God loves you. God wants what’s best for you. God already has a plan for your best to be a reality. So seek God. Seek God first and all these things will be added to you as well.

Join me in recommitting ourselves to seek God with all our heart.

God bless you!

Love God, Hate Evil

“Let those who love the LORD hate evil” (Psalm 97:10).

Christians do not knowingly love evil. Even when we are tempted by evil we know evil is bad. We do our best to resist temptation and evil. Those who love God hate what evil does in our lives and in our society.

But what happens when Christians are unable to discern what is good from what is evil? What happens when Christians unknowingly love evil and embrace evil? Not because they intended to, but simply because they didn’t know any better?

How can something like that happen?

The devil knows that Christians aren’t going to endorse sin. So, what does the devil do? He makes Christians ignorant of sin and evil.

  • How do Christians know what sin is? The Bible tells us.
  • How do Christians know how to live a victorious life? The Bible tells us.

So, what happens when Christians don’t know the Bible?

Yup. That’s where we get in trouble. The devil’s greatest weapon is Christian’s ignorance of God’s word.

Reading and studying God’s word is God-honoring work. It doesn’t just happen. You have to be intentional about reading God’s word. And it’s not easy. You have to work at understanding it. Oftentimes, to properly understand God’s word, it means reading commentaries and joining Bible studies where the Bible is clearly explained.

Friends, thank you for spending a few minutes with me, and most importantly, with God’s word every day. May God bless your reading and studying of God’s word.