“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.”
The writer of Hebrews used rather colorful language to describe those who have gone before us, who have trusted God, who have committed themselves to faithful service, and who have experienced His presence, power and provision. He calls them a “great cloud of witnesses.” (I would probably have used the word “crowd” instead of cloud). But it is true; everywhere you look you see evidence of God’s faithfulness in the life stories of God’s people.
But Scripture calls for a response . . . “SINCE we are surrounded…let us THROW OFF whatever hinders . . . and let us RUN.” The testimonies of those who have gone before should serve to encourage us to get into the race ourselves. He then gives us three steps that will enable us to become “marathon runners for God.” Those steps are: 1 – throw off the hindrances, 2– disentangle ourselves from our pet sins, and 3 – run with perseverance.
I just want to deal with the first of these right now. What hinders you in your faithful service to God? There are probably a multitude of answers to that question, but here are the 5 most common things: fear, self-sufficiency, discouragement, doubt, and not knowing God’s promises. I will address them one at a time.
· Fear - When I think about fear my mind always returns to the story of Joshua. The Lord told Joshua to be strong and very courageous, because God would be with him wherever he went. Friend, God is with you every step of the way as well. God is good and God is almighty. If God is with you what is there to fear?
· Self-sufficiency – Almost everything seems impossible if we look only to ourselves. To say “I don’t have enough, I don’t know enough, I’m not good enough” is absolutely true; you don’t, you don’t, and you’re not. But God, who has called you, is King of the Universe. He is omnipotent, omniscient, and holy; everything about God is abundantly sufficient! And the abundantly sufficient God is for you!
· Discouragement – God’s people often give up before the blessing arrives. They routinely miss out on God’s best because they have become discouraged. So what is needed? Encouragement, of course. So preach God’s Word to yourself. Speak faith and encouragement to one another. Put your hope in God!
· Doubt – Sometimes people look at a task and wonder if even God can accomplish it. That is doubting the power and provision of God. Other times, people look at a task and wonder if it is really their task to do . . . perhaps God should use someone better or more qualified. That is doubting the plan and calling of God. If you are to serve God you have to trust God – His power, His provision, His plan, and His calling.
· Not knowing God’s promises – Before you can take God at His word you have to know God’s Word. That knowledge only comes through spending time prayerfully reading and studying the Bible.
So remember how God has worked wonders through others, toss aside whatever hinders you, join the crowd, and get in the race!
--- Pastor Keith Andrews