Greetings from Pastor Bob and The Encouraging Word. LIFE IS GOOD!!!! GOD IS GOOD!!! ALL THE TIME. How are you? GOOD? I hope so! Will you pray with me right now and let’s ask for the Holy Spirit to speak to our understanding that we would be able to walk in the fullness of life as we were created to do?
Heavenly Father; we praise you. LORD you are so awesome. You spoke and put the stars in place and it is by your perfect design that everything continues to flow. LORD, we need you. I desire more of you. Right now I seek your face, with everything within me, my heart, my soul and my mind, I bring under subjection and focus on you. Fill me with your Holy Spirit that I might know you, and let your resurrection power spring forth from within me unto eternal life. Forgive me of all of my known, and unknown sins, and use me to glorify your wonderful name. And that name is Jesus. Thank you LORD for setting me free and making me whole. Let your love, wisdom, mercy and grace flow through me unto others today and forever; AMEN!
The passage of scripture that I want us to look at today is found in the book of Hebrews. No one can really know who was the actual author of this book, most people, my included believe it was Paul. This is a letter written by a Jew, to Jews. But it teaches us all of the unconditional, never-ending, everlasting love of God. Let’s look at a few passages together.
(Hebrews 12:1 KJV) Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,
Just for fun, and maybe a little better clarity, let’s read that again in the Contempory English Version.
(Hebrews 12:1 CEV) Such a large crowd of witnesses is all around us! So we must get rid of everything that slows us down, especially the sin that just won't let go. And we must be determined to run the race that is ahead of us.
Most of the time when I have heard this passage preached, or even wrote about it myself, it had it’s focus on the getting rid of the “sin which doth so easily beset us.” But today I want us to look at that “large crowd of witnesses.” Looking back at the previous chapter, anyone who knows the book of Hebrews at all, knows that the 11th chapter is the chapter on faith. It begins with the passage that tells us, “faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen…”
Then it talks about all these great men and woman of faith who went before us. It kind of gives you the picture of all these people looking over the banister of heaven, down upon us and seeing what choices we make. You know that they are rooting for you, and many of them are putting in that “good word” for you that you asked them to give. But the truth is, they can not make the choices for you. But we can look back at their lives and taking the choices that they daily made into consideration, thoughtfully make our own.
The whole idea is for us to have a better tomorrow. The whole ides is to give our children a hope for their future. I think that might be why we sometimes act so miserable, especially in traffic; because we don’t think there is any hope for the future. It just seems like it is going to get worse and worse. More people on the roads, the bridges and the roads deteriorating, global warming, the coming recession, gloom and doom and misery on me. Change your mind and you will change your ways. Use your imagination. We could be right on the verge of a Jetson’s type of transportation system just ahead. I don’t know, but you have got to stop being so negative about the future. You determine the future by your believe in the possibilities of it.
I want us to go back into that 11th chapter and look at another verse that is far too often over looked.
(Hebrews 11:13 KJV) These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.
And again in the Contempory English Version:
(Hebrews 11:13 CEV) Every one of those people died. But they still had faith, even though they had not received what they had been promised. They were glad just to see these things from far away, and they agreed that they were only strangers and foreigners on this earth.
What makes a great man great? Is it the things that he leaves behind or is it the way he lived his life? You might remember me far too often quoting William James who said “the best way to spend your life is on something that will outlast it.” I do not know what material things he himself left behind him, but I do know about some of the impact he made on the world by the things he did with his life. It is not necessarily the material things that “outlast you;” but rather the intangibles things that you leave behind that changes the world.
Not only will these things that I am talking about determine your legacy, but they will be the deciding factors in how much enjoyment you get out of your daily life. Someone once said, :find something you love to do and do it and you will never have to work hard in your life.” Whoever said that did not mean that what you end up doing will not be strenuous, or mentally or physically taxing. But it will be enjoyable. The people who really work out on a daily basis, work hard on keeping their bodies in top condition. It is hard but they really love doing it. People who write computer code all day long, coming up with new complex programs, work hard, but they love doing it. The people who are good at their jobs love their jobs.
But, I know some times you just have to do what you have to do whether you like it or not. So, when you have one of those really dirty jobs, can you learn to love it? If you want to enjoy your life at all, and make a positive impact on the people around you, you had better at least try to “fake it till you make it.”
All of these great men and women in the Bible, all the great men and woman who have gone onto heaven before you, the ones looking over that banister at you right now, none of them reached the promise they saw before them. But in many cases, you are living that promise right now. You are enjoying the freedom that many men and woman gave their lives for you to enjoy. Many of our immigrant forefather who gave up everything to come to this country might not have lived the American dream that you are enjoying right now.
I can hear you already; “What American Dream?” OK, for some of us things might be a little hard, but compared to our forefathers, we are living on easy street. And compared to most of the rest of the world we here in America are living the abundant life. So why do we choose to be, or at least act so miserable?
Here is my point and the thing that, as I look back on the lives of the great men and woman who have gone on before me, they have taught me. And that is how it is not the destination as much as the journey that really matters. The secret of life is really living it to its fullest.
As I was thinking about Ron this past week, I realized a couple of great things that I admired about him. First, I never heard him complain. He worked hard and was treated unfairly by more then one company and people, but he never complained. He did not spend his life grumbling and complaining about the past. The second thing that I admired about him is that he never spoke an ill word of any one. He did not need to put other people down to make him feel good about himself.
We are all surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses. You have many different people in your life who have gone on before you. Take a moment today to think about some of them and think about the things that made them great. At first you might be tempted to think about some people and their bad character traits. Fight that urge off and look for the great things in your Grand Parents live’s that you admired, Think about some of the people you have known, or even the ones that you didn’t know but you heard about or maybe read about. Think about the great things that great men and woman have done and chose to emulate those things.
We all have bad habits and character flaws, but we all also have greatness within us. What ever you feed grows. Stop dwelling on your sin and start feeding your possibility. Shake of those besetting sins and put them behind you then get a bright vision for the future and go after it.
You know, I usually write these things, late Saturday night or early Sunday Morning, but I am praying and thinking about them all week. If there is anything I hope you get today it is encouragement for tomorrow. If you are still reading this then you know within yourself that you are intelligent and have great potential. That alone is enough for you to take the right step forward and make your mark in the sands of time.
Before I took all this time off of work, one of the students on one of my busses asked me why I was a bus driver. He said most bus drivers were unintelligent and miserable, but he thought that I was smart and a fun person to be around. I ate that up of course. Then realized how the two go hand in hand. All you really have to do is to be smart enough to know the potential for a brighter future and you will enjoy today that much more. I am going to stop now but let me end with scripture. Staying right here in the 12th chapter of Hebrews the author really sums up what we are learning today:
(Hebrews 12:12-15 KJV) Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees; And make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed. Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled;
And once again for those us who don’t quite get the kings English, in the Contempory English Version:
(Hebrews 12:12 – 15 CEV) Now stand up straight! Stop your knees from shaking and walk a straight path. Then lame people will be healed, instead of getting worse. Try to live at peace with everyone! Live a clean life. If you don't, you will never see the Lord. Make sure that no one misses out on God's wonderful kindness. Don't let anyone become bitter and cause trouble for the rest of you.
Life is too short to be miserable. Life is too good to be wasting it in bitterness. Live life to it’s fullest and in the end the beginning will be heaven!
God bless you my friend and may he continue to make you a greater blessing every day!