Prayer: Lord thank you for this moment to share your word. Let those present be receptive and responsive to what you have to say. Forgive us of our sins and our transgressions ..Do not count them against us use us in spite of us. Lord you receive all the glory..We honor you and magnify your name. In Jesus name we pray and ask it all Amen !!!
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, 2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
3 – For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls.
Last week many of us witnessed Serena Williams compete in the finals at Wimbledon in the United Kingdom. Although she was not the winner she is still “a winner”….But how can that be she lost the match! Well ten months prior to Wimbledon she had a baby. The delivery lead to life threatening complications. She was diagnosed with a pulmonary embolism…where a blood clot could potentially get in here lungs and cause death. She was bed ridden for six weeks….
. What a wonderful God of grace and mercy we serve. A God who can take us from near death, bed ridden to center court in the championship match of the oldest and most prestigious tournament in the world. For all He has done, for all he is doing and all that he will do in your life…Why would you not want to be a “Champion For Christ”…..When He loves us and shows it by what he does in our lives!
You might say well the way things are going for me right now I sure do not feel the love….Things are pretty tough and nothing seems to be going right for me….In fact, everything seems to be going wrong! But, I have come to tell you today…..Just like Serena you are a “Champion”
TRANSITION Champions for Christ still deal with their past, face everyday problems, and work toward solutions, they stay the course. The difference is they do it through the power of Christ and not their own power. We may not always be the winner but we can always be a winner!
Don’t you ever give in, give out or give up on what God has given you…..No matter what the obstacle you must keep moving forward and press on for the prize!
In order to strengthen you today I would like to share four quick points to help you focus on being a Champion for Christ!
Committed means bound or obligated to a person or thing, through a pledge or assurance, devoted to the cause that has been under taken. There is a poster of an individual climbing a mountain trail. The individual has stopped and is looking back down the trail. The caption reads “When God calls don’t turn around to see who is following.” If you are going to be a champion in any situation in life you have got to be committed and not concerned with the past…where you have been and what mistakes may have been made!
When was the decision to follow Christ made in your life?
If it has, are you being tempted to look back to old ways?
There is no need to look back because if anyone is in Christ, they are a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new…..We have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer about our lives but Christ who lives in us; and the life which we now live in the flesh..We live by faith in the Son of God, who loved us and gave Himself for us!
We see this in our text in verse 1 we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses…(It is an illustration, not a revelation). The Heroes of Faith in Chapter 11 witness to us by their lives of Faith and endurance..The great cloud is not comprised of spectators but rather is made up of those heroes of the faith whose life encourages us to live the way they did.
(Abel- Offered a more acceptable sacrifice)
(Enoch – Close Fellowship with God)
(Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Daniel and others)
Abraham is saying to you and me, “Move out by faith.”…Moses is saying to you and me, “Move out by faith” and Daniel is saying to you and me, “Move out by Faith”
The Christian life is a race – win or lose – and it is the only race where everybody can win. Paul wrote, Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things, Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. We are to run with certainty making every action count. There must not be no wasted time or energy…It is about our faith and love for Christ…In that faith works through love.
The Heroes of Faith witness to us by how they lived…..Those who achieved success lived by faith. And those who suffered what the world would call a miserable defeat, also ran by faith. So, today their lives witness to us, and encourage us to run by faith and to live by faith.
Once we decide to live for Christ there is no need to look back to old ways. We are to run with endurance the race that is set before us. A runner in the race does not look behind him to see what the other runners are doing. He sets his eyes on the finish line and runs toward the finish line.
You are creating confusion in your body. Your body is moving forward but your mind is moving backward.
This is why we must lay aside every weight, and sin which so easily ensnares us, and run setting our eyes on Jesus….We must be committed…When coming to Christ we cannot stay close to that which previously held us captive. Its like the little girl who fell out of bed one night. When she began to cry, her mother rushed in and said, “Honey, how come you fell out of bed? The girl replied, I think I stayed too close to the place where I got in”….This is the problem of the Christian today. We stumble and falter and fail because we are staying too close to the place where we got in..the old life, the old sins and the same old people. We need to go on and run our race….and stay committed….Keep our eyes on prize !!!
God has saved us from sin. He has brought us into the heavens, actually into the holy place, and He has made us to sit in heavenly places. To be a champion means you go beyond getting saved and giving your testimony…You maintain a serious relationship with God and you study His word, which is essential to grow in Christ…A true champion nails down their commitment to Christ and does not look back. *I am talking about being a champion for Christ. Secondly along with being committed!
“Looking unto Jesus” “author and finisher of our faith”
He is the author, or pioneer, of our faith in the sense that He has provided us with the only perfect example of what the life of faith is like. He is also the finisher of our faith. He not only began the race but finished it triumphantly. For Him the race course stretched from heaven to Bethlehem, then on to Gethsemane and Calvary, then out of the tomb and back to heaven. At no time did he falter or “turn back”…He kept His eyes fixed on the coming glory when all the redeemed would be gathered with Him eternally. This enabled Him to think nothing of the shame and to endure suffering and death. Today, he is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
If we are going to do it under the power of Christ ….As with any power source we need to be connected to it! If we are to win the race, the most important thing is to keep our eyes on Christ as the goal…We must press toward the goal not counting that we have apprehended; but forgetting those things which are behind us and reaching forward to those things which are ahead!
We must press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. He who has already run this race of faith and conquered for us! He is the author and finisher of our faith. He is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. What He starts, He finishes; He can see us through to victory.
A Champion for Christ should be ever looking and listening to Jesus to help us run to finish well. Why, because faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of God. His word helps us to connect with Him and see how much He loves us….He strengthens us with His might through His Spirit, that Christ may dwell in our hearts through faith; that we, being rooted and grounded in love.
Illustration: There was a woman whose boyfriend had given her a book. After he gave her the book, she had laid the book aside and had never bothered to read it. Sometime later a guest evangelist was staying in her home. He saw the book, and picked it up one night. As he read it, he noticed that certain phrases and lines in the book had been underlined. He inquired as to who had read the book and was told about it being the young man’s gift to the young lady. He then realized that the young man who had given it to the young lady had intentionally underlined those phrases and lines for her to read. They represented how he felt about her. When the Evangelist pointed out to her that certain phrases had been underlined: “I love you” “I will never leave nor forsake you.” He explained to her what had been done by the young man. When she understood that he intended to use the book to communicate to her how much he loved her she ran outside and eagerly began reading the book.
“The word of God is like a lion in a cage. Don’t spend your time defending it; just let the lion out of the cage.” David Robinson, NBA All Star, San Antonio Spurs
“For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself”
Our Lord went through many trials while on earth. What was it that helped take Him through to victory? The answer is right here in our text…”It was the joy…The joy that was set before Him.” (v2). This was His goal – the joy of presenting His church before the Father in Heaven one day…He who is able to keep us from falling and to present us faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy! His battle against sin took Him to the cross and cost Him His life….He gave His life a ransom for many! He is the supreme example of a willingness to suffer in obedience to God…Therefore we are to “Consider Him”…Look Unto Him and count on Him for encouragement and strength when the race gets difficult. We need to get our eyes off of ourselves, other people, and circumstances and get our eyes on Christ alone!
The word of God tells us that we may be made in large measure partakers of His joy!
Why would we not want to partake in the joy of Christ….How could we not count on one who took on our sin and then forgave us….He bore our sin and our shame.
Being unwilling to forgive someone is making an application for God’s job. He says “Vengenance is mine I will repay says the Lord.” Unforgiveness is like concrete. The longer it sets, the harder it gets. Don’t allow your heart to become hard and your soul to become bitter. Let it go! Let God take care of it. “But they don’t deserve it!” So then, did you deserve what God has done for you.
Illus–Can you imagine a running back going into a game dragging a concrete block behind him. That is exactly the way some people are choosing to live in the game of life. They will not allow the Lord to free them from the excess baggage.
“has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
Jesus finished well. He is now seated at the Father’s right hand. He intercedes for us from where he is seated. We can count on Him to see us through.
Proverbs 24:16 For a righteous man may fall seven times
And rise again, But the wicked shall fall by calamity.
Remind yourself daily that God is in control. No matter how bad the situation is, it will end. No matter how good things may be going, it won’t last. Trust Him. You can count on Him! Do not become weary and discouraged….
Illus– There is a young man who went on a drunken rampage and vandalized a high school …when he was caught he was sentenced to five years in a youth center, a prison one step below the state penitentiary. He sat in a small cell with nothing more than a metal cot, sink and a toilet; he realized what a mistake he had made. He began to weep ..More important he began to pray to God…God I need help…I am defeated without you. That was the turning point for him. He joined a prison Bible study and began taking college courses. He was released after 14 months…After further study he finished his degree and became a science teacher….Years later he was selected Teacher of the Year and accepted his award from the President of the United States! With these words he summarizes the lesson he had learned…”I bowed my head and tasted victory”….
Listen Champions! You can count on Christ to see you to victory! So, prepare to or continue running your race…..
Today Commit, connect and count on…the one who picked up His cross·going to Calvary where he hung bled and died·..You do know that he died ·Yes he did . He died and was buried but early on Sunday Morning He got up with all power in his hands!
CONCLUSION Are you being a Champion For Jesus Christ…If not I invite you today…..I challenge you today to be a champion for Jesus Christ. Invite people to salvation. Invite people who have stumbled to get up again. Invite people who are tired to be renewed.
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