Keep Running His Race

Hebrews 12 1 (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, 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. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
Hebrews 12:1‭-‬3 NIV
https://bible.com/bible/111/heb.12.1-3.NIV

Yesterday evening I was out for a run.  It was my second run of the day as I did a 3 mile run in the morning.  I was feeling pretty good early in the run so I made a decision to run for 10 miles. I have only ran that far one other time in my life, it was 10 years ago when I ran a half marathon.  I knew this was a big undertaking so I settled into a manageable pace and went for it.  This scripture immediately came to mind, as well as my grandmother.   Sadly, she is in hospice care and very close to the end of her life.  She is surrounded by family, but not her whole family.  We are 800 miles away, and as I was running it gave me the time to reflect on her life, and draw strength from it.
She is someone I would put in that cloud of great witnesses.  She has lived her life in a way that I know God is proud of.  She has faithfully served Him and his people since she was able. And it makes me want to do better.  During my run, I stumbled between 3 and 4 miles. I fell to the sidewalk like a ton of bricks.  At first I laughed because I thought it must have been funny to the passer by’s in cars.  Then I assessed the damage, a few scrapes and a really scuffed up corner on my phone. I decided to push on, but was considering calling it quits and heading home at that point.   But that scripture says to throw off everything that hinders us, and the sin (sidewalk) that so easily entangles us.  Yes my leg hurt, yes my hand hurt, but I wasn’t giving up.  I had made a commitment to go 10 miles. Fast forward to about 8 miles in, and I notice my left hamstring is feeling a little weird with every step. I slow my pace but it gets worse, at 8.5 it starts cramping up. I stop, stretch, walk a bit, then start again. Yet it only lets me go a few steps before it gives up.  My body has had enough, but I still have a mile to go.  I ended up walking that last mile, but I finished the 10.
In many ways I see a correlation between that 10 mile journey and the faith journey we take throughout life.  There are going to be setbacks, there are going to be times we stumble, or get hurt, and want to quit. There are going to be times we can’t or don’t move as fast as we planned.  But the important thing is to remember our commitment, to draw on the strength of others, to eliminate the things holding us back.
The race is already laid out before us, first set out by Jesus, then followed by so many others.  Let’s make sure to include ourselves in that faith list shall we?
Jerry Briggs
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Keep Running Your Race

Gal 5 7

Galatians 5:7-10 New International Version (NIV)

7 You were running a good race. Who cut in on you to keep you from obeying the truth? 8 That kind of persuasion does not come from the one who calls you. 9 “A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough.” 10 I am confident in the Lord that you will take no other view. The one who is throwing you into confusion, whoever that may be, will have to pay the penalty.

Have you ever been having a good day, only to have something or someone happen, and totally change the day?  It’s easy to get beat down by life some days.  And it’s even easier to point the finger at other people or difficult circumstances when we let the things going on around us effect our relationships negatively.  I totally understand that sometimes life is difficult, and sometimes it’s unfair, but that’s not what I’m talking about here.  I’m talking about when we’re really finding our stride in our Christian walk, and then we let something knock us off the path.  That’s why I love the section of scripture in Galatians 5.  It leaves us with no excuses.

This section reminds us that we are responsible for our own faith. It isn’t our pastor’s, our parents’, or our friends’ responsibility. Those can all be great people that God uses to challenge us to grow, but we must be careful to follow God and the teachings of Jesus, not people. Notice too that even a little yeast works its way through the whole batch of dough.  Letting just a little thing bother us without dealing with it could have huge implications on our actions.  We also see that whoever is throwing us into confusion, has to pay a penalty.  We must therefore also pay attention to how we are influencing people.  Take a good look into your life and ask yourself, Am I letting someone throw me off my daily walk?  Am I throwing someone else off of theirs?  If the answer is yes, we have some changes to make.

-Jerry Briggs

Of Greater Worth than Gold

1 peter 1 7

In 1 Timothy 1:5 it says we must love with a sincere faith, which I think means an enduring faith. Our faith is going to be tested, which makes it stronger. In 1 Peter 1:7 it refers to our faith as more precious than gold, which is perishable. The word perishable makes me think of an apple, something that rots quickly and isn’t that important, but gold, that was a form of currency, very important. Also gold isn’t naturally perishable, nothing organic can destroy it, and chemical compounds cannot fully destroy gold. But compared to our faith, gold is meaningless and perishable. 1 Peter 1:7 also says our faith will be tested by fire. To have a strong faith we must go through hardships so we can come out stronger, and by keeping God’s word with us, we can make it through these struggles and have an enduring faith.

-Blair Simon

How to Have Peace Instead of Anxiety

phil 4 6 (1)

Philippians 4:6-7 “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

My grandma Kenney was widowed in 1946, with 11 children. This was before welfare or food stamps. She had to find a way to support herself and the children. Being a devout Catholic, Theresa found work at the church across the street. Her job was to do the laundry: the church housed 8-10 priests and had daily mass, she was responsible for their laundry and the alter linens. While to some this wasn’t important work she took it very seriously. The same pride she took in starching the alter linens, went into the priest’s boxer shorts!

I knew my grandmother when she was retired, yet she still attended mass as often as she could. Life had been hard, yet she trusted God and his word. She kept her iron and ironing board next to her chair. And on the ironing board was her Bible, and as she talked with visitors, her hand was always on the Bible. To the very end, she brought her needs to God and trusted He would always be there for her.

Take some time to reflect on a person of faith who you admire. Thank God for the example they have provided for you.

-Susan Johnson

Thrive

john 10 10

Life can be tough, and it can seem like we are facing an uphill climb every day. It can feel like we are going through the motions, and we are just trying to make it to the next weekend, day off, or vacation. We are going through life, and we are just surviving it. I don’t think we were meant to live this way. God wants to live in us and work through us, He wants to give us life. There is an abundance of life in Jesus Christ, one that brings joy, peace, patience, and kindness. We weren’t made to survive – we were made to Thrive.

What does it mean to thrive? When you Thrive in life, you prosper. You grow. You flourish.

Here’s some references of thriving in the Bible:

“I made you thrive like plants of the field. You grew up and matured and became very beautiful. ” -Ezekiel 16:7a

“Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”

-Philippians 4:11-13

“These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”

-John 16:33

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” -John 10:10

God wants us to have an abundant life. He gives us courage and strength because His Son, Jesus Christ, overcome the world. We are called to thrive like plants in the field! We need to Thrive in our faith and Christian deeds. We need to root ourselves in Christ, and trust God’s plan for our lives. Even when times get tough, we should seek God and point others to God. We should let God be the gardener in our lives and THRIVE.

I don’t know where you are in your walk with Christ. But I do know that our Heavenly Father is calling you to Himself. God is constantly calling you to know Him and to make Him known. Start digging into God’s word and let Him show Himself to you.

Don’t just survive life – Thrive in it.

Brenan Dominguez

Stand Up For Christ

psalm 118 6

So far this week, we have discussed topics on having a Christ-centered life, God’s Will vs. our will, why it’s important to worship through singing, and that we all have a purpose. Today we will be discussing the importance of standing up for Christ.

In today’s society, topics such as religion and Christianity are shunned. Some people avoid speaking on the topics and others try to intimidate or harass those who do. This is known as persecution. Christians are being persecuted all over the world. Some even to the point of abuse or death. Christians are being persecuted for worshiping God, believing in Jesus Christ, reading the Bible, or even speaking or practicing the teaching of Christianity.

Do you ever feel uncomfortable mentioning topics about Christianity? Do you feel like you will be in trouble or scrutinized? Those are feelings and thoughts of fear.

“The LORD is for me; I will not fear; What can man do to me?” -Psalm 118:6

“I sought the LORD, and He answered me,

And delivered me from all my fears.”

-Psalm 34:4

We should not let fear overcome us. We should put our faith in God and He will take care of us. He will definitely take care of us if we are glorifying Him, sharing His Word, and standing up for His Son, Jesus Christ. God wants us to stand firm in our faith and proclaim the message of the Gospel.

“And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” -Matthew 28:19

“Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.” -1 Corinthians 16:13-14

“Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” -John 14:6

By proclaiming the Gospel message and sharing our faith we are standing up for Christ. Jesus Christ is the way, the truth, and the life. No one goes to the Father except through Him. We need Jesus in our lives. We need to follow Him. We need Him as our friend.

We need to stand up for Him. I love the hymn titled “Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus.”

The first verse sings “Stand Up, stand up for Jesus, Ye soldiers of the cross; Lift high His royal banner, It must not suffer loss; From victory unto victory His army shall He lead, Till every foe is vanquished and Christ is Lord indeed.”

The last verse ends with “To him that overcometh A crown of life shall be; He with the King of glory Shall reign eternally.”

Do you want to reign and live with Jesus Christ eternally in the Kingdom of God? I know I sure do!

We need to stand up for Christ now, so we can stand with Christ in His Father’s Kingdom which will be established on earth.

Today I encourage you to not fret, worry, or live in fear. God is for us. Jesus Christ died for us. And now we need to live for Him! Share the Gospel message, live a life that represents Jesus, and stand up for Christ!

-Brenan Dominguez

Devoured by a Lion

1 Peter 5 8

1 Peter 5

So far this week, we have looked at the physical healing of a blind man and the mental healing of a demon possessed man. Today we’re going to look at emotional healing.

Let’s start by looking at verse 8. It says that the Devil, our enemy, is hunting for someone to devour. How many of you have ever felt like you’ve been devoured? I’m sure none of you have ever been eaten by a lion, but I don’t think that’s what this verse is talking about. This verse is talking about being devoured by the world, by our obligations, by our worries. I know I have felt absolutely overwhelmed by my school work, pressures from my friend groups and parents. If you want to talk about being overwhelmed, just look at Jesus’ life.

In verse 5 it mentions the sufferings of Jesus. We know that Jesus had the burdens of the entire world placed on him. That puts our problems into perspective a little, doesn’t it? While we worry about who we’re going to eat lunch with tomorrow, He was worrying about being betrayed by one of his closest friends. While we worry if we’ll be able to play on our school’s basketball team, He was worrying about being sentenced to death by the world that he was supposed to save.

I don’t draw attention to this to diminish our feelings, but it is important to put things in a proper context and to humble ourselves. In verse 6, it says that we need to humble ourselves so that we can be exalted at the proper time. Sometimes it feels like we are being devoured for so long without receiving any help from our God. We think that no one knows how much we are suffering under the stress of our worries and we doubt that God cares. But God does care, and you are not alone. We need to be firm in our faith that God will heal all of us of our emotional pain (vs 9).

Here’s the beautiful part of this chapter: it feels like we must wait forever to receive emotional healing, but God promises us right here in verse 10 that He will personally restore, establish, strengthen and support us after we have suffered. He will heal us.

Today I’m going to leave you with some additional verses. Just read them and soak in all they promise.

Revelation 21:4

Psalm 147:3

John 14:27

Psalm 34:17-20

Matthew 11:28

Psalm 34:19

 

-Nathaniel Johnson