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The Life Before You - Part 2

In Touch / Charles Stanley
The Truth Network Radio
October 5, 2021 12:00 am

The Life Before You - Part 2

In Touch / Charles Stanley

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October 5, 2021 12:00 am

Have you been feeling tired of the race, made weary by the extra baggage you carry, and unsure of your destination?

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Welcome to the In Touch Podcast with Charles Stanley for Tuesday, October 5. Life is like a race, and the Bible encourages believers to run with focus and determination. Hear the conclusion to a message that challenges you to take seriously the life before you. When you think about life, what do you think about? Do you wake up in the morning excited to meet the day? Or do you wake up in the morning thinking, the worst thing, the most difficult thing I'm going to have to do today is to get up? Because you don't want to face life.

Let me ask you something else. What does life mean to you? What's your real reason for living?

And people may give lots of reasons. Lots of things about life you and I may describe, but in the 12th chapter of Hebrews, if you'll look there for just a moment, the first three verses, the writer of Hebrews compares life to something that I want us to look at and look at some very probing, searching questions in your life today. He says in the 12th chapter of Hebrews, beginning in verse 1, Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which doth so easily entangle us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has set down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you may not grow weary and lose heart. That is, grow weary and lose heart in the race.

Now, listen. The writer of Hebrews has described life here as a race. And he says, Let us so run this race without the entanglements, without the encumbrances, this life or this race that is set before us.

Now, first of all, I want us to look at the originator of this race and examine two or three things here. It is God who created you. It may be through human parents that you came, but it is God who created you. He is the ultimate reason for your existence today. He created you with a purpose in mind. And all of your life has originated from Him. He's the one who brought you into this life. He's the one who's planned your life. He's the one who's given a purpose for your life. He's the one who's responsible for equipping you and giving you abilities and talents and gifts. He's the one who's put you in the environment you're in.

He's the one who's responsible for so much about your life. He's the originator of this whole race, as he describes it here. Now, the reason Paul uses the word race is because to his writers and the people of that day, they understood about the Olympic Games and the Eastman Games, and so they'd be like the Olympics today and the Super Bowl and the World Series and all the rest.

They were great sports enthusiasts. And so what he's saying in this passage is that our life is like a race. And the one who originated this was God. And the origin of the race for every believer, the very beginning line where it all starts, is the day you receive the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior. God at that day set you on the track. And you see, we're not all running on the same track.

There is a track for your life. There is a track for his life, because you see, we're not competing with each other. We're not trying to outrun someone else. We're not trying to overcome someone else.

We're not trying to get anywhere before someone else gets there. He says that life is like a race, and the moment you were saved, he started you at the starting line, and from that point on, God says, You and I are to run that race. Well, this is what he's talking about here when he talks in this 12th chapter about running the race. So let's look to see what he says, and I want you to notice the encouragement he gives us here in verse 12. He says, Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance, and the sin which doth so easily entangle us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us. Now, what does he mean when he says he talks about this great cloud of witnesses that surround us? There are those who believe that all of our loved ones who passed on before and the great saints of God are up in heaven, and they're just sort of looking over the portals down on earth to see how we're doing and encouraging us along. Well, I don't think you can justify that in the Scripture.

If it's so, that's fine. But the truth of what he means is this, that in the past, God's great host of great saints who have been faithful to him, and what he's referring to primarily, here's the whole 11th chapter of Hebrews, and you'll recall in this chapter, it starts off by saying, Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Then he says, By faith men of old gained approval. Then he lists the whole group of men here, comes down to the end, names the whole group together, and what he's referring to is the accomplishments of these. But listen, it's interesting that twice in this chapter he says, And all these having gained approval through their faith.

That is, they were approved of God by their faith. Now he says, On the basis of that, being surrounded by this great host of witnesses, that is, those who have proven faithful, those who trusted God, we have the lives of these great saints, whether it's Joseph or Daniel or David or Jeremiah, Paul or Barnabas or Timothy. He says, Surrounded by this great cloud of witnesses, this great host of men who've lived before us, men and women, whose lives will inspire us and challenge us and encourage us to keep on being faithful in time of difficulty. Daniel, for example, the lions then, David being chased by Saul, Joseph being trapped and oftentimes misused all through the scripture, God's servants and God's saints in all types of difficulties, sometimes climbing the mountains, sometimes heading to the valley. He says, The host of great witnesses that God has given us should be an encouragement to us in the race that you and I running.

Now listen, everybody has their own track. God says the life that the race that is set before it's the Christian life and their similarities. So your vocation, your temperament, your background, your equipment, all that's different. So the life that God has set before you, we're not in competition with anybody else. We don't have to look and see who's outrunning us or who's getting ahead. Listen, the idea of somebody getting ahead, did you know from God's point of view, nobody can get ahead of you.

Listen, you're on your track all by yourself. You're running the race that God has set before you. You're not running in competition with other people. You're running the race to complete it in an area of pleasing God. Now listen, when we think about this great host of witnesses and the encouragement, you think about how many people there are to surround you to encourage you on the race. All of us have needed encouragement. All of us had had come to those points in the race of life where we think there's no way for me to get over this hurdle. And somebody says to us, you can do it. I'm praying for you.

I'm betting on you. I'm going to be hanging in there with you. I know you can do that when you get to that hurdle. What do you know you're up and over and on your way and you never even lost your pace. The encouragement that all of us need in the race.

The third thing I want you to notice, he says, here is this. He says, laying aside every encumbrance and the sin which does so easily entangle us, let us run with endurance the race that is set before us. Now here's what the word endurance means. The word endurance is a Greek word, hupomone, which means to bear up under the pressure of something.

They understood what the writer of Hebrews was referring to when he talked about endurance. You see, you can take a 20-year-old fellow and a 60-year-old man and put them on the starting line of a race. And when the gun goes off, they'll be pretty much together for about six feet. Maybe a little bit further than that, but not much more.

And then what happens? The 20-year-old, he's on out there because his body is a little bit more pliable and flexible. What he's referring to here is not the speed, but endurance. You see, a cross-country runner. It isn't how fast he can run, it's can he endure. Can he endure the length of the race? He may start off first and the first four or five hundred yards he may be way out ahead, but can he endure to the end? That is, does he have the reserve strength? Does he have the energy? Can he pace himself?

Does he know how to run that went right down to the finish line when they're crowding in on him that he doesn't lose it all? He learns to endure. And how does a man or woman learn to endure?

By struggle and strife and conflict and stretching. He learns in the training arena. And you see, these runners, they were trained for years to run.

I mean, they trained their bodies to be able to endure all kinds of testing and trials and the agonizing of running when every single cell of your body is crying out, stopping, you say, but I've got to keep going. And my friend, one thing that phrase ought to imply to us and show us is this, the Christian life's not easy. All of us have to learn to endure. But now watch this, what he says.

He says there's something else here. He says, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfect of our faith. That is, not only is he our encourager, but he's our example. It is the Lord Jesus Christ who encourages us.

He is our example, and he is our enabler. Who is it that enables you to run? Listen, how many times have you said, God, I can't take anymore? God, I just can't go any further. This is it, God, I just can't. And on your knees in desperation when you've fallen on the track and you're laying prostrate crying out before God, God, I can't run another step. I can't take one more.

I just can't do it, God. What happens? Mysteriously, you find yourself getting up, shaking off the dust and doing what?

You start walking and before long you're not walking, but you're running the race and what's happening? You're on your way again. Who do you think got you up when you got down? Who do you think keeps on enabling you when you think, God, I can't take anymore? Who keeps on surging your physical body, your emotions, and your spirit with divine, supernatural energy?

It is Almighty God, the Great Shepherd. Listen, I want to tell you there is somebody running along with you, and that's Jesus. Friends, you may be bloody, bruised, broken, burdened, and thinking in your heart there's no way to take one more step, but I want to tell you something.

Listen to this. Come unto me, all ye that labor under heavy laden, and I'll give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn of me, for I'm meek and lowly in heart, and ye shall find rest unto your souls.

I want to tell you, my friend, wherever you are in the race right now, there is somebody, Jesus Christ, who's there to assure you, direct you, provide for you, enable you, and encourage you if you'll just let Him do it. Listen to what He says. The two things He said you and I have to watch out for in the race. He says, Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also, watch this carefully, lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which doth so easily entangle us in the run.

Now watch this. What is an encumbrance? An encumbrance is anything that slows me down, that hinders my run. Now, people in those days wore, even the men wore long gowns, so like a dress all the way to their ankles. Well, there's nothing wrong with a gown to cover you up if your purpose is being covered, but if you're going to run a race, you better get rid of the gown.

Folks don't run races in gowns. You know what He's saying to us? There are a lot of people who are having a very difficult time in the race of the Christian life, and one of the primary reasons is they're carrying something with them that God never intended His worth. Can you imagine this fellow coming to the race, and behind him he's got a little red wagon just full, full of all the things that he prizes, and so he's ready to go, and here he goes down the track just running down the track pulling a little red wagon full of his valuables.

We'd say, men, there's no way in the world. Hey, listen, that's costing you energy, it's costing you time, there's no way for you to win the race, it's slowing you down, it's hindering you. When you go around the curve, you've got to slow down because the little old red wagon will turn over pretty easy. But there you go pulling your little red wagon.

You can't let it go, let me ask you a question. Are you pulling your little red wagon behind you because you just can't let go of what God... God's called you, for example, to serve Him in some form or fashion, and here you go. And you're wondering why things won't work out for you because God never intended you to pull anything behind you. He says laying aside these encumbrances. Now what's an encumbrance? An encumbrance can be something that's not necessarily a sin. It becomes a sin when God says get rid of that.

There are some things in life that are not sin within themselves, but if God doesn't want it as a part of your life and you refuse to give it up, then it becomes a sin. Let me ask you a question. Can you put your finger on something that God's already put His finger on in your life today that God says, you need to get rid of that? You need to take care of that. You need to deal with that. Is there something that you're carrying that's hindering you in the race? And every once in a while you have to stop and huff and puff and get, because you see, when you're carrying something, God doesn't want you to carry.

Gets to you. Second thing He said is He said lay aside those things that encumber you, but then He said lay aside the sin which doth so easily beset you. Now watch this one. When He says you notice the sin which doth so easily beset you, all the word is entangle you. That is, all along the race, watch this now, all along the race there are patches of barbed wire and you're running down the track and if you're not careful, you've gone 100 yards and you're just doing super great and you're not careful, all of a sudden you run into about 25 yards of barbed wire. Well, I don't have to tell you what that would do if you're entangling you and the time you pulled yourself out of that you'd be bloody and in a mess.

Now listen to what He says. Caution. On the track, the life that is set before you, be aware of any encumbrance. Those things that you're carrying in your life that God says is slowing you down and hanging you up. Number two, the sin which doth so easily beset us, the implication is there is a sin, there is a weakness, a sin, a weakness in a life that that person has to watch out for above all the rest.

The sin that doth so easily beset us, there is a weakness in our lives that Satan will use. You know what He's saying? He's saying watch out for encumbrances and watch out for the sin which doth so easily beset us and let us run with endurance.

Now listen to me. Then He says lay it aside. Lay aside what? Lay aside the encumbrance. May not be necessarily a sin, but something God doesn't want in your life. Secondly, lay aside the sin. How do you lay aside the sin? Number one, you have to identify it. Number two, you have to acknowledge before God that it's a sin. Number three, by an act of your choice. When He says lay it aside, that implies, the meaning of that is that you have, lay it aside means that you lay it down.

How do you lay it down? By faith. And then you claim death to that because of your position in Christ Jesus. Paul said I'm crucified with Christ. He says we, by an act of our position by faith, our position is we can claim death to any, listen to the power of any particular sin in our life. But now watch this. When you're running the race, my friend, remember this, that out there on the track somewhere you haven't decided once and for all, well, enough of that sin, that's it.

Nobody will have to worry about that again. No, because all along the race He says the sin which doth so easily beset us, that means that all along the track it's out there. So you're cruising along and everything is just fine and all of a sudden here's that patch of barbed wire again. If you choose death to it, you go around it. How many times do you have to choose death to the sin that death so easily beset you every single time you face it?

Not once in a lifetime, not once in the race, not once in forever, every time. And you see there are always those running along your race saying, look, what about this? They want to encumber you with their ideas. And their ideas, their speculations, they want you to take on whether it's thought patterns or things that would slow you down and encumber you in God's choice race.

And He says He purposed when He gave you this life to glorify Himself in you. The objective of my life is, the encumbrances of my life are, the sin which doth so easily beset me is. I want to challenge you, my friend, to get a pencil and piece of paper when you go home today. Listen.

And you may not even want to see that. But get a pencil and piece of paper and write those three things down. The objective of my life is, the encumbrances in my life are, the sin which doth so easily beset me is.

Then my act of faith, confessing, having identified those things in your life, you deal with them by faith, asking God to give you freedom and liberty and the discernment to be able to spot them in the race and to be able to avoid them as God brings them to your mind. Now one last thing. Listen. One of these days we're going to give an account for the race and I want to ask you a simple question.

Today, my friend, how are you running the race? Thank you for listening to part two of The Life Before You. If you'd like to know more about Charles Stanley or In Touch Ministries, stop by InTouch.org. This podcast is a presentation of In Touch Ministries, Atlanta, Georgia.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-08-06 03:15:36 / 2023-08-06 03:23:46 / 8

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