Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Finding our bearings in 2008

Hebrews 11:33 – 12:4

Finding our bearings in 2008

New Years can be time to take inventory and set direction or correction. Humans are the only creatures on earth capable of such inventory and desire for change. But which way is the correct direction?

People trapped under avalanches have about 15 minutes of air. In that time they must be able to dig themselves free of the snow. Digging the wrong way is certain death. Trouble is after being flipped upside down countless times, which way is up? In an interview with an avalanche survivor, they claimed to have figured it out by spitting. Even under tons of snow, gravity is the constant.

As believers and follows of Jesus, we need to know our constant. This a.m. I would like to suggest we are given four invitations that can help us get our bearings for 2008.

[Unless noted all scripture quoted is from the NLT.]

I. You are invited to join something bigger than yourself.

A. Notice the story line of faith:

1. [v 39] “none of them received all that God promised.”

2. [v 40] “”so they would not reach perfection without us.”

3. WE are part of their story, they are part of our story.

4. WE are invited to become the next name in the line of heroes of the faith.

B. How?

1. [v1] We are surrounded by a “huge” crowd of witness. [Think “home field advantage”]

2. [v1] We are told to “strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up.” [Two issues:]

a. The obvious one of sin, which is the willful violation of God’s law or refusal to obey God.

b. The more difficult one of “weight.” These are things that are not identified as sin but they slow us down spiritually. They take time, energy, and are distractions.

3. [v1] We are encouraged to “run with endurance the race God set before us.”

a. Endurance is NOT a sprint (for a short burst or time).

b. Endurance is not glitz and glamour; it’s slow, steady, and difficult progress because it’s one step at a time and not necessarily noticed. Trouble is enthusiasm runs off what can be seen or felt at the moment.

c. “Weariness” [v3] eventually becomes a mentality not a physical reality.

II. You are invited to “hold on when your life has had enough.” [From a Michelle Tumes song] How?

A. [v2] Keep your eyes on Jesus!

1. Peter in the storm, walked on water… why? How?

a. Because Jesus told him too…

b. Because Peter’s eyes were on Jesus. Everything else was irrelevant.

c. BUT Peter sank when he looked at the storm (took his eyes off Jesus).

2. Driving rule: “you drive with your eyes.” In other words what you are steering will eventually go the direction you are looking.

B. [v3] Keep your mind on Jesus.

1. Think/Consider what Jesus endured.

a. hostility

b. opposition

2. Hymn “When I survey the Wondrous Cross”… “did ere such love and sorry meet?”

a. Love for those Jesus died for

b. Sorrow of rejection by those He died for.

III. You are invited to give it your “all.”

A. [v4] “you have not YET given your lives.”

1. “Yet” reveals the possibilities.

2. “Yet” can also be a glorious promise.

B. “Gut check”

1. We say “shop till you drop” as a joke.

2. Reality: commitment in America is either a joke or passing fad.

C. How many are willing to:

1. …leave everything we hold “near and dear?”

2. …go a different direction than our dreams and desires?

3. …willing to give our lives (let alone time, abilities, and money)?

D. Jesus said:

1. [Matthew 10:38] “If you refuse to take up your cross and follow me, you are not worthy of being mine.”

2. [Matthew 16:25] “Then Jesus said to His disciples, If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me.”

a. Problem is we have developed a “bell curve” culture that allows and encourages us to comfortable settle into being lukewarm in the middle.

b. We are more passionate about (fill in the blank) than about Jesus.

IV. We are invited to put our faith into action.

A. Place commitment to Christ and His church above all others.

B. Free yourself from alliances, habits, and sins that would compete for your highest loyalty and central allegiance.

C. Cultivate and maintain a life of daily devotion to Christ and inward holiness that will separate you from worldliness/carnality.

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