Hebrews 11, 39 - 12, 2
Something to read
And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise, God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us.
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, 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.
New Revised Standard Version
To read the King James Version, click here
Something to think about
Chapter divisions are not always a blessing! The first two verses of Chapter 12 are quite clearly the punchline to chapter 11. That is to say, in the light of the great cloud of witnesses which we meet in the Old Testament we need to focus all our attention and effort on living for Jesus.
The image of an athlete straining every sinew to win a race is one that is often used in the New Testament. The athlete has a clear purpose and sense of direction and needs to ensure that nothing distracts them from the race. But the writer clearly doesn’t have the 100 metres race in his mind.
He is thinking of a marathon, a long arduous run which will demand endurance and total commitment. We live in a society that likes everything to be instant – whether coffee, credit or communication. But living the life of faith is precisely that – it’s a life and not a quick sprint.
The Olympics will give us plenty of opportunity to reflect on the life of the athlete – a life that is totally focused on one thing. In these busy, noisy days in which it is so easy to be distracted we need to ensure that our lives are truly centred on Jesus. And as we commit ourselves to the life of faith we can be sure that the Old Testament heroes of the faith will be cheering us on from the grandstand.
Something to do
If you don’t normally read the sports pages of your favourite newspaper then do so today and reflect on the way in which the life of a sportsman helps you to understand your life as a Christian. And if you always read the sports pages then look at the reports of a sport which you know least well, and reflect on the lessons that they hold for you.
Something to pray
Lord, we confess that we often get distracted. Our lives are so busy and there are so many urgent voices. Forgive us that we often stray far away from you. Please help us to follow Jesus, and to use all our energies to live for him.
Thank you for those people whose example has inspired us. We give thanks for the saints that we read about in the Bible, but also for those people we have known whose lives have shone with the love of Jesus.
Help us to keep on keeping on, even when the going is tough. Fill us with your Holy Spirit and enable us to keep our eyes fixed on the Lord Jesus Christ, in whose name we pray. Amen.
Today's contributor is the Rev Jonathan Edwards, General Secretary of the Baptist Union of Great Britain.