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1 Remember the Witnesses

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July 27, 2008                                                                                           SD21

Remember the Witnesses.doc                                                                  File: E (Hebrews)

Go for the Goal

Becoming a Spiritual Champion

REMEMBER THE WITNESSES

Hebrews 12

The stadium is full. The crowds are hushed. Thousands are near by to watch the race. The runners are at the starting blocks. The gun is about to go off.

For just a brief moment you glance over---the faces are etched in your mind…your coach (and all the coaches who ever worked with you to get you here)—you Mom and Dad, and the sacrifices the made suddenly become real to you…you took it for granted so many times…aunts and uncles, teachers, friends, pastors, SS teacher who loved you like no one loved you…

      All waiting and watching and routing for you…

            Your muscles tense…

                  On you marks!!!!

One more furtive glance…

In the crowd are faces you do not recognize, but they are people you know…those who have run the race before you…

There is Moses, and Noah, Abraham, David, Ruth, and Rahab,

      Another look…and was that your grandfather…he died when you were only seven…but now, he watches you…his testimony is your witness…His memory is your encouragement….

Get Set….

      Now the focus is on the race…the finish line…the other runners become shadows…you look to the end before the gun goes off…

      You know they will be there…the great encourages of history…the great encouragers of life…even in your life…The witnesses of faith…the testimonies that proclaim---“We did it!  You can do it!!!!

So many of their testimonials are crowded with failure as much as victory---

But they are champions in their own right—because they had faith…they believed…and they stayed the course—they remained faithful…and so give you (and me) a witness…

They watch…the jump to their feet…they shout…

GO!!!!

They are on your side as you race to the finish line…

But one face seems to be missing from the grand scope of spectators…it is because your coach is not in the crowd he is on the field…he is at the starting line…and he is waiting at the finish line…

      The author and finisher of the race=JESUS

Today I begin a series from Hebrews in line with Olympic season. Summer Olympics come once every four years—We hear stories of athletic champions all the time—their childhood, stories of personal tragedy and triumph—one Olympian, has cancer and continues to compete…another…has this or that obstacle they have overcome through discipline and good coaching…

I want to talk about the mindset of a spiritual champion for the next several weeks—from Hebrews 11-12…

So today as we begin together looking at some simple phrases from Hebrews 12—we will learn what it takes to be a Christian with a mind set on going for the goal…

“Reaching forward…” as Paul says in Philippians…

We are going to talk about

      Remembering the witnesses

Removing the hindrances

      Running with perseverance

      Reaching for the Goal

      Respecting the discipline of our Coach

      Recovering from injuries

            To keep on course!!!!

                  To finish the race!!!!

Today I only want to do one thing!  That is to make you aware of who is in the stands watching and encouraging you to be a Champion for God!

Hebrews 11 gives us an incomplete list—if you just browse over the chapter as I talk you will conclude that this is quite a list—heroes, if you will!!!

Everybody needs a hero—somebody to look up to—somebody to inspire them—

Those who would be spiritual champions must have some spiritual champions in their life---and the call goes out for each of us to be a spiritual champion, not for our own sake but for those who will follow behind us…

“May all who go behind us find us faithful…”

May the fire of our devotion light their way

May the footprints that we leave

Inspire them to believe…

Those who would be Christians with a Go for the Goal” mindset must Remember the Witnesses!

Remembering the witnesses will help us be spiritual champions in at least three ways:

1)   Accountability

2)   Encouragement

3)   Example

1)         Remembering the witnesses provides accountability.

When you remember who is watching it can inspire you to do your best…

Have you ever been in a situation where you were about to loose your cool and do something that might have been really stupid…but then you realized who was watching?

      Maybe your kids?

      Maybe a supervisor?

      Maybe the guy you have been trying to witness to?

And because they were witnesses to your life and behavior you kept your cool and didn’t react like you would have otherwise…

It is like the Lord took over….because on you rown you would have done poorly!!!

And on the other hand—has the presence of someone ever caused you to do a better job—to excel beyond what you would have done on your own…


When we remember that there is a great crowd of witnesses – past and present – it helps us be accountable for our actions

REMEMBER THE WITNESSES

2)   Remembering the witnesses provides encouragement.

      It’s called the “home-field advantage.” If you check the scores of sports teams around the world, you will find that teams usually win more when playing at home than when they are on the road. Friendly fans cheer on the home team when they are down, and encourage the referee to make the proper calls.

However, I don’t believe these are the only purposes of the “cloud of witnesses” in this passage. Some of the witnesses are specifically named in chapter 11.

Look at the names with me: Enoch (v. 5), Noah (v. 7), Abraham (v. 8), followed by Isaac (v. 20), Jacob (v. 21), and Joseph (v. 22)—he is one of my favorites from the Bible.

The list goes on to include Moses, David, Samson, and a whole host of others.

“And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel and the prophets” (v. 32). The list is huge. These are all spiritual champions from the Bible’s “Hall of Faith.”

I don’t know if these witnesses are literally looking down on us from holy box seats in heaven. But the point is that they willse rve as an example and an encouragement

REMEMBER THE WITNESSES

When you think you have it so bad—remember those whom the world was not worthy of…those throughout the ages who have gone to their death for the name of Jesus Christ…

v.35-38 (NIV) Others were tortured and refused to be released, so that they might gain a better resurrection. 36 Some faced jeers and flogging, while still others were chained and put in prison. 37 They were stoned; they were sawed in two; they were put to death by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated— 38 the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground.”

“Believers with a “go for the gold” mindset remember these witnesses.

They remind themselves that “even though nobody in my world seems to be paying all that much attention to how I’m doing spiritually speaking, the truth is there’s a vast stadium full of spiritual somebodies keenly involved in what’s going on.” – David Mains

 

3)   Remembering the witnesses gives us an example to follow.

Look at it this way. Do you think any of the athletes soon to be competing in Beijing will be aware of what previous champions have done?

--For example, will gymnasts know that at 14 years of age Nadia Comaneci of the Soviet team in 1976 in Montreal scored seven perfect tens? Sure they will!

--Are long jumpers aware that an American Bob Beamon leaped an amazing 29 feet 2 1/2 inches in Mexico City in 1968, breaking the broad jump record by—would you believe—22 inches? That’s almost 2 feet. Of course they know.

--What boxer isn’t cognizant of the fact that as a light heavyweight Cassius Clay (later known to the world as Muhammad Ali) easily won a gold medal in the Rome Olympics in 1960?

--A star in track and field would know of Jesse Owens, who won multiple gold medals in Berlin, 1936, while breaking down racial barriers.

These and other champions, many now dead, remain heroes even to modern-day competitors. They know about Michael Johnson winning both the 200 and 400 meters in Atlanta in 1996, and Cathy Freeman dramatically capturing the gold in the 400 meters for the host country Australia when the 2000 games were held in Sydney.

You better believe these Go for the Goal hopefuls in 2008 remember the heroes from the past!

It inspires them to compete---to do better than those who have gone before---to create new records and carry home not merely the medal of gold, but the honor of doing all they could to achieve the prize…

One more story. It was back in 1912 in Stockholm that the pentathlon was dominated by the host country Sweden.

The exception was an American Army lieutenant who, in the shooting event, completely missed the target on one of his shots. He claimed the bullet had actually gone through a hole made by an earlier shot. If that was true, George Patton would have won the event and gone home with a gold metal. The judges said no, so he ended in fifth place. Of course, Patton later commanded the third Army and helped achieve victory for the Allies in Europe in World War II.

Just because you don’t go home with the gold medal doesn’t mean you are a loser---and taking home a meal doesn’t really make you a winner in life…

What I’m saying, along with the backing of the writer of Hebrews, is that believers with a “go for the gold” mindset remember the witnesses.

 Yes, the whole world will soon be watching what’s going on in Beijing. But today, the whole unseen world is watching… what’s going on in your life!!!!

Seeing that we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses…let us run…

      Run           RUN               RUN!!!!

Jesus is waiting at the finish line!!!!  With a ready embrace!!!!

Go for the Goal

Part One

Becoming a Spiritual Champion

Hebrews 12:1-2

Christians with a “Go for the Goal” mindset

must Remember the Witnesses!

Remembering the witnesses provides                                       

Remembering the witnesses provides                                       

Remembering the witnesses gives us an                                   

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