November 30, 2021
Hebrews 12:1-3 (NIV)
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.
“Jesus is changing me.” Nothing has encouraged me more throughout this series on encouragement than this opening line of an email sent me last week. I’m still not over it.
“I started realizing JESUS, start to finish JESUS . . . Started living JESUS.”
It’s why I love today’s text so much. It holds the secret to everything: fixing our eyes on Jesus.
Here’s what happens when we fix our eyes on Jesus: And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,
And did you catch our money word? It was right there tucked into verse one—hoop-O-money! (aka perseverance)
Some people still believe we can’t fix our gaze on Jesus until we have “thrown off” our entangling sin. People, the exact opposite is true. We can’t throw off our entangling sin until we fix our eyes on Jesus. When we do this, sin has a way of becoming irrelevant doesn’t it?
He is the pioneer of our faith. His life authored our faith. So we keep our eyes fixed on Jesus by going over his life, Gospel by Gospel, chapter by chapter, verse by verse, day after day after day. As we learn this script, our lives will take on his character—the Holy Spirit moving our faith into all manner of surprising, creative improvisations.
He is the perfecter of our faith. “Abide in me,” he says, “and I will abide in you.” “Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.” (Hebrews 7:25) As we fix our eyes on him he transfuses his life into our life by the power of the Holy Spirit. And he does not barely save us, but completely and profoundly—to the uttermost. The perfecter of our faith actually perfects our faith.
I’ll tell you what’s perfect. It’s where this text goes next.
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.
Yet I will rejoice the Lord. I will be joyful in God my Savior. (Habakkuk 3:18)
I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. (John 15:11)
Therefore, my friends, when it comes to encouragement, let us end as we began. The late, great poet, T.S. Elliott, said it best, “We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.”
But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. (Hebrews 3:13)
And it’s today again! ;0)
Lord, high and holy, meek and lowly,
Thou hast brought me to the valley of vision,
where I live in the depths but see Thee in the heights;
hemmed in by mountains of sin I behold Thy glory.
Let me learn by paradox that the way down is the way up,
that to be low is to be high,
that the broken heart is the healed heart,
that the contrite spirit is the rejoicing spirit,
that the repenting soul is the victorious soul,
that to have nothing is to possess all,
that to bear the cross is to wear the crown,
that to give is to receive,
that the valley is the place of vision.
Lord, in the daytime stars can be seen from deepest wells,
and the deeper the wells the brighter Thy stars shine;
let me find Thy light in my darkness,
Thy life in my death,
Thy joy in my sorrow,
Thy grace in my sin,
Thy riches in my poverty,
Thy glory in my valley.*
For your namesake, Jesus, Amen.
*Taken from The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions, edited by Arthur Bennett.
How have you been most encouraged through this series? How are you growing as an encourager?
P.S. I WOULD LIKE TO ENCOURAGE YOU WITH THE GIFT OF A BOOK FROM THIS SERIES. Would you like to encourage me with a gift to Seedbed today?
This is Seedbed’s first year to be “on our own.” Yep, we have left the nest. It means many things, but among them is my responsibility as “Sower-in-Chief” to receive $1m to fund our extravagant sowing for a great awakening initiatives (The Daily Text among them). As you might imagine, I’m a little bit nervous about that one—yet full of faith. SOW, I WANT TO GIVE YOU A BOOK FROM THIS SERIES ON ENCOURAGEMENT. And I want to ask you to give a gift to Seedbed on giving Tuesday. And we have a generous giver who has agreed to match your gifts. Any amount counts. Link here.
For the Awakening,