Finish Strong

Youth Sunday. Once a year the Youth of FUMC lead the congregation in worship.

The message this week came through Ryan Travis, a senior at Jacksonville High School, who used Hebrews 12:1-2 for inspiration. [Read the passage now. Click the Scripture reference to read online.]

Ryan shared various experiences with finishing in the face of challenges and difficulty. His sister struggling with hurdles. Discouragements faced by Teen Net Team pursuing a goal. Rain leaving Church Under the Bridge without a praise band for a worship service. All reasons to quit.

An endless list of obstacles make us want to give up or become complacent in our faith. But this passage in Hebrews encourages endurance.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses,
let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, 
and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us…
Hebrews 12:1 ESV

And I wonder…

What witnesses encourage you?

Who, if you remembered they were watching, would encourage you to pick up the pace? [Think about it… write those names down. Consider putting them on an index card. Attach it to your bathroom mirror or your dashboard. Your own personal on-lookers to encourage you through the day.]

What weighs you down? 

Fear? Worry? Stress? [Record the things that feel weighty in your life. Discouragements. Identifying them is the first step in laying them aside. Take them to God in prayer (Philippians 4:6-7).]
What sin clings to you, trips you up?

Where do you keep falling? over and over? again and again? [Name it and claim it. Stop denying. Stop justifying. Confess and repent. In Christ you are forgiven and completely free from the power of sin in your life (Romans 8:1-4). Begin living like it. And when you fall… yet again. Fall into His grace. Get up. Confess. Repent. And begin again.]
Where do you find your ultimate encouragement?

…looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith…
Hebrews 2:12 ESV
Jesus. He’s the one we are to keep our eyes on. He’s the one who founded and perfects our faith. He is the ultimate Witness whose watchful eyes should provide the impetus to continue with diligence and passion. [Be sure He’s on your list of witnesses.]
Lord, I want to run the race and finish strong. Remind me of the witnesses watching my faith-race each day. Bless me with the faith to set aside every weight that discourages and every sin that impedes. Keep my eyes focused on You.

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