We're gonna have our our Bible reading now, and, then we'll sing before it's preached to us. So if you would like to turn to Hebrews. Hebrews chapter chapter 11. We're gonna read the last verses Hebrews chapter 11, and then the first bit of Hebrews 12.
And just as we, as we turn there and as we come to to hear the word of god read to us, I'll just give you a moment of quiet and you can, continue to to pray, for anything perhaps that Sarah was praying about or you can ask the lord to prepare your heart to hear from him as we turn to the Bible. You can spend a moment confessing, any sins to the lord asking for his forgiveness and asking that he would minister to you specifically this morning, through his word. Just a moment of quiet for that. Hebrews 11, and we're gonna read from verses 39 to 12 verse 12. These were all commended for their faith.
Yet none of them received what had been promised since god had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect? 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 the perfecter of faith. For the joy that was 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.
In your struggle against sin, You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood, and have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son. It says, my son do not make light of the lord's discipline. And do not lose heart when he rebukes you because the law disciplines the 1 he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son. Indure hardship as discipline, god is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father.
If you are not disciplined and everyone undergoes discipline, then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the father of spirits and live They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best, but god disciplines us for our good in order that we may share in his holiness No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, It produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees, make level paths for your feet so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.
My name is Pete Woodcock. I'm 1 of the ministers here, and, welcome to you. I think it's a whole lot of people from Malaysia. Lovely to have you, muck along a young child's family. There they are.
Look at them. 3 and a half hours to get through, Heathrow. Brilliant. Anyway, let's pray. Father help us now, as we study your word, please help us to have ears to hear, that we may be doers of your word.
In Jesus' name, oh, man. In 19 68, there was an Olympic it was, it was at Mexico City. And 1 of the outstanding and inspiring and wonderful things that happened was, during the marathon, and this is what I wanna take you back to. 19 68, Olympic marathon, Mexico City. Now due to the high altitude of Mexico City, the marathon apparently was just grueling.
So so grueling because the lack of air and and so forth that 18 of the 75 contestants just fell out and didn't pass the finishing line. Only 57 passed the finishing line. The difference between the gold medalist the winner, and the last 1 to cross, the finishing line was 1 hour, 5 minutes of 1 second. So it was quite a long time. In fact, the last man was still running and they'd already done the medal ceremony They closed up shop.
The sun had set. It was dark and they didn't know someone was still running. And then someone said, no, there's someone still running. And so they sent a, a TV camera crew out to go to go to get him. The gold to, you know, film him.
The gold medalist was Mambo Ward, and he was from Ethiopia. The man still running was John Stephen Acawari from Tanzania. He had never trained in high altitudes he had altitude sickness as he was running and so did a whole group. In fact, a whole group fell over. He fell over so badly before the way mark that he dislocated his knee and he did serious injury to his shoulder.
I'm told that a dislocated knee is 1 of the most painful things you could ever have. They slotted his knee back and tried to bandage him up, but he carried on running. He carried on running, even though he had a dislocated knee and a a dodgy shoulder. He carried on running. And, if you look at YouTube and the scene where he hobbles into the stadium, there's a few people still waiting for him.
And start cheering him. It's extremely moving. He finally hovels over the finishing line, and he's asked the question. Did you ever think of giving up? No.
And they said, well, why did you go on? And here's his answer? My country did not send me 5000 miles to start the race. My country sent me 5000 miles to finish the race. Isn't that extraordinary?
My country didn't send me 5000 miles to start. My country sent me 5000 miles to finish. What an extraordinary thing? Look at verse 2 of chapter 12 of Hebrews. Fix your eyes on Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of faith.
For the joy set before him, he endured the cross scawning its shame and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Did you get the impression that through the pain of the cross, he's enduring? He's pushing on because god had not sent him to start the race. God had sent him to finish the race. And so he endured until he sat down at the right hand of the father.
Look at verse 12 of chapter 12. Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. Strengthen them. Jesus says, he who endures to the end will be saved. My savior didn't come to start the race and not finish.
He came to finish the race. And he calls us not to start the race, but to finish the race. He's calling us to push on to persevere, strengthen your knees, even if they're dislocated. Strengthen them. The Greek word for race that you get in this in this passage means struggle.
It means fight and is often used and translated as fight in the new testament. Christian life's not a walk in the park. It's not the walking group, although it's brilliant, the walking group. It's not a sprint. It's hard.
It's an exhausting marathon. It's a long obedience to Christ. It's keep on going, it's perseverance. It's keep moving in the battle against sin and the world and the devil. It's a constant pushing on.
So how do we keep that up? How do we endure to the end as Jesus wants us to do? How do we keep running when our knees dislocated? How do we keep running when our shoulders got serious injury? How do we keep going?
Well, we've gotta be driven by faith and drawn by hope. They're the 2 things that he's been writing about in Hebrews as we've been going through this series. In Hebrews chapter 11 and 12. We're driven by faith that the 1 that asks us to stick at it, we're driven by that. I haven't come here to start.
I've come here to finish and we're we're drawn by hope that there's a there's a hope there's a finishing line and the finishing line is glory. It's with the god of glory. And they're the things that this writer in this chapter that we've been looking at in Hebrews 11 is telling us about he's shown us a great cloud of witnesses that have been doing this race before us and have finished the race before us. And he's saying, I want you now. I'm handing the baton over to you I want you to run like they have run.
So we're gonna look at this passage, and I've got a whole series of Ls. Okay? ELs. It rarely happens for us preachers here at Cornerstone, but when it does, we love it. Yeah.
And we push an L in any way we can. So here's some l's to learn about running the race. First l is listen. Listen. Don't listen to the voice in your head.
I mean, I'm sure as he was running. It would be the voice in his knee, wouldn't it? Give up. You've dissipated your knee, your idiot. You've only got 2 legs and 1 isn't working.
You know? What are you gonna do? Hop through? It's an hour since the bloke won. Yeah?
They've all gone home. Imagine the thing going through the little voice in his knee. Yeah. Amazing. Don't listen to the voice in your head, but listen to the great cloud of witnesses that surround you, he says.
Don't listen to the opinions of the world. Give up, it's not worth going on. What's all this old fashioned Christianity? Why are you excited about Jesus? Live the life here.
Listen to those who have had faith before you. So verse 1 of chapter 12, therefore since we're surrounded by such a great cloud of uh-uh cloud of witnesses. Now the word witness has 2 meanings in English. 1, it's the person that sees and hears an event. They witness an event.
But the second thing is that they talk about the event. They witness. They say, yes, I saw the event. They don't just see the event, but they witness to the event. They testify.
Yes. I saw that. But here in the Greek, there's a third meaning because the word witness here is the word for martyr, as many as you know. It's the word for martyr. In other words, these people are prepared to be marty are prepared to die for what they've seen and heard.
They're saying, this is so true. We so believe in it that we're martyrs to this, we're witnesses to this, and that's what they're saying. And so the writer's saying, you've been surrounded You're absolutely surrounded by these witnesses and they're not silent. They're speaking out to what they testify about. So we saw, if you can remember when we started this series, it says, by faith Abel, remember the first martyr, Abel still speaks, even though he's dead.
He's still speaking. And all these people, this cloud of witnesses, although they're dead, they still speak. And what are they saying? Well, this is what we gotta listen to. Keep going.
We did. Keep going. Have faith in God trust his word. Yes, there'll be people around you that says it's stupid, but we've we we were wondering whether it was stupid. Sometimes in our lives, but now we know it wasn't.
Listen to the cloud of witnesses. Listen to their testimony. Listen says Abraham. Listen says Moses. Listen says Isaiah.
Listen says Isaiah. Listen says a million and 1 others that are in the cloud of witnesses. With people like you, we had our moments, we had our failures, we had our doubts. We wondered whether god was really with us, but now we can tell you at the end of the race, He was always with us, even in the difficult times of dislocated these, it was when he was particularly with us. Now we look back at things.
We finish the race. You keep going. There's a cloud of witnesses, these old testament witnesses that are saying keep going. Now in 1 sense, they're not witnesses to us, They're witnesses, they're they're witnesses to us. They're not witnesses of us.
It's not as if Moses is in this shuttle grand stadium. Looking at me running because that feels a little bit because he's got his law there and you think, gosh, that's another 1 he's broken, you know. It's not like that so much. It their witnesses to us that we are watching them if you like. It's that way around.
But having said that, they are surrounding us as we watch them and spurring us on with their chants and their shouts and their keep up the faith. Yeah. Keep it up. And that's what fans do, isn't it? I mean, some of the chants in our country to football things, and it's just weird.
When I followed West Ham in the seventies, why did we think I'm forever blowing bubbles. I mean, genuinely, how does that help the footballer score a goal? Anderson's on the pitch. He's looking a bit he's looking a bit weak there. He needs the crowd to shout to him, to spur him on.
So he might get a goal. I'm throwing bubbles, pretty bubbles in the air. Yes. That's invigorated me. I will now kick the bubble into the back of the it's ridiculous.
What are these songs? Or what is this song about a woman, sweet Caroline? I mean, who is the woman for a start? Why does that spur us on? Oh, he's got the ball.
What he needs is now is to think about Caroline. Well, who is she? Necessarily his wife or something, they're not singing in names songs that's I don't know what they mean. They're singing. Sweet Christian faith, run, run, run.
Life will always be a race, keep on going, keep on going, keep on going. That's what they're singing. Look at how we ran, run, run, run, be inspired by our faith. Our faith, our faith, our faith. It has some substance to it, and they want us to hear what they went through and see it.
So that we run. But they have a vital interest in us finishing the race. Look at verse 39 of chapter 11. Remarkable words these. These were all commended for their faith, and we've seen these in in the series, and you can go back and listen to them.
Yet none of them that received what had been promised since god had planned something better for us. So now we're included with them so that only together with us would they be made perfect? Complete. Extraordinary sentence. He's saying you and me have a privilege in these end times that they didn't have.
They were looking for the Messiah. They were looking for a better country, a better resurrection, all from the distance, and we've seen the Messiah come. They never entered, why? Why? Look, so that only together with us would they be made perfect or complete?
They're waiting for us to finish the race. Do you see that? They're waiting for all god's people in these last days to come in and finish the race. They're waiting for you to finish the race. They have a vested interest.
They're saying, look at us, so that you would look at them and and keep going, and they want you to keep going, don't switch lanes, keep going because god won't wrap up this world until you get over the So keep running. You see? What an extraordinary thought that is, isn't it? I mean, we need to play with that in our home groups and think about what that means to in more detail. They're waiting for you to finish the race and all those that will come into the race.
We're in these last times. We're playing away from home, and they're saying come home. We're playing away from home, but we have a great cloud of witnesses that are singing sweet Christian faith, run, run, run. So that's the first word. Listen, first l.
Second l is lay aside or throw off. Look at verse 1, the second half of verse 1. Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. Now those of you do running, you start buying that awful lycra stuff, don't don't you? And and you think you look cool in it.
And those who cycle. It's extremely hard being a driver in this cyclist in front of you, isn't it? But anyway, you buy that lycra stuff. Why? Because it's light and it's adaptable and it it it it, you know, it doesn't, hold back and restrict movement.
So you buy that stuff. That's the clothing you wear. So don't wear loose clothing if you're going on a run. And, as you probably know in the first century, in the games, many of them run run completely naked. Because they just wanted to be free to to run.
They never sort of had a toga on or anything like that. But we've got to put off, we throw off. We wear the appropriate gear for the race. Listen to Jesus. This is in Luke 21.
Jesus says this. Listen carefully. It's very strong stuff. Be careful or your hearts will be weighed down. You know, put off things that weigh you down.
Be careful or your heart to be weighed down. Listen to this. With carousing and drunkenness and the anxieties of life, Now I looked up that word, carousing, because what is carousing? And it's a very odd word because it basically means drunkenness. But it has the sense of a hangover headache that goes with it.
So he says he says Be careful or your hearts will be weighed down with drunkenness, drunkenness, and the exact anxieties of life. Why why does it why would what's this about drunkenness? And I was trying to think through What what it means? So carousing, hangover, there's something that if you're committed to the entertainment of this world, that will give you a hangover. I think that's the sort of thing he's saying, and and and you won't be able to think properly.
You'll be confused and tired and grumpy and have a headache, and you won't be clear thinking. I think he's saying, is there something in your life that you need to throw off? Doesn't have to be alcohol, but is there something that comes in and makes you like you gotta hangover? Is there something that that You're not clear thinking when it comes to Christianity because you've got this in your life. He says throw that off, throw that off, or the anxieties of life.
Really anxious. Are you very anxious? You need to deal with that anxiety. He says, because it's gonna be like something that will throw you need to throw off. Then he says, then he says be always on the watch and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen and that you may be able to stand before the son of man.
Watch and pray in this world. Get rid of stuff that is going to weigh you down that is going to give you a headache that is gonna get you confused about this world, be clear minded, clear headed, watch, pray, pray for the things that are around you. Don't just walk out into the world because there's gonna be things that are gonna give you a headache or make you anxious. You gotta watch and you gotta pray about these things and then you'll be able to stand before the son of man. What are the algorithms that are dragging you down that are working because they've seen that you've this and listen to this and they're working away and giving you more of what they think you want.
You know, wouldn't it be good to cut them from time to time? Absolutely cut those algorithms to do something else. Sometimes I changed my password and who I am. I have put in. I'm a 90 year old woman, I only gotta be careful with this because you might get, you know, but I'm a 90 year old woman just so I don't get the stuff that they think a 65 year old man wants.
So I'm a night shift when you start getting, I won't tell you what I get. It is quite funny, though, but What is it? What's the thing? What are the hindrances? Now you may have a different hindrance to someone else, so don't judge someone else on it.
But what are the things that you need to throw off? Lay aside, get rid of? And then he goes on and says, the sin that so easily entangles Now I don't think he's talking about just general sins there. I think he's talking about the particular sin, like he talks in verse 4, you've not even you know shed blood in your in your resistance. I think he's talking about the particular sin of giving up giving up the race not pushing on of treating Christianity as the occasional hobby and something nice in your life because it helps the children instead of a radical way of life.
And a radical way of dealing with the world. Get rid of that sin, that'll entangle you. Stop being a once own the church member that comes on Sunday morning and thinks you're doing god a favor. That sort of Christianity thing. Get rid of that stuff.
That'll entangle you into you thinking you're running well, and you're not. You've already fallen. Don't drift into that. So lay aside. Listen, lay aside.
What are the things that you need to listen to from that great cloud of witness. Put them down. Have a think about it. Why not this week? Think.
What do I need to listen to then from them? What do I need to lay aside? What is the thing I need to throw off if it's gonna trip me up? Have a think about that. Thirdail.
Look. Listen, lay aside. Look. Look to Jesus. We had that song at Old Thompson next song for years.
That was a lovely version and so thank you, Ben, for bringing that. I I actually really thought that was terrific. In fact, if I remember, we're gonna have to sing it again after I preached. But look. Look.
Look to Jesus. Fix your eyes on Jesus. Look at verse 2. Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy that was set before him, he endured the cross scorned its shame and sat down at the right hand of the throne of the father.
Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. We follow 1 we need to fix our eyes on. We follow 1 who's run the same course that you are now running. He's the pioneer of that course. He's the trailblazer of that course.
He cut his way through that course. So he's gone before us where we tread, he's trodden. That's what it's saying. Now the word uh-uh that's translated in in our version pioneer could be translated and it is in some versions champion or captain. So we need to listen to the great cloud of witnesses around us but we need to look to our champion, our captain, the 1 that goes before us.
We need to listen to the great cloud of witnesses, but we need to fix our eyes on him who will encourage us every single step Jesus has already been where you're gonna put your foot. He's the forerunner. Yeah. He's the 1 who's swayed the way, cut his way like a pioneer through to heaven, through to god the father. Or as as as Hebrews, we're not studying Hebrews particularly, but as Hebrew says, into the heavenly sanctuary, into the heavenly tabernacle, into the holy of holies where god is.
He's cut his way. He's made a, a new and living way says Hebrews. Through into the tabernacle of god. He's the 1 that swathed away there. Jesus is the the beginning and the end.
He's the alpha and the amiga. He's the 1 who was perfected, completed, as the son of god, by his obedience to god and by his suffering on the cross. He himself was perfected by obeying god. Now he says I am the pioneer and perfecter of your faith. I'll perfect you because I'm your brother, because I'm your savior, because I'm the 1 that brings faith into your life.
And what I've started, I will finish. What I've started, I will finish because I'm able to finish it. And I am the big brother as he says in in Hebrews. I'm the 1 who's come into the flesh. I'm the 1 who's learned obedience as the real of god.
Follow me. I've spathed the way. Follow me fix your eyes on me. Not on yourself, but on me. He says, fix your eyes on Jesus.
Where is he from? What has he done? Where has he been? Where is he now? And that will keep you from wandering lanes.
Look at verse 2, second half, and let us run fix our eyes on Jesus and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Perseverance is a hard, long slog with a lot of stamina and determination. We've already seen that, but don't go off the marked lane. Yeah? Don't cheat.
There's the lane marked out for you. Don't do shortcuts. Yeah? Don't think So believe it or not, I was only 1 of the only things I was ever good at school was running. I learned to run.
You had to at my school, you had to run from your enemy, and you had to, run from other people that wore sort of bluish suits. So you you you had to learn to run. And also there were, there were, I've now just thought of something. These things hard for me not to say that. I remember that we used to have what we called squadies in Windsor.
They're they're the, they were, in the army. And they were always beating up the local Windsor lads, and we used to try and work them up to get us. And I was caught by a squadie once, He came around the back of me and grabbed me, and I was I'd been shouting something at him, and he caught me. And I just went into cowering dog mode, which is, oh, look, you're so strong, you're so brilliant, and I'm weak. He said, I'm gonna smack your head in.
I said, yeah, you could easily do that. You've done it already. You've you've you've done it till I'm humbled and broken and at least sort of went like that and let me go. And of course a few feet along, I was going, I beat you. You fickered.
And then run and run and run. Anyway, sorry about that. But, so you had to learn to run, and I don't even know what I'm telling you this. But you've you've gotta run. But you've gotta run the the you don't and so I was good at running at school.
That's right. But I remember I remember doing cross country running and another school came and me and my mate, we knew the shortcuts. You go through this little wood, you go over over this, little, under this little, tunnel thing and you cut off about 10 minutes. Yeah. And, of course, that's what we did, and then we were disqualified.
Is the silly little boys from the other school split on us. So that's but he says, don't get back to this. So the race marked out before you. Yeah? No bypass meadow as you get in in, in pilgrims progress.
No. No. This is an easier way. This is 1 of comfort. Be aware of 1, 2, 3 Christianity, sort of stuff.
If you 1, 2, 3, do this, then then it'll be easy for you in life. No. No. No nonsense. Be aware of shortcuts.
Stick at the race, follow him. And how did he run? Well, look at it for the joy set before him he endured the cross. What is the joy set before him? So he ran with the finishing line or the joy set before him so he could endure the cross.
Now, what is the joy set before him? Well, have a listen to this. This is some 16. This is about Jesus. I keep my eyes always on the lord.
With him at my right hand, I shall not be shaken. Therefore, my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices, my body also will rest secure. Because you will not abandon me to the realm of death, nor will you let your faithful ones see decay? You made known to me the path of life You will fill me with joy in your presence with eternal pleasure at your right hand. It's an extraordinary psalm and it's used in the new testament by Peter in the sermon, at pentecost.
It's about the death and resurrection of Jesus. It's an extraordinary 1. So as he was enduring the cross, he was looking to the time he'd be back in the presence with the father. And that is extraordinary joy, eternal pleasure at your right hand. You can endure something if you know it's not going to go on forever, but what will go on forever is the pleasure of god.
A heart glad with god, because god is a god who is 1 that you can have pleasure in. He's not some stern, ugly, distant god. He's joyful. He's a joyful god. And there's joy in his presence.
And so what helps him go on is looking beyond the pain to the future. The hope is dragging him there. But there's another thing. If you go to Psalm 22, listen to what he says. Psalm 22 is all about Jesus on the cross.
It begins. My god, my god, I'm abandoned. But towards the end, it says this. I will declare your name, that's god's name, to my people in the assembly, I will praise you. And then it goes on to show that he presents a people to god and who are those people?
That's you. That's me. That's the bride of Christ. He's presenting his pride to the father. He's presenting us.
And if you go on, you see even more glorious things in that are, but I have no time to go on. In Isaiah, you've got the same sort of thing. He was pierced for our transgressions. He died for our transgressions, not his own, hit the punishment that brought us peace was upon him. And then you get that whole thing in Isaiah 53.
Where again, he's presenting us to god. That's what keeps him going. There's a little assembly. There's a wife. There's a bride.
There's a people I've died for. I'm enduring this because there's this joy set before me. Jesus wants to see you in heaven and he's beckoning you. He's extending his arms out to you. He's like a father bending his knees with his arms out to the sun that's learning to walk and saying, come on, son.
Come on, son. Another step. Another step. And you're being dad's arms. It's the reward he's looking forward to.
Nothing wrong with looking forward to the reward in the new creation. The reward of being in the presence of a joyful god where all joy and abundance comes from. He endured the cross. His knees weren't dislocated, but his arms probably were. His hands certainly were pierced and so were his feet.
He had a crown of thorns smashed on his head. He was in agony. He endured it. He kept on going. He could've pulled out the nails and said, I love Sonigod.
He made, created the the iron ore that was used to make the nails that rammed through his hands. He made the tree that was used for him to be pinned onto. He could have said, I'm the lord. And he was the lord, but he endured it. He scorned its shame.
This is nothing compared to the glory, the joy that I'm buying for these people. I scorn the the the shame. I'll take the shame. It's nothing compared to the assembly that will be of people from all nations there praising our god. And he sat down at the right hand of the throne.
His job is done. Consider him fix your eyes on him. Think ponder, meditate, discuss, continually Jesus. That's what we want to do at Cornerstone. Once we start missing Jesus and bring out rulers and laws and all of that stuff, we're in massive trouble.
Keep considering Jesus ponder Jesus, meditate on him, read the gospel, see how he endured, ridicule, and lies, and misunderstand spandings and rejections and his best mate selling him for a few few pounds. Friends turning. Away from him. Consider Jesus regularly. Listen.
Great cloud of witnesses. Lay aside the stuff that's gonna trip you up. Get rid of it. Look, look to Jesus. 1 last 1.
Love, 4 is love. The fourth will air is love. Know that you're loved And this next section which I'm not gonna spend much time on, you'll notice it's all about discipline. Look at verse 7, In Jewish hardship as as discipline, god is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father, and then there's a whole thing about being disciplined.
If you're not disciplined, you're an illegitimate child. You're not a son. You know, discipline's good. You need discipline. Otherwise, you're going to be a a stupid child for the rest of your life.
Yeah? So discipline's good. I know people can you know, be horrible in their discipline. We're not talking about that. We're talking about a loving father discipline.
When you suffer, see he turns it all the way around from the prosperity gospel people. They basically say, you'll know god loves you when you are prosperous and healthy and wealthy. It's an utter lie. He says, you know God loves you when you're being disciplined. When there's difficulties in your life.
He you know god loves you because you're a real child And he's bringing these things to help you, to make you persevere, to push you on so that You look to him and fix your eyes on him and consider where he ran, and you run his course. You run his course. And you say, god didn't start this work so that I jump out of the race. God started this work in me so that I would finish because you know you're loved by god. Let's bow our heads and pray together.
Well, here are some of those some of those questions that Pete put to us in the sermon and we'll keep having so quiet to reflect on what we've heard but I'll just go over these questions, to to guide our our our time of, response. What are the things that we need to listen to in order to encourage us to keep following Christ? What are we filling our ears with? What things can we listen to to help us follow the lord? And what are the things that we need to lay aside the sins or the patterns of behavior or the things that we're into which are preventing clear, Christian thinking and are causing us to stumble and slow down in the race.
What things do we need to lay aside? And how can we make sure in the week ahead that we find time and we find ways to fix our eyes upon Jesus for the ultimate encouragement that we need to keep running the race. Father, we are sorry for when we have taken our eyes off the lord Jesus. And we have began to stumble and to slow down and to limp and to fall over and to struggle because we have stopped looking at our savior. We have started listening for too long to the voices of the world which try to lead us off the course.
We have looked at things which have not helped us to follow Jesus, but have caused us to slow down and get ensnared in sin. That instead of listening to the to the voices cheering us on from your word. We have listened to and looked at things which have only slowed us down and we are sorry. And we thank you lord Jesus for helping us to ponder you this morning to consider you and to see you and we thank you that every time we gaze on the face of the 1 who died and rose for us, we find fresh strength for this race. We thank you father for each other and we we so need each other in this race.
We we need each other to encourage and to lift our heads up so that we can keep looking to you and we pray that you'd help us to do that. We we pray that you would help us when we go through difficult times and whether it be a suffering or a trial of some description help us not to turn and to to to beat you with that, to curse you, but to see it as a sign of your affection that you you you love us as sons and daughters, you discipline us, you want us to be trained and to be purified. So we might run better and love better and be more faithful to you. And we ask all of these things in Jesus' name, amen.