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April 21, 2013

Looking Unto Jesus

Looking Unto Jesus

Hebrews 12:1-2
by Cooper P Abrams III

    INTRODUCTION:   Many times we use clich├ęs in preaching such as "Trust Jesus." But that particular phrase or arrangement of these two words is not found in Scripture. However many times we are told to trust the Lord and the Bible tells us that Jesus is the Lord.
      Psalms 18:2 The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower.Psalms 18:30 As for God, his way is perfect: the word of the LORD is tried: he is a buckler to all those that trust in him.
      Psalms 118:8 It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man.
      Proverbs 28:25 He that is of a proud heart stirreth up strife: but he that putteth his trust in the LORD shall be made fat.
      Isaiah 26:4 Trust ye in the LORD for ever: for in the LORD JEHOVAH is everlasting strength:
      1 Timothy 4:10 For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe.
               The Bible tells to "believe" in Jesus Christ that a person be saved. The word means to put have faith, and to put one's trust in Jesus Christ, which means making a commitment to Him. There is no such thing in the Bible as saving faith without a commitment. That commitment is the result of salvation and means to faithfully follow the Lord Jesus.
               The phrase "trust in Jesus" has many applications in our lives. We put our trust in the Lord in many ways.
              There is another phrase often used that is found in God's word. It is instruction that also convenes a powerful and live changing message. That phrase is found in Hebrews 12:1-3 and it is the action of belief and trust in Jesus Christ.
              "Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience 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 is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.
              That phrase is "Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith."
              The statement's context is important to understanding it full meaning. The statement follows Hebrews 11 which is the Bible's "Hall of Faith." Here are examples from history of men God greatly used who lived by faith in challenging times and we called upon by God to carry out difficult tasks.
               The one thing common to these men and women was their faith in God. The believed Him, accepted His words as truth, realized that it was God their Creator who called them to salvation and service and therefore they put their trust in God and obeyed Him. Obeying Him simply means they accepted His will and purpose for their lives.
               These faithful men and women were not perfect, and were the same as you and I. The had the same carnal nature, the same desires, the same lusts, the same pride and fallacies you and I are subject too. Yet they were victorious in accomplishing God's will for their lives and are at the moment enjoying in Heaven the presence of the Lord and the blessings of Heaven.
               Hebrews 11 gives these people to us as examples and Chapter 12 begins by telling us that ". . seeing we also are compassed ("surrounded by") about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith."
    I. When our eyes are on Jesus we can lay aside or overcome those things that hinder us from coming to a full and mature relationship and service to Jesus Christ.
      A. Is there something that may be hindering you from fully living for the Lord?
        1. Is it the sinful world we live in? All these in the Hall of Faith lived in a sinful world too.2. Is it your family? Abel, had a brother that hated and killed him. Abraham's father was an idol maker. His nephew Lot was a selfish and a burden to him. Joseph was hated by his brothers and sold into slavery. He was then falsely accused of advances to his master's wife and thrown in prison.
        3. Is it living in a sinful family or worldly education? Moses was the Pharaoh's adopted son.
        4. Is it past sins? Thank of Rahab who was a harlot before she trusted in the Lord. David sinned by committing adultery and murder. Moses who disobeyed God and struck the rock in anger. Abraham who lied twice about Sarah being his wife.
        5. Read 11:35-39. In great difficulty even in the face of death these people believed God and followed what God said.
        6. It was not easy! It was difficult, hard and demanding to do as God said. They were all greatly opposed and all suffered for following the path God had laid out for them. They all stumbled at times, but one thing that is common to them all was that they continued on. Their faith in God was real and they all looked unto Jesus is the author and finisher of their faith.
      Yes, it was Jesus the coming Savior that God the Father promised that they longed and hoped for. All of them as verse 39 says, in this life, did not see the promise. B. Do you fully understand what Hebrews 11:29 is saying: They, by faith, lived obeying the Lord and all died never seeing in this life, the full reward or benefit of their faith.
        1. Compare that to the message of today being taught by most preachers and churches. The message today is that our reward is earthly. 2. Many are being taught that the benefit of believing in Jesus Christ and being born again is health and wealth in this life.3. Are there real and sure gains to being a Christian in this life? The answer is certainly there is!
        Acts 13:52 And the disciples were filled with joy, and with the Holy Ghost. Acts 20:24 But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.
        Romans 5:11 And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.
        Romans 14:17 For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.
        Romans 15:13 Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.
        James 1:2 My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations;
        Jude 24 Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy,
        Jesus in John 14 expressed this joy with these words;
        John 14:27 Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.
      C. Jesus said the peace and joy we have is not the same as the world defines joy and peace. I think many Christians think in worldly terms of peace and joy and are greatly disappointed when their worldly expectations are not fulfilled.
        1. Many have doubted the reality of their salvation because their expectations were earthly ones. 2. Yet, our hope and faith in not in worldly solutions, but in heavenly one's that come for God.
        3. The child of God who understands this will be at peace with him or her self and will not be tossed about the storms of live.
        4. We have times of peace in this life. There are times when things go well and we have few cares. Yet, we do not need strength in these times. It takes no strength to enjoy good times. It is the times when trouble comes that we need strength that comes from the Lord. This is why the Lord tells us to "Look to Jesus" who is the author and finisher of our faith.
      D. He too endured the greatest personal suffering the world has ever known.
        1. He was God, come to earth to redeem men from their sins and yet His own people hated Him. Even His mother Mary, did not understand Him or His purpose. She sent his step brothers to bring Him home. His own people, God's chosen people, rejected Him. Instead the receiving and following Him for His message of truth and salvation the multitudes followed Him for the food He gave them.2. He healed the sick of every disease fulfilling proving He was God and their Messiah, but they sought to kill Him and He had to flee to Galilee to the area where the less religious Jews lived to find sanctuary from the religious leaders in Israel.
        3. Note was Hebrews 12:2 says ". . .who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God."
        4. You see there was a purpose and victory that was won in the enduring of the cross and its shame. Friends, there exists no victory without a war or some trial or difficulty that seeks to destroy us.
    II. Jesus the Author and Finisher of our Faith.
      A. Our faith is in Him....that means His purposes and His plan. Our plan would be to never have any trouble...we would that everything would go smoothly. No challenges, no difficulties, not trouble, no disappointments...just an uneventful life.B. Yet, God's plan is that we grow and mature. Is it not difficult for a child to learn. If the baby lies in his crib and never moves he will be a peace, but what kind of life would that be? A baby has to experience the bruises and cuts from falling to learn to walk.
        1. It is totally unrealistic to think that everything in this life will be all "roses" and good times. That is not the way life is. Yes, we seek for times without trouble.....and we live expecting good times.
      ILLUS: Times have been hard for Carolyn and myself and I recently told her that I thought one day we would have the money we needed and be free of debt. I said I really thought that one day we would be financially well off. You see I have expectations of better times. But it is a future hope. This desire is not being currently realized. But you see we do not quit, not allow ourselves to become depressed and quit because we do not now have what we hope for. We keep going.
    C. In Hebrews 11 all these people have hope too. Their hope was in God and they believed His promises.
      1. Abel was opposed by his brother and brutally murdered for this faith. 2. Enoch lived in an evil age 600 years before the Flood. He saw every sinful act man could do...yet he was not deterred from walking with God.3. Noah lived in this same time and preached 120 years the message of salvation and only his family...eight souls believed. He saw the world destroyed. He believed in God all this time and kept obeying the Lord building that great boat. There was a day when the rains came that he was glad he had.
      4. Abraham believed God and left his home, the false faith of this father and journeyed south into a strange land believing God's promise that he would be a great nation and be given a land.
      5. Moses faced the most powerful ruler in the world at that time. God told him he was to lead Israel out of Egypt....and he did. It was not easy and it was a difficult task. He lead the people out of Egypt physically, but Egypt and its sinful ways were still in the hearts most of the people. Yet, even when they murmured and opposed him, even his own sister and brother...he kept looking unto the author and finisher of his faith.
      6. Joshua marched around a city following God's instructions. He followed the Lord in each battle and saw the victories. Yet, the people never really every fully followed the Lord. They stopped before the victory was complete. They married and let their children marry the Canaanites...against God's clear command and they never lived for any length of time in peace because of their disobedience.
      7. Rahab was a lying harlot and traitor to her city. She believed God in spite of the pressures she was under and God saved her. She is in the genealogy of the Lord Jesus Christ.
      8. All the thirteen judges of Israel believed God and were used by God to deliver that nation. Gideon defeated thousands of Midianites with only 300 men.....and God on his side.
      1. Are we getting the picture now? Our hope is in the future. It is in a future the Lord has promised to us. Hebrews 11:35- 40 says, "Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection: And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect."
      2. They all received a good report through faith. They believed God, lived obeying God in the face of every difficulty live could throw at them. They are now experiencing the result of their faith.
      3. But if Jesus Christ is to be the author of our faith....we must believe and allow Him to be our Savior and strength. There were many others did not believe. The Bible is full of the names and stories of those who refused to believe in God. They too are experiencing the results of the lack of their faith. In Hades they await the final judgment of God and the eternal fires of the Lake of Fire.
      4. One of my favorite passage of Scripture is 2 Timothy 4:7-8, Paul expressed his sure hope in his following the Lord. He said,
      "I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing."
      5. The pleasure seekers of our day who live for the world and present earthy things are going to be greatly disappointed, both in this life and the live to come. 6. I close the message with God's very words on the matter. His loving instructions given to us. Hebrews 12:25-29:
      "See that ye refuse not him that speaketh. For if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven: Whose voice then shook the earth: but now he hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven. And this word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain. Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: For our God is a consuming fire."
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