Keep Running

September 27, 2020

David Sorn

Are you having a hard time running after Jesus like you once did? Learn how to keep running!

Keep Running

September 27, 2020

David Sorn

Are you having a hard time running after Jesus like you once did? Learn how to keep running!

SERMON TRANSCRIPT | Hebrews 12: 1-4


(Endurance Series Slide)

How great is this??

We are back!

It has been 29 weeks since we last met inside Northpoint Elementary, and we are thankful to Jesus to be back in here.

Let’s take a moment and praise God


I’m really excited this morning as we are starting a new series called “Endurance”

We’re going to take 4 weeks and go verse-by-verse through Hebrews chapter 12 in the Bible.

It’s an important letter, and chapter 12 in particular, gives us some really great teaching on how to run our race with endurance.

And maybe you need that right now.

Maybe you feel like quitting the spiritual race…or, at minimum taking a long break…

And if you don’t feel that way right now…you will sometime.

The race of life, especially the spiritual life, is hard sometimes.

And if you’re going to run after Jesus the whole way, you’re going to need endurance…that’s the ability to keep going even when times are hard.


Let’s get to our passage

(Renovation App)

(Bible - Weekly Verses)

For the time being, we still don’t have Bibles under our chairs.

We will get back to that…it’s a huge value of ours to get the text in front of you

In fact, we are ordering brand new Bibles for our church building as our old Bibles have really taken a beating after 10 years of set-up and tear-down

But for right now, we’ll still be using the app, and also this fancy screen up here, which I’m really excited about having back.

I still want to encourage you to open up the Bible on your phone each week though, so you can look at it yourself at your own pace.

This morning we’re going to look at 3 practices…straight out of our passage…

…that will help you to keep running after Jesus

Let’s take a look at it:

(Hebrews 12:1-4) – 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, 2 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. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

4 In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.

Let’s take a look at our first practice now:

3 Practices To Help You To Keep Running After Jesus

#1: Throw off all weights & entanglements

Look at verse 1.

The writer starts with THEREFORE.

In the Bible, whenever you see the word “therefore,” you have to ask, “What’s it there for?”

The writer is referencing back the previous chapter, chapter 11, which is a very famous chapter in the Bible.

Some call it the “Faith Hall of Fame” chapter

In it, the writer gives plenty of examples from the Old Testament of believers who endured because of their faith.

And then he says (12:1), “THEREFORE, because of these witnesses (the ones from chapter 11) and their endurance through faith, let us throw off everything that hinders”

The sense of that word “hinders” is actually more like “throw off weights”…things that weigh you down.

In fact, most of the translations say “weights” instead.

The visual is that we are to run the race of following Christ, and while we run, we should throw off any weight that’s slowing us down from running hard after Jesus

Now, notice, he’s not talking about SIN.

He’s going to get to that in a second as something entirely different.

He’s asking you, “Where do you need to let go of something good, so that you can better follow something great, Jesus?”

It’s hard to run with weights on.

(Go to “KEEP RUNNING” Title Slide now)

A few hundred years before Christ, the army of Alexander the Great was once advancing on Persia.

At one critical point, it appeared that Alexander’s troops might be defeated.

You see, his soldiers had taken so much plunder from their previous victories that they had become weighted down, and thus they were losing their effectiveness in combat.

Alexander immediately commanded that all the spoils be thrown into a heap and burned.

The men complained bitterly but soon came to see the wisdom of the order.

One historian later wrote, “After they destroyed their plunder, it was as if wings had been given to them—they walked lightly again.” Victory was assured.

My general sense of American Christians is that in our prosperity, we are typically quite poor at knowing the difference between something good and something great.

One of THE main reasons that most of us are not running very hard after Jesus is because we are overly weighed down with “good things” instead of throwing them off to pursue great things.

The main emphasis of so many of our lives is improving our families, or helping our kids grow academically & athletically, or working on our careers, improving our health.

All good things. They’re good. Quite good.

But they’re not great.

It’s like when Paul says in 1 Timothy, “Physical training is of some value (it’s good), but it’s not Godliness.”

You were not put on this earth, to get to the end of your life and say, “My kid played division 1 football. I made vice president at the company. My family all still loves each other.”


But you ran the wrong race.

You’ll make it to the finish line and realize, “This isn’t the finish line”

We are to throw off (not gently remove), throw off every weight that hinders…every and anything that weighs you down from running as hard as possible after Jesus.

What is that in your life?

But not just that, we are to also throw off the “sin that so easily entangles”…

…the sin that trips us up, like vines growing around your legs, from following after Jesus.

By the way, do you think of sin that way?

Too often, when Christians think of sin, we only think about avoiding sin, and we don’t often connect what sin does to our very pursuit of Jesus.

You know, the lowest question in the spiritual life is: “Is this sin?”

Or, in a very similar way, we’ll often ask “Where the line? If I watch this movie, or listen to this song, if I do this at work, is that bad? When does it become sin?”

That’s usually the wrong question.

That question is like asking, “How can I get as far away from Jesus and yet still have him be pleased with me?”

Wrong question.

Try asking, “If I do this, will it help me or hinder me from following Jesus? Does it help me run after Him? Or will it entangle me and slow me down from following Him?”

That question steers your heart to follow Jesus in a relationship!

The other questions steer your heart back to the law…to trying to earn your way.


This brings us to our 2nd practice to help you keep running after Jesus

3 Practices To Help You To Keep Running After Jesus

#1: Throw off all weights & entanglements

#2: Fix your eyes on Jesus

So after you throw off the weights and entanglements, you must fix your eyes upon Jesus.

You won’t endure the marathon of a Christian life, by guilting yourself to do so.

Or by shaming yourself into it

Or by swearing off sin.

You endure, we’re told, by FIXING OUR EYES ON JESUS.

If you’re running in a race, your eyes must be fixed straight ahead.

You can’t run straight if your eyes are always on the trees, the buildings you’re passing by, or the people behind.

That will be a waste of your focus, and besides you’ll sway all crookedly back and forth.

This reminds me of 1 Corinthians 9 where Paul says, “I do not run aimlessly”

There is something he’s running after, and it’s Jesus.

What are your eyes fixed on right now?

What is the goal of your life?

If someone watched you for a month, what would they say you are running after?

And if we’re going to run harder after Jesus, and follow Him more closely, we’ll have to improve in learning to FIX our eyes on Him.

For we as Christians are known to have a wandering eyes.

We get distracted by sideways pursuits.

Again, they’re not always bad, but those other pursuits are not the main reason you were put on this earth.

Back in the day, when Walt Disney himself was in charge of Disney, he was ruthless in cutting anything that got in the way of a story’s pacing…and of where the plot was supposed to go.

Ward Kimball, one of the animators for SNOW WHITE, once recalled working 240 days on a 4-1/2- minute sequence in which the dwarfs made soup for Snow White and almost destroyed the kitchen in the process.

He said, “Walt Disney looked at, thought it was funny, but then said that the scene stopped the flow of the picture…it was a distraction for where the movie was supposed to go…”

So just like that, Ward Kimball’s 240 days of work was thrown out the window.

It was good, but not great.

It was a distraction.

Let me ask you something: When you die someday, and you watch back the film of your life with God, will it be as great as it could have been?

Or will it be filled with a whole lot of distractions from your main race?

The great Puritan Theologian, Richard Baxter once said:

“It is lamentable indeed, knowing that God has set mankind in such a race where heaven or hell is their certain end, that they should sit down and loiter, or run after the childish toys of the world, forgetting the prize they should run for. Were it but possible for one of us to see this business as the all-seeing God does, and see what most men and women in the world are interested in and what they are doing every day, it would be the saddest sight imaginable. Oh, how we should marvel at their madness and lament their self-delusion!” – Richard Baxter

Fix your eyes on Jesus

He is the finish line of your race!

My friend, God has called you to something great.

That doesn’t mean you have to become a missionary or an international evangelist.

By no means!

For the vast majority of you, God wants to use you right where you are!

But we’re not even doing that…we’ve become distracted with the chasing the birds alongside the race path instead of running the race God has for us

We’re being weighed down by distractions

Or we’ve gotten ourselves entangled once again in sin.

Fix your eyes on Jesus!

When you feel yourself drifting back into worldly obsessions, toys, or distractions…

Fix your eyes on Jesus!

Get back into daily prayer and with His people in House Groups.

When you feel your mood dropping again, and angry or anxious thoughts coming back

Fix your eyes on Jesus!

Turn to His Word, study his truth!

When you’re riding in the car, and just talking with your kids about life…

Fix your eyes on Jesus!

When you wake up each morning…

Fix your eyes on Jesus before you go out the door, so that you can walk straight the rest of the day.

This is the key to endurance…a fixed gaze.

It’s only when we take our eyes off of Him, that we grow weary…

It’s the very connection that happens in the gazing…that gives us strength


Let’s take a look at our 3rd practice to help you keep running after Jesus

3 Practices To Help You To Keep Running After Jesus

#1: Throw off all weights & entanglements

#2: Fix your eyes on Jesus

#3: Consider Him who endured

As we run our race, we are surely going to hit some rough patches.

Some brutal hills and some difficult opposition.

This, by the way, is an entirely different type of obstacle than getting distracted by good things alongside the road…or even getting entangled by our own sin.

The Bible is saying that one the main reasons people fail to finish their race as followers of Jesus is because they can’t endure the difficulty of suffering.

And so we are being reminded in this passage… that when we suffer adversity, we must “consider Him who endured”

It says right in verse 3…if you want to keep running, you need to consider the death of Jesus…SO THAT (so that what?) so that you will not grow weary and lose heart!

So when you feel like giving up, throwing in the towel, fix your eyes on Jesus.

Fix your eyes on the one who always His eyes fixed on you.

And don’t just fix your eyes on His love and kindness

It says “fix your eyes on the cross.”

Think about what Jesus endured.

He went through 6 false trials.

They mocked Him

They put a royal robe on Him and a crown of thorns.

They whipped Him, beat him.

Made him carry the heavy cross

They pounded nails into his hands and feet

And at any time, Jesus said, He could have called down entire LEGIONS of angels to stop it!

But He didn’t.

He endured the cross.


It’s in verse 2: “For the joy set before him, he endured the cross”

He knows that what is coming, His resurrection, His saving of you, the redemption of all of the faithful, is FAR greater than anything He will suffer…

And so He endures.

He, FIXES his eyes on His Father, and the future, and he…endures.

And so must you, as you endure the difficult times that will surely come into your life.

Fix your eyes on the cross.

You have not suffered to the point of shedding blood as verse 4 says

And as you endure the hard seasons of life, I want you to remember something.

It’s from back in verse 1:

It says:

(Hebrews 12:1b) – NIV

And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,

I don’t know how much you know about the sport of cross country, but when they run a race through the woods, or through a park…

…the organizers will go out first and mark out the race.

Put a flag here, an arrow there, a sign here.

The race is marked out before the runners run it.

And I want you to know that God has marked out YOUR race.

Don’t bow out, don’t quit, just because you came to the hilly part of the race that He marked out for you, or the part that goes deep into the dark woods…

He’s already marked the whole thing out

God knows your beginning, your middle, and your glorious end

And in His foreknowledge, He has gone on ahead of you, and planted each and every marker…knowing, that even if right now is a season of running straight uphill…that it was right…and it was good.

Run with endurance.

Because you know that the race is right…and that God marked it out.

Speaking of running, back on October 20th, 1968, by 7:00pm at the Mexico City Olympics Stadium, it was beginning to darken.

Almost all of the Olympic marathon runners had already finished.

Over an hour earlier, Mamo Waldi of Ethiopia had charged across the finish line, winning the 26.2 mile race looking as strong and as vigorous as when he'd started.

As the last few thousand spectators began preparing to leave the stadium, they heard police sirens and whistles through the gate entering the stadium.

And everyone’s attention turned to that gate.

A sole figure, wearing the colors of Tanzania, came limping into the stadium.

His name was John Steven Akhwari.

He was the last man to finish the marathon in 1968.

His leg was bandaged, bloody because he had taken a bad fall early in the race.

Now, it was all he could do to limp his way around that track to the finish line.

As the crowd spotted him, as one, they stood and applauded as he completed that last lap.

When he finally crossed the finish line, one journalist dared ask the question all were wondering.

He said, "Sir, you are badly injured. Why didn't you quit? Why didn't you give up?"

Akhwari said, "My country did not send me five thousand miles to start this race. My country sent me to finish it."

So it is with God.

God didn't just send you to start this race.

He didn't just send you to begin a noble task or begin a relationship.

God sent you both to start your race and to finish it.

Keep running. Run for the joy set before you.

Oh what a joy it will be to finish your race well.

To meet Jesus and have Him say, “You kept running! Even when you fell! Even when it was hilly! I knew that part would be hard, but I marked it out for you anyway for your good. You kept running! WELL DONE GOOD AND FAITHFUL SERVANT!”


Keep running!

Let me pray

Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN

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