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Run The Race Of Faith In Pursuit Of Holiness



"12 Therefore, strengthen the hands that are weak and the knees that are feeble, 13 and make straight paths for your feet, so that the limb which is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather be healed.
14 Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord. 15 See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled; 16 that there be no immoral or godless person like Esau, who sold his own birthright for a single meal. 17 For you know that even afterwards, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought for it with tears." 
Good Morning my beloved,
Welcome to worship this Lord's Day.
We are so glad to have you here with us today. Know that we continue to pray for all of you daily, throughout the day.

Trials are an inevitable fact of life, how we respond to them, however, is our choice. I grant you. it is difficult to understand how God can be both good and omnipotent, and yet allow the horrifying suffering that we see in the world today. However, I can assure you, that ceasing to believe in God because of suffering does not make God cease to exist, and it does not resolve the problem. Which is to run with endurance the race that is set before us.
In our culture today, the words, submit, command, and obey really grates against many souls. I have read about a number of Christian psychologists claim that those who grew up in dysfunctional homes have a problem with authority figures. They even urge such persons to "find an authority figure and disagree with him" in order to assert their own authority! However, I would not recommend that approach with God! God is the Ultimate Authority! And, whether you like His program for your life or not, it is never wise to rebel against it. True life comes from complete self-surrender.
Let us pray.
Heavenly Father,
Father, we thank You for the wonderful and rich truth found in Your Word. Your Word has made clear that we do not live our lives unto ourselves. We know that You are concerned with how we live in view of others to Your glory. Lord, I can only speak for myself, asking Your forgiveness for the times that I have been more of a hindrance than a help to others. Thank You Father for again teaching me of the responsibilities You have given to me, and for reminding me of the grace You grant me to try again. Lead me O Lord, to be the salt and light that You have called me to be, that my life may be found pleasing to You and bring glory to Your holy name.

Lord, speak to each and every soul with us today, that they might too examine their own lives, that they would be willing to bend down to help a weaker brother. To lift him up in the name of Christ. That we would all continue in faith, with diligence, and vigilance, that we would acutely aware that someone, somewhere is watching us.May it be all be to Your glory.
In Jesus' name

Today's Message: Run The Race Of Faith In Pursuit Of Holiness

Over the years, I have had a number of people "Why is God punishing me?" In God's design, ultimately discipline is not to hurt, though if we are being honest, it does hurt, at least temporarily. However, His aim is not punitive; it is not vengeance; it is not retributive justice; it's purification and refining. Rather than becoming angry with God, we should feel that God loves us and that he knows the best method for purifying, refining and strengthening our faith and holiness. I believe think we can honestly say, that there is no doubt, the sin in our lives needs to be rooted out. However, the pain may very well be  designed to take us into deeper faith and a deeper holiness, rather than an issue of sin.
In Christ's suffering, it was not only that He might bear our punishment, but that He Himself might learn depths and dimensions of faithfulness and obedience that could not be learned any other way. If it was true for God's very own Son, how much more true must it be for you and I?
Paul tells us in II Corinthians 1:8-11, "For we do not want you to be unaware, brethren, of our affliction which came to us in Asia, that we were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of life; indeed, we had the sentence of death within ourselves so that we would not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead; who delivered us from so great a peril of death, and will deliver us, He on whom we have set our hope. And He will yet deliver us, you also joining in helping us through your prayers, so that thanks may be given by many persons on our behalf for the favor bestowed on us through the prayers of many."
I would like you to notice what Paul says is the purpose of the affliction, "In order that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead."  We see that God's discipline is not connected with any sin. It is deepening of faith. Because we are all prone to trust in human resources for our sense of security and happiness, God will occasionally strip us of all those resources. So, you see, the goal is not punishment, but that we would rest God alone for our hope, even in the face of death. 
While as you know, doctrine is a very important issue in the church today. And, anyone who knows me, even in the slightest bit, knows that I am a very big proponent of doctrine, however, doctrine isn’t all there is in true Christianity, it also about the life that follows it. In other words, living a transformed life. That said, I believe that it’s very important that we know what the Word of God really teaches. To quote the Apostle Paul in I Timothy 6:2, "Teach and preach these principles." So today, I'm going to give my hand at teaching and exhortation. Because, I really believe exhortation is part of it.
Open your Bibles with me to Hebrews chapter 12 verses 12-17. In the Bible, the word for exhortation is parakaleō, which means to call on, to beseech, tor o urge someone to some kind of action.God's method is really pretty simple, teach an individual the moral and spiritual principles and then show him how to apply them. To put it another way, Teaching of the Word of God is not just knowledge, it's also the practical application of that knowledge.
"Therefore, strengthen the hands that are weak and the knees that are feeble, and make straight paths for your feet, so that the limb which is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather be healed. Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled; that there be no immoral or godless person like Esau, who sold his own birthright for a single meal. For you know that even afterwards, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought for it with tears."

There are many people out there, including Christians, who have an intellectual knowledge of the doctrines of Scriptures, but they really don’t have even a clue about the practical application of that knowledge. It's one thing to believe in Jesus Christ, it's another thing to submit yourself to the Authority of His Lordship. You can believe that Scripture is the inspired and inerrant Word of God; it’s something else to live under the authority of the Scripture with joy. So, the point is, there is knowledge and information, then there is exhortation. That's the point of the "therefores and wherefores" in the New Testament. In light of what I have just told you, therefore, do this. Wherefore, the Word of God says so here is your expected behavior.  In other words, they are the transitions from information to action. It always comes following doctrine.
In the case of the writer of the book of Hebrews, He says you have eleven chapters in which I have told you about the superiority of the new covenant, I've demonstrated to you.  that is a better covenant, based on better promises, with a better Priest, who made a better sacrifice. In eleven chapters,  I've told you all of that, therefore, get in the race of faith and run with endurance.
Dr. Donald Barnhouse, the pastor and theologian once said "Hebrews was written to the Hebrews to tell the Hebrews they were no longer to be Hebrews." I'm sure you remember, Hebrews was written to exhort them to go all the way to Christ. They had made a profession of faith in Christ, the established a community of Jewish believers, then they began to be persecuted by their friends, their families cut them off, so they began to miss all of the things that were so much a part of their life. When all of these things started to happen, they were going to turn back to Judaism. In the midst of the Jewish believers, were some who hadn’t even yet been saved. They were superficially professing Christ, in name of only not in truth.
In speaking to the Christians who are in danger of going back to Judaism, He says  "Let go of that! Get in the race and run with endurance. Take what comes." And, in speaking to the Jews who were intellectually convinced that Christianity’s true, but he’s never made a personal commitment. They've never come all the way to Christ.

In chapter 12 verses 12-13, He says "Therefore, strengthen the hands that are weak and the knees that are feeble, and make straight paths for your feet, so that the limb which is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather be healed."  He gives three exhortations, everything in your life is being done under the control of God to bring about the best for you.  He says "Look, I know you have had some problems, it's not always easy identifying with Christ, that's just the way it is, this is just God's loving discipline, so I want from you these three things: continuance, diligence, and vigilance. I'd like you to notice, that He begins the verse with "therefore." Also he says "the hands," not your hands, to me, that implies the hands of those around you, not just your own. Isn't that what the body of Christ is about, strengthening one another?

The Apostle Paul told Timothy in II Timothy 3:12, "Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted."
 So, let's start with the first one, continuance. He is saying don't become weary. To put it another way, get your second wind. Isaiah 40:31 says "Yet those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary."
These Christians were being persecuted, they had become tired and weary. And instead of tackling the hurdles and building strength, they were collapsing in the face of them. I believe that we have all known people like that, where everything in their life is a total disaster. Remember back in chapter 10, he says the attendance was falling off, verses 24-25, " and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near." In other words, these Christians really needed to be exhorted to continue. Discipline isn’t deigned to slow us down, it's actually designed to speed us up. Just like the athlete who disciplines himself, training his body hard day after day, to compete to win. Discipline is what makes him faster in the race.
And, so it is with a Christian, his arms begin to droop, his legs become weary, his body is tired and you just stare at that finish line. You set your mind on it, deciding that you’re going to be the victor. And with that in the back of your mind, your on fire again. Running the race with endurance. You know, many of the illustrations in the book of Hebrews, were taken from the Old Testament. Isaiah saw a whole lot of discouraged children of Israel and says in Isaiah chapter 35:3 says "Encourage the exhausted, and strengthen the feeble." And, in verse 4 he says "Say to those with anxious heart, "Take courage, fear not. Behold, your God will come with vengeance; The recompense of God will come, But He will save you." 
In verse 13, he takes it a step further, "and make straight paths for your feet, so that the limb which is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather be healed." In other words "Stay in your own lane" Have you ever notice watching a race and people start changing lanes, they're getting tired, wobbling back and forth, trying to stay ahead of the other runners. In the race of faith, there are so many believers are running the race, they become sidetracked by the things this world offers, if you don’t run the race, staying in your own lane, straight ahead at full speed, you’re going to trip somebody.  It really ties in with what Paul says in Romans chapter 14:13, about not putting any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister.
Remember the situation in I Kings 18, on Mount Carmel, Elijah the prophet is just tired of having Israel vacillate between God and Baal. They’d go out and live it up with the priestesses of Baal and all kinds of orgies, and then they’d come rolling into the temple on the Sabbath. And it just made Elijah sick. He could not stand superficial religion. In verse 24, when " Elijah came near to all the people and said, “How long will you hesitate between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him.” But the people did not answer him a word. " The book of Hebrews continuously alludes to the Old Testament.
In Christianity, often the largest stumbling block is other Christians. The exhortation then is to be born again, the truly-saved Jews who have left Judaism, they the temple, running ahead that the unsaved, the intellectually convinced, that they would see him and say that's what I want. He’s already limping, he's lame, don’t permanently put him out of joint by failing to give him the testimony that he needs to see. In other words, as Christians, we should live in such a way, on the straight path, that those in the world watching would be encouraged to follow and come to Christ himself.That's the point.
In verse 14, He says "Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord." Diligence is the key. This verse has really been a torment for a number of people. They think it talking about salvation, that's not what it says. If you’re unsaved, you couldn't pursue peace if you wanted to, let alone obtain it. There’s no peace to the wicked. If your unsaved, you couldn't pursue sanctification either, you'd just end up with your own self-righteousness If you’re a Christian, you already have peace with God, you already have the righteousness of Christ positionally. So, it can’t be referring to salvation. What He’s saying to these believers is, since you already have peace with God, then be a peacemaker. And since you already have the righteousness of Christ positionally, let your practice match your position. If Christianity is valid, we had ought to be able to prove it by they way we live. Right? 
I have heard some Christians say, I already have peace with God, I have the righteousness of Christ positionally, why should I even worry about. I'm already secure. Well the answer is at the end of the verse, "Without which no man shall see the Lord." Notice He does not say "without which you shall not see the Lord." This verse is speaking of our responsibility to the professing Christian, to the intellectually convinced, superficially attached individuals, we are responsible to encourage them into faith in Christ. If we don’t practically exhibit peace, if we don't practically exhibit the love Christ, no one else will see Christ in us. We are called to radiate Christ's presence in the world. 
That's John 13:34-35, "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another." They won’t recognize that we represent Christ, unless they see Him in us by the way we live our lives. That's how they will know we belong to Him. We are the only representation of Jesus Christ that some people will ever see. Shouldn't we make it count for the sake of God's kingdom?
We all know that its not always possible to pursue peace with all men, there are just some people with whom it's impossible, that's why Paul sort of let's us off the hook a bit in Romans 12:18, "If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men." In other words, you do your part to make peace. If they don’t, choose to then that’s their problem. You've done what you can.
Then, verse 15-16, "See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled; that there be no immoral or godless person like Esau, who sold his own birthright for a single meal." You know, a root of bitterness doesn’t exist unto itself; it’s a corrupting factor. All it take is one apostate, and he'll corrupt other people. Esau had a birthright, but he sold it, turned his back on God and when he wanted it back, he couldn’t get it. 
That fits right in with Hebrews chapter 6:4-6, "For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame." It’s impossible to be renewed again unto repentance. 
Verse 17 says "For you know that even afterwards, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought for it with tears." Esau sacrificed the whole future on the altar of immediate self gratification. And the saddest part is, he couldn’t come to repentance.
In Closing..
There may be somebody who’s at the crucial point of decision. Staggering on the edge of coming to Christ. Be the example that brings them to Christ, not the stumbling block that turns them away. Sometimes, we are unaware of our sins, our shortcomings, until God brings some trial that exposes them. Other times, we become arrogant, looking down on others who are suffering, we say to ourselves, "Man, they really just need to get it together. Then they wouldn't have all these problems!" Suddenly, God sends affliction our way and almost instantly, we have more compassion for others who are struggling.
In every trial, whether major or minor, I pray that you will pause and examine your heart. Sometimes, in His grace and love, He will remove it. And other times, He will say "My grace is sufficient for you." In all cases, trust God, Who has our greater good in view.

Spiritual fruit grows best on vines that are pruned. Righteousness is a fruit shows that it takes time to grow. Sanctification, grows slowly but surely in our lives, as we submit to God’s discipline.  
May it be so..
And now may the Lord bless you and keep you;

the Lord make His face shine upon you,
And be gracious to you;

The Lord lift up His countenance upon you,
And give you peace.

Now and forever, in Jesus' name
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The Brian Monzon Ministries



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