Recently, IV and I were walking back after spending some good, quality time in the fields watching for deer. It was getting cold quickly since the sun had set.
IV was carrying my gun, because he's nice like that, and I was ready to break into a jog in order to get inside to the warm fire a little quicker.
However, as soon as I started to trot I remembered that even though I wasn't carrying any extra weight, IV was still carrying two guns, so I slowed my pace back down.
That's when this verse popped into my mind:
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, 2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:1-2)
Since I had handed over my weight to someone else I was free to run...unburdened.
IV, though, was still weighed down...heavy laden.
This gave me a good picture of the effects of sin and worry on our lives. That junk weighs us down! It keeps us from being able to run free through life in joy and thanksgiving!
Jesus offered to take that weight for us...
28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”He'll give us rest...His burden is light.
We can run free in Him!!!
BUT, life's not a joyride...it's still a battle:
6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, 7 casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. 8 Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. (1 Peter 5:6-8)
So, after we hand over our burdens to Christ he instructs us to get dressed for the battle:
Thankfully, this is the lightest set of armor ever designed!
The Whole Armor of God10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints... (Ephesians 6:10-18)
We're still running free!
The problem is that sometimes when we find this freedom to run unencumbered "the race set before us" we forget about the people around us who are still trudging along under the heavy burden of sin and worry...like how I forgot about IV carrying two guns when I had none.
Sometimes it's busyness that causes us to forget, or sometimes it's pride...
Or sometimes we could be like Paul, who we talked about in Life Group today.
We may be tempted to set our eyes on heaven, but we must remember that God still has a purpose for us in the lives of others:
My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. 24 But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account. 25 Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith, 26 so that in me you may have ample cause to glory in Christ Jesus, because of my coming to you again. (Philippians 1:23-26)We need to encourage each other in the faith.
We need to spread the joy!
We also need to be there to pick each other up when we fall, because it's not meant for us to fight our battles alone:
9 Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. 10 For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! 11 Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? 12 And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.
Salvation is personal, but life is a team effort.
- Hand your sins and worries to Jesus.
- Put on His armor.
- Fight the fight, and run the race well.
- Encourage one another to do the same:
12 Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. 13 But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. 14 For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end. (Hebrews 3:12-14)Praising the Lord that we can run freely into a New Year!