Introduction: A key idea in today’s Sunday School material is that believers are called to endure suffering for God’s greater agenda. Prayerfully, we will be challenged to endure our suffering with confidence that God is carrying out a greater agenda.
Read Hebrews 12:1-4
I. Preparing for the Race. The writer talks about considering the crowd of witnesses around his readers. The readers are urged to take off unnecessary weight, so they can run the spiritual race set before them. Jesus is lifted as the model of how to endure pain for a greater good.
- The cloud of witnesses. Notice in vs. 1 that there is a cloud of witness that should provide some inspiration for running the Christian race well. On one hand, the writer is probably referencing the people mentioned in chapter 11 being in the great cloud of witnesses.
But on the other hand, it may prove helpful to believe that the group was not closed to new people like those whom we love and who died in Christ. It can be helpful and inspiring to think of saintly parents, loved ones, and church leaders looking down on us, as we run our Christian race.
Let’s live like those who have died in Christ are watching us run our race. We know for a fact that God is watching us. Therefore, we should run well.
- Get rid of the weights. Notice in vs. 1 the taking off of some stuff, so the runner can run well. In like manner, as we strive to run our race – live lives of loving God and others, as we love our saved selves – we would do well to take off some things.
We should take off any bad habits and bad influences in our lives, so we can do our best. Let’s work on getting rid of those things that keep us from our doing our best for the Lord.
- Fixing our eyes. Notice in vs. 2 the idea of fixing our eyes on some joy. One of the things that can help us get through hard times is remembering that there are brighter days ahead.
We have to fix our eyes on
something positive, especially when the devil is always trying to distract us
with the current negatives around us. Let’s
fix our eyes and mind on the promised blessings of God.
- Suffering Christians. Notice in vss. 2-4 that suffering goes with being a Christian. On one hand, we have some help and hope as we suffer. God will see us through. Heaven and being with the Lord out weights our suffering.
But on the other hand, we yet suffer. It may be suffering with our health, finances, relationships, our mental attitude. If you serve the devil, you will suffer. If you serve the Lord, you will suffer. But when you suffer for the Lord, there are great rewards at the end.
Let’s brace ourselves for suffering, instead of going into a panic or depression because of suffering. Into all of our lives, some rain must fall.
Read Hebrews 12:5-11
II. Nature of the Race. In our Sunday School material the writer talks about being disciplined. God the Father disciplines His children for their good. This is similar to how an earthly father disciplines his children for their good. At the end of God’s discipline is a harvest of righteousness and peace.
- God’s discipline. Notice in vss. 5-11 that some trouble is God’s discipline. Just like earthly parents have been known to apply discipline to their children for the sake of helping their children be better people, God does the same.
There are times when God sends the weight of trouble into our lives, so we can develop our spiritual muscles. When God sends discipline, we should work on trusting that He knows what is best.
Just like many earthly fathers had an agenda that served our good, God has even a greater agenda for our lives. Let’s work on trusting God to use even His discipline for our good.
Read Hebrews 12:12-13
III. Recharging in the Race. The readers are encouraged to strengthen themselves in our Sunday School material. They are to make paths level. Being healed is preferred over being disabled.
- Spiritual strength. Notice in vss. 12-13 the call to strengthen one’s self, so there can be healing, instead of disability. In like manner, God is calling believers to work on being stronger.
Strength doesn’t come from simply surviving from year to year. Strength comes from working the muscles in question. The goal of strength is to be healed, instead of disabled.
Let’s work on developing our spiritual strength. Intentionally developing discipleship habits will help you live by this application.
Conclusion: Let’s work on enduring our suffering with confidence that God is carrying out a greater agenda. God has much for those who obey His will.Please click here to let us know, if this has been quality and helpful information for you (i.e., make sure you let us know the name of the article). Feel free to share your questions and comments about the article as well.