Day 29 – Cardio Training

Scripture Reading

Hebrews 12:1-3 (NIV)
1 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 Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him 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 sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

Hebrews 12:1 (NIV)
1 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.

Persevering. The battle is on. The enemy and the attack are very real. We are focused, thankful, connected, dressed, encouraging, seeking first His kingdom, living the golden rule, and the evil one will be trying to stop you by causing you to be discouraged.

Discouragement will keep you from engaging fully in the life of a disciple. Until we are honest with ourselves about dealing with whatever is discouraging us, we will end up being insensitive, intimidating, or negligent because discouragement causes us to be self-focused and selfish instead of other-focused and selfless.

What is the ultimate cause of discouragement? Let us look at a story from the early history of the Hebrews. During the time that the people of Israel had left Egypt to go to the promised land they became very discouraged.

Deuteronomy 1:19-33 (NIV)
19 Then, as the LORD our God commanded us, we set out from Horeb and went toward the hill country of the Amorites through all that vast and dreadful desert that you have seen, and so we reached Kadesh Barnea. 20 Then I said to you, “You have reached the hill country of the Amorites, which the LORD our God is giving us. 21 See, the LORD your God has given you the land. Go up and take possession of it as the LORD, the God of your fathers, told you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” 22 Then all of you came to me and said, “Let us send men ahead to spy out the land for us and bring back a report about the route we are to take and the towns we will come to.” 23 The idea seemed good to me; so I selected twelve of you, one man from each tribe. 24 They left and went up into the hill country, and came to the Valley of Eshcol and explored it. 25 Taking with them some of the fruit of the land, they brought it down to us and reported, “It is a good land that the LORD our God is giving us.” 26 But you were unwilling to go up; you rebelled against the command of the LORD your God. 27 You grumbled in your tents and said, “The LORD hates us; so he brought us out of Egypt to deliver us into the hands of the Amorites to destroy us. 28 Where can we go? Our brothers have made us lose heart. They say, ‘The people are stronger and taller than we are; the cities are large, with walls up to the sky. We even saw the Anakites there.'” 29 Then I said to you, “Do not be terrified; do not be afraid of them. 30 The LORD your God, who is going before you, will fight for you, as he did for you in Egypt, before your very eyes, 31 and in the desert. There you saw how the LORD your God carried you, as a father carries his son, all the way you went until you reached this place.” 32 In spite of this, you did not trust in the LORD your God, 33 who went ahead of you on your journey, in fire by night and in a cloud by day, to search out places for you to camp and to show you the way you should go.

Moses identifies the real cause of discouragement in verse 32, “You did not trust in the Lord your God.”

The way to overcome discouragement is to get our focus off of our circumstances and onto the Lord. We have an amazing tool defeat and overcome discouragement and to help us to change our focus. The therefore in Hebrews 12 points us back at Hebrews 11, which is known as the faith chapter. Faith is the way we overcome discouragement and live the full life of a disciple.

What does faith look like?

1. Faith is seeing the not yet in the now

What does that mean?

Hebrews 11:1 (NIV)
1 Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.

Faith is seeing the future in the present. People are often fond of saying “I’ll believe it when I see it”. That reminds me of Doubting Thomas who would not believe until he actually touched Jesus wounds from the cross. But faith requires us to believe first in order to see.

It is like an artist who has seen the painting in their mind before it ever becomes a reality. Or an architect who sees the building before they design it. Scientists had to believe they could go to the moon before they got there. Sometimes you have to believe it before you see it. You have to believe it is possible before you see it happen.

2. Faith is obeying without having it all figured out

There are two great examples of this in Hebrews 11.

Hebrews 11:7 (NIV)
7 By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.

Noah built an ark in the desert, apparently before it had ever rained on the earth. Think about the ramifications.

Hebrews 11:8 (NIV)
8 By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.

How might you respond if God came to you when you were 75 and said, “You are going to need to pack up and leave”. No details or extensive travel plans. Get up and get moving.

Faith allows us to respond in obedience even when we don’t have it all figure out, but knowing that God has a plan for our lives.

Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)
11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Am I going to do what I feel is the right thing or what God says is the right thing, even if it doesn’t make sense to me. Even if it seems old fashioned or out of touch with the culture. Which brings up the next point.

3. Faith is doing the next right thing even when I don’t feel like it

We all have to fight a very popular cultural influence which is, “if it feels good, do it”. This statement causes all of us a lot of pain. When we are driven by our feelings rather than by our faith we are going to make a lot of really bad decisions. God wants us to live a life of faith, not just a life of feeling. Are feelings bad? No, of course not, but they are not the only thing we are to rely on for direction in our lives.

The reality is, I don’t always feel like doing the next right thing. If I went with my feelings I would make selfish decisions all the time. But life is never found there. Life is found in faithfully following the Lord, by faith choosing to do the next right thing even when I don’t feel like. The number one thing I hear people say when they are trying to rationalize sin, is “Yes but God wants me to be happy, doesn’t He”? Yes He does, but not if you have to compromise and sin to get there.

Living doing the next right thing requires perseverance. Developing perseverance requires faith in the Lord. Look at Moses.

Hebrews 11:27 (NIV)
27 By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible.

You begin to persevere by seeing the not yet in the now as we discussed in point number 1.

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