Read it a couple times. Chew on it. It’s deep and poetic. It’s powerful.
I thought this was interesting…
Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Hebrews 12:1-2 NKJV
In this verse the writer of Hebrews highlights important things the inspiration of our faith, the inhibitor of our faith and the initiator of our faith. Encouraging us that there is no reason to fail.
All throughout the faith chapter that powerful faith prompted action. All through the faith chapter we see stories of real people. We see how they faced every day challenges and find strength to meet our own. We see how they gained the victory and we are inspired not to give up.
The great inhibitor of our faith is sin. Sin is essentially lack of trust in God. As John reminds us:
Everyone who sins is breaking God’s law, for all sin is contrary to the law of God.
1 John 3:4 NLT
When we sin we confess that we do not trust God’s law or do not trust his power to help us overcome. In other words, sin is lack of faith. Sin will get in the way of faith and faith prompted action. And the unclean attitude of distrust will most certainly trip us up.
Finally, the writer of Hebrews brings us back to the powerful truth: Jesus is the author and finisher of our faith. It is by looking to Jesus that we succeed. His powerful love kindles a response of love within us (1 John 4:19) and sparking trust or faith which is manifest by actions. It is by getting lost in His love that we learn to trust.
I’ll leave you with the beautiful words of Ellen White as she describes faith:
True faith and true prayer—how strong they are! They are as two arms by which the human suppliant lays hold upon the power of Infinite Love. Faith is trusting in God,—believing that He loves us, and knows what is for our best good. Thus, instead of our own way, it leads us to choose His way. In place of our ignorance, it accepts His wisdom; in place of our weakness, His strength; in place of our sinfulness, His righteousness. Our lives, ourselves, are already His; faith acknowledges His ownership, and accepts its blessings. Truth, uprightness, purity, are pointed out as secrets of life’s success. It is faith that puts us in possession of these. Every good impulse or aspiration is the gift of God; faith receives from God the life that alone can produce true growth and efficiency.
Gospel Workers, p. 259.2
And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise, God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us. Hebrews 11:39-40 NKJV
Death. A cold merciless reality. It generates a deep almost unshakable fear in the depths of my heart. I wonder why God would allow me to go through such a terrifying experience. “Come back before I die,” I plead.
Yet, even in the face of death faith is required. Fear of death is perfectly natural. Even Jesus shrank in the face of death. I think it is the fear of possible eternal separation from God and those I love that lurks in the corners of my heart making death seemed like a terrifying place. Yet, there is hope. Jesus has conquered death, and he will not leave those he loves in the grave. As Paul says:
So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” “O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?”
I Corinthians 15:54-55 NKJV
I also have hope for those I know who have died before me. Add Paul reminds us:
But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. I Thessalonians 4:13-17 NKJV
When Jesus comes, it will be like one big family reunion where everyone arrives on time. No one missing out, no one left behind. Somehow, death does seem so scary anymore.
By faith we do not fear death.
I didn’t know Lolo L had such mischievous streak. I always thought of him as solemn and dignified. I guess everyone strives to be like that at church. Anyway, we were at a little gathering at Aunty Z house on Sabbath and it was picture time. Aunty E brought out her camera and started arranging people in little clumps for pictures in a way only Filipinos can.
Aunty D suggested that she take a picture of Lola and Lolo. So, Uncle positioned Lola’s wheelchair next to him. But Lolo wasn’t smiling.
“Smile! Smile!” Everyone coaxed mostly in a Filipino dialect.
But Lolo sat solemnly a dignified expression on his face. So, Uncle P thought he ought to demonstrate by pressing his index fingers to the corners of his mouth and then pushing them up to form a smile. Just to humor Uncle, Lolo mimicked the demonstration. Placing his fingers to the corners of his mouth with a extremely bored expression. Then he nudged them up dutifully.
Aunty D doubled over with mirth, while we all burst out laughing. This of course amused Lolo and he could not refrain from smiling a bit. He looked as he was really dying of laughter in side though.
Carry forward your work in humility. Never rise above the simplicity of the gospel of Christ. Not in the art of display, but in lifting up Christ, the sin-pardoning Redeemer, will you find success in winning souls. As you work for God in humility and lowliness of heart, He will manifest Himself to you. - Gospel Workers p. 355.3