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From the Pulpit

“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. 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” Heb 12:1-2 (NIV).
Well, here we are again standing on the verge of entering a New Year, a time when we often reflect on the past, and ponder the future. A time when we are hopeful that 2010 will bring with it blessings and happiness and many other things that did not exist, nor were experienced in 2009. However, we also often find ourselves questioning what difference does another year bring? What is such a big deal about a New Year? Why will it be any different than the last one? The truth is, not much, if I carry with us the same old attitudes, discouragements and disappointments of the previous year. Proverbs tells me, “As man thinks in his heart, so is he.” Meaning we are what we think! So, what are your thoughts for the New Year?
I have shared this verse in Hebrews because I find it gives some great insights into looking toward the future. First, it reminds us that we are not alone. Notice that the writer encourages us with the fact that there is great number of witnesses. The witnesses here are spoken of in chapter 11. They were men and women of faith, who, like us, faced challenges of many kinds. Yet, they continued to move forward in faith and hope. The thought of knowing I am never the only one and that many others have gone before encourages me to look to the future with hope. The implication here is also that others are encouraging us to keep going, don’t give up.
Secondly, we are encouraged to “throw off’ everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles us. Notice it says throw off everything that hinders. Not just the sin, but anything else that may hinder our ability to move forward in faith and hope. What is hindering you from thinking different in 2010? What is hindering you from believing this year will be different? Are they broken relationships, past disappointments, maybe even past successes? Whatever they are, we are encouraged to “throw them off.” Remove them! Get rid of them! If it is some sin, we must do the same. Interesting enough, the biggest sin I find I must “throw off” is that of my doubt and unbelief. Those negative thoughts that are contrary to God’s thoughts. The ones that say, “this year will not be any different.”  Or “you will always struggle with your drinking, your marriage will always have problems, and your children will never give their life to Christ. You will always be a worry wart; you will never know real peace.”
According to Hebrews 12, notice the goal of these thoughts. They are designed to discourage us and get us the quit the race of faith, to just stop the race of faith and say, “I am done trusting he can make my life and circumstances different. Stop hoping and trusting Him altogether.” You may remember the old saying, “quitters never win and winners never quit.” Keep trusting the Lord in 2010. Keep believing His plans for you are to prosper you and not to harm you. God’s plans are always designed to give you a hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11).
Lastly, how do we do this when things right now are the same? Fix your eyes on Jesus!  Another translation says, “Looking” unto Jesus. This means, we realize that He and He alone is our answer.  He can and will still do miracles in our lives. He still answers prayers and provides for our every need.  So, we continue to look to Him as we enter the New Year. Why? Because He is the author and the perfector of our faith. He started this ability of ours to trust and have hope.  Therefore, He will sustain it and complete it in us, if we will just keep running the race in 2010.  So, “throw off” the hindrances of 2009 and enter 2010 with hope and faith that greater days are ahead.

Pastor Craig Carter
North Kent Community Church
1480 Indian Lakes Rd., Sparta, MI 49345
Church Office (616) 887-2478
Service Time: Sunday’s @ 10:00am – Nursery & Children’s Ministry provided.

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