The Race Marked Out For Us

When we think about the pastor search over the past year or so, Bear Creek Church has had a difficult path to follow. There have been four potential candidates who have won the favor of the Pastor Search Committee, but for one reason or another did not believe the Lord was calling them to serve here as pastor. In each case each one has been something of a disappointing blow to the committee and the congregation, but the committee and the church have kept pressing on in hope and faith in the Lord of the Church, Jesus. Sometimes we wonder what we might do differently; sometimes we wish the Lord would make His plan more clear. 

When I hiked the Colorado Trail there were many times when I wasn't sure I was on the right trail or a trail at all! Sometimes the trail was buried deep beneath a couple of feet of snow and I either guessed which way it was going or I followed other footprints in the snow. But along the way there were "assurance markers" nailed to a tree or affixed to a post. I loved these things! They always let me breathe a little easier knowing I was where I was supposed to be, and wanted to be. 

In our "hike" with the Lord we would like a few more assurance markers, wouldn't we?  Such markers would be especially helpful during this time of searching for a pastor. But our walk with the Lord is different; the markers are not nailed to a tree or posted where we can all see them. We walk by faith, not sight. 

This week I want us to think about what it means for us "run with perseverance the race marked out for us" (Heb. 12:1, NIV). Read Hebrews 12:1-3 and use the questions given below to help you meditate on the word picture of this passage.

1.    How is the Christian life portrayed in this passage of ours today?
*    What do you think is significant about that? (cf., I Cor. 9:24-27)

2.    Our text speaks of "a great crowd of witnesses," and it seems to be a reference to the grand list of saints described in chapter 11. Who are these witnesses? Do you have a favorite?
*    What is the common characteristic found in all of their lives? What does the author of Hebrews want us to learn from them? 
*    So, in a word, what are all these men and women witnesses of? ("witnesses" could be translated "examples")

3.    Given the reference to those described in Hebrews 11, what do you think "the race set before us" is? How is "the race set before us" like the race the "great clouds of witnesses" have run? (cf., Prov. 3:5-6; II Cor. 5:7)

4.    How would you define or describe endurance or perseverance? How does that fit your understanding of the Christian life?

5.    What do you think it means to "lay aside every weight"? What do you think the author has in mind when he speaks of "every weight"?
*    What sorts of things do you think weigh us down in the Christian life and keep us from running with endurance? 

6.    What are sins "which cling so closely" or sins "that so easily entangle" (NIV)? How do they affect our running the race set before us?

7.    Why do you think the author of Hebrews tells us to look to Jesus or fix our eyes on Jesus (NIV)? What difference will that make? 

8.    What do you learn about Jesus in this passage? 

9.    Put it all together: what is "the race that is set before us" and how are we to run it? 

10.    What is weighing you down or entangling you so that you cannot run the race well? What do you need to do? 

11.    Given the current situation at BCC in which she finds herself without a permanent senior pastor, what advice would you give her from this passage?

God be with you, and I hope to see you on Sunday!

Dan