Why would anyone want to become a Christian during these first three centuries? Persecution was fierce and universal. We need to be informed as to how persecution is spreading rapidly today.
In the beginning, there was nowhere to hide, and there was no social benefit whatsoever in being disciples of Jesus Christ.
These early disciples enjoyed and appreciated communion with God, through Jesus Christ. As they were loved and empowered by God they became salt and light, challenging many forms of darkness. Regarding this calling of God, holy as it, and depending upon our answering His holy call, they discovered it to be all of grace.
We too are called to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world.
God seldom calls a person to do what by human ability he is able to do. We see that in the lives of Noah, Abraham, Moses, Gideon and Jeremiah. Read their stories as recorded in the Bible. Almighty God provided them with what they needed, to do what they were called to do.
When today’s disciples wonder what it is all about at times, this clear guidance shines – fix your eyes on Jesus. Keep running your race faithfully, and keep your eyes on Jesus who is the trailblazer, the author and finisher of our faith.
There are times when the disciple has to make that deliberate decision to look away from all else to Jesus Christ, the Saviour.
In the book of Hebrews these disciples knew the meaning of endurance. As they ran their race they were able to overcome various pain barriers – two of which can be ‘growing weary’ and ‘losing heart’. They did not have an easy time. Neither did Jesus Christ. Be prepared for struggles and keep focused and faithful.
We do not run to come in first, but to finish faithfully. Read Hebrews Chapters 11,12 and be encouraged and strengthened – and nourished from God’s holy Word.
When we hear, or read, of men of faith, there is always that element where each acted on the basis of his faith. They did something, obeying God, having taking risks.
They were prepared to look foolish, or be regarded as peculiar, and then there came that day when their names appeared in an honours list in the book of Hebrews. They had pleased God. Without faith it is impossible to please God.
Men and women of faith are encouraged to run the race marked out for them and to run with perseverance and endurance. Is this not the salient and significant evidence of Christian discipleship? God calls us to persevering faith, demonstrating endurance and continuance – a going on.
It takes courage to persevere and endure, and the writer to the Hebrews is addressing discouraged disciples.
In the military context, perseverance means you stand your ground through all the battlefield dangers, refusing to flee, or run away.
In the athletic context, it speaks of not falling back or dropping out.
If the Christian life was regarded as some kind of jolly picnic there would be no need for this type of language.
The disciple of Jesus was taught to throw off everything that hindered and hampered progress, getting rid of burdens, weights, and sins, that could entrap, ensnare, and entangle.
Worry, discouragement, immorality, lust, greed, addiction, fear, and various other emotions, can be impediments which disable disciples in the heat of the battle.
Many things may be legitimate, but the Christian soldier lays them aside as he prepares and runs the race marked out.
AGON is the word used for race from which we get ‘agony’, implying self control in every area of life – a disciplined disciple. Is that you?
Let me encourage you in these times to keep running so that you may finish faithfully.
“Lord God Almighty – as we bow before You in Worship and Praise – and with thanksgiving for all that we have in Christ Jesus – help us serve with perseverance and endurance. Rid me of whatever might hinder and hamper – so that I might fight the good fight – finish the race – and keep the faith. Lord, I realise that if I do not keep the faith, it will be difficult to fight the good fight and finish the race – so help me – risen, living, loving Jesus. Amen.
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