The Race that is Set Before Us

2019-08-18 – Year C – Proper 15 – The Rev. Christopher Klukas

Jeremiah 23:23-29; Psalm 82; Hebrews 12:1-14; Luke 12:49-56

Athletic Training

  • Taekwondo Belt Test yesterday.
    • Grandmaster Coker – Today is just a day when you get some new color on your belt, the real test is all of the work you have put in to get to this point.
    • Athletic competitions and accomplishments are not won overnight. It takes consistent training and work over time.
    • You need to eat the right things, get enough sleep, exercise, and train yourself in the skills required for your sport.
    • Athletic achievement can push you to the limits of what you are capable of.
    • No pain no gain. Muscles are actually damaged through exercise and the body repairs them with greater strength.

Spiritual Training

  • Hebrews 12:1 – Running the race with endurance.
    • Just like struggles of athletic training and competition, the struggles you face as a Christian may hurt or require you to make difficult decisions, but they also help you to grow stronger in your faith and the way you live it out.
  • Focus on Jesus, not on yourself and your weakness. Hebrews 12:2.
    • When you exercise, or when you go through a painful experience, if you focus on the pain, you will quickly wear out and give up. It can help significantly to focus on something outside of yourself.
      • Running, focus on the next telephone pole.
    • Focusing on Jesus
      • Gives us an example for comparison – Hebrews 12:3
      • Gives us an inexhaustible source of strength
        • “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:12–13.
  • What does Christian training look like? Growth in holiness. Becoming more like Christ.
    • Fruit of the Spirit: Galatians 5:22–23
    • Practically, we train spiritually by regularly practicing spiritual disciplines like prayer, bible reading, silence, study, and participation in the life of the Church.
    • It also comes through the opportunities that arise each and every day to make choices to live as Christians. Resisting temptations. Making selfless choices.

Correction

  • Our training as Christians isn’t just about growing in virtue, it also involves turning away from vice. This can involve correction.
    • I got to experience this yesterday as well. While on our way to the Taekwondo belt test, I noticed some red and blue lights flashing behind my car.
    • I had a nice chat with a police officer who informed me that I was going  a little too fast!
  • Hebrews 12:6 – Authentic discipline comes out of love.
    • We should remember this when we are in a position to correct others, and we should also remember this when we are being corrected.
  • The author of this letter compares the Lord’s discipline with that of parental discipline, a good metaphor because it is something we all have experienced.
    • Now think for a moment about your own experience of parental discipline. What was that like for you? Were you parents harsh or lenient? If you are a parent, in which of these directions do you lean?
      • The lenient parents needs to remember the words of Proverbs 13:24. “He who loves [his son] is diligent to discipline him.”
      • The harsh parent needs to remember the words of Ephesians 6:4. “Do not provoke your children to anger…”
      • The truth is that every human parent is imperfect, none of us get it right all the time. This can cloud the way we see God.
  • God’s discipline is always perfect, and it always comes from a place of love. Hebrews 12:9-10.
    • N. T. Wright – “It may come as a shock to many Christians to discover that there lies ahead of them a life in which God, precisely because he is treating us as sons and daughters, will refuse to spoil us or ignore us, will refuse to let us get away for ever with rebellion or folly, with sin or stupidity. He has his ways of alerting his children to the fact that they should either pause and think again, or turn round and go in the opposite direction, or get down on their knees and repent.”
    • This discipline might look like a secret coming to light, or an opportunity you really wanted not coming to fruition, or, in Jonah’s case, like a whale swallowing you up and spitting you out on dry land.
      • When unpleasant experiences are happening in your life, quietly ask the Lord if there is something he is trying to teach you.
  • The purpose of God’s discipline is that we might “share his holiness.”
  • We don’t need to fear God’s discipline, it might not be pleasant, no discipline is, but it will yield an important harvest in our lives. Hebrews 12:11.
  • v. 12, “drooping hands…weak knees” signs of discouragement and despair. Don’t be DIScouraged, and ENcouraged.
  • If you are receiving the discipline of the Lord right now, be joyful, it is a beautiful reminder that you have been adopted into God’s family and that he loves you!
  • If you are struggling with your growth in virtue, remember that each time you struggle and prevail, you spiritual muscles grow a little stronger and you become more like Jesus.

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Discussion

  1. fred shively

    Just listened to the Aug 18 sermon. It was especially good for me. I appreciate your efforts to bring the Word. May God bless you and family for all your needs.
    Thank you.

    1. Christopher Klukas

      Thank you, Fred. I am so glad that it was a blessing to you. Praise God!

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