“Therefore since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,  Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has set down at the right hand of the Throne of God.  For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” – {Hebrews 12:1-3}

 We all need encouragement, don’t we? For some life is harder than others.  I remember speaking at a conference overseas, I gave a message titled “Life is hard but God isgood.”  A man in his seventies or thereabouts was sitting near the front and as I spoke I saw his eyes fill up with tears. He had lived long enough and probably been through enough trials to know the truth of that statement, “Life is hard…” But he also had experienced the comfort of God enough to be able to say by faith and by experience, “…But God is Good.”  There are those in the world today who experience great suffering on account of their faith in Jesus Christ. Others who labor long and hard in His Name are tempted to grow weary and lose heart as they see so little for their labor, these too need encouragement. Well, God in His infinite wisdom and knowing our frailty has placed before us this wonderful verse, to Encourage us along the journey of faith, to run the race- of living for the Lord Jesus in our particular day and age- to run with endurance, to run with Encouragement, to run “BY FAITH…”” as did those who have gone before us, like those in HebrewsChapter 11

I recently sat down with three of my boys and we looked at “THE THREE LOOKS” in Hebrews 12:1-3, AND I hope this might be of some edification to you, greatly Beloved of God, to , “By Faith…run the race set before you….Looking unto Jesus.” Together let us look at “THE THREE LOOKS”

1. The LOOK BACK:  “Therefore since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us,…”

To those in Hebrews 11 – who ran the race God had placed before them, Look back for Encouragement as you consider their lives, trials and their faith. Look back for EXAMPLE, under great pressures they still ran. Look Back for ENCOURAGEMENT. Look Back to EMULATE, and in doing so EXALT God, “By Faith…”
Look Back to Abel, who “By Faith ” -Worshipped God aright
Look Back to Enoch, who “By Faith…”- Walked with God aright
Look Back to Noah, who “By faith…” – Worked and Witnessed for God aright…
Look Back to Abraham, who “By faith…” – Wandered by faith
Look Back to Moses, who “By Faith…” – Withdrew the temptation to waste his life on the sinful pleasures of this world, having considered JESUS of Greater Worth.
Look Back to those, who “By Faith…” – Won great victories. People like Moses and Daniel
Look Back to those who, “By Faith…” – Wandered about in animal clothing. Hounded and homeless, murdered and of whom the Scripture says  “OF WHOM THE WORLD WAS NOT WORTHY ” – Heb 11:38

All of the above and more in Hebrews 11 all had the seal of God upon their lives, “AND, ALL THESE HAVING GAINED APPROVAL BY THEIR FAITH.”

Faith pleases God. Faith in Him, His Word, His Son!  Consider The GREAT IMPOSSIBILITY. “Without Faith it is IMPOSSIBLE to Please GOD.”- Heb 11:6. Consider The GREAT INCENTIVE
“Those who come to God must believe He is, and is a REWARDER of those who diligently SEEK HIM.” -Heb 11:6.

Life is to be lived “By Faith…” in God, Who He is and What he says in His Word. To Live “By Faith” in Him is to Abandon yourself first into His safe keeping and then to Depend and derive all from Him and the evidence of the life lived “BY Faith…” in Him is a life of Dependence, {John 15:4, 7-8} and Doing His Word. {James 1:21-22 } motivated by Devotion to Him and for Him {John 14:21; Eph 5:21 ; 1 Peter 1:17} It is to Believe Him and showing so by the way you Behave.

2.  LOOK WITHIN:  “Let us also lay aside encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,” Take inventory. To Examine outlives, Evaluation not Condemnation, but for Preparation, in order to live the Christian life by the power of the Holy Spirit to the best of our ability We look with to examine our lives, motives…Is there anything that is causing you to be “entangled”…so you cannot run as God desires because of “weights” these are not necessarily bad things or sinful things, but things, or relationships that dampen your enthusiasm for God and the things of God and seeking the affairs of God first and foremost.

“Sin” speaks of that while defiles us and causes pain to God. Sometimes it can be “pet” sins we tolerate them, make excuses for them because in all honesty we “love” them more than we do the Savior. he says to “DIVEST” , “LAY ASIDE” Put off these things that would hinder you from running the race God has placed before you in order to be His Ambassador and Live for His Glory, taken up with Eternal truths and realities. Paul said to young Timothy in 1 Tim 6:12 “…take hold of the Eternal life, to which you were called….” He is not saying he needs to be saved, but in light of the fact he has and is saved he needs to “GET A GRIP” on Eternal issues. There is an Eternal Heaven, and Eternal Hell, and all people are Heading to Eternity. “GET A GRIP!” Live in light of ETERNITY and ETERNAL VALUES.

John Wesley, was visiting the home of a wealthy friend, and while walking in his garden the friend turned to Wesley and said “ALL this you could have had!” Wesley responded , “Oh but there’s another World!” There is nothing wrong with wealth, God gives some the capacity to make it {Though it is not to be hoarded for oneself, but used to bless and benefit others and the Kingdom of God;   1 Tim 7:17-18;  Matt 6:19;Eph 4:28 }

We need to be gripped by ETERNAL TRUTH AND REALITIES AND LIVING OUR SHORT GIFTED LIVES FOR THE GLORY OF GOD- {1 Peter1:17; Matt 6:33; Col 3:1-3}

Anything or anyone that would Dampen or Distract or Distort our view and Pursuit of Eternal things must be dealt with drastically…”THROW IT OFF,” “LAY IT ASIDE” … like you would a dirty and wet garment, upon arriving home get rid of it. John Wesley the famous Evangelist would travel by horseback and preach in various locations. At times, he would be pelted with rotten fruit as he stood to proclaim the “Unsearchable riches of Christ.” Upon arriving at the place he would stay, he would first change his clothes. he was not comfortable in filth, and neither should you nor I  {2 Cor 7:1} LOOK WITHIN and deal with attitudes and actions that dampen, displace or dishonor your pursuit of God and the things of God. When you do so, then and only them … will you be able to “RUN THE RACE.”

We “LOOK WITHIN – TO EXAMINE our lives and EMANCIPATE ourselves by Gods grace from this “weights” and sin that “entangle” us from being about THE FATHER’S BUSINESS. We “LOOK WITHIN”- Not in some morbid way or not for Condemnation- For the Lord Jesus bore our condemnation upon the cross at Calvary, and for those who have been Born again by the Spirit of God , “there is therefore NOW NO CONDEMNATION for those who are in Christ Jesus.”-{Romans 8:1}…We “LOOK WITHIN”- To Aid in our PREPARATION- to “Run the Race.” Just as an athlete Prepares to be the best he or she can be, paying close attention to their life style, diet and training, denying themselves of things even “good” things or things that are “lawful” and that multitudes enjoy, be it types of food, late nights etc. But an athlete intraining, is not like the casual jogger or Sunday afternoon football player in the park. They are at the top of their field or striving to be and so they deny themselves and discipline themselves in order to be at their peak for their event and competition. They take precaution with their PREPARATION. They examine the latest techniques, anything to help them to aspire in the race. So, we followers of the Lord Jesus must remember we have been purchased by the precious Blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, we are not our own … and we are here as His Ambassadors, representing Him and are to conduct ourselves with reverence and live for Him. Let us make careful Consideration and PREPARATION that we are not entangled lest we fail to be all that God would have us to be for the Glory of His Son.

To those of you/us who are entangled, “cut bait” and invest in Eternal things with your life and with your resources as those in 2 Cor 8:5. Failure is not final and need not be, you can be used of God to influence lives like those in Hebrews 11. They had great failures and sin like you and me. Don’t allow past failures to hinder present conduct. Like hitting a gold ball into the sand… Use the resources to GET OUT and PLAY on!! His Blood, His Grace are sufficient for you to get out of what has entangles you and GO ON LIVE “BY FAITH…” I am jealous for men to give their lives to and live their lives for… JESUS. Maybe its the illness, or maybe God has and is using my illness … but I want my passion and priority to be “all for Jesus”- and I hate to see people waste their lives in pursuit of the TOYS and TRINKETS and the PURSUIT of the things of this world, living as though JESUS had not DIED AND RISEN from the dead and as if SOULS ARE NOT DYING and on their way to a devils’ hell. And false teachers like the Mormons have their people give 2 years to “missions” propagating a lie and we are so concerned about our children’s “education” as though life is to be lived as if people do not need to hear about JESUS. Are we really convinced we are living with LIFE AND DEATH and handling the things of ETERNITY? The great privilege we have to serve JESUS?

I think too many of us are in the second “Look”– Entangled by “weights” and “sin” and unable to see the Great Privilege we have and having stooped and slopped down into the realm of “I dot care” and my living shows it. Cindee recently said to me with regards missions, we as Christians {some of us} we give because it makes US FEEL Better … but we don’t GIVE because it is a LIFE AND DEATH ISSUE. My heart breaks, my heart is stirred, my heart is so hard … but my heart pleads…Don’t waste your life, your health “His” resources- {AFTER ALL WHAT YOU HAVE IS FROM Him AND BELONGS TO HIM, YOU ARE JUST A STEWARD OF HIS AFFAIRS WITH WHAT HE HAS ENTRUSTED YOU WITH} Don’t waste your life – abandon it for the CAUSE OF CHRIST!

Sometimes we deceive ourselves with, “If Only…” If only I was in someone else’s shoes, “If only I had this…” If only I did not have that…” GOD HAS SOVEREIGNLY PLACED YOU IN HIS LANE, SO “RUN THE RACE SET BEFORE YOU…” But how you ask?

3. LOOKING AWAY: ” Let us FIX OUR EYES on Jesus. The Author and Perfecter of our Faith…”
Looking away from all that would Distract you, Entice you, Mold you {Rom 12:1-2} and Hinder you …. LOOK AWAY TO JESUS.  The PHRASE, “Looking away”… THE VERB IS IN THE PRESENT TENSE…SO A CONTINUAL ACT IS INTENDED. In all our obedience,…in all we do … we are to continually Look away to Him…LOOKING; in Scripture when used of Jesus or God…. Denotes an ACT of Trust or faith with HOPE AND EXPECTATION. He is not just an EXAMPLE for us to Focus on…though that is part of it… But the One in whom we whole heartily turn to and trust…. Confidently…expectantly, living in obedience to Him to ENABLE us to complete this course in a manner worthy of Him…” BY FAITH…” For without Faith we cannot PLEASE HIM..-Heb 11:6…LOOK AWAY TO JESUS.

“Fixing our eyes on JESUS….” HE IS TO BE THE FOCUS AS WE RUN. He is to be the OBJECT {Heb 12:2} and the SUBJECT of our faith {Luke 24:27}

I told my boys the story of a well known British runner, whom I remember seeing his picture in a newspaper of being beaten in a race. the picture captures the moment he lost the race. He turned to see where his opponent was and when he turned to look, he slowed down and took his eye off the finishing line, and his opponent blazed by him and he lost! When we take our eyes off the Lord Jesus… we slow down and lose our bearings at times, like the runner when we take our FOCUS off the Lord Jesus…the goal… God Himself, knowing Him, Living by faith in Him and walking before Him and being about His Business {Matt 6:33} we lose eternal Focus. Dear Paul said to young Timothy in 1 Tim 6:12, “Take hold of Eternal Life…’ he is not speaking of his need to be saved, for he was {1 Tim 1:2} but he was telling him to “get a grip” on Eternal Realities, an Eternal Heaven, and Eternal Hell, and Eternal Consequences. Live in light of Eternity!

The story is told of John Wesley, who was visiting the home of a wealthy friend. As they walked in the garden the friend turned to Wesley and said,” Wesley, ALL this you could have had!” regarding wealth, and comfort and the prestige that goes with it. To which Wesley replied, “OH, But there’s ANOTHER WORLD!” God gives the capacity to make wealth- Deut 8: teaches … but we are Eternal beings who need to be concerned with Eternal realities, and to do so we must LOOK AWAY TO JESUS

A. LOOK AWAY TO HIS PERSON – “…JESUS…,” who as a man, the God- man, was tempted as we are, yet He was without sin, he knows what it is like to be hungry, thirsty, betrayed, He knows the sting of betrayal by a “friend,” JESUS WHO was familiar with hunger and thirst…
Jesus who was familiar with temptation
Jesus who was familiar with fatigue
Jesus who knew about Pressures
Jesus who knew about betrayal
Jesus who knew about Suffering unjustly
Jesus…He knows what it is life to live upon an earth who despise the things of God, yet He ran the race and He won! LOOK TO HIS PERSON. He has been on the race course and He understands, the struggles and temptations. He knows how the “Race” is to be run. He ran “By Faith…” trusting His Father to keep Him at His Birth, continually turning to Him in prayer {Mark 1} “By Faith…” trusting his Father…LOOK AWAY TO JESUS the “AUTHOR and Perfecter of our faith.” The Word “Author” can be translated “Leader.” He is in the lead, He is ahead of us, he shows us how to “run” the race,  “By Faith…” when Temptation comes {Matt 4:1-10} He can show us where the obstacles are and remind us of the dangers, from His Word- {1 Cor 10:1-13}

B. LOOK AWAY TO HIS PASSION – “Who for the Joy set before Him He endured the cross, despising the shame …” No one has had to run the “Race” He had to, to bear the sin of the world upon His sinless being, to know for the first time what it was like to be abandoned by His Father. LOOK AWAY TO HIS PASSION- The “JOY” of Obeying his Father and accomplishing the Work he had given Him to do.

LOOK AT WHERE HE IS NOW-He is In the PLACE of REST, and VICTORY- He “…sat down” it is finished! He is sitting because He has run His Race, He is sitting in the Place of “Power” and of “Favor” He is Preeminent over all. He is still sitting there and forever will be in the place of Preeminence. HE IS THE FIRST AND THE LAST, HE is EVERYTHING we need to enable and empower us {2 Peter 1:3-4} to Run the race set before us, and this we will do as we “LOOK AWAY TO JESUS…” For our EXAMPLE,{1 Peter 2:21}, for our EMPOWERING {Eph 1:19-20} for our EDIFICATION,{2 Cor 3:18}

“SEEING THAT His Divine power has granted to us EVERYTHING pertaining to Life and Godliness… for by these He has GRANTED to us His Precious and Magnificent Promises, so that by them we may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by Lust.”` 2 Peter 1:3-4. He has Given us POWER and PROMISES to be able to endure and exalt Him and edify others by.

“For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.”- Hebrews 4:15

“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served but TO SERVE and to Give His life a ransom for many.”- Mark 10:45
Jesus CAME to…

    MATT 1:21 – ” She will bear a Son; and you shall call His Name Jesus, for He WILL SAVE His people from their sins.”
    Matt 11:27 -“All things have been handed over to Me by My Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father; nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to REVEAL Him.
    1 John 3:8 -“The Son OF God APPEARED for this purpose to DESTROY the works of the devil.”
    John 10:10 – “The thief Comes only to steal kill and destroy: I CAME that they might have LIFE AND LIFE ABUNDANTLY.”
    1 Peter 3:18 – “For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might BRING US TO GOD, having been Put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit; “


“And there is NO CREATURE HIDDEN FROM HIS SIGHT, but All things are open  and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.”- Hebrews 4:12

His Person, His Promises, His Power, His Purposes, His Pattern, His Provisions…. fill your FOCUS WITH JESUS- {Luke 24:27}

WE ARE TO FILL OUR THOUGHTS through HIS WORD– {Col 3:15-16} with HIS WORD, WE are to LOOK FOR HIM in the Scriptures {Luke 24:27}  WE are to “CONSIDER HIM”
Fill your thinking  with HIS PERSON
Fill your thinking with HIS PASSION
Fill your thinking with HIS PREEMINENCE

THE WORD “LOOKING” is the Greek word, “aphorao” which means “looking away from ALL ELSE, Looking at that which FILLS THE HEART.”

Peddling with EVAN.
We are to run the race with “PERSEVERANCE.”  To persevere is to keep going and going and going. I remember when Evan was about 5 years old. he was in a bicycle race at church. He had training wheels on it. He was so far behind the other racers, that they were giving out the trophies and making the speeches and there was EVAN… SMILING AND PEDDLING! He didn’t Pout, he didn’t compare himself to others … he just kept PEDDLING AND PEDDLING. The following day his older sister Mary, kindly gave him her trophy which she had won for first place. He got it because as Cindee said he kept going and smiling as he peddled … oh what a beautiful picture of perseverance. And beloved as you keep “peddling” by Faith…” faithful to your task in life, living to honor God in the “lane” God has placed you in, you too will receive a crown… and the words “well done thou good and FAITHFUL SERVANT.” When your tempted to give up, when your tempted to give in, “Keep peddling like Evan”… do the NEXT THING before you, DO IT well, DO IT FOR JESUS…”

We are to run because our hearts are filled with the glorious Vision of Jesus, and the way we fuel our vision is by filling our minds with true thoughts from His Word about, His Person, His Passion, his Preeminence. TO CONSIDER HIM-we must turn from other preoccupation’s – to Place Him before our Minds. MEDITATE UPON Him…WHEN YOUR MIND HAS THOSE “FREE” MOMENTS WHEN YOU DO NOT HAVE TO GIVE IT  TO “WORK,” Take your THOUGHTS TO JESUS and of JESUS…”CONSIDER HIM”


1.  LOOK BACK:  To the lives of those who have run before you. Look back for Encouragement form their Lives. Look Back for their Example. And those in Hebrews 11 were not without their failures or sin, but the Word says they all “gained approval” and “pleased God”- Heb 11:2;6 and this world was “not worthy of them”- Heb 11:38:39. Look how they ENDURED. LOOK Back for Encouragement, for Example, for Edification and Look back and EMULATE the lives of those who lived “BY FAITH…” in the faithful One {1 Cor 1:9}

2.  LOOK WITHIN:  To Examine our lives, Evaluation not Condemnation, but for Preparation, in order to live the Christian life by the power of the Holy Spirit to the best of our ability {Phil 2:12-13 }…Run to the best of our ability. Take inventory, and Emancipate yourself where you have become entangled by “weights”, friendships, {Prov 22:24-25; 1 Cor 15:33; Psalm 1:1} hobbies, pursuits that have mastered and DOMINATED and DIVERTED you in the Race to Live for God and the things of God. Those things which have DISTRACTED you from DEVOTION to the Lord Jesus and seeking first  as the priority of your living, “the Kingdom of God and His Righteousness “{MATT 6:33}

Don’t look at your past failures apart to learn from them, don’t look at the obstacles apart from opportunities to glorify Him and learn of Him {Psalm 50:15, } Oh,..dearly beloved of God look away to Jesus, “THE AUTHOR AND PERFECTER OF YOUR FAITH.” He is the Leader, He has gone ahead, He knows the traps and the twists, He knows the way to walk…LOOK TO HIM  and LEAN upon Him and LOVE HIM and LAY your burdens at His feet and DEPEND upon Him and demonstrate your allegiance to Him by being A DOER of His Word {James 1:21-22} motivated by DEVOTION FOR HIM {John 14:21}

Well, precious soul I am tired and I am weary, “But God…” who alone can strengthen and sustain me and cause me to LOOK AWAY TO JESUS… SOON ENOUGH YOU WILL GET TO SEE HIM…. WON’T THAT BE WONDERFUL! In the mean time Draw from Him, Talk to Him, Rely upon Him and “run the race set before you” with the mind filled with JESUS.

Over 600 times JESUS is referred to in the 4 Gospels. Why? they could not get Him off their minds or tongues because of the Centrality of Jesus on their Lives and affections. God grant it so for me, my family, you and yours and those who have yet to hear of JESUS…

The Hymn writer’s well says” ALL that Thrills my Soul is Jesus…”;
“Jesus I am resting resting in the Joy of what Thou are, I am finding out the greatness of Thy loving hear. Thou has bid me GAZE UPON THEE, AND THY BEAUTY FILLS MY SOUL and By Thy transforming Power Thou has made Me whole… Jesus I, AM RESTING IN THE JOY OF WHAT THOU ARE…”

I do hope these will help and encourage you to “LOOK UNTO JESUS”  Remember “THE THREE LOOKS”- Look Back for example and Encouragement of those who Endured and Emulate them. Look Within- Not for Condemnation but for EVALUATION in PREPARATION to run… Look AWAY- to JESUS

I DO PRAY my children will know the reality of “THE THREE LOOKS” in their life, that when their race has ended, and God who numbers our days, brings theirs to a close, my heart prayer is that they will have run in such a way that others can “LOOK BACK” and gain Encouragement and courage for their own lives … because my children ran…”LOOKING AWAY TO JESUS…” Don’t let me down children, don’t let Him down who bled and dies for you and rose again that you can and should live for Him.

When times of discouragement and obstacles come that would seem to overwhelm you. When the shadow of fear would try to eclipse your view of JESUS… then my beloved little ones, no matter what stage of life you find yourself in or should you read this and I long be gone to the Fathers House … remember “Look Back…Look Within… Look Away…” and I’ll be waiting and cheering you on,
Love daddy