Steady The Course! – Part Two

“Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.  For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.”

                                                                                                                   – Hebrews 12:1-3

On last week, we broke the ice for what it means to remain steady in a race.  However, this week I fully intend to expound on the topic by dissecting and applying our text into the lives of each and everyone who may come in contact with this article.  While we are on this journey, keep in mind that I am not trying to appeal to your emotions, feelings, or need for positive affirmation, rather it is my intent to appeal to that inner man or spirit man on the inside of you that has the ability to change the entire course of your life.  It is that man that I will be speaking to for it is that man, your spirit man, who is responsible for transitioning our lives from being breastfed or milk based feeding to maturity or solid meat feeding.  As a result, I have three simple points to make and we can have a good praise and worship break at the end (or in between – whichever you choose).  Are you ready to eat?  Are you ready to grow up?  Then, come along as we learn what it means to truly Steady The Course!

The first thing I want us to understand is that our life is always on display.  Whether you are called to preach to millions or you desire to be a Christian living a life that is not as flashy or open as others, it is important to remember that your life is always on display. What do you mean by this Kean?  As a believer and Christian, we are to walk a certain walk, talk a certain talk, live a certain life, and overall behave in a certain manner.  Therefore, by default our lives are on display to the world not as one blending in with it but as one called and chosen to stand out and be different.  How do I know this?  The Bible says it in 1 Peter 2:9 that we are a chosen generation, royal priesthood, holy nation, and peculiar people that should show the praises of him who called us out of darkness and into his marvelous light.  Wherever there is light, there is an awakening.  Wherever there is an awakening, there is a new creation.  Finally, wherever there is a new anything, there is always an audience.  Somebody missed it, so allow me to say it again: Wherever there is light, there is an awakening.  Wherever there is an awakening, there is a new creation.  Finally, wherever there is a new anything, there is always an audience.  Somebody still missed it, but it’s okay it will hit you in a minute.  Keep reading.

Since we now know that our lives are always on display and that we have an audience, let’s move into the text.  Our text starts off telling us about who we have as a part of our audience; a great cloud of witnesses.  For those who may be wondering what this great cloud consists of, it is those forerunners who have gone before you running the race.  Not only did they run the race, but they suffered, endured, were persecuted, and successfully completed the race earning their crown of victory, thereby qualifying them to be witnesses on our behalf who can attest to the goodness, faithfulness, grace, and mercies of God.  In other words, these witnesses are there to encourage and sort of motivate you to run on and see what the end is going to be.  They’re sort of like cheerleaders so to say.  However, do not be deceived.  Although we have a cloud of great witnesses surrounding us, there are still those other people who come to the race simply to spectate, speculate, and spread hate.  Most of the time you hear people say that let your haters distract you or take away your focus, but God has given me a new perspective on this topic.  Thus, my first point is:  Redefine people’s positions in your life.

Has your witness(s) become your distraction(s)?  Many times we look at the lives of people who have gone before us to achieve a certain status or level in their lives that we desire for ourselves, then we attempt to make them the examples or benchmarks for our progress towards meeting said desires.  We even take it a step further and make these people idols (something or someone who is greatly admired, respected, and/or revered to the point of worship) for us.  Let that marinate a moment.  This mindset is especially present in the church and in the people of the church.  In today’s church we have people putting their pastor on a such a great pedestal that they base everything or the majority of the things about their life on what the pastor has to say.  You don’t want a man unless they act and treat you like the pastor treats his wife.  You don’t want a wife unless she looks, acts, and behaves like your First Lady.  We praise the pastor’s stuff and how it is oh so first class in life while secretly coveting it also.  Now, in today’s church everything is about name brands.  I tried to steer away from it, but God wouldn’t let me.  Everybody is believing and attempting to serve God for stuff, but nobody is believing and serving God for salvation.  Can I suggest something to you?  Once this has become the basis of your walk, you have drifted off course.  How do I know that you are off course?  When you have placed that amount of reverence and admiration on anything or anybody outside of God, then your witness has become your distraction.  Thus, your witness is no longer your cheerleader, but he or she is now in the position of your God.

This leads to the second point:  Redefine the focus for your life.  In order to begin this process, we have to move on to the next part of the scripture which says, “…let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us.”  The stuff that mentioned above is both weight and sin.  Now, it is not the only sin that needs to be removed; however, it is the one that God had me to name as a result of people being oblivious to the fact that it exists in their life.  Can I be honest?  It existed in my life at one point, and I got checked on it rather quickly.  That’s how I’m able to write about it with such ease.  Nonetheless, all sinful acts, sinful mindsets, and sinful nature’s need to be removed if we are going to run this race and attain the crown of victory.  Why?  It is the sin in our lives that threatens our ability to remain steadfast or steady on the course, thus causing us to prematurely end the race without having won anything (no crown, no victory, no power, no defeat over the enemy, etc).  How do I begin to remove the sin from my life?  I’m glad you asked.    Next verse, “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith…”.  Why is there the mention of faith?  The origination of faith was grounded on the fact that my belief that Jesus is the Son of God sent to shed his blood for the remission of my sins and lay down his life to make me a co-heir to both the kingdom and the promises of God.  Therefore, it is my belief in him and my acceptance of him into my life that gives me the faith to believe that I do not have to be governed by my sinful nature, rather I have the faith in his ability to enable me to live a life free from the nature of sin.

Wait!  I skipped one, or did I?  I moved past it intentionally.  Why?  The scripture says that Jesus is both the author and finisher of my faith. Basically, my faith started as a result of my belief in him (which makes him the author) and my faith was sustained or complete when (watch this) he endured the pain and suffering of the cross and ultimately gave up his life for me (which makes him the finisher).  Watch this. Since he both started and finished my faith, then he must also be the one responsible for fulfilling my faith, thus I must fix my eyes on him at all times.  You missed it!  The Bible says that Jesus is the author and finisher of our faith.  That means that our faith both begins and ends with him.  How did it begin with him?  I looked to him to be the deliver and savior of my life.  How does it end with him?  It couldn’t be fulfilled until he went to the cross.  So, if it started with me looking to him, then it must also end with me looking to him.  In other words, whatever I start off looking to him for, then I must end or finish the same way, looking to him.  Therefore, my entire focus has to be on him at all times.  Why?  He is the only one that is able to see both my beginning and end, thereby making him the only one capable to leading me along the way.

This leads to my last and final point:  Redefine the viewpoint for your life.  The text says that Jesus is to be the one we look to, which makes him the example for our lives.  It says he endured the cross, ignored the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the father.  Wait a minute.  He endured the cross (steadied the course), ignored the shame (paid no attention to the public’s thoughts), and is seated at the right hand of the father (received his crown of glory and victory).  There’s one more, he considered it all to be joy.  Can I make my last suggestion?  Jesus was showing you that along this race there will be hurdles set in place to cause you pain, plenty of opportunities for your haters to try and make you feel shame, but if you Steady The Course there is a crown of glory for you to gain.  However, you’ll never discover this unless you take pleasure in the suffering or consider it a joy to suffer for Christ’s sake.  Now, I understand why Apostle Paul says in 2 Corinthians 12:10, “Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.”  I also understand what the old saints meant when they said “I get joy when I think about what he’s done for me.”  They were not thinking about the material things like the houses, cars, clothes, money or things like that.  No ma’am and no sir!  They were thinking about the many lashes on his chest and back that he took for us, the crown of thorns they placed on his head, the nails in his hands and feet, the side that was pierced, and ultimately the life that he laid down.  Whew, I done got happy now!

Can I close it out now?  When you redefine the viewpoint for your life, you no longer take on the role of the victim.  You don’t go around feeling sorry for yourself and/or wanting others to feel sorry for you.  You don’t tuck your tail between your legs and give up on your dreams, goals, and destiny.  You no longer ask God, “Why me Lord, why me?”  No!  You take on the role of the victor, and begin to count it all joy when you fall into divers temptations knowing that the trying of your faith works patience.  Shout I’m Steady!  I no longer question God actions, thoughts, and ways rather i quicken when He speaks or move.  Shout I’m Steady!  I quicken myself because I understand that weapons of my warfare are not carnal but mighty through God for the pulling down of strongholds. Shout I’m Steady!  I cast down every imagination and high thing that attempts to exalt itself against the knowledge and wisdom of my God.  Shout I’m Steady!  I cast down every thought and bring it into captivity unto the obedience of Christ.  Shout I’m Steady!  I look not to the right or the left; instead, I fix my eyes on the prize by looking to the hills from which cometh my help.  Why?  It’s because I know that all my help comes from the Lord.  Shout I’m Steady!  That’s why I have made it my inward resolve that thanks be to God who always causes me to triumph in Christ.  Shout I’m Steady!  That’s why I don’t worry when I’m in the midst of my testing season.  I don’t worry when my bills are due, my money and finances become few, my family and friends withdrew, I’m all alone and don’t know what to do, it seems that no one has a clue, but child I thought you knew.  Knew what?  Can I give you the real shout cue?  All things work together for the good to them that love the Lord, and are the called according to His purpose!  Shout I’m Steady!  That’s why I’m still clapping my hands, I’m still doing my dance, I’m still calling in his name, because I’m him I have no shame.

Therefore, I have no choice but to believe that weeping may endure but for a night. However, if I just hold on to God’s unchanging hand I believe and I know that joy, Joy, oh joy, will come in the morning!  So, since I’m not going to back down, and I’m not going to throw in the towel, flyover up, and quit.  Then, I might as well be still and know that He is God and that He will show up and give me the victory.  As I close, I want to leave you with this little nugget right here:  there was a time when Jesus and his disciples were in a ship and they encountered a storm.  The winds were blowing, the waves were thrashing, the thunder was roaring, and the lightening was flashing.  The boat began to take on water to the point where it seemed like it was going to sink.  The disciples went and woke Jesus saying master does thou not care that we may drown.  Jesus woke up and asked them why are you afraid and declared to them that they had little to no faith.  Can I make my last suggestion?  I don’t believe Jesus was referring to faith to calm the storm.  I don’t even believe Jesus was referring to faith that the boat was going to be completely in tact when they arrived.  I believe Jesus was referring to them having no faith regarding where they were going.  Can I give you the final shout cue?  I believe Jesus was saying, I said we are going to the other side.  Therefore, it does not matter what comes against you and what tries to sink you.  All that matters is that I said we are going to the other side. You may not look like you did when we left and you may not have what you had when we left.  But, know that come hell and high water, it may swallow up and destroy your stuff, but YOU will make it to the other side if you simply Steady The Course!  Be blessed and stay encouraged!

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