Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
Jesus makes it possible for us to live by faith.
Question 21 in the Heidelberg Confession: What is faith?
A. True faith is not only a sure knowledge by which I hold as true all that God has revealed to us in Scripture; it is also a wholehearted trust, which the Holy Spirit creates in me by the gospel, that God has freely granted, not only to others but to me also, forgiveness of sins, eternal righteousness, and salvation. These are gifts of sheer grace, granted solely by Christ’s merit.
My illustration and vivid memory of faith --
Two little brothers about 8-9 years old in my neighborhood in Detroit were playing outside. I was looking out of my kitchen window. One brother took a jump the distance between one tree log and the next one. He made it without falling. Before he jumped to the next one, he looked back. I imagine he was looking at the distance between the logs, wondering if he could do it again. Or, maybe he couldn't believe he made it the first time. He jumped again. Unlike the other two jumps, this time, he jumped without looking back. Still, he didn't fall.
This is one way faith works. I've experienced this myself.
With that first act of faith -- maybe there was just a little bit of doubt, but I trusted the Lord! I learned that he could be trusted. He's faithful! Later in my journey, what he asked me to do required more faith in him. This time I recalled what he did before, and I trusted him. Again, he was faithful! This is one way our faith grows - it grows through experiencing God! It's not always easy, and we might fall, but there's grace for us to get back up.
Sometimes people will try to keep us down by their words and behavior! Not God, he graciously picks us up and points us to his word!
For the first time, I watched the ESPYS Awards, where the best and talented athletes are honored for their achievements and struggles. I love how they salute and bring back the heroes from the past. I saw former basketball player Bill Russell in the grandstands. He's now 85 years old. I didn't know about how he persevered against racism all during his career! He's a champion! Who's yours? It is great to know we have a great cloud of witnesses - living and/or dead. Who's cheering you on?
We have the GREATEST champion, who "for the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." Won't you "consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart?"
Stay the course! In Jesus' name!