Focal Passage: Hebrews 12:1-7
I enjoyed playing sports growing up. I started playing baseball when I was 5 years old and played through my first year in college. In sports – and our walk with Christ – two elements are necessary for success: endurance and discipline.
Endurance was necessary to finish the game strong. It would only come with hard work. Wind sprints, suicides and occasional long runs all worked to enable the athlete to continue competing when everyone else was tiring out.
Discipline was also necessary. Though I felt committed to my team, there would be times – either out of laziness or selfishness – that I would fail to give my best. I would occasionally look for the easy way out. When the coach saw this lack of commitment he would hold us accountable, which manifested itself in additional running and conditioning. Our coach was intentional in his discipline of us. He was using it to prepare us to play more effectively, for our good and the good of the team.
The writer of Hebrews was challenging his Jewish readers in these ways. He knew they would be prone to spiritual slackness – sometimes even wanting to quit – so he challenged them to run with endurance. He challenged them to lay aside whatever would hinder them or trip them up. He also challenged them to understand that God’s discipline in their lives was both for their good and God’s glory. Far from showing a lack of love, it did just the opposite: it proved God’s love and showed their status as God’s children.
During my sports years, certain players stood out as great examples. I wanted to be like them. I wanted to work hard and finish my career strong like they did. Here the writer holds up such examples. The “hard work” of this “great cloud of witnesses” was not simply personal effort, but rather their faith in God (Hebrews 11). The greatest example, the Lord Jesus Christ, is the one who not only authored their faith, but would also complete it, enabling them to finish the race no matter how tough their race would become.
I am always encouraged and thankful when I listen to youth and adults share about how their lives were radically and positively impacted through the ministry and love they received when they lived in one of our BCH facilities.
My purpose in writing this article is to encourage North Carolina Baptists to give a personal gift in support of the Thanksgiving Offering for BCH. The week of specific, intentional prayer for BCH is Nov. 16-23.
The offering goal for this special offering is $1,500.000. Giving to support this offering is another way to express your gratitude for all that God is doing through Baptist Children’s Homes of North Carolina. I hope all of our church leaders will make their congregants aware of this opportunity to help support a most important Christian ministry by promoting and receiving this Thanksgiving Offering in their churches.