The Race of Endurance in Hebrews 12:1 tells us “… since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.”
This was the central scripture that Dr. Joe Cerreta ministered on November 4, 2018, at Christ Alive. We learned that God sets the race (or course) for each of us. And, God’s course is the right one, where we develop patience and endurance to run it successfully! Some insights on why we need patience and endurance:
- The race of endurance is long distance, not a sprint.
- Long distant runners are cheered on in the beginning and again at the end, rarely in between.
- There’s a time period between believing and receiving, usually the hardest to go through.
- It’s endurance that that keeps the runner staying on course to the finish line!
- A long distance runner learns that it takes a long time to reach running goals.
As spiritual runners in Christ, we actively live out one long obedience in the same direction. Dr. Cerreta summed things up with additional insights that natural runners learn through experience:
- Run your race because you can’t run someone else’s.
- Run at your pace or you will burn out. Pace yourself.
- Make sure you are running in the right direction. Be willing to adjust.
- Watch where you are going. Avoid short cuts.
- Run with a purpose! Eyes on the prize.
“Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.” 1 Corinthians 9:24-27
Recently, Dr. Joe Cerreta ministered a message from John 18:33-37, and posed a challenging question — Who Needs the Church? To answer that question, Dr. Cerreta posed another question which people are asking even today, “What is truth”? In the Gospels, Pontius Pilate asked Jesus the same — “What is truth?” Jesus, being both Man and God’s Son, stated He is the Way, the Truth and the Life. Jesus, the Living Word, prayed to God the Father for His disciples and declaring, “Your Word is Truth.”
Pastor Cerreta clarified that, in this present day, we often search the internet for something or someone to be anchored to. Deep down, we all want to know “the truth”, yet we are often afraid to receive absolute truth. Yet, no sane person would deliberately believe in a lie. Would you? That is why true Christianity is not relativism or an opinion of what one person thinks is right; rather, it is an uncompromising embrace of the absolute Truth of God’s Word.
The most compelling reasons for why we do need the Church, and why we choose to assemble with people of like faith can be found in the very Book of Truth that forms and feeds our faith in God:
“Let us not give up the habit of meeting together, as some are doing. Instead, let us encourage one another all the more, since you see that the Day of the Lord’s return to earth is coming nearer.” Hebrews 10:25
On Sunday, July 2, 2017, Dr. Joseph A. Cerreta ministered the Word of God to our eager congregation. He delivered to us an encouraging and powerful message from Isaiah 41:10: Fear not, I am with you!
Through this verse, God gives us five pillars of truth: 1) I am God with you. 2) I am God for you, by your side. 3) I am God who strengthens you (from within). 4) I am your God, superior in power for you. 5) I am God who upholds you with My victorious right hand.
Dr. Cerreta pointed out we tend to have a “knee-jerk” reaction to fear when confronted with things that overwhelm us, outside of what we can control. At times, we focus on our inabilities, but to God that’s irrelevant because it’s not about us. It’s about the abilities of our mighty God who is greater than anything we may be facing.
From those five pillars cited above, come five relationships God desires for us to live out dynamically with Him: I am God with you, God within you, God around you, God over you, and God under you! God truly wants us to realize His pillars of truth are solidly supporting us so that overcoming fear is always possible in Christ.