First, I would like to echo Mike’s thoughts in the last blog in thanking you all for the warm welcome and overtures of friendship you have shown our family as we have begun this journey here at Faith Bible Church! From scholarly discussions over puzzles and dinner to wild games of “Tenzi” and “Apples to Apples” you have already extended such love toward us! It is hard to believe we have only been here a month! Thank you for adopting us into your family.

I thought I would use my first blog as a place to share thoughts about Mike’s message as well as to make a plug for the 2024 FBC Women’s Retreat-- “Surrounded” which will be Friday night, April 12th and Saturday, April 13th. Thus, I have given this blog the title “Saved to live for Christ” and “Save the Date!” Karen Kornelson and I will be speaking on Hebrews 12:1-2. As a teaser, I will show you some parallels between this passage in Hebrews and the passage we looked at this past Sunday--Philippians 1:12-26.

Hebrews 12: 1-2 states: “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 sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

The four points Mike made in his outline from Philippians 1:12-26 can also describe truths we find in Hebrews 12:1-2:

Circumstances (Phil 1:12-14): Paul’s circumstances provided gospel opportunities for Paul and courage for others to share the gospel. The circumstances mentioned by the author of Hebrews are those that go along with those that runners face—fatigue, discouragement, and injury. Thankfully, we have the “great cloud of witnesses surrounding us.” They can help us look past our circumstances in light of the gospel of Christ and the reward waiting for us when we meet Jesus at the finish of our own personal race.

Competition (Phil 1:15, 17-18): Paul noted that while some preached Christ out of good will, some preached Christ out of envy and strife. He didn’t let his “competition”—those with poor motives--to get in the way of the real mission—the preaching of the gospel. In Hebrews 12, the author compares our Christian walk to a footrace. And just like in Philippians, we shouldn’t let things that compete for our attention—our encumbrances and the sin that so easily entangles us--cause us to take our eyes off the real mission either—Jesus Himself!

Confidence (Phil 1:18b-20): Paul’s confidence came from his faith in God’s salvation. He knew that God is faithful and that no matter whether he lived or died, Christ would be magnified in his life. Likewise, the author of Hebrews has confidence because of the power of God which was demonstrated by the resurrection of Christ who is now seated at the right hand of God.

Consideration (Phil 1:21-26): Paul knew that what he was going through (house arrest in Rome) was “productive work” but that going home to be with Christ was “very much better.” The author of Hebrews also knows that while the race may be difficult, enduring to the end will be worth it. In fact, the previous chapter, Hebrews 11, is full of examples of people who through their faith endured the suffering here on this planet to go on to their reward, and through them “God provided something [even] better for us” (Heb 11:40).

I hope this blog served as both a reminder of what Mike discussed in the sermon this past Sunday and also as a teaser to encourage those of you who are women to attend out upcoming women’s retreat. Come be surrounded by your fellow sisters’ love and encouragement. Wanda Williams, Grace Schmidt, D’Ana Adams, and Marilyn Busenitz, along with Karen and me and the rest of the women’s ministry team look forward to seeing you in April.

by Heather Hogue

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