"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. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith..."
- Hebrews 12:1-2 NIV
Years ago, when I gave my heart to the Lord, and made a commitment to follow Him wholeheartedly, I began praying earnestly for Him to use me for His glory. I knew that God had unique and specific plans and purposes for my life, and I longed to see them come to fruition. As I prayed and studied His Word, the Lord led me to the powerful principles in Hebrews 12:1-2, where the Scripture compares the Christian life to running a race.
“We are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses…” One of the first things that God led me to do was to replace my usual mindless TV watching with programs filled with God’s Word and truth. He directed me to preachers and teachers who spoke His Word with power and authority. I searched the Scriptures to confirm that they were true representatives of God, and I took their words to heart, doing my best to apply biblical principles to my life and circumstances. I listened carefully to how they prayed, and I began having the knowledge and confidence to pray bold Scripture-based prayers of my own. The more I listened to good, solid preaching and teaching, the more my faith in God and His truth grew. And I learned the truth behind the apostle Paul’s words when he said, "Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." (Romans 10:17 NKJV)
“Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles…” I knew that if I wanted to experience God’s best plans for my life, I was going to have to allow Him to deal with me about those people and things in my life who might be hindering my obedience to Him. As I sought God’s guidance about my current friendships, I decided to leave them all behind. To be honest, it wasn’t as difficult as I had thought it would be. I knew in my heart that my friends were not going to support me in my decision to start living for God, and out of my love and devotion for Him, I simply chose Him above my companions. I took Jesus’ words to heart when He said: "Simply put, if you're not willing to take what is dearest to you, whether plans or people, and kiss it good-bye, you can't be My disciple.” (Luke 14:33 MSG) I also began focusing on my “mental diet,” and I threw out all of the books, magazines, and music that put the wrong kinds of thoughts in my mind. I also stopped watching movies that created mental images that were disturbing or ungodly. And I constantly meditated on Paul’s words in Philippians 4:8 NIV: "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable- -if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things."
“Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith…” I knew that I had to be filled with a holy determination to live the life of faith that God had called me to. So I made up my mind to spend time alone with God every day—praying, reading His Word, asking Him to speak to my heart, and listening intently for His voice. I quickly learned the truth behind that old adage that says, “God speaks to those who listen.” I began building a collection of study Bibles, devotional books, and books filled with Scripture-based prayers. These tools all helped me to keep my focus on God when the noise and distractions of the world threatened to pull me away from hearing His “still, small voice.” (1 Kings 19:12) As the devil and his dark forces came against me with discouragement and disappointments of every kind, I claimed God’s precious promises of victory, and I kept my eyes on Jesus. And I discover anew each day just how eager He is to bless His devoted children, and to use them for His glory. God’s plans for you are glorious. What are you doing today to experience His best?
Prayer: Lord, lead me to the teachers, preachers, and Christlike believers who will encourage me in my walk of faith. Deal with me about the people and things that are keeping me from Your best, and help me to rely on Your indwelling Spirit to eliminate them from my life. Thank You that as I run my race with perseverance and purpose, I will live the “good life” that is my inheritance in Christ! (Ephesians 2:10 AMP)
- J. M. Farro