Our scripture this morning is Hebrews 12:1-3.

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, 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. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

Paul exhorts us to give up our sinful ways and focus on what Jesus has taught and shown us. This is the difference between Jesus and most earthly teachers – He never waivers from what God has called Him to do and demonstrates a life of obedience to God for us. Paul mentions those who have gone before not so much that they are watching what we do to catch us but that they rejoice when we choose to follow Jesus and encourage us on our walk with Him.

However, it is essential that we choose to follow Jesus. We are all called but no one is forced. No one will be dragged kicking and screaming into eternal life, we must make a conscious decision and a continuing effort. In Matthew 19 we read about a young man who has it all – faith, knowledge and unfortunately, wealth. He is unable to obey Jesus when He instructs him to give it to the poor and we hear that “When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth” (Matthew 19:22).

Jesus has asked us to give up the things that separate us from a sincere relationship with God, no matter what that object or behavior may be. He knows our weakness but through His strength and forgiveness, we can be saved if we choose to follow Him. May we all feel His love and continue on the path to which He has called us.

Heavenly Father, thank You for the gift of Jesus who came to love and save and free us. Help us to be strong in our faith and to share Your love with all the world. Amen.

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