Excerpts of Pastor Idowu Iluyomade's Sermon on Sunday, December 16, 2018
Bible Text: Hebrews 12:1-2 (AMP)
When you are planning a sermon, you use a lot of illustrations, and there are many saints in the Bible that you can use their lives as backdrop for your sermon. Even in our contemporary times, we have great wo/men of faith that are worthy of emulation. Indeed, it is easy to pick and use one of them as a backdrop for what God wants to tell us at any period. However, the supreme example of the Christian race is our LORD and Master, Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 2:21 (AMP) says we should follow Jesus' example/footsteps and He should be our role model. He came and lived as man, and excelled.
Hebrews 12:1-2 clearly tells us that we are all involved in the race of life and Heaven is our home. It says that if you want to succeed and excel as you run, you need to look away from distractions, be focused on a goal, and run purposefully. If you have lived in this world for a while, there are obviously distractions. There are all kinds of distractions and temptations in the race of life. 1 Corinthians 10:13 [NLT] says, "The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you." Anytime you are going through issues or challenges, always look for a way of escape. There is always a way of escape, but most of the time, people choose to ignore it or do not want to listen. For example, David who wrote all the Psalms in the Bible was fell by a woman (Bathsheba) by just looking at her. Another example is Samson, who was a mighty man of valor, but he was smitten by Delilah and he told her the source of all his strength not knowing that was the beginning of his downfall. On the other hand, Joseph saw a way of escape and made use of it. As soon as Potiphar’s wife wanted to seduce him, he ran away and did not look back. Like Joseph, when you need to run, run. My prayer is that God will give you the strength to overcome the pressures and challenges of life in Jesus mighty name.
Hebrews 12:2 (AMP) says, "Looking away from all that will distract us and focusing our eyes on Jesus, who is the Author and Perfecter of faith the first incentive for our belief and the One who brings our faith to maturity, who for the joy of accomplishing the goal set before Him endured the cross, disregarding the shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God revealing His deity, His authority, and the completion of His work." Jesus Christ is the Author of the Christian race, and if you want to excel, look unto Him. He is not only the Creator or Originator of the Christian race; He is also the Finisher, the Completer, the Perfecter, etc. He consummated the race, ran to the finish, finished perfectly well, and ended gloriously. Jesus Christ succeeded, He excelled.
One would ask if it was easy for Jesus to be so focused. Jesus Christ came to the world as man so that He can experience what we experience. Hebrews 4:14-15 [AMP]) says, "Inasmuch then as we [believers] have a great High Priest who has [already ascended and] passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession [of faith and cling tenaciously to our absolute trust in Him as Savior]. For we do not have a High Priest who is unable to sympathize and understand our weaknesses and temptations, but One who has been tempted [knowing exactly how it feels to be human] in every respect as we are, yet without [committing any] sin." Hence, there is nothing you have gone through that Jesus did not go through or does not understand. He was tempted, pressured and challenged on every side, yet He remained focused.
PRESSURES JESUS CHRIST WENT THROUGH
From birth, Jesus had pressures, such as:
1. He was born to an unwed mother. People called Mary names and Joseph wanted to quietly take her away. Jesus was called a bastard by the Pharisees and His mother was referred to as a prostitute (John 8:41).
2. He was born in a stable with animal dung all over.
3. He was born to poor parents (Luke 2:24), who could not even bring the offering that was required after purification (Leviticus 12:8).
4. His life was threatened as a baby when King Herod tried to kill Him. When King Herod could not get Jesus, he ensured all Jesus' peers were killed. Jesus was moved around and hidden as a baby to avoid being killed.
5. His father died during His youth, He lost friends and family members. For example, His cousin, John the Baptist was beheaded.
6. He had no place to lay His head (Matthew 8:20, 2 Corinthians 8:9).
7. He was hated; He was charged with insanity and demon possessed (Mark 3:21-22).
8. He was rejected and betrayed by His close ally (Psalm 41:9, Zechariah 13:6).
9. He was left alone and forsaken by all His friends in His hour of need.
10. He was tried in a court, He was wrongly convicted, stripped naked and executed as a common criminal (Isaiah 53:5-10).
No one can compare his or her sufferings and challenges to that of Jesus'. In spite of all that Jesus Christ went through, He finished strong, finished well and was not distracted by the challenges and horrors of life.
HOW WAS JESUS FOCUSED IN THE RACE OF LIFE?
Jesus saw the big picture; He saw the joy that was set before Him (Hebrews 12:2), He saw the plan of God for His life, He knew the reason God sent Him to the world (John 3:16). Is there a handshake between what you are doing and what God has purposed for you? Jesus saw the path God chose for Him and it stirred Him. He saw the Glory Ahead; victory, redemption of sinners and joy. You must run the Christian race purposefully, be focused, and see the big picture (Philippians 3:14-15). Seeing the big picture is what enables you to make sacrifices for today because of the reward of tomorrow. My prayer is that God will grant you the ability, strength and grace to stay steadfast in Jesus name.
The ability to stay steadfast in these times in the midst of trials, challenges and pressures, hangs on how well you learn to trust God with the big picture of your life. James 1:2-4 [AMP] says, "Consider it nothing but joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you fall into various trials. Be assured that the testing of your faith through experience produces endurance leading to spiritual maturity, and inner peace. And let endurance have its perfect result and do a thorough work, so that you may be perfect and completely developed in your faith, lacking in nothing." Even if there are challenges, stay the course, you might not understand it, but God is working out His purposes in your life.
The Big Picture
The big picture is an expression that refers to a broad overall view or perspective of an issue or problem. One can imagine what Job who we read of today, would have gone through. He saw the big picture and trusted God. In our world of today, it is only people who have big picture minds that are able to bring world-changing products, services and events. My prayer is that God will show you the big picture of your life, and it will sustain you and keep you on the path of your life in Jesus name.
The final chapter of your life has not been written yet. God has promised you a glorious ending, so you need to stay focused because this year has not ended yet, and anything can still happen. At the end of the year, you will be able to testify about God's goodness and say, "Igbeyin Adun."
Look at every challenge from God's perspective so that you will not be distracted or discouraged, because everything works together for good to those who are called by God according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). In spite of his problems, Abraham saw the big picture, the glory ahead and he gave glory to God (Romans 4:17-22). What do you see? Can you see the glory, victory, and joy ahead? God has gone ahead of you, stay focused, because Igbeyin Adun.
On the other hand, God has brought opportunities your way but you might be ignoring it. Some have eyes and they do not see, some have ears and they do not hear (Matthew 13:15-16). For some, the spirit of slumber has come upon them (Romans 11:8), while the mind of some has been blinded by satan (2 Corinthians 4:4). My prayer is that every veil covering your eyes will be removed today and you will see the Glory Ahead.
In conclusion, it is dangerous not to belong to God. You must be born again for you to make it to Heaven. If you do not surrender your life to Jesus Christ, then you are branded by satan and headed for hell. If you are willing to repent and surrender your life to Jesus Christ, then pray this prayer right now: LORD Jesus, I come to You right now. I know I am a sinner, please forgive me my sins. I plead the Blood of Jesus to wash me clean of all my sins. With my mouth, I confess that Jesus from today, I accept You as the LORD of my life. Please change my heart from a disobedient heart to a heart that obeys you, fill me with the Holy Spirit, write my name in the Book of life, and make me brand new in Jesus Mighty Name.
This is an excerpt, to get the complete message in CD & DVD, please visit the Word & Sound stand or visit the sermons podcast on our website.