WISDOM FOR LIVING DEVOTIONAL
FEBRUARY 6, 2021
TOPIC: KEEP YOUR EYES ON JESUS CHRIST
BY T. O. BANSO
“Therefore, 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 hinders our progress. And let us run with endurance the race that God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, on whom our faith depends from start to finish” (Hebrews 12:1-2a New Living Translation).
The apostle Paul compares Christianity to a race and the Christian to an athlete. Therefore, he invites us to draw some lessons from athletics in running the Christian race.
In 1 Corinthians 9:24-26a, he says, “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty” (New King James Version).
Also, the writer of the book of Hebrews tells us that a race has been set before Christians to run. Hebrews 12:1b says we should run with endurance the race that God has set before us. One of the things the athlete does is to run with purpose. He is focused on the race and does not allow distractions so that he could win the prize at stake As Paul did, the believer today must run the Christian race with certainty. He must run in such a way that he will obtain the prize.
In the Christian race, sin is a hindrance to any believer who desires to run to win the prize. Therefore, like a serious athlete who is determined to win the prize, a Christian should get rid of sin in his life. The writer of Hebrews puts it this way: “Therefore, 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 hinders our progress. And let us run with endurance the race that God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, on whom our faith depends from start to finish” (Hebrews 12:1-2a New Living Translation).
After giving your life to Jesus, you must keep your eyes on Jesus Christ and not yield to temptations. Part of verse 1 in the King James Version says, “let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us.” This verse mentions two things to lay aside or get rid of: every weight and the sin that easily beset us.
These two things will slow you down and easily hinder your progress. Weight means encumbrance, impediment, or hindrance. This also includes what is generally good or harmless but can hinder one from running well the Christian race. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 6:12, “All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any” (King James Version).
The phrase “besetting sin” means “the easily entangling sin” (The Emphasized New Testament: A New Translation). It also means “sin which doth naturally enwrap us” (The New Testament by Henry Alford) and the “sin into which we come so readily” (The New Testament in Basic English).
Furthermore, the Amplified Bible renders it as “sin which so readily (deftly and cleverly) clings” to us. Also, the New Translation in Modern Speech by Richard Weymouth describes besetting sin as a “sin that so readily entangles our feet.” According to “The Epistles of Paul” by W.J Conybeare, it means “sin which clings closely round us.”
You need to get rid of every weight and the sin that easily beset you if you are going to run the Christian race to win the prize and not run in vain. And you will be able to do this as you keep your eyes on Jesus Christ, not by focusing on the things that want to distract or hinder you. You must look unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2).
Draw your strength from Him. Paul says he can do all things through Christ who strengthens him (Philippians 4:13). Also, he says in 2 Corinthians 3:5, “It is not that we think we can do anything of lasting value by ourselves. Our only power and success come from God” (New Living Translation). You cannot run the race by your power. “’Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the LORD of hosts” (Zechariah 4:6 New King James Version).
Keep your eyes on Jesus Christ. Focus on His teachings. Follow His Word. Obey Him. “If you love Me, keep My commandments” (John 14:15 New King James Version). Treasure His Word. The writer of Psalm 119 says, “I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you” (verse 11 New Living Translation). He says in verse 162, “I rejoice in your word like one who finds a great treasure” (New Living Translation). In Job 23:12, Job says, “I have not departed from the commandment of His lips; I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my necessary food ” (New King James Version).
Don’t let the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the Word of God in your life. Jesus says, “Now he who received seed among the thorns is he who hears the word, and the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful” (Matthew 13:22 New King James Version). Conversely, He says, “But he who received seed on the good ground is he who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and produces: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty” (verse 23 New King James Version).
Keep your eyes on Jesus Christ. Don’t be distracted by the things of this world. You are in the world but not of this world; your citizenship is in heaven. “But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Savior” (Philippians 3:20 New Living Translation). When persecutions come, focus on Jesus. Persecutions are part of the reward package Jesus promised in Mark 10:30. 2 Timothy 3:12 says all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. Therefore, endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ (2 Timothy 2:3). Verse 12 adds that if we endure hardship, we will reign with Him; if we deny Him, He will deny us.
Satan will always want you to follow the pattern of this world but don’t forget Romans 12:2 says you should not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
Keep your eyes on Jesus by loving Him. You cannot love Jesus and love the world at the same time. You must choose whom you will love. Love Jesus, not the world or the things in the world. “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world – the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life – is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever” (1 John 2:15-17 New King James Version).
Mark 12:30 says, “And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength” (New King James Version). You cannot love both the world and God. Friendship with the world is enmity with God (James 4:4). If you love this world, you will depart from the faith. Paul says of Demas, one of his associates in the ministry, “For Demas forsook me, having loved this present world, and went to Thessalonica…” (2 Timothy 4:10 American Standard Version).
Furthermore, associate with those who will keep the flame of your love for Jesus burning, not those who will make you lukewarm or cold, and not those who will influence you to indulge in worldliness. “The righteous choose their friends carefully, but the way of the wicked leads them astray” (Proverbs 12:26 New International Version). The World English Bible renders this scripture thus: “A righteous person is cautious in friendship, But the way of the wicked leads them astray.” Beware of associations or friendships that won’t help to run well the Christian race.
Explaining what he had written to the Corinthian church in his previous epistle not to keep company with sexually immoral people, Paul says, “What I meant was that you are not to associate with anyone who claims to be a Christian yet indulges in sexual sin, or is greedy, or worships idols, or is abusive, or a drunkard, or a swindler. Don’t even eat with such people” (1 Corinthians 5:11 New Living Translation).
Keep your eyes on Jesus Christ, not on the temptations Satan places before you, not on the good things of this world which may not be sinful but are helpful in your Christian race, and not even on yourself. “Though he was God, he did not demand and cling to his rights as God. He made himself nothing; he took the humble position of a slave and appeared in human form” (Philippians 2:6-7 New Living Translation). Keep your eyes on Jesus Christ.
If you are not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus now. I urge you to take the following steps: *Admit you are a sinner and you cannot save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start attending a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church. There they will teach you how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto you today. I know I am a sinner and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and resurrected the third day. I repent of my sins and confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. I surrender my life to Jesus now and invite Him into my heart. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank you, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.
I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church in your area where they will teach you how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like the palm tree and grow like the cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I will be glad to hear from you. The Lord be with you.
PRAYER POINTS: I shall run the race set before me, keeping my eyes on Jesus Christ; I shall not be distracted in Jesus’ name. I shall love the LORD with all my heart, my soul, my mind, and my strength. Holy Spirit, I receive the grace to endure persecutions and hardship. Holy Spirit, help every child of God to keep their eyes on Jesus’ Christ and not on the things of the world.
(For over 400 in-depth and powerful messages by T. O. Banso, visit www.cedarministry.org).
T. O. Banso is the President, Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
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