“And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise—God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.”

Hebrews 11:39-40

The Finish Line’s nearer than you think; run patiently and in Hope.

How goes the Battle, Pilgrim?  Are you winning more than you losing?  Are you excelling in the Race that must be run or are you almost totally exhausted, having “grown weary in well-doing and faint in your mind” (Gal. 6:9)?

Today’s Manna, taken from what is called by some as “The Heroes’ Hall of Faith” (vv.32-40), reminds us that the Race of Faith (Heb. 12:1c) is truly both a relay race and a marathon at the same time.  It’s not for sprinters or the faint-of-heart—for much of it always seems to be uphill and against-the-tide.

Likewise, at times the enemy’s assault seems incessant.  Unless we consciously remember to don our “full Christian Armor” each day (Eph. 6:10-18), we shall certainly be wounded and grow weary in the fray.  And, even if we’re wearing it, the evil one’s “fiery darts” (Eph. 6:16) are quite accurate and sharp if we forget or fail to lift high “the shield of faith.”

Even then, we still at times will grow weary.  Our thoughts will wander and our tongues will come loose on both ends.  Our hearts become lukewarm as our wills grow weaker in trying to “resist the devil as a roaming, roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (James 4:7; I Pet. 5:8-9).

Yet, it’s in those times that we must cry out to God, asking Him to renew our strength as we wait upon Him (Is. 40:31).  Likewise, we must confess to Him our wayward ways and tendency to depend upon our own strength rather than His.  This will require an “humbling of ourselves, heartfelt prayer, a hungering and thirsting after Him that seeks His face and a wholehearted turning away from our sins” (II Chron. 7:14a).  In such a contrite condition He will “hear our prayers, forgive our sins and heal our lives” (v.14b; Ps. 51:17).  Hallelujah!!

We must also remember “the Joy that awaits us” (Heb. 12:2b) when we fail to “receive the promises” here that we’ve so desperately longed for:  The ability to constantly “abide in Christ” (Jn. 15:1-7). . .enjoy His abundant life and the “fullness of His Joy” (Jn. 10:10b; 15:11). . .and “be more than conquerors through Him that loved us as we walk in His Spirit” (Rom. 8:1, 37).  You’re not there yet, Pilgrim (Phil. 3:12); but you will be.  Glory!!

The saints of old realized their time here was only one small leg of the Race of Faith.  They knew the Race would continue after they were gone and they’d have to hand off the Gospel Baton to another (e.g., Paul to Timothy).  That’s why they didn’t lose heart or hope—and neither should we.  Like bit players in a movie where our part is only two-fifths of a second at best, we must still lovingly fulfill our role in the Master’s Plan. . . “love Him with all of our hearts. . . love others as He has loved us. . .and serve the world as if they were Christ Himself.”  That way we won’t have lived in vain—and those who come behind us, even without knowing us, will give thanks for our having faithfully run the Race before them.

By Tom Smith Morning Manna July 25, 2010

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