January 27, 2017 Brethren Letter
“Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us” (Hebrews 12:1).
When I was in high school, every Physical Education student was required to run laps on the track that surrounded the football field. I don’t remember finishing first in any of those races, but I do remember pushing myself hard even though I was exhausted, especially when coming down to the “home stretch.” Several times I remember thinking, “The finish line is just ahead. Stay focused!”
Spiritually, we are in a race that will encompass all of eternity. The finish line is just ahead. Stay focused! The reward is great! Today, I read a quote that I thought I would share with you. Here’s that quote:
Always remember your present situation is not your final destination. The best is yet to come.
Brethren, spiritually, we’re now coming down that “home stretch.” Remember, WHATEVER we experience in this life is not the final destination. The best is yet to come… the Kingdom of God!
Tonight, I am sending excerpts from a “Brethren, Co-Worker” letter written by Mr. Armstrong on October 23, 1978. Mr. Armstrong reminded us that we must keep our eyes focused on Christ in our spiritual “HOME STRETCH” of the race.
Please have a good night’s rest, everyone!
Your Brother in Christ,
From Mr. Armstrong’s letter of 1978:
We’re OFF TO AN INSPIRED, AROUSED NEW START! Let’s now INCREASE our dedication and deep devotion.
The race is not over! But we are now coming in on the HOME STRETCH!
Do not forget that Satan knows this better than we do. It means, to him, that his time is now short. He will AROUSE HIMSELF TO INTENSIFIED GREAT WRATH — AGAINST GOD’S CHURCH — knowing his time is now short. One speaker mentioned today, that while God’s Wrath is against SIN, God has only LOVE for the sinner — but, don’t forget that Satan LOVES SIN, and HATES WITH WHITE-HOT HEAT GOD’S PEOPLE REDEEMED FROM SIN!
The road ahead WILL NOT BE EASY!
When I was a youth in high school I ran the mile, in track. I learned what a RACE really is. Starting out there is a struggle for good position among the other runners. Then it becomes very difficult — one feels almost exhausted, until he gets his “second wind.” It continues to be a struggle, but through the middle of the race he can keep going very well — though it is not easy. But the REAL CHALLENGE is coming in on the HOME STRETCH. That’s when the race becomes most difficult — your strength almost gone — now running on sheer DESPERATE DETERMINATION — the competitor trying to surge ahead of you — you simply have to put into it your last ounce of strength and DETERMINATION to not falter but instead to pick up speed, until you cross the tape.
The Apostle Paul used such a race as a comparison to OUR RACE AGAINST SATAN coming in on the home stretch.
“Wherefore, seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, 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, looking to Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him, endured the cross …” (Heb. 12:1-2).
WHAT A LESSON FOR US, RIGHT NOW, in those two verses! Coming in on the home stretch, let us jettison — cast off — all excess weights that might slow us down — or sins which would rob us of the patience to continue — and, with our minds fastened on Jesus, remember that as HE came in on the “home stretch” of His earthly ministry, ENDURED THE CROSS. A runner in a mile race has to ENDURE exhaustion, pain, temptation to give up and quit, and PRESS ON. Jesus endured the cross and the shame of it before human eyes — for at the FINISH LINE was JOY, and He did sit down with God on the heavenly throne. That PRIZE was worth running for!
We have THE SAME PRIZE awaiting us. We shall, when we win, sit down with Christ on His throne! Let us not give up, and HAVE RUN THUS FAR IN VAIN (see Phil. 2:16).
So, from here on in, let us fasten our eyes on JESUS CHRIST — and on the ultimate GOAL, or finishing line. We are running for the GREATEST STAKES in the UNIVERSE! Remember God’s way is LOVE — the GIVING WAY, while Satan’s way is “GETTING.”
Let’s rededicate our lives to GIVING of ourselves! ONLY ONE THING MATTERS from here on in! Lay aside the worldly interests, the pleasures of this life — jettison all those off — and keep our eyes on the ONE GOAL!