Are you looking for strength in the new year?
Me too! I really struggle with New Year’s Resolutions. As a matter of fact, I quit making them a long time ago. However, I finally realized that my perfectionism was the culprit keeping me from being successful in goal setting.
I did two things. I set my expectations so high that there was no realistic way for me to meet my resolutions. I also had the all or nothing, black or white type of thinking that made me just want to chuck the whole idea because “If I can’t do it right and follow through, I’m just not going to do it at all.”
This year, however, I am determined to press forward into setting some realistic goals for myself that will be much more attainable.
But to do this, I’m going to need some strength.
In thinking about strength I always remember Hebrews 12:1-2. Reading this verse paints a picture I can literally see in my mind. And I have used this picture to keep myself going many, many times.
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. Hebrews 12:1-2 NIV
This verse says that there is a race set out before us. That means God has a plan. He has a path and a purpose for each of us to fulfill. Psalm 139:16 tells us that He had this plan and purpose in mind for us before we were even formed in the womb!
You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. Psalm 139:16 NLT
This path before us is to be run with endurance. The fact that we are told to endure means it is not going to be an easy race. I’m not sure about you, but so many things in this life take endurance that sometimes, maybe almost always, I feel overwhelmed.
Fortunately, this passage from Hebrews has some things to tell us about where to find strength.
Verse 1 tells us we have a great cloud of witnesses surrounding us. These witnesses are the men and women mentioned in Chapter 11 of Hebrews. They were just ordinary people who did amazing things because of their faith. We should not put these people on a pedestal. They were no different from you and me, and they faced the same struggles, feelings and failures. They were imperfect, and their imperfections should be a great encouragement to us. The fact that they pushed past their own flaws and were determined to be obedient no matter the cost should be an example for us to follow. We are surrounded by their testimonies and their victories echo down through the years inside the pages of the Bible we hold in our hands. Their words and deeds surround us like a cheering crowd calling our names on the sidelines of a race.
Inside this verse we also have the reminder that sin has no dominion over us. There is no end to the amount of strength held within that. In this passage, Paul tells us to throw off our sins and everything that hinders. God is not going to give us commands that would be impossible for us to keep. There is always a path that leads away from sin. We can lay sin down, throw it off even, and run away from it because it has no power over us. We have the strength to do this because of what Jesus did for us on the cross.
For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace. Romans 6:14 Click To Tweet
For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace. Romans 6:14
Ironically, there is also strength to be found in letting go. You can not run a race with your arms wrapped around a heavy burden. Sins are certainly a heavy burden whether we are in a state of mind to realize that or not. We have to throw all of this off – our sin as well other things in this life that would hinder our walk with God. Even good things can be a hindrance if they distract us so much that we are unable to walk well on the path that God has laid before us.
Letting go is freedom. As we let go of the things that hold us back, we are taking the control away from ourselves and giving it to Someone who can see the whole picture. He can see the finish line and knows better than we do how to send us in the right direction.Letting go is freedom.Click To Tweet
Next, we are told to fix our eyes on Jesus. Fixing our eyes on Jesus does several things for us:
Fixing our eyes on Jesus helps us understand God’s character and gives us our true identity. Hebrews 12:1-2Click To Tweet
It helps us see Who He is. When we look to Jesus we see His faithfulness, His character, His eternal presence. He is solid, steady, unchanging. This, in itself, gives us strength. And when we are saved that means He lives in us and His character can become our character. Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 2:16 that we have been given the mind of Christ. This incredible strength is waiting for us if we will just grab hold of it.
Fixing our eyes on Jesus helps us resist sin. It is harder to do wrong things if we are looking right into the face of Jesus and we know that He is looking right back at us. There are things in our lives that will weigh on us if we don’t work on them and let go of them. If we continue to add to the weight by refusing to face our own issues, we end up in one huge tangled mess. We become totally ensnared. But looking in the right direction and focusing on the right Person gives us strength to throw those things aside and start walking, even running, in the right direction.
Looking to Jesus defines us. Because of Him we are completely loved, completely saved, and intentionally given a purpose. When we define ourselves with that kind of deep love, we can have complete confidence in who we are. This kind of confidence equals strength for the journey.
So as we look forward into a new year, Hebrews 12:1-2 is a great verse to memorize which holds the keys to finding strength for our journey. As we walk that path set before us we can remember to fix our eyes on Jesus. We know that we can work on letting go of those things that hold us back because sin has no dominion over us. And while we are running the race, we have a great cloud of witnesses surrounding us who have overcome and been faithful to the very end. We can too!!
Let’s go forward into 2017 with hopeful hearts and strength for the journey!
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. Hebrews 12:1-2
You can find additional study helps for Hebrews 12:1-2 at Bible Gateway. Just click on the verse and you will be taken to it’s page there. You will find lots of free study helps to further understanding of any passage.
We’ve discussed four ways to find strength in the new year and these lead to good questions to ask ourselves as we move through each and every situation that we will face in the future.
I looking to Jesus in this situation?
Am I remembering sin has no dominion over me?
Am I letting go?
Am I remembering that others have done this and because of faith have carried through?
What are some other ways we can find strength? I love to hear from you! Feel free to leave a comment below.
Join me next week as we talk more about letting go, living under grace, and where to find strength.
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