More than half of the year has gone by.

Let that sink in for a moment.

Soon, we’ll start to hear Jose Mari Chan’s Christmas in Our Hearts again, signaling the start of the Christmas season and the end of another year.

You probably didn’t realize this because the school year has just started and it feels like the year has only just begun. Or maybe January feels like a long, long time ago, because a whole lot of things have already happened.

In hindsight, when you look at the things that happened this year and where they brought you, can you honestly say that you are where you hoped to be? If you look back at the goals you wrote at the beginning of the year, did they turn out the way you planned and hoped?

If you feel like you’re not where you hoped to be, don’t be discouraged, because the Bible tells us that our hope for better things is in Christ.

These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.
Hebrews 11:39,40 (NIV)

The author of Hebrews was writing to Christians who were greatly discouraged because of the persecution they were facing. The author exhorts them not to give up, because God has prepared better things for them in Christ Jesus.

So for us today, in spite of what happened during the first half of the year and where it led us, we continue to believe that Jesus can do great things in our lives as we put our full hope and trust in Him. The impact of our mistakes, failures, and current circumstances are not strong enough to limit the power of God to do great things in our lives.

Don’t believe the lie that tells you to give up on your faith goals because it’s already too late. God is not limited by our limitations!

In Hebrews, we find a guide on how to persevere.

What do I need to eliminate?

Because of the great hope we have in God, the author of Hebrews rallies us to remove certain things in our lives that hinder us from our pursuit of Jesus Christ.

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…
Hebrews 12:1 (NIV)

He describes two things that we need to eliminate in our lives.

  • “Everything that hinders.” These are things that are not necessarily sin, but they rob us of our attention and devotion to Jesus. What habits do we need to replace? Is it possible that the reason we are where we are is because of the habits we have formed?
  • “Sin that easily entangles.” These are the sinful patterns in our lives that keep us from living a life of faith and obedience to Christ. What are the sins that we tolerate? Are there sins that we still hide and have not confessed? Notice that the Bible describes sin as something that easily entangles us. Whatever the case may be, I hope we don’t delay in getting help in addressing them.

What do I need to keep doing?

Lastly, the author encourages us to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus as we continue to live our lives.

. . . 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 12:2 (NIV)

If our eyes are fixed on Jesus, then it means they’re not fixed on something else.

This may sound obvious, but the truth is, we’ll always be tempted to look somewhere else for satisfaction and validation. We can look at other things to affirm our identity. We can be tempted to compare our lives with others. Or we can fix our eyes on our own abilities and depend on our own strength to finish the race.

These things will only lead to more disappointments and discouragements. But Jesus as the pioneer and perfecter of our faith means that He is able to bring to completion and perfection the hope we have in Him.

Knowing these things gives us more than enough reason to keep that great faith throughout the rest of the year and onwards.

Photo credits: Jon Tyson

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