daily Broadcast

Author and Perfecter of Our Faith

From the series Less is More

Do you lead a small group, sing on the worship team, or frequently volunteer around your church - and feel completely burnt out? In this program, Chip has a word for the overworked and overcommitted Christian as he continues his series, Less is More. Hear how sometimes even the most wholesome Christian activities can damage your spiritual health.

Chip Ingram App

Helping you grow closer to God

Download the Chip Ingram App

Get The App

Today’s Offer

Less is More free mp3 download.


Message Transcript

I recently received a prayer request from a young man and he’s very zealous and really wants to be the man God wants him to be. And he wrote this very simply, “Please pray for me, for my backsliding.” And with some investigation you realize, you know, here is a guy who really wants to be what God wants him to be, he’s involved in lots of church activities, he’s involved in serving, he’s involved in, you know, I need to read the Bible, I need to have devotionals, I need to be a small group. And sometimes, all the activity and all the busyness and all the church, it just starts to get to be overwhelming and we lose sight and we lose connection of that which is most important.

And so, I’m really talking to some of you that are the most sincere. And, I mean, you’re going at it and especially if you’re a bit younger and you have kids and you’re taking them to all these different practices and games and then there’s work and then there’s dinner and there’s – I mean – it just feels like there is no way to keep up with all the things coming at you. And the most important thing that you would tell anyone, that I would tell anyone, is it’s my relationship with Jesus.

And, yet, somehow over time, it gets like a fog. And I want to talk to you about one verse when I find myself there. And, by the way, this doesn’t just happen to young Christians. I think this happens to all of us. It certainly cycles in and out of my life. And little by little by little I feel all these responsibilities. And sometimes they’re even my devotional responsibilities, you know, Gosh, I haven’t journaled in two or three or four days. Or, You know, I’m reading but the prayer time, I felt like it was a bit too quick. Or, You know, I had a great time praying.

And what happens is we begin to get encumbered by sort of the details and the “what-fors” and the activities of the Christian life. And what gets lost is the precious, personal relationship with Jesus. And our verse today is, it’s Hebrews 12:1 and 2.

And sometimes these verse numbers, like, they’re not from God. In other words, those were put in the text later so that we could, find where passages are. But the thought of Hebrews 12:1 and 2.

Let me read it and I want you to lean back right now and just think about your own relationship with God. It goes, “Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us. And let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,” well, how? “fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith who, for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

Now, I realize that’s a long one verse or one thought.

And so, I want to break it down and let’s start with the “therefore.” I so wish we could just be across the table from each other and, you know, have a cup of coffee and look eye-to-eye, because this is God speaking to us, especially some of us that have this high responsibility gene and we need to do everything right, maybe we have a little perfectionism in us. And the “therefore” is so important because it’s a response to chapter 11 in Hebrews. And many of you know, that’s the heroes of the faith.

And it defines what faith is. It is the actual substance of what we hope for. In other words, what we hope for, not what we wish, but the biblical word “hope” there is the idea that: it is certain our sins are forgiven. It is certain that heaven is being prepared for us. It is certain that Jesus loves us.

Not what we wish; this is biblical hope. The anchors of our soul: Jesus is coming back, Satan is defeated, death no longer has power over us. We have the power of the Holy Spirit living in us to live out this new life.

And then we have this assurance of things that are unseen. And this life of faith is so important because we so get into, in our mindset, of doing, doing, doing, activity. And unconsciously, kind of working our way toward God. And Hebrews 11:6 says, “Without faith it’s impossible to please God.”

And he that comes to God, or she that comes to God must believe two things. That He exists and that He’s a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” And then all of chapter 11 was example after example after example of people who trusted God. They just simply trusted God. They believed what He said, they believed His promises, they trusted His character.

And so, now this comes in and says, “Therefore,” when you look back on all these people and some of them were big failures like, you know, Rahab was a prostitute and David, made some really big mistakes and it’s this history of all kinds of different people from all kind of backgrounds and he says what made them acceptable is they trusted God. They understood who He was, they believed His promise.

“Therefore, since we have this great cloud of witnesses of the faith,” people from all backgrounds and all times who trusted God in the midst of their challenging situations. Then he has these lines, “Let us lay aside.”

And this is what I want to talk to you about. First, he says, “Lay aside every encumbrance.” And an encumbrance isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s not necessarily sin. Sometimes it’s too much activity, sometimes it’s trying to do too much, sometimes it’s legalism or moralism or your own perfectionism.

Or sometimes it’s just this pressure you put on yourself. Sometimes it’s a little thing that it’s not necessarily wrong, but it’s a hobby or an activity or it’s too many youth sports, or it’s too many video games or it’s too much TV or it’s too many movies or - it’s not necessarily something that is bad or wrong, but it’s weighing you down; it’s distracting you. And so, he says, “In light of what really matters, let’s simplify,” right? Less is more. “Any encumbrance.”

It’s like when those marathon runners get up at the line. I mean, they have shorts that weigh almost nothing and they are super short and they wear almost nothing because they just want to take anything off of them that would impede them running the very fastest race possible.

And that’s the spirit here. So, ask God today, Lord, is there anything in my life that maybe isn’t even wrong? Maybe it’s not sin, but it’s an encumbrance. Maybe it’s a relationship. Maybe it’s just a habit or an idiosyncrasy or sort of a pattern in your life.

What we are saying here is we want to get back to you connecting to Jesus, the Jesus that rose from the dead, the Jesus that lives inside of you by the Holy Spirit. What we want to do is just sort of remove the noise and the expectations and all the stuff that crowds our minds and our hearts and makes it hard to concentrate when we want to pray or our life feeling like we are pulled in all these directions. Stop, lay aside every encumbrance, and every sin that so easily entangles us.

You know, sometimes we think of the really big sins and maybe you’re battling with an addiction or a judgmental attitude. Or maybe it’s even pleasing people or maybe it’s just a downright, you know, lust or greed or gluttony. I mean, we all struggle. And what he says is sins create a barrier between us and our intimacy with the Lord Jesus.

And the solution isn’t to beat yourself up. The solution is to say, “Lord, I have fallen short.” That’s what sin is. “I have trespassed, I have crossed the line, but You made a promise. And You aren’t surprised. You died in my place for my sins. My past, my present, my future. You long for relationship with me. And You promised that if I confess, if I agree with You about sin, that You are faithful and just to forgive me and to cleanse me from all unrighteousness.”

The proverbs state that, “He who conceals his sin will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes it will find God’s blessing, His relief, His power, His goodness.” And, you know, sometimes we just start thinking there are certain sins that, well, God understands and I just struggle in this area. Stop.

Intimacy with Jesus means we need to repent. You know, your life and my life, at times, it’s like going down a highway. And sometimes that highway, we know in our heart of hearts, “This is not the right way. This is not the right relationship. This is not the right path. This is not the right way to think.” And what we need to do is slam on the brakes and say, “I don’t want to go that way anymore.” And then I look at the exit and I take the offramp and I go around that loop and I go back the other direction.

That’s what it means to repent. It’s not just a change of mind, it’s not just a little emotion that says, “Oh, God, I’m sorry. It’s a change of mind and a genuine sorrow for our sin and where we say, “I want to draw near to God.” And remember that promise? We draw near to God; He always promises to draw near to us.

And so, the author of Hebrews, speaking to this group of people that are struggling with staying in the faith, struggling with following Jesus, because it gets hard. And for many of you right now, it’s really hard. It’s hard in your family, it’s hard in your relationships, it’s hard at work to be a bold, winsome witness for Christ, to stay the course. So many of your friends and they are Christians and they are doing things that, in your heart of hearts you say, I don’t think that’s right but it seems like other Christians are. That’s how we get so easily entangled. We begin to look at other Christians.

And then notice what he says here. He is going to tell us, “Get your focus back.” “Laying aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us. And then let us run the race with endurance.” The word is hupomeno. To be under pressure. The recognition here is it’s so easy to give up.

I don’t know if any of you maybe in early gym classes or some of you that were athletes and there was always, you know, like training you had to go through and you had to do drills and you had to run, you had to run, and you’d get that little ache in your side and everything in you says, “I just want to stop and start walking.”

And we all feel that. And that’s true spiritually. There are just times where you feel like you’re out of emotional and spiritual gas. He says, “Run with endurance the race that is set before us.”

And if you say, “Well, how can I do that?” He answers it, the next line, “Fixing our eyes on Jesus,” and then here’s the qualifier, “who is the author and perfector of our faith.” Fixing our eyes on Jesus, that is so critical, but as I hear people talk I think sometimes we make it like magical. “Oh, I fix my eyes on Jesus.”

This is on the very person of Jesus. So often in our Christian lives, we focus on the sin, “I’m not doing this. I keep doing the same thing.” If you keep focusing on your sin it will just keep growing and growing and growing. We need to fix our eyes on the person of Christ, that I am forgiven, that I am loved, that He is for me.

And the way we fix our eyes on Him is certainly talking to Him, but it’s getting into God’s Word. Read those gospels. And when you hear Him talk to the disciples or the woman at the well, or the Pharisees, say, “That’s me. This is how He feels about me.”

When I am hypocritical, He can be a little bit harsh in rebuking saying, Stop playing around. But when I’m a failure and when I struggle and when I have done things wrong and when I come and I need help, fix my eyes on Jesus who is tender, compassionate, loving, and understanding.

God so loves us but we get into the performance trap so very easily. And he says, “Fixing our eyes on Jesus,” and then, “who is the author.” It’s the champion, it’s the picture of, like being with a group of people and you’re going through the jungle and the person up front has a machete and they’re just chopping, chopping, chopping, and they are making a path. This is the picture. That Jesus paved the way. He depended on the Father, He died in our place, He rose from the grave, and then He put His power and His very life inside of us by the Holy Spirit when we came to Christ.

He's the author of the faith and, are you ready? He’s got your back. He’s going to give you all that you need. This is like the apostle Paul saying to those Philippians when it was hard and difficult and challenges, “He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.”

So much of the Christian life is: Don’t give up and don’t give in. And stop looking at other Christians and how they live. Stop looking at all the things out there and say, “You know what? I am going to look at any encumbrance and I’m going to deal with my own sin issues.” We have all got them, right? “And then I am going to run this race with endurance. I am going to finish well.”

That’s a phrase that an older man shared with me, I mean, decades ago. He said, “Chip, finish well. Finish well. You’re going to have low times, you’re going to have difficult times, you’re going to have times when you blow it, there are times when you’re going to embarrass yourself and lie, give into temptation.” He said, “Don’t let that become the new pattern. Just get back up, come humbly and honestly before Jesus. He will never despise a broken spirit and a contrite heart.”

Whenever you humble yourself before the Lord Jesus and you genuinely say, “Oh, God, I am so sorry. I need Your help, I need Your forgiveness yet again, I want to be restored and walk with You.” And whether it was David in adultery or murder or whether it’s you and me and one more time something comes out of our mouth or an explosive moment of anger or a default maybe back into some of you that struggle with a sexual addiction or a food addiction.

And sometimes the enemy just piles on and piles on and says, “You don’t measure up and you’re not worthy.” I want to tell you: Fix your eyes on Jesus. Run the race with endurance. He blazed the trail, He is for you. He is the author and perfector of the faith.

And then I want you to get the kind of focus that He had. So often we live in the now and in our feelings. He blazed the trail and it says, “Who for the joy set before Him,” He looked down the road and He thought of: What is going to be the payoff of this excruciating experience that I am going to go through where I go to the cross? Humiliated and the shame that He despised.

He knew that He would be separated from the Father in that moment when He took on your sin and my sin. And that that sin would divide Him for the first time in all eternity from the Father and He would bear that for you and for me. But it was for the joy set before Him. Did He emotionally like it? He despised the shame. But it’s you and me saying, “I am going to look forward.”

There is a day coming. Heaven is real. Who for the joy set before us. And there is joy today. We don’t have to wait for circumstances to become perfect and, you know, that if and then thinking that just so plagues our society. If I get married, then I’ll be happy. If we have children, then I’ll be happy. If I get a good job, then I’ll be happy.

That never works because the moment we get whatever we think will make us “happy” we get a new set of them. God has taught us that we can learn to be content in any and every circumstance, but that’s a faith issue. See, at the end of the day, what I have learned is that trusting God, each and every day asking God, “You know the issues, You know where I’m struggling.” And answering the question: What does it look like to trust God in this difficult situation? What does it look like to trust God at work? What does it look like to trust God with this habit that I have that I am so struggling with? What does it look like to trust God to discover where I fit in the body of Christ?

And what I want you to know is that there is a great cloud of witnesses, both then and now, people who have walked with God, that love Him in all their ups and all their downs. And that God loves you and He is for you, but it’s so easy to allow encumbrances or sin or to get your life in activities and busyness and you feel so overwhelmed. Less is more. Pause today and just take these verbs, these commands, in this one verse. Write them on a card, read this card over and over.

All day today or maybe you need a few days on this one. “Therefore, let us,” that’s all of us, “lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us.” And what? “Let’s run with endurance.” Those of you that have some athletic background, you know, when you keep running, your endurance grows and gets better and better and bigger and bigger and longer and longer. And you run with a focal point: Fixing our eyes on Jesus who is for us, who loves us, who has got the beginning, who has got the end.

And now let’s, today, when we hurt and when we struggle and when it’s hard let’s focus on the joy that is set before us. And what I have learned little by little is to say, “Lord, today is very, very hard, but it will pass. I am going to trust You."

And what we see at the end of this verse is He sits down at the right hand of the throne. In other words, He is the sovereign God. He finished His work and He is there for you and He is there for me, today. Let’s trust Him.