Travel Light | Prepare
Monday— …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
That “cloud of witnesses” was described in Hebrews 11. They were people who set the bar high for obedience, sacrifice, endurance, and courage. They were ordinary men and women, but verse 38 calls them “people of whom the world was not worthy.” They are in God’s Hall of Heroes because they decided that this world offered them nothing compared with Christ. When they bowed at the cross, they shed the weights they’d been carrying, the sins that had ensnared them. They unloaded heavy packs full of habits, identities, and patterns that had led them away from God. He set them free to run unencumbered.
God is proud to show off their photos and urges us to imitate them. They weren’t perfect, but their sins were forgiven and their focus had changed from self-seeking to God-seeking. They each had a race set before them and they ran it well. They would never have made it while still lugging those packs. And that’s how we win, too. Surrounded by those heroes, we follow their example in shedding weights. Here’s how: 1) Lay aside earthly concerns that distract you from your purpose. 2) Renounce the sins that once defined you. 3) Refuse to obsess over silliness that won’t matter in 100 years. 4) Expect hardship, doubts, disappointment, and trouble. 5) Don’t let it get you off track. 6) Keep your eyes on Jesus and run with endurance.
Final Thought: What weights might be keeping you from running with endurance the race set before you?
Prayer: Father, reveal to me the weights that hinder my relationship with you. What heavy pack am I still carrying that is keeping me from running with endurance? I renounce every sin and old pattern that weighs me down. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Tuesday— No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him. 2 Timothy 2:4
“Alright men, listen up,” said Colonel Jones. “The enemy is just over this rise. We’ve got an advantage right now, but have move on it. Heads down. Let’s go!” A new recruit raised his hand. “Uh, sir. I’d like to help you with that, but my wife gave me a list of things she needs from Walmart and I’m not so sure the enemy is wrong about this.” How well do you think that would go over with his commanders? Can an enlisted man pick and choose which orders he will follow? Are divided loyalties allowed?
So why do we assume the Commander of the universe accepts divided loyalties from us? The battles we face every day are far more critical than a world war. The stakes are higher than those at Normandy Beach or Gettysburg. The enemy of our souls attacks us constantly and the outcome of those fights may determine our eternal destination. Satan fires at us: “Nobody should tell you what to do. You can decide right and wrong for yourself.” Or he aims his dagger at our hearts: “After what you’ve done, even Jesus won’t want you.” If we’re bogged down in compromise, we have no strength to challenge those lies. We become a statistic. But when we stay free of worldly ideas and keep our focus on pleasing the One who saved us, He gives us victory.
Final Thought: What earthly concerns might be keeping you from pleasing Jesus?
Prayer: Lord, I let myself get bogged down with worries and busyness and I lose my focus. I give it all to you now and reposition myself to honor and please you in all I do. Help me stay grounded so I spot evil and defeat it. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Wednesday— For among them are those who slip into households and captivate weak women weighed down with sins, led on by various impulses, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. 2 Timothy 3:6-7
Paul warned about another weight in the last days that will hinder our race, and those days are here. He wrote that people will be narcissistic and arrogant. It will be a selfie culture, most people concerned only with pleasing themselves. They’ll be “spiritual but not religious” and quite proud of it. Truth will no longer depend on facts, but feelings. Many will claim to be Christians, but twist scripture so that it allows them to do whatever they want. Self-control will be mocked while indulgence is praised. They love self-help books and feel-good conferences, but never carry a cross. Never die to self. Never fully surrender.
They’re 21st-century cultural Christians. They love “worship nights”—as long as the band is good—and adore motivational speakers masquerading as preachers. They’re always learning but never growing wise. They cringe at the ideas of discipleship, self-sacrifice, and holiness. Jesus is a means to feel good about themselves, stay sober, or succeed. But as soon as they don’t FEEL good anymore, they move on to the next god. The only thing “Christian” about these people is the name they’ve hijacked. This fake Christianity looks nothing like the gospel that killed Jesus, nor the truths for which the apostles were martyred. While promising freedom, this self-designed religion is a weight that keeps people from ever truly knowing Christ.
Final Thought: Are you or someone you love weighted down by this false religion? Full surrender to Jesus is freedom.
Prayer: Lord God, check my heart. Do you see me in this description? Am I one of those Paul wrote about? Please forgive me. I don’t want anything false. I want true Christianity. True salvation. I surrender to your Son, Jesus. In His name, amen.
Thursday— Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28
There were 613 commands in the law God gave Moses for the Israelite nation. They had to keep them all in order to be considered righteous enough to come into the presence of a holy God. Of course, no one could do that. So God also instituted the idea of a perfect substitute. By killing a perfect animal on God’s altar, they could atone for their failures. God was teaching them how serious sin is. Forgiveness required innocent blood. But religion twisted the law so that self-designated leaders were declared righteous and everyone else had to stagger under the burden of never being good enough. Enter: The Son of God.
Staggering under the weight of judgement, we’re too weary to seek God. To desire to please Him. To enjoy His grace. So Jesus came, lifted that burden from us, and placed it on His own shoulders. He kept all 613 laws, then offered His life as the perfect substitute. His blood alone could atone for our failures. When we come to Him in faith, He covers our burdens with His blood and frees us to live in relationship with a holy God. Because God accepts Jesus as our substitute, He declares us holy too. Salvation happens the moment we step out from under the burden of law and embrace the freedom of surrender. The Holy Spirit moves in and gives us, not only the ability, but the desire to obey God. Judgement, law, and human effort are heavy burdens and keep us away from God. But grateful surrender leads to joyful obedience and that’s how we travel light.
Final Thought: If you’re staggering under the burden of sin and self-loathing, surrendering to Jesus makes your burden His.
Prayer: Lord, I know I’m not good enough to come into your presence. Thank you for sending your Son to take my burden on Himself. Because of Him, I can be considered righteous before you. I exchange my burden for His. In His name, amen.
Friday— He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God? Micah 6:8
Read that verse again. That’s your obligation to your Creator. Only three things. Let’s take a closer look at what they mean.
To do justly: God is perfect justice. He hates sin of every kind and He expects His human creations to hate it too. Doing justly means we deal honestly with everyone. We crave righteous living and don’t make excuses for our failures. We confess and correct them. We fight for the oppressed and deal fairly with all people, earning reputations for integrity and honesty.
To love mercy: The flip side of justice is mercy. When we COULD punish, we forgive. When we COULD hate, we love. Mercy is kind to those who don’t deserve it and causes us to act like Jesus when we’d rather be judge and jury. We rejoice when jerks get a second chance. We’re happy when our abusers repent and turn to God. This kind of mercy requires strength from God.
To walk humbly with our God: This one is hardest because it challenges our pride. Walking humbly means we eagerly agree with God about our sin and renounce it. We receive Jesus as Lord and obey Him, even when it’s tough. We don’t deny or justify our sin, or complain that God isn’t good to us. We agree with His word, even when it’s unpopular or we don’t understand.
Final Thought: When we focus on the Big Three, our journey through life is easier because we’re traveling light.
Prayer: Father, teach me how to do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with you. I want to travel light. In Jesus’ name, amen.