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     Sermons | Passionate worship

    This sermon was preached by the Rev. Keith Cardwell at Swift Presbyterian Church.

    Aug. 18, 2019 | 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time

    Running on Empty
    Hebrews 11:29–12:2

     J ACKSON BROWNE WROTE and sang a great song, “Running on Empty.” Listen to a portion of it to help your memory.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vq25ZJwZJzU (2:35 to 3:17)

    Looking out at the road rushing under my wheels
    I don’t know how to tell you all just how crazy this life feels
    I look around for the friends that I used to turn to to pull me through
    Looking into their eyes I see them running, too

    Running on — running on empty
    Running on — running blind
    Running on — running into the sun
    But I’m running behind

     † † † 

    WHO AMONG US FEELS like you’re running on empty? It’s been a hectic week getting back into school. Renewed arguments about bedtime, what to wear, homework. Maybe the beginning of the school year is exciting. Before long it usually gets harder. Then you will need perseverance. Some of you went back to school unwillingly and with deep dread. You need perseverance from the very beginning of the year.

    Work is overwhelming. Then all the stuff with the kids. No time for yourself. Not enough sleep. Always feeling like you’re running but you’re always behind. Perseverance.

    And retirement. It was supposed to be leisure. It’s just as hectic. Nothing’s changed except you’re older. Your grown children, your health, your volunteer schedule overwhelms you. At your age, it’s more like walking on empty.

     † † † 

    OUR FAITH is like that sometimes.

    ■ We get bored with religion.
    ■ We get tired of praying and seeing no results.
    ■ We look around and are filled with questions about where God is in the midst of so much chaos and strife; pain and anger.
    ■ The Bible, when we pick it up to read it, is just words in stilted writing.

    What’s the use? In those dry seasons; in those desert wanderings we need perseverance.

     † † † 

    YOU’RE NOT ALONE in your questions, fears, doubts, uncertainties, dry and weary times. But we are called to persevere. Hang tough. That’s easy to say. But we get tired. We get distracted. We get frustrated. We get burned out, let down, hurt. Sin gets in the way. We’re ready throw in the faith towel.

    We’re running on empty. There’s nothing to do but quit. We’re too empty to even crawl across the finish line in this race we’re running. But we have this encouragement: let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.

    Here’s the thing. Don’t try to do it alone. We can’t do it alone.

     † † † 

    YOU’RE NOT ALONE in your questions, fears, doubts, uncertainties, dry and weary times. But we are called to persevere. Hang tough. That’s easy to say. But we get tired. We get distracted. We get frustrated. We get burned out, let down, hurt. Sin gets in the way. We’re ready throw in the faith towel.

    We’re running on empty. There’s nothing to do but quit. We’re too empty to even crawl across the finish line in this race we’re running. But we have this encouragement:

    Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.

    Here’s the thing. Don’t try to do it alone. We can’t do it alone.

     † † † 

    A MARATHON is a 26.2-mile race. That’s a long way to run.

    Ariana Luterman, a high-school senior, was running the final leg of her marathon relay. The high-school relay was on the same course as the solo runners. Ariana caught up with Chandler Self who was running the full marathon. The pair ran together for a mile and a half before Self began struggling. By mile 26, Self became disoriented and stumbling. Ariana could see what was going on. Within sight of the finish line, Ariana reached out to help Self complete the final 200 yards. “The only thing I could think of to do was to pick her up, so I picked her up and I think she was a little confused at first,” Luterman told a Dallas newspaper. “No way was I going to start sprinting and just leave her there.”

    Chandler Self had a commanding lead. It looked like she was going to keep running right through the finish line — but with 200 yards to go, she couldn’t complete the race by herself. Her body shut down. She needed an extra hand to break the tape at the finish line.

    www.youtube.com/watch?v=mDVkiWSZPoI (Play through 2:46.)

     † † † 

    THERE ARE TIMES a hero of faith reaches down to lift you in this race of faith. There are times when you are called to be the hand of faith for someone else. All the while keeping our eyes upon Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith.

    — Keith Cardwell   

    «Don’t try to do it alone. We can’t do it alone.»

    SCRIPTURE FOR THE DAY

    Hebrews 11:29–12:2
    Holy Bible, New International Version


    ►This is the word of God for the people of God:

    29 By faith the people passed through the Red Sea as on dry land; but when the Egyptians tried to do so, they were drowned.

    30 By faith the walls of Jericho fell, after the army had marched around them for seven days.

    31 By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient.[a]

    32 And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jephthah, about David and Samuel and the prophets, 33 who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies. 35 Women received back their dead, raised to life again. There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection. 36 Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. 37 They were put to death by stoning;[b] they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins,destitute, persecuted and mistreated — 38 the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves and in holes in the ground.

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

    12 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, 2 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.

    — This is the Word of the Lord.
    — Thanks be to God.


    Footnotes:

    a.  Hebrews 11:31  Or unbelieving
    b.  Hebrews 11:37  Some early manuscripts stoning; they were put to the test;


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    23208 Swift Church Road
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    email: swiftpc@gulftel.com