Hebrews 12.1-3 


1.   Turn in your Bible to Hebrews 12.1-3.  When you find that passage, please stand so we can read our text from God’s Word together:

1       Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,

2       Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

3       For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds. 

2.   For the last three weeks I have brought sermons primarily directed to you who have graduated from high school or college.  My goal is to give you a perspective on life that is different from most people your age, to influence you a bit so that you will run with patience the race that is set before you.

3.   I have found over the course of my life that people typically behave differently when they are aware they are being watched than they do when they think they are alone or unobserved, so I’ve reminded you about the great cloud of witnesses who watch you.

4.   Our text for the last three weeks and today clearly shows that you are never alone, you are never without observation, you are always being scrutinized.

5.   Today I would like to add to the recipe another consideration.  Yes, you are observed.  We “are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses.”  So, add to that consideration this consideration:  How will you end up?  What will the end of your race be like?

6.   I want you to project ahead into the future and try to imagine what it will be like at the end of your life here on earth.  Of course, it’s always good for the child of God to think about heaven and to try to imagine walking on the streets of gold, of bowing before and worshiping our glorious Savior.

7.   But for this evening I want you to pull up a bit short of eternity, Christian.  At the end of this series of messages, 

4A.   Finally, I would Like You To CONSIDER YOUR END

Of course, I don’t know what your end on this earth will be like and neither do you.  I don’t know if you will die suddenly or fail gradually.  I don’t know if you will pass on surrounded by your children and other loved ones, or if you will die as a lonely patient in a convalescent hospital, with your caregivers being people who treat you roughly and don’t speak a language you understand.

Though the primary thrust of these messages are directed toward you who are still quite young, with what you imagine to be your whole life yet ahead of you, there is a need for you who are older to pay attention.  Recognize that the counsel that I give to you, the things I try to persuade you to do with your children, the directions I advise you to take, are with your end in mind.  And it seems that some of you have a strong desire to end up in a smelly care facility that’s paid for by the government, because you will not do the things that are necessary to prepare your children to become the responsible Christians you need them to be in your old age.

My assumptions are these:  First, that the person this sermon is directed to is genuinely converted.  Second, that the person this sermon is directed to recognizes that life is filled with uncertainties.  Finally, that the person this sermon is directed to recognizes that you and only you are responsible for you.  That said, I have five phrases that you would do well to make a part of your value system and your thinking processes:

1B.    First, Life Is Short

1C.   She was a beautiful young Jewish woman standing at a ticket counter.  Her whole life was ahead of her.  Bright, articulate, energetic, imaginative.  And now she is dead, shot to death by a Muslim chauffeur at the El Al airlines counter at LAX.  If you could talk to her now could you convince her that life is not short?

2C.   They were at the park on the 4th of July with their families.  Two children playing and having a great time, one twelve and the other 18 months, with not a care in the world.  When, all of a sudden, an airplane falls out of the sky and crushes them, and they pass into eternity.  Talk to their mothers, or their fathers.  They will agree with me.  Life is short.

3C.   My friends, even when life is long it is short.  I am 52 years old and my life is racing past me at a breathtaking pace.  I remember standing in the auditorium holding a little baby girl who was sucking my little finger.  Yet now that baby girl is a young woman and suddenly my youth is gone.  And some of you here know what I speak of even more fully than I do.

4C.   The point that I seek to make is that you need to attend to your end now, not later.  You need to prepare for your end now, not later.  You need to recognize that your end may be now, not later.

5C.   You can imagine what your life will be like.  Sometimes people’s lives end up being like they’d imagined.  But most of the time life is nothing like you imagine it will be, so you need to prepare yourself to deal with the fact that life is short . . . even when it ends up being long.

6C.   In Ephesians 5.15 the apostle Paul advises, “See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise.”  Adam Clarke writes this comment about Paul’s advice:  “Our word circumspect, from the Latin circirmspicio, signifies to look round about on all hands; to be every way watchful, wary, and cautious, in order to avoid danger, discern enemies before they come too nigh, and secure a man’s interest by every possible and lawful means.  But the original word akribwn signifies correctly, accurately, consistently, or perfectly.  Be ye, who have received the truth, careful of your conduct; walk by the rule which God has given you; do this as well in little as in great matters; exemplify your principles, which are holy and good, by a corresponding conduct; do not only profess, but live the Gospel.”[1]

7C.   To sum up, then, because life is short, or because life will seem to be so short even when it has been quite long, make sure you live your life in quality fashion.  Be a devotional, prayerful, God-honoring, Christ-exalting Christian all your life, and you won’t be sorry in the end.

2B.    Next, Time Is Valuable

1C.   Time is valuable precisely because life is short.  But not only because life is short.  Time is also valuable because it is the single unrenewable asset given to you by God.  God can restore your spent money.  God can restore your spent health.  God can restore valuables and treasures.  God can restore estranged family members and loved ones.  But time is the one thing that, once spent, once used up, once wasted, once utilized, is gone forever.

2C.   This is what makes a lazy person such an incredible fool.  The lazy person, described in the Bible as a sluggard and as slothful, is a person who lets time, valuable time, precious time, priceless time, slip through his fingers.  The clock is ticking and he’s doing nothing!  He just sits there staring at the wall.  He just sits there watching television.  He just sits there staring at a computer screen while doing nothing that’s truly productive.

3C.   Almost as bad is the guy who uses his time playing.  He’s not as bad as a lazy guy, who spends his time doing nothing.  But playing is almost as bad as doing nothing.  What’s the benefit?  What’s the result of the time spent, of all that activity?  Does it produce anything?  Do you know more than you did before you did it?  Have you learned anything?  Is your heart stronger?

4C.   I’m afraid that guys who use up their time playing are just about as bad as the lazy bums who do nothing.  There’s a reason it’s called amusement, you know.  The word “muse” refers to thought and the letter “a” means “non” or “no.”  Thus, amusement refers to thoughtless behavior, mindless activity, which is what most play is . . . mindless.

5C.   God’s Word recommends that you make use of that which is so valuable, that you redeem the time, Ephesians 5.16.  To redeem your time means to buy it back, and refers to making use of the time that other people just throw away.  Going to the doctor’s office?  Take a book to read.  Waiting for someone in your car?  Make some important calls or use a note pad to plan an upcoming event.  But don’t engage in activity that produces no lasting effect.

6C.   Some of you may think that you make use of your time, though in fact you do not.  The test of whether you’ve made use of your valuable time, whether or not you’ve redeemed it, is what has been produced by you during that time?  Winston Churchill used to do one thing for two hours, and then do something else for two hours, and so on.  But it was always something productive.  He would work, or read, or write, or paint.  But he never did anything that produced nothing, and it should be the same with you.

7C.   Do you have a schedule?  Do you make plans?  If you don’t then you probably don’t treat your time as valuable.  You might consider setting a price tag on your time.  How valuable do you think your time is?  What monetary value should be attached to your time, since money is really nothing more than an approximate value of your time?  Are you worth $5 per hour?  Are you worth $10 per hour.  How long will you stand in a line to save $10?  How many minutes out of your way will you drive to save $20?

8C.   I figure that my time is worth about $50 an hour to me.  Not that anyone else values my time as much as I do, since no one has ever paid me $50 a hour to do anything.  But my time is worth $50 an hour to me.  How much is your time worth to you?  Come up with an amount.  And when you find yourself sitting around doing nothing, or when you are engaged in mindless play that produces no lasting benefit to you or mankind, figure up how much it cost you in dollars to throw that amount of time away.

9C.   I promise you that when you are gasping for your last breath you will be willing to pay a very high price, indeed, for each additional minute of life you can afford.  It will be too bad, then, that you wasted so much time when you were younger.

3B.    Third, Opportunities Are Few

1C.   How many first impressions can you make with each person you meet?  Only one.  How many high school graduations will you experience?  At most, only one.  How many opportunities will you have to prepare yourself to live up to your greatest potential?  I don’t know, and neither do you.

2C.   Warren Buffett, arguably the second or third richest man in the world, once wrote that the average person faces about five crucial financial decisions over the course of his lifetime.  So he’d better make sure he makes good decisions, Buffett advises, because most men simply cannot recover from three bad decisions.

3C.   Do you realize that the same principle applies to the spiritual arena?  How many opportunities does a man have to decide correctly when it comes to marriage?  How about a woman?  And what are the opportunities to recover should a bad decision be made?  No one knows, for sure.

4C.   Do you not realize that one bad decision in life can forever destroy the highest goals and the loftiest ambitions that you might have strived for?  Little did I realize, when I was in my early teens, that pulling a dead lift without a belt would eliminate me from the Air Force Academy four years later.  And that wasn’t a moral failing.

5C.   Young people, you don’t always have another chance at something.  There are many opportunities that come around only once in life, and many more opportunities that never come around at all.  When you have an opportunity to do right, to serve God, to stand for Christ, to go to college, to flee fornication, to witness to a lost person who’s given you the opportunity, to attend Church, to read your Bible, to pray to God . . . do it!  You may never again have that opportunity.

4B.    Fourth, Glory Awaits You

1C.   Christian!  Take a look at what Romans 8.29-30 has to say about you:

29     For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.

30     Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. 

2C.   Have you ever thought about what glory will be for you?  I have.  When I first got saved I dreamed about heaven and glory all the time.  Almost a night did not go by without the most vivid dreams about heaven.

3C.   Sometimes I would dream about being face to face with my Lord Jesus Christ.  Turn to First John 3.1-3:

1       Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not.

2       Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.

3       And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure. 

4C.   We don’t know exactly what it will be like to inhabit a glorified body, but we know two things for sure:  First, we shall be like Him and we shall see Him as He is.  Glorious!  And second, such anticipation keeps a man clean.  “every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.”

5C.   At other times I dreamed about the great congregational gathering in heaven that’s mentioned in Hebrews 12.22-29.  Turn there and read with me:

22     But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels,

23     To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect,

24     And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel.

25     See that ye refuse not him that speaketh. For if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven:

26     Whose voice then shook the earth: but now he hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven.

27     And this word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain.

28     Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we

        may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear:

29     For our God is a consuming fire. 

6C.   Can’t you just see it?  Bigger than the biggest stadium the mind can conceive.  At the center of us all will be our Lord Jesus Christ, the King of kings, and Lord of lords and God, the Father.  And all of us whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.  What a scene!  What rejoicing there will be!  What victory!  And in anticipation of that the child of God is called upon to serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear.  Because our God (Yes, the God of the Christian) is a consuming fire.

5B.    Finally, Carpe Diem [2]

1C.   This is a Latin phrase that means “seize the day.”  It could also be translated “live for the now.”  But the Christian uses such a phrase differently than any ungodly person would use it. 

2C.   The ungodly thinks to himself that he can live for today because there is nothing worth concerning yourself about in the future.  He thinks that the whole purpose of life is to maximize pleasure and give no thought for tomorrow.  But that’s utter nonsense. 

3C.   The Christian lives in the present but not for the present.  Turn to Matthew 6.33-34:

33     But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

34     Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself.  Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. 

4C.   The Lord Jesus Christ states what your priorities should be.  The kingdom of God and His righteousness come first, should always come first.  Other things have their proper place.  And don’t worry about tomorrow, because today has enough problems to fill up the day.

5C.   Now, this does not mean you shouldn’t plan for the future.  You certainly should plan for the future.  But avoid the presumption that the unconverted are so guilty of.  James 4.13-15:

13     Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain:

14     Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow.  For what is your life?  It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.

15     For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that. 

6C.   At the end of each day you should ask yourself what opportunities you’ve let slip by, what chances to serve God or witness for Christ you’ve blown.  Be the kind of Christian who fully lives each day, who gets up in the morning and asks God for much grace to live a large day.  Take on the day with a huge appetite for life and an eagerness for living the Christian life.  That’s what you and I should mean when we say “Carpe diem.” 


1.   Your life is a precious commodity.  God has been very, very good to you.  The savor of the Savior should be very sweet to you.  So, be careful how you live your life.

2.   Life is short.  Time is valuable.  Opportunities are few.  Glory awaits you.  So, carpe diem.  Seize the day!

1 Adam Clarke, Adam Clarke’s Commentary (Bronson, MI: Online Publishing, Inc., 2000), bible@mail.com

2 Webster’s New Universal Unabridged Dictionary, (New York: Barnes & Noble Books, 1996), p. 318. 

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