November 19

Ecclesiastes 4:9-11 (NIV) 9Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: 10If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! 11Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone?

Jesus sent his disciples out two by two. We need the companionship, fellowship, and encouragement of a partner. That friend will be a part of our greatest joys and deepest pains. We expect more from those with whom we share our hearts. Often, they will be the cause of the deepest pains, but the sharing of life's joys makes it worth it.

We all need a friend that we can share our heart with. We should always take our burdens to the Lord first, but it is often helpful to share them with that trusted friend also. They can give you a perspective that sees your situation through different eyes. They can encourage you and share their own similar experiences. Since we are to "do unto others as we would have them do to us," we should look for a friend that we can be all of the above to.

For most people, this companion will be their spouse. It takes a lot of work to get to this level of supporting one another in a marriage, but it is worth the effort. If you have settled for less, work through to a deeper relationship. Value your differences. Forgive and be willing to be hurt and forgive again, remembering that your spouse is enduring the same from you. The rewards of a deeper intimacy are more than worth it.

Remember: There is a friend that sticks closer than a brother. Jesus told his disciples that He was going to call them friends. He wants a deeper intimacy with you. Let Him be your ultimate companion.

November 19

Hebrews 12:1-3 (NIV) 1Therefore, 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. 2Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

The picture that the author is painting is of a great arena. The faithful who have died in Christ are occupying the stands. You and I are still here on the track running our race, staying in our lanes. The Greek runners ran in the nude so as not to be hindered by their clothing, but we seem to have all kinds of things on us. We carry some of the things of our past life, the life before we came to Christ. We need to drop it all and run!

Keep your eyes on our hero and role model, Jesus. Look at the amazing race He ran. If that doesn't inspire you to drop everything and run, nothing will. He fixed His eyes on the joy of seeing you transformed. With that vision He was able to finish His run on a shameful cross. That was the victory tape. When He burst through He found Himself the winner of all time, seated at the right hand of the throne of God. That is where we need to keep our eyes.

When the race gets tough, when you are tired and tempted to just give up, look at Jesus. What a race He ran! What a victory He won! He started you on this race, and He will help you finish it.

Consider: If Jesus' life doesn't inspire you to run all out, what will?