A Word for the Graduates

May 17, 2019  ●  19-28

Hebrews. 12:1-2

If you are a graduating senior, here is your final test: count to five.
ONE-TWO-THREE-FOUR-FIVE
Five seconds have passed.
In just five seconds1:

  • Dunkin’ Donuts sells more than 100 cups of freshly brewed coffee;
  • 23,000 tweets are posted;
  • Amazon sells nearly $7,000 worth of product;
  • About 21 babies are born in the world;
  • 80 million tons of water has evaporated from the Earth’s surface.

A lot of life can happen in 5 seconds. In graduations across the United States, whether they are high school or college, the lives of thousands of students will change in approximately five seconds. Five seconds is about how long it takes for a graduate to walk from one side of a platform to the other to receive their diploma or degree. And there is going to be a monumental change in that brief period of time that the graduates may not even realize. By the time the last graduate walks across that platform, freshmen become sophomores; sophomores become juniors; juniors become seniors; and seniors become – GRADUATES!

Graduate, in the four-year period that you have been either in high school or college, you have transitioned through three different groups of people:

CONFUSED – coming into the 9th grade, or as a freshmen in college, you were confronted with new schedules, new teachers, new subjects, new friends – it was all new and it took a bit of getting used to that first year.

CONFORMED. Finally you were not a freshman anymore, you were a sophomore, then a junior, and you were, “in the groove.” You developed a schedule, you made friends, you learned the system and you were on cruise control.

CONCERNED. And then came your senior year and were, and maybe still are, concerned about two key events:

1. Graduation. You want to graduate and you hope to graduate. Hey, that’s what it’s all about, right?

2. What’s next. College? Military? Job? Or simply don’t know? Don’t think you are the only one feeling a bit overwhelmed

Hebrews 12:
1. Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also 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,
2. Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of 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.

In Hebrews 12.1-2, the writer addresses where you are on graduation day, and more importantly, what happens AFTER graduation.

There are five important words for you as a graduate from these two verses of Scripture:

The first important word is: REMEMBER.

1. REMEMBER where you came from;
V. 1: GREAT CLOUD OF WITNESSES.
Hebrews 11 is called the roll call of faith. In that one chapter, 16 people are named, by name, as heroes of faith, and many others are referred to generally but not by name. The writer of Hebrews is reminding Jewish Christians they were following in the footsteps of hundreds that had a strong faith and served God faithfully, and now it was their turn. Here’s what that means:

Chances are, on graduation day, as you sit waiting to receive your diploma or degree, there are those sitting in the audience that sat where you are sitting; they ran their course in school and they received their diploma; they are your great cloud of witnesses. They have been right where you are, they know you might be a bit concerned, but they are present to celebrate your graduation and to encourage you as the next chapter in your life begins to unfold.

REMEMBER GRADUATION DAY. Never forget being there, being encouraged, never forget what you have learned, how folks encouraged you. You will always take your school and those memories with you no matter where you go, it’s part of who you are; be proud of it, thank God for it. Also never forget that God has placed you here for His purposes, and that’s the most important point.

The 2nd important word is: REMOVE.

2. REMOVE any hindrances that would slow you down;
v. 1: LET US ALSO – just like those who went before you, be as faithful as they were;

LAY ASIDE EVERY ENCUMBRANCE AND THE SIN WHICH SO EASILY ENTANGLES US:

What does that mean for you? God has given us the ability to make choices, and life is all about living with the choices we have made. You can make choices you will live the rest of your life paying for and regretting; you can make choices you will live the rest of your life celebrating and thanking God you made those choices.

The writer of Hebrews encouraged his readers to renounce and put away anything that would hinder their walk as Christians. The same is true of you as a graduate. Life is about decisions you make. The best decision you can make is to commit to staying away from anything that would hinder what God wants to do through you.

We live in world that is upside down on morals, ethics, decency, and the list goes on and on. There is only one way to live your life and that is for the glory of God. Anything else is going to drag you down and keep you from realizing the best God has for you.

The 3rd important word is: RUN.

3, RUN the race God has put before you;
We all have a race to run and it’s called life. This race called life, as defined in the Bible, is not a race to see who can finish first, but instead a race with the goal of finishing with a strong faith in Jesus Christ.

The 4th important word is: REMAIN.

4. REMAIN focused on Jesus at all times;
I received my Associate’s Degree in forestry. Attending one summer semester was a requirement for my degree. During that summer semester I spent a lot of time in the woods learning how to cruise timber. Part of timber cruising is learning how to read a compass, take a bearing, and walk through the woods in a straight line; it’s harder than you think. I was taught to take a bearing with my compass. Once I found my bearing I would look down that bearing and find a tree – and I would walk towards that tree. As long as I kept that tree in front of me, I would be walking in a straight line. The moment I took my eyes off that tree I would get off course quickly.

That’s what the first part of verse is all about. You and I have to have a bearing in life, something to focus on, a point or a goal to walk towards – and He is Jesus Christ. FIXING OUR EYES ON JESUS – pay attention, focus, don’t get distracted. Jesus is who you have to set your eyes on.

But what about success? What about that promotion? What about getting my degree? Aren’t those important? Sure they are but if they become more important than your relationship with Jesus, then you have missed the point.

WHY IS FIXING MY EYES ON JESUS SO IMPORTANT?
Because Jesus is the author and perfecter of our faith. Jesus went to the cross, shed His blood to pay my sin penalty and yours, He died, He was buried, He was raised on the third day and if you would by faith trust and believe in Him you will be saved.

Life is all about knowing and honoring God. Jesus willingly endured the worst punishment known to man, death by crucifixion. He did it because we could not, He was not a victim, He was the victor. Crucifixion was a shameful death and yet Jesus endured it so we could be freed from the penalty of our sin.

My focus in life and your focus in life must be Jesus Christ. He makes life worthwhile. You need to trust and believe in Him for salvation and eternal life and I would love to talk with you about that.

Finally the 5th important word is: REFLECT.

5. REFLECT on the sacrifice of Christ that made this all possible
CONSIDER HIM: think about Him, never forget the price He paid on the cross of Calvary so you could be free from the guilt and shame of sin.

Seniors, REMEMBER where you came from, REMOVE anything in your life that is going to keep you from reaching the goal God has for you; RUN this race called life with every bit of energy and strength God gives you; REMAIN focused on Jesus, don’t take your eyes off him, and REFLECT on the price he paid for your salvation.

IN YOUR LIFE, IF YOU MAKE MUCH OF JESUS, HE WILL ACCOMPLISH MUCH THROUGH YOU.

Now the God of peace who brought up from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the eternal covenant, even Jesus our Lord, equip you in every good thing to do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen. (Heb. 13:20-21)

Seniors, God is going to do amazing things through you.
God bless you.

___________________

1 “50 shocking facts that happen every five seconds”, www.buzzfeed.com, March 23, 2014 (internet, accessed May
16, 2019).