August 31, 2016, 3:38 PM

     All summer I have been more diligent in my exercise. I try to ride my bike, after daylight, at least 5 times a week. If you are out early you just might see me. I know that’s why I have enjoyed the cooler weather during these last dog-days of August. I try to change up my route every so often, to keep from getting in a rut. Currently I am riding out west of town on 380. One day last week I was headed back to town and heard all kinds of hollering, Go Philip, Go Philip. I looked up and it was Ryan and Kenley Cox on their way to school, with the window down cheering me on! Let me say by that time in my ride I really needed the encouragement! As I turned north to head home, I thought about how we all depend on encouragement.

     The writer of Hebrews tells us to urge each other on in our faith walk. It comes with the idea of exhorting each other on our path of faith. I love the picture the author paints in chapter 12:1.  Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.

     Well, just who are these “witnesses” and how do they surround us? In chapter 11 we are told that the Old Testament believers were looking forward to the coming Messiah. At the end of chapter 11 he says those believers had faith in God to guide and direct them, but God had something better planned for us. Then he begins chapter 12 with a reference to these faithful men and women who paved the way. What the Old Testament believers looked forward to in faith—the Messiah—we look back to, seeing the fulfillment of all the prophecies about His first coming.

     We are surrounded by the saints of the past in a unique way. It’s not that the faithful who have gone before us are simply spectators to the race we run. It’s a picture for us to see, and it means we ought to act as if they are there, cheering us on to the same victory in the life of faith that they experienced! We are inspired by their cheers! Their past lives of faith encourage us to live that way, too. I love the way the author uses the word cloud. It tells me there are millions and millions of believers who have gone before us, each encouraging us to live a life of faith!

     Thanks Kenley and Ryan.

Now this week….GO GO GO.