Hebrews 3-5

"Therefore, since the promise of entering His rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it. For we also have had the gospel preached to us, just as they did, but the message they heard was of no value to them, because those who heard it did not combine it with faith."  Hebrews 4:1-2, NIV 

I have had the privilege of announcing the World Famous elementary school track meet in Happy, Texas for over a decade now. The first race is the 50 yard dash, and the first group of kids to run are the kindergartners. 

Have you ever watched a five year old run a race? They run like mad, giving it everything they've got, but then they do something very strange at the end: They stop right at the finish line! I'm not quite sure why, but I have seen it so many times that I know it is true. Because of this strange practice, many kids who would have won the race, perhaps even setting a school record in doing so, end up not winning the race because they stopped to soon. So in recent years, those in charge of the races have reminded the kids to run past the finish line so that they can win the prize.

There's a lesson here for those of us who would serve God: Run through the finish line! Too many Christians fall short of the mark, not because they didn't run a good race, but because they didn't finish the race. That's why God warns us in Hebrews to be careful not to fall short. And He even tells us the secret for doing so - it is to combine what we hear with faith!

Some people believe that faith is merely belief, but if this were true there wouldn't be two words. Faith is an active belief! James puts it this way:

"What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith, but has no deeds? Can such a faith save him?" James 2:14, NIV 

Then he says, 

"You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that - and shudder." James 2:19, NIV

And he capped off this discussion by saying this:

"As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead." James 2:25, NIV 

Why do you suppose James said that? It was for the same reason that the writer of Hebrews pointed out that merely hearing the message is not enough: We must combine it with faith! And faith has never been a mere belief - it has always been an active belief. And not just that, it has been an active belief to the end. The Apostle Paul put it this way:

"However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord has given me - the task of testifying to the gospel of God's grace."  Acts 20:24, NIV

That is why we want to keep this faith - this active belief - to the end. We do not want to fall short of the prize that God has promised to those who will be faithful until the end!