Olympic Steps for Christians - September Observer Message

The 2016 Summer Olympics have finished up in Rio. They were exciting as usual. The United States teams did very well. Maybe your favorite athletes did well. I thought it beneficial to work around this topic for September’s article to cap off this summer’s events and also to keep in mind as school classes begin for our kids. It will use kind of a “running” flavor.

Step One: Getting a Good Start. 1 Corinthians 9:24, “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run is such a way as to get the prize.” A runner wants a good start in a race, but a good start will not be enough to win a race for him. A runner must keep running well for the whole race. You have heard the story of the tortoise and the hare. The hare thought it would be so easy to beat the slow-moving tortoise. So the hare rested and took it easy. But the tortoise kept going and finally won the race. You and I need to keep running our race for the Lord. God wants us to never stop hearing His Word; instead, He wants us to keep hearing His Word at home, at church, at school, in Bible class and Sunday school classes. And do this thankfully, willingly, regularly since God has already won the prize for us; He sent His Son Jesus to die on the cross so that all sinners would be forgiven. Jesus rose from the dead and earned for us homes in heaven.

What a wonderful prize God has given to us!

Step Two: Using Your Training. In John 8:31 Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples.” Jesus wants us to be His disciples, His followers. In order to be His followers, we must firmly believe His teachings. Christ wants us to put Him first and to obey His teachings. Think about an athlete who trains only a few days and then quits. What will happen to his strength? It will fizzle. If we stop hearing God’s Word, our faith will grow weak and it could die. Faith grows only when it is fed God’s Word. Now God wants us to do the reading and the hearing. He wants us to live according to His Word every day. He wants us to believe His teachings and to be His disciples – to stay strong in faith and in life.

Step Three: Overcoming All Obstacles. Romans 8:28, “We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him.” God is in control of all things. God truly can make good things happen, even when things seem so bad. Once upon a time there was a man who was coming home very late at night. He was still quite a few miles from home. The man knew there were two ways home – the smooth road, which was a little shorter, and the bumpy road, which was a longer drive. The man chose the longer, bumpy road. He was tired and knew that he could fall asleep easily on the smooth road. The bumpy road would help keep him awake. Now think about our lives. If everything went well all the time, we might think, “I’m doing just fine on my own. I really don’t need God to help me.” But our lives don’t always go well. We have troubles. We get sick. People we love die. Our feelings are hurt. But God can use such troubles to help us come to Him for help. He shows us that we do need Him every day. Troubles are not fun. But God can use them to help us turn to Him and His Word.

Step Four: Passing the Baton. Psalm 119:105, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.” Things do not have to be big to be important. A key is small, but it can open or lock a big door. A baton is small, but it is very important in some races. The runners have to be careful when passing that little baton. Losing or forgetting about the Bible is much more serious than losing or dropping a baton. So we read and study God’s Word. We go to church and parochial school each week to learn more about our Savior revealed to us in the Bible. God’s Word is a light or a lamp to show us our way. God’s Word shows us the only way to heaven. That way is through Jesus, who died on the cross to forgive us all. And we share (pass along) that good news with everyone. The Bible is not the largest book in the world. But it is the most important book.

Step Five: Receiving the Prize. Revelation 2:10, “Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life.” In a running race a person can win a trophy or a medal or a ribbon. But trophies get dusty and medals get misplaced and ribbons can get lost. God has promised that all who are faithful to Him will receive a crown of life in heaven. That crown of life is life which never ends, life which never has sadness or pain. Life in heaven has been promised to all who believe that Jesus is our Savior. Heaven truly is a great gift from God. God’s Son, Jesus, earned this gift for us. May we always realize that nothing is more important for our lives than Jesus. This is true because He is our ONLY way to that crown of life in heaven. May God help us “run [every step of the way] in such a way as to get [this] prize.”

Pastor Rodney Warnecke