Lean Forward at the Finish

THE PRAYER FOR ILLUMINATION

We approach seek the Holy Spirit to illumine our minds as we hear God’s Holy Word. Join me in a spirit of prayer.

Liberating God, in love You have set us free from slavery to sin and free to know and love You, free to follow and serve You. We give you all thanks and praise, as we come to hear your Word read.  You call us to be your own, through Christ Jesus, and given us a new righteousness based on faith, so help us to learn and live the genius of your ways. Through the Holy Spirit make clear the vision of your love for us as we reach out to others in your name. Amen.

SCRIPTURE READING                 Philippians 3:13-21                Pressing Toward the Goal

Beloved, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us then who are mature be of the same mind; and if you think differently about anything, this too God will reveal to you. Only let us hold fast to what we have attained.

 

Brothers and sisters, join in imitating me, and observe those who live according to the example you have in us. For many live as enemies of the cross of Christ; I have often told you of them, and now I tell you even with tears. Their end is destruction; their god is the belly; and their glory is in their shame; their minds are set on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven, and it is from there that we are expecting a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. He will transform the body of our humiliation that it may be conformed to the body of his glory, by the power that also enables him to make all things subject to himself.

We pray that the Lord will bless us with these Holy Words.

 

TIME WITH GOD’S CHILDREN# RED 494   “Step by Step”

 

THE MESSAGE                    “Lean Forward at the Finish”

The Track and Field coach always encourages the runner to lean forward at the finish line. The first point of the runner’s body that crosses the line decides the winner. I’ve been on the finish line and sprinting races often are decided by a fraction of an inch or mere 1/100th of a second. In high school meets they don’t have a photographer taking pictures for that photo finish and the timers must make a decision to identify the winner and get the times to align for the race record.

If you watched the women’s 400 meter race on August 15th in Rio, then you witnessed a photo finish and a little controversy. Shaunae Miller of the Bahamas dove or collapsed across the finish line edging out the favored US runner, Allyson Felix. The difference between 49.44 seconds and 49.51. Miller, age 22,  a NCAA athlete from the University of Georgia represented her home country in the Olympics. Felix, 30 and the most decorated female US track Olympian, walked away with the silver to add with 2 gold medals this summer adding to 4 previous medals.

http://www.npr.org/sections/thetorch/2016/08/15/490155038/allyson-felix-wins-silver-as-the-bahamas-miller-takes-gold-in-400-meter-final

Through her Instagram post, Felix shared her disappointment in the results of this race and then placed it into eternal prospective. She wrote, “Last night didn't end the way I had dreamed. I'm disappointed. I was quickly reminded of countless reasons to be proud, thankful and grateful,” Felix continued “I fought as hard as I could and gave my all. I'm most proud of never giving up on my dreams in the face of adversity. I'm extremely humbled to now be the most decorated female Olympian in USATF history. All glory to God!” In her defeat, Felix leaned into Christ.

http://www.newsbusters.org/blogs/culture/sarah-stites/2016/08/19/be-inspired-olympic-faith-these-15-christian-athletes?page=9

Several Olympians shared their faith during interviews both in celebration and in disappointment. Steele Johnson and David Boudia won a silver medal in synchronized diving. As the cameras flipped between the three top teams, the Chinese celebrated and the Great Britain team showed emotion. The US team huddled together in a subdued reaction with their coaches. Their arms draped around one another and their heads touching. The camera didn’t stay long and went to the other teams displaying excitement at their Olympic accomplishments. Back to Boudia and Johnson, they remained in the same position almost not acknowledging their accomplishments.

Eventually, in the interview, they declared that they celebrated as teammates with their coaches in prayer. " When interviewed by NBC Boudia stated clearly, "But we both know that our identity is in Christ, and we're thankful for this opportunity to be able to dive in front of Brazil and in front of the United States. It's been an absolutely thrilling moment for us." Johnson chipped in: "The way David just described it was flawless — the fact that I was going into this event knowing that my identity is rooted in Christ and not what the result of this competition is just gave me peace ... and it let me enjoy the contest."

http://www.newsbusters.org/blogs/culture/sarah-stites/2016/08/19/be-inspired-olympic-faith-these-15-christian-athletes?page=6

Other Olympians that shared their faith through their interviews and social media included, Gwen Jorgensen of Madison in the Triathalon and Maya DiRado in the swimming pool. Other track and field athletes like Trayvon Bromell, Jenny Simpson, Michelle Carter, and English Gardner. Gymnast Simone Biles and Laurie Hernandez also shared their Christian faith as reason for their success and comfort in defeat.

These Christian athletes press on toward the goal that is heavenward. Like the Apostle Paul, who reminds us that we’ve not attained any reward in this life that compares to our faith in Jesus Christ. The Apostle, who exemplifies the Christian faith continued throughout his life, straining forward to whatever lies ahead trusting that Jesus would see him through all his struggles and challenges.

We continue to press on toward the goal that awaits the faithful of every time and place. We eventually seek eternal rest when Christ calls us home. We strive in this live to always be maturing our understanding of God’s love for us and for others. We seek the build a faith community to reflect God’s unconditional love. We seek together that our faith will reflect Christ’s mind and will. We take ahold of our faithful steps that move us forward and keep on reaching to be more Christ-like in the way we think and act. We keep training to be Christian disciples that lean forward in faith.

Olympians train over a four year period for a few moments of competition. Some will start an new cycle and get ready for the next Olympiad. Others will put their dedication toward new pursuits. As Christians, our goal is more long term. But until we reach the finish line, let us lean into the Lord and lean faithfully into our heavenly goal and the reward of faithfulness. TGBTG. Amen.

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