The Olympics of Eternal Life

100 Days of Preaching the Gospel #16 | with Daniel Whyte III

TEXT: 1 Corinthians 9:24-25: “Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.”

As you probably know, the London 2012 Summer Olympic Games have been played over the past 17 days. During this time, over 10,000 athletes from 204 countries competed in almost every sport imaginable. Thirty new world records were set and 946 medals were awarded. Last night, the closing ceremony of the London Olympics took place.

The Bible talks about a spiritual Olympics that is far more important than the Olympics we saw over the past 17 days. You see, an Olympic medal will not last for ever. The medals that Olympic champions receive will one day decay and the money they receive will be used up. But the Bible talks about an eternal prize, “an incorruptible crown, that fadeth not away.”

Paul, the writer of this passage, was familiar with the games at Isthmia near Corinth which took place every two years. He may have even been in Corinth during one of these events. The city would have been packed and many people would be forced to camp out in tents, so Paul, who was skilled at tentmaking would have probably applied his trade during this time. Since he is writing to the Corinthians who are familiar with this event, he uses the metaphor of runners racing for a prize to get his point across in this passage.

Please notice with me five things that we can learn about the olympics of eternal life:

I. The first thing that Paul urges his reader to do is to run with a purpose.

II. The second thing I want you to notice is that when you run, you must run with discipline.

III. The third thing I want you to notice is that earthly prizes and rewards are only temporary.

IV. The fourth thing we notice is that if we run this race and run it well, we will receive an eternal prize that cannot be taken away.

V. The fifth thing we notice is that in order to win this race, you have to get in the race.

+ Plus, listen to Steve Ivey singing “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross”

Dawn Harper and God’s Special Plan for Her Life (Gospel Light Minute #64)

Dawn Harper
Dawn Harper

She is an American track and field athlete who specializes in the 100 meter hurdles. She was the gold medalist in the 100 meter hurdles at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. During her time with the UCLA Bruins, she won the sprint hurdles at the US Junior Championships and at the Pan American Junior Athletics Championships. She received All-American honours twice at the 2004 NCAA Women’s Outdoor Track and Field Championship, after coming eighth in the 100 meter hurdles final and taking second place in the 4×100-meter relay. She ran 12.61 seconds to win a silver medal at the 2009 IAAF World Athletics Final. She qualified first at the 2012 United States Summer Olympic Trials and is competing in London.

She says of her faith, “My faith was definitely a part of me growing up. I went to church on Sundays, but I knew that God was real in my life. A lot of people start to look towards God when they get hurt, and when I hurt myself as a sophomore and had knee surgery, the doctors told me I would probably never run as fast again. I was only 15 years old and track was what I wanted to do. So when I came back from that, I realized God had a much bigger plan for me. And then, when I had knee surgery before the 2008 Olympics, that just sealed the deal. I was thinking, ‘There is another plan for me that I may not see for myself. I’m supposed to reach out to other people and show them what God can do because of what He’s done through me.’ I knew that it was all about giving God the glory. And once I crossed the finish line, that’s the first thing that crossed my mind. A lot of people call me the “What” girl because once I won the race, you can watch the footage and see that I’m saying “What” over and over again. But what I was saying, was that from this big ole globe, God chose this little girl from East Saint Louis out of all the kids who have said, ‘I want to go to the Olympics.’ He knew that I could handle this—the knee surgery and all of the things that come with being an Olympic champion. He took the girl that no one thought would win. He chose me. He entrusted me with this. And after that race in 2008, I just broke down crying.” Her name is Dawn Harper.

GLMX #108: How to Win At the Olympics of Life

London 2012 Olympics
London 2012 Olympics

Olympic events get our adrenaline going. The greatest athletes in the world have assembled for the 2012 Summer Games, just as they have since the first modern summer games in 1896.

But it’s not easy to compete in the Olympics. In the triathlon, athletes engage in swimming for nearly one mile, bicycling for nearly 25 miles, and then running for six miles.

Or how about the ten thousand meter races? Or the four hundred meter hurdles races?

Olympic competition is for an elite few. Not many can do these things well. For most of us, it’s hard enough to get out of bed in the morning. And while few experience the olympic thrill of victory, the rest of us are more familiar with smaller successes and the occasional agony of defeat. Life can be tough, filled with “I should’ve, could’ve, or would’ve” and not to mention “Uh-ohs” instead of gold medals.

Fortunately, there is someone who can empathize with our struggles. He suffered the ultimate agony of defeat: total rejection and pain, so we can win at the olympics of life. 700 years before He walked the earth, Isaiah the prophet had this to say about Jesus in Isaiah 53:3, “He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief.”

Yet He suffered defeat for us. Verse 8 says, “…for the transgression of my people was he stricken.”

And then He had the greatest victory of all time: Rising from the dead! Verse 11 says, “He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied.” Jesus defeated death, lives forever, and has made a way for you and me to do the same.

+ Plus, listen to Mandisa singing “Victorious”

Lolo Jones: How Faith and Determination Took Her to the Top (Gospel Light Minute #63)

Lolo Jones
Lolo Jones

She is a star American track and field athlete who specializes in the 60 and 100 meter hurdles. She won three NCAA titles and garnered 11 All-American honors while at Louisiana State University. She won indoor national titles in 2007, 2008 and 2009 in the 60 meter hurdles, with gold medals at the World Indoor Championship in 2008 and 2010. She went on to win silver at the 2008 World Athletics Final. She is the American record holder in the 60 meter hurdles with a time of 7.72. She recently placed third in the 100 meter hurdles at the U.S. Olympics trials, qualifying her for a spot on the 2012 Summer Olympics team.

Growing up with a difficult childhood in Iowa, she often had to shoplift dinners for her family to survive. Her mother worked two jobs to support her family of six. Her father was, for the most part, in the Air Force, and later in state prison. While in third grade, her family settled down in the basement of a Salvation Army church; and she had to wake up early each morning to avoid being teased by other children who found out about her situation. When her family was about to move again to another city in Iowa, she told her mother, “Mom, I can’t go to a city that doesn’t have a track. I’m trying to pursue my dream.” At that time, her and her family parted ways. She lived with four different families throughout her high school years while at the same time she kept up her grades and fought to fulfill her dream.

She often speaks of how her strong faith in God helped pull her through difficult times. And she has a ritual of reading the Bible before a race and listening to Christian music. She created a buzz when she recently revealed in an interview the difficulty of remaining a virgin until marriage. She said that “This journey of staying a virgin until marriage has been hard — Harder than training for the Olympics and harder than graduating from college. It’s just something, a gift I want to give to my husband.” Her name is Lolo Jones.