Yesterday we talked about having hope because it is not over yet. The lyrics of the song said, “And even when you think you're finished, It's not over yet, It's not over yet” And life is a race we run, So run till the race is won, Don't you ever give up, Oh no never give up.” My favorite story of the Olympics was the story of “the Czech dynamo Ester Ledecka who was the first athlete in Olympic history to claim skiing and snowboarding golds, following her stunning super-G triumph on Day 8 of the 2018 Games. She's also the first woman to medal in two sports at a single Winter Olympics.” Now this was the interesting part. One writer said, “As the old saying goes: Don’t you dare cut away to the figure skating until all of the skiers have their time in the snow. NBC learned this the hard way during the network’s Olympics coverage on Friday evening, when commentators Bode Miller and Dan Hicks decided to crown Anna Veith, one of the most dominant super G competitors in the world, the winner of the women’s event — despite a few more competitors still to come. “The programming was then switched to the men’s figure skating finals, although the network eventually switched back to the super G upon the news that, ahem, somebody else won instead: Ester Ledecka from the Czech Republic.” “Here she had started No. 26, a position that approximates her world ranking and from which it is often very difficult to win because of deteriorating conditions.” Yet she wins gold. I would say she skied to win. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 9:24 “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training.” Well she got the prize all right and then another one later.
                But then you have stories of disqualification like this one. I was watching the speed skaters and one of them, Sven Kramer has won three straight gold medals in the men's 5000m but the gold has eluded him in the 10000m distance. In the 2010 Vancouver Games he was instructed by his coach into the wrong lane and was disqualified but he was also responsible for that split second decision that cost him. He is a Dutch speed skating maestro, a world champion a record holder yet disqualified for making a wrong lane change. Paul again says 1 Corinthians 9:26 “Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. 27 No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.” We do not want to be disqualified so we run the race to the very end and we do not give up. We make sure that the people coaching us are directing us carefully and we also make sure we are following God’s word ourselves.
                Now yes this is athletics and the analogy stops there as a gold medal won’t get you into heaven but we can learn from it. 1 Corinthians 9:25 “Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever,” so we had better get this right. Hebrews 12:1 “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” If we are to run the race, we must fix our eyes on Jesus the perfecter of our faith. As soon as we take our eyes of him, we sink like Peter did. Matthew 14:28 “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” 29 “Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” 31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” No matter what is before us, no matter the obstacle, the opposition we keep our eyes on Jesus and run the race with perseverance.  James 1:4 “Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 5:11 “As you know, we count as blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.”
                During this time of confession we must understand that the church is off course. We have changed into the wrong lane and have gone astray. Galatians 5:7 “You were running a good race. Who cut in on you to keep you from obeying the truth? 8 That kind of persuasion does not come from the one who calls you. 9 “A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough.” 10 I am confident in the Lord that you will take no other view. The one who is throwing you into confusion, whoever that may be, will have to pay the penalty.” The problem is we have Christians running full speed ahead, totally oblivious they are not running the race marked out for them as they have taken another view. Jeremiah 8:4 “Say to them, ‘This is what the LORD says: “When people fall down, do they not get up? When someone turns away, do they not return? 5 Why then have these people turned away? Why does Jerusalem always turn away? They cling to deceit; they refuse to return. 6 I have listened attentively, but they do not say what is right. None of them repent of their wickedness, saying, “What have I done?” Each pursues their own course like a horse charging into battle. 7 Even the stork in the sky knows her appointed seasons, and the dove, the swift and the thrush observe the time of their migration. But my people do not know the requirements of the LORD.”
                Let us get back to the word of God and run with perseverance in the right direction. We must be very careful to follow in the right way. Proverbs 2:16 “Wisdom will save you also from the adulterous woman, from the wayward woman with her seductive words, 17 who has left the partner of her youth and ignored the covenant she made before God. 18 Surely her house leads down to death and her paths to the spirits of the dead. 19 None who go to her return or attain the paths of life.” Hebrews 12:3 “Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”