Here are links to text and audio for the sermons mentioned above. Note that I adjusted the topics and titles from what I had originally planned. I've pasted the first few paragraphs of the last sermon below.
July 27 "Are You a Runner? Discipline and Consistency in the Race of Faith" audio pdf
August 3 "Train Through Pain Yet with Joy for the Race of Faith" audio pdf
August 10 "Stay Focused and Alert During the Race of Faith" audio pdf
August 17 "Work Hard Yet Relax During the Race of Faith" audio pdf
August 24 "Maintain Your Form and Finish Well in the Race of Faith" audio pdf
Many expected the Beijing Olympic marathon to be slow, as runner after runner would succumb to the pollution on top of high heat and humidity. So when this morning the leaders took off at close to world record pace, a number of runners - including the top Americans, Dathan Ritzenheim and Ryan Hall - decided around three miles that that was suicidal, and backed off, hoping to run a slower, more even pace, and pick off stragglers. Such tactics had worked well in a number of past Olympic marathons.
But not today. Sammy Wanjiru of Kenya had other plans. He had prepared for these conditions. When the day dawned quite clear for Beijing, he was confident he could run a fast pace all the way to the end.
And he did. With a little over two miles to go he picked up the pace - and immediately dropped his last competitor. Running smoothly, relaxed and strong, he entered the stadium with a large lead. The crowd roared, cheering him on. He celebrated as he ran the last quarter mile on the track. Sammy Wanjiru finished well.
Our question this morning: Will you also finish well?
To get the gold medal, you have to finish the race. The marathon is 26 miles 385 yards. If you stop at 26 miles, 384 yards, you do not win - no matter how far ahead you are at that point.
The 1954 Commonwealth Games are remembered not only for the Miracle Mile between Bannister and Landy that I mentioned two weeks ago, but also for a case of NOT finishing well. The WR holder for the marathon, an Englishman, Jim Peters, set a pace in hot and humid conditions no one else cared to match. He entered the stadium with a huge lead - at least 10 minutes. He had run more than 26 miles. But with only half a lap to go, he collapsed. He got up and fell six times. He tried to crawl. But he did not make it to the finish line. He was rushed to hospital - and though he recovered his health and lived until 1999, he never raced again.
For the last several weeks we have been considering the biblical images of running the race of faith.
We have seen that we must first decide: Am I a runner? If so: We must be consistent and disciplined in our training. We must battle our besetting sins, whatever they may be. We must stay alert to the unexpected temptations and hindrances that Satan throws in our path. Yet we must not focus on dealing with sin - we must keep our eyes fixed on Jesus as our joy, as the one with power to help us complete the race, and on his return. We also must work hard to rest in Christ, actively depending on Him always. Jesus doesn’t want our toiling. He wants our trust. So that is our main work. Our tasks are then done in dependence on Him; we pull the yoke by His power. He is responsible for the outcome.
Today, as we finish this series, we look at the finish line, using 2 Timothy 4:6-8 as our text.