Today's Bible Reading
     I Samuel 28
     I Corinthians 9
     Ezekiel 7
     Psalms 45
      ''And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown." (I Corinthians 9:25)
      I enjoy watching the Winter Olympics. I am always thrilled by what I see and feel from the Olympic games. To see the athletes, who have trained for many, many years with great discipline, excel in their sport and receive the medals of gold, silver, and bronze is a thrilling experience. The apostle Paul was exactly right; however, when he reminded us that their reward is a perishable medal. The child of God has something far better waiting for him.
Paul often used athletics, and specifically the Greek games to illustrate the spiritual race of the believer. He reminds us that they ran to win a perishable crown, but we an imperishable crown. (verse 25) No young man could compete in the games unless he was a Greek citizen born of Greek parents. Only those born into the Family of God can participate in the service of the Lord for rewards; no unsaved person is eligible.
      Just as the athlete in Paul 's day and in the modem Olympic games must deny himself many gratifications of the body, so the Christian must ''discipline his body and bring it into subjection," or he will be disqualified. (verse 27) He will not lose his salvation but he can lose his rewards.
      The Greek games had rigid rules for all participants. The New Testament contains the rules for believers who would enter the spiritual race to win the ''imperishable crown."
1.     We must deny anything in the world that would weigh us down and hold us back. (Hebrews 12:1)
2.     We must keep our eyes fixed on Jesus who is our goal and our reward. (Hebrews 12:22)
3.     We must find our strength in the Lord. (Ephesians 6:10-18)
4.     We must place everything on the altar of the Lord. (Romans 12: 1-2)
5.     We must, by faith, refuse anything that would impede spiritual progress. (Hebrews 11:24-29)
      I often hear believers say that they will be satisfied just to be in Heaven and don't need the reward. I disagree, and desire the biggest and brightest crown available. My desire for this crown is not because I deserve it, or ever will, but this is the crown I will lay at the feet of Jesus who alone is worthy of it.
      So we are encouraged today, not to be spiritual spectators, but to enter the race to win the imperishable crown.
Perhaps the most fascinating thing to me about the Olympic Games is that every year, the Olympic torch is passed along from one runner to another until it lights the huge cauldron that bums brightly above the games. It is a great honor for a person to be chosen to carry the torch and to pass it on to the next runner. The most honored person, however, is the one who takes the torch and lights the cauldron. The object is that the Olympic flame will never stop burning. It is our great joy as servants of our Lord to not only carry the torch and to hold it high, but to pass it along to the generation following us.
It is our Christian responsibility to pass the torch of God's light to the next generation. We must be winners and develop a new generation of winners.  Pass the torch today!
      Pray today for the gypsy community found mostly in Eastern Europe and especially in places like Bosnia and Romania. These people are largely Muslim gypsy in most of the countries of Eastern Europe, but they are responding in great number. The sadness is that while they are responding to the Gospel, they are very slow in spiritual growth, maturity, and the integrity lifestyle that will make them a strong witness for Christ. As you pray today, pray for the gypsies throughout the world.
      ''It is a mistake to suppose that men succeed through success; they much more often succeed through failures."
Samuel Smiles