The 2016 Olympics

Rio Olympics 2016

The 2016 Olympics are over. The flame is out. The venues are empty. The athletes—those sporting medals and those simply proud to forever be called Olympians—have left Rio. I enthusiastically watched many of the competing individuals and teams as they gave of their best after years of sacrifice. Of course I shouted encouragement to those from my country, but I also wanted the tired Russian diver to finish just a little better. And the tiny girl from Brazil to score just a little higher.

In my family, especially among the female members of the family, I’m considered something of an anomaly: a woman, and not a young woman, who truly enjoys the sport of “spectating.” Except for listening to baseball and football games on the radio with my dad, there is nothing in my background to account for this interest. I was known in my grade school for being the last chosen for any softball team but the best scorekeeper the school had ever known! I attended our son’s football and soccer games, praying that he wouldn’t be hurt, cheering that he run faster, catch balls cleanly, protect the goal with determination.

What was it that captured my attention in these 2016 Olympics? It was that first night when my heart beat fast, tears threatening to fall. It was watching over 11,000 sports women and men from countries around the world flow into the Rio stadium, some smiling, some more stoic, flags waving, crowds cheering. A few countries had scores of competing athletes; the country of Tuvalu (a Polynesian island nation) sent one athlete to Rio.

As they marched, I thought of another “Olympic-sized” event yet to come. A man gifted-by-God had a vision, one recorded for all to see:

After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice: ‘Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.’ (Revelation 7:9-10)

From the beginning of time, it has been God’s determined purpose, a purpose shaped out of a heart of love, that people from every nation would parade into His presence, finally understanding how great was that love, how profound the sacrifice bringing them into that presence.

Yes, I enjoyed the Olympics and as I let my sanctified imagination flow, I dream of the parade of nations to end all parades.

Father of all nations, help me remember these Olympic games so they enliven my imagination to pray for the people who do not yet know you personally. Prompt me to love more, give more, speak more so that you on your throne can be glorified.

By Marilyn Ehle

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Liberty

Devotional on True Freedom

“… to preach deliverance to the captives …” Luke 4:18 (KJV)

No one but Jesus can give deliverance to captives. Real liberty comes from Him alone.

It is a liberty righteously bestowed. The Son, who is Heir of all things, has a right to set people free. The saints honor the justice of God, which secures their salvation.

It is a liberty which has been dearly purchased. Christ speaks it by His power, but He bought it by His blood. He makes you free, but it is by His own bonds. You are free and clear, because He bore your burden for you. You have liberty because He has suffered in your place. But, though dearly purchased, He freely gives it. Jesus asks nothing of us as a preparation for this liberty. He finds us sitting in sackcloth and ashes, and encourages us to put on the beautiful array of freedom. He saves us just as we are, and all without our help or merit.

When Jesus sets free, the liberty is perpetually entailed. No chains can bind us again. Let the Master say to me, “Captive, I have delivered you,” and it is done for ever. Satan may plot to enslave us, but if the Lord is on our side, whom shall we fear? The world, with its temptations, may seek to ensnare us, but mightier is He who is for us than all they who are against us. The machinations of our own deceitful hearts may harass and annoy us, but He who has begun the good work in us will carry it on and perfect it to the end. The foes of God and the enemies of man may gather their forces together, and come with concentrated fury against us, but if God acquits, who is he that condemns? Not more free is the eagle which mounts to his rocky nest and out soars the clouds than the soul Christ has delivered.

If we are no longer under the law, but free from its curse, let our liberty be practically exhibited in our serving God with gratitude and delight. “O LORD, truly I am your servant; I am your servant, the son of your maidservant; you have freed me from my chains.” (Psalm 116:16) Ask: “Lord, what would You have me do?”

Question: If true freedom is not total lack of restraint, but the divine enabling of being all we were meant to be, why does the Christian life sometimes feel restrictive?

Originally written by Charles H. Spurgeon. Updated to modern English by Darren Hewer 2010.

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