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Nov 20- Running the Race

I have never been a farmer or a soldier. I imagine I am not alone. Because of this, when the Bible uses these as metaphors for living in faith, I can understand them, but only to a point. I can understand them conceptually, but not experientially. But when Paul talks about an athlete training or running a race—now, that’s a different story.

While I am far from being a great athlete (OK, pretty far from even being a good one), I have played sports and I run. I imagine I am not alone. Many of us can relate to this metaphor more than the others. Our kids included.

As you talk with your kids about how the Christian life is like running a race, you might find it helpful to keep three core requirements of a race in mind:

1. A Goal

Imagine a race where everyone ran in different directions. How crazy would that be? That wouldn’t be racing, but just running near one another.

No, a race requires a goal—a finish line. As you run, that goal needs to be before you. Literal in some ways—if you take your eyes off of it, you might find yourself running in the wrong direction. Figurative in other ways—sometimes when you want to quit, remembering your goal, or seeing that it is not as far away as you might have thought, can make all of the difference.

Sometimes when I am on my weekly long run, I imagine how good it will feel to finish—to have accomplished running the distance I set out to run and to be able to rest, drink a sports drink, and eat some food. That post-run feeling of accomplishment and euphoria helps me to keep slogging through the steps, yards, and miles still in front of me.

For us as believers, this means that we have to keep the goal of knowing Christ and being like Him always in front of us. How helpful it is to consider hearing Him say, “Well done, My good and faithful servant!” to us when we cross the finish line and enter our rest.

2. Effort

But just thinking about the finish line doesn’t get us to it. I wish it were that easy when running. No, running requires effort, or exertion. Running is work. Driving your mind and body to place that next foot down on the pavement, push off, and lift it again as the other is placed down. And it is not a matter of just doing this thousands of times, but doing it quickly and with power. Running is hard, sometimes painful work, which is why not everyone does it.

The same is true when it comes to the Christian life. Yes, the Holy Spirit empowers us, but we still yield to Him as we practice the spiritual disciplines and fulfill the work Christ has given us. Few people just happen to find themselves running a race without thinking about it and setting out to do it. Fewer people find themselves living the Christian faith with little to no effort either.

3. Endurance

Most of us can run hard and fast (relatively) for a short distance. But running, and winning, a race takes more than that. It takes sustained effort, or endurance. The ability to persevere—to continue putting down right foot after left foot and back again over, and over, and over, and over.

There are times when I set out to run, say ten miles, but only log eight before quitting. The reason is usually not because I physically cannot run ten miles, but because I run out of endurance. My mind starts arguing with my body, telling it is has no business doing what it is doing. And at some point, I give up. I quit. I run out of endurance.

There are so many times in the Christian life when we will feel like we cannot handle what is before us. We will want to give in to sin. We will want to abandon how we are serving Christ. Endurance is the one thing that keeps us going to complete the Christian life that has been likened more to a marathon than a sprint.

This week, help your kids value the goal, understand the effort, and call on Christ and one another to find the endurance they need to run, and win, the race before them.

*Devo from Pastor Brian, from The Gospel Project.

#JesusJams for today!

---> And here's this week's story!!

Christ Connection: Following Jesus is like running a race you cannot lose to get a wonderful prize that has already been won for you. Jesus never sinned but He chose to die on the cross so we can have forgiveness of our sins. We can live to know Jesus and share in His victory forever and ever.
If you have a bible at your house, you'll be turning to Philippians 3 . If you don't have a Bible, that's okay! CLICK HERE!

OPTION 1: Decorate Gold medal necklaces

Give each kid a yellow paper plate and a 2-foot long cut of ribbon. Provide markers, stickers, jewels, etc to decorate their God medal necklace! When everyone has finished decorating their necklace, invite kids to wear their medals and present them to the group.

SAY • I'm sure any Olympian would be honored to wear one of your gold medals! While we are running the race of the christian life, we might be discouraged sometimes at the hard times or trouble we face. But Paul reminds us that there is a prize waiting for us! We are to press on toward the prize of living for eternity with Jesus! How will Heaven be like a prize?

OPTION 2: Train for a race Lead preschoolers in exercises runners use to train, such as squats, lunges, jumps, heel raises, planks, or side shuffles. If weather and space permits, consider going outside to a grassy area and leading preschoolers to race a few at a time.

SAY • Following Jesus is like running a race you cannot lose to get a wonderful prize that has already been won for you. Jesus never sinned, but He chose to die on the cross so we can have forgiveness of our sins. We can live to know Jesus and share in His victory forever and ever.

OPTION 3: Write with Yarn Use glue to write "Joy" on a sheet of construction paper for each preschooler. Give each child a 1-foot length of yarn and blunt-tipped scissors. Invite children to cut the yarn and lay it in the glue to form the letters. SAY • Paul wrote that true joy comes only from knowing Jesus. God brings people into His family and wants them to know Jesus more and more. The more we know Jesus, the more like him we become. So, what is sanctification? Sanctification is how God makes us more like Jesus.

OPTION 4: Share what you know about Jesus Form a circle on the floor. Hold a ball and tell something you know about Jesus. Then roll the ball to a preschooler. Ask the preschooler to tell something she knows about Jesus. Be prepared to offer suggestions. After she shares, guide her to roll the ball to another preschooler. Continue rolling the ball and telling about Jesus as time allows.

SAY • Paul wrote that following Jesus is like running a race. Paul said he ran after the goal of knowing Jesus. This is a heavenly prize that Jesus won for us when He died on the cross to rescue people from sin. We can live to know Jesus and share in His victory forever and ever.




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