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Before the game: Give each player a Ping-Pong ball, colored pencils, and/or permanent colored markers. Have the players decorate their Ping-Pong balls. If you are studying a particular theme, have players draw designs to coordinate with it. Players may draw their own free-style designs or write their names on them.
Set up: Designate a course for your race. It should be wide enough for all the players to line up at the start line side by side, and approximately 15' in length. It needs to be a smooth course, preferably a low-pile carpeted area. Mark off a start line and a finish line at the opposite end of your course. Give each player a straw and the Ping-Pong ball they decorated.
How to play: At the go, players use their straws to blow their Ping-Pong balls to the finish line. The players that get to the finish line first must cheer on the other players to finish. All players win. The point of the game is for everyone to finish the race.
After the game:
We did not have a single winner. The point of the game was to finish the race. If you finished, then you won! The Apostle Paul wrote in his second letter to Timothy, "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day--and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing" (2 Timothy 4:7-8).
Paul was writing to Timothy to encourage him to continue faithfully serving the LORD. Paul was looking back over his life, and like an athlete describing a successful contest, he wanted Timothy to know he had "finished his race" he was nearing the end of his life and had "kept his faith in God." An athlete is required to lead a disciplined life by exercising, eating the right foods, practicing his or her sport, and never giving up on the goal to win. In the same way, Paul never gave up following Jesus and putting his faith into practice. But most importantly, Jesus never gave up on him. The Bible says, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you" (Hebrews 13:5) Paul was looking forward to receiving the crown of righteousness as his reward! He also kept in mind that Jesus was going to come back to earth again, the verse says . . . to all who have longed for his appearing.
Would you like to receive this crown of righteousness too? To be righteous means to be made perfect, to be made "right." The Bible tells us that we are made righteous by faith in God. To have faith in God means to trust or believe in him. The Bible says, "This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe" Romans 3:22.
What is it that God wants us to believe and trust in? The Bible says, "I want to remind you of the gospel (the Good News) I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. . . that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures. . ." 1Corinthians 15:1-4.
The Bible says, "If you confess with your mouth, 'Jesus is Lord,' and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved" Romans 10:9-10.
In our game, "Off To The Races," some people made it to the finish line first, but everyone finished. In the same way, some people will make it to Heaven before we do. As we move through this life, we will oftentimes be further along than others in our "race" towards heaven. It is during those times that we can encourage and cheer on our friends to stay on track and finish their race just like we did in our game when we cheered on our friends.
It is a matter of life and eternal death to make sure we finish our race here on earth and make it across the finish line into Heaven. Stay on track, and finish the race God has set out for you.
Pray: Dear Jesus, thank you that you died for us to forgive our sins. Thank you for rising from the dead to give us eternal life in heaven. Thank you for making us right with God. Help us to not grow weak, but to finish our race strong. Help us to follow you in all our ways. Amen.
Copyright 2002 Sarah A. Keith
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