June 1, 2017
1 Corinthians 15:57 - But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Five gold medals, 12 bronze and silver medals: that was the medal count prophecy made by a North Korean official at the Summer Olympics in Rio. Putting the prognostication in Christian terms, that official had made a "blind leap of faith." After all, at the London Olympics, his country had picked up a total of six medals.
Now there were a number of reasons he was sure they would increase their medal count:
1. The nation's leader had promised the winners they would receive new cars, new TVs, and better apartments.
2. He knew if South Korea defeated them it would be a great national and personal disgrace.
3. Most importantly, the North Korean Olympians knew their national leader had a bit of a temper. After the previous Olympics, the nation's leaders had given all those perks to the winners, but the losers, ah, the losers were a different matter.
In most countries, when a local athlete doesn't bring home any hardware they are still applauded. True, they may not sign a multi-million dollar endorsement with a sports equipment company, but they are still acknowledged as having competed with the world's greatest athletes.
Yes, that's what happens in most countries. In North Korea, things are different. How different? After the last Olympics, North Korea's President Kim Jong-un took away the nice apartments, cut the rations, and cut down the athlete's gym time -- and that's what he did to the lucky ones.
The unlucky ones were sentenced to two years of hard labor in North Korea's coal mines. Really! While there two of the Winter Olympians died; others suffered respiratory failure.
Now I can't tell you what happened after this last Olympics. I can tell you that the medal count prophecy quoted above fell flat. North Korea came home with two golds, three silvers, and two bronze medals. In contrast, South Korea won nine gold, three silver, and nine bronze.
I doubt if the President was amused by his athlete's failures and shortcomings.
Writing this devotion, I cannot tell you how thankful I am that our Triune God doesn't act like North Korea's diminutive Dictator. God could have done just that, you know. In the creation He had given us everything we needed to succeed: a perfect home, a perfect everything.
It was a perfection we tossed to the side as we listened to the serpent's sly suggestions. Again and again, God provided the means and method for His people to be winners, and every time they managed to pull defeat from the jaws of victory.
We were hopeless, spiritual losers.
This is why the Father sent His perfect Son into this world. Everywhere we had lost, Jesus won. He fulfilled the Law perfectly. He bested Satan completely, and He even conquered the grave. Now, because of what Jesus has done, all who are given faith in Him are cleansed of their sins and are made winners.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, I give thanks for the victory the Savior has won for me on the cross and at the empty tomb. May I live as if that victory mattered -- because it does. In Jesus' Name I pray. Amen.
The above devotion was inspired by a number of sources, including one written by Jamie Butler for Weird Asia News. Those who wish to reference that article may do so at the following link which was fully functional at the time this devotion was written. Please click here
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries