Daily Bible Readings:
Monday, November 21. Read 2 Corinthians 11:24-29. 1) In this text, Paul tells the Corinthians church what he suffered in order to be Jesus’ disciple. Name some of the things that happened to him. 2) In verse 30 he explains his relationship with weakness. What can you learn from Paul?
Tuesday, November 22. Read Philippians 2:5-8. 1) What model for our own thinking and faith should we have? 2) To what lengths did Jesus’ faith take him?
Wednesday, November 23. Read Hebrews 10:32-36. 1) What was happening to the readers of this letter? 2) What did the writer tell them to do in verse 35?
Thursday, November 24. Read James 2:23-26. 1) Why was Abraham considered by God to be righteous? 2) What were the components of that according to verse 24?
Friday, November 25. Read 1 Peter 1:10-12. 1) What were the prophets trying to find out? 2) Were they able to discover that, or did they have to just trust that God knew what God was doing?
Saturday, November 26. Read Hebrews 11:29-12:2. This is Sunday’s sermon text.
Prayer for the Week:
O God, it is, at times, so easy to give up. Especially when things become uncertain or disappointing. We know, however, that nothing is ever accomplished by those who give up. So fill us with your courage and your vision. May we remain strong and faithful to you. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Hymn of the Week:
Awake, my soul, stretch every nerve
by Philip Doddridge, 1755
Awake, my soul, stretch every nerve,
And press with vigor on;
A heavenly race demands thy zeal,
And an immortal crown.
A cloud of witnesses around
Hold thee in full survey;
Forget the steps already trod,
And onward urge thy way.
‘Tis God’s all-animating voice
That calls thee from on high;
‘Tis His own hand presents the prize
To thine aspiring eye.
That prize, with peerless glories bright,
Which shall new lustre boast
When victors’ wreaths and monarchs’ gems
Shall blend in common dust.
Blest Savior, introduced by Thee,
Have I my race begun;
And crowned with victory at Thy feet
I’ll lay my honors down.
Devotional Article of the Week:
Eyes on the Prize
When is finishing third actually about winning?
by Larry Zinck
Although I enjoy sports and athletic events, I wasn’t able to watch much of the Olympics this year. I also missed the final event, the marathon, on Sunday. But since I live in Brazil, I have seen the tape of the race on television several times in the past 24 hours.
Italy’s Stefano Baldini won the gold medal with a time of 2 hours, 10 minutes and 55 seconds. American, Meb Keflezighi crossed the finish line 34 seconds later and took the silver medal. Brazilian, Vanderlei Cordeiro de Lima, got the bronze medal with a time of 2 hours, 12 minutes and 11 seconds.
However, we will never know how the race would have ended had Vanderlei, who was leading the race at the time, not been tackled by Cornelius Horan, a defrocked Irish priest, about three miles from the finish in Sunday’s race. Horan, was wearing a red kilt, knee-high green socks and a sign attached to his back stating: “The Grand Prix Priest; Israel Fulfillment of Prophecy Says the Bible” when he attacked Vanderlei Lima, knocking him into the crowd.
Vanderlei stated: “I was scared, because I didn’t know whether he was armed with a knife, or something and whether he was going to kill me.”
“I don’t blame the Olympic Committee. It would be impossible to have police watching everything. And having the public close to the race serves as an incentive to the athletes. I’m not going to cry forever about the incident, although it broke my concentration. If you stop in a marathon, you struggle the next three or four kilometers. It’s hard to get your rhythm back. But I managed to finish and the bronze medal in such a difficult marathon is also a great achievement. My joy is greater than my anger.”
I don’t know of anyone, even here in Brazil, who expected Vanderlei to win a medal in Athens. That is, no one expected it except Vanderlei himself. Vanderlei’s previous Olympic best was 41st place in Atlanta. (He won marathons in Tokyo in 1996, in Sâo Paulo in 2002 and in Hamburg in 2004.) But, Vanderlei entered the marathon in Athens determined to bring home a medal.
Vanderlei drew cheers from the crowd in the Olympic stadium and with a big smile on his face spread his arms like wings and weaved from side to side as he crossed the finish line. After the race, Vanderlei said in an interview: “I think the Olympic spirit prevailed and I prevailed. I was able to show that determination wins races.”
What would you have done if you had been attacked and knocked down towards the end of marathon? Most of us can’t begin to answer that question because we have never even started a marathon, much less finished one. Although I don’t know Vanderlei personally, by what he said in the interviews, I believe that he was only able to come back and finish the race because of his resolve to win.
In Hebrews 12:1-3, the Bible says the following:
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
Jesus, our Lord, set an example for us when He overcame great obstacles and endured tremendous suffering by looking ahead to the joy the Father had promised. By looking to Jesus, you and I can do the same in our challenges.
I’m sure that life has already knocked you down several times and it will probably happen again. However, you can get back up again if you will remember everything the Father has promised you. Don’t let life’s knockdowns and surprise attacks sidetrack you. Stay focused. Remember your purpose. Don’t ever quit. Keep your eyes on the Lord and His glorious promises.
Could Vanderlei have won the gold had he not been knocked down? We’ll never know. (Stefano Baldini and Meb Keflezighi were already gaining ground on Vanderlei before the incident.) But in my book, anyone who can get up and shake off adversity and still finish a race with poise and a smile on his face is a gold medal winner.
Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:13-14)