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ne of the toughest and most grueling foot races is the marathon. The 42 km (26-mile) run is a test of sheer stamina, endurance, and speed. All marathoners train to go the distance, to finish strong, to the finishing line. In September 2008 in the Berlin Marathon, Haile Gebrselassie of Ethiopia completed the 42 km race in a record time of 2 hours 3 minutes and 59 seconds, at an average pace of under 2:57 per kilometre (4:44 per mile) or an average speed of over 20.4 km/h (12.6 mph). As believers in Jesus Christ, we are running in a different marathon. In this race of life, we too are judged not by how we start, but by how we finish. And we are to keep running “with endurance the race God has set before us” (Heb. 12:1). As the apostle Paul continues into the last lap of this race, he could confidently say, “I have finished the race” (2 Tim. 4:7). This selection of Our Daily Bread articles is designed with the desire to help you run and complete the race. We want you to be able to say, “I have finished the race” and to look forward to receiving the prize awaiting everyone who finishes this race—the crown of righteousness (v.8).

WRITERS: Dave Branon, Bill Crowder, Mart De Haan, Dave Egner, David C. McCasland, Haddon Robinson, David H. Roper

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS: Managing Editor: Tim Gustafson Editor: Sim Kay Tee Graphic Design: Alex Soh, Joshua Tan Photography: Alex Soh, Stock.xchng

All Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright 1996, 2004. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.


fixed destiny It is by His great mercy that we have been born again… and we have a priceless inheritance—an inheritance that is kept in heaven. —1 Peter 1:3-4

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number of years ago, Jim Kaat, a star pitcher for the Minnesota Twins baseball team, was asked by a sportswriter what it meant to be a Christian and a professional athlete. Kaat answered by relating an experience that had taken place on the pitcher’s mound a couple of weeks earlier. It was at the end of a crucial game—a game the Twins needed to win if they were to have a chance at the league championship. Kaat needed to get only one more batter out and the Twins would win the game. He said that as he prepared to throw the ball the thought went through his mind, I’m sure glad my destiny isn’t riding on this next pitch! When we receive Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord, we are born again into the forever family of God. At that moment we are given an eternal inheritance, “a priceless inheritance . . . that is kept in heaven . . . beyond the reach of change and decay” (1 Peter 1:4). Furthermore, Peter assured us that God is protecting us by His power (v.5). God will guard our souls to the end. So, we may live freely as children of God, having a bold confidence rooted in the character and word of our heavenly Father. Our destiny is not riding on the next “pitch” we make. Through faith, it is forever fixed in heaven. —David Roper Redemption! Oh, wonderful story— Glad message for you and for me, That Jesus has purchased our pardon, And paid all the debt on the tree. —Sayford Our salvation is secure because God does the holding.

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1 peter 1:3-5 3 All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by His great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation, 4 and we have a priceless inheritance— an inheritance that is kept in

heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay. 5 And through your faith, God is protecting you by His power until you receive this salvation, which is ready to be revealed on the last day for all to see.


from here to heaven For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things He planned for us long ago. —Ephesians 2:10

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ro athletes and coaches sometimes get something for nothing. Let’s say a coach signs a 3-year contract, and the team agrees to pay him $1 million a year. But in his first season, the team is terrible and management fires him. So, the coach leaves but still has 2 more years of pay coming to him. He gets the next $2 million without doing a thing. We as Christians have to be careful that we don’t view our saving faith like that. We must never think, “Hey, I’m saved. I’ve got eternal riches coming my way. I don’t have to do anything for God.” That’s partially right but very wrong. In one regard, our journey from here to heaven is paid for in full by Jesus’ sacrifice. There’s nothing we can do to earn salvation. But there’s another part of this that we must consider. In Ephesians 2:8-9, after Paul clearly says that we do not have to “do” anything and that salvation is a “gift from God,” he goes on. Verse 10 says we indeed have a job to do. As believers, we are created in Christ Jesus for good works. God has tasks planned for us to do while we are on this earth—not to pay our debt but to honor our Savior. Life from here to heaven is not a vacation cruise—it’s a wonderful privilege and calling to serve God. —Dave Branon We’re saved by grace through faith alone, Good works can have no part; But God rewards each loving deed That’s done with all our heart. —D. De Haan We are not saved by good works but for good works.

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ephesians 2:1-10 Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins. 2 You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil—the commander of the powers in the unseen world. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God. 3 All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature. By our very nature we were subject to God’s anger, just like everyone else. 4 But God is so rich in mercy, and He loved us so much, 5 that even though we were dead because of our sins, He gave us life when He raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!) 6 For He raised 1

us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus. 7 So God can point to us in all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of His grace and kindness toward us, as shown in all He has done for us who are united with Christ Jesus. 8 God saved you by His grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. 9 Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. 10 For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things He planned for us long ago.


dual citizenship But we are citizens of heaven. —Philippians 3:20

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ne of the terms used often during the 1992 Summer Olympics by television sports commentators was dual citizenship. One athlete with dual citizenship was a swimmer named Martin Zubero. He was born in the United States, where he has lived nearly all of his life. He attended the University of Florida and trained for competition in the US. However, he was swimming under the colors of Spain. Why? His father is a citizen of Spain and so Martin is too. At the Olympics, he chose to represent his father’s nation, to which he felt greater allegiance. Christians too have dual citizenship. We are citizens of this world, no matter what nation we live in, and as followers of Christ we are also citizens of heaven (Phil. 3:20). We have all the rights and privileges that accompany being a child of God. He is not only our heavenly Father but our King, and our first loyalty must be to His kingdom. Sometimes our dual citizenship presents us with a crucial choice. With whose “flag” will we identify? There should be no doubt about it. We are no longer to live for earthly things (v.19) but give allegiance to our heavenly Father. Does a watching world know that we are marching under the flag of the King of kings and Lord of lords? —Dave Egner For the Christian, life is simple, Having but one single aim: To receive his Lord’s approval, Doing all in His dear name. —Chisholm Although we live in this world, we must declare our allegiance to heaven.

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philippians 3:17-21 Dear brothers and sisters, pattern your lives after mine, and learn from those who follow our example. 18 For I have told you often before, and I say it again with tears in my eyes, that there are many whose conduct shows they are really enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 They are headed for destruction. Their god is their appetite, they brag about shameful things, and 17

they think only about this life here on earth. 20 But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for Him to return as our Savior. 21 He will take our weak mortal bodies and change them into glorious bodies like His own, using the same power with which He will bring everything under His control.


new ideas needed Yes, I try to find common ground with everyone, doing everything I can to save some. —1 Corinthians 9:22

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n Jamaica, every kid knows about pushcarts. They are wooden crates-on-wheels that people all over the island nation fix up the best they can so they can race them headlong down steep hills in competition. Pushcart races are an exciting part of the culture of this tropical land. One day a couple of guys had an idea. If pushcart racers could drive these carts down hills at breakneck speeds, why not use the same skills to race a bobsled in the Olympics? Why not, indeed! With that, the famous Jamaican bobsled team was born. Through innovation and hard work, a sport that cannot possibly be competed in the land of sun and beaches became a new symbol of Jamaica. What a few Jamaicans did in their homeland, all of us as Christians should be willing to do—think of new, innovative ways to use the tools we have. And in the case of our churches, we’re not talking about something as temporary as sports— we’re talking about making an eternal difference. Paul said that we should use all means so that we can save some. That means we have to be creative. What a difference each of us could make by spending time thinking of new ways to reach our community with the gospel. You can do it! —Dave Branon The love of Christ has freed us, Has lifted us from shame; Now we should do as He did, And reach out in His name. —Egner The next person you meet may need to meet Christ.

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1 corinthians 9:16-23 Yet preaching the Good News is not something I can boast about. I am compelled by God to do it. How terrible for me if I didn’t preach the Good News! 17 If I were doing this on my own initiative, I would deserve payment. But I have no choice, for God has given me this sacred trust. 18 What then is my pay? It is the opportunity to preach the Good News without charging anyone. That’s why I never demand my rights when I preach the Good News. 19 Even though I am a free man with no master, I have become a slave to all people to bring many to Christ. 20 When I was with the Jews, I lived like a Jew to bring the Jews to Christ. When I was with those

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who follow the Jewish law, I too lived under that law. Even though I am not subject to the law, I did this so I could bring to Christ those who are under the law. 21 When I am with the Gentiles who do not follow the Jewish law, I too live apart from that law so I can bring them to Christ. But I do not ignore the law of God; I obey the law of Christ. 22 When I am with those who are weak, I share their weakness, for I want to bring the weak to Christ. Yes, I try to find common ground with everyone, doing everything I can to save some. 23 I do everything to spread the Good News and share in its blessings.


fast feet The Sovereign Lord is my strength! He makes me as surefooted as a deer, able to tread upon the heights. —Habakkuk 3:19

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hile in Chile for a Bible conference, I was resting at the hotel when a rugby match came on the television. Though I don’t fully understand rugby, I enjoy it and admire the courage it takes to play such a dangerous sport. During the match, one of the French players was injured and had to be taken to the sidelines. As the trainers attended to him, the camera showed a closeup of his shoes. With a black marker the player had written the words: “Habakkuk 3:19” and “Jesus is the way.” Those expressions of faith and hope were a strong testimony of that young athlete’s priorities and values. The verse cited on that rugby player’s shoes is not just one of heavenly hope and persevering faith. It is one of practical value—especially to an athlete dependent on speed for success. It says, “The Sovereign Lord is my strength! He makes me as surefooted as a deer, able to tread upon the heights.” In all of life, we need the strength and supply of our God. He alone can give us “feet” that are swift and strong. He alone can equip us for all of the uncertainties of life, for He alone is our strength. With Paul, we can be assured: “This same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs” (Phil. 4:19).   —Bill Crowder In You, O Lord, I take delight, My every need You will supply; I long to do what’s true and right, So, Lord, on You I will rely.  —D. De Haan

We always have enough when God is our supply.

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philippians 4:10-19 How I praise the Lord that you are concerned about me again. I know you have always been concerned for me, but you didn’t have the chance to help me. 11 Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. 12 I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. 13 For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength. 14 Even so, you have done well to share with me in my present difficulty. 15 As you know, you Philippians were the only ones who gave me financial help when I first brought you the 10

Good News and then traveled on from Macedonia. No other church did this. 16 Even when I was in Thessalonica you sent help more than once. 17 I don’t say this because I want a gift from you. Rather, I want you to receive a reward for your kindness. 18 At the moment I have all I need—and more! I am generously supplied with the gifts you sent me with Epaphroditus. They are a sweet-smelling sacrifice that is acceptable and pleasing to God. 19 And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from His glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.


fickle followers And the people all around Him were shouting, “Praise God for the Son of David!” —Matthew 21:9

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f you follow sports at all, you know that sports fans can change like the weather. A team’s star player can hear 70,000 cheering voices if he does well—or 70,000 booing voices if he messes up. Sports figures easily fall from grace because people are fickle—eager to follow the one who makes them feel good, yet willing to turn against that same person if all does not go well. Scripture contains an example of fickleness that is far more serious. A great multitude in Jerusalem praised, honored, and cheered Jesus on the Sunday He entered the city riding on a donkey (Matt. 21:6-11). But just a few days later, some of those same people may have been in the crowd calling for Jesus’ crucifixion (27:20-23). On Sunday they worshiped Him, but on Friday they didn’t want Him around anymore. Let’s not waver in our relationship with the Lord. Sometimes we worship Jesus heartily on Sunday, but the very next day we live as if we find His presence intrusive. Or we tell Him on Sunday that we love Him, but then we fail to obey Him throughout the week. Don’t be a fickle follower of Jesus. Worship Him every day— not just on Sunday. —Dave Branon Let’s not be fickle followers Who say they love the Lord But live each day ignoring Him And His life-giving Word. —Sper Worshiping God should be a full-time experience.

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matthew 27:15-23 Now it was the governor’s custom each year during the Passover celebration to release one prisoner to the crowd— anyone they wanted. 16 This year there was a notorious prisoner, a man named Barabbas. 17 As the crowds gathered before Pilate’s house that morning, he asked them, “Which one do you want me to release to you—Barabbas, or Jesus who is called the Messiah?” 18 (He knew very well that the religious leaders had arrested Jesus out of envy.) 19 Just then, as Pilate was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent him this message: “Leave that innocent man alone. I suffered through a terrible nightmare about Him 15

last night.” 20 Meanwhile, the leading priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas to be released and for Jesus to be put to death. 21 So the governor asked again, “Which of these two do you want me to release to you?” The crowd shouted back, “Barabbas!” 22 Pilate responded, “Then what should I do with Jesus who is called the Messiah?” They shouted back, “Crucify Him!” 23 “Why?” Pilate demanded. “What crime has He committed?” But the mob roared even louder, “Crucify Him!”


time off And our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son, Jesus Christ. —1 John 1:3

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s there such a thing as a superstar Christian who is so close to God or so godly that he can take time off in his relationship with God? The idea sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it? It’s absurd to think that our walk with God is anything but continual, everyday, all-thetime. But in reality, don’t we sometimes go our own way and neglect our fellowship with Him? This principle has a parallel in the world of sports. Grant Hill, a superstar professional basketball player, made this comment about his off-season practice schedule: “I just didn’t feel that I could take a week off. When I take one day off, I feel like I’m lacking a bit.” If we as Christians “take time off” from our relationship with God, we too will be “lacking a bit.” We will miss the guidance of His Word and the fellowship we experience in prayer. We will be more likely to forget our priorities and drift into forbidden areas that could lead to our downfall. No matter how long you’ve been a child of God through faith in Christ, you need to guard your relationship with Him. It’s not just about going to church or having daily devotions. It’s a continual relationship. Taking time off will seriously weaken your walk. —Dave Branon The time we spend in fellowship With God each day in prayer Will strengthen us to stand against Temptation’s evil snare. —Sper To keep spiritually fit, walk daily with Christ.

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1 john 1:1-7 1 We proclaim to you the one who existed from the beginning, whom we have heard and seen. We saw Him with our own eyes and touched Him with our own hands. He is the Word of life. 2 This one who is life itself was revealed to us, and we have seen Him. And now we testify and proclaim to you that He is the one who is eternal life. He was with the Father, and then He was revealed to us. 3 We proclaim to you what we ourselves have actually seen and heard so that you may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with

the Father and with His Son, Jesus Christ. 4 We are writing these things so that you may fully share our joy. 5 This is the message we heard from Jesus and now declare to you: God is light, and there is no darkness in Him at all. 6 So we are lying if we say we have fellowship with God but go on living in spiritual darkness; we are not practicing the truth. 7 But if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, His Son, cleanses us from all sin.


fitness training Oh, how I love your instructions! I think about them all day long. —Psalm 119:97

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y wife is an avid exerciser. She walks, rollerblades, and bikes to keep in shape. Because of her interest in exercise, she has encouraged our children to participate in sports activities at school and to exercise along with her. Why does she feel this is so important? It’s simple: When she doesn’t exercise several times a week, she doesn’t feel physically fit. She feels sluggish and lethargic. She feels that her heart is not being strengthened as it should be. But she doesn’t stop with the physical part of her life. She also participates in spiritual exercise. She knows that in our walk with God we need “heart exercise” to stay fit. The writer of Psalm 119 saw the importance of daily spiritual exercise. He loved the Word of God, meditated on it throughout the day, and obeyed it. His prayers were from his whole heart, and his hope for each new day came directly from God’s Word. How much more spiritually healthy we would be if we engaged in a godly fitness training program that matched that of the psalmist! Do you read the Bible, meditate on its truths, and pray each day? If not, begin spiritual fitness training today.  —Dave Branon Increase your knowledge of God’s Word, For in it you will find The wisdom that you need for life, Which comes from God’s own mind. —Sper Spiritual strength requires a training program of Bible reading and prayer.

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psalm 119:97-104 97 Oh, how I love Your instructions! I think about them all day long. 98 Your commands make me wiser than my  enemies, for they are my constant guide. 99 Yes, I have more insight than my teachers, for I am always thinking of Your laws. 100 I am even wiser than my elders, for I have kept Your commandments.

101 I have refused to walk on any evil path, so that I may remain obedient to Your Word. 102 I haven’t turned away from Your regulations, for You have taught me well. 103 How sweet Your words taste to me; they are sweeter than honey. 104 Your commandments give me understanding; no wonder I hate every false way of life.


walking away I will personally go with you . . . and I will give you rest— everything will be fine for you. —Exodus 33:14

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fter winning a bronze medal in the 2004 Olympics in Athens, wrestler Rulon Gardner took off his shoes, placed them in the center of the mat, and walked away in tears. Through that symbolic act, Gardner announced his retirement from the sport which had defined his life for many years. Times of walking away come to all of us, and they can be emotionally wrenching. A loved one “walks away” in death. A child moves away from home. We leave a job or a community and it feels as if we’ve left everything behind. But when we know the Lord, we never have to walk into an unknown future alone. It’s worth pausing to reflect on how much the children of Israel walked away from when Moses led them out of Egypt. They left the heavy burden of slavery, but they also left everything stable and predictable they had ever known. Later, when the Lord told Moses, “I will personally go with you . . . and I will give you rest—everything will be fine for you“ (Ex. 33:14), Moses replied, “If you don’t personally go with us, don’t make us leave this place” (v.15). During our most difficult times, our stability comes from the presence and peace of God. Because He goes with us, we can walk into the future with confidence.  —David McCasland I never walk alone, Christ walks beside me, He is the dearest Friend I’ve ever known; With such a Friend to comfort and to guide me, I never, no, I never walk alone. —Ackley © 1952, The Rodeheaver Company

Every loss leaves a space that only God’s presence can fill.

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exodus 33:12-23 One day Moses said to the Lord, “You have been telling me, ‘Take these people up to the Promised Land.’ But You haven’t told me whom You will send with me. You have told me, ‘I know you by name, and I look favorably on you.’ 13 If it is true that You look favorably on me, let me know Your ways so I may understand You more fully and continue to enjoy Your favor. And remember that this nation is Your very own people.” 14 The Lord replied, “I will personally go with you, Moses, and I will give you rest— everything will be fine for you.” 15 Then Moses said, “If You don’t personally go with us, don’t make us leave this place. 16 How will anyone know that You look favorably on me—on me and on Your people—if You don’t go with us? For Your presence among us sets Your people and me apart from all 12

other people on the earth.” 17 The Lord replied to Moses, “I will indeed do what you have asked, for I look favorably on you, and I know you by name.” 18 Moses responded, “Then show me your glorious presence.” 19 The Lord replied, “I will make all My goodness pass before you, and I will call out My name, Yahweh, before you. For I will show mercy to anyone I choose, and I will show compassion to anyone I choose. 20 But you may not look directly at My face, for no one may see Me and live.” 21 The Lord continued, “Look, stand near Me on this rock. 22 As My glorious presence passes by, I will hide you in the crevice of the rock and cover you with My hand until I have passed by. 23 Then I will remove My hand and let you see Me from behind. But My face will not be seen.”


go for the gold! So I advise you to buy gold from Me—gold that has been purified by fire. —Revelation 3:18

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arl Lewis won four gold medals in the 1984 Summer Olympics. Despite his outstanding performance, he was accused of holding back in the long jump. Instead of going for the world record, he stopped competing after his first jump, confident that he would win the gold. Carl said that the Olympic trials had taken more out of him than he had expected, so he decided to save his strength for the other events. He explained that he was there to win gold medals— not to set records that would probably last only a short time. This reminds me of what the Bible says about making the choice to use our time and energy for actions that have lasting value. The people in the church at Laodicea failed to do this (Rev. 3:14-22). Our Lord saw that their values were misplaced, for they took pride in their riches and self-sufficiency. So He told them they were lukewarm spiritually and were not relying on God (vv.15-17). They had to decide—would they keep pursuing temporal things, or would they go for the eternal gold of God’s approval? That’s the challenge we face today. Our task is not to please the people around us. Our purpose is to win the eternal approval of our Lord. —Mart De Haan Do we spend ourselves on what will last Or what will fade away? Let’s not strive to win the world’s gold, But Christ’s “well done” one day. —Sper

Our real wealth is what we invest for eternity.

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revelation 3:14-22 “Write this letter to the angel of the church in Laodicea. This is the message from the One who is the Amen—the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s new creation: 15 “I know all the things you do, that you are neither hot nor cold. I wish that you were one or the other! 16 But since you are like lukewarm water, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth! 17 You say, ‘I am rich. I have everything I want. I don’t need a thing!’ And you don’t realize that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked. 18 So I advise you to buy gold from Me—gold that has been purified by fire. Then you will be rich. Also 14

buy white garments from Me so you will not be shamed by your nakedness, and ointment for your eyes so you will be able to see. 19 I correct and discipline everyone I love. So be diligent and turn from your indifference. 20 “Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear My voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends. 21 Those who are victorious will sit with Me on My throne, just as I was victorious and sat with My Father on His throne. 22 “Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what He is saying to the churches.”


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Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. —Philippians 2:3-4

om Knapp never won a race during his entire high school track career. Tom was a “pusher.” It was his task to set the pace for his fellow team members, who would then beat him to the finish line. When he ran a successful race, he was enabling a fellow teammate to win. Even though Tom never had enough reserve energy for the final sprint to victory, the coach considered him a valuable member of the team. In a similar way, the New Testament tells us to run our race of faith with the success of others in mind. “Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too” (Phil. 2:3-4). Our example of such living is Jesus Christ, who left the glory of heaven to share our humanity and die on the cross so that we can have eternal life (vv.5-8). If the encouragement of our example helps another person to flourish and be successful, we should rejoice. When the eternal prizes are awarded for faithful service to God, a lot of “pushers” will be wearing blue ribbons. Until then, let’s keep running so that others can win.  —David McCasland

Oh, to see the needs of others More important than our own, Following our Lord’s example When He left His heavenly throne. —Sper

You can’t lose when you help others win.

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philippians 2:1-11 Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from His love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate? 2 Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose. 3 Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. 4 Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. 5 You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. 6 Though He was God, He did not think of equality with God 1

as something to cling to. 7 Instead, He gave up His divine privileges; He took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When He appeared in human form, 8 He humbled Himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross. 9 Therefore, God elevated Him to the place of highest honor and gave Him the name above all other names, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.


finish the race I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. —2 Timothy 4:7

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t 7 p.m. on October 20, 1968, a few thousand spectators remained in the Mexico City Olympic Stadium. It was almost dark. The last of the marathon runners were stumbling across the finish line. Finally, the spectators heard the wail of sirens on police cars. As eyes turned to the gate, a lone runner wearing the colors of Tanzania staggered into the stadium. His name was John Stephen Akhwari. He was the last contestant to finish the 26mile 385-yard contest. His leg had been injured in a fall and was bloodied and crudely bandaged. He hobbled the final lap around the track. The spectators rose and applauded him as though he were the winner. After he had crossed the finish line, someone asked him why he had not quit. He replied simply, “My country did not send me 7,000 miles to start the race. They sent me 7,000 miles to finish it.” Not all heroes receive medals. Yet those who faithfully live for Christ, as the apostle Paul did, know that someday they will receive a crown of righteousness (2 Tim. 4:8). The Lord, the righteous Judge, will reward all those who long for Christ’s return, are faithful in spite of difficulties, and finish the race. —Haddon Robinson Run the straight race through God’s good grace, Lift up thine eyes and seek His face; Life with its way before us lies, Christ is the path and Christ the prize. —Monsell We are judged by how we finish, not by how we start.

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2 timothy 4:6-18 6 As for me, my life has already been poured out as an offering to God. The time of my death is near. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. 8 And now the prize awaits me —the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of His return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to His appearing. 9 Timothy, please come as soon as you can. 10 Demas has deserted me because he loves the things of this life and has gone to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia, and Titus has gone to Dalmatia. 11 Only Luke is with me. Bring Mark with you when you come, for he will be helpful to me in my ministry. 12 I sent Tychicus to Ephesus. 13 When you come,

be sure to bring the coat I left with Carpus at Troas. Also bring my books, and especially my papers. 14 Alexander the coppersmith did me much harm, but the Lord will judge him for what he has done. 15 Be careful of him, for he fought against everything we said. 16 The first time I was brought before the judge, no one came with me. Everyone abandoned me. May it not be counted against them. 17 But the Lord stood with me and gave me strength so that I might preach the Good News in its entirety for all the Gentiles to hear. And He rescued me from certain death. 18 Yes, and the Lord will deliver me from every evil attack and will bring me safely into His heavenly Kingdom. All glory to God forever and ever! Amen.


train to finish strong 13 I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified. —1 Corinthians 9:27

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ighty-six years ago, Eric Liddell electrified the world by capturing an Olympic gold medal in the 400 meters—a race he was not expected to win. Liddell was the favorite at 100 meters, but he had withdrawn from that race after learning the qualifying heats would be on Sunday, a day he observed as one of worship and rest. Instead of lamenting his lost chance in the 100, he spent the next 6 months training for the 400—and set a new Olympic record. Paul used a sports metaphor to emphasize the Christian’s need for spiritual discipline. “All athletes are disciplined in their training” (1 Cor. 9:25), that is, go into strict training. “They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize.” Paul longed to remain faithful to Christ because he wanted to bring the message of salvation to others (vv.19,27). Throughout Liddell’s life, he disciplined himself spiritually each day by spending time in God’s Word and in prayer. He remained faithful until he died of a brain tumor in a Japanese internment camp during World War II. Strengthened by the grace and power of God, Eric Liddell ran well and finished strong in the race of life. And so can we.   —David McCasland To win the race of life in Christ, This must become our daily goal: To trust in God for grace and strength, For discipline and self-control. —Sper In the race of life, it takes discipline to finish strong.


1 corinthians 9:24-27 24 Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! 25 All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. 26 So I run

with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. 27 I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.


running for nothing There is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved. —Acts 4:12

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s my friend Roger Weber started the 2006 Chicago Marathon, he noticed something on the ground. It was a runner’s chip—the device each runner puts on his or her shoe to record progress at various timing stations during the race. Apparently, one poor runner would be traversing the next 26.2 miles on foot with nothing to show for it. Officially, that runner did not run the race. There would be no record of his participation. Even if he had finished the race in record time, it wouldn’t have mattered. The folks who organize the race set the rules, and no matter how well someone runs, if the officials say the runner doesn’t qualify, that’s the way it is. In one sense, that’s also the way it is with all of us. We can run what appears to be a good race by doing good things for others and obeying lots of rules. But when we arrive at the final checkpoint—heaven—and haven’t made sure our name is recorded in the Lamb’s Book of Life by putting our faith in Jesus as our Savior, we’re disqualified to enter. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6). Are you trusting in Jesus? If not, you’re running for nothing. —Dave Branon It’s not what I achieve that qualifies, It matters not if I gain wealth or fame; The only thing I must be certain of Is “Have I put my trust in Jesus’ name?”  —Hess If we could earn our salvation, Christ would not have died to provide it.

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john 14:1-6 “Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in Me. 2 There is more than enough room in My Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? 3 When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with Me where I am. 4 And you

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know the way to where I am going.” 5 “No, we don’t know, Lord,” Thomas said. “We have no idea where You are going, so how can we know the way?” 6 Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through Me.”


reflections


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