Off Track

Omaha Beach

Kentucky Derby favorite Omaha Beach will not be competing in this year’s race. He was scratched because of a breathing issue. This condition can be fixed, but even if the surgery is successful, the horse will be out of training for a couple of weeks. It is hoped that Omaha Beach will be able to compete in the fall season.

Jesus gives his followers the Holy Spirit, which is essentially the breath of the church. If we grieve or quench the Spirit because of our wickedness, our indifference, our divisiveness or some other sin, we will be sidelined for a while. Let’s make sure we don’t get off track!

“And with that he breathed on them and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.’”—John 20:22

“Do not quench the Spirit.”—1 Thessalonians 5:19

 

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Playing Hurt

James Harden

Houston Rockets guard James Harden was inadvertently poked in both eyes by Draymond Green of the Golden State Warriors in Game 2 of the NBA Western Conference semifinals. Although in a great deal of pain, Harden was able to finish the game and is expected to be available for Game 3 on Saturday night.

Harden isn’t the only player in the series who is battling against injuries. Golden State’s Steph Curry suffered a dislocated finger in Game 2. Like Harden, Curry is expected to be able to play in Saturday’s contest.

Sometimes you have to compete even though you are in pain. Paul the apostle lists some of the many hardships he endured in 2 Corinthians 6. Included are: beatings, imprisonments, riots, sleepless nights and hunger.

Living for Jesus isn’t always easy. Sometimes you have to endure pain and suffering along the way.

 

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Stepping Up to the Plate

Noah Syndergaard

Last night New York Mets pitcher Noah Syndergaard became the first pitcher in nearly 36 years to homer for the game’s only run and pitch a complete game. The last pitcher to accomplish this feat was the Dodgers’ Bob Welch on June 17, 1983.

Baseball teams don’t normally expect much offensive output from their pitchers, but sometimes they step up and contribute to the team’s effort in unexpected ways.

In the same way, in God’s kingdom sometimes people prove themselves able to help the cause in ways that are not expected. When Nehemiah and his fellow workers rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem, we see that even goldsmiths and perfume-makers stepped outside the comfort zone of their normal occupations to join in the construction work (Nehemiah 3:8). So the next time you are asked to do something that is normally outside your area of expertise, think about it before you decline. God just might be wanting you to step up to the plate and do something spectacular!

 

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The Show Must Go On

Kelly Clarkson

Hours after hosting the Billboard Music Awards in Las Vegas, Kelly Clarkson underwent surgery to have her appendix removed. Even though she was experiencing a great deal of pain, Clarkson not only hosted the show, but also performed two musical numbers herself. It was a wonderful example of persevering through difficult circumstances.

Jesus never promised that the Christian life would be easy. To the contrary, living for Jesus often includes a great deal of pain and discomfort. We need to keep going no matter what type of adversity we face. Victory is ours if we only persevere!

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”—John 16:33

 

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Reminder

I put it off for a while, but I finally made a life change that is a concession to my forgetfulness. I started putting my daily medication in a pill box that helps me remember if I have taken my meds for that day. Once a week I place the pills in the compartments—Monday through Friday—AM and PM. Now I don’t find myself trying to remember at mid-morning whether or not I have taken my morning meds.

Jesus has given us a weekly reminder so that we will not forget the gospel message. The Lord’s Supper helps us remember the death and resurrection of Jesus. He died to pay for our sins. He arose triumphantly from the grave to reign forever. Communion helps us remember.

“…Do this in remembrance of me.”—Luke 22:19

“On the first day of the week we came together to break bread…”—Acts 20:7

 

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Happy Times!

Randy Iery

“Rejoice with those who rejoice…”—Romans 12:15

A couple of days ago our local high school baseball team hosted a district rival for an important game. The pitchers for both teams were dominant, so the game stretched into extra innings with the score tied at nothing to nothing.

The home team got a couple of runners on base, and Randy Iery, the son of one of my friends, came to bat with two outs. Any kind of hit would win the game, and the batter would be the hero of the day. All the home team fans were cheering for his success.

Randy took a mighty swing at a fastball and sent a tremendous drive over the left-center field fence! A walk-off home run to end the game!

The fans went wild! The team celebrated like mad! Randy was interviewed by a local newspaper, which ran a nice article about his heroics in the next day’s edition.

Normally I go home shortly after the game ends, but this time I stayed to celebrate. I rejoiced with Randy’s dad. I hugged his mom. I waited until his interview was over and I shook hands with Randy and offered my congratulations to him. Why? Because that’s what you do. You rejoice with those who rejoice!

 

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Ego in Check

Teddy Roosevelt

A six-year-old girl was asked, “Are you in Jessica’s class at school?” She replied, “No, I’m not. But she’s in my class.”

We tend to be self-centered, and those inclinations are seen in adults as well as children. One of Teddy Roosevelt’s children said of him, “Father wanted to be the bride at every wedding and the corpse at every funeral.”

We must all struggle against our sinful tendencies to be self-centered and work toward putting others ahead of ourselves.

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”—Philippians 2:3-4

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Can You Top This?

The story is told about an old man who had survived the great Johnstown flood. He loved to tell the story over and over in great detail. Everywhere he went he would spend all his time talking about this great historic event in his life.

One day the man died and went to heaven and there in a meeting all the saints had gathered together to share their life experiences. The man got excited and asked Peter if he might tell the exciting story of his survival from the Johnstown flood. Peter hesitated for a moment and then said, “Yes, you may share your story, but just remember that Noah will be in the audience tonight.”

It’s great that we have an urgent desire to share our stories of faith, perseverance and salvation. However, let’s always remember that other people have their stories to share as well.

“And if a revelation comes to someone who is sitting down, the first speaker should stop. For you can all prophesy in turn so that everyone may be instructed and encouraged.”—1 Corinthians 14:30-31

 

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Great Comeback!

Tiger Woods celebrates

On Sunday, April 14, 2019, many people watched one of the greatest comebacks in sports history when Tiger Woods won the Masters golf tournament. His victory ended a long personal dry spell. Woods, once acknowledged as the best golfer in the world, had gone 11 years without winning a major tournament. During that time he endured four surgeries to rebuild his left knee. His injured back required four surgeries, the last one out of desperation because he could barely walk, much less play golf. Add to this the well-documented personal struggles in his life. Tiger had to overcome a lot of adversity to make such a comeback. Yet come back is exactly what he did, to the amazement of many.

There is another great comeback story that draws people’s attention this time of year. It is the fact that Jesus came back from the dead. After he was crucified to pay for the sins of the world, he did not stay in the tomb in which they laid him. God raised him from the dead, thus putting his stamp of approval on Jesus, his beloved Son, the risen Savior of the world.

Conquering death! Now that is quite a comeback!

“Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him.”—Romans 6:8-9

 

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The Way the Story Really Ends

Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson, a great man, nevertheless could not accept the miraculous elements in Scripture. He edited his own special version of the Bible in which all references to the supernatural were deleted. Jefferson, in editing the Gospels, confined himself solely to the moral teachings of Jesus. The closing words of Jefferson’s Bible are these: “There laid they Jesus and rolled a great stone at the mouth of the sepulcher and departed.”

Thank God that is not the way the story really ends!

“If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.”—1 Corinthians 15:19

 

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