For "Scripture Sunday":
Hebrews 11 – Abel
"Brother against brother and a lesson in humility."
Watch archived Beyond Today Daily videos [BT Daily] at http://www.ucg.org/beyond-today/daily
"To finish our race as Christians we must never, ever give up. When we fall (and we all do fall), we can never stay down.
American swimmer Michael Phelps won an astonishing eight races, making history by breaking a 36-year record for the most gold medals earned by one athlete in a single Olympics.
At the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, China, we naturally focused on the spectacular achievements of such elite gold medal winners. As spectators, it is easy to be inspired by those who win.
However, life's most valuable lessons are often not learned in the glory of triumph. So it was for Derek Redmond, the British runner who suffered a debilitating hamstring injury in the 400-meter race in 1992. Now legendary in Olympic history for refusing to leave the track without finishing the event, he crossed the finish line in agonizing pain and with the help of his father.
Likewise, perhaps the most valuable thing we learn from athletics as Christians is that refusing to give up is the supreme victory. It is this measure of success that builds more Christian character than any other.
For that reason, my favorite Olympian of the 2008 summer games will unfortunately be remembered more for her mistakes—costly errors that she made in the last two events of the women's team gymnastics final. I will always remember that despite them, she did not quit.
Alicia Sacramone, the 20-year-old captain for the U.S. women's team is bright, talented and beautiful, with big brown eyes and a contagious smile. Although a seasoned competitor and a veteran of international gymnastics competition, for a few brief moments, on the most magnificent stage in sport, she was all too human, all too fallible.
In a flash of weakness, brought on by nerves and the pressure of the moment, Sacramone botched a somersault mount at the beginning of her balance beam routine. After wildly flailing in an attempt to regain her balance, she found herself back on the ground.
In the floor exercises that followed, still rattled by her previous mistake, she could not stick the landing of her second tumbling pass and wound up on her backside.
Alicia Sacramone loses her balance on the beam during the women's team gymnastics final.
Needless to say, such spectacularly obvious failures would be crushing blows for any athlete. Yet Sacramone did not stay on the ground, but immediately got back up and finished her routine. Much more impressive than that, she took full ownership of her mistakes in the interviews that followed. Despite several less notable errors by teammates Shawn Johnson and Nastia Liukin in their routines, Sacramone took full responsibility for the failure of the team to win gold, openly admitting that she had not been able to control her nerves.
A spiritual veteran, the apostle Paul illustrated the Christian walk by comparing it to an athletic competition (see 1 Corinthians:9:24 Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain). If we are honest in evaluating our personal character and actions, we each have numerous moments when, like Alicia Sacramone, we simply fail to perform as we should. Like her mistakes, our failings often happen not because we are incapable, but because in the moment we are all too human, all too fallible.
To finish our race as Christians we must never, ever give up. When we fall (and we all do fall), we can never stay down.
Like Derek Redmond and Alicia Sacramone, when we find ourselves on the ground, we must get back up and finish at any cost. "For though a righteous man falls seven times, he rises again, but the wicked are brought down by calamity" (Proverbs:24:16 For a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again: but the wicked shall fall into mischief., New International Version).
Thanksgiving: A Timeless Lesson
Are we aware of the true source of blessings and wealth?
"The Yoruba people of West Africa have an old saying: "However far the stream flows, it never forgets its source." But, we may ask, have the people of the United States forgotten the source of their blessings?
The United States observes the national holiday of Thanksgiving, dedicated to remembering the many blessings America enjoys: hills and plains filled with mineral riches; fertile soil that grows endless crops of grain; waters teeming with fish; pastures feeding millions of head of livestock; forests for building homes, schools, hospitals and industrial complexes; two long borders on oceans providing transportation, food and natural barriers for defense.
There is more, of course. But, when we ask ourselves how we have been blessed, another question should come to mind: How grateful are we for these blessings? And, perhaps more crucial, do we remember the real source of these blessings?
Although Thanksgiving Day is an American institution, any country derives the benefits from following the biblical principle of always being thankful to God for His bountiful blessings.
The blessings of gratitude
Most people overlook a simple fact recorded thousands of years ago: "The earth is the LORD'S, and all its fullness, the world and those who dwell therein" (Psalm 24:1). All our blessings come from God, but our actions don't always acknowledge this wonderful truth.
To its credit, America has set aside Thanksgiving Day for annually reflecting on national blessings. Of course, we should all be thankful every day of every year, but there is certainly nothing wrong with a special day every year to remind us that we should continually be thankful.
In 1621 Plymouth Colony-made up of refugees seeking religious freedom in the New World-observed the first day of Thanksgiving to honor the God who had preserved their lives through a harsh winter, then blessed them with a good summer and a plentiful fall harvest. On October 20, 1864, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed Thanksgiving Day to be an American national holiday, a time during which he called on all its citizens to thank the great God who bestowed such great bounties on them.
All nations would do well to remember the wise axiom of the Yoruba people of West Africa: "However far the stream flows, it never forgets its source." May all peoples of the earth remember to give thanks to God, from whom all blessings flow (James 1:17). Complete article at: http://www.ucg.org/christian-living/thanksgiving-timeless-lesson/
The following is a condensed popular story by the late Paul Harvey:
"There was a nonreligious, skeptical man who just couldn't swallow the "Jesus story" about an incarnation, about God coming to earth as a man. But one snowy evening he noticed a flock of birds huddled miserably, not having any shelter. Well, he couldn't let the poor creatures lie there and freeze, and he thought about his barn. That would provide a warm shelter—if he could direct the birds to it.
Quickly he went to the barn, opened the doors wide and turned on a light, but the birds did not come in. He figured food would entice them in. So he hurried back to the house, found some bread crumbs that he sprinkled on the snow, making a trail to the doorway of the barn.
But to his dismay, the birds ignored the bread crumbs, and continued to flap around helplessly in the snow. He tried catching them. He tried shooing them into the barn by walking around them waving his arms. Instead, they scattered in every direction, except into the warm, lighted barn.
And then, he realized that they were afraid of him. To them, he reasoned, I am a strange and terrifying creature. If only I could think of some way to let them know that they can trust me—that I am not trying to hurt them, but to help them. But how? Because any move he made tended to frighten them, they just would not follow. They would not be led or shooed because they feared him.
"If only I could be a bird," he thought to himself, "and mingle with them and speak their language. Then I could tell them not to be afraid. Then I could show them the way to the safe, warm barn. But I would have to be one of them so they could see, and hear and understand."
That thought became an epiphany. Stunned, he remembered the fundamental message: "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us" (John 1:14). Suddenly the gospel he had heard made complete sense! He dropped to his knees in the snow."
Today's program on WGN TV:
Is Spiritual Leavening in Your Life?
"Jesus said to "beware of the leavening of the Pharisees." What did He mean? Why is it vital for you to know?"
On This Day:
Hirohito crowned in Japan, Nov 10, 1928:
"Two years after the death of his father, Michinomiya Hirohito is enthroned as the 124th Japanese monarch in an imperial line dating back to 660 B.C.
Emperor Hirohito presided over one of the most turbulent eras in his nation's history. From rapid military expansion beginning in 1931 to the crushing defeat of Japan by Allied forces in 1945, Hirohito ruled the Japanese people as an absolute monarch whose powers were nevertheless sharply limited in practice. After U.S. atomic bombs destroyed the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, it was Hirohito who argued for his country's surrender, explaining to the Japanese people in his first-ever radio address that the "unendurable must be endured."
Under U.S. occupation and postwar reconstruction, Hirohito was formally stripped of his powers and forced to renounce his alleged divinity, but he remained his country's official figurehead until his death in 1989. He was the longest-reigning monarch in Japanese history."
Bush addresses the United Nations regarding terrorism, Nov 10, 2001:
"On this day in 2001, in the wake of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, President George W. Bush addresses the United Nations to ask for the international community's help in combating terrorism around the world. He also pledged to take the fight against terrorism to any place where terrorists were harbored.
Bush went on to promise that the U.S. would stand by its commitment to peace in the Middle East by "working toward a day when two states, Israel and Palestine, live peacefully together within secure and recognized borders as called for" by the United Nations.
Bush concluded his speech by saying he expected the United Nations member states to live up to their global obligation to help root out terrorist cells. "The cost of inaction is far greater," he said, and the attacks on September 11 proved that "the only alternative is a nightmare world where every city is a potential killing field.""
After Wendy and I had our usual Saturday phone call, I tended to the critters, and got ready for church. Then I took Misty for a walk around here. That was something else, someone had been walking a big dog on my empty side lot and left big piles. I steered Misty around them, but must have not missed one myself. Ugh, I had to clean off my shoes before I went to church. My first thought was that it was the pit-bull next door, but then I found out that it is the new neighbor next to them, who has three lots, who is bringing his pit-bull to poop on my lot. That's got to stop.
Jay called to say that he wasn't going to church as he was too tired from working in Onalaska all week. I left early hoping to help the pastor's wife in the kitchen, but that didn't work out. There was a bad wreck on FM 1097, and both lanes were shut down. An ambulance left without it's sirens, that could be good or bad. When I finally arrived on the scene, two wreckers had two front-end smashed cars loaded, a fire truck blocking one lane foaming down the road, and a big part of a fence was destroyed. This is the time of year when everyone is in such a hurry.
The Bible readings were Psalms 95-98, Genesis chapters 6-11 about Noah and Babel. Then Isaiah chapters 54-55, about the rainbow and the promise of no more earth wide flood.
During the prayers for people who had special needs, we prayed for the victims of the car crash.
The songs of praise were enjoyed by all.
The message was about the Jews in Jesus' time and beyond. Jesus was a Jew, and so were the Apostles and the Disciples. How, over the years, the Jews had to wander all over the world to escape persecution, that's how they got the name Wandering Jews. They were not allowed to own land, and so they became merchants and bankers, as they were good about handling money. Sons took over the businesses from their fathers down through the generations. Even on Columbus' voyage they had a Jew on board, hoping to find a land where they could settle, as they were expelled from Spain, and many other countries. More recently, they tried Russia and Germany, and we all know what happened to that. They were persecuted through the ages.
Finally, according to prophecy, now they do have their own land, Israel. It was very desolate, having not been taken care of for years, when they acquired it in 1947. There has been a mass exodus from other lands, and all these Jews are working together. They have set a up a common language of old Hebrew. Since then, Israel has had more rainfall, and they have planted millions of trees, and now cultivate roses. It was all a master plan by God.
"The year 1878 did mark the beginning of an incredible fulfillment of a series of Bible prophecies related to the miraculous restoration of natural Israel. In that year the ban on Jewish immigration and Jewish Land purchase was eased. In fulfillment of Bible prophecy, the massive return of the Jew in Diaspora to his ancient homeland commenced (Jeremiah 16:14-16; Isaiah 43:4-6). The purchasing of land itself was a fulfillment of prophecy (Jeremiah 32:44). At exorbitant prices, barren desert and malarial swamps were purchased from absentee Moslem landowners. Miraculous climatic changes as well nourished the dry and thirsty Land (Joel 2:21-24). The very heavens opened and "the early rains," which for centuries fell only moderately, increased. The "latter rains" awoke from centuries of dormant slumber. As a result, the barren desert and malarial swamps began to blossom "as the rose"—fulfilling the Divine prediction of vineyards and gardens and roses (Isaiah 35:1; Amos 9:14-15)."
The potluck was great, and everyone enjoyed sitting around the tables with good fellowship. We all look forward to the Sabbath Days.