Winning

‘I run with purpose in every step.’ 1 Corinthians 9:26 NLT

Whether it’s in the world of sports or the Kingdom of God, all winners exhibit five traits:

(1) Self-awareness. Winners are honest about their strengths and weaknesses. The Bible says, ‘The Lord searches every heart… If you seek Him, He will be found by you.’ (1 Chronicles 28:9 NIV) In prayer you see yourself as you are. As you read God’s Word, you begin to see yourself as you can be.

(2) Focus. Wherever you are today, be there—because that’s where God is. People who spend their lives ‘waiting for their ship to come in’ are usually disappointed, or die on the wharf. Winners live in the present moment. They refuse to be in one place while their mind is in another.

(3) Confidence. Winners overcome anxiety by keeping their eyes on the goal. As they get closer, their confidence increases. Jude writes, ‘Dear friends, by building yourselves up.’ (Jude 1:20 NIV) This is something you must do for yourself, and do daily through prayer and God’s Word.

(4) Toughness. Winners sacrifice the present for the future. They’ve learned to say no to indulgence and yes to discipline, because to them the prize is worth the price. Paul writes: ‘Like an athlete I punish my body… training it to do what it should, not what it wants.’ (1 Corinthians 9:27 TLB)

(5) A game plan. Winners recognise that talent alone isn’t enough; you need a plan to live by. So, have you discovered God’s plan for your life? Are you living by it? If not, talk to Him about it today. It’s one of the most important conversations you will ever have.

SoulFood: Heb 5–8, Mark 9:30–37, Ps 18:30–50, Pr 11:22

word4today an adaptation of The Word For Today is authored by Bob and Debby Gass and published under licence from UCB International Copyright © 2021

Today’s Readings

Hebrews 5–8

5:1 For every high priest chosen from among men is appointed to act on behalf of men in relation to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. He can deal gently with the ignorant and wayward, since he himself is beset with weakness. Because of this he is obligated to offer sacrifice for his own sins just as he does for those of the people. And no one takes this honor for himself, but only when called by God, just as Aaron was.

So also Christ did not exalt himself to be made a high priest, but was appointed by him who said to him,

  “You are my Son,
    today I have begotten you”;

as he says also in another place,

  “You are a priest forever,
    after the order of Melchizedek.”

In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him, 10 being designated by God a high priest after the order of Melchizedek.

11 About this we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. 12 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, 13 for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. 14 But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.

6:1 Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, and of instruction about washings, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. And this we will do if God permits. For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt. For land that has drunk the rain that often falls on it, and produces a crop useful to those for whose sake it is cultivated, receives a blessing from God. But if it bears thorns and thistles, it is worthless and near to being cursed, and its end is to be burned.

Though we speak in this way, yet in your case, beloved, we feel sure of better things—things that belong to salvation. 10 For God is not unjust so as to overlook your work and the love that you have shown for his name in serving the saints, as you still do. 11 And we desire each one of you to show the same earnestness to have the full assurance of hope until the end, 12 so that you may not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.

13 For when God made a promise to Abraham, since he had no one greater by whom to swear, he swore by himself, 14 saying, “Surely I will bless you and multiply you.” 15 And thus Abraham, having patiently waited, obtained the promise. 16 For people swear by something greater than themselves, and in all their disputes an oath is final for confirmation. 17 So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, 18 so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. 19 We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, 20 where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.

7:1 For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him, and to him Abraham apportioned a tenth part of everything. He is first, by translation of his name, king of righteousness, and then he is also king of Salem, that is, king of peace. He is without father or mother or genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but resembling the Son of God he continues a priest forever.

See how great this man was to whom Abraham the patriarch gave a tenth of the spoils! And those descendants of Levi who receive the priestly office have a commandment in the law to take tithes from the people, that is, from their brothers, though these also are descended from Abraham. But this man who does not have his descent from them received tithes from Abraham and blessed him who had the promises. It is beyond dispute that the inferior is blessed by the superior. In the one case tithes are received by mortal men, but in the other case, by one of whom it is testified that he lives. One might even say that Levi himself, who receives tithes, paid tithes through Abraham, 10 for he was still in the loins of his ancestor when Melchizedek met him.

11 Now if perfection had been attainable through the Levitical priesthood (for under it the people received the law), what further need would there have been for another priest to arise after the order of Melchizedek, rather than one named after the order of Aaron? 12 For when there is a change in the priesthood, there is necessarily a change in the law as well. 13 For the one of whom these things are spoken belonged to another tribe, from which no one has ever served at the altar. 14 For it is evident that our Lord was descended from Judah, and in connection with that tribe Moses said nothing about priests.

15 This becomes even more evident when another priest arises in the likeness of Melchizedek, 16 who has become a priest, not on the basis of a legal requirement concerning bodily descent, but by the power of an indestructible life. 17 For it is witnessed of him,

  “You are a priest forever,
    after the order of Melchizedek.”

18 For on the one hand, a former commandment is set aside because of its weakness and uselessness 19 (for the law made nothing perfect); but on the other hand, a better hope is introduced, through which we draw near to God.

20 And it was not without an oath. For those who formerly became priests were made such without an oath, 21 but this one was made a priest with an oath by the one who said to him:

  “The Lord has sworn
    and will not change his mind,
  ‘You are a priest forever.’”

22 This makes Jesus the guarantor of a better covenant.

23 The former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office, 24 but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever. 25 Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.

26 For it was indeed fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens. 27 He has no need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices daily, first for his own sins and then for those of the people, since he did this once for all when he offered up himself. 28 For the law appoints men in their weakness as high priests, but the word of the oath, which came later than the law, appoints a Son who has been made perfect forever.

8:1 Now the point in what we are saying is this: we have such a high priest, one who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, a minister in the holy places, in the true tent that the Lord set up, not man. For every high priest is appointed to offer gifts and sacrifices; thus it is necessary for this priest also to have something to offer. Now if he were on earth, he would not be a priest at all, since there are priests who offer gifts according to the law. They serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly things. For when Moses was about to erect the tent, he was instructed by God, saying, “See that you make everything according to the pattern that was shown you on the mountain.” But as it is, Christ has obtained a ministry that is as much more excellent than the old as the covenant he mediates is better, since it is enacted on better promises. For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion to look for a second.

For he finds fault with them when he says:

  “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord,
    when I will establish a new covenant with the house of Israel
    and with the house of Judah,
  not like the covenant that I made with their fathers
    on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt.
  For they did not continue in my covenant,
    and so I showed no concern for them, declares the Lord.
10   For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel
    after those days, declares the Lord:
  I will put my laws into their minds,
    and write them on their hearts,
  and I will be their God,
    and they shall be my people.
11   And they shall not teach, each one his neighbor
    and each one his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’
  for they shall all know me,
    from the least of them to the greatest.
12   For I will be merciful toward their iniquities,
    and I will remember their sins no more.”

13 In speaking of a new covenant, he makes the first one obsolete. And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.

Mark 9:30–37

30 They went on from there and passed through Galilee. And he did not want anyone to know, 31 for he was teaching his disciples, saying to them, “The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill him. And when he is killed, after three days he will rise.” 32 But they did not understand the saying, and were afraid to ask him.

33 And they came to Capernaum. And when he was in the house he asked them, “What were you discussing on the way?” 34 But they kept silent, for on the way they had argued with one another about who was the greatest. 35 And he sat down and called the twelve. And he said to them, “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.” 36 And he took a child and put him in the midst of them, and taking him in his arms, he said to them, 37 “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me, receives not me but him who sent me.”

Psalm 18:30–50

30   This God—his way is perfect;
    the word of the LORD proves true;
    he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him.
31   For who is God, but the LORD?
    And who is a rock, except our God?—
32   the God who equipped me with strength
    and made my way blameless.
33   He made my feet like the feet of a deer
    and set me secure on the heights.
34   He trains my hands for war,
    so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze.
35   You have given me the shield of your salvation,
    and your right hand supported me,
    and your gentleness made me great.
36   You gave a wide place for my steps under me,
    and my feet did not slip.
37   I pursued my enemies and overtook them,
    and did not turn back till they were consumed.
38   I thrust them through, so that they were not able to rise;
    they fell under my feet.
39   For you equipped me with strength for the battle;
    you made those who rise against me sink under me.
40   You made my enemies turn their backs to me,
    and those who hated me I destroyed.
41   They cried for help, but there was none to save;
    they cried to the LORD, but he did not answer them.
42   I beat them fine as dust before the wind;
    I cast them out like the mire of the streets.
43   You delivered me from strife with the people;
    you made me the head of the nations;
    people whom I had not known served me.
44   As soon as they heard of me they obeyed me;
    foreigners came cringing to me.
45   Foreigners lost heart
    and came trembling out of their fortresses.
46   The LORD lives, and blessed be my rock,
    and exalted be the God of my salvation—
47   the God who gave me vengeance
    and subdued peoples under me,
48   who rescued me from my enemies;
    yes, you exalted me above those who rose against me;
    you delivered me from the man of violence.
49   For this I will praise you, O LORD, among the nations,
    and sing to your name.
50   Great salvation he brings to his king,
    and shows steadfast love to his anointed,
    to David and his offspring forever.

Proverbs 11:22

22   Like a gold ring in a pig’s snout
    is a beautiful woman without discretion.

Sat 15 May, 2021


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