Sports Spectrum Magazine Summer 2021

Devotionals from Fall 2015 print issue (Week 4)

SERIES: ACTS 12, LESSONS FROM THE NEW TESTAMENT

Monday: “About that time Herod the king laid violent hands on some who belonged to the church. He killed James the brother of John with the sword, and when he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded to arrest Peter also.” Acts 12:1-3

The Power Of Belief

Some of the most brilliant coaches I’ve witnessed have a knack for implementing a culture of pride and sacrifice into their programs. And once the players buy into this culture, it becomes contagious. Though each day at practice might be painful and require tremendous sacrifice and dedication, it becomes invaluable for players to see their peers giving their all.
In Acts 12:1-3, we read about the suffering of the saints who belonged to the church of Jesus Christ—how James the brother of John was put to death and how Peter was arrested. The trend that they set in following the ministry of a suffering Savior are incredibly inspirational and invaluable for us as followers of Christ. Because of their belief in something—so much so that they would die and be tortured for that belief—we can be encouraged to give our all and make sacrifices for the sake of the gospel, in whichever way we are called, thus enjoying Christ and experiencing fulfillment in ways we never imagined.

By Stephen Copeland, Sports Spectrum


 

Tuesday: “And when he had seized him, he put him in prison, delivering him over to four squads of soldiers to guard him, intending after the Passover to bring him out to the people. So Peter was kept in prison, but earnest prayer for him was made to God by the church.” Acts 12:4-6

Earnest Prayer

We live in a fix-it, do-it-yourself society where it seems that there is a solution to just about anything. When something goes wrong, it’s not uncommon for us to go back to the drawing board, like a coach, and draw up another play, hopeful this one will bring success. Our affluence has ultimately led to the belief that we are in control—that is, until something comes along that shatters our world. Then, and only then, do we sometimes turn to prayer.
In Acts 12:4-6, we read that the church’s first response to hearing about Peter’s imprisonment was prayer. Part of me believes that my first reaction might have been to negotiate with the guards or the government or draw up a plan to break him out. I am challenged by their belief in the power of prayer. How powerful do you believe prayer to be? What steps can you take to see the strength and hope of prayer more in your life?

By Stephen Copeland, Sports Spectrum


 

Wednesday: “Now when Herod was about to bring him out, on that very night, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries before the door were guarding the prison. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood next to him, and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him, saying, ‘Get up quickly.’ And the chains fell off his hands.” Acts 12:6-7

Weakness and Vulnerability

In this issue, we ran an eight-page feature on University of North Carolina women’s basketball coach Sylvia Hatchell. Hatchell was diagnosed with leukemia in 2013, right after being inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. In an instant, right when her career was at its peak, her future was suddenly in question. What she discovered throughout her fight with leukemia was, one, the frailty of life, and two, the reality that God was in control. It was in her weakness where she experienced God’s power.

In Acts 12:6-7, God’s power is displayed in Peter’s weakness—when he is imprisoned and his future is in question. At this point, he has no idea whether he will die or live, but one night, an angel of the Lord appears to him and “the chains fell off his hands.” Sometimes it is in our weakness and dependency and vulnerability where we discover the power of God the most. This life will undoubtedly involve mountains of pain, but may we be reminded that during these times our faith will come alive and we will experience God’s power unlike ever before.

Stephen Copeland, Sports Spectrum

Thursday: “They said to her, ‘You are out of your mind.’ But she kept insisting that it was so, and they kept saying, ‘It is his angel!’ But Peter continued knocking, and when they opened, they saw him and were amazed.” Acts 12:15-16

Praying With Expectancy

Whenever I played on the middle school and high school golf team, I used to practice for hours on end. However, I eventually realized that my practicing was simply a matter of clocking hours—I was not practicing with the expectation that I would get better and be a top golfer.

In Acts 12, we read about an angel freeing Peter from prison. He immediately goes to a house where the disciples of Jesus Christ are gathered, and upon knocking and telling a woman named Rhonda that it was he, Peter, we read about how the disciples doubted Rhonda’s report, exclaiming, “It is his angel!” Ironically, the disciples were praying together upon Peter’s arrival. Were they praying with the expectancy that God might answer their prayer and rescue Peter or simply praying? I am challenged and reminded to pray with the expectancy that He will answer, and to look forward to how He answers my prayers.

By Stephen Copeland, Sports Spectrum


 

Friday: “On an appointed day Herod put on his royal robes, took his seat upon the throne, and delivered an oration to them. And the people were shouting, ‘The voice of a god, and not of a man!’ Immediately an angel of the Lord struck him down, because he did not give God the glory, and he was eaten by worms and breathed his last.” Acts 12:21-23

Pride Before the Fall

The summer of 2015 was a remarkable one for PGA Tour golfer Jordan Spieth. In majors alone, he won the Masters, won the U.S. Open, tied for fourth in The British Open and got second in the PGA Championship. What was most intriguing about Spieth, however, was the mindset behind his exemplary performances. Listen to his interviews and, as good as a season as it’s been by most people’s standards, he is not content. He does not believe he has arrived. He believes he can improve and still has a ways to go.

Perhaps the most prideful thing we can ever choose to believe is the thought that we have arrived—that we have it all figured out. In Acts 12:21-23, we read about how Herod was killed on the spot because he ultimately believed he had it all figured out, that he had arrived, that he was a god. It is a reminder that we are not the center of our own, individual universe. We must keep our pride in check and humbly acknowledge that we have a lot to learn in this life, from God and His people.

By Stephen Copeland, Sports Spectrum


 

Weekender: “Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.” Ephesians 6:13 (KJV)

Going Long

Reflect on what this verse emphasizes: taking on the entire armor of God so that we can withstand. If we only put on part of the armor, we will fail.