The football coach; sometimes you praise him, sometimes you question his decisions, but you know he always has the best interests of the team in mind. He’s the guy who puts his players through all kinds of hard, and many times, painful drills with the goal of preparing them to face the opponent. “No pain, no gain!” He says. He teaches them all the rules so they can play the game without being penalized which would give the other team an advantage. He gives them team rules of conduct which are for their benefit as players and individuals but also that they might represent the team in a positive light. The coach, he leads the team with the help of a group of assistants who follow his lead to accomplish their common goals which include athletic and personal improvement, integrity, sportsmanship and ultimately, victory. However, to achieve these goals, the players have to submit to the coach; they have to do what he says, follow his rules, and do their best to support him, their fellow players, and those who follow the team.
God; sometimes we praise Him but sometimes we question or don’t understand His decisions but we must know that He always has our best interests at heart. If we choose to be on His team, He will put us through all kinds of hard and painful training in order to be successful for His “team” and to defeat the enemy, the devil. Through God’s word, the Bible, and prayer, He will teach us His way so we can be effective in the game of life and please “the Coach”. His way will not only benefit us but our team members and all who are a part of the team. God leads His team with the help of His assistants…who are the players! Their loyalty and service makes them better “players” and helps the team to victory. We have to choose to be on God’s team, to submit to His rules, and support Him. “Put me in Coach.” “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall now want…He leads me in paths of righteousness…I will fear no evil for Thou art with me…surely Goodness and Mercy shall follow me and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord…Forever.” (From Psalm 23).
There are three types of people who are involved in a football game, really four. First, many people choose NOT to be involved in the game. They stay home and do their own thing; they don’t have any interest in the game or other things in their lives take precedence. They’re not committed to the game at all.
Second, there are those who go to the game. They may wear their team’s colors, sit in the stands with other like-minded folks and cheer their team on to victory…they hope. They’re committed to the team and take part in the game, but from a distance…where they’re sitting.
Third, attending this game are the players. They’re on the team, wear the team equipment, have been through a training process, and are willing to do whatever they can, with the talents they have, to promote the success of the team. These players are under the direction of the coach who has put them through some hard drills but they’re willing to do it because they have a deeper commitment to the team.
Finally, on this team, there are those who do most of the playing; the first team. They’re usually more experienced, stronger, and have put in the time and effort to get to the athletic level required to be successful against their opponent. They get in the game. They get to use what they’ve previously learned in practice in the game. They’re not just on the team, standing on the sidelines, but have made the greatest personal commitment to the success of the team.
If you go back and read the four types of commitments, you’ll see that they’re the same as those involved in the game of life. Some don’t care about the game (church); some go to the game (church) but only watch from the stands (seats). Others have chosen to be on the team but spend most of their time on the sidelines. Then, there are those who have made the commitment to get the job done (God’s plan). Do you see yourself in any of these categories? “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9:23). That’s the commitment Jesus wants.
How can you tell who someone’s favorite team is? Can you tell by just by looking at and listening to them? If they are passionate about “their” team, yes you can. They will have their “team gear” displayed for all to see. They’ll, of course, have their team jersey and maybe a cap, shirt, gloves, pants, hoodie, and I’ve even seen advertised team underwear, (hopefully not on display). They’ll have their team jewelry, mail box, yard flag, vehicle banner, car tag, and children’s clothes. Cups, key chains, decals, tote bags, blankets, chairs and umbrellas for their team whether in youth league, high school, college, or the pros. They love their team!
And listen to them talk on the days leading up to the big game. They’re team is the best and the opponent is, well, we won’t say. On game day, they’re at the game or watching on TV cheering, screaming, waving their hands, clapping, jumping up and down pushing their team on to victory. Their team is very important to them and everyone around knows it. They follow their team on ESPN, Facebook, Twitter, in the news, and learn all they can. They know the players, their lives and treat them as personal friends. They love their team. Do you know anyone like this? Are you like this?
What if we had the same passion for Team Jesus?
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind,” (Luke 10:27).
We are in the middle of football season on many levels and many people are into the game. This week we will begin a series of articles on some Biblical lessons we can learn from the sport of football. Ready? Hike!
First, let’s look at the field. It’s 100 yards long with yard markers every ten yards and areas at each end called end zones. One end zone is defended by one team and the other end zone by the other team. Each team’s name or logo is painted in their end zone. Do we have a mental picture of the field?
Now picture this: In one end zone, the devil and his demons are all gathered. On the opposite end, God and His angels are standing. We see many people standing on the fifty yard line looking both ways trying to make a decision on which end zone they will move toward. The devil’s bunch is hollering and waving from their end for the people to move toward them. They’re making all kinds of good-sounding promises if people will come join them. (Actually, the devil wants to kill, steal, and destroy them, (John 10:10)). On the other side, God is just holding out His arms with love shining out from His eyes saying, “I love you, come to me, I’ll make everything alright.” (Matthew 11:28). Which way should the people go?
As some start moving toward God, some of the demons run around, get in their way, and try to lie and trick them into turning around. As some move toward the devil, God’s small, Still voice whispers in their ear, “Don’t do this, it’s not what I made you for, (Jeremiah 29:11), turn around and come to me.” Some keep moving, some stop to think, some turn and go in the opposite direction. As we look at the field, we see many people between the 50 yard line and the goal line on both ends. Where are they going to end up? Where are you on the field? The clock is running down.
What is your attitude when going before the Lord with a problem? This may shed some light on how it should be.
A believer comes to the gates of the King with the intention of presenting his need to the King for resolution. As he worriedly walks up, he sees the gatekeeper standing there who says, “Can I help you?” The man replies in this pitiful, whiney voice, “Yes, (sniff, sniff), I have this terrible problem that I need the King to help me with.” “Please let me in the gates to see the King.” The gatekeeper says, “Now wait a minute, you can’t enter the gates with an attitude like that.” “The King has already said He would help you so you must do this…’Enter His gates with thanksgiving‘. (Psalm 100:4a). “Do you think you can do that?” The man thinks about it and says, “Yes, I will do that.” “Thank you King for caring about me and letting me in to see you.” “Thank you for meeting my need.”
“Now, that’s much better.” says the gatekeeper. “Keep that up as you go in the gates.” “And when you get into the King’s court, start praising Him.” “That way, you’ll be prepared to go in to see the King.” “And you know what?” “Many people find that when they get in before the King that their problem has already been solved.” “So, go on in.” “Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise.” (Psalm 100:4b).
Our attitude which reflects our belief and trust makes a difference.
Steven Covey wrote a very popular book a few years ago titled, “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”. The third habit was, “Put first things first” and that’s good advice. Let’s look at a few things.
It would be a good idea for a prospective doctor or pilot to go through extensive schooling and training FIRST before starting the job. Someone who wanted to run a marathon should spend much time in training FIRST. Before becoming a preacher, no one would argue that the person should get saved…FIRST.
A son comes in and asks his father for the keys to the car so he can go out with his friends. Dad says, “Son, have you taken out the trash like I asked?” “Well, not yet Dad but can I have the keys?” “No, you’ve got to take out the trash FIRST.” Now, can you see some spiritual similarities with this concept? God created the earth and the Garden of Eden FIRST before creating man. Jesus told the ten lepers in Luke 17:10 to, “Go show yourselves to the priests, (FIRST)”. Other things He told people he healed were, “Stretch forth you hand, (FIRST)”, and “(FIRST) Take up your bed and walk.” In Matthew 5:24, we’re told if we bring an offering and remember we have unforgiveness against someone, “First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.” Are you getting the understanding?
What have you asked God for and are waiting to receive? Do you think He may be saying, “First son/daughter, do what I’ve already told you.” Ask Him again what that was and listen for His reminder. One clue may be, “Seek ye FIRST the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Matthew 6:33). Let’s put first things first.
Do you love the Lord? Usually when you love someone, you want to do things for them. So, what can we do for the Lord? He has certainly done and continues to do so much for us! One thing is to do what He says: “If you love me, you will obey what I command.” (John 14:15). He has commanded lots of things in His Word so we need to find out what those things are, (read your Bible), then do what it says, “Be ye doers of the Word and not hearers only…” (James 1:22).
Now, God doesn’t need His house fixed, He doesn’t need money, food, or clothes. He doesn’t need encouraging, consoling, or advising. God doesn’t need us to visit Him in the hospital…do you see where this going? So how can we do something nice for the Lord? Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!” (Matthew 25:40). So if we do these kinds of things for God’s people, we’re doing them for Him. He takes it personally.
On the other hand, He also takes it personally when we harm one of his children. Remember what He said to Saul of Tarsus on the road to Damascus? “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” (Acts 26:14). Saul¸ (later, the apostle Paul), had been traveling around arresting and killing Christians and Jesus likened that to doing it to Him. He takes it personally. As parents, we know if you do something bad to our kids, you’re doing it to us too. And if someone does something nice for our kids, we like it. Father God is the same way.
So, how can we do something for the Lord? We can buy the Lord lunch today, we can pay His light bill, visit Him in the hospital; we can encourage or console Him. We can minister to His body by helping other parts of the Body; our fellow Christians. Look around you and see which one of God’s children needs help. Or maybe they don’t need help but you could just do something nice for them. God takes it personally. Let’s do something for the Lord today.
A person who has just sinned for the umpteenth time and is so upset with themselves, cries out, “God, I can’t handle this, I can’t do it myself!” To which God replies, “YES!”, while pumping His fist. “I know you can’t do it but… I CAN!” Can anyone relate? I sure can. The Bible says we have all sinned, (Romans 3:23), we were born with a sinful nature because of Adam and Eve’s original sin in the Garden of Eden. That’s why Jesus said, “..ye must be born again.” (John 3:7), to get God’s Spirit in you to do battle with that sinful nature. So we must get over the worldly, devil-initiated idea that we can do it ourselves without God.
And listen, you’re not alone. The great apostle Paul battled with the same thing. “For what I want to do, I do not do, but what I hate, I do” (See Romans 7: 14-20). But Paul, and many others, learned to have a different attitude and this is it: “That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 2:10), and, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13).
So, make a decision today to stop trying to handle things by yourself and cry out to God admitting you can’t do it and ask for His help. He’s waiting right there and will say to you, “I know you can’t do it but… I CAN!” “Let’s go.”
As I come into your presence, to worship and to praise, I realize the price you had to pay. And I know, Lord, I’m not worthy, yet you choose to work through me. So I ask, how can I serve you today?
And He says…The lady at the checkout will need a smile today. Her little girl is sick and her best friend moved away. And the boy who bags your groceries thinks he cannot cope. His father drinks and beats his mom; he needs some words of hope.
But Lord, don’t you need preaching to bring the unsaved in? Or mighty signs and wonders to save them from their sin? He says, Yes, I need those things and I know you want to please. But your servant’s job today is unto the least of these.
That old man down the street needs a gentle touch. He lost his wife last year and he misses her so much. And don’t forget the homeless man; you pass by him each day. He’s dirty and he curses but I love him anyway.
I see your plan for me, Lord, for this place and time. To share the love of Jesus and let my witness shine. To look at your creation, Lord, and see them as you do. Knowing that by serving them, I’ll be serving You.
“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1: 7.
Timothy is telling us here of another promise of God; that we don’t have to be afraid. Now wait, what about, “the fear of God”, (Ecclesiastes 12:13 and others). That kind of fear means reverence, honor, awe; not being afraid of God. Timothy is telling us that God has not given us the “spirit of fear”. Do you know anybody who is afraid of everything? Someone who sees the negative side of every situation? Someone who rarely steps out in faith because they’re afraid of what might happen? Is that you? That’s the spirit of fear and God didn’t give us that. You know where that comes from!
But God did promise us another Spirit, (notice the capital “S”). We have inside us the Holy Spirit of God, “…how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him? Luke 11:13”. That Spirit is the Spirit of POWER, LOVE, and a SOUND MIND, (good judgment). That Spirit gives us power over the spirit of fear. That Spirit gives us love which overcomes the spirit of “what if”. That Spirit gives us a sound mind to make good choices, see right from wrong, have insight into situations, and discipline ourselves to do the right thing.
But all this doesn’t just come on us when we get saved. The Spirit of God within us needs developing just like our muscles. We have God’s Spirit in us, (God promised), but we have to exercise It to the point where our Godly Spirit takes over that fleshly spirit that we were born with. We have the Spirit of Power, Love, and a Sound Mind but we must use it. When we do, It will become stronger and stronger to the point where that spirit of fear won’t even raise it’s ugly head! God promised!