Daily Devotional for Sunday April 23, 2006

You are on the Winning Team if You Know Jesus

(1 Corinthians 9:24-27, 15:57)

This is the message that I had originally planned to deliver after the Super Bowl last week, but had to hold off due to the Janet Jackson fiasco that needed to be put in the proper context and addressed. It was said by commentators and ex-professional football players in the two weeks leading up to the Super Bowl, that this would be the biggest game these players would ever play in. There would be a worldwide television audience of over 100 million watching the game, and at stake was the greatest prize in professional football, the Vince Lombardi Trophy that goes to the World Champions.

Most of the players in the Super Bowl had been playing football since they were very young boys. Most started out playing Pee Wee or Pop Warner football in grade school and junior high. The majority were stars or top players during their high school days. They then advanced to various college programs, ultimately ending up being one of less than 1700 people on the planet with the God-given ability to play at the NFL level. Twenty years of learning the game, working out, dealing with various injuries, the good fortune to be on a contending team, all culminating in one game that would define their football career.

As I watched the game, I began to reflect on how our service to the Lord is similar to playing in a big game. After we accept Christ as our Savior, we have to learn what being a Christian is all about. We are discipled by a mature believer and start learning how to live the Christian life. Along the way we deal with various attacks and set backs. But as we press forward and continue to serve Christ, along our journey God will open the door and gives us incredible opportunities to make an impact for the Kingdom of God. The prize is not a few pounds of silver, but crowns of gold and precious stones that await us in Glory for our faithfulness in serving God.

Many passages in Paul?s writings compare our Christian service to athletes and athletic competition. Instead of the earthly spoils an athlete enjoys in victory, the Christian is striving for eternal rewards. As glorified as athletes are in our society today for their ability to perform in a sporting event, those who have given themselves to the work of God may never be noticed by man, but their work does not go unnoticed by God. While an athlete is judged by men, those who serve God will be judged by the ultimate Judge.

I love you and care about you so much. We live in a society that glorifies, even worships star athletes and entertainers. This is a trap even the church has fallen into as we glorify, even worship some men and women of God. There is only ONE ?star,? and that is Jesus Christ! The reality is, God could care less if someone who serves Him is on t.v., writes books, sings, does a radio program, speaks to thousands at a time, or sends out 2 million emails daily. God is only interested in one thing, OUR FAITHFULNESS to Him.

Those who serve Him, in whatever capacity they have been called to serve, all have the same responsibility to God and that is to be faithful to whatever God has called them to do with their life. No service to God is too small, unimportant, or in vain. In an athletic event, even a major game like the Super Bowl with the world championship at stake, life goes on for those who lose. It is still only a game. However, those who are serving the Lord are dealing with the eternal souls of people. Those who die rejecting Christ will be lost for eternity.

I will be praying for you today. I pray that you realize how important your service to the Lord really is. You may not serve the Lord in a stadium full of people with a worldwide television audience of 100 million people watching you, but what you do for Christ is more important than all the Super Bowls that will ever be played since it involves the eternal souls of people. That is why you have to be passionate, work hard, and give everything that you have in serving the Lord just like a great athlete does.

If a professional football player is willing to sacrifice his life, his body, play with great pain simply to win a game, how much more should you be willing to sacrifice, give of yourself, and do whatever it takes to serve Christ and advance God?s Kingdom?

Yes, the Super Bowl will continue to be a huge game as long as football is played. In the world of professional football it will always be the most important game there is. The fact is, if you know Christ as your Savior you are called to serve Him with your life. What is at stake is the eternal lives of people. Satan will be rooting against you, but the angels in Heaven will be cheering you on. You won?t be judged by a referee, but by God Himself. I want to encourage you today to get out into this world we live in and give God everything you have today. The good news is, unlike those playing in the Super Bowl, you already know that YOU ARE ON THE WINNING TEAM!!!