Daily Devotional for Tuesday July 25, 2006
(1 John 5:4)
As someone who started watching and playing sports at age 5, I will never forget the joy I felt when the team I was rooting for or playing on won, and how bad it felt to lose. One of my greatest enjoyments in life is college football and I can't wait until the new season begins in a few weeks! Last September I was able to go to my hometown of Columbus, Ohio on a Saturday morning after doing the TV program the night before, spend some time during the afternoon with family, and that night go to one of the great stadiums in sports, "the Horseshoe," and watch my beloved Ohio State Buckeyes play the University of Texas. Due to my schedule, it was the first time I had been able to get to a game in person for several years, and as the day wore on, the excitement of that night's game intensified.
Around 8 p.m. that night it was finally time for the game to begin. Along with over 100,000 other Buckeye fans, we cheered our team on as they dominated the great University of Texas team. Throughout the game, costly mistakes, dropped passes, forced Ohio State to settle for field goals instead of touchdowns, and despite their great effort, Texas made one big play late in the 4th quarter for a touchdown that won the game for them 25-22. As excited as I was for days leading up to the game, on the flight to Columbus that morning, throughout the day and during the game itself, leaving the stadium that night all of that joy and excitement had turned to sadness. Losing stinks!
Note: This September, the mighty Buckeyes will head to Austin for a rematch with the current National Champion Longhorns, to repay them for that painful loss en route to what Buckeye fans hope is another National Championship season!!!
This past January, the then two-time defending National Champions of college football USC Trojans played that same Texas team in the Rose Bowl for last season's National Championship. I have several close friends who are alumni of USC and were at the game. One of them emailed me when he got home how exciting it was to be at such a great game. However, despite USC holding a 12-point lead with just 4 minutes left in the game, Texas, led by their all-world quarterback Vince Young scored 15 points in those final minutes and won the game 41-38 and the National Championship of college football. To quote my friend, "losing stinks!"
As inconsequential in the scheme of things as losing a sporting event may be, it is a perfect analogy for those who choose to follow Christ and those who choose to follow satan. Make no mistake about it, when you reject Jesus, whether you understand it or not, you are choosing satan. There are only two options, Jesus and satan, and each person makes the choice who they will follow. Just like at the end of a sporting event when the clock is at 0:00 and a winner is declared, 0:00 for each one of us is when we take that last breath and leave this life and stand before God.
God is the ultimate referee, the ultimate umpire, and as you stand before Him there is only going to be one question, "Do you know Jesus Christ as your personal Savior by faith?" It is like the instant replay of a wide receiver catching a pass at the back of the end zone. When you watch the replay, he either caught the ball and his feet were in the field of play or they weren't. Based on whether you have accepted Christ as your Savior by faith during your life or rejected His love, God will usher you into your eternal home with Him or cast you into everlasting darkness forever separated from Him.
PLEASE LISTEN TO ME CLOSELY. When a team loses a game, there will always be another game. Having lived in the great city of Chicago for over 13 years, I spent many enjoyable afternoons at Wrigley Field watching the Cubs. It has been 97 years since the Cubs won the World Series. NINETY SEVEN YEARS! The saying at the end of every season is, "there is always next year!" When you reject Jesus Christ and die in your sins, there are no other chances, there is not "another game" or "wait until next year." The moment you die you will live for all entirety with the choice you have made. You will be forever with Jesus or satan.
I love you and care about you so much. I realize most of you have a favorite sport, a favorite team, have played sports yourself. There are very few people I have met in this life that enjoy losing. For most, it is an unpleasant experience. The fact is, losing is part of living in this world for this season. None of us can win all the time. There will always be times in our life when things don't go the way we planned, the way we want them to. In sports, losing forces you to work harder, be better prepared the next time, sacrifice what you have to to win the next game. It is the same way in life. When we suffer defeats, it forces us to work harder, prepare better, make the sacrifices we must to be victorious.
However, the most important battle you will ever face is the battle for your soul. God your Creator loves you so much and wants to have an eternal relationship with you. Satan hates you but also wants to have an eternal relationship with you. During your life you will have to choose who you are going to follow, God or satan. Again, don't be deceived. When you reject God you are choosing satan whether you understand that or not. The choice you make will stand for all eternity.
By choosing God, you will live for all eternity in victory. Because of the victory Christ won on the cross 2000 years ago, by putting your hope and faith in Him you can live in that victory now and for all eternity. By choosing satan, you will live for all eternity in defeat. Losing for all eternity is by far the worst thing imaginable that could ever happen to a person. Losing stinks.
If you have never made the decision to accept Christ into your heart and life by faith, the Bible says that today is the day of salvation. I would invite you to go to my website, www.liveprayer.com and click on the button that says PLAN OF SALVATION (direct link: www.liveprayer.com/bdy_salvatn.cfm). Read those words, pray that prayer, and accept today God's gift to you of everlasting life and live for all eternity in VICTORY!!!