Daily Devotional for Monday January 12, 2015

Leave It All On The Field

(Matthew 5:14-16)

***ASK BILL: Pastor Bill, when bad words or thoughts come to mind, how do you "cast these down" and should you feel guilty after you dismiss them?

ANSWER: Satan puts all kind of impure thoughts in our minds. The key is to simple rebuke those thoughts by the name of Jesus, and don't feel guilty, since it is a way the enemy attacks everyone.

Tonight is the very first College Football National Championship game under the new playoff system between the Oregon Ducks of the Pac-12 and my beloved Ohio State Buckeyes of the Big 10. For college football fans, for football fans period, it will be an incredible night as the last two teams standing play for 60 minutes to determine who will become the first champion of college football under their new playoff system.

I wish the fans of the Oregon Ducks best wishes tonight. I pray it is a great game and nobody is injured. To all my friends in Buckeye nation..OH...GO BUCKEYES!!! One thing is for certain, both teams will LEAVE IT ALL ON THE FIELD!!!

In June of 2004, I had the special treat of being one of over 22,000 people at the St. Petersburg Times Forum in Tampa, Florida cheering the Tampa Bay Lightning on to victory over the Calgary Flames in game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals. For a hockey fan, there can be no greater experience than a game 7 in the Stanley Cup Finals as both teams live and die with each shift for 60 minutes. When it is over, to the winning team goes arguably the most prized trophy in professional sports, Lord Stanley's Cup.

As I watched the Lightning hang on through the final 10 minutes of the game to win 2-1, saw the players skating around the ice with the Stanley Cup hoisted above their heads to the roar of the crowd having achieved the ultimate goal every hockey player dreams of, here is what I was thinking. When the child of God completes his work here on earth, it is the goal of each one to enter into the gates of Heaven with the angels cheering, and instead of receiving a silver trophy, it is to simply stand in the presence of our Lord and Savior and hear Him say, "Well done thou good and faithful servant!"

For those who play sports or enjoy watching sports, you will recognize this phrase. It is something coaches often tell their players before a big game, "leave it all on the field!" It basically means to give everything you have. Don't hold anything back. A sporting event has a predetermined amount of time in which it is played. The goal is to give your very best effort in that amount of time, since when the game is over, it is too late to effect the outcome. In that given amount of time you have to sacrifice everything you have to help your team be victorious. There is no reason to hold back, since when the game is over it won't matter.

How much our Christian life is like a sporting event, YET OF INCREDIBLY GREATER SIGNIFICANCE BECAUSE OUR ETERNAL DESTINATION IS AT STAKE! We have a predetermined amount of time, our life. When it is over, it is too late. The only difference in this analogy is that God is the official clock-keeper and we do not have the advantage of knowing how much time is left. ALL THE MORE REASON WE SHOULD GIVE 100%, MAXIMUM EFFORT EACH AND EVERY DAY!

Can you imagine a football team playing a game when they did not know how much time was left on the clock? The game could end at any minute. A strategy designed for a 60 minute contest would dramatically change, and coaches would be looking to score on every play since they never would know when it would be their last.

At this point, you may be a little confused about what point I am trying to get across to you today. It is simply this. While so many things in the world are distracting us, taking our focus off of the Lord, the simple fact is we are here to serve and glorify Him with our lives. THAT purpose must never be lost in our daily lives. Achieving that goal must never be forgotten in the business, the hustle and bustle of this world we live in.

We are very much like an athletic team in the sense we are here to win, win for Jesus. By accepting Him into your heart and life, you have already won the battle for the eternal destination of your soul, but the game does not end there, it starts there. You are now part of a team, God's team, and the team has a goal to share the message of hope and love through His Son Jesus Christ with this lost world. As part of God's team, you are expected to do your best each day to help the team win.

Every year in late March, the NCAA basketball tournament starts with 65 teams. One of the wonders of this tournament each year are the small, mostly unknown schools who do well. They are able to compete with larger schools, who have better players because they play a complete team game. Each player has his role, accepts that role, and plays to the best of his ability to help team win. As part of God's team, we too have a role to play. God has given us gifts and talents to play the role He calls us to play each day. Throughout our lives He will often change that role, but will always equip us and make us adequate to perform the job He has called us to do.

I love you and care about you very much. God has made each one of us special. Not only are we created in His image, but we are part of God's team. The great thing about God's team, is NOBODY sits on the bench. We are ALL in the game, ALL the time! My word for you today is "leave it all on the field!" You see my friend, when this life is over, it is over.

We don't know how much time we have left to compete, to serve Him. So every morning we must wake up and get out on the field of play and give everything we have. Too long God's team has dogged it. That is an athletic term for not giving their best effort. Too many of God's players have been resting on the sidelines. Too many of God's players are back in the locker room watching TV, having a cold drink, taking it easy.

There is nothing wrong with taking a time-out to rest once in a while, but the battle rages on, the game continues, and now more than ever God needs His team on the field competing with everything they have! Some may say, "we already know that our team wins at the end, why should we try so hard?" Fair question. The answer is the people on the other team. Not only do we know God wins, but we know what happens to those on the losing team. THAT is our motivation for fighting each day. To help as many on the other team come over to God's team.

I will be praying for you today. Let this word today be a wake-up call, a call to action. Get out on the field, and give God 100% of your effort. We don't know how long we have to play, so don't hold anything back. LEAVE IT ALL ON THE FIELD!

In His love and service, Your friend and brother in Christ,

Bill Keller