If you hang around me for a while and get to know me, you will find I often use Sports cliches, sports analogies, and movie lines, even in general conversation. I like a variety of sports, have played and coached a few. I am also a movie buff. Therefore all of this intwines in my conversation.
At a church service a while back it was mentioned “God is not looking for bench warmers.” I wholeheartedly agree! Think about it, when you were saved, you were given the Holy Spirit, Spiritual Gifts, and seeds of Fruits of the Spirit. He didn’t intend us to be sideline observers. He doesn’t necessarily want us to be Fans (as you may well realize if you ever read the book, “not a fan”) He wants us to take up our cross, (not our therapeutic mattress) and FOLLOW HIM. In addition, the church wasn’t designed to be comfortable movie theatre seats where we sit back just to be entertained. The church, no matter the size, was and should be a place to gather, learn, serve, praise, worship, get equipped and GO out.
Jesus last words were not, “okie dokie, you are saved, relax & enjoy.” No, he said, “I’ve received all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything that I’ve commanded you. Look, I myself will be with you every day until the end of this present age.” — Matthew 28:16–20 (CEB)
So, are we bench seat warmers, or sideline recliner viewers? Or are we warriors, players determined to win? To fight the good fight, to finish the course, to score touchdowns of lives changed for the Cause of Christ, to add to the souls to the Kingdom of Heaven?
GET IN THE GAME we are on the winning team!
What I wish to express and try to connect the dots is how to emulate and become like a Disciple and Apostle from the New Testament. I have been blessed to accomplish a lot in my life, however I have also lost a lot. Life can certainly throw you some curve balls whether you are a person of faith or not. The key is perseverance. It is also one of several reasons my “Life Verse” is Hebrews 12:1–3.
When I was a Sales Trainer, Manager, or Sales Director I often spoke before my teams from 6 to 100 people. Something I would say was, “Anything worth having takes a lot of work, anything worth having is worth working for” I also said this when I coached, and I say it to my children.
The Disciples were not perfect. Some were rough and tough fishermen, one was a tax collector, one was a doctor, one even became a traitor. They came from a variety of walks and had an array of personalities. However, Jesus called them. You see God doesn’t call the qualified, He qualifies the Called.
I would like to encourage you to get deep into the New Testament these next few weeks, or couple of months and read about these 12 Disciples. Walk through a study on each of them. Google each of them and get to know them. Then study how Jesus spoke to them, ministered to them, served them, loved them. If you really want to know what it takes to be a Disciple of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, do this and strive to apply what he taught, do as He commanded, and live like He did.
Conversely, I will also say, don’t rush things to intensely, and miss the value of the Journey. Remember what Jesus told Peter in his over zeal wanting to be the best of these? Jesus basically told him, and I paraphrase in more of our common terms, “Bro., slow your roll, if you want to be at the top, you must start at the bottom. You must be the least of these, serve, and love one another. For they will know you, me and the Father in you, by your love and servanthood.” Here is how it is written in Luke 22:24–27 in the ESV
“A dispute also arose among them, as to which of them was to be regarded as the greatest. And he said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and those in authority over them are called benefactors. But not so with you. Rather, let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves. For who is the greater, one who reclines at table or one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at table? But I am among you as the one who serves.”
We will also make time for what we truly value or love. It is written for where your heart is is where you treasure is. In other words you will invest your time, talents and treasure into what you typically value the most. I must confess my own time, money, and even my talents have been invested in less productive manners than for the Kingdom.
If you have ever played sports or in any type of competition to win. (And I certainly hope you have always played to win.) It takes training, it takes hard work, it takes teamwork, it takes commitment, and it takes discipline. It also takes listening to a good coach or coaches. It also takes playing by the rules with good sportsman conduct. Often it takes getting up earlier than anyone else or putting in some long hours. And in the off season, eating right and getting to the gym to stay in top shape and keeping your skills honed. A professional athlete didn’t get there by luck, without countless hours of practice, not just during the season, but year around. Professional athletes did the work, most often at a very young age, and it took time. Professional athletes as well as successful business people had (still have) a vision, a mission and a purpose and that was their compass that they never gave up on, and never quit. Did they fail, yes many times. However, you never really fail, unless you don’t dust yourself off, and get back up.
I am hoping how the Spirit is talking to me as I share these words, analogies, metaphors, and devotion with you, are making sense. Readers, what you, I, and all of us have before us is not easy. It will take hard work, commitment, and discipline. Will you fail or make mistakes, I am going to say yes you will. However, you are not in it alone. You will naturally build brotherhood and/or sisterhood. You have a team. You have coaches (mentors), and best of all you have God and your relationship with Jesus Christ. I am going to close with a few verses from 1 Timothy:
“But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who in his testimony before[a] Pontius Pilate made the good confession, o keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which he will display at the proper time — he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen.” — I Timothy 6:11–19 ESV
Do the activity. Do the work. Carve out the time, and all will fall into place. Don’t get weary in well doing. Stay in the game and play to win as we are on the Winners side.