Play By the Rules

 

 

I donít know just when this sermon came to me, but I know who put the idea in my head. So do you. Itís interesting how the Lord will, ďTalkĒ to us and guides us. Sometimes He simply plants the seed and lets it grow. Other times He plants the idea fully grown. This time he planted the seed and I had to water it and keep the ravens and weeds away.

 

I kept thinking about competition and how we should compete with one another in doing good deeds and serving the Lord. This is a great competition because there are no losers in this competition. Then from there the whole idea of competition and games came into focus step by step followed by two scriptures that came to mind.

*†† (1 Cor 9:24-25 NIV)Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. {25} Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.

*†† (2 Tim 2:5 NIV)Similarly, if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not receive the victor's crown unless he competes according to the rules.

 

Now these scriptures seemed pretty simple but the more I thought about them the more complex they became. Consider some of the elements stated or implied.

1.       Rulebook: You canít have a game without rules. In the game of life the only legitimate rulebook is the Bible.

*†† (Mat 15:7-9 NIV)You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you: {8} "'These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. {9} They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.'" If you want to be a winner you had better read the rulebook.

2.       Team: Almost all games consist of two or more players or people that help the player. The team I am talking about today is known as the Brothers and the Sisters. AKA, the children of God. Most frequently referred to as the Church.

3.       Teammates: So all the members of the team are your teammates. And each member of the team has a role to play. The sum of the members is called the Body of Christ. Also known as the Jesus team.

*†† (Rom 12:4-5 NIV)Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, {5} so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.

4.       Team Captain: That has to be Jesus. Think of the team captain as the one that represents the players. Got a problem, see Jesus.

*†† (1 Tim 2:5 NIV)For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,

5.       Coach: The Holy Spirit. Listen to the Spirit and let it reveal what you need to know. You will find great comfort if you will listen to the coach.

*†† (Luke 12:12 NIV)for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say."

6.       Owner: The Father. This owner actually, well actually owns you. This owner actually cares about you. This owner wants to see you win by being the best you can be.

7.       Judge/Umpire: Jesus is the final authority. He has all the answers. His calls are always right.

*†† (Luke 6:46 NIV)"Why do you call me, 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I say?

8.       Opponent: Satan and self. Now this is actually a bit misleading. Satan is more like the cheerleader for the opponent. The real opponent is your own sinful nature.

*†† (James 1:14 NIV)but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed.

9.       Training: Now here is the key to victory. Practice, practice, practice! Read the Rulebook daily. Not only will you learn the rules you will also pick up some excellent tips on playing the game.

*†† (2 Tim 2:15 KJV)Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

*†† (Acts 6:4 KJV)But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.

10.   No quitting: You cannot quit this game. You must give it your all. Even unto death.

*†† (Phil 2:8 NIV)And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death-- even death on a cross!

11.   Get in the game: If you donít play you canít win! And, donít forget, this game is not a spectator sport. You have to participate.

 

So let me end as I began.

*†† (1 Cor 9:24-25 NIV)Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. {25} Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.

*†† (2 Tim 2:5 NIV)Similarly, if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not receive the victor's crown unless he competes according to the rules.