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********************************************************** ‘Getting in the Game’
as this program is being aired, summer vacations are over, so as many are
starting fall activities and programs, our theme is “Getting in the Game”
Reading from the word of God is taken from the first of Paul’s letters to the
Corinthians. Let me just put this into context for a moment: Paul is
apologizing to the Corinthians for a change in plans the kept him from visiting
Corinth as they had expected. He is clearly concerned that some of his
detractors will insinuate that Paul cannot be trusted to keep his word. In this
passage he reveals that he has tried to be reliable in every way, as a servant
of a faithful and trustworthy Lord.
Corinthians 9:19-27 - (NIV)
Use of His Freedom
19 Though I am free(A) and belong to no one, I have made
myself a slave to everyone,(B) to win as many as possible.(C)20 To the Jews I became
like a Jew, to win the Jews.(D) To those under the law I became like
one under the law (though I myself am not under the law),(E) so as to win those under the law. 21 To
those not having the law I became like one not having the law(F) (though I am not free from God’s law
but am under Christ’s law),(G) so as to win those not having the law. 22 To
the weak I became weak, to win the weak.(H) I have become all things to all people(I) so that by all possible means I might
save some.(J)23 I do all this for
the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.
24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run,
but only one gets the prize?(K) Run(L) 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(M) that will not last, but we do it to get
a crown that will last forever.(N)26 Therefore I do not
run like someone running aimlessly;(O) I do not fight like a boxer beating the
air.(P)27 No, I strike a blow
to my body(Q) and make it my slave so that after I
have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.(R)
the past summer has been focused on games: the Olympic Games. In our Scriptures
Paul compares our pursuit of God’s Kingdom to the preparation and participation
in an athletic contest, and it’s easy to see why. Every game takes time, effort
and practice. Games often have prizes, even if it is only the satisfaction of
having played well. People playing games often devote themselves to their
tasks. Throughout the ages people have been praised or criticized for the games
they play and the rewards they seek through them. For the most part, our
history is replete with heroes of sporting games, and mentally demanding games
like chess. Today we find more and more people giving more and more time to
video games, role playing games, and online games. One can still make a
comparison, following Paul’s example, between the games we play in life, and
philosophers and sociologists make much of the similarities between game
playing and life itself. They borrow ideas from the world of games and use them
to analyse human interactions. They look at the rules by which we live, the
regular practices of our lives,the
rewards we treasure and the reasons we persist, and find many similarities. Of
course these games almost always simulate life to one degree or another, from
the medieval battlefield of chess to the simplified country life of Farmville.
When we look at our relationship to Jesus Christ and the ministry he has given
us, can you answer the question, “Are
you in the game?
is no doubt that the Apostle Paul has “gotten in the game” he’s followed Jesus
with all his strength and at great cost. Paul can speak of the things he has
suffered and lost, all that he has set aside. He speaks of letting go of many
things he once counted as important, and persevering through great opposition.
He has been committed to Jesus despite beatings, shipwrecks, stoning, insult
and more. He has served God’s people freely, not for profit but for the sake of
Christ his Lord. Paul is in the game.
first question is “are you in the game?” meaning, “Have you decided to run this
race?” Jesus calls people to follow him, and in the bible his call is followed
by a decision: Peter and company left the fishing game to follow Jesus, Matthew
left the collections game to follow Jesus. Today it is not my intent to show
all the reasons for their confidence in Jesus: I address those of you who
already understand who Jesus is, and know that he has called all people to
follow him, and ask you, “Are you in the
try a little parable from soccer. Suppose you receive a flyer in the mail
concerning a local soccer “house” league. You’re interested... phone number,
email, webpage. Dates for tryouts, first game. Imagine the person who wants to
play but doesn’t call to register. He’s a good player, and surmises that anyone
would want him on their team. He’s spoken to a few friends and they all know he
wants to play. On game day he gets over to the park, and walks onto the field
and – is promptly ejected from the game.– it’s like the Jesus spoke about the wedding feast, where all are
invited but one man shows up unannounced and unprepared. He’s not dressed for
the wedding: he does not have the uniform, because he is not really part of the
team.We need to register for soccer,
and we need to talk to Jesus Christ to be received onto his team.
First computer game: Space Invaders“a”
key and the arrow keys. Man could we hit those keys.... Mr. Popkey our computer
science teacher. (What a name!) Now my point? I can tap like mad on the “a” key
and press the left and right arrow keys to my heart’s content, but if I’m not
in the game, all I get is gibberish on my computer screen.Scripture makes it clear that our works of
righteousness are like this: Outside of a Relationship with God, our best
efforts are of no account.We need to get in the game!
perhaps you’ve noticed that sometimes a person can be “in the game” in one
respect, but not fully in the game. My first soccer experience: more interested
in the bugs, and plant life than the soccer ball. My head wasn’t in the game.
Jesus speaks about two sons: Their father told one to do a chore, but he refused.
The second readily agree to do the task. However when the time came, the first
son changed his mind, and did what he had been asked to do. The other one,. Who
had said yes at first never actually did what he has agreed to do. “Which one,”
Jesus asked, “did the will of his father?” Jesus concluded that many who
outwardly looked like obedient children of God were actually disobedient, while
many who had rebelled against God had believed in God, changed their lives, and
are entering the kingdom of God ahead of the others.Do you
need to get in the game?
commitment: WOW, Farmville, thousands of hours.
are a sports fan, you’ve seen what happens when your favourite team is playing,
but they don’t really have their heart in it. Sometimes they might as well have
stayed home, for all the effort they put in. But how does it stand with you?
Are you that athlete “running aimlessly”, the boxer “flailing the air” are you
the bench warmer, hardly bothering even to suit up?
is an alternative. God actually has a place for you in his service, a useful
role. He provides the training the equipment, through his Word and Spirit.
I got a
little discouraged as a child- the little boy who’s looking at ants and flowers
and beetles on the soccer field is not the first person picked for every team!
But God’s team is different. This summer, as I had the privilege of directing
one week of family Camp at Golden Lake Church Camp, the Campers were preparing
for the annual volleyball battle against the Summer Staff. I was just wandering
by, when some of the players cheerfully called out “Brian, are you in the
game?” This same invitation is going out to you, as God calls you not only to
be in his family, but to join in his glorious work. Are you in the game?
"Loving God, We’re so thankful that you have chosen us for your ‘team’,
and that you have equipped us with your Holy Spirit; and that you will continue
to train us as we go into your Word. We just pray that you would use us to be a
blessing to others; that the prize for us would be to see other lives helped
and encouraged and changed by your great love.
We pray, Almighty God, that you would be with every person
listening to this program, that each one of us would be inspired to follow you
Open our eyes to see what we can do for your Kingdom and how we
can draw near to you each day. We pray this in the name of Jesus Christ, who
has shown your love to us, and has opened the way to your Kingdom in His name.