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What If God Was Praised Like Football?

By Phil Robertson

 

    A friend of mine recently made this comment, “Around here football is a religion!”  At first his words sounded like an innocent declaration of the passion and allegiance many of us have for our favorite teams.  But after a little reflection, his words seemed to burn a hole in my conscience.  Is football our religion?

 

    God adamantly warned His people of the dangers of idolatry (Ex 20:3-6).  Their passion for false gods eventually led to their earthly captivity as well as separation from God (Ezek 20:1-32).  We may not have wooden figurines on the mantels of our homes, but that does not mean we may not have our idols.

 

    So, how do we know when we may have crossed the line from sport to idolatry? Please consider the following “what if” scenarios:  

 

- What if we gave as much money to evangelism and charity as we do to tickets, travel and team merchandise? Jesus said, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matt 6:25).

 

- What if we could name the apostles, judges, and great heroes of faith like we can name our team’s starting lineup, reserves, and even recruits?  “Whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope” (Rom 15:4).

 

- What if fathers taught their children about the Lord and His works as much as they do about defensive formations or strategies of an offensive?  Fathers bring your children up in the training and admonition of the Lord” (Eph 6:4).

 

- What if we proudly displayed our love for the Lord as we do our team’s logos from our homes and cars?  “Praise the Lord all you Gentiles and let all the peoples extol Him” (Rom 15:11).

 

- What if we arrived early and participated in a worship service with the same dedication we have for crowded football stadiums with limited parking, little legroom and no protection from inclement weather? “For I was glad when they said to me, ‘Let us go to the house of the Lord” (Psa 122:1).  

 

- What if we hated Satan and His schemes to conquer souls as much as we do a rival who is threatening to take a game from us? “Be sober because your adversary the devil walks about as a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour” (1 Pet 5:8).

 

- What if the joy of winning souls and the pain of losing souls matched our passion for winning and losing a football game of which we are not even a participant? “There is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents’” (Lk 15:10). 

 

   There is nothing inherently sinful about cheering for a favorite team and enjoying a game.  However, sports must not take precedence over our duties and responsibilities to the Lord.

 

   The only victory that truly counts has already been won.  Jesus conquered death so that we may live in Him (Rom 5:8; 6:3-7).  Allow Him to cloth you with His atoning garments (Gal 3:27; Rev 7:14) and join His team in fighting against our true enemy (Eph 6:10-16). 

      

 
The Word is a Fire

By Phil Robertson

 

     Jeremiah was a man of great compassion. He pleaded with Judah to repent even after God said He would no longer listen to the prophet’s prayers for the people.  He even wore a heavy “yoke” around his neck as he walked the streets, symbolizing the imminent captivity of the people if they did not turn back to God. 

     The people refused to humbles themselves, in part, because there were other “prophets” who told them they were ok. They said, “No disaster will come upon you” (Jer 23:17).  It was the message the people wanted to hear.  One of the prominent false prophets was Hananiah.  He actually yanked the yoke off Jeremiah’s neck and broke it in front of the people. 

     Jeremiah warned him with these words:  “Hear now, Hananiah the Lord has not sent you but you made the people trust a lie.  Therefore says the Lord, ‘I will cast you from the face of the earth.  This year you will die because you have taught rebellion against the Lord” (Jer 28:15-16).

     Hananiah died that same year but the people still refused to turn back to God.

     The same is true for so many people today.  They seek “prophets” who will tell them what they want to hear.  They refuse to listen to the counsel of God’s Word and eventually they reap what they sow.

     As Jeremiah desperately tried to turn the people back to God he describes God’s Word as a fire (Jer 23:29).  This may seem like an odd description of a message that saves souls.  But, when we consider what fire does, we will see this is a powerful metaphor for the Word of God.  How does God’s Word act like a fire?

     1) God’s Word gives light - Light provides security as well as direction. “Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Psa 119:105).  It provides the illumination needed to lead us out of Satan’s lies for God has “called us out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Pet 2:9). 

     2) God’s Word gives comfort and warmth – “This is my comfort in my affliction, for your word gives me life” (Psa 119:150). “My soul melts from heaviness; strengthen me according to Your word” (Psa 119:28).   

     3) God’s Word is penetrating – Fire can pierce anything just as God’s Word can penetrate any heart.  It is the “sword of the Spirit” and it pierces like a “two edged sword discerning the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Eph 6:17; Heb 4:12).   It was the Word that pierced hearts during the first gospel sermons.  In Acts 2, the multitude was “cut to heart” and they cried out “what shall we do?”  Peter replied, “Repent and let every one of you be baptized into Jesus Christ for the remission of your sins” (Acts 2:37-38).   However, when the Word pierces some hearts, they harden.  Some hated the message so much they sought to kill the messengers (Acts 5:33). 

    4) God’s Word purifies - Like a refining fire used to cleanse metals, God’s Word purges impurities from hearts.  “You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you” (Jn 15:3).  Jesus also cleanses His church with the “washing of water by the Word (Eph 5:26-27). 

    5) God’s Word destroys – Generally this is what comes to mind when we think of fire.  Jesus said the same is true of His Word.  His Word will “judge us on the last day” and a flaming fire of vengeance will be cast on those who do not know God and obey the gospel (Jn 12:48; 2 Thess 1:7-9).  Jesus also said He “came to send fire on the earth” and in the process would divide even families (Lk 12:49-53). 

     Let’s not fall victim to the devices of false teachers today.  Where in Scripture do you find “it does not matter what you believe as long as you believe in Jesus?”  Where in Scripture does it say “as long as you are sincere you are o.k.?”  The point is we need to get in the Word and let God’s Word light our paths and refine our souls. 

    “How shall the young man cleanse his path? By taking heed according to Your Word” (Psa 119:9).
 
 
 
 

A Reason to Run

By Phil Robertson

 

       In Kenya it is not uncommon for children to walk many miles to school. However, most do not lollygag around:  They run!  Why?  Well, a reporter at the Sydney Olympics may have inadvertently stumbled upon the answer as he questioned Kenyan marathoner Kip Lagat.  He wanted to know how Kenya kept producing so many great distance runners. Did it have something to do with their training?  Lagat replied, “It’s the road signs, ‘Beware of lions!’”

      Imagine passing a sign that warns of hostile predators on your way to work or school.  It would certainly give you a reason to keep your arms and legs inside the vehicle at all times.  But, if you are on foot, it means RUN! 

      My mom used to warn me about strangers.  Do you think a Kenyan mother tells her children as she hands them their lunch pail, “Have fun at school today and watch out for the lions.”  If she loves them she does. 

      Frankly, this is sound Biblical advice.  Peter warns all of us of a lion that roams every neighborhood in the world.  “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (2 Peter 5:8).  We sometimes forget this great danger and fail to heed the warning signs in God’s Word.  In Genesis, Satan took the form of a serpent when he tempted man.  Today, he does not look quite that suspicious, yet his bite remains like that of lion ripping apart its prey.     
      So what do you do when you find yourself in lion country?  You run just like Kenyan children until you’re safely home.  Along the way, just like great marathoners, we become great spiritual runners who will one day wear an everlasting crown! (1 Cor 9:25)  
 
 

Dumbing Down of Christianity

By Phil Robertson

            Did you know that 10% of church goers in America believe that Joan of Arc was Noah’s wife?  That really should not surprise us, since less than 20% of “church goers” will attend Sunday school this week.  A lack of biblical knowledge in churches seems to be a sign of the times. 

           
           Popular Christian researcher George Barna claims people are soft when it comes to committing to God. “Americans are willing to expend some energy in religious activities such as attending church and reading the Bible, and they are willing to throw some money in the offering basket. Because of such activities, they convince themselves that they are people of genuine faith. But when it comes time to truly establishing their priorities and making a tangible commitment to knowing and loving God, and to allowing Him to change their character and lifestyle, most people stop short. We want to be ‘spiritual’ and we want to have God’s favor, but we’re not sure we want Him taking control of our lives and messing with the image and outcomes we’ve worked so hard to produce"  (www.barna.org - April 18, 2006).           
       
          As frustrating as this may be for church leaders, we need to ask ourselves, “Are we seeking ways to reverse this trend or are we contributing to the problem?”  It seems churches have resorted to entertaining the masses instead of educating.  You may be more likely to get a drama or extravaganza when you “go to church” than a Bible class or a sermon.  In fact, a local news station recently ran a story on a church that had replaced all preaching with plays.   
          
         Jesus was faced with a similar dilemma during His ministry.  He knew people were not following Him for the right reasons.  So, He refused to feed them.  “Most assuredly I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate the loaves and were filled.  Do not labor for food which perishes, but for food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you” (John 6:26-27). 

 

            Instead of seeking to emulate theaters and concert halls, maybe churches would have better attendance and more commitment if they to looked and acted like a church.  In its infancy, Christianity was grounded in teaching and preaching the gospel of Christ. Young evangelists were admonished to “Preach the word!  Be ready in season and out of season.  Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching” (1 Timothy 4:2).  Why was there such an emphasis on education?  Because the gospel, and only the gospel, “is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16). 

 

            In conclusion, this may be the most disturbing statistic.  About one-third of Americans who describe themselves as “born again” believe that if a person is good enough they can earn a place in heaven.  That is scary!  Many in churches do not understand the most fundamental biblical doctrine – grace.  No one will ever be “good enough” to go to heaven (Ephesians 2:4-9).  The gospel is “good news” for this very reason. Jesus died in our place and then was raised from the dead (2 Timothy 2:8).  We are saved by His blood not our own goodness (Romans 6:3-10).

           
           However, if we do not preach it, people will not learn it.  Biblical faith begins with the word of God (Romans 10:17).  That is why the apostle Peter said, “Beware lest you fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  To Him be the glory both now and forever.  Amen” (2 Peter 3:17-18).  (All statistics from www.barna.org)
 
 
 

God Has a Plan

By Phil Robertson

 

     God said to Abraham, “Abraham!”  And he replied, “Here I am.”   “Take your son,” said God, “your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains which I will tell you.” (Genesis 22:1-3)
 

     At first glance, God’s demand of Abraham seems very cruel and inhumane.  Why would God command any man, especially a great man of faith, to sacrifice his son?  Does God crave human sacrifice?  Is He expecting those who love Him to kill their children as a means of worship?

 
    Obviously, God did not really want Abraham to kill his son.  He sent an angel to stop him just before he slew Isaac. 
 
    So, why would God make Abraham go through this awful ordeal?
 
    First of all, God wanted to test the greatness of Abraham’s faith.  The angel said, “Do not lay your hand on the boy, for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me” (Genesis 22:12).  In Hebrews 11:19, we learn that Abraham had so much faith that he believed God would raise his son from the dead.  Therefore, he had every intention of obeying God. 
 

   Secondly, God wanted to show us He had a plan.  Consider the following parallels to the offering of Isaac and the offering of Jesus, God’s Son.

 

   1. God told Abraham to offer his son on Mt. Moriah (Gen. 22:2).  On this same mountain range, the temple was built (2 Chron. 3:1) and Jesus was crucified (John 19:16-17).

   2. Abraham was to offer his “only” son (Gen. 22:2).  God offered His only begotten Son (John 3:16).

   3. Isaac carried the wood for the sacrifice (Gen. 22:5).  Jesus carried the cross for His sacrifice (John 19:7).

   4. The ram was caught by its horns in a thicket (Gen. 22:13).  A crown of thorns was thrust upon Jesus’ head (Matt. 27:29).

   5. The ram became a substitute for Isaac (Gen. 22:13).  Jesus is our substitute (1 Jn. 2:2; 1 Thess. 5:10).

   6. Abraham told his son, “God will provide the lamb” (Gen. 22:8). God provided Jesus, the Lamb of God, for us (Isa. 53:7; Jn. 1:29; Rev. 5:6-13).

   7. Abraham bound his son (Gen. 22:9).  God bound His son (Phil. 2:8; Isa. 53:10; Matt. 26:39).  

 

   Almost every detail of Abraham offering Isaac was part of God’s plan for His Son.  More than 2000 years before Calvary, God outlined the death of our sacrificial Lamb.     

  Yet, the most compelling aspect of this plan is that it pleased God to offer His Son (Isa. 53:10).  He willingly offered His only Son so we could be given the opportunity to have fellowship with Him.  Maybe that is reason why Jesus said, “God SO LOVES the world that He gave His only begotten Son” (John 3:16). 
 

   How should we respond to this gracious heavenly plan? 

 
   Jesus said we need to “believe” it (John 3:16; Mark 16:16).  We need to “confess” Jesus as our Savior and Lord (Acts 2:36; 8:37; Romans 10:9-10).  We need to “repent” of our sins (Acts 2:38; 17:30).  We need to allow God to wash away our sins through “baptism” into Jesus Christ (Acts 2:38; 22:16; Col. 2:12).  We need to “live” according to God’s plans and not our own (Titus 2:11-13; Rev. 2:10).
 

   Isn’t it wonderful to know God has a plan for us?  And He has had it for long time! 

 
 
               
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