Tuesday, October 03, 2006

THE FOUR QUARTERS OF LIFE

Note: The following is an article from Christ Commission Fellowship.

Every head coach plans to win games and championships with his team. He wants to bring out the best in his players, both individually and as a single unit. In life, God is our Great Head Coach and He wants you to be the best that you can be and win in the Game of Life!

Today, I want to share with you 4 very simple principles that will enable you to make the most out of life and be a winner on and off the court. This is the Four Quarters of Life.

The First Quarter talks about GOD’S GAME PLAN. The Bible says that His plan for you is not to perish but have eternal life. In fact, the Bible says that He made the ultimate sacrifice by sending His Son, Jesus Christ so you could have this everlasting life. Jesus Himself echoed the Father’s game plan when He said, “ I came that you might have life, and might have it more abundantly (that it might be full and meaningful). John 10:10. But the Bible also says, “The thief comes to steal, kill and destroy…”. Just like your opponent wants to steal the ball from you to prevent you from scoring, the devil wants to stop you from experiencing God’s wonderful game plan—and to some extent, he has already succeeded.

The Second Quarter tells us that YOU AND I HAVE FOULED OUT IN THE GAME OF LIFE. How many of you have fouled out even before halftime? Coaches will tell us that the best way to play defense is by moving your feet and constantly staying in front of your man. But inexperienced players will almost always be unable to resist the temptation to go for the ball with their hands and end up hacking their opponents arm and be called for one foul after another.

You and I have fouled out in the Game of Life because of SIN—the Bible tells us that all have sinned and fallen short of God’s standards…(Rom. 3:23).Do you know where the word sin originally comes from? It was a term coined through the sport of archery. Every time the archer fails to hit the bulls-eye, that is considered SIN. Now, how many of us have hit the bulls-eye every time with every single thing we have done in life? Welcome to the club! All of us have sinned and fouled out of the game of life, and the Bible further states that “the wages of sin is death.(or separation from God)”(Rom. 6:23). Not only have we fouled out from the game, we have been ejected from the playing court, just like Adam and Eve were sent out of the Garden of Eden after they had sinned against God.

What usually happens at the halftime dugout of the coach who has fallen behind in the game? The head coach uses this time to regroup. And one of the signs of a great coach is one who can regroup in the middle of a game and work out a surprise strategy that will catch the other team off guard so as to pull of the unlikely victory.

The Third Quarter says that God has sent in JESUS CHRIST AS OUR PERFECT SUBSTITUTE in the game of Life, and through Him, we can again experience God’s Game plan for our lives. Whenever a player is called by his coach to enter the game and replace a teammate, what sign does he use to communicate it to the table officials? He crosses his arms and says he wants to take the place of his teammate, right? This symbol is done by all athletes everywhere in the world, but we often don’t realize that when we do this, it is the real SIGN OF THE CROSS. This is to remind us that Jesus Christ is our PERFECT SUBSITUTE because He died on the cross for our sins—in our place! Just like in basketball where we receive a penalty for 5 fouls—disqualification, Jesus Christ came into the game for us in a most unexpected move by the wisest Head Coach-- and went to the cross to pay the penalty of our sin as OUR SUBSTITUTE.

Jesus Himself said, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life, no one comes to the Father except through Me.”(John 14:6). And Jesus further emphasizes that He is our SOLE or ONLY SUBSTITUTE.

Any team that wants to win knows that they cannot play well for 3 quarters and stop playing in the fourth quarter. That is why they call it “the payoff period,” because this is where one wins or loses the game. In the same way, it would be useless for us to know about the first 3 quarters of life and ignore the 4th quarter, which is probably the most important quarter of all.

The Fourth Quarter says that we must make the decision to ACCEPT GOD’S TERMS AND SIGN THE CONTRACT to be part of God’s winning team. Unless we do this, we will never be able to experience God’s game plan for our lives.

All of us have heard about young athletes of today, many of them untested, and yet, are offered multi-million dollar contracts and endorsement deals even before they get to play a single game in the NBA! We are all witness to how families celebrate and shed tears of joy, because once their child signs the contract, they are set for life! More money that you can spend, dream cars, houses, vacations, clothes and everything their heart may desire. If an NBA scout were to visit our league and saw you playing and thought you’d be good enough to play in the NBA and offered you a fat multi-million dollar contract with perks and bonuses you never dreamed of, would you take it? Or would you say, “let me think about it first,” or “I’m busy, why don’t you come back next year?”

I can imagine you would be willing to use even your own blood to sign that contract if you had to! In the same way, God is offering you a contract of accepting Jesus Christ’s substitutionary death on the cross as final payment for your sins, and through this, you will receive every spiritual blessing imaginable that will far outweigh any earthly contract can offer you. He is offering to sign you up for His Winning Team, but the decision is yours. Will you do it? Even the best passer in the world like Jason Kidd will not be credited for an assist if his teammates refuse to catch the ball and shoot it. In other words, the ball is in YOUR COURT. Unless you make that move and sign the contract, everything that He offers you will be useless—you won’t be able to experience its benefits.

At this point, some of you are saying, hey, this really makes sense to me. I’m not sure if I have already made that personal decision to sign that contract and acknowledge Jesus as the Perfect Substitute for my sins. For those of you who want to do that, I will say a short and simple prayer right now and you can follow with me, talking to God from your heart. Let’s pray…

Lord Jesus, I need you. Thank you for dying on the cross for my sins. I acknowledge that you are my perfect Substitute who died on the cross and paid the penalty for my sins. I ask you to come into my life. I want you to be my Head coach, and turn over the control of my life to you. Thank you for forgiving my sins and giving me eternal life. Thank you for making me part of Your Winning Team. Grant me the strength to live the kind of life you want me to live. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

If you prayed that prayer, then I have good news for you! Not only have you been drafted into God’s Victorious team, but you are also the MVP! Something is worth only as much as somebody is willing to pay for it, right? How much did it cost God to pay for your sins and redeem your soul from Satan? It cost Him the life of His Son. It cost Him the Blood of Jesus! That is what YOU are worth to God, His MOST VALUED POSSESSION. You are worth to God the very life of His Son, Jesus Christ, and this should be your main motivation to live for Him, whether it is on or off the court. Do everything for God’s honor and glory! LET’S PLAY BASKETBALL!!!!!!

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