Part of the Game Plan
Well, we had lots of great football on the weekend. Sorry to those whose teams lost. It is a long road to the Super Bowl and only one team will survive (I use that term because by that time, players are beat up physically, emotionally and mentally). I could not help but notice that there was one theme that ran through all the teams who competed, whether they won or lost: the dynamic of ENCOURAGEMENT. When you listened to the coaches and players being interviewed, or when they zeroed in on the sidelines, it was the topic that was brought to light. Encouragement, the mutual cheering each other on – the passing on of courage and determination to hang in and compete and the ability to stay focused in the face of failure, was a common dynamic shared by so many teams. It was, to me, the lifeblood of what transpired this past weekend.
ENCOURAGEMENT is such a huge dynamic in the Christian life. Whether we see it lived out in the narratives of scripture, in Wisdom Literature, in Jesus life or in the Epistles as Paul says, “For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope” (Romans 15:4 NIV). Satan can never separate us from God’s love in Jesus Christ and he can never take us out of Christ. But, he will certainly try and dampen our day by slowly, and sneakily, taking away our hope. We have to stay steadfast in God’s word and let it be, “a lamp to our feet and a light to our path each day” (Psalm 119; 105 NIV). It has to be an “anchor for our souls” (Hebrews 6:19 NIV).
I think it is important, as we strike out each day, to ask the Lord “How can I become involved in your activity today?” One of the ways I am sure he will direct us in is being an ENCOURAGER to someone. I like what one Biblical author states, “He (God) usually prefers to work through people rather than perform miracles, so that we will depend on each other for fellowship.” The Apostle Paul confirms that powerful dynamic when he writes to the Thessalonians, “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up just as in fact you are doing” (1 Thessalonians 5:11 NIV). At the heart of the game plan, for the church, is encouragement. As one Saint has said, “I’ll lift you and you lift me and we will both ascend together!”
I will close with a simple, and yet powerful, quote by Chuck Swindoll, “Encouragement is awesome. It (can) actually change the course of another person's day, week, or life.” Has encouragement changed your life lately? I hope so. I know it has changed mine!
In Saturday's game, one tenth of the seating capacity in Buffalo was allowed into the football stadium to cheer on their team. That small group of fans, the Bill’s Mafia, as they are affectionately known, cheered so loudly it actually disrupted the play of the Ravens. It made a huge difference in the outcome of the game. Who would have imagined? Never underestimate the power of encouragement!
In 2021, let’s continue to cheer one another on "even as we see the Day approaching” (Hebrews 10:24-25 NIV).
God bless you and may His love empower you this day – Pastor Ralph