Fair Play

“In the case of the athlete, no one is crowned without competing according to the rules” (2 Tim. 2:5)

Greatness requires hard work and dedication, and, unfortunately, sometimes people opt for a shortcut.

There are some rules that may have exceptions, but there are others that absolutely do not.

When Lance Armstrong was found to have violated cycling’s anti-doping policy, he was stripped of all seven of his Tour de France titles.

Pete Rose was an excellent baseball player and coach, but he violated the rules when he gambled on his games. For that, his name is synonomous with fraud.

The rules may be argued, but they must be upheld.

When the rules are not followed, the whole game is tainted, and everybody suffers: the cheating champ has his title stripped, while their opponent loses the opportunity they had to potentially win on their own merit.

It is as if everyone involved has wasted their time, because you can’t simply go back and make it right. It’s over.

Your life, however, is not over; nor is your fate sealed.

Those who are lost can be found.

But can those who are found end up lost?

Let us review the rules of the game:

“Jesus said, ‘I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you know me, you will know the Father also’.” (John 14:6-7)

“Jesus said, ‘I am the Resurrection and the Life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who believes in me will never die’.” (John 11:25-26)

“Those who believe in [Jesus] are not condemned; but those who do not believe in Him are condemned.” (John 3:18)

Many people purport “once saved, always saved” – the belief that once you confess Jesus as Lord and Savior, you’re good – done deal, no matter what else you do.

I disagree.

I believe that, while no one can take away your salvation, you can give it away.

You simply fall out of faith, or “give up” on God.

Heaven is a place of an eternal presence with God. Why would anyone who curses God now (even though they believed before) expect to spend an eternity with Him? Why would they want to if they hate Him so much?

In either case, the rules seem quite clear: Jesus is the only way to heaven, belief in Him is paramount, and a lack of belief is condemnatory.

If you choose to believe – and keep believing – then you will be saved.

It’s as simple as that.

Amen!

Safe!

Rewarding the Work

“It is the farmer who does the work who ought to have the first share of the crops” (2 Tim. 2:6)

To the Victor go the spoils.
To the worker go the rewards.
To God goes the Glory!

Hard work pays off in many ways: the satisfaction of a job well done, the fulfillment of a long-term goal, and sometimes, the reaping of a well-deserved reward.

The reverse is also true.

“Those who till their land will have plenty of food, but those who follow worthless pursuits have no sense.” (Prov. 12:12)

The quick buck is often the most fleeting.

Easy come, easy go.

Get-rich-quick schemes fail for many reasons, but the foremost is the fact that nothing lasting or valuable ever manifests itself without hard work and dedication.

Movies are not made overnight – they take months, even years, of dedication, constant effort and expertise. Everyone has to know what they’re doing, and to do that, they must practice tirelessly for a really long time to hone their craft to perfection.

That is one reason the film industry pays its workers so well.

Without the expertise of the actors, directors, writers, editors, camera guys, gaffers, set & costume designers, location & cast coordinators, choreographers, dialect coaches, storyboard animators, musical composers, and various other roles that need filling, the whole project would suffer. A lot of people with a lot of practice, and with a single vision, are required to make a “good” movie.

That’s a lot of work!

And it pays off, too.

It is the same with anything else worthwhile.

The Lord says, “A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest, and poverty will come upon you like a thief.” (Prov. 6:10)

Translation: Get to work!

You have a very special skill set that no one else has – no one else can do what you do.

Maybe it’s farming, or maybe it’s painting.

Maybe it’s writing, or maybe it’s speaking.

Whatever natural talents God gave you, He gave specifically to you.

But to achieve the greatness and receive the rewards God has in store for you, you cannot rely on talent alone – you must work at it.

“The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few.” (Luke 10:2)

The getting is good, if you’ll just get it.

Amen!

All Aboard

“I am God, there is no one who can snatch you out of my hand; I work, and who can stop it?” (Isa. 43:13)

Failure is always unpleasant. In fact, most truly competitive people hate losing more than they like winning, because, while winning is fun, losing sucks.

Most games are ultimately comprised of little victories and failures. The team or player with the least failures usually wins.

This is the case in chess, tennis, boxing, baseball, basketball, football – indeed, anything you can think of.

Whoever makes the least amount of mistakes wins.

What about the game of Life?

Same thing.

While all of us humans are fallible and quite capable of making mistakes, God is not.

What God says, goes.

He has the first and final word on absolutely everything. His goals are always achieved. His plans have never failed – as they are always perfect. (Rom. 12:2)

Alas, we are left with two choices:

1) Continue to follow our own fallible plans – or –

2) Get on board with God’s perfect plan

A moment of reflection might well reveal that life hasn’t exactly turned out just the way you wanted. Mostly for the worse, unfortunately, but sometimes for the better.

I thank God that He didn’t say “Yes” to every one of my prayers.

He’s declined several of my requests over the years. And, while I would be unhappy about it at the time, it would inevitably be for the best, I would see, later on.

God has plans and they cannot be thwarted. Not by you, me, or the devil himself. But they are real, they are detailed, and they are perfect.

Understanding His plans is not a prerequisite, and, unfortunately, He rarely deigns to disclose them in any fine detail to us.

Regardless, trying to stop God’s plans is like a 2-year-old trying to block an NBA player’s dunk: it ain’t happening.

You can call it a bandwagon if you like, but I’m ditching my plans and getting aboard!

Amen!