Playing on God’s Super Team (2/7/16)

Posted by on Feb 10, 2016 in Sermons | 0 comments

SuperSunday 2016-02-07 P Jim _IMG_3043

Super Bowl Sunday!  The day of the Big Game!  In a few hours the Denver Broncos would battle the Carolina Panthers; each team trying to reach the endzone and to win the Super Bowl prize.  Both teams taking their turns making mistakes (fumbles and turnovers). 

During our worship service we observed this “special day” by dressing down and wearing our favorite team jerseys.  Our goal wasn’t to worship Sports; our goal was to learn whatever spiritual lessons we could from this analogy of a football game.

Click the below “Play” button and scroll down to follow along (the recording is from the 9:30 service)…


Pastor Jim’s message was from 1 Timothy 6:6-12 and Philippians 3:7-16.  Open the drop down boxes to read along (Pastor Jim used The Living Bible; the NLT is shown below)…

1 Timothy 6

1 Timothy 6:6-12

6 Yet true godliness with contentment is itself great wealth.

7 After all, we brought nothing with us when we came into the world, and we can’t take anything with us when we leave it.

8 So if we have enough food and clothing, let us be content.

9 But people who long to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many foolish and harmful desires that plunge them into ruin and destruction.

10 For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. And some people, craving money, have wandered from the true faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows.

11 But you, Timothy, are a man of God; so run from all these evil things. Pursue righteousness and a godly life, along with faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness.

12 Fight the good fight for the true faith. Hold tightly to the eternal life to which God has called you, which you have confessed so well before many witnesses.

Philippians 3

Philippians 3:7-16

7 I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done.

8 Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ

9 and become one with him. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith.

10 I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death,

11 so that one way or another I will experience the resurrection from the dead!

12 I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me.

13 No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead,

14 I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.

15 Let all who are spiritually mature agree on these things. If you disagree on some point, I believe God will make it plain to you.

16 But we must hold on to the progress we have already made.


Terminology for the Football Impaired…

For those of us who are well-versed on what happens in church on Sunday but who may not be as familiar with the terminology used on a football field, here are some definitions…

Backfield in Motion

When someone from the back pew gets up in the middle of the sermon to visit the restroom.


What happens down the center aisle as soon as the benediction is over.

Staying in the Pocket

What often happens during the offering…

SuperSunday 2016-02-07 P Jim _IMG_3047

(Pastor Jim felt the need to duck behind the pulpit after making that joke…)



Extra Point

What someone hears if they make the mistake of telling the pastor that the sermon was too short.Pastor Jim Rice greets members.





Everything in life can teach us something about God- even Shrek, or Surfing, or Elmo… even Football!  An example of Paul’s writings in the Bible indicates that he was a sports fan of sorts; he made frequent analogies to running, racing, and winning prizes…

However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race

and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me —

the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace.  (Acts 20:24)

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize?

Run in such a way as to get the prize.  (1 Cor 9:24-25)


You were running a good race.

Who cut in on you and kept you from obeying the truth? (Gal 5:7-8)


I have fought the good fight… I have finished the race.

Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness…

(2 Tim 4:7-8)

Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.

(Heb 12:1-2)


Paul spent time in Corinth,  where the Istmian Games were held.  These games were second only to the Olympic Games in the ancient world.  In addition to knowing sports, Paul knew the supreme focus in life was God and God’s will.  In both of our readings this morning, we heard some of those sports analogies calling us to focus on the Prize of Winning Christ.


Know Your Main Goal in Life

In his letter to the Philippians (3:8-9), Paul says that the only thing that counts in this life is knowing Jesus Christ… not just knowing facts about Him; but KNOWING Him.  Anything else is worthless; garbage!  All of the stuff that is done in the local church falls short of the end zone if it doesn’t present Jesus Christ and provide a means for people to come to faith in Jesus Christ!

What is our goal?  Are we satisfied with just keeping the lights on?  Would a football team be satisfied with an 8-8 season?  Or, would Paul be satisfied simply by preaching a sermon without getting kicked out of town?

No!  We want to KNOW Jesus!  We want others to KNOW Him too!  We want to Grow.

We should want the best, and all of our actions should lead us toward that goal.  Football teams begin the season by practicing in the 95 degree August heat.  Why?  They have their eye on the prize of winning the super bowl.


Be Ready to Change…

Only one team won the superbowl (the Denver Broncos…).  Only two teams made it to the superbowl.  Even fewer made it to the playoffs.  Regardless of their finish, past success, or lack of it, every team needs to make changes for next year.  Some teams only need some tweaks; others need wholesale rebuilding.  But they can’t stand still- not even the champion Broncos.  If you’re resistant to change, you’ll only be spinning your wheels.

To stay on top- or to reach the top- “teams” (and churches) need to “recruit.”  Football teams need to draft new players and continue to rebuild.  Churches need to go out and invite new members.  And, they have to be willing to let the “recruits” get involved.  They have to allow God to bring new talents and gifts into the mix, even  if it means that things are dine differently.


Our Goal: Know, Grow,  and Go!

Our church’s purpose statement is:

That every person know Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.
That we create a climate where spiritual growth occurs.
So that God’s will to save the lost is accomplished.

Scroll through the home page of this website (or the above Menu) to see how that works out.  We like to shorten our Goal (“Purpose Statement”) by simply saying that we strive to Know, Grow, and Go…

We have to start out by knowing the basic facts about Jesus. We need to develop faith skills such as prayer, worship and to have a basic understanding of the Bible.
But having a head knowledge of Jesus isn’t enough. We need to grow into a Heart Knowledge; and this takes a lifetime of being molded by the Holy Spirit.

We strive to to have a constant moment-by-moment awareness of His activity and will in our lives- so that we come to know Him personally.

Just keeping that knowledge to ourselves won’t work. Once we develop a Heart Knowledge of Jesus, we want to share it with others.

We also become deeply concerned with the suffering of others, and we want to help them. And we find, that by helping others and by GOing, we continue to love God more and more. GOing results in GROWing.

Everything we do is done with that goal in mind.  Just as a running back envisions the endzone, we envision Jesus.  Just as a receiver dances in the endzone after a touchdown catch, we sing praises to God whenever we catch a glimpse of His glory.

This past year, God used us and the Pitman Food Pantry to feed 9000 people!  As we continue forward, the vision of this need will be fresh in our minds as we strive to help even more people by stocking the pantry and giving the food out.



Keep Pressing Towards that Goal

In Philippians 3:10-12, Paul writes:

I gave up all that inferior stuff so I could know Christ personally, experience his resurrection power, be a partner in his suffering, and go all the way with him to death itself.  If there was any way to get in on the resurrection from the dead, I wanted to do it.
I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me.

(The Message)

Later, in verse 14 he talks about straining towards what is ahead.  The image in this passage is one of a runner racing hard for the tape.  Id describes him with eyes for nothing  but the goal.  It describes him with arms almost clawing the  air, with head  forward, and with the body bent and angled to the  goal.  It describes the person going flat out for the finish.

If you had a goal to collect 500 pennies, what would you do when you found that 500th penny?  If someone handed you a 501st penny,  wouldn’t you also look for the 502nd?  Do you limit yourself to 5 bucks?  Or, think of the Denver Broncos.  They just won the Super Bowl.

Pitman Food Pantry Collection Cart (in Fellowship Hall)

Pitman Food Pantry Collection Cart (in Fellowship Hall)

What do you think they want to do next year?

When you reach a goal, don’t stop!  Just like our Youth Group when it was challenged to raise 400 lbs of food for our pantry.  After they met that goal, they set a new one- One Ton!  And, we continue to raise food for the pantry and we continue to feed the hungry.



Don’t be Distracted!

Distractions take away your momentum.  Somebody or something is always out to tackle you and thwart your forward progress.  Here’s a n illustration of that point fro classic football story from 1929…

One of the great stories of football happened on New Year’s Day, 1929 at the Rose Bowl.  The teams were Georgia Tech and the University of California.  the teams were scoreless in the second quarter when Georgia Tech’s John Thomason fumbled and dropped the ball.  That’s when one of the UC players recovered the ball and began running.

But in the confusion of being grabbed at, shoved, and tackled, the player, Roy Reigels (rhymes with Eagles???), got turned around and disoriented.

That’s when it happened.  He started running the wrong way- toward the opposite end of the field and the other team’s end zone!  If it hadn’t been for the quick thinking of a teammate who finally caught up with Reigles just one yard from making a touchdown for the other team, the outcome could have been worse. 

Reigels was distracted, took his eyes off of HIS goal, and instead ran towards somebody else’s goal.

It’s easy to get distracted as believers, isn’t it?  It’s important to note that even the Apostle Paul warns in 1 Timothy 6:6 & 9 about how easily distractions can happen.

 But godliness with contentment is great gain…  People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction.

Trying to get rich and being distracted by money is like running towards your own end zone and scoring for the opposition. When we focus on godly things we gain positive yardage.  But when we start to focus on worldly things we get distracted and tackled and lose.


Don’t Let Hardship Interfere!

Jesus was certainly experiencing hardships on the way to becoming the atonement on the cross.  Click the following Drop Down box and take a look at Matthew 27:39-43…

Matthew 27

Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, “You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!”

41 In the same way the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders mocked him.  “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! He’s the King of Israel! Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him.  He trusts in God. Let God rescue him now if he wants him, for he said, ‘I am the Son of God.'”  In the same way the robbers who were crucified with him also heaped insults on him. NIV 

This went beyond distraction!  This was pain; both physical and emotional.  He was taunted and mocked.  To play on God’s super team (like Jesus), we must stand firm in the face of hardship.

Paul did the same thing.  Open this Drop Down box to see what he had to go through…

2 Corinthians 11:23-28

Are they servants of Christ? (I am out of my mind to talk like this.) I am more.  I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. 

  • Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one.  
  • Three times I was beaten with rods,
  • once I was stoned,
  • three times I was shipwrecked,
  • I spent a night and a day in the open sea,

I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers.

27 I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. 

Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn? NIV

No doubt Paul endured  some serious hardships, but in 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 he says that keeping focus on God’s grace led him to VICTORY!  For Paul, it was all worth it…

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.  NIV


In the face of hardships, we should never say “I can’t.”  As we run towards the goal, being pushed and shoved by defenders who want to bring us to the ground, we must keep trying.

During a Monday Night Football game between the Chicago Bears and the New York Giants, one of the announcers observed that Walter Payton, the Bear’s running back, had accumulated over Nine Miles in career rushing yardage.  The other announcer remarked, “Yeah,  and that’s  with someone knocking him down every 4.6 yards!”

In our lives and in our churches, we will have times of distraction and times of challenge.  But the spiritual lesson is for us to remain focused on our goal, on our calling, on our purpose, and on the One who is calling.

Jesus tells us in our “play book”, in John 16:33

 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” NIV

Do we apply this in our lives?  Are we ready for the oncoming Blitz???


Be Prepared for the Blitz!

Like a Boy Scout, we need to “Be Prepared.”  Every time you start to run toward the end zone there is someone or something there to try to stop you.  You need to be ready (armed with the faith and knowledge that Jesus has indeed overcome the world).

During the “Super  Bowl week” of media crowding, Denver quarterback Payton Manning kept insisting on being prepared so they can go out onto the field to execute properly.

Paul said the same thing in 1 Corinthians 9:25…

Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training.

They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. NIV


The apostle Peter makes the same point…

8 Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.

9 Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings. NIV

Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. NIV


Stay Focused on the The Goal:  To Know Christ.

Hardships and “blockers” will come.   We’ll be tempted by distractions.  But if we keep training (praying, studying the Bible, worshiping, etc) we will be able to remain focused on Christ, the One who will help us “overcome the world.”  We’ll be able to take “risks” by putting complete faith in Christ.   If we stay focused we can make our goal a reality.

If we loose sight of the goal, we’ll suffer the same fate as Roger Bannister…

On May 6, 1954, Roger Bannister  became the first man in history to run a mile in less than four minutes.  Within two months, John Landy eclipsed the record by 1.4 seconds. 

On August 7, 1954, the two met together for a historic race.  As they moved into the last lap, Landy held the lead.  It looked as if he would win, but as he neared the finish he  was haunted by the question, “Where is Bannister?”  As  he turned to look, Bannister took the lead. 

Landy later told a Time magazine reporter, “If I hadn’t looked back, I  would have won.”

What a great reminder to you and me.  don’t look back unless you’re planning on going THERE. Our church can’t grow if we keep looking back at “the good ‘ole days.”  We need to forget the things that are behind.

May we press on towards Christ and not look back!

Quiz Time!

As you reflect on what you’ve just heard/read, give this quiz a try.  If you don’t understand an answer (or if you disagree with the “correct” answer, post a comment)…

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