The Way God Wins

Gabriel Rosa

Photo Credit: Gabriel Rosa via CC Flickr

“And you, who were dead in your trespasses…., God made alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This He set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in (Jesus).” Colossians 2:13–15 ESV

When God wins, He wins big time! We’re not talking an overtime, squeak-it-out victory. And we’re not talking about a soccer game where there’s a shootout win because one ball dribbles in, but otherwise it would have been a tie. God doesn’t operate like that. When He wins a battle, His victory is decisive.

As God was pouring out His wrath on His Son, we were there in His mind. From each painful step to Calvary, to His last breath on the cross, Jesus was taking on the ultimate battle—“the rulers and authorities” who were waving “the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands.”

Satan had an open-and-shut case against us. Left to ourselves, we were toast. But Colossians 2:15 declares that when Jesus won the victory on the cross, “He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it” (NKJV). When it came to settling our eternal destiny, God wasn’t offering an obligatory “good game.” He was triumphing over the principalities and powers, including the enemy himself: “You lost! Just like I told you!” That’s the way God wins.

Further, after what looked like a devastating defeat by the enemy, came the ultimate triumph: “He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay” (Matthew 28:6). Neither death nor the grave nor Satan’s plans stood a chance against the risen Savior!

Today, Jesus lives to further His victory through the lives of His followers. In fact, “we are more than conquerors through him who loved us” (Romans 8:37). In Christ, we aren’t just conquerors, we’re super conquerors—because God doesn’t just win, He crushes the enemy (Romans 16:20). That’s why we don’t want to take on this battle ourselves. It is the reason the transaction at the cross was entirely out of our hands.

Jesus took on our debt, our sin, our (broken) condition, and defeated the condemning, eternal hold these things can have on us. Because of His death and resurrection, all who trust in Him for salvation are granted a place in the conquering band that will rejoice in His victory forever!
(All the above from James McDonald)

Pushbacks:
* Consider your personal battles in light of this truth.
* Express your heart to the Lord, pouring out your adoration, for an ultimate reason to celebrate.

LORD, when You win, You win big-time! That’s what makes this Friday so good and me so richly blessed. Thank you for becoming my complete sin-bearer, my only righteousness, my matchless defender, my true victor and coming King. You are the best, worthy of my lifetime devotion.

GOOD Friday to you!!!
Coach Mo

Only Two Things Deliver

John Christian Fjellestad

Photo Credit: John Christian Fjellestad via CC Flickr

“Humility and the fear of the LORD bring wealth and honor and life.” Proverbs 22:4

What things do you always carry with you? My stock answer has always been: my Bible, my ball, and my best playing shoes. 😉 Today’s text introduces two more ‘must adds’. They’re so simple but crucial. They’re small but they don’t always fit so easily. In fact, some think they won’t fit, don’t fit, can’t fit, so they often stay left behind. But without them God says it’s about impossible to experience what we really hope for in life.

God says that there are just two things that bring the big things we all look for: wealth, honor and life. Only one pair can deliver this trifecta. Nothing else can…for very long.

What brings real wealth, honor, and life is humility and the fear of the LORD. Humility keeps our powerful urges for control, approval and comfort from taking over and messing things up. Humility helps us trust the process, trust God. Then ‘Fear of the LORD’ brings us to where our needs for control, approval and comfort are best met. Without humility and the fear of the Lord our pursuit of wealth, honor and life can never bring us the control, approval and comfort we really long for. Only two things, humility and the fear of the Lord can.

LORD, make it very clear to us that the only real, sustainable way to wealth, honor and life is found through humility and the fear of the Lord. Don’t let us look for it any other way. Only two things deliver.

Be strong.
Stand for truth.
Live for eternity.
Coach Mo

Bonus Coverage: 5 extending footnotes
that define this verse’s 5 terms:
WEALTH brings power and control. Thats why we want it. That’s the endgame. True wealth brings freedom from control and freedom to control. True wealth never brings slavery. Wealth = Control
HONOR signals approval, recognition, the feeling of accomplishment we get when others believe we’re great, have value or make a real difference. Audience matters. ‘Audience of One’ matters more. Honor = Approval
LIFE seeks satisfaction, a sense of contentment and fulfillment that a life well lived brings. Life = Satisfaction
HUMILITY brings a correct view of self. It’s not thinking less of yourself; it’s thinking of yourself less. Gotta have this to live on well. Humility = Seeing Self Straight
FEAR OF THE LORD’ simply means a proper view of God, seeing God for who He really is. Fear of the LORD = Seeing God Straight

The Five Fingers of Prayer

Michael Goghlan

Photo Credit: Michael Goghlan via CC Flickr

I came across this little, fun way to pray many, many years ago that I always thought was a pretty good idea and a terrific way to remember not only who or what to pray for…but HOW to pray.

This is beautiful – and it is surely worth making the 5 finger prayer a part of our lives!

————————

1.Your thumb is nearest you.

So begin your prayers by praying for those closest to you.

They are the easiest to remember.

To pray for our loved ones is,

as C. S. Lewis once said, a “sweet duty.”

2. The next finger is the pointing finger.

Pray for those who teach, instruct and heal.

This includes teachers, doctors, and ministers.

They need support and wisdom in pointing others in the right direction.

Keep them in your prayers.

3. The next finger is the tallest finger.

It reminds us of our leaders.

Pray for the president, leaders in business and industry, and administrators.

These people shape our nation and guide public opinion.

They need God’s guidance.

4. The fourth finger is our ring finger.

Surprising to many is the fact that is our weakest finger,

as any piano teacher will testify.

It should remind us to pray for those who are weak,

trouble or in pain.

They need prayers day and night.

You cannot pray too much for them.

5. And lastly comes our little finger

– the smallest finger of all which is where we should place ourselves

in relation to God and others.

As the Bible says, “The least shall be the greatest among you.”

Your pinkie should remind you to pray for yourself.

By the time you have prayed for the other four groups,

your own needs will be put into proper perspective

and you will be able to pray for yourself more effectively.

No Foolin’

Photo Credit: David Goehring via CC Flickr

Photo Credit: David Goehring via CC Flickr

“Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way…” 2 Thessalonians 2:3

Deception is a key part of sports. Misdirection plays add much to game strategy and play effectiveness. Fooling your opponent creates advantage. Good teams and good players won’t fool easily. They see, recognize, and stay fundamental.

Deception is also foundation to producing counterfeit money. The only way not to get exploited is to know the ‘truth’, the real thing, so well that you cannot be deceived.

Be aware that there are counterfeit gospels as well. They are meant to deceive. Scripture says that there will be many such ‘gospels’ pushed out there. (2 John 1:7) And when they come before us, we simply can’t afford to play that game. The Bible repeatedly warns us to be sincerely vigilant and not to be deceived. (Matthew 24:4–24) We simply can’t let ourselves get taken.

Here’s how we get deceived:
1. THROUGH PRIDE. We allow ourselves to believe that we will not reap what we sow (Galatians 6:7) or are above being ‘taken’ by others (Jeremiah 49:16, Obadiah 1:3). Without humility before God, we go unprotected through life, from without (others) and from within (self).
2. THROUGH IGNORANCE. We do not really know the Word very well. We believe what others, especially very ‘spiritual’ people say, without personally testing their messages against what God’s Word truly says. We do not ‘test the spirits’ like we should. (1 John 4:1)
3. THROUGH CARELESSNESS. We do not read God’s Word carefully enough. (v5,10b) We fail to read scripture in context and make hasty conclusions to fit what we want to see, hear or have. In this way we deceive ourselves. (example: 1 John 1:8) Avoid fast, easy, law-based or lawless answers.
4. THROUGH BLINDNESS. We fail to open our eyes and see the wolves out there. When vigilance is not practiced, the enemies of our souls get in, get to us, corrupt, and leave us spiritually bankrupt of truth. (Matthew 7:15, 21–23)

So watch out. Don’t be deceived. Stay sound and fundamental. Live a life of victory over deception.

Loving you enough to speak the truth… No foolin’!

Be strong.
Stand for truth.
Live for eternity.
Coach Mo

Feel Like Giving Up?

Photo Credit: Wikimedia

Photo Credit: Wikimedia

“And as for you, brothers, never tire of doing what is right.”  2 Thessalonians 3:13

Why do people give up? Here are some of the most common reasons:
• No hope (no perceived chance for victory or real reward) 
• Not enough patience to keep going
• Fading interest (no sense of personal fulfillment)
• Poor fit (not enough talent or skill)
• Poor relationships kill the drive to press on
• Discouragement (criticism or lack of results has gotten to you)
Any of these hit home?

Still, there’s one more reason for giving up that should never make our list: fear of hard work. A great work ethic must mark the life of the believer, a true Christ-follower. That’s what Paul argues throughout 1 & 2 Thessalonians. As he closes his letter here, Paul challenges his ‘team’ once more, calling them to toughness, especially in regard to doing what’s right. In fact, he says that if a Christian is not known for his hard work and doing what’s right, living life of physical laziness and moral sloppiness instead, Paul argues that you should keep your distance from him. You can’t let such a one make your ‘team’ and your Lord look bad. (3:6,14)

So never fear hard work. Instead, embrace it. Let your life be defined by it. Be known for your great work ethic and toughness in doing what’s right no matter what. It supports the Gospel so well and focuses and fulfills you.

LORD, may I never fear hard work but rather be defined by it. May I advance Your Kingdom and enhance the gospel by being tireless in supporting what’s right and inspired by the perseverance of Christ. 

Be tough. 
Nothing detrimental. 
Bring honor to Christ.
Coach Mo

Standing in the End

Photo Credit: Kalyan Chakravarthy via CC Flickr

Photo Credit: Kalyan Chakravarthy via CC Flickr

“A faithful man will be richly blessed…” Proverbs 28:20

In a world where things seem to be moving faster and faster, there’s one other move we must make: slowing down and dropping anchor around faithfulness. Faithfulness holds relationships together and allows teams to really mesh and products to perfect. Faithfulness keeps so much together when Circumstances try to pull everything apart. Faithfulness demands devotion. Faithfulness lifts, holds, endures. Coupled with love, it forms an unbeatable duo. It’s what leaves a man standing in the end.

Faithfulness has its reward too. While promotion often seems to run faster in other directions, faithfulness wins far more in the end. God says so. Longevity and fidelity to both cause and people is the hidden, high virtue. Rich blessings follow the faithful man. He’s the one left standing in the end.

Faithful men:
• play out every possession, on both sides of the ball.
• hang in there.
• love unconditionally and forgive well.
• live by commitment, never feelings or circumstance.
• never run from responsibility or duck duty.
• sacrifice much and don’t cash in early.
• expect the greater reward, God’s reward.

How are you sizing up to this faithfulness profile? Running short or richly blessed? Left standing or left behind.

LORD, help us to place high premium on faithfulness and hang in there. We know the Marines do; help us to place more. Let us be known for our faithfulness to You, to others, to our mission and purpose. Don’t let us run from commitment. Like your Son, let us be found faithful, standing with Him in the end. Richly bless our faithfulness journey, just as You promise. Through Christ the Faithful One. Amen.

Semper Fidelis (‘always faithful’),
Coach Mo

A Chance to Be Ranked

Photo credit: Wikimedia

Photo credit: Wikimedia

“For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the Kingdom of Heaven.” Matthew 5:20

Arriving at a state, national or world ranking is a pretty special moment. Have you ever been there? The climb is steep and hard. I think I’m gonna replicate that feeling a little tomorrow. I set out with family to climb a 14,000 feet-above-sea-level mountain in Colorado. Coming off total hip replacement 8 weeks ago will certainly challenge me but I’m up for it. We’ll see how it goes.

Still, there’s one ranking Jesus said we have no chance at unless we get some major outside help: reaching the Kingdom of Heaven. He said our only chance at making it is to supersede the apparently most righteous guys on earth. I don’t see myself making that happen. Do you?

Yet Jesus leads us to believe it still is possible to climb ‘Mt. Righteousness’ and get to Heaven. He says we can get moved to ‘great status’ in the Kingdom by practicing and teaching God’s commands. This is something the Pharisees and teachers of the law were doing full time but apparently still failing to get to the top (v19). How can we do something they can’t?

Jesus points us to Himself to solve this one. He invites us to climb the mountain with Him, through Him. He is the Righteous One. To have Him is to have all the righteousness I need to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. To be taught by Him, commanded by Him, empowered by Him, journey with Him, is to climb to the top, to get ultimately ranked.

What’s your spiritual rank? Gonna make it to the top, enter the Kingdom of Heaven? If not, why not? If so, what makes you think so?

LORD, show us the vanity of trying to climb to the top, to get ranked, apart from getting there through Your Son. Thank you for His provision of righteous ranking and all the celebration His righteous teachings and righteous provisions bring to all of us trust and follow Him.

The Kingdom of Heaven is ours through Christ. Hallelujah for top-ranking! Now, go out, practice and play like a champion, teach and lead others to win, to climb, to enter too.

Climbing with you,

Coach Mo

A Second Chance at Life

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Have you ever thought to yourself how “good” your life REALLY is? What if the direction of your life suddenly changed and you found yourself in a situation that you had never thought that you would be in? One minute you think your life is great, you are healthy and everything is “smooth sailing?” then you find out that something in your body or mind wasn’t as good as you thought and that you were “very close” to experiencing a life-changing event?

Such was the case with me…

I have always enjoyed my life: talking with other people, spending time with my family and friends, enjoying the taste of delicious food, taking in the pleasures of seeing the beautiful things in the world, generally speaking, loving the life that I have been given.

But a little over a week ago, my life drastically took an unexpected turn. What was supposed to be a simple two hour screening procedure turned into a four day stay in the hospital.

It was during those four days that I discovered that my heart had been beating at an outstanding rate (150 beats per minute) and because of that high tempo, my heart had weakened to a dangerous level. Unbeknownst to me, I had had this condition for the past couple of years!

After leaving the hospital and meeting with the doctor the next day, I was told that the doctor was surprised that I hadn’t had either a stroke or a heart attack. YIKES!! What a shocking, wake up piece of news. I had NEVER KNOWN that my heart was 1) beating at such a high rate, and 2) that my heart had weakened to such a bad state.

So, imagine my thoughts today, when the doctor told me that despite the condition of my heart, everything would be ok. The doctors found out what was causing my elevated heart rate, the proper medicine to take to control my heart rate, and that my condition was totally correctable and curable!

The doctor simply said, “look at it this way…you have a second chance at life.

Needless to say, I am ecstatic for a couple of reasons…1) I feel great. I feel like I did 10-20 years ago, 2) I feel excited that now that I know that the doctors diagnosed the problem, everything will be OK, and 3) I have a new lease on life and I am going to take full advantage of it and take care of myself and love life even more than I did before.

Just thinking of “what could have happened” has left me feeling very humble and aware of my mortality more than it ever was. And it has taught me a lesson. It has taught me to live my life to its fullest. I shouldn’t be afraid to fail because, many times, it is when we fail that we grow and learn lessons that will benefit us in our lives.

It has made me value and love my friends, loved ones and family more so now than ever. I has allowed me to REALLY appreciate the things around me that I have taken for granted every day. But more importantly, it has strengthened my faith and assurance that my Lord and God never once abandoned or left me. He has always been there by my side throughout my life when things were going well and He was guiding the doctors and comforting me during my stay in the hospital.

You see, that’s the beauty of true FAITH. Faith is that knowledge of believing in someone or something when you cannot see it but you KNOW it is there. When you sit on a chair, do you bend down and test it first to make sure that it will hold you? Or do you simply just sit on the chair without closely inspecting its durability and strength?  Having faith in the Lord is exactly the same thing. I KNOW that He will take care of me and I KNOW that He is there to hold me up and to strengthen me. I don’t have to question or test anything that He does for me..My life is in His hands and if my time on earth is done, He will hold me close to himself and take me home. I have total peace and total fulfillment in my life knowing that He is always there with me.

So, how has your life treated you? How much do you appreciate the ways that you have been blessed? How well do you REALLY love and appreciate your loved ones? How strong is your faith? How secure are you if things were to suddenly go in a negative direction in your life?

Take the time everyday to truly be thankful for the good things in life. Find the moments in your daily routine to be grateful for your family and friends and show them how you feel. Discover the paths that you can follow and explore to give yourself a second chance in life.

“And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”  ~ Colossians 3:17

~ Coach Muller