Most men and a lot of women “worshipped” a favorite sports hero while growing up.There was a time when that seemed like an innocent past-time for a child and parents often encouraged it.But professional sports have changed and so have many of the players.With the money and fame pushing their careers, there are too few athletes worthy of hero status anymore.That’s why an article like the one in a recent edition of the Memphis Commercial Appeal newspaper needs our attention.I have included inspirational excerpts which will bless you today.
Faith strikes a chord with (Xavier) Henry and a number of other (NBA Memphis) Grizzlies, including Rudy Gay, Greivis Vasquez and Ishmael Smith. All have been vocal about their relationship with Jesus.
Before every free throw, Gay recites Philippians 4:13, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."
Smith prays during the national anthem.
Vasquez attends pregame Bible studies and prays with opposing players. He has memorized his favorite scripture, the entire 8th chapter of Romans.
"I've got Jesus in my heart," said Vasquez, who like Henry is a rookie and a first-round pick. "I put everything in His hands. I live out of grace."
Vazquez, 24, was Atlantic Coast Conference Player of the Year in 2010. In February, the University of Maryland retired his No. 21 jersey.
"That was all God. I believe God did it all for me," said Vasquez. "It's a blessing God has me in this league."
He became a Christian at 17 while attending Montrose Christian School in Maryland. Here he attends Life Church of Memphis.
Smith majored in religion at Wake Forest University and is quick to point out his biblical first name. He reads the Bible daily and the scripture he posts on his Facebook page and credits his parents, Larry and Gwen Smith, for being strong spiritual influences.
"Jesus is unbelievable," said Smith, an undrafted guard. "I love him to death. He has made it possible for me to be in the position that I am in, and there is not a day that goes by that I don't thank Him."
Gay, 24, said he became a Christian when he was 12. He was baptized at Shiloh Baptist Church in Baltimore.
His mother, Rae Gay, "tells me to keep my faith, but my whole family basically are pretty big Christians. Growing up, my family was in church."
Four years ago, Gay's 19-year-old cousin, Triq Austin, was shot to death in Baltimore, Gay's hometown.
"To see him in a casket, that was tough for me," Gay said. "You never know if you have tomorrow. There are a lot of things changing, but there is one thing that you can keep, and that is your love for Christ."
Henry, who turned 20 last month, attends services Downtown at Fellowship Memphis with his mother, who lives with him.
"I understand the world is not all about me. I want to lead people to Christ, do the best I can and make life worthwhile. Life is about other things. It's helping people out and being a servant to everybody else."
GospeLines Prayer:Father, if it is true that everyone is somebody’s hero, we have a lot on our shoulders and we need Your help.Worthy or not, implore us strive to live up to that honor by giving You the glory and praise for what You have done in our lives.Thank you for professional athletes who raise the bar by sharing their faith publicly; may we all be as fearless in our daily witness as these Christian heroes.Amen and amen.
What do you see when you look around your world? Much of it isn't pretty. Finding the beauty of the universe becomes increasingly more difficult when evil and suffering is consistently broadcast into our living rooms and printed in our newspapers. Some of us like to take exotic vacations to distant shores in hopes of finding a beautiful place to relax. Ralph Waldo Emerson said,
"Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us, or we find it not."
Searching for beauty need not become a hopeless task. Everyday we can see the miraculous, breathtaking creation of God if we train ourselves to look for it. The Teacher in Ecclesiastes 3:11 said, "He has made everything beautiful in its time." I believe it is possible to find something good in almost everything! It all depends on our viewpoint. Believe that God has something to say to you in every flower, every blade of grass, every human encounter, every raindrop that falls... then you will find beauty right where you are. Carry it with you or you will find it not.
GospeLines Prayer:Father, when I am tempted to become as negative as the media, cheer me up with a reminder that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Help me to exercise my freedom of choice, so that I may habitually choose to see Your good work in everything. Amen and amen.
Matthew 13 presents us with the parable of the wheat and the weeds.It reads as follows:
He presented another parable to them:“The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in the field.But while people were sleeping, his enemy came, sowed weeds among the wheat, and left.When the plants sprouted and produced grain, then the weeds also appeared.The landowner’s slaves came to him and said, ‘Master, didn’t you sow good seed in your field?Then where did the weeds come from?’‘An enemy did this!’he told them.‘So do you want us to go and gather them up?’ the slaves asked him.‘No,’ he said.‘When you gather up the weeds, you might also uproot the wheat with them.Let both grow together until the harvest.At harvest time I’ll tell the reapers: Gather the weeds first and tie them in bundles to burn them, but store the wheat in my barn.’”
Jesus later explains that the sower of seed is the Son of Man, the sower of weeds is the Devil, and the harvesters are angels, while harvest time is the end of the age.He also tells the crowd that the weeds are those things which result in sin lawlessness.These things will be gathered and thrown into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.And then Christ says that the righteous will shine like the sun in their Father’s kingdom.
An important concept to take from this is that the wheat and weeds grew together.Believers and unbelievers are supposed to associate!Sometimes we get into a comfort zone in which we are satisfied in our own group and don’t really feel like going anywhere near the other.But as believers, how are we supposed to spread the righteous and holy Word of God if we ignore those who need it the most?How are we to convert “weeds” to “wheat” if we refuse to put them together?
“Anyone who has ears should listen!”
GospeLines Prayer: “Father, let us not find ourselves content with leaving those that know You not on the wayside.Give us a burning desire and passion to reach them and bring them into Your kingdom through the name of Jesus Christ.Guide us as we present Your holy gospel to them and attempt to show them the truths of Your Word.Amen.”
S.I.C. Ryan McCammon
Amen and Amen!
≈ Devotional for Thursday, April 14, 2011
"An Extravagant Tribute"
The Friday before Palm Sunday -
Matt. 26:1-13; Psalm 23:5; Psalm 2:2
With only six days before the Passover, the day Jesus would be handed over to be crucified, He was deeply burdened that the disciples were still clueless about what would happen in less than a week. Would anyone listen to what He was saying? “I will be executed in a few days! You must prepare for the inevitable,” He said.
At least one person understood the mission of Jesus. The custom was to prepare the body for burial by anointing it with precious ointment, some which may have cost as much as a year's wages. Over the protests of His followers, Scripture says a woman did that very thing on Saturday before Jesus was crucified on the Friday following. She understood and accepted the reason for His coming, and why he would die a hero's death.
Prisoners who await their execution can tell you with certainty the exact day of their death, barring any late reprieve from the Supreme Court. For three years, Jesus tried to tell the disciples that Friday was coming and urged them to prepare for the day, but the twelve who had shared so much in life, refused to talk about the loss of their leader. Death and dying are not topics which friends and family want to discuss at length.
Mary was my volunteer secretary where I had served as pastor. When I learned that she was dying I went to her bedside where we reminisced, laughed and cried together while holding hands there in her hospital room. As I was about to pray for her, I asked "Mary, how do you want me to pray? For healing?" She looked into my tearful eyes and said, "No, pastor. I am ready to go home." In that poignant moment, I reluctantly anointed her with prayer for what we believed we could not change. It was heart-breaking for us to say our good-byes, but we knew it was the right thing to do. It was not the end for Mary, only the end of the beginning and she was not afraid.
GospeLines Prayer:Lord Jesus, you not only have taught us how to live, but you have taught us how to die as well. Give us courage to live in such a way that when it is time for us to walk through heaven's gates, we will know that our journey on earth was lived victoriously. Amen and amen.
Historical and Christian documents refer to the Sunday before Easter as Palm Sunday.It was the day when Jesus rode into the city of Jerusalem on the back of a young donkey, symbolic of the triumphal entry of a warrior who has been victorious in battle.
Young and old, Jews and Christians came to see this Sacrificial Lamb of God riding into Jerusalem like a conquering hero."BLESSED IS HE...HOSANNA!” they shouted.The road was covered with flowers and palm branches, befitting the royalty of that day.Jesus had told them that He would be crucified as soon as the authorities caught up with him.He stared death in the face, challenging the religious leaders to make good on their threats to silence him once and for all.The whole city was stirred with wonder and awe, "Who is this?” they asked.And the crowds answered, "This is Jesus from Nazareth."
Will you recognize Jesus when He comes to you on Palm Sunday 2011, or willyou be among those who ask, “Who is this?”Open your spiritual eyes and allow Him to ride triumphantly into your life today.He brings a message of courage and victory over everything that defeats you.Sing with the multitudes, "Hosanna in the Highest...Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord."Amen and amen.