Summary: A message on how to stay in when life tries to knock you out.
How To Stay In When Life Tries to Knock You Out
Twentieth Century Fox has just recently released the movie DODGEBALL. The story is about a small local gym that is threatened with extinction by a gleaming sports and fitness palace unless a group of social rejects can rise to victory in the ultimate dodgeball competition. Now, I haven’t seen this movie, so I can’t put my stamp of approval on it, but I will say that the game of dodgeball has been around for quite some time. How many of ya’ll remember playing dodgeball when you were in elementary school? How many of ya’ll remember playing dodgeball at the church picnic last fall? The game is basically very simple…you’re the target and if you get hit, you’re out. So the object of the game is to be the last man standing without getting hit.
Life is a lot like DODGEBALL in the respect that you’re the target and the enemy’s going to try to knock you out. And so tonight, I’m going to give you some very basic plays and strategies to help you stay in the game.
II. Don’t Make Excuses
John 5:1-8 Some time later, Jesus went up to Jerusalem for a feast of the Jews. Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades. Here a great number of disabled people used to lie-the blind, the lame, the paralyzed. One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, "Do you want to get well?" "Sir," the invalid replied, "I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me." Then Jesus said to him, "Get up! Pick up your mat and walk."
There is a great tendency among us human beings to put off making commitments and living life to the fullest. The excuses are abysmal: "When I get out of school, then I’ll commit my life to God." "When I get married, then my life will be happy." "As soon as I have some money, my life will change."
In this passage, we see a man who had been sick for 38 years. Jesus asked him the big question: "Do you want to get well?" Notice that he didn’t answer the question with an immediate yes, but hesitated and made an excuse. At times we are so much like the sick man: We know what God wants us to do, but we pause and make an excuse.
One morning a vulture was hungry. While flying over the river, he saw a dead animal’s carcass floating down the river on a piece of ice. The vulture landed on the ice and began to gorge himself with this delightful meal. He looked up to take a breath of air and noticed that he was 100 yards from a waterfall and that the ice was moving rapidly toward the waterfall. But instead of flying away, he kept eating, though keeping his eye on the waterfall. At 25 yards he decided to take one last bite. Then at 10 yards he took one last mouthful. With only a few feet to go before the falls he tried to fly, but his feet were now frozen to the ice, and he tumbled to his death over the falls.
Don’t make excuses! Many a person has wasted his life by putting off the vital long-term priorities for the less important short-term ones.
Is there something in your life that you have been putting off with a feeble excuse? Make a commitment now!
III. Be Flexible
At many times, life is going throw some pretty nasty stuff at you. When those times come, in order to be able to dodge, duck, dip, dive, and dodge some of those things, you’re going to have to be flexible.
You guys remember how David defeated Goliath in 1 Samuel 17. Well, after that happened, the women of the town of Israel came out in the streets dancing and singing with tambourines and stuff, and they sang: “Saul has slain his thousands, and David his tens of thousands.”
Well, this made King Saul pretty jealous, and so he decided he was going to kill David. Now, you remember that there was a reward for killing Goliath. He was supposed to become the king’s son-in-law by marrying his daughter and be exempt from taxes. Well, Saul had this plot to kill David and attempted to kill him several times. David became the king’s son-in-law, but King Saul still wanted David dead, so he tries to pin him to the wall with his spear, but David is flexible and escapes. This goes on for several more chapters, and David has to continue to be flexible in order to dodge Saul’s attempts to take his life. David goes all over the place and is fleeing town after town. Then, in chapter 24, David and his men are in this cave hiding out and Saul and his men are so close, in fact, Saul’s men are outside of the cave, and Saul goes inside to use the bathroom. David sneaks up on him while he’s going number 2 and he cuts off a piece of his robe without being noticed. Then when Saul leaves the cave, David comes out after him and says, “Na na na boo boo, I got your robe.” No, he says, “I could have killed you, but I spared your life. I haven’t done anything wrong, yet you’re trying to kill me, stop it.” Well, Saul comes to his senses and makes a deal with David. And then a few chapters later, Saul’s after him again, and David again spares his life because David has made an oath to not touch the Lord’s anointed. Well, eventually, we know that David becomes King of Israel, but he had to be pretty flexible along the way in order to get to that place.