Summary: Call plays before the game starts? Have a Game plan that’ll work in every situation? Jesus does, for then and for us.

Mark 6:30-44, John 6:1-13, Thanksgiving Football, 2007.

“In the Hands of Jesus with thanksgiving.”

Introductory Words: We’re moving into the season of Thanksgiving and Christmas and I want you to know there is a secret to having a truly thankful thanksgiving and truly joyful Christmas. We need a special wisdom, a special intelligence, the kind we find in football


Now I know football players are not famous for being smart. Vince Lombardi, supposedly, when he first took over as coach for the Green Bay Packers, got the guys together in a classroom and announced, “Men, you haven’t been winning much (they had had several losing seasons), but that’s going to change, we’re going back to basics.” He paused and picked up a football and said, “THIS is a football.”

Before he could continue a lineman supposedly said, “Hold on coach, no so fast, I’m taking notes.”

And then there’s Joe Theisman. He was being interviewed on TV and the subject of football players and intelligence was brought up. He supposedly said, “I take issue with that, football players are just as smart as anyone else, I mean, take me for example, now I’m no Norman Einstein . . . , but I’m just as smart as the next guy.”

Still there IS football wisdom and strategy which is well thought out and pretty powerful when applied to real life. I believe this can help us in truly enjoying the Thanksgiving and Christmas season.

1st. They Call plays BEFORE the snap.

John 6 tells us Jesus knew before hand what he was going to do.”

How obvious! When do they call plays in football,

after the snap????? You think Big Ben of the

Steelers, or Peyton Manning of the Colts, or Brady

of New England wait until the snap, THEN run around

the backfield with six 300 pound linemen chasing

them, saying, “NOW what am I going to do????” Of

course not!

But we WAIT until our days start, often we’re well into the morning after we get hit by a problem, setback or irritating “tackle,” after we get knocked down or around by bad news, bad diagnoses, and often wind up running away from frustrations all day long. We shake our heads at the end of a day of failure to live triumphantly and are surprised, confused and seem not to know what happened.

In Mark 6, Jesus called THIS PLAY: Feed the 5000 yourselves. He knew ahead of time that the key to this miracle was in Thanksgiving. When he lifted up the food and gave thanks BEFORE the miracle occurred, he was just following through on Ps. 34:1, “I will bless the Lord at ALL times, His praise will continually be in my mouth.”

What would happen if we went into our days prepared ahead of time, to meet e v e r y obstacle, frustration, problem, fear, sickness, diagnosis with Thanksgiving? It would be a successful play/day.

2nd, Expect to get knocked down, fail, fumble and slip, but don’t quit, keep going.

Running backs like Willie Parker of the Steelers

don’t quit because somebody bumps them, knocks them

down, stops them or steps on them. They might get

hit 30-40 times every game.

Imagine if they said, “I had no idea it would be this hard, every time I get going, something or someone stops me, WHAT’S MORE, I get STOPPED, 25-40 times a game, I’m a failure, I quit, it’s too hard, it hurts. Maybe I’m not ‘called’ to be a running back?!”

And they don’t quit when they fumble either, or miss

a hand-off, slip or miss a pass, they go right back

and try again.

The key to successful Christian living isn’t “not failing,” but not quitting, not staying down and giving up when we do fail.

You think runners and quarterbacks expect to get

knocked down or tackled? OF COURSE. We, on the

other hand are often SURPRISED, insulted and feel

betrayed or let down by God, when we get “hit” by a

problem, or chased by the “linemen” of frustration,

or fear or confusion. Expect it! Plan for it!

You think runners and quarterbacks expect to fail, maybe a lot? Of course. But they get back in there and keep going.

Especially if our “play” is thanksgiving and rejoicing. Everyday we should expect to have plenty of opposition and plenty of failure, to this course of action.

We need to have our play ready before our feet hit the ground. And the play that always works is: Rejoice in the Lord always, In everything give thanks and Bless the Lord at all times.

Jesus didn’t quit when they told him they didn’t have enough, or when he saw that they obviously didn’t want to do this. And He didn’t quit when they offered the meager 5 loaves and 2 fish, a pittance, again, hoping (I think) that this information would change his mind.

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