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Summary: Wrapping up spiritual lessons around "current hot topic" in the manner the Master "connected" to the audience of his generation by using the "media subjects" of His days’ (Luke 13:1-5) to drive home the message of "Repentance"!!!

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FOOTBALL...FOOTBALL...

Absorbed with Euro 2012 football? Well, I am one of those who gladly gets "infected" with Soccer fever contagion which “breaks out” once every four 4 years. Let me vouchsafe for the fact that one can never “get sick of” of the “kick” of soccer’s "sorcery"! Amongst other things, ever wondered what is so special about the game of football? Unlike other games like say tennis, golf, hockey etc which require their practitioners to use special equipments, the game of football requires just one air-filled leather sphere to go along with your juggling feet. Captivating chemistry eh?

While football can fascinate for a season, God’s word enchants from eternity to eternity. It is sweeter than honey declared the Psalmist (119:103). Oh the joys of reading and absorbing the Scriptural truths! In this Sermon, I intend to draw some spiritual lessons from the occurrences and matters related to the World of football.

EMIGRATION…

Ever heard of Luis Monti?

Action: Picture of Luis MontI – a famous International Football player of yore

Well, he has a rare distinction of being the only player to have ever played in two World cup finals for two different teams! In 1930, he played in the losing Argentine side; later on he immigrated to Italy and played a pivotal role in Italy winning the 1934 World cup.

In a way every Christian can identify with Luis Monti, isn’t it? To start with we were all “in a country of sin” playing in the losing side of Satan, weren’t we? Our lives were one of one big spiritual defeat, as the following Scripture portion so amply testifies…

“Once we, too, were foolish and disobedient. We were misled and became slaves to many lusts and pleasures. Our lives were full of evil and envy, and we hated each other.” – Titus 3:3 (NLV)

But the Good News with a capital “G” now is we have thanks to His grace “emigrated” to God’s Kingdom as it were, and are now playing in a new victorious team “When God our Savior revealed his kindness and love, he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit- Titus 3:4-5 (NLV)

Hey, we are on the winning side! Then again, what about the author of this epistle to Titus from which the above-mentioned Scripture portions’ have been extracted? Mr. Saul of Tarsus, when he set out to Damascus to persecute Christians, he was playing for the Satan’s team but en-route thanks to God’s everlasting grace, he was “wrung out” of Devil’s outfit and “grafted” into the winning side of Christ (Acts 9:1-20) as an apostle. Look at his touching testimonial to this effect…

“For I am the least of all the apostles. In fact, I’m not even worthy to be called an apostle after the way I persecuted God’s church. But whatever I am now, it is all because God poured out his special favor on me and not without results. For I have worked harder than any of the other apostles; yet it was not I but God who was working through me by his grace.” – I Corinthians 15:9-10

By the way for “whose team” are you playing? IN THE SPIRITUAL REALM, ONE CANNOT BE NEUTRAL. If you are not for “Calvary cavaliers” (read Jesus’ team), remember consciously or unconsciously, you are playing for “Hell dwellers” (read Satan’s side)!

Only, if you have this "emigration experience", you would be able to better appreciate what follows in this Sermon…

INSTRUCTION…

Action:Pictures of Football coach in different moods

While a football team plays on the field, unlike Cricket where captain holds sway, the one who “holds the strings” in the game of football, is an unseen (in the field) manager or the coach. It is he, who spends countless hours molding his team into a winning combination. Right from training… to strategizing… to final team selection, a manager sheds his “blood and sweat” in order his team and its supporters taste “sweet success”. Though in the sidelines, during the game his involvement is total! Do not we see the whole gamut of emotions registering in his countenance…from agony to ecstasy, from anxiety to relief when TV camera’s zoom in now and then to show the global audience his varying emotions, during the key moments of the match?

Could there have been a greater manager than Christ? Though the disciples were in some cases from diametrically opposite backgrounds, he fashioned them into a winning unit, who would now play with a single goal in mind. Oh yes, Nehemiah made men of different professions work side-by-side (a goldsmith and a perfume maker –Nehemiah 3:8) but Christ is greater for he accomplished a far more difficult task of making men of TOTALLY DIFFERENT IDEOLOGIES work shoulder to shoulder. Imagine a Taliban terrorist and US marine sinking their differences for a common cause and playing in a same team in a football field in Kabul! Preposterous? Well, that exactly is the picture which comes to the fore, when we see Matthew (a pro-Roman government tax collector before becoming a disciple-Matt 9:9-13) and Simon the Zealot (violently opposed to Roman government-Mark 3:18) together putting their shoulders to the “Gospel wheel”, as it were…

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