Summary: The Cal Ripken Jr. World Series of baseball has invaded Mattoon, IL, and life is somewhat similar to a baseball game.


I Cor. 9:25 "Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever."

INTRO.- ILL.- In the popular 1994 movie "Forrest Gump," Forrest with an IQ of 74 said, "Mama always said, ‘Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.’"

I also have a quote. I say that "life is like a baseball game...a world series baseball game and you never know what is going to happen!"

The apostle Paul often compared the Christian life with athletics. He said, "Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training...."

Anyone who is serious about their athletic sport, baseball or whatever, will train hard. Those who train hard generally play hard and do well in their sport.

ILL.- Olympic wrestler, Dan Gable, in 1972, won a gold medal at the Summer Olympics without surrendering a single point to any of his six opponents. The Soviets came to the Olympics with only one goal in mind; to defeat Gable. They were unsuccessful.

During his prep and college careers, Gable compiled an unbelievable record of 182-1 and won 99 straight matches at Iowa State, with an NCAA record string of 25 pins in a row. Gable was named to the U.S.A. Wrestling Hall of Fame in 1980, and to the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame in 1985.

How could wrestler Dan Gable have been so successful? it’s called hard work. He trained hard! In his Olympic days Dan trained or worked out for nearly 8 hours a day at wrestling, lifting weights, running, and calisthenics.

It takes a lot of hard work to do well in anything; wrestling, baseball or the Christian life. How’s your training going? Or are you training at all? Are you doing any spiritual workouts? By this, I mean Bible study, prayer time, Christian service, etc. All these are matters of spiritual training.

Baseball is still our national sport or national pastime. Many people have played ball and most love to watch it. And we are certainly going to be watching it here in Mattoon next week! The Cal Ripken Jr. World Series of baseball!

ILL.- Some of you may remember that baseball player Lou Gehrig is called the "iron man of baseball" for a very good reason. For 15 years in the 1920’s and 30’s he played first base for the New York Yankees. He played 2130 consecutive games. And after he retired they X-rayed both of his hands and found that every finger had been broken at least one time, YET HE NEVER MISSED A GAME! He played even though he was hurt. That says something about his character.

Obviously, we have to go on living the Christian life even though we’ve been hurt. And it’s a guaranteed thing we will be hurt in this life. We will experience hurt and pain in some form or another and for one reason or another: because of the devil, sin, or perhaps just because we live in an imperfect world where imperfect things happen all the time.

Why did Lou Gehrig get the disease that is named after him (or ALS) and only live to be 38 years old? Simply because this is an imperfect world where age and disease affects us all.

As great as Lou Gehrig’s record was, Cal Ripken Jr. broke his record on Sept. 6, 1995, and the people stood and cheered him for 22 minutes and 15 seconds. And by September 19, 1998 Cal Ripken Jr. had played 2632 consecutive ball games. What a record! And what a ball player! He sort of reminds me of another player in the game of life.

The apostle Paul was a great player in the game of life. He endured much hardship in life. He said these words in II Tim. 4:7-8 "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day..."

In a sense, Paul was saying, "I have endured. I have hung in there. I have stayed at bat. I have kept the faith."

Just as both Lou Gehrig and Cal Ripken were faithful in their baseball careers, so we are to be faithful in our career as Christians. Faithfulness always pays off! Especially, in the spiritual realm!

Paul said, "They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever."

We play the game of life and endure certain hardships and stay faithful because we know that in the end it will pay off.

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