Summary: This is the 5th sermon in the "Christmas Surprises" series. This sermon identifies Who wins and why.

Sunday Evening December 9, 2001 Bel Aire Baptist Church

Series: Christmas Surprises [#5]


Isaiah 8:12-9:7


1. Kevin and I discuss football quite often. The NFL team, Carolina Panthers, have come up in our discussion several times. This is a football team that won its first game and has lost its last 11. Now understand, this is a pretty good football team. Carolina has kept up with some of the best teams in the NFL. They have lost most of their games by 7 points or less, but a loss is a loss.

2. Now there is still people who are fans of Carolina, but there are many who were fans last year that are not fans this year because of there losing season. It is human nature to “jump on board” when someone is winning and “jump ship” when they are not.

3. We all want to be on the winning team, the problem is we don’t want to do anything to get there.

4. This evening I want us to notice that this urge to be on the winning team is not only about football, but also about life. Let’s look at the game of life, the plays used, and who the winners are.

5. Turn with me to Isaiah 8.

The Game

Man vs. God

1. Man (Isaiah 8:12)

When playing the game, man decides when to quit. Man decides what and who to fear. This is called “peer pressure”. Although we would say that it is mainly youth who deal with “peer pressure”, I am talking to all of us. Most of us tend to follow the crowd. This is even true in our churches. Although I’m going to use these examples from sports, I think you will see how they could fit in with church work.


It’s time to quit if:

I don’t get to play the position I want to play.

I don’t get to run my plays.

I don’t get put on the “highlight films” (recognition).

The other team is better.

Isaiah is told that although this looks like the winning team sometimes, that it is not. God says He is the One that is Holy. He is the One to be feared and dreaded.

2. God (Isaiah 8:13)

God is the One Who sets the standards. We should not allow man to set the standards. God also tells us that He is the Leader of the victorious team, yet many people will never realize that.

The Plays

Every team, even Jr. High teams, have plays. A winning team must have a plan and those plans are found in the playbook.

1. Man’s Playbook (Isaiah 8:19)

We find in this verse that man is consulting mediums and spiritists for help. We are reminded here that Satan has a false version of everything God has. Satan knows how to keep his team full. Satan definitely has a playbook. He runs trick plays and often they work. People see and hear what they want to. We see this still today with all of these “psychic hotlines” and astrology and I do believe that some of these things work.

In Exodus, we see God placing plagues upon the Egyptians because Pharaoh would not let the Israelites go. God changed the river into blood, but we see that Pharaoh’s magicians could do the same thing. The fact that they could do this kept Pharaoh from being convinced of God’s power. Now where do you think that came? Satan of course!

2. God’s Playbook

God writes His own plays. God also determines the time, the place, who is going to run that play, and how they are going to run that play. God is the coach of this team and although many times His plays may not make sense to us they do work if we will follow them completely. Sometimes we are tackled. Sometimes we are tired. But, if we are going to play on God’s team, we must follow His instructions.

The Winners

1. Man’s Team (Isaiah 8:21-22)

This team may think it is winning, but ultimately this team will be defeated. Many players on this team will realize too late that they had been playing for the wrong coach. In fact, this team will find out that its coach has been lying to them about winning because he knows he is going to lose.

Unfortunately, this is one game that the losers cannot play over. Once the game is over, if you are on this team you are cast into outer darkness.

2. God’s Team (Isaiah 9:1-7)

This team seems to struggle at times because the players get tired and quit. The players argue with the coach. The players tackle one another. The players try to get all of the glory. But, even with all of these problems, this team will win.

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