Live Like a Champion

By based on a sermon by Billy Graham   •   September 25, 2008

First, games require discipline. The champion boxer trains for a long time before he steps into the ring. He must not abuse his body if he wants to be a winner.

The writer of Hebrews said, “Let us throw off everything that hinders, and the sin that so easily entangles” (Hebrews 12:1).

If you just want to dabble in a game, forget about the discipline. But champions must bring their best to the chosen game.

Discipline is only possible through surrendering yourself to God in everything. Surrender begins with your heart, but it is impossible to achieve by yourself. The Holy Spirit will help you, train you to focus your effort if only you will listen and obey.

“For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come” (1 Timothy 4:8).

Play with Precision
Games require precision. Can you imagine the precision it take to pitch a no-hit game in baseball? Or to get a score of 300 every time you bowl? There is no room for error in a perfect game.

God is also precise. Jesus said, “Small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it” (Matthew 7:14).

It is interesting that so many think the Lord is less particular about saving their souls than He is about temperature, barometer readings, and gravity. If God is not haphazard in nature, He certainly is not slipshod in the matter of our souls and in our spiritual relationship with Him.

The Bible explains, “There is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). That name is Jesus Christ.

Jesus said, “I am the gate” (John 10:9) … “I am the way” (John 14:6). Yet many people say that is too demanding. I want to tell you it is the only way. It is how God has spelled it out.

Aim to Be the Best
Only the Holy Spirit can take you beyond your own limits. Don’t be satisfied with your best efforts. Rely on Him to change your heart as you seek a life of obedience.

“Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6, NKJV).

Learn the Rule Book
In order to run the race God has for you, you must learn the basics–and start practicing. Your faith needs a foundation. Spend time each day in prayer and in God’s Word, the Bible. You will receive spiritual strength and knowledge to persevere.

“All scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work”(2 Timothy 3:16-17).

Know Your Opponents
One secret of winning the game is to triumph over the opposition. Mental attitudes are important. Self can be a defeating factor. We must deny our selfish ambitions, our appetites and passions, and bring them under the lordship of Christ.

Satan also is an enemy. The moment we receive Christ, Satan starts working on us harder than before. But the Bible tells us, “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7).

The third enemy is the world, that principle of evil, in the cosmos. It is in our newspapers, on our television screens, on the radio. Pressure is on us to conform to the sins of the world.

“Don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God” (James 4:4).

Remember the Goals
Your two main goals in this game of life are to become more like Christ and to continue on until the day you meet Him in heaven. Nothing this world has to offer compares with the prize we shall receive if we finish strong.

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race. I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7).

“I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14).

What is your score? How do you stand before God? If there is doubt in your mind or heart that you are forgiven or that you have eternal life, commit yourself now to the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.


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