What it takes to be a winner.
Acts, #48. Acts 14.1-7
Last night I was watching a first ever event in the Olympics - skateboarding! Instantly, I knew who I was pulling for in Tokyo - a young man who has known great success and also tremendous hardship, needs just one name, Nyjah. He started skateboarding as a toddler, (insisted upon by his hard-driving father), had his first sponsor at age 7, won the largest amateur contest in the world at age 10 and turned pro at 11!*
How can you account for such off-the-charts success? Nyjah knew his goal.
He did not lose sight of it, and when seemingly knocked back to square one, remained relentless in his pursuit of winning.
The same could be said of the apostle Paul: he knew his goal, did not lose sight of it, and even when he was definitely knocked back to square one, remained relentless in his pursuit of winning… souls.
One day I will travel the footsteps of Paul, but for now imagine you and I are along with him and Barnabas on their first journey of taking the gospel message of life in Jesus Christ deeper into Europe and Asia. While Acts chapter 14 is crazy ridiculous in the victories and the hardships, we see that they they stayed the course, going first to the Jews in the synagogue, then to the Gentiles:
"The same thing happened in Iconium. Paul and Barnabas went to the Jewish synagogue and preached with such power that a great number of both Jews and Greeks became believers. 2 Some of the Jews, however, spurned God’s message and poisoned the minds of the Gentiles against Paul and Barnabas. 3 But the apostles stayed there a long time, preaching boldly about the grace of the Lord. And the Lord proved their message was true by giving them power to do miraculous signs and wonders. 4 But the people of the town were divided in their opinion about them. Some sided with the Jews, and some with the apostles.
5 Then a mob of Gentiles and Jews, along with their leaders, decided to attack and stone them. 6 When the apostles learned of it, they fled to the region of Lycaonia—to the towns of Lystra and Derbe and the surrounding area. 7 And there they preached the Good News. Acts 14.1-7
This behavior is not normal. Threatened with stoning, running for their lives . . . they keep preaching the Good News of Jesus Christ. What?!
Unlike Nyjah, who has made millions of dollars, has a huge social media following and fans aplenty, there is no earthly glory to be gained by Paul and Barnabas.
Their social standing was of no consequence to them as they sought the approval of an audience of One: God.
As you chart your week’s activities, why not write somewhere that
My purpose this week is to honor God
And then break it down as to how you will do that daily.
Committing yourself to the Lord, starting each day in His Word (like this!), offering each day to him in prayer. My morning prayers include:
~>Praising God for who he is in my life ~>Asking him to search my heart and life that I might confess any sin ~>Asking for his wisdom, blessing and favor in my life ~>Lifting before him, by name, those I know who need salvation, healing, strength ~>Thanking him for my blessings, naming them.
Skateboarding is cool, to be sure. Why I spent the last 21 years in a skater town--seeing guys on skateboards, surfboards tucked into the crook of their arms, beach bound! But loving and walking with the King, the One with whom I will spend eternity, trumps everything---which I remind myself when the days seem dark, the way long, and the pressure great.
Unfortunately, though Nyjah was the favored son in Tokyo, he did not medal, but took 7th place. And as for Paul in our story, he gets away----for now. But he will never distance himself from the voice of the Lord, will never be dissuaded … no matter what.
Paul was relentless in his faith - listening only for the approval of One - that is what it takes for you to be a winner. Let’s press in, let’s press on to victory! With me?
I’m reminded I’m a winner when I praise God: “Every Praise"
a flashmob: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GEsa_Z6I4Pc
*Sports Illustrated, https://www.si.com/olympics/2021/07/25/tokyo-olympics-street-skateboarding-nyjah-huston-jagger-eaton