Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Half Time Talk

Based on Acts 1

What’s your favorite halftime speech? Was it one you heard as a player on a sports team? Maybe a scene from a sports movie comes to mind.

Halftime talks come right in the middle of the game. Whether your team is up or down, you’ve been struggling to achieve a goal, to win, and there’s more to come. You aren’t done yet, this is just a brief break in the action to help you catch your breath and regroup before heading into the next phase of the game.

Acts 1 is that halftime place between Jesus’ victory on the cross and the viral spread of His message through the followers He commissions to go back onto the field. They’ve experienced tremendous things as they walked with Jesusmiracles that defy human explanation; teaching that amazes, astounds, and confounds human logic; and love and forgiveness that creates an intimacy they’ve never known before.

After Jesus’ amazing and seemingly unbelievable resurrection from the dead, they’ve spent 40 days in His presence. It’s been a time unlike any other they’ve ever experienced. As Jesus points them to the future, He promises them power from on high, supernatural power, the ability to do even more than He has done.

Now comes the bombshellHe’s leaving. He won’t be with them in person as they move out of the locker room and back onto the field. Initially, they misunderstand.

“So, is it time, then? Are you calling the game? Is it time for the post-game party?”

No, that’s not the plan. The game will continue. With the score unchangeably in their favor, they need to go out and play, giving it all they’ve got, confident that they will prevail.

Where are you in the game of life, in the struggle to live out your faith in God in the midst of your personal circumstances?

Are you sitting on the bench, waiting to get in the game? Maybe you’re dirty and bruised, limping a bit. Maybe you’ve had some great plays and you can’t wait for more. Maybe you’re tired, even discouraged.

Halftime is a time to pull aside and hear what the coach has to say. He’s committed to you, he knows your strength and ability, and he has a game plan. He wants to motivate you for what’s to come, to get you re-energized so you can give it all you’ve got until the very last second of the game.

Discouragement always steals hope, energy, focus, and courage. Discouragement is never from God, it is a tool used by the enemy of our souls to cause us to doubt God’s love and ability to work in and through us.

Jesus had times of discouragement and fatigue that caused Him to turn to the Father for the encouragement He needed to keep going. Because He received encouragement from God, He was able to pass on that same encouragement to His disciples.

What tends to discourage you?

I’ve always enjoyed the fact that the word courage is at the heart of the word encouragement. When I am encouraged, I find the hope and resolve to move forward, to commit myself anew, and to see the possible steps I can take to move ahead as I envision a future characterized by life and hope.

How does encouragement affect your ability to live life?

How does God encourage you when you’re discouraged?

Where do you need encouragement right now and how do these Scripture passages encourage you to get back in the game?

John 14:16, 17

And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever—the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.

Romans 1:11, 12

I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong—that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other's faith.

Romans 8:26, 27

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will.

Romans 8:34

Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.

Romans 12:6-8

We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man's gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.

Romans 15:4-6

For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

2 Corinthians 1:3-5

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.

Philippians 2:1-4

If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.

2 Thessalonians 2:16, 17

May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.

If you’re in need of a halftime talk, I hope you’ve found words of encouragement here, words that reinvigorate you and give you the courage you need to get back in the game.

One final word of encouragement

Great halftime speeches are meant to be remembered and shared. Ask God to send someone your way who needs encouragement, and then encourage them with the encouragement He has given you. Point them to Him, the Great Encourager.

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