soccer

lessons from a soccer game

By Sophie Otiende, Kenya

There is no doubt that soccer is the most popular sport of our time. From Africa to Asia and even the Middle East, soccer fans are widespread all across the world. The differences in culture, race, religion and opinions are dissolved when fans unite and cheer for their team. Just watch the World Cup and fans will show you the true meaning of being in unison.

Being a big soccer fan, I have to admit that it is that sense of belonging that I hunger for and that always keeps me going back. When I am cheering my team, I truly belong. I don’t struggle with anyone or anything (maybe just the opposing team) because at that occasion nothing counts, not what my neighbor is wearing, not what race they are, not what they did yesterday. What counts at that moment is the game.

However, I firmly believe that our cause in the body of Christ is much larger than a soccer game. It gives rise to a serious question, “Why is it that soccer seems to have the ability to unite man more than Christ?”

In the final hours of Jesus’ life, He spent time in prayer. He offered a heartfelt prayer for His people as recorded in John 17. Why was He so urgent? What is so vital that Jesus felt He had to pray for us in the last very painful hours of His life, when frankly He should have been praying for Himself? The answer is simple, UNITY.

I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.
John 17:22-23

Jesus knew the importance of unity in the body because any division among believers would undermine the church’s testimony to the world. In these last days, the Christian body face many problems that stem from a lack of unity.

What makes unity possible? In soccer, the simple answer is focus. In the stadium, our focus is the game at hand. I think focus is what we have lost in the church.

We have forgotten what our main cause ought to be. We forgot that it is not, it has never been, and it will never be about us. This walk is about Christ. Church is about Him. Yet many times we lose focus of Christ and we find ourselves in much discord.

As we look upon soccer, we realize that our unity is only as strong as we are when focused. My prayer is that when we get to church, my name as a Christian should count, not my race neither what I did or did not do. What should matter at all times is for what reason are we gathered and the answer is plain and simple: Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is LOVE.

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Jesus Died for King David | King David & King Jesus

By David Wong, 21, Singapore

David confessed to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.” Nathan replied, “Yes, but the Lord has forgiven you, and you won’t die for this sin.” —2 Samuel 12:13

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Imagine you were Uriah’s parents. Imagine you were in the king’s courts when prophet Nathan confronted king David of his sin. You hear Nathan’s searing indictment, “You are the man!” Just then, your heart sinks. You come to the bleak realization that the death of your son was not merely the result of being killed in battle. Instead, it was a carefully orchestrated murder plot by the king to cover his adultery with your daughter-in-law.

Shock gives way to anger and hatred toward David. You hear David acknowledging his sin, but that’s not all you want to hear. You want to hear Nathan pronouncing God’s judgment and justice upon David’s life. Instead, you heard the most ridiculous and unjust statements ever: “The Lord has forgiven you, and you won’t die for this sin” (v.13). A mere acknowledgment of sin resulted in God’s forgiveness. At this moment, your anger turns toward God. You cry out, “Where is the justice? How can You forgive him just like that? Don’t You understand that he killed my son?”

How can God be just and yet forgiven David just like that? This is radical grace. But it was also unjust grace… or so it seems.

The Old Testament points to Jesus in various ways. One way, as we saw in the study of David’s love for Mephibosheth, is that some bible characters reflect Christ and portray some aspects of God’s character. Another way, as we have seen last week, is by giving us an imperfect picture so that we would look beyond for someone much better. Similarly in today’s story, the forgiveness of King David gives us an incomplete picture of which the New Testament will complete.

So how was it that David could be forgiven? The Bible tells us that David’s forgiveness was made possible only because of Jesus. In Romans 3:23-25, it says, “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood. This sacrifice shows that God was being fair when he held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past.” [emphasis added]

David was forgiven not because he was a man after God’s own heart. It was not because he had an excellent record of good deeds. Such thinking will only create legalism and moralism in the church and in our life! David’s good deeds count as nothing! God could justly forgive David because one day, God would punish David’s adultery on Jesus. Jesus died for David’s adultery and murder.

Likewise, Jesus has died on the cross for our sins! This is the good news! Rejoice because if you confess your sins, God is faithful and just to forgive you and make you clean (1 John 1:9). In the same way David’s confession was followed immediately by forgiveness, so it is for us! Our confession of sin, in Jesus’ name, will immediately be followed by forgiveness from God! Rejoice, and give praise and glory to Jesus!

As we end off this series, my hope and prayer is that these articles will lead you to greater praise and greater treasuring of Jesus. May it also prompt you to consider how the stories of the Old Testaments fit into God’s bigger story of redemption.

Soli Deo Gloria; Glory to God Alone.

Read the entire series!

An Introduction
Part 1 – Crippled but Accepted
Part 2 – Brought Near
Part 3 – David and Mephibosheth
Part 4 – I am Pregnant

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I am Pregnant | King David and King Jesus

By David Wong, 21, Singapore

Later, when Bathsheba discovered that she was pregnant, she sent David a message, saying, “I’m pregnant.” —2 Samuel 11:5

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Samuel chapter 11 opens with David neglecting his kingly duties. It leads to adultery, and culminated in the murder of an innocent man. This week, we will briefly examine the fall of king David, and how it points to Jesus.

King David wanted to satisfy the lust of his eyes (2 Sam. 11:2). He threw caution into the wind and sent his men to take Bathsheba to him. After the one-night dalliance, Bathsheba became pregnant. At that time, Bathsheba’s husband Uriah was fighting a war against the Ammonites. There was no plausible explanation for the pregnancy except adultery. David devised a plan to get Uriah to sleep with Bathsheba in order to hide the cause of the pregnancy. When this failed, David connived to murder Uriah in the battlefield. He then married Bathsheba quickly to cover up his sins. Months later, Bathsheba gave birth to a son, and the chapter ends with the only reference to God in the entire chapter: “But the Lord was displeased with what David had done.”

In this chapter, we see the man after God’s heart (Acts 13:22) running after the lust of his own heart. We see the shepherd of Israel, the man who looked with godly kindness upon Mephibosheth (2 Sam. 9), becoming a selfish and ruthless murderer.

This is an accurate reflection of us. Some times, when passion and love for God abound, we do costly sacrificial acts of love for God and others. Yet, often times, we fail to reflect Him. We stumble. We are weak. Though we may not commit adultery or murder physically, we have committed them in our hearts and minds and are likewise guilty (Matt. 5:21-30).

Our leaders—be it our youth leaders, cell group leaders, or pastors, fail too. We could at times be disappointed or even disillusioned by their bad conduct or behavior.

The insufficiencies of David point to another King that will come. One that will be the perfect Ruler. One that is sinless who obeyed God fully. One that promises to be faithful to us even when we commit adultery against Him and act like whores by running after idols (Hosea 3).

This is our Savior and King, Jesus. This is our Perfect Leader. Yes, we are weak and frail. But we have a Representative that stands on our behalf before God who never fails. Yes, we have leaders that stumble. But we have a Leader that will lead us in perfect righteousness.

As we look at the failings of David, may it stir within you a yearning for someone better—this person is Jesus.

Stay tuned.

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Brought Near | King David & King Jesus

By David Wong, Singapore

So David sent for him and brought him from Makir’s home. —2 Samuel 9:5 (nlt)

After Ziba revealed to King David that Jonathan had a crippled son who is still alive, instead of rejecting him due to his handicap, David accepted Mephibosheth and asked for his location. We pick up the story in verse 5, where King David sent for Jonathan’s son, Mephibosheth, to be brought to him. David did not sit still and wait for Mephibosheth to come to him. David actively sought and brought him in.

There are a few hindrances that prevent Mephibosheth from coming before David. Firstly, David is the king of Israel. Mephibosheth could not simply walk into the presence of the king. Secondly, as the grandson of David’s biggest enemy Saul, and the nephew of Ish-bosheth (guy who fought David for the kingdom of Israel after Saul’s death cf. 2 Sam. 2-4), by these associations, it would naturally make him an enemy of David. However, these obstacles were cleared by David’s acceptance of Mephibosheth (v.4).

Yet another hindrance remains: Mephibosheth is crippled. Even if the way into the king’s presence is open, there is no way Mephibosheth could walk in on his own. His handicap prevented him from entering into that presence. However, the king did not leave Mephibosheth to do it on his own. David sought him out and brought him into his presence.

This is a beautiful picture of God’s redemptive work. God not only makes it possible through the death of Jesus Christ to reconcile us to Himself (Eph. 2:16), God actually brings us in. Like Mephibosheth, a few things hinder us from drawing close to God. As sinners, we cannot simply walk into God’s presence. We would be consumed by His holiness and wrath. But God clears the way by offering Jesus to take the sin punishment on our behalf and to satisfy His wrath against us.

And like Mephibosheth, there is no way we can approach God on our own. When the Good News is presented to us, without illumination from the Holy Spirit, “the message of the cross is foolish to [us]” (1 Cor. 1:18). We are naturally blind to the gospel because “the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News” (2 Cor. 4:4).

God pursued us and brought us to Himself. We read in Ephesians 2:4-5 “But God is so rich in mercy, and He loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, He gave us life when He raised Christ from the dead.” God made us alive when we were dead (and dead people can do nothing). He sought us out!
What we could not do, God did. God brought us close. So cherish and praise our awesome and gracious God for all that He has done for us! He made the way, and enabled us to draw near. Praise the Lord!