The Perfect Game Plan: Never Grow Old

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Day 30

It’s quality, not longevity, that matters in life.

READ: Psalm 102:25-27

It is estimated that the average playing life of a professional footballer is 8 years. With today’s advances in sports science and medicine, that period can be extended beyond 10. Even so, it is fleetingly short. A reckless tackle or an awkward fall can put paid to a promising career.

Players come and go but none last for long. However, there is Someone who lives forever, whose power and creativity do not diminish with time, and who is unchanging and dependable. How is this possible when even supremely talented athletes will eventually lose their edge? Surely there are no timeless wonders that can maintain their prime forever?

Jesus, the Son of God, is “the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). According to Colossians 1:15-20, He is the image of the invisible God, the Creator of all things, and the center of the universe. By His power the world is sustained and held together. He enjoys unrivaled supremacy and is perfect in love and righteousness. Best of all, He promises life everlasting to all who believe in Him (1 John 2:25).

Our own aging body is a constant reminder that we need Someone who remains the same forever. This Someone’s name is Jesus. When our time on earth is over, all who trust in Him will head to His world where we never grow old.

World Cup Trivia
Which FIFA World Cup finals used the most venues to stage the games? Which team made it to the final three times but lost on each occasion? In the history of the World Cup, who was the highest scorer in a single match? In which World Cup finals was the “sudden death” (“golden goal”) rule introduced?
Did you know…
that the oldest footballer who debuted in a FIFA World Cup was David James from England? He was 39 years old when he played against Algeria in 2010.

The Perfect Game Plan: Tardelli’s Scream

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Day 29

An explosion made in heaven is joy multiplied by a million.

READ: Psalms 98

When Marco Tardelli scored the defining goal against Germany in the 1982 World Cup final, his celebration displayed pure ecstasy. Fists clenched, mouth open, and head wagging, he let out a long scream as he raced across the pitch. The years of disciplined training, the hard-fought qualifying matches, and the dream of glory finally came down to that one moment when he lashed in the winning goal from just outside the box. Marco had to let it all out.

Did you ever wonder what life might be like if all the wrongs were put right and there was “no more death or sorrow or crying or pain” (Rev. 21:4)? The joy of winning the World Cup for country and fellowmen is wonderful, but a far greater joy beckons. A day is set for God to judge the world and reward His followers. What joy will erupt when King Jesus Himself places the unfading crown of life on His faithful servants even as they stand transfixed by His unparalleled glory! What excitement awaits them as they head into eternity with Him who can satisfy their deepest longings!

That day is going to be like no other. The years of battling with sin and imperfection and grief will give way to pure joy.

World Cup Trivia
Name the goalkeeper who saved the most penalty shots in a FIFA World Cup match. Under FIFA’s rules and regulations, there was a rule that was in force for only two World Cup finals. What was it?

The Perfect Game Plan: Stop Complaining

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Day 28

The path with no obstacles leads to nowhere. Real reward is at the end of the difficult road.

READ: James 1:2-4

In the 1966 World Cup quarterfinal match in England, Portugal found herself staring down the barrel of defeat, trailing 0-3 against Korea DPR. Lesser players would have given up, but not Eusebio, the tournament’s top scorer. Almost single-handedly the famed “black panther” turned the game around, bulging the net 4 times and helping Portugal come away 5-3 winners!

We often feel sorry for ourselves when the chips are down, complaining and blaming bitterly. But grumbling will lead us nowhere except southward, causing us to view life from the basement.

Eusebio would not be distracted. The 3-nil score-line gave him a punch-up instead of a knockdown. The Bible goes even further by declaring that in every adversity is an opportunity for the perfection of character (James 1:2-4). It promises that we can benefit from the situation as well as deal with it.

Those who trust in God see both the problem and the unique opportunity inherent in it. With God’s help, they can work to resolve the problem and learn to be better persons in the process. This is the sort of motivation we need in life that could bring about a real turnaround.

Remember, the next time you find the chips are down, it’s time for a turnaround, not time to grumble.

World Cup Trivia
Who won the FIFA World Cup for Germany first as a player then later as a coach? Which was the first African team to qualify for a World Cup finals competition? What was the name of the horn that was a favorite with the crowd in the 2010 FIFA World Cup? Which countries will host the next two FIFA World Cup tournaments? Which team in the 2006 World Cup finals tasted victory for the first time in all their appearances? Who were the first FIFA World Cup winners?

The Perfect Game Plan: Opportunities Abound

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Day 27

From the soil of problems comes the growth of life.

READ: 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

Homare Sawa, Japan’s captain for the FIFA 2011 Women’s World Cup tournament in Germany, not only drove her team to become world champions but also personally collected the competition’s Golden Boot award.

Coming from behind, Japan found the extra leg to even up the score deep into the second half, pushing the match into penalty kicks and finally emerging as winners over a powerful USA squad. When asked later about Japan’s secret to success, she put it down to teamwork and a never-give-up spirit.

Some people have long given up on God. They accuse Him of not being there when they need Him most. Where was He when crisis and pain struck? Why didn’t He respond to their desperate cry for guidance, wisdom, and faith? He had His chance, but He proved unreliable at best and nonexistent at worst.

The Japanese exploited the opportunities that came their way as their opponents tired. The lesson is simple: If we ask God for faith, He will give us the opportunity to practice faith and grow in it. If He gives us a handicap, He will create situations or send people into our lives, and we can learn to turn it into an advantage. That was what Paul learned in 2 Corinthians 4:16-18, and that is how we learn as well.

Remember, when problems arise, to look out for God-sent opportunities!

World Cup Trivia
Why didn’t Argentina participate in the 1950 World Cup? What was the name of the match ball in the 2010 World Cup? The name “Nadal” is not associated with tennis alone. Who is the Spanish player who has played in three World Cup finals and shares the same name? Which team in the 2006 FIFA World Cup did not score a goal?
Did you know…
that in the contest to choose the new Brazilian uniform, the selected design was submitted by a fan from Uruguay?