At my first defense no one appeared on my behalf, but everyone deserted me. May it not be held against them! But the Lord stood by me and gave me strength, so that through me the proclamation might be completed and all the Gentiles might hear it. And I was rescued from the lion’s mouth. 2 Timothy 4:16-17
Defense. You need five players against five players in a basketball game. Stop any of the five from taking shots. Defend the perimeter and the bottom of the post. Block the jumpers and putting hands up on the slashers. Getting near the basket is a big No. Five players need to form a solid fence to prevent the opposing players to score. But defense does not stop there. After defending the keyhole, they need to grab the ball and turn the tide on the other team. If a team wants to win a game, as they say, defense is the best offense.
Paul did not have the luxury of a team during a defensive play. He was all alone defending the turf. His team deserted him. His team filed leave of absences during the game. No one showed up for him to guard the post. He was one man defensive team. Or so he thought. He got the Lord by his side. The Lord stood his ground and by Paul’s game. The Lord put up a solid defense with Paul.
More than the fence they built, the Lord gave Paul the strength he needed to withstand the attack of the offense. The strength to block the ball, it’s from the Lord. The strength to stop the streaking shooter, it’s from the Lord. The strength to defend the quick step player, it’s from the Lord. Paul just needed to be present at the defense, the Lord supplied the strength.
Further, the Lord’s intention is to turn this defensive mode into an instant offense. Paul mentioned – so that through me the proclamation might be completed and all the Gentiles might hear it. The Lord will turn the tide. He has a game plan for Paul to advance the ball to the other court. The Lord will forward the mission into an offensive siege.
If today, you feel all alone in your defense, think again. If you see no one has shown concern at your defense, think again. The Lord stands by your side. The Lord gives you all the strength you need. He is busy sketching play to turn the tide for your benefit. The Lord will allow things to happen so you can forward his mission for you. Maybe for now the ball is not on your hands, but it will be. Be ready for your offensive game.
If your life is on the defensive mode, look upon the Lord, he alone is our defense.
…”But many that are first will be last, and (the) last will be first.” Mark 10:31
He was superman. Dwight Howard came to play. 32 points, 16 rebounds and 5 block shots playing for forty three minutes. He was dominant. He dunked the ball. He rebounded. He followed up his or his teammates’ misses. He was almost perfect in his post plays. His foot work was simply spectacular. He was unstoppable before a Boston Celtics known physical defense. His team, Orlando Magic, was one defeat shy of being booted out from the playoffs and he made sure to cancel that. He played his heart out. This is the Dwight Howard everybody was waiting for.
As the best player that night, Dwight was interviewed over national television. The court side reporter asked him about his superb performance on court, before any comments, Dwight gave glory to God. Before he boasted of his stats, he boast of God’s performance. He elevated God with his elevation. He put God on the box score above his name. His numbers spoke of him yet he spoke of God.
Dwight was first tonight based on what he did. Dwight was last tonight based on what God did.
Jesus said, “..many that are first will be last…” Dwight Howard is one of the many.
May God give us the grace to be one of those many.
This is my commandment: love one another as I love you. John 15:12
I was watching ESPN Sportscenter with my daughter, Bless. She was stunned the way they dunk the ball. She made an “oooh and aaah” when she saw an alley oop. A four-point play was featured and she gave her nod. The team scorer created an acrobatic shot to which Bless said, “He’s good!” Her eyes twinkled when a fastbreak was perfected and completed. I never saw her like this. I never heard her say these things. I was in for more. Upon realizing all these plays, she concluded, “The basic thing in basketball is knowing your goal.” It dwarfed me.
It’s the same thing in life. For sometimes, I am immersed with what I have to do. I have to work at the office. I have to work at home. I have to cook for them. I have to mow the lawn. I have to remind them to brush their teeth. I have to wash the dishes. I need to attend to the laundry. I need to call the repairman. I have to take care of their schedules. I dunk it. I pull an acrobatic shot. I complete the fastbreak. A four-point play on the way. Jesus reminds me of the very basic goal – love one another as I love you.
It’s the same thing in church or community. You have those sometimes. You want to deliver to the best talk ever. You serve the brothers and sisters in a most effective way. You sing in the most diva manner in the music ministry. You lead the small group to make their life larger. You prepare the activity like a professional event coordinator. Efficient and effective. You dunk it. You create a shot for the poster. You lead the fastbreak. An extra point from behind the arc. However, do not be overwhelmed. Be reminded of the basic goal – love one another as I love you.
Don’t be dwarfed. Be a giant. Know your goal. Love one another as I love you.
Then each went to his own house. John 7:53
Its truly the march of madness. A low seeded basketball team defeats the number one seeded college ball club. That’s what you call an upset. These college teams are ranked by some method based on their performance in their past games. Analyzing their ranks requires probability to win over another. Thus, high ranked teams has high probabilities to win over low ranked teams. However, these are not embedded on stones. As the tournament begins, upsets happened. A highly touted college team goes home after succumbing to a lesser-expected-to-win team.
Nicodemus sent them home. Yes, he sent his fellow Pharisees and the guards, who were trying to condemn Jesus about His teachings and His works, to their homes. Nicodemus was only one. They were surely more than him. He has the low probability to be heard. His friends outnumber him so they have the higher probability to stand out. Yet, Nicodemus gave his best shot. His probability to be heard was low when he cited the law. Not withstanding he was outnumbered, he spoke about what he believes in. And he pulled an upset.
Are you ready for your own upset? Are you ready to speak out for what you believe in? You may find yourself at the opposite side of the majority. You may have the lowest probability for people to lend their ears to. You may have the lowest rank among people who people will take seriously. You may get the whisper powered microphone in the room. But when you speak the truth. When you speak about God’s law. When you stand up for what is right. God plus you is majority. Send them home. It’s not madness, expect an upset.