For sports fans this is an exciting time of the year. National Football League teams are headed to the Super Bowl...each hoping to win the Championship trophy.
College basketball is in full swing. . .each team with their eye on becoming national champions.
Major league baseball is gearing up for the start of spring training next month with each team dreaming of becoming World Series champions.
Yes, when we think of champions. . .we think of those who win sports titles. . .either as a team or through individual efforts.
It is not easy to become a champion. . .it takes determination. . .practice. . .exercise. . .discipline and, yes. . .commitment to never give up, give in, back up, back down, sit down, quit or walk away until victory is achieved.
God has given each of us the heart of a champion far beyond the field of athletic endeavor. Much like a good earthly father wants his children to be champions in whatever they undertake. . .our Heavenly Father desires that we. . .His children win in the game of life.
We always refer to Jesus as a conqueror. . .one who conquered death, hell and the grave. . .yet we never call him a champion.
Throughout history, conquerors are those who went to war where there was the spilling of blood.
That’s why Jesus was and is a conqueror. . .He spilled blood. . .overcame demonic opposition to become a champion for our salvation.
In order for us to be conquerors. . .we must first become champions in the areas of our lives where we’ve been given a vision, a goal, a dream or a calling.
We must prevail. . .as champions over the areas where we’ve been given stewardship.
There are seven characteristics of a champion.
First, you must be committed to rising above average.
Last Sunday night on TLC Sunday Night LIVE, we taught “7 Reasons God Doesn’t Do Average.”
Originally, it was to be the first reason in the characteristics of a champion. However, God had something different in mind.
It’s still the number one characteristic of a champion. . .
Revelation 3:16 in the New Living Translation says:
“But since you are like lukewarm water, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth!”
In God’s letter to the Laodicean church He had nothing good to say about them. He simply pointed out, as the scripture suggests, that they were neither hot nor cold. . .just average. They weren’t good or bad. . .just average.
When a person is average they’re as close to the bottom as they are to the top.
In life. . .it’s not sinful to be average in your appearance. . .your income. . .the kind of home you live in. . .your athletic endeavors. . .your job or anything else.
Sadly, most Americans, including many believers, seek the tangible trappings of success but ignore what it means to be spiritually successful.
Luke 12:15-16 in the King James Version says:
“And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.”
By the way, this scripture is not a condemnation of wealth or riches but it is of covetousness.
Here’s the point. If what we have or what somebody else has is more important to us than being and doing all God has for us. . .then it’s sin.
If we’re more attentive to our time at gyms, tanning parlors, manicure & pedicure shops, weight-loss centers, and hair replacement facilities. . .than we are expanding the kingdom of God. . .being involved in our local churches. . .then it’s sin.
Being lukewarm. . .average is serious business with God.
The Laodiceans were about to be spewed out of God’s mouth because of their lukewarm attitude toward things that were important to Him.
I heard someone say once that we should never be more content with a satisfied life than we are with a crucified life.
Being lukewarm, mediocre or average is not pleasing to God.
Simply said, if God was ready to spew them out of His mouth. . .He wanted nothing to do with them.
It’s one thing to know the truth. . .it’s another to do something about it.
It’s amazing how many people do not want to be average but they never do anything to rise above what they don’t want to be.
C.S. Lewis, the noted theologian and amazing author, once said:
“If you are continually stirred and fail to act, the time will come when you will be unable to act.”
We need to make a quality commitment this week to rise above average. . .to be the best we can possibly be. . .in everything our hands find to do.
2. Have the heart of a champion.
What makes up the heart of a champion? I read through twenty or thirty quotes before I came to just the right one.
Chuck Norris, the karate champion and movie star, said:
“People come up to me and say, 'Chuck, you're the luckiest guy in the world to be a world karate champion and a movie and TV star.' When they say this to me, I kind of smile because luck had nothing to do with it; God had everything to do with it.”
The heart of a true champion knows that God is His strength and empowers him/her to even greater victories.
Over the last few weeks, I’ve come once again to appreciate the saying that “Your life as you know it can change in an instant.”
I realize that may not be the most profound statement you’ve ever read. But it is a word from the Lord for you. He wants you to know that life as you know it can change in an instant.
Dorrie Miller was the heavyweight boxing champion on the USS West Virginia who was stationed in Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. During the attack, Dorrie carried his wounded captain to safety and then manned a sub-machine gun and shot down three enemy planes.
What makes this story even more dramatic is that Dorrie had never previously fired a machine gun. His assigned job was that of a mess attendant. He became the first African American to receive the Navy Cross. Truthfully, in my opinion, he deserved the Congressional Medal of Honor.
The sad reality is that not one African American soldier received the Medal of Honor during World War II although thankfully, seven medals were awarded by the Army posthumously in 1997. But that’s a different teaching.
Here’s the rest of the story. . .Dorrie Miller was killed two years later when the submarine he was assigned to was torpedoed by the Japanese.
In an instant at Pearl Harbor. . .this brave soldier made a life and death decision. When it came to operating that machine gun, he didn’t say, “That’s not my job.” He rose to the occasion and, as a result, three enemy planes were prevented from creating further destruction and loss of life.
The heart of a champion is someone who rises above ordinary to do the extraordinary.
The heart of a champion. . . knows right from wrong. . . has renewed his/her mind with the Word of God. . .is positioned to make life-changing, destiny-shaping decisions.
A champion must know that he will do the right thing when the time comes.
Sugar Ray Robinson said:
"To be a champion you have to believe in yourself when no one else will."
3. Confront your fears
Champions have to confront their fears. By confronting your fears. . .you will be free from them.
Confront your insecurities. Confront your jealousies. Confront anything that will break your focus on what’s important. Confront whatever you’re afraid of.
Ralph Waldo Emerson said:
“Do the thing you fear and the death of fear is certain.”
Fear holds you back. . .keeps you from doing the things you want to do in life. Sadly, many potential champions will remain unrecognized because of the fear they feel outside of their comfort zone.
Here are seven fears that prevent potential champions from fulfilling their destiny.
1. Fear of failure.
2. Fear of being rejected.
3. Fear of speaking in public.
4. Fear of what’s happening or what people ‘say’ is happening in world events.
5. Fear of moving out of your comfort zone with a new job or a new business.
6. Fear of the worst case scenario.
7. Fear of the known.
Champions overcome their fears by and through the Word of God.
“And the LORD said unto Joshua, Fear not, neither be thou dismayed: take all the people of war with thee, and arise, go up….”
Luke 12:32 says:
“Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”
Psalm 27:1 says:
“THE LORD is my Light and my Salvation--whom shall I fear or dread? The Lord is the Refuge and Stronghold of my life--of whom shall I be afraid?”
Romans 8:32 in the New Living Translation says:
“Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.”
Isaiah 41:9-10 in the Message Bible says:
“Don't panic. I'm with you. There's no need to fear for I'm your God. I'll give you strength. I'll help you. I'll hold you steady, keep a firm grip on you."
Ephesians 3:12 in the Amplified Bible says:
“In Whom, because of our faith in Him, we dare to have the boldness (courage and confidence) of free access (an unreserved approach to God with freedom and without fear).”
The confidence of a champion is born in faith. . .it gives him/her a boldness. . .in knowing they can achieve anything. . .regardless of the obstacles.
Write out the following words.
Fear is the devil’s anointing and it has no place in the life of <<Your Name>>.
4. Good isn’t good enough
The word good is in Bible a total of 655 times. So I think it goes without saying that God wants something good or even better than good for all His champions.
And remember, you are one of God’s champions even though you might not realize it yet.
Where do good gifts come from?
James 1:17 in the Amplified Bible says:
“Every good gift and every perfect (free, large, full) gift is from above; it comes down from the Father of all [that gives] light, in [the shining of] Whom there can be no variation [rising or setting] or shadow cast by His turning [as in an eclipse].”
What does Jesus. . .our champion. . .consider doing good?
Acts 10:38 in the Amplified Bible says:
“How God anointed and consecrated Jesus of Nazareth with the [Holy] Spirit and with strength and ability and power; how He went about doing good and, in particular, curing all who were harassed and oppressed by [the power of] the devil, for God was with Him.”
God will make every word He has spoken come true.
Numbers 23:19 in the Amplified Bible says:
“God is not a man,that He should tell or act a lie, neither the son of man, that He should feel repentance or compunction [for what He has promised]. Has He said and shall He not do it? Or has He spoken and shall He not make it good?”
Our goal should be to do what is right and good in the sight of our Heavenly Father.
Deuteronomy 6:18 in the Amplified Bible says:
“And you shall do what is right and good in the sight of the Lord, that it may go well with you and that you may go in and possess the good land which the Lord swore to give to your fathers.”
As we grow into becoming a champion. . .with a renewed mind. . .we want to do what is good to God.
Romans 12:2 in the Amplified Bible says:
“Do not be conformed to this world (this age), [fashioned after and adapted to its external, superficial customs], but be transformed (changed) by the [entire] renewal of your mind [by its new ideals and its new attitude], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God, even the thing which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His sight for you].”.
Genesis 1:31 says:
“And God saw everything that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.”
That’s what God wants for us. . .for everything we do to be. . .very good.
5. Be willing to pay the price
Was Michael Jordan born to be the best basketball player ever? Hardly, in fact, he was cut from his high school basketball team during his sophomore year.
Was Derek Jeter born to be one of the best, most consistent baseball players ever? Nope, he spent years practicing. . .paying the price for his success. . .in time and effort.
What will it take for you to become the best at what you do?
What does it take to become championship material? Practice. . .being willing to pay the price for success.
Here is the practical and scriptural basis for becoming a Champion for Christ:
Getting up early. . .. . .when you would rather be sleeping. It starts with spending time in the Word.
Psalm 5:3 in the New Living Translation says:
“Listen to my voice in the morning, Lord. Each morning I bring my requests to you and wait expectantly.”
Spending time in His presence. . .whereas you use to spend your time somewhere else.
Proverbs 8:17 says:
“I love them that love me; and those that seek me early shall find me.”
Psalm 145:18 Message Bible says:
“God's there, listening for all who pray, for all who pray and mean it.”
Taking and making notes of what you’ve read, heard and learned from the Lord as opposed to what you read in the newspaper, heard on the television and learned from the world.
2 Timothy 2:15 says:
“Studyto shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”
The scripture says “study.” It doesn’t say “read once,” “glance over,” or “speed read through.”The Word says “study” and I know the Holy Spirit used that Word for a reason.
Study is defined in dictionary.com as “application of the mind to the acquisition of knowledge, as by reading, investigation, or reflection.”
As I read the definition of “study,” it quickened in my spirit that the real process of “studying to show yourself approved” is contained in this definition.
Finally, a Champion For Christ. . .enjoys the price of success. . .by always allowing the One who knows all to direct his path.
Proverbs 3:5-6 says:
"Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths."
6. God believes in excellence.
2 Corinthians 8:7 says:
“Therefore, as ye abound in everything, in faith, and utterance, and knowledge, and in all diligence, and in your love to us, see that ye abound in this grace also.”
The Greek word for abound according to Strong’s Concordance is from a root word perissos (G4053) which means:
“exceeding some number or measure or rank or need; over and above, more than is necessary, superadded; exceeding abundantly, supremely.”
God wants you to do over and above what’s required to get by. . .He wants you to do more than is necessary. . .He wants you to excel at EVERYTHING you do.
In fact, in most translations, the word abound is translated as excel.
2 Corinthians 8:7 in the New Living Translation says:
“Since you excel in so many ways—in your faith, your gifted speakers, your knowledge, your enthusiasm, and your love from us —I want you to excel also in this gracious act of giving.”
If we want to walk in excellence in everything your hands find to do. . .then we must be obedient to the words found in 1 Corinthians 12:31 in the Amplified Bible:
“But earnestly desire and zealously cultivate the greatest and best gifts and graces (the higher gifts and the choicest graces). And yet I will show you a still more excellent way [one that is better by far and the highest of them all--love].”
The only way to guarantee that you’ll walk in His continual blessing flow is to overflow with His love for others.
1 Thessalonians 3:12 in the Amplified Bible says:
“And may the Lord make you to increase and excel and overflow in love for one another and for all people, just as we also do for you.”
You will never find excellence relaxing in the status quo. Excellence is always moving forward. . .boldly proclaiming His love and healing power.
1 Thessalonians 4:10 in the Amplified Bible says:
“And indeed you already are [extending and displaying your love] to all the brethren throughout Macedonia. But we beseech and earnestly exhort you, brethren, that you excel [in this matter] more and more.
As a Champion for Christ. . .God does not want us dawdling in mediocrity but moving in excellence.
7. Be a finisher
Have you ever started a project, assignment or job with a sudden burst of enthusiasm only to be slowed down by the first obstacle and stopped short of your goal by continual obstacles?
Congratulations, you’re average … but God doesn’t want you to stay that way. Those who rise above the crowd are the champions who go the extra mile while others are relaxing in front of the TV.
The strength of a person’s character and drive to success is determined by whether or not they can finish what they started.
Employees who complete the task are more highly valued than those who, though they make a valiant effort, nevertheless, fail to complete the project.
The One by whom our every effort, thought and action should be measured . . . was a finisher.
John 4:34 in the New Living Translation says:
“Then Jesus explained: “My nourishment comes from doing the will of God, who sent me, and from finishing his work.”
Not only was Jesus a finisher but he made us that way as well.
Philippians 1:6 in the New Living Translation says:
“And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.”
On Judgment Day, we want to be able to say the words found in 2 Timothy 4:7 in the Amplified Bible which says:
“I have fought the good (worthy, honorable, and noble) fight, I have finished the race, I have kept (firmly held) the faith.”
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