The expression “off-season” is actually a sports term. The NFL football season has just begun, and there are lessons that we can learn from professional athletes and apply them to our Christian life. How will you spend the "off-season" of God's Holy Day calendar–the period between the end of the fall Festival season and the beginning of the new Holy Day season in the spring? Sports teams realize that they cannot give up on training all of the months in the offseason or they will not be ready when the seasons starts. We need to, as Christians, spiritually work out during this offseason between God's Holy Days.
10-2-10 How Are You Going to Spend the Off Season?
Introduction – The split sermon you just heard was the one Mr. Olson would have given at the Feast if one of the split sermon speakers had been ill.
• So it was kind of a continuation of the Feast.
• But now the Feast is definitely over, as is the 2010 Holy Day season.
• We now enter the main time of year for traditional holidays—Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Valentine’s Day and Easter.
• God’s Holy Day season runs from Spring through Fall, and the holiday season is primarily during the winter months, which is the offseason from God’s Holy Days.
SPS – My question for you today is, How are you going to spend the offseason? The expression “off-season” is actually a sports term.
• The NFL football season has just begun, and there are lessons that we can learn from professional athletes.
• Teams are now in the peak of shape after a rigorous training camp, and they will be working out regularly during the football season in order to stay in shape.
• So they will maintain their conditioning during the season.
• One of the dangers of the offseason is athletes getting out of shape to the point of being unable to perform up to the standards expected of them.
• If athletes don’t have a workout regimen, they can get badly out of shape over the period of the offseason.
• They can gain extra weight that will slow them down and affect their performance. • Some pro football players enter training camp so out of shape that they have to be classified as “PUP”—physically unable to perform. We must be careful that we don’t get so out of shape spiritually that we are “SUP”—spiritually unable to perform.
• We must maintain a spiritual workout regimen in order to stay in shape spiritually.
• The apostle Paul made this point in his letters to the churches by drawing an analogy to sports, because sports were big in the Greek culture. NLT 1 Corinthians 9:24 1 Corinthians 9:24Know you not that they which run in a race run all, but one receives the prize? So run, that you may obtain.
American King James Version×¶ Don't you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! 25 All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. 26 So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. 27 I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.
• Paul realized that he didn’t have it made despite all his past accomplishments as a leading member of God’s team.
• Even big-name athletes have to stay in shape so they can continue to perform at the highest level, or they simply won’t make the team, will lose their salary, and someone else will take their place.
• Ex. Albert Haynesworth – signed 7 year, $100 million contract with Washington Redskins last year, failed several performance tests during the preseason, finally passed in a private session with the coach (pressure from owner?).
• But he is no longer a starter, is disgruntled and angry at the coach, so the team would like to ship him back to the team that he formerly played for.
• So another player has taken his place as a starter at his position. NKJ Revelation 3:11 Revelation 3:11Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which you have, that no man take your crown.
American King James Version×"Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown.
• The Risen Christ bids the Philadelphians hold to what they have, that no one may take their crown (Revelation 3:11 Revelation 3:11Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which you have, that no man take your crown.
American King James Version×). It is not a question of someone stealing their crown but of God taking it from them and giving it to someone else, because they were not worthy to wear it. Trench makes a list of people in the Bible who lost their place to someone else because they had shown that they were not fit to hold it. Esau lost his place to Jacob (Genesis 25:34 Genesis 25:34Then Jacob gave Esau bread and pottage of lentils; and he did eat and drink, and rose up, and went his way: thus Esau despised his birthright.
American King James Version×; Genesis 27:36 Genesis 27:36And he said, Is not he rightly named Jacob? for he has supplanted me these two times: he took away my birthright; and, behold, now he has taken away my blessing. And he said, Have you not reserved a blessing for me?
American King James Version×). Reuben, unstable as water, lost his place to Judah (Genesis 49:4 Genesis 49:4Unstable as water, you shall not excel; because you went up to your father's bed; then defiled you it: he went up to my couch.
American King James Version×,8). Saul lost his place to David (1Sam.16:1, 1Sam.16:13). Shebna lost his place to Eliakim (Isaiah 22:15-25 Isaiah 22:15-25  Thus said the Lord GOD of hosts, Go, get you to this treasurer, even to Shebna, which is over the house, and say,  What have you here? and whom have you here, that you have hewed you out a sepulcher here, as he that hews him out a sepulcher on high, and that engraves an habitation for himself in a rock?  Behold, the LORD will carry you away with a mighty captivity, and will surely cover you.  He will surely violently turn and toss you like a ball into a large country: there shall you die, and there the chariots of your glory shall be the shame of your lord's house.  And I will drive you from your station, and from your state shall he pull you down.  And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will call my servant Eliakim the son of Hilkiah:  And I will clothe him with your robe, and strengthen him with your girdle, and I will commit your government into his hand: and he shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and to the house of Judah.  And the key of the house of David will I lay on his shoulder; so he shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open.  And I will fasten him as a nail in a sure place; and he shall be for a glorious throne to his father's house.  And they shall hang on him all the glory of his father's house, the offspring and the issue, all vessels of small quantity, from the vessels of cups, even to all the vessels of flagons.  In that day, said the LORD of hosts, shall the nail that is fastened in the sure place be removed, and be cut down, and fall; and the burden that was on it shall be cut off: for the LORD has spoken it.
American King James Version×). Joab and Abiathar lost their places to Benaiah and Zadok (1Kgs.2:25). Judas lost his place to Matthias (Ac.1:25-26). The Jews lost their place to the Gentiles (Romans 11:11 Romans 11:11I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come to the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy.
American King James Version×). There is tragedy here. It sometimes happens that a man is given a task to do and goes towards it with the highest hopes; but it begins to be seen that he is too small for the task and he is removed from the task and it is given to someone else. That can happen with the tasks of God. God has a task for every man; but it may be that the man proves himself unfit for the task and it is given to another” (The Daily Study Bible by Barclay). Hebrews 5:11-12 Hebrews 5:11-12  Of whom we have many things to say, and hard to be uttered, seeing you are dull of hearing.  For when for the time you ought to be teachers, you have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat.
American King James Version×we have much to say, and hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. 12 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food.
• Here is a case of seasoned veterans who have been on the team for many years, yet they had become careless and complacent. So their despite the fact that their tenure was such that they should have been leading members of the team, their spiritual condition had degenerated to the point that they needed to go back to square one in their spiritual training program.
• “dull of hearing” = “spiritually dull and don't seem to listen” (NLT).
• “dull” = opposite of sharp, “sluggish” (N.E.T.) • Reminiscent of the Laodicean attitude of “I am rich and increased with goods and have need of nothing.”
• How do these attitudes develop?
• Think about it, pray about it and talk about it with others as part of your spiritual training program. NLT Hebrews 5:14 Hebrews 5:14But strong meat belongs to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.
American King James Version×Solid food is for those who are mature, who through training (Gr. gumnasia) have the skill to recognize the difference between right and wrong.
• Nutritious food is an important part of a spiritual training program just as it is in a physical training program. NLT 1 Timothy 4:7 1 Timothy 4:7But refuse profane and old wives' fables, and exercise yourself rather to godliness.
American King James Version×Do not waste time arguing over godless ideas and old wives' tales. Instead, train yourself to be godly.
• We are to “avoid profitless tales like those which old women tell to children. It is easy to get lost in side-issues and to get entangled in things which are at best embroideries. It is on the great central truths that a man must ever feed his mind and nourish his faith” (The Daily Study Bible by Barclay).
• “old wives tales” = spiritual junk food.
• What are some of these “embroideries” (peripheral issues)? Again, think about it, pray about it and talk about it with others as part of your spiritual training program.
• There have been many over the years—calendar issues.
• “Stick with the trunk of the tree” (HWA)—core issues. Let’s get more specific about our spiritual training program.
• I encourage you to take a spiritual examination to assess your spiritual training program. 1. Spiritual diet – one-liners – “You are what you eat.” “garbage in, garbage out”
• Not just how it tastes, but is it healthy?
• Be careful about hidden ingredients that can be spiritual poisons. 2. Workout regimen
• Prayer – quality, not just quantity.
• Do you pray every day? (“When you pray” – Matthew 6:, not “if) = regular practice
• Do you feel close to God?
• Do you pray for others, for the work or just for yourself?
• Bible study
• Do you study the Bible (not just read)?
• Do you enjoy studying the Bible?
• Do you focus on the core topics or “embroideries?”
• Meditation – Do you constantly think about God, His plan, His promises, His work; and your calling and destiny? • Fasting – Do fast throughout the year, or only on the Day of Atonement? NKJ Luke 17:10 Luke 17:10So likewise you, when you shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do.
American King James Version×"So likewise you, when you have done all those things which you are commanded, say, 'We are unprofitable servants. We have done what was our duty to do.' "
• You can’t stay spiritually fit by fasting only on the Day of Atonement.
• My early jogging experience – I ran a marathon in cheap sneakers (not too smart!)
• Professional teams have state of the art equipment that individuals could not afford. • UCG has state of the art spiritual resources—GN, WN in Prophecy, booklets, reprints, website, etc. 4. Professional training staff NFL teams employ professional trainers to set up and monitor the physical training program of the athletes.
• These trainers know what is best for each athlete in order to develop them in a way that maximizes their skills and ability to perform their role on the team.
• Faithful and wise athletes allow these professionals to supervise them.
• Occasionally, big-name athletes use their own trainer and work out on their own.
• This is not a proper environment to be away from the team and portrays an attitude that is counterproductive to the team chemistry.
• Ex. Terrell Owens – future hall of famer but has created problems on every team he has played for. • He is not a team player but thinks that he is the superstar that winning depends on.
• He has caused division in the locker room among players and has even discredited members of the coaching staff.
• So he has managed to play for a team desperate enough to take a chance on him, but it is only a matter of time before he creates problems and is let go (1 yr. w/ Buffalo). The goal of every team’s professional training staff and their program for the athletes is to develop the players’ physical and mental condition to maximize their ability to contribute to the success of the team.
• What lessons can we learn from this? NLT Ephesians 4:1 Ephesians 4:1I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that you walk worthy of the vocation with which you are called,
American King James Version×¶ Therefore I, a prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God. 2 Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other's faults because of your love. 3 Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace. 4 For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future. 5 There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 and one God and Father, who is over all and in all and living through all.
• In a word, spiritual unity, which could also be termed as “teamwork.” 7 However, he has given each one of us a special gift1 through the generosity of Christ. 11 Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. 12 Their responsibility is to equip God's people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ.
• Professional spiritual training staff • God has trained us and uses us to determine what is best for His team members.
• We are also trained and experienced to recognize potentially dangerous ingredients in spiritual food and food sources.
• Spiritual training on their own away from the team contrary to the training regimen established by the training staff can be counterproductive to the team chemistry.
• Faithful and wise spiritual athletes allow the spiritual training staff that God provides to supervise their training and development. 13 This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God's Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ. 14 Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won't be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. 15 Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. 16 He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love. Of course the training staff can’t always be present to supervise your training efforts; we can only provide the regimen. It’s up to you to put for the time and effort to work the program. NKJ Philippians 2:12 Philippians 2:12Why, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.
American King James Version×¶ Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; 13 for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure. 2 Peter 1:10-11 2 Peter 1:10-11  Why the rather, brothers, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if you do these things, you shall never fall:  For so an entrance shall be ministered to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
American King James Version×10 Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent (“work hard” – NLT) to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; 11 for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
• The contract we signed is worth far more than 100 million dollars.
• We were paid for by the precious blood of Christ.
• And we are called to inherit the entire universe as members of God’s team.
• But we need to be sure to stay in shape spiritually so we don’t lose our place on the team. NLT 1 Timothy 4:8 1 Timothy 4:8For bodily exercise profits little: but godliness is profitable to all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.
American King James Version×"Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come."
• “training” (“exercise”—KJV, NKJV) = Gr. gumnasia
• “Physical training is good, and even essential; but its use is limited. It develops only part of a man; and it produces only results which last for so short a time, for the body passes away. Training in godliness develops the whole man in body, mind and spirit, and its results affect not only time, but eternity as well (The Daily Study Bible by Barclay). Conclusion – What kind of shape are you in spiritually? How is your training program?
• Is it balanced or lacking in one or more areas?
• I encourage you to appreciate and respond to the training regimen that God provides through his trained and experienced staff and to work together with other team members to help and encourage each other to stay in shape spiritually.
• We should be in peak spiritual condition now after having just finished the Holy Day season.
• Let’s be sure to stay in shape spiritually in the months ahead before God’s Holy Day season begins again with Spring training during the Passover and Days of Unleavened Bread.
• At that time we will all be required to pass a spiritual performance test by examining ourselves in preparation for taking the Passover and beginning the new season of God’s Holy Days.