"You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit--fruit that will last--and so that whatever you ask in My name the Father will give you."- John 15:16
A boatload of confetti. A triumph with bling. A whole lot of singing and smiling. A national phenomenon. This can only be in reference to the Super Bowl that just took place in Santa Clara between the Denver Broncos and Carolina Panthers? Wrong, I am talking about planning my daughter's birthday party! Okay, Just kidding, I am definitely talking about the big game that took place on the first Sunday in February.
Being a huge football fan I am reminded of how much preparation, training, and sacrifice both teams put into the entire year in order to gain the prize. Last spring they endured an arduous off-season workout program. They competed through a sixteen game regular season and playoffs to be one of the final two teams standing. What an exhilarating feeling it must have been for the Denver team as they outlasted Carolina to win their third championship in franchise history. I am not alone in this type of admiration, as the Apostle Paul often used analogies from athletic competitions in speaking of our faith journey. In I Corinthians 9:24-25 he challenges each believer, "Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever."
As I thought about the big game, I had an even greater and more glorious thought about our relationship with God. In the midst of the two teams preparing, competing, and proving their worth, there is one individual who is given the honor of singing the National Anthem at the Super Bowl. Unlike the game's participants, the performer does not compete with others to win the spot. They do not need to endure an audition or send in a recorded song highlighting their skills. Each year this hand-picked, showcased performer (this year was Lady Gaga), is chosen based on their popularity, natural ability, and immense gifting. They are chosen because of who they already are!
As we consider the grand stage of the Super Bowl, there is a great truth for us to understand and live in. God has chosen us to be His special possession, to receive His perfect love, and to walk in His glorious purpose. Ephesians 1:4-5 tells us, "For He chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight. In love He predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with His pleasure and will." In a recent message I shared how I believe we have gotten the order wrong of how we receive God's love, grace, and faith. It seems that people have been convinced and conditioned to think that they must first LEARN about the Lord, before they can COME to Him. Yet, we are first invited by Jesus into His wonderful presence, and then we are welcomed to learn from Him (Matthew 11:28-30). In the same way the Holy Spirit would want to remind and teach us that it is not about PROVING ourselves or PRODUCING fruit in order for us to be CHOSEN. The first step is for us to receive the forgiveness, love, and acceptance of God. When we live in accordance to that design reality we are then able to effectively live out His purpose in very fruitful and powerful ways. We cannot produce fruit without being chosen, but once we are chosen the fruit must follow! Just as Lady Gaga experienced the honor of being chosen and then prepared for her role to deliver a captivating presentation of the anthem in her unique style and gifting, we also are to prepare ourselves to serve the Lord. Ephesians 2:10 reminds us of this, "For we are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do."
* You have been chosen to experience the fullness of God's love.
* You have been chosen to be an instrument of blessing to others.
* You have been chosen to overcome life's troubles and temptations.
* You have been chosen to serve the Lord and give Him glory.
Let's take God's CENTER STAGE that He has prepared for us and let's CELEBRATE God in a way for all to see. Allowing people to see the love and life of God in us will release the greatest gift and the ultimate victory!