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  • Writer's pictureRichard Parrish

Pre-Game Instructions

It was the biggest game of the season.

Our team made it to the playoffs. Now, we were facing a much stronger opponent. We were nervous and unsure. It would require more than boisterous locker-room talk to dispense our fear.

We needed our coach’s pre-game review!

Before every game, my coach would meet with our team. He reminded us of what we had practiced in preparation for the game. He would answer any questions we might have and outline the strategy we were to implement when we took the court.

In Matthew 10, Jesus meets with his disciples. He’s giving them some last-minute “pre-game” instructions. They are about to engage in the most significant game they’ve ever played.

Let’s peek into the locker room and listen to Jesus’ “pre-game” instructions.

“Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves”
- Matthew 10:16 (ESV).

“I’m aware you feel as if you’re the underdog. After all, it doesn’t look like you stand a chance as sheep against wolves. But we have a strategy: You’ll need to be wise as snakes and innocent as doves. You’ll have to question your opponents and have wisdom.

Are you ready to play the game?

“Beware of men, for they will deliver you over to courts and flog you in their synagogues…”
- Matthew 10:17 (ESV).

“You’ll need to be cautious. Because of me — and all I stand for — your opponent will go to any length to stop you — even persecution.”

Are you ready to play the game?

“…and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved”
- Matthew 10:22 (ESV).

“Remember, your opponent will trash talk you! You’ll be called names, criticized, demeaned, and they’ll do everything in their power to humiliate you. This game will challenge you. There will be moments when you don’t know how you will find the strength to finish. But you must, even though it won’t be easy.”

When you feel like you want to give up, you’ll have to bear up. If you endure to the last second of the game, you’re going to win. As your coach, I will be there with you.”

“Now, here are some things you’ll need to remember:

“So have no fear of them, for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known”
- Matthew 10:26 (ESV).

“NO FEAR! Did you hear me? NO FEAR!”

“God’s ultimate judgment will vindicate you and deal with your opponent. Even though you feel that you are unknown, even though you are tired of being despised and persecuted, — DON’T BE AFRAID.”

“What I tell you in the dark, say in the light, and what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops”
- Matthew 10:26 (ESV).

“Remember the game plan I’ve given you in our private scrimmage sessions. Now’s the opportunity to let everyone see how great this plan is. Let your execution demonstrate it so all will be amazed.”

“And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear Him who can destroy both soul and body in hell”
- Matthew 10:26 (ESV).

“If at any time during the game you want to give in to fear, then fear God — not your opponent. And here’s one more thing I want you to remember: You are valuable to me!

“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.”
- Matthew 10:29-31 (ESV).

Now, let’s get out there and play this game to win!

We are in the most significant spiritual game we’ve ever played. The odds seem to be against us. Our opponent is intimidating.

Those of us who follow Christ are observing increasing pressure to keep silent. Our opponent would much rather have us forfeit the game -- or at least be confined to the bench.

However, when the championship game is on the line, Coach Jesus (our Master and Lord) is encouraging us to get in the game and play with all of our strength.

Remember: Christ has the winning strategy.

Are you ready to play the game?

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