There’s a first time for everything.
While I was playing in the league, I went to every chapel service there was. We had a mix of former players, former players’ sons, pastors and chaplains give services to us. Many different types of men would speak, but I knew that would never be me. I could never see myself doing that.
However, when an opportunity to lead a chapel service recently came from Buffalo Bills chaplain Len Vanden Bos (who was previously the Chicago Bears chaplain) I accepted. I don’t like public speaking, but when God calls you, He calls you to be uncomfortable and obedient. When an opportunity like that comes around, you can’t just pass it up.
After agreeing to this, I sat back and thought about what I should say. Being my first time, I wanted to share a message that would be tailored to the athlete. I asked myself, “When I was a young player, what did I need to hear?” The message God put on my heart was the importance of prioritizing your praise.
No matter who you are or where you are from, someone or something will get your praise. That may be materialism, money, fame, women, jewelry or many other things of this world that may not be bad, but when they claim your identity, then we have a problem. Your identity has to be in Christ.
Being in the NFL, they are going to get material things, they will be blessed in many ways, but that cannot be the focus or purpose. No matter what career you have, your purpose is to glorify God and make disciples of all nations. In order to be in alignment with God, you have to praise Him above all things.
In 2 Timothy 2:15 it says that we are to “do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.” When you have a relationship with God and yet are not reading His Word to continue growing in your faith in Him, your priorities are out of order. You’re cheating yourself.
In the Bible, we see that when God said something, He meant it. We study His Word to show ourselves approved. If we don’t know the substance of His truth, it will be hard to battle the powers and principalities we fight against in this world. With the weapon of the Word, we can defend ourselves with anything the devil throws at us.
God puts everything in the Bible for a reason. In Psalm 150:6 we read, “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.” This is in the Word for a purpose. In fact, the command to praise the Lord is in the Bible more than 250 times! God’s trying to get an important point across to us. We cannot shorthand God on the praise He deserves just because we get busy or distracted. We need to make sure that God is our first priority at all times.
When we see Jesus’ journey into Jerusalem in Luke 19, we watch as He asks two of His disciples to bring Him a colt. As He rode into town on this colt, His followers were praising Him, overjoyed, and shouting “Hosanna.” The Pharisees (a.k.a. the haters) were telling Jesus to rebuke His followers. And I love how He responds. Sarcastically, yet truthfully, Jesus dishes out about the coldest answer, “If they keep quiet, the stones will cry out” (verse 40). He says that if we don’t do our job of praising His name, a lifeless object will cry out for us!
If a lifeless, powerless object is created to praise and worship our God, how much more should we devote our lives and careers to do the same?
— Matt Forte, former NFL running back
Matt Forte is a regular contributor of The Increase, providing monthly articles and opinions.
Check out Matt’s Increase profile here: http://theincrease.com/author/matt-forte/
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