I love football. In fact I love most sports. God blessed me with above average athletic talent and so I grew up playing baseball, basketball, and football. Now that I am past the age of playing, I’m an armchair quarterback. It’s great to watch the games on television, but even better in person – the roar of the crowd, the wave, slapping high fives with people you’ve never met before, and screaming until you’re hoarse.
Football is an interesting sport. A bunch of grown men dress up in funny outfits and chase a strange looking leather ball around a large field, while people watching scream and make fools of themselves. Why is it that we can get that excited at a sporting event, but won’t in church. Are football players more worthy of our excitement than God?
It’s fascinating how many similarities there are between football and the Christian walk. It is my prayer that this article will help those of us who are sports fanatics, become God fanatics as well.
The first similarity is that it is a battle. Football requires two teams to battle until one team wins. In life there are two teams – God’s and the devil’s. Those of us who have chosen to be on God’s team will battle with the devil and his bunch for the rest of our life here on earth. The Bible tells us that in the end we will win, but in the meantime, we must do battle.
The second is that each team has a coach who is trying to outwit the other. Jesus, through the Holy Spirit is our coach. He walked the earth and knows every struggle we face. Jesus also knows the other coach better than anyone else. As in football, it is important for us to listen to the coach and do what He tells us.
Third, there is a playbook. Football players are required to study and memorize their playbook, so they know what to do. Jesus has given us a playbook, the Bible, and He too expects us to study and memorize our playbook, so we know how to live life.
Fourth, players wear special equipment to protect their bodies. We are to don the armor of God (Ephesians 6), which will protect our spiritual bodies.
Fifth, there are fans – people who stand on the outside and watch, wishing they could play. There are many people who don’t know Jesus and so they are on the outside of the spiritual game. We’ve been given tickets, isn’t it time to invite them to get in the game?
All of these elements are vital to a football game and to our spiritual lives. In the balance of this article, we are going to study the strategies we can learn from football that will help us win our daily battle with the devil’s team.
In 2 Chronicles 20:20-23, King Jehoshaphat was faced with a life threatening situation. Several large armies were marching on his kingdom. He inquired of the Lord (his coach) and was given the play. King Jehoshaphat was to send worshippers ahead of his army. (I can just imagine the thoughts going through the minds of his generals when he announced this plan.) As the scripture teaches, God went ahead of the army and caused the enemy armies to kill each other out of confusion. King Jehoshaphat’s army never had to lift a sword. This is what I call WARSHIP.
Here are the five key elements to warship:
1. Music and Singing
Every football game is launched with the singing of the national anthem. There are also other songs played throughout the game to motivate the fans and maybe even the players.
Most church services begin with a time of music and singing that we call worship. Our playbook, the Bible, teaches us that this is an important part of our relationship with God. It is probably the part of a church service that blesses God the most. I can’t imagine that He sits and takes notes when the Pastor preaches or that He’s interested in the church announcements. Music and singing are also an important part of the battle plan. As we saw in the main scripture, King Jehoshaphat sent worshippers ahead of the warriors and the enemy was confused.
When we play music and sing to the Lord, it is deafening to the devil and his team. (I’ve been told my voice is deafening to those around me as well, but it’s a sweet sound to the Lord). The sound causes confusion in their ranks. I know this is true, because the devil and his fallen angels work over time on Christians right before church. I’ll bet there are more marital spats getting read for church than any other time. Then there are the weights of the world that are burdening you as you enter the church. Yet, when that music starts and the singing begins, the devil and his bunch flee and so do the feeling you walked in with. That’s WARSHIP!
At a football game the shouting starts before the game and grows steadily throughout the game. Often groups of fans will shout back and forth across the stadium. The shouting raises the sound level and gets adrenaline pumping, which often stirs the players on to greatness.
The Bible talks a lot about shouting. Psalm 47:5 says, “God has ascended amid shouts of joy…” Joshua 6:5 reads, “When you hear them sound a long blast on the trumpets, have all the people give a loud shout; then the wall of the city will collapse and the people will go up, every man straight in.” In 1 Samuel 4:5 it says that the people of Israel raised up such a great shout that the ground shook.
When we shout for the Lord, it causes the devil and his team to shudder and shake with fear. The more you shout for the Lord, the more feared you will be in the heavenlies. Just like the shouts of God’s people knocked down the walls of Jericho, your shouts will knock down the spiritual strongholds in your life.
At a football game there is a lot of clapping. It’s a way of showing appreciation for good plays and is a way of making more noise. When you clap your hands it displaces air and creates a mini-explosion.
The Bible tells us we should also clap our hands for the Lord. Psalm 47:1 says, “Clap your hands, all you nations; shout to God with cries of joy.” Clapping for the Lord also causes mini-explosions in the spiritual realm. Want to cause some real havoc in the devil’s world? Start clapping and shouting for the Lord!
4. Raising Hands
At a football game, it’s not uncommon to see people raising their hands and slapping high fives. Do you know that we are instructed to raise hands in church? Psalm 134:2 (NIV) says, “Lift up your hands in the sanctuary and praise the LORD.” You now have permission from the Lord to raise your hands the next time you are in church. Need more proof? Psalm 63:4 reads, “I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands.” Nehemiah 8:6, “Ezra praised the LORD, the great God; and all the people lifted their hands and responded, ‘Amen! Amen!’ Then they bowed down and worshiped the LORD with their faces to the ground.”
Some people are afraid to raise their hands at church, because of how it might look or what people might think. Forget about all those other people and please God. He loves it when we raise our hands up toward heaven. How many fathers (or mothers) can resist a loving child with outstretched arms? Our heavenly Father is no different – He can’t resist it when we stretch our hands toward Him.
I believe that when we raise our hands in praise, two things happen. It attracts God’s holiness and repels demonic forces. Psalm 144:1 says, “Praise be to the LORD my Rock,
who trains my hands for war, my fingers for battle.” As a born-again, blood bought believer, your hands have been trained for war against the forces of evil. Stick your hands up into the air; they are lethal weapons to the devil and his bunch.
At a football game you will see lot’s of dancing, both on the field and off. If it’s ok to dance in celebration of a touchdown, why isn’t it acceptable to dance for the Lord? It saddens me to see so many churches teaching against dancing, when it is completely biblical. King David was the greatest spiritual dancer of them all. 2 Samuel 6:14 says, “David, wearing a linen ephod, danced before the LORD with all his might…” How many of us are willing to “dance before the Lord with all our might?”
I don’t want to go against any spiritual authority you might be under, but the Word of God (the ultimate authority) tells us to dance. Psalm 149:3, “Let them praise his name with dancing and make music to him with tambourine and harp.” Psalm 150:4, “…praise Him with tambourine and dancing, praise Him with the strings and flute…”
Dancing involves our feet in worshipping the Lord. As we are dancing for the Lord, we are stomping on the head of the devil. Psalm 99:5 says, “Exalt the Lord our God and worship at His footstool.” The Hebrew word that is translated footstool is “hadom” which comes from a root word that means to “stamp upon.” Why not get your feet moving and stamp upon some demons.
Now, can you imagine how powerful it would be if we put all those together – music and singing, shouting, clapping, raising hands, and dancing? The demons are shuddering at the thought that Christians might one day get their act together. I don’t know about you, but I’m sick and tired of the devil messing with my life, family, health, and finances. In fact I’m mad at hell and I’m not going to take it anymore. How about you? It’s time we declare war against the devil and start doing WARSHIP every day!
Rod Nichols is an Associate Pastor at Truth and Grace Foursquare Church in Tacoma, WA. He is also a published author and accomplished public speaker and teacher. Rod’s latest articles and books can be found at www.RodNichols.com. Rod is married with five children. He and his wife Karen live in beautiful Washington State. Rod is available as a freelance writer. If you'd like to hire him, e-mail Rod@RodNichols.com.