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Your Spiritual Super Bowl Sunday
Pastor Joe Giacometti ©2002

Did you catch the Super Bowl this year? How about some of those commercials? I must say I am a Giants fan (when they’re not playing the Titans anyway) and I was not pleased with the outcome of the game. But, let’s think about the Super Bowl, and what parallels we can make between it and our spiritual lives.

The Super Bowl is watched by more viewers than any other single game in the history of sports. Billions of dollars are spent for the rights to air it, and companies spend millions of dollars just for a 30 second spot to advertise their products and services. This is clearly an important event, on an important day.

How about to the players? What does it represent to them? Well, for all of the teams in the NFL (National Football League) this day represents a time to reflect on the previous season. It is a time to celebrate their successes, and for some rethink their failures. For two teams, it’s a time to celebrate being better than any other team in the league. During this time of year, the teams all begin to look forward to next season. So the Super Bowl, represents the end of one season, and begins a time of preparation for next season.

Might I suggest we take an entire NFL season, and compact in to a week? In the NFL, sixteen games are played, against a number of different opponents. Well, in our lives, every day we wake up, we begin our own game. Each day becomes a battle with the snooze button, commutes, bus rides, schedules, families, teachers, people we don’t like at school, homework, and whatever can come up throughout the course of a day. It’s hard work! So as the NFL teams play sixteen games, and aim for the Super Bowl, each week in our lives, we are playing six games, headed towards our Spiritual Super Bowl.

One of the Ten Commandments is that we are to keep the Sabbath holy. The Sabbath is a day in which we are to do nothing that we do in our normal every day routines. There are two main purposes for us on the Sabbath, rest and worship. Pretty simple, right? Believe it or not, I didn’t just make these two up. They come right from the Bible. So let’s look at some Bible verses briefly so you can see where I’m getting this.

First of all, the idea of the Sabbath had to originate from some place. Where did this whole idea come from in the first place? Well, we have to go way back to the beginning in Genesis to find this. Genesis 2:2-3 says, “On the seventh day, having finished his task, God rested from all his work. And God blessed the seventh day and declared it holy, because it was the day when he rested from his work of creation.” So, from this event, we have a holy day of rest. In Exodus 31:15, we are told specifically that we must rest on this day: “Work six days only, but the seventh day must be a day of total rest. I repeat: Because the Lord considers it a holy day…” Even though most of us don’t create everything that exists in our weekly routine, God insists that it is still vital for us all to take a day off to rest.

In Exodus 31:12-13 we read, “…tell the people of Israel to keep my Sabbath day, for the Sabbath is a sign of the covenant between me and you FOREVER! It helps you to remember that I am the LORD, who makes you holy.” (v. 17) “It is a PERMANENT sign of my covenant with them.” Ok, so the words forever and permanent aren’t in all caps in the Bible, but I put them that way because they are important! Rest is only half the idea. We must also worship on the Sabbath. We must make it a time to focus on God, maybe more so than we would on any other day. The Sabbath is a sign of the covenant or relationship between God and his people, FOREVER! Not just when Moses was alive, or until the time of Jesus, but now until this day, and until the end of time. We are definitely included in that!

Ok, so know we know what the day is for, but how do we use that day for our well being? How do we maximize the Sabbath? The Sabbath was made for our benefit. Jesus tells us that specifically in Mark 2:27. God created the Sabbath out of consideration for us, for our advantage. So how do we actually make it our advantage? Might I present to you two ways to maximize your Sabbath experience each week; first, we should use this day as a time to reflect on the previous week, and secondly to prepare for the week to come. Reflect and prepare.

During our day of rest and worship, we need to take a look at the previous week and decide, “Yeah, this week was a success. Got things done, accomplished goals, not much went wrong,” or “ooh, this week didn’t go so well. Didn’t get much done, boss is mad at me,” etc. Many things can go wrong during a week. And for most of us, our week is usually a little bit of both: some successes, some failures.

So first, realize and celebrate your successes. Got a good grade on a test, did well on a project, got along well with mom and dad, or whatever else. Take some time to share these things with someone: your parents, siblings, or best friend. These things need to be appreciated, as God appreciated his good work of creation. And don’t forget about those unexpected blessings each week too. Sometimes great things happen that you weren’t even hoping for or thinking about. Those can be the best successes you may ever have.

Now comes the hard part. Realizing your failures. The truth hurts sometimes, but everyone will fail in some way or another over the course of a week. Maybe you told a friend you could do something, but had something else planned, so you had to cancel on them. That’s not cool! Maybe forgetting to do something your mom asked you a hundred times to do. There could be lots of stuff. We’re only human, and all fall short of the Glory of God. Sin and selfishness do exist in the world and are very real, even in our lives as Christians.

Though these failures will happen throughout our lives, there is a way to go about preventing them, which is the second way to maximize your day of rest and worship. The saying is “people don’t plan to fail, they fail to plan.” Well, I’m going to change that just a bit and say, “people don’t prepare to fail, they fail to prepare.” After reflecting on the previous week, it’s important to remember to prepare for the week to come. Use your Spiritual Super Bowl Sunday as a time to gear up for the upcoming week.

The NFL players aren’t overpaid just to sit around between games and in the off-season. There is a tremendous amount of preparation that goes into it all. They have to start months ahead of time in spring training camps, with conditioning, weight lifting, learning new plays and reviewing old ones. They have to know the rules so the referees don’t throw their penalty flags and call a penalty on them. During the season they review videotapes and the coaches point out mistakes they made so next time they know how to correct it. Quarterbacks and coaches watch video tapes of other teams they will play, and come up with game plans and strategies that they believe will help them overcome the other teams strengths and strategies.

In our walks as Christians, it’s important for us to learn new plays. Get to church or youth group each week and hear what your pastor has to say about new ways of staying spiritually healthy, pointers on prayer, methods of sustaining good habits and ways that are pleasing to God. Also we must review the old plays. Receive that feeding of God’s word as your pastor incorporates our lives to the Bible; the Ten Commandments, the Sermon on the Mount, the words of the prophets and the teachings of Jesus. All of the “plays” that we’ve been learning since our younger years in Sunday School. Use this as a springboard to your week. A charge and an encouragement to keep in the study of these words all week long.

In preparation, develop a focus for the week so you don’t get lost. The main way to prepare is to set goals. First set personal goals. Set goals for school, homework time, when will you study for a test, or how much of a project you’d like to get done in advance so you’re not up until 2am the night before (done plenty of that! Believe me, you want to avoid it as much as possible!) Set goals for spending time with and doing things for your family, friends, and even some personal time for yourself.

More importantly, set spiritual goals. By achieving your spiritual goals, the LORD rewards us by making us stronger. Strong enough to accomplish the personal goals we’ve set. So, take some time every Sunday to establish the following spiritual goals: first, what you’d like to learn this week or gain from your study of the word. Maybe you are in the middle of a continuing study of a certain topic. Use Sunday just to review where you are and where you’re going to go with that study. Also, make a prayer list. Write down people who you feel you need to pray for, and what prayers are needed for them. You also need to pray for yourself. Write down some things that you need to lift up to God in prayer for you. By setting goals, you realize in advance what you need and you get those things.

Ever wonder why your mom (or dad) goes to the grocery store with a list? Well, it’s often suggested that a family or individual trying to maintain a budget should enter the supermarket with a shopping list. Throughout the course of the week they keep track of what’s running out and what they need, so when they go into the store, they go in with a plan. The goal, come out with every item on that list. No more, no less. A lot of people even know right where to go, right where everything is stocked, so there’s no wandering, no looking around, just zip, zip, zip. Like connecting the dots from item to item down the appropriate aisles. They get in the check out line, pay, and they walk out with what they needed, spending the amount within their budget. A victory! They’ve conquered the battle of the grocery shopping. They knew what they needed and they got it.

However, there are always the people who go into it blind. And I did this just last week, so I know what I’m talking about here. There are the people, ANY people, male OR female, who remember they threw things out, they needed something during the week, a little low on milk, so they’re off the to store. They have no list. They haven’t kept track of what they need, and what they don’t. They haven’t got a clue! They just know they need to go to the store. Grab a cart and away they go. Aimlessly wandering the aisles, looking over different things, making there way to a few items they know they need, going back and forth to different aisles, backtracking, picking up all kinds of random stuff up along the way that either looks neat, or the sneaky supermarket people have strategically placed just for people just like this. You know the supermarkets actually thrive off of these people, and it’s really a lot like life. The Supermarkets will take advantage of the people who aren’t prepared, just like the world and society will.

I read an article once in Reader’s Digest that talked about how the super markets actually play certain kinds of mellow music to relax and slow down customers, place items that traditionally go together in the same aisles, like Chips and Soda. They also place the higher priced items at eye level so they are easy for the shopper to see and access. With all of these things in mind, it’s obvious that the unprepared grocery trip can be a major failure to anybody with this approach. Their carts are full of stuff they never would have put on the list, and about half of the stuff they actually needed remains on the supermarket shelf. And in the car ride home, while appalled at how much they just spent on groceries, they start to remember the things they actually needed but didn’t remember to get and they realize they lost. The grocery store defeated them. They didn’t take the time to realize what they need, and they end up without it.

Instead of not getting what you need because you’ve put no time forth to figuring it out, take some time every Sunday to establish your goals, and ask God to help you accomplish them. Look ahead to the coming week and prepare to make it successful personally and spiritually. I don't mean to say this should be the only day of the week you use for or can be spiritual. It's just the biggest one. The one you devote to making it all right, and getting a good start. The Super Bowl isn't the only game played. There is an entire season that is tied together by the Super Bowl. If there were just the Super Bowl, and no other games, the NFL would not function. Much like our faith and relationship with God. If we only participate in our spirituality and relationship with God on Sundays, and not the rest of the week, our spirituality and relationship CANNOT FUNCTION! It becomes POINTLESS! We don't exist to come to church! We exist to LOVE AND GLORIFY GOD. To have a relationship with God!

If everyone on your team, or in the band got to choose only one day a week to go to practice, would your team be any good or band sound decent? They would not function! So, why should your relationship with God, with Jesus Christ, be any different? Shouldn’t it be better?

We should be completing an NFL season every week, with six games and a Super Bowl. It's not a competition, it's not against anybody else, it's between You and God.

Keep the Sabbath holy. Have one spiritual Super Bowl a week. Reflect on the previous week, and prepare for the upcoming week. Set and strive to accomplish and achieve goals that can only be reached with God’s power. Remember, God knows you and it’s God who is our referee. He knows if you take your weekly rest or not, and if you include him throughout your weekly battles. So be careful, like the football players, you know the rules; you have to try to live up to them in your six games a week and your Spiritual Super Bowl Sunday.