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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Don't Look Past Your Next Game

I have seen it happen often. A great team is beaten soundly by a lesser team because they looked past the lesser team to what they considered a more worthy opponent. They looked at the championship game without looking at their next game.

This problem will face each of the teams in basketball's final four in the next few days. They will have to focus completely on their next game without looking at who they may play for the championship. The fact that the men's final four has some very unlikely teams is evidence that some of the teams looked past their next game. Of course, this ensures that there is no next game when you get to the tournament. You win or you go home.

I find that people are often blown away in life because they did not look at what they had to do today. They want to start a business but they fail to do what they have to do today in order to get that business started tomorrow. They want to become doctors but forget that they must first finish their bachelor's degrees. They want to have meaningful marriages but do not treat their spouses lovingly today. These omissions add up to a terrible season for a great team.

Great victories have a tendency to create lofty thoughts. We win over a tough opponent and are surprised by the loss which should have been in the win column. Sometimes pastors work very hard to see their churches grow and have significant ministries but forget to have a daily quiet time with God. The result is a diminished ministry which rests upon its past rather than the power of the Living God. The results are failures in areas which should have been successes. The pastor finds himself wondering what went wrong after so many things have gone right.

Many people think that their wedding was such a success that it will carry them through all that days that follow. It won't. Each day must be played as if it is the championship if there is to be a final victory. You simply can't look beyond today to get to the fiftieth anniversary.

I suppose the mantra of AA must be ours as well: One day at a time. Yes, you must concentrate on the next game so that you can make it to the championship. You must see today as the day you must win. Let tomorrow take care of itself.

By the way, how many former athletes do you know who are overweight and out of shape today? They got that way one day at a time too. I guess both losing and winning are all about what you do today.

In the Old Testament, Joshua overlooked the small town of Ai after having the most amazing victory at Jericho. He didn't check to see if he and his people were in right standing before the Lord before entering the battle. They would be so easy to defeat that he didn't even check in with the Lord. One conversation with the Lord would have prevented this defeat. Joshua started looking at taking the Promised Land without knowing that each day needed to be treated carefully.

Maybe you should take a long hard look at today and ask what you need to be doing today. Victory can be yours but you must not look beyond your next game.

Joshua 7:4-6 (NIV)
4 So about three thousand men went up; but they were routed by the men of Ai, 5 who killed about thirty-six of them. They chased the Israelites from the city gate as far as the stone quarries and struck them down on the slopes. At this the hearts of the people melted and became like water. 6 Then Joshua tore his clothes and fell facedown to the ground before the ark of the LORD, remaining there till evening. The elders of Israel did the same, and sprinkled dust on their heads.

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