`One of the hardest things to do is master discipline. I have been around enough student athletes to know that the difference between a great athlete and a good one, is discipline. Discipline means you rise above the failures, that you don’t get in your own way and you don’t get in your teammates way. One of the reasons that I’m big on middle school and high school athletics and school activities is because that’s where a lot of people learn this valuable life lesson. Football is great, Band is great, Swimming is great, but at the end of the day, its those lessons that these activities teach you that will carry you forward in life.
Being in band in high school taught me way more than how to play a trombone (for that I’m thankful because I was never all that good at playing the trombone) Band taught me how to work together as a team of individuals to make one incredible product. It taught me that excellence doesn’t come easy. Every year starting in July we would meet for summer band camp. Our band expected to win every competition that we ever signed up for and the reason why is because of those long 12 hour days in the hot summer sun. We would master each set and polish every second of our 8 minute show. Slowly but surely it would come together into something that our whole town was proud of.
I remember one hot summer day as a freshman I just wanted to quit. I was sick, and ready to be anywhere else other than that field, but I wasn’t about to quit, I wasn’t about to let that field get the best of me. It might sound silly but I (in my mind of course) told that field that it would never get the best of me, and truth be told it never did. I never quit, even though I wanted to sometimes, even though I didn’t like some of the other people standing on that field, even though some of the teachers were mean. I never quit. There were hundreds of other students on that field and fields just like it all across the country. Some quit, others didn’t. The ones that don’t give up learn a lesson that is way more valuable than how to catch a pass, or how to march from set to set. They learn that hard work and the discipline to keep going are what propels you to success in this life. Without discipline the football team falls apart when facing a strong opponent, the volleyball team doesn’t function because they can’t communicate, the band tears in the middle of the show. Why? Because if you don’t have the discipline to put forth the effort on the practice field, then you will get destroyed on the playing field.
Too many Christians are getting destroyed on the playing field because they never spend time on the practice field. Think about what God said to Joshua after the death of Moses,
“Be careful to obey all the instructions Moses gave you. Do not deviate from them, turning either to the right or to the left. Then you will be successful in everything you do. 8 Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do.” -Joshua 1:7-8
God told Joshua to spend time in the Word, Meditate on it day and night, put time in the weight room, put time on the practice field, do what you need to do to prepare to achieve your goal.
As a Christian, one of our goals is to live according to the Holy Spirit. Those of you who have tried it know that sometimes it’s easier said than done. But it’s impossible if we’re disconnected from God. So how do we connect with God? Matthew 6:6 says, “6 But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private. Then your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.” Jesus is clear, spend time alone with God. Find time in your day, every day, to get alone with God, get in your bible and get connected with God.
I challenged our students when I preached this message to take 15 minutes of solitude before God. 15 minutes to get alone with God. We’re going to play some soft worship music, aside from that there is no talking and no distracting others. You’re going to take advantage of this time to connect with God. If you don’t have a bible we have one for you. If you don’t have a journal, we have one for you. James 4:7-8 says, So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Come close to God, and God will come close to you. I’m challenging you to come close to God, put Him in your schedule. If you were deathly sick and you scheduled a doctors appointment, you wouldn’t miss that appointment would you?
It’s easy to neglect this time. It’s easy to replace it and kick it down the road because of how accessible God really is to us. But don’t let convenience be the reason you fail to connect with God. Make your time with your heavenly Father a priority, prioritize meeting with God this week and watch how things around you begin to change.