A New Season

This year in the NFL, the Seattle Seahawks went to the Super Bowl for the very first time. This means in all of NFL history there are only 6 teams left that have never made it to the Super Bowl.

The Arizona Cardinals won only one playoff game since moving to Arizona , a wild-card game in 1998. In fact, it's their only playoff win in the 40 years. The Detroit Lions advanced as close as the NFC Championship Game following the 1991 season, but were blown out by Washington , 41-10. The Cleveland Browns lost to Denver in the AFC Championship Game three times in a four-year span — following the 1986, 1987 and 1989 seasons. When they were in the NFC, the Browns lost NFC championship games in 1968 (to Baltimore , 34-0) and 1969 ( Minnesota , 27-7).

The New Orleans Saints took the Saints 20 years to even make the playoffs. The Saints have won just one playoff game, and have never been in the conference championship game. The Jacksonville Jaguars played for the AFC title in 1996 and 1999, losing to New England (20-6) and Tennessee (33-14) and also missed the Super Bowl. Finally, the Houston Texans have never made the playoffs, let alone the Super Bowl. All six of these teams have spent years in toil and frustration, always falling short of their goal of the Super Bowl.

But right now it is the off-season. And no matter how bad these teams have been in the past, all of those past misfortunes are gone. Once again each of these teams gets a fresh chance at the Super Bowl. Each team has a clean slate, and every team (good or bad) has a record of 0-0 once again. While other teams may live in the glory of the past, these bad teams have hope that this year a new team will bring glory for the first time. Renewed hope also comes on NFL draft day, where just one star player can sometimes make the difference between a losing franchise and a Super Bowl.

There are some striking parallels between the stories of each of these bad teams and our lives. Each one of us has made mistakes. We are often embarrassed and ashamed of the mistakes that we've made in the past. Sometimes they are simply the result of bad choices that carry drastic consequences. Sometimes they are secret sins we carry inside of us. The weight of sin makes us feel like we are unworthy and unredeemable. We feel that because of our bad performance in the past that God could never love us.

The good news for you today is that God truly is the ultimate fan for your life. It doesn't matter how bad you've played in the past. In fact, God doesn't care how bad you've played at all because what He really wants is your heart. And through it all, the Lord is faithful and is always in the stands cheering for you. The Bible says that the Lord and all His angels rejoice whenever one person turns his heart to Him. And like a fan in the stands the Lord is always there. Always cheering. Always whispering quietly to you, telling you how to make right play. Like a good coach, God is patient and humble in directing you. And like a good fan, He will never leave you no matter how bad you've been playing.

So right now in your life, it doesn't matter if your decisions have led to failure after failure, and you feel so full of sin that you could never possibly go to church, talk to God, or ever possibly consider yourself a Christian. The good news for you is that, just like those teams trying again for a Super Bowl, God not only can, but wants to wipe your record clean. With the Lord, you can always start over and have a brand new season. All you have to do is ask.

As we begin this second half, remember the promises of God in 1 st Corinthians chapter 15:

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them.“

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