Glorify God Through Success

Glorify God Through Success

In the movie Woodawn, black high school running back, Tony Nathan, is encouraged to use his gifts for God. The sports chaplain tells him that it may be God’s plan for him to be a star. His coach takes notice of him, and gives him a chance to play a starting position at which he excels, thrusting him into the limelight. When he feels down because of the obstacles and difficulties he encounters, he is reminded by several people that he has encouraged and given hope to those around him by what he’s been accomplishing. As a matter of fact, the pastor of his church acknowledges in front of the entire congregation that he’s glorifying God by using his ability in football, and applauds him for it.

Sometimes Christians can have this mindset that you can’t desire or strive for success and truly be following God the way you should at the same time – almost like if you’re successful, you mustn’t really be on the path that God has for you. There’s this mentality that if you happen to have a lot of money, are in a career that puts you in the limelight, or really, really succeeding, you’re somehow less of a believer. Actually, nothing could be further from the truth!

God actually WANTS his people to succeed! He desires to lead and guide them, setting them up for success. He promises that if we delight in His Word, EVERYTHING we do will prosper (Ps 1:2-3). Psalm 45:12 declares that people of wealth will seek our favor. Isaiah 60:3&5 say that nations will be drawn to God’s light shining through us, and that the wealth of nations will come to us. Does this sound like God is against you succeeding?

Oftentimes, success can actually open up a greater platform for God’s people to share Him with the world. Those who have an abundance of money have an increased opportunity to bless others financially. If someone is well-known, as long as they stick with God instead of getting caught up in the fame, they are just in a more visible position to tell others about their faith. When believers experience success, and unbelievers ask how they achieved it, they have the chance to point them to the God who is responsible for it!

Obviously not everyone is famous or a billionaire, but God does desire for His people to live a prosperous, successful life in every area – to have successful godly relationships, to have all that they need and more in their finances, to do well in the career path He has for them, and to prosper in every other arena of their lives.

It saddens me when people think they need to choose between God and success. Just like Tony Nathan was able to glorify God through his success, pointing others to Him with the platform he’d been given, God wants us to prosper, and glorify him through that prosperity. Commit your life to the Lord, with the determination to stick close to Him even in the midst of success, and discover the amazing things He has in store for you!

You Have Been Gifted by God

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In Woodlawn, sports chaplain Hank sees potential in black running back, Tony Nathan. He tells Tony that he has a gift, and he needs to decide what he’s going to do with it. He says that if Tony plays for himself, he could be great, but that if he chooses to play for something higher, that’s when the extraordinary happens. He further states that God has a plan for everyone, and though he doesn’t know what God’s plan is for Tony, he thinks it is for him to be a star. Tony is skeptical, stating that there’s no such thing as a black superstar – at least not in Alabama. However, Coach Gerelds begins to notice him, and puts him in instead of the white player that had been filling his position. Tony Nathan excelled in his new position as running back, and ended up in fact becoming the star of the team!

Tony Nathan had been gifted by God as a running back. As he used the gift he had been given, he gave people hope, and brought glory to God. God has given each of us gifts and abilities, as well. Because each of us are unique, our talents and abilities are also unique. You might not be as gifted as someone you know in a certain area, but you are probably gifted in an area that they’re not. God wants us to use our talents for Him. As we do so, God will use us to bring Him glory, and share His love and grace with those around us!

As Tony began to use his ability as a running back and gain recognition for it, he encountered opposition from a variety of sources. White people didn’t like it that a black player had replaced a white player, and was the one who was in the limelight. Some black people didn’t like it that he was spending so much time with white people. As a matter of fact, someone threw a rock through a window of the house he lived in, with a note attached telling him to quit football, as well as burning a jersey with his number on it. Through it all, he persevered. He didn’t let opposition prevent him from following the path God had for him.

Just like Tony Nathan, sometimes when you’re using your talents and doing what God has called you to do, you’ll encounter opposition. There will be people who will say you’re too young, too old, not good enough, come from the wrong background, or pose some other objection. You might face a few speed bumps along the way. If this happens, just remember that God is on your side, and He’s got your back. Don’t let opposition keep you from doing what He’s called you to do!

God has a plan for your life. He’s gifted you in incredible ways. Use those talents for Him. Don’t let opposition stop you from following that path that He has for you!

God’s Favor Is Upon You

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In Woodlawn, black running back Tony Nathan goes from remaining silently invisible and taking a backseat on the football team to displaying an huge amount of courage and conviction, and becoming the star of the team. He grew up in the church, but really made his faith his own when a sports chaplain came to his school and shared Jesus with the team members. He goes on to play football both in college and at a professional level. His rise from obscurity to achievement and recognition shows just what can happen through God’s favor upon the life of an individual!

As a child of God, you have a major advantage – His divine favor. It surrounds you like a shield (Ps 5:12), causing you to be in the right place at the right time, attracting people important people to you (Ps 45:12), and making everything you do successful (Deu 28:8). His favor can enable you to rise to heights no one expected, and accomplish what no one thought you could.

It doesn’t matter what your background may be, or what you’re up against. God’s favor can overcome all of that. It can pull you from even the worst of situations, and do what you consider impossible. Regardless of whether you’ve had the most amazing, perfect life ever, or whether your past is one you’d rather forget, God has amazing plans for your life, and nothing is impossible with Him (Mark 10:27). As your Heavenly Father, He is on your side! Because He is for you, none will be able to stand against you (Rom 8:37)!

This favor from God is given to you freely as a gift. It isn’t something you can earn. There’s nothing you need to do to obtain it. All God wants is for you to accept it as yours, simply because you are His. Do so, and begin to live the incredible life that God desires for you!

Woodlawn, and the Power of the Gospel

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“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes” Romans 1:16. Pureflix’s new movie, Woodlawn, clearly demonstrates this verse!

Based off of a true story, Woodlawn focuses on a high school in Birmingham, Alabama. Because of laws that were passed, the school was forced to become integrated, allowing both black and white students to attend. Black students were also allowed on the football team, which made the team members angry. All of this changed when a sports chaplain name Hank came to town and shared the gospel with the team. Almost the entire team responded by accepting Christ. After this happened, Coach Tandy Geralds found himself wondering why his team was the only place in the city where white and black people actually got along! However, the revival the football team had experienced soon spread to the rest of the school, a rival team, and the entire town, resulting in many, many lives changed by the gospel! The individuals who had experienced the power of the gospel in their own lives were not ashamed of it, and very bold in sharing their faith, standing up for it even in the face of adversity.

All throughout the movie, we see what happens when Jesus steps into people’s lives – hatred is replaced by love and respect for others, enemies become friends, and many are drawn to Him through His transforming power, displayed in the lives of those who have turned to Him. This is the kind of effect the gospel has! There is nothing else that can work this kind of a change – both individually and corporately among His followers. No amount of self-effort, motivational talk, or anything else can bring about true life transformation. The good news of what Christ has done is the power of God to save anyone and everyone who believes – no matter who they were or what they may have done before they accepted it!

Just like the people at Woodland high school whose lives were changed by the good news of Christ, we should be unashamed of our faith. Why be ashamed of something with that kind of power? The gospel is nothing to be embarrassed of or timid about – even though it may not be popular in our modern culture, it is what this world desperately needs. As a matter of fact, it is so amazing and exciting we should want to share it whenever we get the chance! Ask God to give you opportunities to share the gospel with those who need to be exposed to it.

Woodlawn clearly demonstrates both the transforming power of the gospel, and the fact that when we stand unashamed of it, amazing things can happen. If you haven’t already done so, will you accept what Christ has done for you? And if you have, will you begin to share the good news with others?

“Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.”