I’m a huge proponent of practice and player development. It’s my conviction that far too much emphasis at the youth level is placed on games. Many players simply aren’t prepared for the games and they need more time spent on honing their skills and understanding the game in general.

Yet, I know the games are coming. The games, really, are the ultimate test of whether you can play or not. Practice players never make it to the next level. You have to be able to get it done when the heat is on.

Proverbs 17:3 puts it this way–“The refining pot is for silver and the furnace is for gold, but the Lord tests hearts.”

Games are like that refining pot and furnace–they reveal what’s real and what isn’t, who can play and who can’t.

But, as this verse says, it is God himself who requires the ultimate test of us, the test of our hearts.

He–and he alone–is the judge of your soul. And he–and he alone–determines whether your soul is right or wrong.

So even though you and I might be good “practice players” when it comes to Christianity, sort of acting like we’re legitimate, it is God who really knows, who really sees our hearts.

What’s he looking for in our hearts?

The same things he’s always looked for: faith.

From way back in the Old Testament, people were commended by God for simply trusting in him (in all they knew of him). That hasn’t changed.

As the Scripture unfolded, we got more about the plan God had for the world, the plan that involved him leaving heaven and coming to earth as Jesus to live perfectly, die sacrificially, and rise actually…and in so doing to offer grace and forgiveness for all who will BELIEVE in him. Faith in Jesus is what makes our hearts worthy before the Lord.

Right now, not just “one day,” your heart and soul are laid open before the Lord. Only through faith in Jesus Christ can we stand before him confident and not in fear.

Faith is both the practice and the game in the Christian life. Walk in it today.

Lord Jesus, I believe. Help my unbelief. Amen.