The Little League coach looked down at his eager second baseman with desperation in his eye. "Bobby," he said, "You know the principles of good sportsmanship that the Little League practices. You know we don't tolerate temper tantrums, shouting at the umpire, or abusive language. Do I make myself clear?"
"Yes, sir," replied the Little Leaguer.
"Well, then," said the coach, "would you please explain that to your mother?" Some of you baseball fans are looking forward with anticipation to the coming season.
A certain man and his two sons in Tennessee had been looking forward to going to a baseball game for a long time. The Dodgers were coming to Atlanta, Georgia to play the Braves, and this man and his sons were going to be there. They drove most of Saturday to be in Atlanta to see their favorite two teams play.
They rushed to check into a motel. In a hurry they made it to the game just before the first ball was pitched. The problem was, when the umpire called, "play ball" they were still standing in line outside. But that really did not bother them. They knew that there were going to be nine full innings. What they did not know was that all the seats were filling up even as they stood outside. In fact, just before they came to the ticket window, the sales person put up a sign: "Sorry, no more tickets. Sell out."
They could not believe their eyes. The Braves never sold out. This man and his sons had traveled most of the day to get there. This was supposed to be the "highlight" of their vacation. The man rushed to the window. He pleaded for three tickets. But all the lady at the window could say was, "I am sorry. We are sold out." When he tried to explain to the lady how important the game was to him and to his two sons and how far they had driven to be there, the lady said, "Remember, if you want to be assured of a ticket to an important game, you need to make sure you have a ticket ahead of time." The man knew she was right. There are some events in life that are so important to us that we should make sure we have whatever it takes to get in.
Jesus told three parables about having the proper tickets: One was about some maidens who were not allowed to attend a wedding party, because they had neglected to prepare their lamps with oil (Matthew 25:1-12). Lighted lamps were their tickets. Another guest was put out of a wedding party, because he had either refused or neglected to wear the wedding garment that was furnished him when he came to the party (Matthew 22:11-14). That special garment was his ticket. Then Jesus told of a group of people who refused to come to their king's party, because they had other priorities (Luke 14:15-24). Those who did not value the "ticket" or the invitation they had received never enjoyed the blessing of feasting with the Lord.