Monday, July 31, 2017

A D V E R S I T Y
Jeremiah 29:11

Have you ever suffered an injury and wondered where the Lord was?  Why did He allow me to get hurt?  Could it be in God's plan for me to be injured?  Why me, why now?  Receive some assurance from the Lord in this scripture.


In Jeremiah's book of prophecy, at chapter 29 and verse 11 it says, "For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."  Surely the Lord has plans are not to harm us.  Rather, His plans are for our good.


When we encounter adversity in any form; injury, illness, conflict, strife, bad calls, or any other thing, it's easy to think that the Lord's not looking out for us.  Some even think that He's mad at us about something.  Nothing could be farther from the truth.  In this verse He says that His plans are not to harm us.


Let's trust in the Lord's plans.  Let's trust His heart and His undying love to keep us from harm and to enjoy prosperity.


Bible Reading Plan:
Psalms 142
II Chronicles 13-16

Sunday, July 30, 2017

P L A N S
Jeremiah 29:11

Do you ever wonder if God has a real plan for your life?  Maybe as you think about the future, you see it as being fully a matter of your choices and will.  Is there ever a thought that maybe God has something in mind for you that would make you most fully satisfied and wholly fulfilled.  He speaks to us in today's Scripture.


In Jeremiah's book of prophecy, at chapter 29 and verse 11 it says, "For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."  Surely the Lord has plans for each of us individually, and plans for us collectively.


He says that these plans are to prosper us.  How would we be prospered in athletic terms?  Obviously we think of wins, trophies, medals and titles.  But how could we be prospered otherwise? 


We are prospered by the Lord when we display His character on the floor or in relationships with teammates.  We are prospered when our program signs new recruits and they come to aid us in our pursuit of excellence.  We prosper when the program gains notoriety for having done well athletically and in the classroom.  The Lord's hand is evident and his plan to prosper us is accomplished as we trust Him to work in our lives.


Lay it all on the line in today's competition and trust in the Lord's plans to prosper those who trust in Him.

Bible Reading Plan:
Luke 10:25-37
I Thessalonians 4:11-18

Saturday, July 29, 2017

F A I T H F U L N E S S
I Corinthians 13:6-7

Is there someone in your life you can count on to always be the same?  Who do you know that you would describe as steady, faithful, and consistent?


In First Corinthians chapter 13 and verses 6 and 7, the Apostle Paul writes, "Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres."  This is descriptive of the kind of love God gives us and offers to us for sharing with others.


Love is something you can count on.  More than a fleeting emotion, it's a conscious exercise of one's will, a commitment between people.  That's how it can be always protecting, trusting, hoping and persevering. 

Take these attitudes into competition today as you commit yourself again to your teammates and coaches.  Love is the key, commitment makes it happen.


Bible Reading Plan:
Psalms 136
I Chronicles 29

Friday, July 28, 2017

O P P O R T U N I T Y
Matthew 26:11

Have you ever heard people speak of “once in a lifetime opportunities?”  Have you ever had one of those?  Did you recognize it at the time?


In Matthew chapter 26 and verse 11, Jesus talks about taking advantage of opportunity.  He says to his disciples, “The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me.”  This followed Judas’ complaint about a woman who poured some very expensive perfume on Jesus’ feet, an act he saw as very wasteful.


The perfume cost about one year’s wages and this woman pours the whole thing on Jesus’ feet.  Why would Jesus not want it sold and the money given to the poor?  He knew what Judas didn’t, that His remaining days with them were very few.  This woman had taken advantage of a great opportunity to honor Christ.


Jesus told them that the poor would always be around, but He would not.  Their opportunity to be with Him was very short in duration.  It would not be the same in a week.


You have much the same situation today.  Tomorrow at this time your opportunity to play this game will be gone, forever.  It can never be revisited.  Competition will be around all season, but this game will be gone in about two hours.  Do as this great woman of faith did.  Take full advantage of your opportunity.  Expend all that you have to maximize your opportunity.  It won’t be the same tomorrow.

Bible Reading Plan:
Luke 9:18-27
I Thessalonians 1

Thursday, July 27, 2017

M O T I V A T I O N
Hebrews 10:24

What is it that best motivates you for competition?  Is it the sight of your parents in the stands?  The encouragement from your coach and teammates?  Maybe it's the prospect of being a champion.  The Bible speaks of another type of motivation.


In the Book of Hebrews at chapter 10 and verse 24 it says, “And let us consider how to stimulate one another toward love and good deeds.”


A different translation of that verse says "to provoke," to love and good deeds.  Many of us provoke one another when we compete, but it's not always toward love and good deeds.  The important thing is not to stimulate, but to do so toward these two objects.


The remaining question for us is, how?  We can certainly stimulate love and good deeds in our friends and teammates by showing them examples.  We can do so by encouraging words.  We can praise them when they're caught doing it right.  We can correct them when they do it wrongly. 


Take time to pray today and ask the Lord to use you to stimulate your teammates toward love and good deeds.

Bible Reading Plan:
Psalms 129
I Chronicles 15-16

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

R E P R E S E N T A T I O N
Mark 12:17

How much of your personal success do you owe to your team?  How many hours per week are reasonable for you to practice?  Who determines the proper amount of preparation that is necessary for each competition?  To whom are you responsible for the most important parts of your life?


Jesus spoke about such matters at Mark chapter 12 and verse 17, where it says, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.’  And they were amazed at him.”


Let’s think about this in athletic terms. 
• If you’re wearing the uniform of your school – you must give your allegiance to the leadership they’ve appointed for your team.
• If you’ve accepted a scholarship from a university – you must submit to your coaching staff.
• While you’re on your own time, away from team responsibilities – you must make your own choices about behavior.
• When you’re on your own – give God first priority as you direct your life.


As you compete today, be mindful that you represent a number of people beyond yourself.  You certainly represent your teammates, your school, your family and friends, and many of you represent your God.  Compete in such a way that they can each be proud of you and that displays your allegiance to each with pride.


Bible Reading Plan:
Luke 8:1-15
Colossians 2:16-23

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

H O N O R
Proverbs 3:25

What would it be like to receive a great inheritance?  Maybe there’s one coming to you someday; real estate jewels, heirloom furniture, money, who knows?  What would the most valuable inheritance be for someone of wisdom? 


Proverbs chapter 3 and verse 25 states, “The wise inherit honor, but fools He holds up to shame.”


It doesn’t take long to figure out which side of this equation is better for us.  He says that the wise inherit honor.  They don’t earn it, nor do they don’t find it.  They receive it like a gift from granddad.  They inherit honor, which often looks like favor with coaches and teachers.  Sometimes it looks like respect among teammates and opponents.  It always looks like personal dignity.


On the other hand, it says that fools are held up to shame.  Just holding them up to the light exposes their foolishness, thus bringing shame, disgrace and humiliation. 
Which would you rather receive, honor or shame?  You’ll attain more wisdom and thus honor and will accumulate less shame as you choose to surround yourself with friends who are wise and not foolish.


In today’s competition, display wisdom as you compete and you’ll inherit honor.  Act like a fool and you’ll be the subject of ridicule and shame.  Please be a credit to your team, coaches and your family by competing with greatness today.

Bible Reading Plan:
Luke 12:49-59
II Thessalonians 3:14-18
Psalms 150
II Chronicles 34-36

Monday, July 24, 2017

B O D Y    B U I L D I N G
Jude 20-21

What makes up the daily workouts that you use to build your body?  What is most effective in building up your mind?  How do you build your heart?  Today’s scripture has an answer to that question.


In Jude's letter to believers at verses 20 and 21 it says, "But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit.  Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life."  Jude calls this group of men, "Beloved", as he deeply cares for them. 


Jude seems to say that building yourselves up through group prayer is a given, something that is normally expected of brothers in Christ.  He seems to say that everyone does this.  We will build ourselves up as a team by prayer, here he says prayer in the Holy Spirit.  When men pray together, the Spirit of God fills the place where we are gathered with His presence and we are thereby built up on our most holy faith.  Let's be as diligent to build ourselves up in prayer as we are to build ourselves up in the weight room.


The big idea that Jude wants them to know is in verse 21.  He says, "Keep yourselves in the love of God..."  Remember this is written to a group, not to an individual.  We keep ourselves in the love of God as a group through things like prayer as a group.  Through day to day living as teammates and friends.  Through caring enough about each other to encourage, admonish, confront, correct and to steer our teammates away from trouble.  We experience the mercy of the Lord Jesus and His eternal life when we keep ourselves (as a group) in the love of God. 


Let's begin today's competition with prayer as a group, building ourselves up on our most holy faith.  Then let's keep ourselves, as a group, in the love of God as we look out for the interests of the team, more than just our individual interests.  In doing so we'll experience the mercy of our Lord Jesus.

Bible Reading Plan:
Luke 12:35-48
II Thessalonians 3:6-13
Psalms 149
II Chronicles 30-33

Sunday, July 23, 2017

S T R E N G T H   A N D   C O U R A G E
Joshua 1:7

What are some essential qualities for an athlete to bring into competition?  Make a list.  I'm sure that your list will include strength and courage.  The Bible speaks of these often and one such instance follows.


In Joshua chapter 1 and verse 7 it says, "Be strong and very courageous..."  In times like these we need to bring a truckload of both strength and courage to the field of competition. 


The people that Joshua was leading were about to try to take possession of hostile territory and could lose their lives in the effort.  They were challenged to be strong and courageous.  How much more should we be strong and courageous in our pursuits?  The rewards for us are great and the risks are much less.


As you compete today, keep in the back of your mind Joshua's challenge to his players.  Be strong and very courageous!!  Bring strength and courage to every facet of today's competition.  You can make this a day of greatness. 



Bible Reading Plan:
Luke 12:22-34
II Thessalonians 3:1-5
Psalms 148
II Chronicles 28-29

Saturday, July 22, 2017

L O V E
Matthew 25:40

What kind of things do you do for people you love?  How do you express your love for your family, friends, teammates and others?  How do we express a love for God?


Jesus gives us an answer as to what He sees as loving action, in Matthew chapter 25 and verse 40.  He says, “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.”  There are two big ideas in this text.  Who are Jesus’ brothers and what can we do for them?


Who are these Jesus calls the least of His brothers?  In the context of this parable, they’re people in jail, the sick, strangers, the hungry, the thirsty and the homeless.  Jesus says that acts of love and mercy toward these people are equal to loving acts toward Him.


What can we do for people like these?  What would you do for anyone whom you encounter daily?  Show respect, compassion, mercy and love.  If you encounter the least, as in the list above, love God through loving them.  If you encounter your teammates, coaches, classmates, even professors; love God through loving them.  Show them respect, compassion, mercy and love.


In today’s game you have a marvelous opportunity to express love for God by treating people as you would Him.  Imagine how you’d treat Him if He showed up here and you were face to face.  Treat everyone that way tonight.  Even the officials! Have a great game and thereby honor the Lord Jesus.

Bible Reading Plan:
Luke 12:13-21
II Thessalonians 2:13-17
Psalms 147
II Chronicles 25-27

Friday, July 21, 2017

U N D E R S T A N D I N G
Proverbs 3:5-6

Who is the smartest person you know?  Who knows more about your sport than anyone else does?  How smart are you?  How heavily do you rest on your limited understanding?  Let’s consider some wisdom in these matters.


In Solomon’s writings of wisdom at Proverbs chapter 3 and verses 5 and 6, we read, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.”


Most of us would have to admit that we have a limited understanding of our game.  Even our coaches know that even with their extensive experience, they have not exhausted the available knowledge of the sport.  That’s the focus of that phrase, “lean not on your own understanding.”  Solomon is encouraging us to seek a source of wisdom and understanding outside ourselves.


In today’s competition, look to your teammates and coaching staff for understanding of situations, opportunities and techniques.  Look to family for encouragement and love.  Look to God for understanding in the most important matters of life.  You can lean on His understanding it’s available and immense.  Have a great day of competition.


Bible Reading Plan:
Luke 12:1-12
II Thessalonians 2:1-12
Psalms 146
II Chronicles 22-24

Thursday, July 20, 2017

T R U S T
Proverbs 3:5-6

In whom do you place your trust?  How much do you trust that person?  Could you trust him or her with your very life?  Today’s letter will encourage us to trust someone with every facet of life, even your sport.


In Proverbs chapter 3 and verses 5 and 6 we read, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.”


To trust someone is to place you faith in that person, to give him or her a measure of control of your fate.  That’s scary for most of us.  This verse says to trust God with all your heart.  Not with 50% of your heart but 100% of it.  We’re not given the luxury of hedging our bets and leaving an easy escape route.  This requires real commitment.


Even scarier is that it is our heart with which we’re asked to trust Him.  More valuable than your body or your mind is your heart.  He wants you to trust Him with 100% of your inmost being. 


The great thing for us is that God is also 100% trustworthy.  He won’t trick us or leave us hanging when we commit ourselves to His trust.  He can be trusted in all matters of life to pursue our best interest with an unlimited amount of power, wisdom and love.  What a deal!

In today’s competition, trust the Lord to enable you to make the plays you dream about.  Trust Him to help you be a team leader.  Trust Him to help you battle injury, doubt and frustration.  Remember trust Him 100% because He’s 100% trustworthy.  Have a great game!

Bible Reading Plan:
Luke 11:37-54
II Thessalonians 1:8-12
Psalms 145
II Chronicles 20-21

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

D I S T R A C T I O N S
Mark 11:7-8

Can you recall the feelings of arriving home after winning a championship or a victory over your fiercest rival?  Maybe there were crowds awaiting your return, a police escort with fire trucks and a motorcade of minivans painted with the names of your teammates and uniform numbers.  How did you keep your mind focused on your sport and not get distracted by all the noise?


In Mark chapter 11 and verses 7 and 8 we can see how Jesus handled similar circumstances in his life.  There we read, “When they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks over it, he sat on it.  Many people spread their cloaks on the road, while others spread branches they had cut in the fields.  Those who went ahead and those who followed shouted, ‘Hosanna!  Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!  Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!  Hosanna in the highest!’  Jesus entered Jerusalem and went to the temple.”


When I read this I see a team bus coming back into town having just won a championship and crowds of fans waiting for the team on the edge of town.  Everyone is excited, honking horns, screaming and shouting congratulations to the team.  Imagine how Jesus and His followers must have felt.


Watch Jesus’ reaction and gain some wisdom about how to handle success.  Does He get caught up in all the excitement and lose His head in the adulation?  No, rather He maintained His focus on His mission.  He went straight to work on accomplishing His purposes at the temple.


Let’s learn from Jesus and keep our minds focused on our team goals even when we’re surrounded by people telling us how great we are.  Let’s not be distracted by the adulation of fans or the fawning of sports reporters.  Compete today with a strong focus on your goals and fulfill the objectives for this season.


Bible Reading Plan:
Luke 11:29-36
II Thessalonians 1:1-7
Psalms 144
II Chronicles 17-19

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

B A D    A T T I T U D E S
I Corinthians 13:5

Do you know anyone who holds grudges or seems to have a recording of every wrong ever done to him or her?  These are generally joyless, less than loving people who make for poor teammates and friends.


Paul wrote to his friends in Corinth some enlightening words about God's kind of love, at chapter 13 and verse 5 of his first letter he says, "It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs."


These rather ugly characteristics don't fit in a heart filled with love.  They're like oil and water, they don't mix.  Keep these things away from your team and you'll find success as a strong, cohesive unit.  Love is the key and it's born of a heart of commitment to family, friends, and teammates.



Bible Reading Plan:
Luke 11:14-28
I Thessalonians 5:12-28
Psalms 143

Monday, July 17, 2017

R E N E W E D   S T R E N G T H
Isaiah 40:30-31

When was the last time you were running in practice and your legs felt like spaghetti?  Did you wish for wings so you could fly?  Did you long for a new set of legs that didn't get tired?  Where could one find new strength and vigor for the day's competition?  The Bible has an answer.


In the prophet Isaiah's book at chapter 40 and verses 30 through 31 it says, "Even youths grow tired and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint." 



Everybody gets tired, even the best of us get a little weary.  The promise here is that we don't have to be overcome by fatigue, but can soar beyond our limits.


How does that work?  He says here that those who wait on the Lord will renew their strength.  This waiting is to trust, to see a source of power outside ourselves.  Even when you're growing tired, out of breath, legs turning to rubber, trust and press on.

Trust God to put some spring back in your legs, some wind back in your lungs, some focus back in your vision, some power back in your arms.  Most of all trust Him for some renewed faith, hope and love in your heart. 

Play today with a sense that you've tapped into an inexhaustible source of power.  Play with strength that's renewed minute by minute. 

Bible Reading Plan:
Luke 11:1-13
I Thessalonians 5:1-11
II Chronicles 10-12

Sunday, July 16, 2017

H U M I L I T Y
Matthew 23:12

Have you ever seen the last place team, jump up and beat the previously undefeated, first place squad?  How could that happen?


In Matthew’s gospel at chapter 23 and verse 12, Jesus is recorded as saying, “Whoever exalts himself will be humbled and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”  That happens a lot in competition.


Many times we see a team strut onto the floor, exalting themselves and believing themselves to be invincible.  How quickly they can fall, often to teams with inferior talent.  They are those who exalt themselves and are humbled.


Other teams have an honest estimate of their strengths and weaknesses.  They are conscious of their abilities and those things they should not attempt.  They approach the game with respect for opponents and quiet confidence in their teammates and coaches.  These are the humble who are consequently exalted.


In this contest, have an attitude of quiet confidence.  Know fully your team’s strengths and weaknesses.  Have an honest estimate of your abilities and a healthy respect for your opponents.  If you will humble yourselves, it’s God’s job to exalt you, to lift you up at the appropriate time.  Trust Him deeply and play with all your heart.


Bible Reading Plan:
Luke 10:38-42
Psalms 141
II Chronicles 8-9

Saturday, July 15, 2017

W I S D O M
Proverbs 2:6

Who is the greatest source for wisdom in your life?  Maybe you’re thinking of your mom or dad.  Maybe it’s your coach.  The Scripture speaks of someone who is the ultimate source for wisdom and understanding.

In Proverbs chapter 2 and verse 6, Solomon writes, “For the Lord gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.”


He says that from the Lord’s mouth come knowledge and understanding.  God speaks through His Word daily and gives us knowledge that is pertinent information for daily living.  He also shares his understanding with us, the ability to rightly apply knowledge.


As you prepare for competition today, listen for the Lord’s voice.  He’s always speaking in ways to lead us to knowledge and understanding.  He gives wisdom related to relationships on the team, for excellence in the classroom, and understanding for athletic achievement.


God’s Word, the Bible is always open to us and He speaks loudly each time we’re faithful to open its pages and to read.


Bible Reading Plan:
I Thessalonians 4:1-10
Psalms 140
II Chronicles 6-7

Friday, July 14, 2017

L O V I N G    D E E P L Y
I Peter 1:22

Who is there in your life that you love deeply, from the heart?  You’re probably thinking of family members, your best friends, hopefully some teammates and coaches.  Today’s scripture encourages us to love that way.


In Peter’s first letter at chapter 1 and verse 22 it says, “Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart.” 


Peter calls these people to love each other from the depths of their souls.  Most of us love shallowly, from our self-interests.


My challenge to you is to love your teammates deeply, from the heart.  Not shallowly from simple emotion or sentimentality.  Love deeply, from the very center of your being.  Not just on the surface or only when it’s convenient.


Such love among teammates is built on commitment to each other.  You have forged your team’s commitment to each other on the field of competition and through countless of hours in practice and conditioning.  Commit yourself to your teammates and your coaching staff and you will love deeply, from the heart.

As you prepare to compete today, make some commitments to your team in your hearts.  Demonstrate those commitments by how you perform, lead and encourage.

Bible Reading Plan:
Luke 10:17-24
I Thessalonians 3:7-13
Psalms 139
II Chronicles 3-5

Thursday, July 13, 2017

S E R V A N T – L E A D E R S H I P
Mark 10:42-45

Who is someone from your sport, that if he was to walk in the room right now, we’d all feel compelled to give up our seats, to offer something to drink and to serve in any way possible?  Who would be deserving of such respect and admiration?

Jesus was certainly such a person in His day, but He refused such treatment.  Why?  We can read about His reasoning in Mark chapter 10 and verses 42 through 45, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them.  Not so with you.  Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all.  For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.”

With each sentence, Jesus raised the price tag for leadership.
• He said that greatness comes through service of the team.
• He said that being first comes as we subject ourselves to everyone else.
• He now says that to be like Him, means self-sacrifice.

How does that happen in competition?  When you put your team’s success ahead of your personal achievement, that’s self-sacrifice.  When you prefer the team’s goals to your personal goals, that’s great leadership.  When you sacrifice your privilege in order to free a teammate to achieve, you’re leading like Jesus.

As you approach this day’s competition, do so with a predetermined will to lead through service and sacrifice.  Pay whatever it costs to free your teammates to achieve at their highest level of the season.  Be a team leader like Jesus and give your life as a ransom for many.

Bible Reading Plan:
Luke 10:1-16
I Thessalonians 3:1-6
Psalms 138
II Chronicles 1-2

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

F E A R
Isaiah 41:13

What helps you to ward off fear when it comes?  How do you find confidence to combat such an enemy?  Who comes to your aid when you're gripped by fear?  One of many great promises for overcoming fear from the Bible follows.

In Isaiah's book of prophecy at chapter 41 and verse 13 he says, "For I am the LORD, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear;  I will help you."  I hope that's an encouraging idea, that God would take you each by the hand and help you.   I don't know about you, but I need help every day.

If you can, imagine what it would look like for God to take you by the hand and help you in the work you have to do.  He takes your right hand and leads you through the times of grief, stress, loneliness, depression, even through times of great success.  He's really there for each of us, just like He was running up and down the floor, holding your hand and encouraging you with each step.

He says, "Do not fear, I will help you."  Whatever produces fear for you, commit it to Him in prayer as you prepare and trust Him to help you.

Bible Reading Plan:
Luke 9:51-62
I Thessalonians 2:10-20
Psalms 137

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

A T T I T U D E
I Corinthians 13:4

How would you describe your attitude coming into today's game?  How well are you getting along with your teammates and coaching staff?  How about some thoughts on attitudes that transform people and teams?  Let's talk about love in its purest form.

In Paul's first letter to his friends in Corinth at chapter 13 and verse 4 he says, "Love is patient, love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud."  This is God's kind of love, way beyond human emotions and based in deep commitment.


These are attitudes we can take into today's contest.  Exercise patience and kindness with your teammates when they fail.  Put away the envy that separates the players who play a lot from those who play much less.  Put down your prideful boasting over your personal statistics and concentrate on the team's success.  Love is the key for each of these characteristics to be found in us.



Bible Reading Plan:
Luke 9:37-50
I Thessalonians 2:1-9
I Chronicles 26-28

Monday, July 10, 2017

C O M M A N D M E N T S
Matthew 22:40

Have you ever competed in a domed stadium or seen a game in one?  Do you fully understand what holds the roof up?  How does that thing stay up there with snow on it?  From what does the roof hang?

In Matthew chapter 22 and at verse 40, Jesus concludes His talk about the greatest commandments, “All the Law and the Prophets hang on these commandments.” 

Jesus is saying that all the Bible’s wisdom and insight for living hang on the commands to love God and to love people.  How much of your life hangs on these?  How deeply have you committed yourself to loving God, then to appropriating His inexhaustible love toward others? 

Let’s make it our mission to abandon all in the pursuit of this kind of love.  The whole of life hangs on loving God and people. 

Let’s also abandon all tonight in pursuit of today’s victory.  The whole of this season may hang on this ball game.  We can best do that as we love God with every fiber of our beings and love others as we love ourselves.

Bible Reading Plan:
Luke 9:28-36
Psalms 135
I Chronicles 23-25

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Wisdom

W I S D O M
Proverbs 1:7

As we all know, the fundamentals of your sport are the beginning of success.  How foolish would it look to compete at your level without knowledge of techniques and training?

In Proverbs chapter 1 and verse 7, the King writes, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.”  Just like the fundamentals of your sport lead to success, the fear of the Lord leads surely to knowledge.  Not only knowledge of one’s sport, but knowledge in the larger matters of life.

Fools despise wisdom and discipline, says the proverb.  A fool is one who has the ability to learn, but refuses to do so.  Fools turn up their noses at understanding and a well-ordered lifestyle.  A life under control seems, to them, to be unthinkable.

In today’s competition and through the rest of the season, apply every bit of knowledge you have concerning your sport.  Be careful not to despise the coaching staff’s wisdom and discipline, we don’t want to be fools.  Most of all pray and ask God’s blessing on your life… a healthy respect for Him is the beginning of real knowledge for all of your life.

Bible Reading Plan:
Colossians 4:10-18
Psalms 133-134
I Chronicles 20-22

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Intimidation

I N T I M I D A T I O N
Numbers 13:30-33

Who was the most intimidating opponent you ever faced in competition?  How did you perceive yourself in comparison with his/her abilities and stature?  Did your opponent see you in that same light?  Today’s scripture tells a similar story.


In the Old Testament book of Numbers at chapter 13 and verses 30 through 33 we read, “Then Caleb silenced the people before Moses and said, ‘We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.’  But the men who had gone up with him said, ‘We can’t attack those people; they are stronger than we are.’  And they spread among the Israelites a bad report about the land they had explored.  They said, ‘The land we explored devours those living in it.  All the people there are of great size.  We saw the Nephilim there.  We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them.”


Caleb was about to lose his patience with his teammates.  They had seen the greatest place they could ever imagine and he was ready to take possession of the place, but his teammates were all afraid. 


Did you hear how they perceived themselves?   They said they saw themselves as grasshoppers in comparison to their opponents.  Worse still, they appeared to be grasshoppers in the eyes of their opponents.


As you compete today, will you see yourselves as Caleb did – fully able to compete with anyone and anywhere?  Or will you see yourself as a grasshopper, one totally out of his league? 

My challenge to you today is to look your opponent directly in the eye and when you see a reflection of yourself in his eyes, see the image of a champion and not that of a grasshopper.

Bible Reading Plan:
Luke 9:1-17
Colossians 4:1-9
Psalms 132
I Chronicles 17-19

Friday, July 7, 2017

Rest

R E S T
I John 3:19-20

Have there been moments in your sport career when you found yourself burdened by feelings of guilt or condemnation?  How did you deal with those feelings?  From where do those feelings come?  Today’s scripture offers some answers for how to deal with our hearts.

In John’s first letter at chapter 3 and verses 19 and 20 we read, “This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence whenever our hearts condemn us.  For God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.”  John gives us invaluable counsel for handling our condemned hearts.


Those whose hearts have been renewed through relationship with Christ have the power of God at work in them.  Even when their hearts feel condemned because of foolish choices or selfish actions, they can rest in His presence.  He won’t condemn them for their errors.  God is greater than our hearts and knows everything about us.


It’s a lot like a coach who so loves and trusts his/her players that he/she has full confidence that even if they play the worst game of their lives, they still have the favor and acceptance of their coach.  They can rest in his/her presence.  The coach is greater than their hearts and knows they gave their best.


As you prepare to compete today, let your commitment lead you to play your heart out.  Trust your teammates, your coaches and your God to give you the freedom to be your best.


Bible Reading Plan:
Luke 8:40-56
Colossians 3:15-25
Psalms 130-131

Thursday, July 6, 2017

T H E   G R E A T E S T
Mark 10:42-44

Which of these would most people see as being greater, the driver of the team bus or the star player riding in the back?  Which would appear to be more important, the star athlete or the trainer who hands her a bottle of water?  Who would seem greater, the guest of honor at the team banquet or the person washing the dishes?  We know what most would say, but what do you think?  What would Jesus say?


We can read about Jesus’ value system in the book of Mark at chapter 10 and verses 42 through 44, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them.  Not so with you.  Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all.”


While totally turning the value system of the world upside down, Jesus said that the great ones are those who serve and that the ones who want to be first must be slaves to the others.  Ouch!  That doesn’t feel good at all.


The problem is that He’s right.  The bus driver is actually more important to the trip than the one riding in the back.  The dishwasher is more important to the dinner than the guest of honor.  The trainer is often more important to the life of a team than one star player.  Each of these people takes on a servant’s role and even resembles a slave at times, in order to further the process for everyone else.


They know what many of you already know:
• Greatness comes through service of your teammates.
• Being first comes at an even higher price – self-sacrifice.

As you compete today, keep in mind that being great will come as you serve your team and that being first is a direct result of putting everyone’s needs ahead of your own.  As you do, you’ll find yourself leading in a way that is most honorable to God and to your teammates.

Bible Reading Plan:
Luke 8:26-39
Colossians 3:1-14
I Chronicles 12-14

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

F O C U S
Isaiah 26:3

How do you focus your mind on game day?  How do you keep thinking about doing well and not about failure and loss?  How do you keep worry and anxiety from crowding into your mind?  The Bible has a lot to say about that.


In Isaiah's book of prophecy, at chapter 26 and verse 3 it says, "You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in You"  What a great promise!  Perfect peace for our minds through steadfast trust in God.


How do we accomplish that?  It's simple really, trust God with all the affairs of your life.  Talk to Him, that's prayer.  Listen to Him, that's Bible reading.  Commit the things that concern you to Him through loving conversation with your teammates. 


When you compete today, rest in the promise that your mind can be at peace.  You'll have the ability to block out the things that cloud your mind and to focus on the game.  Focus and intensity on the floor come from a mind that's uncluttered and at peace.  He keeps our minds in perfect peace through steadfast trust.


Bible Reading Plan:
Luke 8:16-25
Psalms 128
I Chronicles 10-11

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

R E L A T I O N S H I P S
Matthew 22:39

How well do you get along with the people on your team?  How well with the coaching staff?  How well with your family?  Our relationships with people are a life long set of joys, challenges, grief and love.


After Jesus spoke of loving God as the greatest commandment, he said this in Matthew 22 and verse 39, “The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.”


Second only to loving God is Jesus’ command to love people as we love ourselves.  That’s a tall order!!  To love anyone that strongly is a powerful thing.  It’s also rather rare.


Do this today... Express real love toward your teammates through unselfish play.  Show love for your coaches through respect.  Show love to your fans and the officials through honorable actions and speech.  The power of this kind of love transforms people and makes for the best relationships.


Give it all you have today.  Pursue the victory with your last drop of energy.  Play with enthusiasm and vision.  Be a champion.

Bible Reading Plan:
Colossians 2:8-15
Psalms 127
I Chronicles 7-9