Saturday, September 30, 2017

H U M I L I T Y
John 3:30

What does true humility look like?  Is it that, “Aw, shucks, it weren’t nothing,” kick the dirt with your head down and slumping shoulders look?  Maybe it’s the quiet, “Thank you,” when you’ve been complimented.  Maybe it’s something even greater.

In John’s Gospel at chapter 3 and verse 30 we read, “He must increase, but I must decrease.”  These are the words of John the Baptist as his younger cousin, Jesus of Nazareth, is being criticized. 

Please bear in mind that this man, John, is the first one in 400 years to do the job he’s doing.  HE’S THE MAN!!  There’s nobody else in his league.  Up comes Jesus and John immediately deflects the praise and honor to Him.  Even more, he says that Jesus must increase and John must decrease.

This is true humility.  John knew who was greater, it was Jesus.  He knew that Jesus was God and thus gave Him the respect and honor He was due.

A similar dynamic works on good teams.  We all know who the most talented players are and who is best to have the ball in the most crucial moments.  Let’s defer to them like John did to Jesus.  For the good of the team, let’s give proper respect and honor to our teammates.  In exercising proper humility, we will find ourselves to be winners of another sort, the godly sort.  Have a great game today.

Bible Reading Plan:
Luke 23:26-31
Hebrews 10:1-18

Friday, September 29, 2017

S U F F E R I N G
I Peter 4:12

When have you most recently suffered as a result of competition?  Was that suffering physical, emotional or mental in nature?  Did it seem like you were alone in your suffering?  That’s a very common feeling, but I have good news for those in the midst of trials.

Peter wrote to his friends who were themselves undergoing intense suffering at chapter 4 and verse 12 of his first letter, “Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you…”  Peter calls his friends to be mindful that they’re in good company when they suffer.

In the middle of suffering, whether from an injury or a disappointing loss, there is often a profound loneliness that comes to us.  We feel alienated when injury or illness sends us to the sideline and we’re unable to contribute to the team as we’re accustomed.  The whole situation seems very strange.

Peter’s encouragement is that we are not the victims of some strange misfortune.  He says that these trials can even make us better than we were.  What’s more, if we’ll listen closely, we can sense the Lord Jesus right there with us in the middle of the trial and working for our good.  We can have the assurance of his presence as we suffer any misfortune.

Play this day’s game with courage and great passion.  Play with full confidence in the Lord’s presence and His great love for you.   

Bible Reading Plan:
Proverbs 24:1-22
Isaiah 34-36

Thursday, September 28, 2017

R E V E L A T I O N
Matthew 11:25

Are there things to be learned by playing sports that cannot be learned through books, seminars and lectures?  I think so.
In Matthew’s gospel at chapter 11 and verse 25 we read, “I praise you Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children.”

Could you as athletes, playing little children’s games, be privy to knowledge that escapes those in the philosophy department?  Yes!!  You know things about discipline, determination, teamwork and loyalty that can only be learned through competition.  The great thing is that those concepts are revealed to us from above.  Our Lord uncovers truth for us to observe and to grasp, then to implement in the life of our team.

Play today with great confidence, knowing that you’re among the highly privileged people of sport.  God has chosen to reveal things to you that most other people will never discover.

Bible Reading Plan:
Luke 22:39-46
Hebrews 7:1-10

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

T H R E E     G R E A T    A T T I T U D E S
Romans 12:12

Some arenas have an atmosphere in which it seems almost impossible for visiting teams to win.  This is a tough place to play for every team that comes in here.  Let's talk about some attitudes that overcome atmospheres.

In Paul's letter to the Romans at chapter 12 and verse 12 he writes, "Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer."  Here we have three attitudes; joy, patience and faithfulness that work in three atmospheres; hope, affliction and prayer.

Here's how this works for us today:
• A joyful attitude helps you press on while waiting for the things hoped for.
• Patience helps you endure afflictions like muscle pulls, sprained ankles    and such.
• Faithfulness in prayer provides confidence and assurance in any     atmosphere.

Let these three attitudes: joy, patience and faithfulness lead you into greatness in today's competition.

Bible Reading Plan:
Proverbs 21:17-31
Isaiah 21-23

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

F A V O R
Proverbs 14:35

Do you enjoy a good relationship with your coaches?  Do you have favor with them or do they seem to be angry with you a lot?  We read about some probable causes for both cases in the Bible.

In the book of Proverbs at chapter 14 and verse 35 it says, “The king's favor is toward a servant who acts wisely, but his anger is toward him who acts shamefully.” Don't let the king and servant language throw you, just think coach and athlete.
One good reason for a coach to favor a player is that he's acting wisely.  That player is working hard, responding to correction, being respectful, and working with his teammates, in short acting with wisdom.  This kind of behavior often results in a player having favor with his coach or teacher or supervisor.

One good reason for a coach to be angry with a player is that he's acting shamefully.  This person seems to do all the things that displease the coach.  No wonder he's angry!  Players who skip class, break curfew, engage in foolish activities and disrespect their coaches and teammates are acting shamefully.  They deserve and get their coach's anger.

As you prepare for competition in prayer today, ask the Lord for favor with your coaching staff.  Ask Him to lead you to act wisely, not shamefully.

Bible Reading Plan:
Luke 21:29-38
Hebrews 4:1-11

Monday, September 25, 2017

F O C U S
Philippians 3:13

Every athlete I've ever known needed a powerful focus upon his goals in order to achieve his highest performance.  How do we appropriate our faith in Christ toward our life as athletes?  Today's Scripture speaks of these ideas.

In Paul's letter to the Philippians at chapter 3 and verse 13 it says, "But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus."  This is a dynamic principal about the pursuit of goals.

It's obviously hard to focus on your goals as a person or a team if you're constantly looking backward.  That's why he says he forgets what is behind.  Let go of the things that have hurt you in the past.  Forgive the people and forget the hurts.  Don't focus too much on your past successes either.  We can't be successful if we answer today's problems with yesterday's solutions.

He said to strain toward what's ahead.  The short term objectives that we set should be in line with our ultimate goal and should be kept fully in sight.  You can't play a whole season of games in one day, but you can work to win the one game you have to play today.  The short term objective is immediately ahead of you on the road to achieving your ultimate goals.

He also said to press on toward the goal.  You have a great opportunity to do that today.  Focus clearly on the goals you've established as a team and pursue them with great vigor.  Do as he said and strain toward what is ahead.  A clear vision of your team goals will add to team unity, teamwork, success and even increase the fun in playing.  Press on toward the goal!

Bible Reading Plan:
Luke 24:45-53
Hebrews 13:9-25
Proverbs 31
Isaiah 65-66

Sunday, September 24, 2017

G I F T S
John 3:27

What would it be like to be a record holder in your sport, right at the top of your game, only to watch someone else come along and immediately break all your records with apparent ease?  John the Baptist experienced just such a dynamic, but with a lot more poise than most of us could manage.

We read about it in John chapter 3 and verse 27, “John answered and said, ‘A man can receive nothing unless it has been given to him from heaven.’”

You may say, “But I earned every point I’ve scored.”  You certainly have, but John knew that the real stuff of life, the things that have the greatest value are gifts from God in heaven. 

In John’s case, he is the first man in 400 years to speak with authority from God.  That’s impressive, but along comes his younger cousin and immediately eclipses his whole life.  As the people who watched expected jealousy, John exhibited joy and acknowledged God as the giver of every good gift.

Your gifts are much the same.  Much of the grace given to you is nothing you could ever earn.  It’s a gift, not a merit badge.  The ability to play and the opportunity to compete is a gift to be treasured and for which to be thankful. 

As you approach today’s competition, appreciate such gifts, revel in them, and enjoy them to the fullest with a grateful heart.

Bible Reading Plan:
Luke 24:36-44
Hebrews 13:1-8
Proverbs 30
Isaiah 62-64

Saturday, September 23, 2017

A T T I T U D E S
I Peter 5:5-6

How would you describe the attitudes on your team as the youngest players relate to the eldest and to the coaching staff?  Are they respectful and honorable or arrogant and rebellious?  What value does humility have among you?

Peter wrote about these dynamics in his first letter at chapter 5 and verses 5 and 6, “Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders.  Yes, all of you be submissive to one another and be clothed with humility, for ‘God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’  Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God that He may exalt you in due time.”

It’s very common for a young, talented player to come into a program with intentions to take over and to be the leader from day one.  The problem with that is obvious.  That player often discounts the years of investment made by the veteran players.  That kind of arrogance can cause the team’s total collapse.

A healthier attitude is for the younger teammates to keep themselves in respectful relationship to the veterans and to let their play win them the playing time and the positions to which they aspire.  Remember, “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”

Make this a day of great competition.  Compete with humility and grace.  Ask God to put down any arrogance or prideful attitudes in your heart and to replace them with the grace and wisdom that leads to great teamwork.

Bible Reading Plan:
Luke 24:28-35
Hebrews 12:14-29
Proverbs 29:15-27
Isaiah 59-61

Friday, September 22, 2017

L I T T L E   F A I T H
Matthew 8:26

Of what are you sometimes afraid?  Are there some things that bring you fear and rob you of courage?  Jesus’ friends also had some fears. 

In Matthew’s gospel at chapter 8 and verse 26 he records the words of Jesus, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?”
He said this to his disciples as they were on a boat in the middle of the sea, being tossed around by the wind in a furious storm.  The answer seems obvious, “We’re about to drown here!”  Jesus seems to be looking deeper, though.

He points to their lack of faith as the source of their fear.  Faith is an active trust in someone.  The disciples had a less than great trust in Jesus or they wouldn’t have been so fearful of the storm.

In whom do you have an active trust?  The disciples had a less than great trust in Jesus or they wouldn’t have been so fearful of the storm.  Who do you trust when your team is in turmoil and nothing is working?

Continue to build your trust for your coaches and for your teammates.  They’re committed to you.  Even more so, build your trust for the Lord Jesus.  He will care for you on your worst day when you’re overcome with fear.  Actively trust the Lord with today’s competition.  He’s worthy of your faith.

Bible Reading Plan:
Luke 24:13-27
Hebrews 12:1-13
Proverbs 19:1-14
Isaiah 56-58

Thursday, September 21, 2017

L E G A C Y
II Corinthians 3:2-3

Who are the coaches and players in your team’s history that are still impacting your lives today?  Take a moment to recall their names, their faces, their unique gifts and abilities.  They are a heritage for you, like a letter written to each of you to challenge and to encourage.

The Apostle Paul wrote these words in his second letter to his friends in Corinth, Greece at chapter 3 and verses 2 and 3, “You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everybody.  You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.”  Paul’s friends were the living evidence of his passion for people and his love for God.  It’s similar for us.

Players are the evidence of a coach’s skill, passion and commitment.  They are the coach’s legacy, like a letter written on human hearts and bearing his/her signature.  Coaches love to tell the stories of their favorite players from the past.  They are letters known and read by everybody. The players who come through this program behind you will be your legacy.  Your lives, your commitment to sport, the stories shared about you will be a letter written to them.  It’s up to each of us to determine the content of that letter.

The stationery for these letters is most remarkable.  It’s far more durable than paper or even granite, it’s written on the hearts of players and coaches.  Their hearts are immortal and will permanently carry the legacy we leave with them.

As you prepare to compete today, I pray that this passage will encourage you to write the best lines of your legacy on the field of competition.

Bible Reading Plan:
Luke 24:1-12
Hebrews 11:32-40
Proverbs 28:15-28
Isaiah 54-55