Thursday, November 30, 2017

F I N I S H I N G
John 19:30

Who is the best player you’ve ever seen at finishing a play?  Who is best at finishing the season with strength and charging into the playoffs?  Jesus knew some things about finishing well also.

We read about it in John’s Gospel at chapter 19 and verse 30.  It says, “So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, ‘It is finished!’  And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.”

Here’s a list of good finishers:  Joe Montana with the football and less than 2 minutes to play… he could finish.  Michael Jordan taking a shot for the Bulls at he buzzer… he could finish.  Michael Johnson sprinting to the line in the Olympic 400 meters… he could finish.  Jesus was a better finisher than any of these.

He’s about to die on the cross and He loudly exclaims, “It is finished!”  He had accomplished all that He had come to do.  He had finished 100% of His life goals.

Let’s be like Jesus and finish well in today’s competition.  Let’s not let up or give in until the absolute last play of the game is complete.  We will honor both our team and the Lord with such play.

Bible Reading Plan:
John 11:17-37
I John 3:19-24

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

R E S P E C T
I Peter 2:17

What do players regularly do that is a genuine gesture of respect?  I’ve seen you make complimentary comments after a good play.  Some will point to their teammate after making a good pass.  Maybe it’s a nod or a tip of the cap.  How can we show proper respect for our teammates, coaches, opponents and even the officials?  Why should we even care about that?

Peter understood the value of showing proper honor and respect to people and he wrote about it at chapter 2 and verse 17 of his first letter.  There it says, “Honor all people.  Love the brotherhood.  Fear God.  Honor the king.”

When you hear the word, honor, substitute the phrase, show proper respect.  There are certainly many ways to show proper respect to your teammates during the course of the game.  Peter challenges us to take full advantage of them.

When Peter says that we should honor the king, we think of showing proper respect to those with authority related to our team.  Thus we honor the coaching staff, the game officials and our parents.  Beneath the other statements is the one that fuels all the others.  To fear God is to have a reverential awe and respect for Him.  When we show proper respect for the Creator of the universe, it’s a little easier to honor those with lesser provinces of authority in our worlds.

As you compete today, honor all people.  That will include spectators and the other team’s last reserve players.  Love the brotherhood, your teammates with all your heart.  Fear God, show him the proper respect.  Honor the king, keep yourselves in order and show respect to those who must give an account for your attitudes and actions.

Bible Reading Plan:
Job 10
Ezekiel 31-32

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

E X E C U T I O N
John 13:17

Which is better: to know your team’s playbook inside and out, or the flawless execution of one of those plays?  I think you know and today we’ll hear Jesus talk about how doing is better than knowing.

We can hear Him when we read John chapter 13 and verse 17, “If you know these things, happy are you if you do them.”
This statement comes from Jesus on the heels of His washing the disciples’ feet and telling them that He did it as an example to the.  They certainly thought that was a good idea, but now He says that it’s more important to do it than to just know it as a fact.

It’s the same with your team.  The happiness of great team play comes with the doing of it, not just with knowing the playbook.  You have to score to win.  You have to execute the play to have a chance to score.  Knowing the playbook alone will never result in a score, the game is not played on paper.  You and your teammates have to actually make the play.  Doing it is the key.

In this day’s competition, take your knowledge of the playbook and put it into action.  Make some plays.  Execute each play with discipline and passion.  These make for teamwork, victory and fun.

Bible Reading Plan:
John 9:13-25
I John 2:1-11

Monday, November 27, 2017

T R O P H I E S
I John 2:17

What’s the most enduring part of this game?  Is it the awards won, the championship titles, the trophies or medals?  Probably not.  How about the friendships, the memories and the tests of character that come with competition?  Lots of stuff about the game passes away quickly. 

The Apostle John wrote about the passing nature of the world in his first letter at chapter 2 and verse 17, it says, “And the world is passing away, and the lust with I; but he who does the will of God abides forever.”

Even championship rings and trophies tarnish and lose their luster over time.  As John says, the world is passing away.  He also says that the lust, or strong desire for those things, passes away with it.  That’s true also.  Even the desires for those things eventually wane.

Like the person who does the will of God, the more noble and wise parts of the game pay dividends in our lives for decades and even beyond the grave.  The tests of character and the committed friendships that we develop in the course of athletic struggle shape our whole lives.

Give this day’s competition every ounce of your heart.  Commit yourself fully to your teammates and coaching staff, that’s the will of God for you today.  In doing so, you’ll make an enduring mark in your soul and an abiding investment in each teammate.

Bible Reading Plan:
Job 5
Ezekiel 20-21

Sunday, November 26, 2017

E X A M P L E S
John 13:13-15

As you learned the basics of your game, how important was it to have an example to watch?  How valuable is it to you to have videotape to watch of well-executed plays?  What is the value of having experienced players on your team to demonstrate the proper techniques and skills for excellent play?  These concepts are not new to athletics nor to life in general.  Jesus speaks about such in today’s letter.

We can hear Him in John chapter 13 and verses 13 through 15, “You call me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am.  If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.  For I have given you an example that you should do as I have done to you.”

Jesus’ disciples had just experienced His washing their feet, one by one.  More than just talking about service and humility, Jesus lived it out and provided an example for them.
This is also the best way for coaches and team leaders to teach the values that will guide their team.  To lead with one’s actions speaks more loudly than a thousand hours of talk.

In today’s competition, lead with your actions, even more than your speech.  If you want strong play, play strongly.  If you want encouragement from the bench, you be the one to lead it.  If you want an all out performance from your teammates, you give that for them.  They will learn best when they experience the idea. 

Bible Reading Plan:
John 8:1-11
II Peter 2:10-16

Saturday, November 25, 2017

A U T H O R I T Y
Hebrews 13:17

Who has more authority on your team, the wet-behind-the-ears freshman walk-on or the Head Coach?  Well that should be obvious…  How about between the new graduate assistant and the fifth year captain of the team?  That’s a little tougher.  Let’s consider this matter by thinking about this scripture.

In Hebrews chapter 13 and verse 17 we read, “Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for our souls, as those who must give account.  Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.”

The writer uses two words which are very tough for competitors who are rather independent and strong-willed.  Obey and be submissive. 

Obey – why?  Because our coaches and team leaders are not only responsible for their own actions and attitudes, but for those of the whole team as well.  We owe them obedience because of their incredible investment in us and the great responsibility they carry.

Submissive – why?  Because they have to give an account to people like the administration, to parents, to alumni, to the press and everyone who thinks himself an expert on the game.  They need us to fit in and to keep ourselves in line so that their lives are full of joy rather than grief. 

Let’s work together in today’s competition and bring joy to our team’s leadership.  That will be most profitable for us all.

Bible Reading Plan:
John 13:31-38
Jude 17-25
Job 22
Daniel 10-12

Friday, November 24, 2017

P R O D U C T I V I T Y
John 12:24-25

Which would seem to be more productive: strength and self-sufficiency or sacrifice and interdependence?  That looks easy to the natural eye, but Jesus speaks about supernatural productivity.

In John chapter 12 at verses 24 and 25 we read, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain.  He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.”

Jesus knows something that the selfish and self-sufficient don’t have a clue about.  He knows that protecting one’s self leads to isolation and loneliness.  He also knows that self-sacrifice leads to new life and multiplication of effort. 

It’s the same with your team.  If it’s always “my ball, my position, my possession, my minutes,” you will isolate your teammates quickly.  However, if you give yourself away, sacrifice your preferences and serve everyone else, that will result in a rich life and tremendous influence.

Great team leaders and coaches constantly give their lives away through self-sacrifice and service of their teams.  In doing so they reap a great harvest of team unity and a multiplicity of play makers.  Let’s all be such leaders and play makers today.

Bible Reading Plan:
John 13:18-30
Jude 8-16
Job 21:22-34
Daniel 9

Thursday, November 23, 2017

T E A M   L E A D E R S H I P
Hebrews 13:7

How strongly do you value your team’s leadership?  Is their behavior, on and off the field of competition, something that you would imitate?  Let’s think together about team leadership.

A great lesson in leadership comes to us in Hebrews chapter 13 and verse 7 where we read, “Remember those who rule over you, who have spoken the word of God to you, whose faith follow, considering the outcome of their conduct.”

The way to think clearly about your leaders’ conduct is to consider the outcome of that conduct.  What is the natural outcome of their lives?  If he or she continues along the same line, how will his or her life turn out?  That may help you determine those whom you should imitate and which live seemingly as a warning to the rest.

If you’re a team leader, give some careful consideration to your own life.  Is your life one that you’d like to have the younger players to imitate?  If you’re one of those younger players, give careful consideration to those with whom you’ll spend your time and whose lifestyles you’d be well served to emulate.

Let’s give our teammates great examples to follow on the field of competition today.  Great plays and courageous effort are contagious.

Bible Reading Plan:
John 13:12-17
Jude 1-7
Job 21:1-21
Daniel 7-8

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

F R E E D O M
John 11:43

When was the last time you challenged your teammates to do something spectacular?  How would you speak to a teammate who seems to be trapped in something that has boxed him in?  What words would you use to call your teammate or friend to freedom?  We’ll watch Jesus do just that in today’s letter.

In John chapter 11 and verse 43 we read, “Now when He had said these things, He cried with a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come forth!’”

We might use different words, but Jesus seemed rather effective.  His friend, who had been in the grave for four days, comes walking out.  Jesus called to His friend and Lazarus stepped into a life of freedom.

You can call your teammates out of their graves of despair, injury, illness and defeat.  Many times they’re just like Lazarus, trapped in a hole with no way out on their own.  You may just be the person who can call out that teammate’s name and have him respond in freedom and with renewed vigor.

Call your teammates out with a challenge.  Call to them with compassion and strength.  Our team is lessened when players are displaced, injured or unavailable.  Call them back into active service and help them fill their roles with the team. 

Bible Reading Plan:
John 13:1-11
III John 1-14
Job 20
Daniel 5-6

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

S T R E N G T H
Hebrews 12:12

How has strength and flexibility training improved your game?  In what ways is your team better with it than you would be without it?  Could the Bible have anything to say about such things?  Let’s see.

In Hebrews chapter 12 and verses 12 and 13, we read, “Therefore strengthen the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated, but rather be healed.”

Certainly each player is better able to compete when he or she is stronger and more able to withstand injury than when weak.  Thus we hear the admonition to strengthen the hands which hang down and the feeble knees.

Metaphorically, if we see our team as a body, we must all work together to strengthen our teammates who are tired and those who are diminished by injury.  We all have a role in strengthening them and in making straight paths for their feet.  That means to help them gain strength and health, rather than to put them in situations which will worsen their conditions.

Let’s work together to strengthen our team.  Let’s work together as a well-coordinated body to compete in a strong, unified way. 

Bible Reading Plan:
John 12:37-50
II John 1-13
Job 19
Daniel 3-4

Monday, November 20, 2017

C R I T I C I S M
John 8:7

How do you handle people who criticize your team or your coaching staff?  Who are your strongest critics and how should we respond to them?  Let’s watch how Jesus deals with His critics.

 In John’s gospel at chapter 8 and verse 7 we read, “So when they continued asking Him, He raised Himself up and said to them, ‘He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.’”

Jesus is a very smart guy.  The situation was that a woman was caught in the act of adultery (an offense punishable by death) and they tried to trick Jesus into either condemning her to death or excusing her sin.  He showed great wisdom in doing neither.  He simply reflected their judgments back at them and thereby silenced their accusations.

We all get tired of sports writers, radio commentators and critical spectators, making their accusations and second guessing athletes and coaching staffs.  But how can we handle their criticisms well and wisely?  Let’s learn from Jesus’ example.

Those who criticize and complain can be often silenced by simply reflecting their judgments back at them.  There’s no need to make excuses or to join in the criticism.  Rather than that, simply show the same inconsistencies and errors in the accusers and they’ll walk away in frustration. 

As you compete today, give the accusers no chance for criticism by making this the best effort of the season.  Play at the highest level of your capacity and there will be no room for criticism or complaint.

Bible Reading Plan:
John 12:20-36
I John 5:13-21
Job 18
Daniel 1-2

Sunday, November 19, 2017

C O R R E C T I O N
Hebrews 12:7

What’s the toughest part of your training as an athlete?  Is it the running, the weight training, the diet, video tape study or maybe injury rehabilitation?  Why do your coaches have you continue to do something that is so difficult?  Do they hate you?  I doubt it and today’s scripture will help us see more clearly.

At chapter 12 and verse 7 the writer of the letter to the Hebrews speaks of such difficult training, “If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten?”

Chastening equals discipline which equals loving training.  When we experience the chastening or discipline of our coaches, our parents or even our God, it’s a sign of love not hate.  Just as the best parents both encourage and admonish their children, the best coaches both praise and correct their players.

I would begin to worry when the coaches stop correcting and challenging you.  It probably means that they’ve given up on you or have lowered their expectations to where you really don’t want them.

If we are wise, we’ll listen closely to the leadership given us by our coaches, our parents, our teammates and our God.  Such leadership is an assuring reminder of the loving relationship we have with them.  Play strongly today and reward them all.

Bible Reading Plan:
John 12:12-19
I John 5:1-12
Job 17
Ezekiel 48