Thursday, September 20, 2018

Proverbs 12:23

As we approach competition, anxiety and worry often burden us.  I’m sure you wonder how you’ll perform, how good your opponents are, how well we know the game plan and more.  While these are legitimate concerns, they can serve to hinder our performance as athletes.

In Proverbs chapter 12 and verse 23 we read, “An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up.”
Anxiety seems to coat our hearts with lead and turns our legs to limp spaghetti.  Suddenly, doubt, confusion and frustration weigh us down.  All these lead to a performance on the court that’s far less than our best.

There is also a great promise in this verse.  It says that a kind word cheers one up.  Encouragement is a powerful tool for the athlete.  A simple word, a kind expression, a well-timed compliment can put a charge into a teammate or a coach, thus lifting the weight he’d been carrying.

As you pray and prepare tonight, ask the Lord to help you see just the right moment to encourage your teammate who’s being assaulted by frustration, doubt or discouragement.  Your kind word could cheer him up and make a great difference in the competition.

Bible Reading Plan:
Luke 23:50-56
Hebrews 11:17-31
Proverbs 28:1-14
Isaiah 51-53

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Deuteronomy 28:10

Have you ever seen an athlete compete who seemed to be completely in his or her own league?  No one else in the game seemed to be 1/2 the player in comparison.  That happens at times on the field of competition, but sometimes it's not just about athletic abilities.  Sometimes we meet a person like Moses writes about.

In Moses' book called Deuteronomy at chapter 28 and verse 10 it says, "Then all the peoples on the earth will see that you are called by the name of the Lord, and they will fear you."  Moses knew that when these people honored God by their obedient attitudes and actions, they would be honored by God. 

It's God's way to have people who honor Him to be noticed and revered by those around them.  In some cases the identification with God's name even causes fear in people.  Don't be surprised if your team is now intimidating to some of your opponents... that's what Moses said would happen.

Compete with confidence and power.  You may even see some people being awestruck by the way your team plays.  Play with great heart and let the world watch in amazement!

Bible Reading Plan:
Luke 23:44-49
Hebrews 11:1-16
Proverbs 27:15-27
Isaiah 49-50

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

I Corinthians 3:6

Who has been the strongest influence on your athletic career?  Has there been more than one person who has made a significant impact in making you the player you've become?  Today's scripture speaks about compounded influence.

In Paul's first letter to his friends in Corinth at chapter 3 and verse 6, he writes, "I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow."  Paul wrote in farming terms, we'll talk in athletic language.

Growing an athlete is like farming. In the growth process of a crop, there's the obvious collaboration between those who plant, cultivate, irrigate and harvest.   In athletics it's equally true.  In the growing of a champion, we see the compounding influences of parents, high school coaches, coaches from camps, teammates, opponents, college coaches and so on.

This is also true in the building of one's character spiritually.  Parents, teachers, pastors, priests and friends all walk beside us on the way to a rich life in Christ.

Let's honor our eternal architect in this day's competition.  Let's make each of our mentors and contributors proud through a great performance and outstanding character.

Bible Reading Plan:
Luke 23:38-43
Hebrews 10:19-39
Proverbs 27:1-14
Isaiah 46-48

Monday, September 17, 2018

John 2:24-25

With whom are you more likely to spend some time in conversation after a hard fought game, the first-time spectator or the friends and family who have invested years of life and love into your career?  Seem like a silly question?  Many athletes act like they don’t know the answer. 

Jesus knew very well how to answer and in John chapter 2 at verses 24 and 25 we hear how He sees people.  “But Jesus did not commit Himself to them, because He knew all men, and had no need that anyone should testify of man, for He knew what was in man.” 

This simply means that Jesus stayed aloof from the uncommitted and shallow.  He would not commit Himself to those who just wanted a show.  He wouldn’t give the same time to the first-time ticket buyer at a game as He would those among the family who had committed themselves long ago.

It should be the same with us.  Don’t commit yourself to the first clown to come around wearing your team’s colors and screaming at ball games.  Be a little discerning.  Look around to see who is paying the dues of commitment, investing the years, driving the miles and shedding the tears for your life.  Those are the ones in whom you can deeply trust and to whom you’d be wise to commit your own life.

Make some commitments on the field of competition today.  Invest in your team, your coaches and your family. 

Bible Reading Plan:
Luke 23:32-37
Proverbs 26:17-28
Isaiah 44-45

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Romans 12:10

What sort of person would be worthy of honor if he/she walked into this room right now?  A Hall of Fame player or coach?  The President?  The Pope?  How much do you honor your teammates?  How devoted are you to your team?

Paul writes about this idea to his friends in Rome at chapter 12 and verse 10, "Be devoted to one another in brotherly love.  Honor one another above yourselves."  Paul challenged his friends with these words and I will do similarly today.

Here we're challenged to be devoted to our teammates like we're family.  Further, we're challenged to honor each other above ourselves.  Let's give the same level of honor to our teammates that we would to people of position and authority.  Let's sacrifice our preferences for the greater good of the team, the family.

In today's competition, devotion and preferential honor will lead to a great performance by our team.

Bible Reading Plan:
Hebrews 9:11-28
Proverbs 26:1-16
Isaiah 42-43

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Proverbs 10:23

What do you do for sport?  I know guys who go fishing for sport, some hunt for sport, and some play golf.  What do you do?  Sport is the active pursuit of pleasure and fulfillment. 

In the book of Proverbs at chapter 10 and verse 23 we read, “Doing wickedness is like sport to a fool; and so is wisdom to a man of understanding.”

How could doing wickedness be like a sport?  Have you known any fools?  Lots of people I know seem to find great pleasure and fulfillment in activities that leave them with hangovers and social diseases.  They brag about doing foolish things in the same way you might boast about a career day of personal records and championships.  Fools find pleasure and fulfillment in things that dishonor God and ruin their lives.

The powerful message of this verse is that living wisely is equally pleasurable and fulfilling to the person of wisdom.  Doing things that honor God and serve others is like a sport to those who display wisdom.  A life of wisdom is not boring and passive; rather it’s full of power, activity and adventure, like a sport!

As you pray today, ask God to make you a person of wisdom and to make your life rich with pleasure and fulfillment. 

Bible Reading Plan:
Luke 23:13-25

Hebrews 9:1-10

Proverbs 25:15-28

Isaiah 40-41

Friday, September 14, 2018

II Corinthians 1:21-22

What is there in your sport that gives you a sense of belonging?  What makes you feel like you belong to the team or the organization?  Maybe your uniform does that or signing a letter of intent.  These are simply a foreshadowing of good things to come.  Today’s scripture speaks of similar ideas.

In Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians at chapter 1 and verses 21 and 22 we read, “Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ.  He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.”

When a person is in relationship with Christ Jesus all these things happen in our hearts.  We’re enabled to stand firmly; he marks us as his own and puts a portion of his own Spirit in our hearts.

That’s similar to what happens on sport teams.  We have coaches and teammates who enable us to stand firmly and to compete well.  We wear uniforms that declare our allegiance to a team.  We even begin to experience the best things of our sport during practices and early season games, each of them small deposits of what we trust will be postseason successes.

As you compete today, rest in the assurance that comes with being chosen for this team.  You have and will continue to experience in your hearts the best parts of sport as you stand firmly with your teammates.

Bible Reading Plan:
Luke 23:1-12
Hebrews 8:7-13
Proverbs 25:1-14
Isaiah 37-39

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Matthew 7:26-27

What are the foundational principles upon which your sport is built?  Do they appear to be wise or foolish?  How enduring will the lessons you learn from sport be?  Today’s scripture contrasts foundations, foolishness and wisdom.

In Matthew chapter 7 and verses 26 and 27 it reads, “But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand.  The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”

When you were on the beach last summer, did it seem like a safe place to build a house?  Of course not.  The tide alone would wash it away.  Throw in an occasional hurricane and you’d have to be a fool to build there.  That’s Jesus’ picture here.  The house has no foundation to withstand the wind, rain or floods.

A house or a team built on sand is one that has awareness of the principles for success, but doesn’t employ them.  Knowledge without application is empty and leads to destruction.  In the story the house and all its inhabitants would be swept away in the great crash.

We probably all know athletes and coaches whose foundations crumbled and they suffered a tremendous crash.  If we’re fortunate we also know people who have wisely built their athletic careers on strong foundations.  Which will you be?

In your time of prayer today, ask the Lord to lead you to wisdom and away from foolishness.  Ask him to help you build wisely upon the solid foundations of faith, hope and love.

Bible Reading Plan:
Luke 11:63-71
Hebrews 8:1-6
Proverbs 24:23-34

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Hebrews 11:39-40

How many Hall of Fame members or All Americans end their athletic careers without the ultimate championship for which they had hoped and competed?  Certainly the number is staggering, just think of the great competitors from your sport who never won a championship.  They and many others had stellar careers, but had one achievement left undone.  The Bible speaks of such hope unfulfilled.

Hebrews 11 and verses 39 and 40 says, “And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise, God having provided some thing better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us.”  These melancholy words follow 38 verses that list the names and accomplishments of the Bible’s Hall of Fame. 

There is a key element for a life of achievement that we can draw from this passage.  Though these great people had their lives come to a close without the fulfillment of their hopes and dreams, they were faithful and now enjoy rich, fulfilling life with us in Christ.

Similarly, when you consider the Hall of Famers and All Americans from your sport, many of them finished with goals unachieved and aspirations unattained.  Like the Bible’s Hall of Famers, they too join in our achievements and our successes.  They find great satisfaction in watching you compete and seeing you succeed.

As you compete today, give your absolute best effort and you’ll be a great part of fulfilling the unrealized portions of your predecessors’ careers.

Bible Reading Plan:
Luke 22:54-62
Hebrews 7:11-28
Isaiah 31-33

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

T R A S H   T A L K I N G
Proverbs 10:19

How much trash talking do you hear on the field of competition?  I can’t help but believe there are some players who run their mouths all the time.  How should we think about such speech?  The Bible is full of wisdom related to this and one such verse follows.

In Proverbs chapter 10 and verse 19 it says, “When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise.”

As we speak more and more words, our chances of speaking foolishly certainly increase.  You probably know someone who talks too much and in doing so speaks in ways that can cause harm to her or to others.  That is what is meant by “sin is not absent.”  Talk long enough and the best of us will sin with our tongues.

The other side of this is that when we remain silent in certain discussions, we display an uncommon wisdom.  Some people talk when there is nothing to say.  We would do well to speak only when it’s appropriate and when the situation is enhanced by our comments.  “He who holds his tongue is wise.”

As you pray in preparation for competition, ask the Lord to give you control of your speech.  Ask Him to fill your mouth with encouragement and wisdom, not criticism and foolishness. 

Bible Reading Plan:
Luke 22:47-53
Proverbs 23:19-35
Isaiah 29-30

Monday, September 10, 2018

John 2:5

In whom do you most strongly trust?  Your parents?  Your coaches?  Your closest friends?  If you were Mary, how much would you trust Jesus?  Let’s see how much she trusts Him.

In the Gospel of John at chapter 2 and verse 5 we read, His mother said to the servants, “Whatever He says to you, do it.”
While at a wedding with friends, the host had run out of wine and Mary was asking Jesus to do something special to lessen the host’s embarrassment.  He asks her to back off a little bit, then her trust of her Son shows in her instructions to the servants.

How much do you trust your coaching staff?  As much as Mary trusted Jesus?  You are probably thinking that Jesus is not our coach!  True, but the principle is the same.  This kind of trust rests in the knowledge of the trusted one’s love, respectability and competence. 

You can have that kind of trust in your coaches.  They do care for you deeply.  They are fully respectable.  They are completely competent.  You can also trust your teammates for the same reasons. 

In today’s competition, trust completely in your coaches and teammates.  Then when they give instructions and call plays, whatever they say to you, do it.  Have a tremendous game today.

Bible Reading Plan:
Hebrews 6:13-20
Proverbs 23:1-18
Isaiah 27-28

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Psalm 90:17

In Psalm 90 we read the prayer of Moses.  At verse 17 we read, "May the favor of the Lord our God rest upon us; establish for us the work of our hands- yes, establish the work of our hands."  This is the prayer of one of history's greatest leaders.

He asks for God's favor to be upon him, what would that be?  How do we see God's favor in our lives?  What makes an official give you a call in a charge / block situation?  Why does the football bounce to you, rather than away from you sometimes?  Why does your instructor give you a break in class when he doesn't have to?  Sometimes it's the favor of God upon you.

How would God establish the work of our hands?  What do you do with your hands that God should care to establish?  How many hours have you spent in the weight room?  How many miles have you run this year?  How many free throws have you shot during practices?  It's God's way to establish the hard work and effort we make by bringing them to full fruition. 

Let's join Moses in praying for God's favor and for His power to establish the work of our hands. 

Bible Reading Plan:
Luke 22:31-38
Hebrews 6:1-12
Proverbs 22:17-29
Isaiah 24-26

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Romans 12:9

Who is there in your life who loves sincerely?  Your parents?  Your teammates?  Your best friend?  How is sincere love expressed?  The Apostle Paul has some ideas in today's scripture.

In Romans chapter 12 and verse 9, Paul writes to his friends saying, "Love must be sincere.  Hate what is evil; cling to what is good."  In this passage Paul gives us an idea of the nature of real, sincere love.

Paul says that a sincere or pure hearted love will lead us to hate what is evil, that is things that harm people.  There are plenty of evil things that surround an athletic team, just think about everything that could creep into your team and harm various ones.

He also says that a pure hearted love will lead us to hold tightly to things that improve our lives and the lives of those we love.  That's what it means to cling to good.  What are some things to which you can cling that will enhance the lives of your team?

In today's contest:  Hate what is evil - things that will hurt your team.  Cling to good - attitudes and behavior that leads to victory and teamwork.  Let these values lead you to excellence today.

Bible Reading Plan:
Luke 22:24-30
Hebrews 5
Proverbs 22:1-16

Friday, September 7, 2018

Proverbs 10:17

Who among us likes to get his or her ear chewed off by the coach?  Who enjoys correction?  Obviously everyone wants to think that he or she competes at the highest level of his or her ability each time on the track.  The problem is, most of us never approach that level of competence and thus need correction.

In Proverbs chapter 10 at verse 17 we read, “He who heeds discipline shows the way to life, but whoever ignores correction leads others astray.”

We’ve probably had teammates who ignore the correction that the coaching staff gives them.  They give verbal agreement when the coach is speaking, but go on doing everything the way they were before.  This scripture says that in doing that they do a great disservice to not only themselves, but to the whole team.  Here it says they lead others astray by their actions.

The promise of this verse is that if we listen closely to discipline, or correction, we will show others the way to life.  When we make adjustments as corrected by our coaches, parents, pastors, friends or teammates, we provide a rich example of humility and grace to those around us.

Pray and ask the Lord for a gracious attitude that accepts correction and shows the way to life for your team.  Compete greatly today!

Bible Reading Plan:
Luke 22:14-23
Hebrews 4:12-16
Isaiah 17-20

Thursday, September 6, 2018

I Corinthians 3:18

What is your standard for greatness, for intelligence, for wisdom?  How are these things measured in the world?  Real wisdom is measured differently.

In the Apostle Paul's first letter to his friends in Corinth at chapter 3 and verse 18, he writes, "Do not deceive yourselves.  If any one of you thinks he is wise by the standards of this age, he should become a 'fool' so that he may become wise."  Paul calls us to change the standards by which we measure things.

No one would look at former N.B.A. star Spud Webb and think that he would be a Slam Dunk Champion.  He's 5'-7" tall.  By normal measures only a fool would say he could succeed in such a venture.  But there was more to Spud than could be measured with a tape.

It's the same with us and how we approach our competition.  If one was to measure our team just in terms of years of experience, national championships and other standards of this age, we wouldn't seem to have a chance.  Today we can confound the wise with our foolish ways and beat the experienced and talented at their own game.  Let's pull a Spud Webb and set the world on its ear with a day of greatness.

Bible Reading Plan:
Luke 22:1-13
Proverbs 21:1-16
Isaiah 14-16

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Matthew 7:13-14

As an athlete, yours is a special privilege into which only a few people can enter.  Don’t lose sight of that privilege or its responsibilities.

In Matthew chapter 7 at verses 13 and 14 we read Jesus’ words, “Enter through the narrow gate.  For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.  But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”

Achievement of greatness is rare thing.  In only requires a small gate to accommodate those who go that way.  The road is also straight for them because they have direction, purpose and goals.  This is the path that leads to life in its fullest sense.

Mediocrity requires a very wide gate, as there are so many flooding through.  The road of the mediocre meanders broadly as its travelers lack vision, foresight and leadership.
Let’s choose to enter through the narrow gate and walk the straight road of greatness.  Let’s have purpose, direction and vision.  Let’s walk the path that leads to life.

Come to think of it, lots of teams approach competition and walk through the gate of mediocrity.  Don’t be one.  Enter through the narrow gate and compete like a champion.

Bible Reading Plan:
Hebrews 3
Proverbs 20:16-30
Isaiah 11-13

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Proverbs 10:12

Does your team seem divided at times?  Is strife at work to tear your teammates apart and to cause disharmony?  How do we bring about the healing of relationships and the restoration of teamwork?

In Proverbs chapter 10 and verse 12 it says, “Hatred stirs up dissension, but love covers all wrongs.”  Hatred seems like such a harsh word for the things that we see dividing our team.  Most people wouldn’t admit to hating anyone.  Look at what causes the strife on your team and you’d probably say it’s selfishness, which is simply a soft word for hate.

The good news is that there’s a solution.  According to the scripture, love covers all wrongs.  Not just a few wrongs all of them.  What a powerful thing love is!  What’s more, it’s proven in the life of Christ.  His love for us has covered our transgressions for all time and has ushered us into an eternal relationship with God.

Love is the key to good relationships on your team.  Let love, selfless giving to each other, counter the strife born of selfishness.  Let love rule your conduct in practice, on the field of competition and in the classroom.  Cover your teammates’ shortcomings by loving them and seeking their best, even when it comes at your cost.
Let the love flow and compete like a champion today!

Bible Reading Plan:
Luke 21:20-28
Hebrews 2:10-18
Proverbs 20:1-15
Isaiah 9-10

Monday, September 3, 2018

Romans 12:3

Do you wonder from time to time how you'll match up with your competition over the season?  How good a player are you in relation to others on your team or on your opposing teams?  The older I get the better athlete I was.  The Bible calls us to have sober judgment about ourselves.

In Paul's letter to the church at Rome, at chapter 12 and verse 3, he writes, "For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you."

To have sober judgment is to think clear-mindedly about our abilities, skills, and our team's potential.  As we approach this season's games, let's not flatter ourselves and live in self-deceit regarding our team.  Conversely, let's not have expectations of ourselves that are too low.  Let's think clearly and set goals for our team and for each member that challenge us to achieve greatly with reasonable chances of success.

Compete today with clear-minded expectations.  Achieve greatly as you exercise sober judgment in evaluating your opponents.  Be champions today.

Bible Reading Plan:
Luke 21:1-19
Hebrews 2:1-9
Proverbs 19:15-29
Isaiah 6-8

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Romans 12:1-2

Metamorphosis is the process of transformation from a caterpillar into a butterfly.  What a marvelous, mysterious thing.  We can see it in insects, but can we see a similar thing in people?

Paul writes to his friends in Rome about metamorphosis in Romans chapter 12 and verses 1 and 2.  "Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God-this is your spiritual act of worship.  Do not conform any longer to the pattern of the world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind."

How can people undergo metamorphosis?  Paul says that it comes by the renewing of one's mind.  Like a caterpillar inside a cocoon, it's a process that works from the inside out.  With people, we don't build cocoons, but our minds are changed as a part of a long process.  We begin as unlovely as caterpillars, we offer our bodies as living sacrifices, we resist the conforming nature of the world and we're transformed in our thinking, suddenly we emerge as beautiful as butterflies.  We've undergone metamorphosis as people.
Let's look to God for the transforming power of His grace to change us, from the inside out.  Let's ask Him to make us ready for this day's competition, for great teamwork and for lives that honor Him every day.

Bible Reading Plan:
Luke 20:41-47
Hebrews 1:10-14
Proverbs 19:1-14
Isaiah 3-5

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Romans 12:1-2

When you were a child, did you play with Play-doh modeling clay?  Do you remember how it was soft and moldable?  You could form it with a mold or use you hands to squeeze it into most any shape you could imagine.  How much are you like Play-doh?  What pressures in your life squeeze you into strange shapes?

Paul writes to his friends in Rome about being molded by pressures in Romans chapter 12 and verses 1 and 2.  "Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God-this is your spiritual act of worship.  Do not conform any longer to the pattern of the world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind."

Paul tells his friends that the world has a pattern and it will work to make you conform.  We've all seen this in what's called "peer pressure."  There is an unseen pressure that comes from our friends, our culture, just the way the world does things, that tries to make us conform.  The problem is that many times the way of the world is directly contrary to the ways of God.  That's why Paul says, "Do not conform."  His call is for us to be less like Play-doh and more like a rock. 

If the world says, "That's good enough for them..."  Reject that thought, be a rock.  If the world says, "Go ahead, nobody's watching."  Reject the notion, be a rock.  When the world says, "Look out for number one."  Reject that attitude, be a rock.  Don't be squeezed any more by the world's Play-doh mold.  Be a rock that resembles God and His pattern for life.

Bible Reading Plan:
Luke 20:27-40
Hebrews 1:1-9
Proverbs 18
Isaiah 1-2

Friday, August 31, 2018

T H E   C O M P L E T E   P L A Y E R
II Peter 1:3

What one thing could be added to your game that would make you the competitor that you’ve always dreamed of being?  I’m sure you have a short list of things that you dream about having that would make you more complete.  What do you really need to be the most complete person you could be? 

Peter wrote about these ideas at chapter 1 and verse 3 of his second letter, “…as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue.”  All things?  Really?

Yes, really.  God has given us everything that we need… pertaining to life and godliness.  We certainly may be missing some facets of the game that would make us more complete players, but we have been given everything we need to be the people He’s called us to be.

That’s great news.  I can practice, learn, train and compete to become a more complete athlete, but it’s tremendous to know that God has supplied all I need to honor Him with my life through godly living.

As you prepare for competition, remember the great gifts you’ve been given and employ them all in pursuit of a victory.  Remember also the great investment that God has made in you to be the person He has created you to be.

Bible Reading Plan:
Proverbs 14:1-18
Nehemiah 13

Thursday, August 30, 2018

H A T E   W I S D O M   –   L O V E   D E A T H
Proverbs 8:36

When does failure sting the most sharply?  Immediately or after a year or two?  What kind of failure results in personal loss?  Have you ever had a teammate who seemed addicted to failure?  Today’s scripture talks about people who seem to love death.

We again find Wisdom personified in Proverbs 8 and verse 36, “But whoever fails to find me harms himself; all who hate me love death.”

In direct contrast to verse 35’s encouragement about finding wisdom, life and favor; those who fail to find wisdom suffer harm at their own hands.  They could fail because of lack of effort, through being undisciplined or simply by quitting.  You probably know someone who suffered great loss by giving up too easily.

It says that all who hate wisdom, love death.  If we receive life as we attain wisdom, then when we despise it we reveal our bent toward death and destruction. 

In today’s competition, be careful to act wisely.  Don’t miss wisdom’s instructions when they come from your coaches or teammates.  Don’t despise the words of wisdom and so embrace the destruction of your team’s goals and aspirations.  Make this a day of life-filled victory!

Bible Reading Plan:
Luke 18:9-17
II Timothy 4

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Hebrews 11:1

For what do you hope with a great confidence that it will be realized?  A conference championship?  A win in this competition?  A date this weekend?  Your mother’s love?  Of what are you certain without ever having seen it?  Are you certain that the ball will come down after it goes up?  Are you certain that your mother will be there when you go home for break?  That’s what faith looks like.

Faith is defined in the book of Hebrews at chapter 11 and verse 1, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”  Obviously the things for which we hope are just out of reach or it wouldn’t be hope.  Faith is the substance of such things.  Things which we can’t see are often hard to believe, but faith is the evidence that they are real.

As competitors we’d be terribly weakened if we had no hopes, no aspirations, and no expectations of success.  Through faith, active trust, in our teammates and coaching staff we can experience the substance of those things hoped for.  We can touch those achievements that are often months in the future.

We all need faith, active trust, to continue to believe that we can achieve like champions on the days when we fail like losers.  To see the untapped potential in a teammate is the stuff of faith.  To see yourselves as winners during a frustrating practice session is to have evidence of things not seen.  Faith = active trust.
Exercise faith in today’s competition and so achieve like never before.

Bible Reading Plan:
Proverbs 10:17-32
Nehemiah 6

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

John 1:26-27

What would happen if the greatest player you’ve ever heard of came to your practice and wanted to play with your team?  How would you react?  How much respect would he be given?  A similar situation happened one day in Jesus’ life.

In John’s Gospel at chapter 1 and verses 26 and 27 we read, John answered them saying, “I baptize with water, but there stands One among you whom you do not know.  It is He who, coming after me, is preferred before me, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose.”

John the Baptist knew what no one else could grasp on that day.  He knew who Jesus was and he knew the respect that was due Him.  The people who stood there that day had no clue that this young man from Nazareth would in the space of three years die a sacrificial death on a cross in Jerusalem.

Had they been athletes, John might have said that he wasn’t worthy of carrying Jesus’ shoes to the gym.  John knew the respect that Jesus was due, even when no one else recognized Him.

It may be that way with you and your team today.  There could be in your midst, on the field of competition with you, one of the great players of the game.  The important thing is to recognize and respect such greatness.  Your coaching staff may prove to be among the most influential people in your life, give them the respect and honor they are due.  Be like John the Baptist and recognize the wise and honorable people who cross your life’s path.  Have a great game today.

Bible Reading Plan:
Luke 16:1-9
I Timothy 6:11-21

Monday, August 27, 2018

C O M M U N I C A T I  O N
I Corinthians 6:11

Who are the best leaders among your teammates?  Would you say that they communicate freely or rather grudgingly?  Today, we’ll all receive a leadership lesson in communication.

In his second letter to the Corinthian church at chapter 6 and verse 11, the Apostle Paul wrote these words, “We have spoken freely to you, Corinthians, and opened wide our hearts to you.”  This is the nature of good leadership – free and open communication.

In the first century and in the 21st century, good leadership comes from the open hearts of leaders.  When leaders are open and honest with their teams, following is rather natural and productive.  Good leadership speaks freely and from the heart.  Such speech inspires and encourages teammates to be their best.

Take a moment to examine your personal leadership style, is it characterized by an open heart and free communication?  Do your teammates believe you when you speak to them or do they wonder about what you’re trying to get from them? 
As you approach today’s competition, open wide your hearts to each other and your communication will flourish.  Let your open hearts lead you to a great victory.

Bible Reading Plan:
Proverbs 5
Ezra 8

Sunday, August 26, 2018

L I F E   A N D   F A V O R
Proverbs 8:35

What could you look for that upon its being found, pays the dividend of life itself?  What could be so valuable that when it’s attained brings the best stuff of life?  The scriptures have the answer.

In Proverbs chapter 8 and verse 35 we read further about Wisdom personified, “For whoever finds me finds life and received favor from the Lord.”

The proverb says that whoever finds me finds life.  I would infer that not everyone is going to look… there are plenty of fools around… they can’t even spell wisdom!  The person who would be wise will have to search for wisdom and pursue it at all costs.  When one does find it, the payoff is life itself… what a great reward!

Additionally, the one who finds wisdom also receives favor from the Lord.  Favor is often entrance to a most exclusive place of influence…like being a college athlete.  Sometimes it is gracious accommodation of you as a person…like when you get to fly first class when you paid coach fare.  We receive such favor from the Lord as we pursue and attain wisdom.

In today’s competition, find wisdom and find its rich rewards.  Life and favor will be yours as you compete wisely and with all you hearts.

Bible Reading Plan:
Luke 13:22-35
I Timothy 3:1-10

Saturday, August 25, 2018

John 14:6

Where do you look for wisdom about how to do things?  What is the source of ultimate truth?  How do we find real life?  The Bible answers these and many more questions with a one word answer...Jesus.

In the gospel of John chapter 14 and verse 6, Jesus says, "I am the way and the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father but through me."  In pursuing our goals in life and in competition we must know the way to go, the truth to hold on to and the life that satisfies.

Christ is the way - He directs our paths to the right things, the right people, away from things that are harmful to us and toward things that bring us life.  Look to Him for the way to win.

Christ is the truth - He speaks to us the truth about all matters of life.  A life based on lies cannot be successful.  Search God's Word to know real, timeless truth.  Listen for the truth when making decisions moment by moment.

Christ is the life - He gives us life through relationship with Him.  Life that is powerful, exciting, confident, secure, bigger than death and free of fear.  Receive this kind of life and enjoy it!!

Compete today with the great confidence that comes from knowing the right way, the real truth and possessing real life.

Bible Reading Plan:
Luke 20:20-26
Philemon 12-25
Proverbs 17:15-28
Esther 9-10

Friday, August 24, 2018

F A I T H ,   H O P E ,   L O V E
I Corinthians 13:13

What is the most durable thing you can think of?  What is there in your life that will outlive you?  I have some ideas from a powerful scripture.

In the first letter to the Corinthian church, Paul the Apostle writes at chapter 13 and verse 13, "And now these three remain: faith, hope and love.  But the greatest of these is love."  Here are three things that are eternally durable.

Two thousand years from today they will still be as vital and powerful as they are now.  Of the three, love is preeminent because it provides the relationship that is the context for the faith and hope.

Today play with confident expectation of good - that's hope.
Play in faith - actively trusting your coaches, your teammates and your God.  Play in the great freedom afforded by those who love you and are committed to you.

Bible Reading Plan:
Luke 20:9-19
Philemon 1-11
Proverbs 17:1-14
Esther 7-8

Thursday, August 23, 2018

F I E R C E   C O M P E T I T O R S
Psalm 104:21

Have you ever seen an athlete compete like he was stalking his opponent?  When you compete do you do it with passion and ferocity?  Is it possible that these kinds of ideas are in the Bible?

In Psalm 104 and verse 21 it says, “The young lions roar after their prey, and seek their food from God.”  I've read this at times and thought about how athletes sometimes "roar" after their opponents in competition.  Often when I'm competing in athletics it seems like I'm stalking my opponent, preparing to make a kill.

As we compete, like a wild lion, we can fiercely pursue our goals, but ultimately we must seek our food from God.  We must see the Lord as the only source of the kind of food that satisfies.  Food for our souls.

Let's compete today in a way that is like a roaring, young lion.  Let's doggedly pursue our quarry and let's not be satisfied until we've accomplished our goals.  As you pray, ask the Lord to feed your soul with the food that only He can provide. 

Bible Reading Plan:
Luke 20:1-8
Titus 3:9-15
Proverbs 16:17-33
Esther 5-6

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Matthew 7:6

What sort of things do you value most highly?  What are some treasures worthy of protection?

Jesus is recorded as saying these words in Matthew chapter 7 and verse 6, “Do not give to dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs.  If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces.”

 You are in possession of some of life’s greatest commodities: vision, athletic ability, intelligence, friends and leadership skills.  Don’t throw these pearls in the mud with the pigs.  Don’t give these sacred gifts to dogs.  There are people with whom you’re acquainted who are not worthy of your devotion.  They’d only trample your gifts and then turn to destroy you.

 Choose your friends carefully.  Judiciously think about with whom you’ll spend your time.  Invest your time in people with whom you can be influential for good and with people who bring out the best in you.

 As you prepare to compete today, focus on the tremendous gifts you’ve been given by a loving God.  Thank Him for your opportunities and ask Him for the wisdom to value and protect your pearls.

Bible Reading Plan:
Luke 19:39-48
Titus 3:1-8
Proverbs 16:1-16
Esther 3-4