Tuesday, June 5, 2018

T e a m   L e a d e r s h i p

What are some of the foundational principles of your sport?  From whom did you learn them?  How many of those principles apply to life beyond your sport?  Today, we’ll hear from Jesus one great life principle as He talks with his team.

This is recorded in Mark chapter 9 and verse 35, “Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, ‘If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all.”  This is totally backward from the way things tend to work in our day.  People today who want to be first, rush to the front and manipulate their way into the most prominent position.

Jesus turns the whole world upside down by outlining these principles of team leadership:
·        He called the Twelve – the most highly committed to Himself.  Jesus communicates with these people strongly and directly.
·        If you desire to be first – take the lowest position with your teammates.  Don’t push your way to the front or demand privilege.
·        Leadership demands that we serve each other and elevate the others on our team.

It’s very simple, I look best in God’s eyes when I make others look good in the eyes of everyone else.  When I promote and elevate my teammates, we all achieve more highly and we enjoy tremendous team unity.  When I elevate myself and promote my own agenda, I diminish my teammates and divide our team.

As you prepare to compete today, search for ways to lead your teammates to victory by serving them and by lifting them up to higher levels of achievement.  Speak to them strongly and directly.  Rather than demanding a privilege or a position, take the lower place and elevate your teammates all the way to first place.

Bible Reading Plan:
Ephesians 3:1-13
Psalms 119:33-40
I Kings 8

Monday, June 4, 2018

P r a c t i c e
Psalm 126:5-6

What part of practice and conditioning seems to be just plain old hard work?  Has such a workout ever pushed you to the point of total exhaustion and even tears?  Today’s scripture relates exactly to that level of physical and emotional expense.

In Psalm 126 and verses 5 and 6 we read, “Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy.  He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him.”

These people knew the pain and hardship of working on a farm in the early spring.  Lots of hours and draining labor.  They also knew the joy and exhilaration of a great harvest in the fall. 

You know the value of grueling practice sessions and punishing workouts.  They produce a fruitful and even fun reward at season’s end.  Those brutal preseason days of conditioning pay off in the postseason with exciting victories.

Invest yourself in tough, intense practices and you’ll reap a harvest of game days filled with joyous wins.  Compete today with confidence knowing that you’ve made the investments that will pay off in today’s contest.

Bible Reading Plan:
Luke 1:57-66
Ephesians 2:11-22
Psalms 119:25-32

Sunday, June 3, 2018

P r a c t i c e
Ecclesiastes 10:10

Why do we have to practice all the time?  Why do we continually run these same drills on fundamentals?  Haven't we attained enough experience to do away with all this repetition?  The Holy Scripture communicates strongly a value for these kinds of activities.

In the Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes, at chapter 10 and verse 10 Solomon wrote, "If the axe is dull and its edge unsharpened, more strength is needed, but skill will bring success."  Obviously he is not just talking about cutting down trees.  The key phrase is, "skill will bring success." 

You have taken years of your life to sharpen your skills.  Your investment of time and hard work to improve your techniques, strength, quickness, shooting, etc... will surely bring success. 

It's always good to do some evaluation and to check the sharpness of your skills.  How sharp am I today?  With a dull set of skills, we must apply a whole lot more muscle and extra effort.  Trust the words of Solomon, sharpen your skills and meet success.

Pray for a sharp set of tools for today's game.  Watch how easily things work when your skills are finely honed and applied to your game.  Be sure to thank God for your tools and their sharpness.

Bible Reading Plan:
Luke 1:39-56
Ephesians 2:1-10
Psalms 119:17-24
I Kings 4-5

Saturday, June 2, 2018

M o r e   P r a c t i c e ?
Galatians 6:9

Do you ever get tired of practice?  Does it seem that all your hours of training and practice seem to go for nothing?  You're not the first to think these thoughts.  In the Bible there is confident reassurance for you and your teammates.

In the Apostle Paul's letter to his friends in Galatia, he writes, "And let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we shall reap if we do not grow weary."  Paul makes an assumption that these people had sown or planted something and they were waiting for it to bear fruit.  You have obviously done some planting!!  All those miles you run in training.  All the practices and hours in the weight room can be seen as sowing seed.  It's only natural to expect something to grow from that.

Paul's encouragement is that we will reap the harvest, if we do not grow weary and don't lose heart.  How do we do this?  As a team you can strengthen each other through encouraging words.  We can speak courage to our teammates through challenge and affirmation.  We can fuel the hearts of our friends by our presence.

Today as you pray and prepare, see the presence and speech of your teammates and friends as fuel for your heart.  Run, shoot and rebound with great power and passion.  Don't lose heart if you're tired, press on, we shall reap the harvest if we don't grow weary and give up. 

Bible Reading Plan:
Luke 1:26-38
Ephesians 1:15-23
Psalms 119:9-16
I Kings 2-3

Friday, June 1, 2018

Proverbs 18:10

Have you ever wanted a refuge, a place to hide from problems or adversity?  I'm sure everyone has at one time or another.  Where does the Christian athlete go when trouble comes?  How do we handle great pressure or turmoil?

In the book of Proverbs at chapter 18 and verse 10 it says, “The name of the Lord is a strong tower, the righteous run to it and are safe.”

How is the name of the Lord a strong tower?  In the Bible the name of a person is equivalent to that person's character or nature.  In this case the name of the Lord is strong like a tower that can protect us from enemies who would attack us.  His name is full of all the attributes of God.  His name is a place of refuge.

Who can find safety there?  The scripture says the righteous run to it and are safe.  We are righteous because of our relationship with Christ Jesus.  He has made us righteous in the Lord's eyes and we have access to the Lord's name, His very nature is put within us.  What a marvelous thought!!  What a great place of safety!  We are safely held in the Lord's arms like we were in a fortified castle.

When you pray and prepare for competition, thank the Lord for His protection of you.  Thank you for His making you righteous in Christ Jesus.

Bible Reading Plan:
Luke 1:1-25
Ephesians 1:1-14
Psalms 119:1-8
I Kings 1

Thursday, May 31, 2018

John 16:1

When has someone said something to you that saved you lots of pain, heartache and suffering?  How did you take the warning?  Today, we’ll hear a warning from Jesus.

Jesus said this to His disciples in John 16 and verse 1, “These things I have spoken to you, that you should not be made to stumble.”

Jesus spoke these words to His disciples just before He was betrayed and arrested, prior to His crucifixion.  He was informing His disciples of the events to come so they would not stumble in the hours to come.

You hear lots of words that are meant to keep you from stumbling.  Among them are administrative rules, sport federation regulations, e-mails from friends, and admonitions from your coaches.  These all keep you from going astray, from wandering off course, they warn us of obstacles in our paths that could cause us to stumble.

Listen carefully when you hear words like this, they are life to you.  Listen to the coaching staff’s words as you prepare to play today.  Those words are life to your team.  They are spoken to help you avoid stumbling and to guide you into victory. 

Bible Reading Plan:
Psalms 108
II Samuel 5-7

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

P o s s i b i l i t i e s
Matthew 19:26

Which of your preseason goals seem to be presently impossible?  Which seem totally beyond your grasp?

In Matthew chapter 19 and verse 26, Jesus says, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

There are times when our dreams are shattered and our goals seem beyond human attainment.  These are the perfect times to turn to God.  God specializes in making the impossible a reality.

Jesus assures us that with men much is impossible, but with God all things are possible.  Nothing is beyond His reach or outside His ability.

As you prepare to compete today, ask the Lord to fill you with His infinite ability.  Trust Him to help you compete at the highest level of achievement possible.

Bible Reading Plan:
Mark 13:14-31
II Corinthians 12:1-10

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

D r e a m s   F u l f i l l e d
Psalm 126:1-3

Take a moment to recall a time when your sport dreams were realized.  Perhaps it was a championship won, a rival beaten or an individual award achieved.  The Bible shares a poetic look at dreams fulfilled in today’s scripture.

Psalm 126 and verses 1 through 3 reads, “When the Lord brought back the captives to Zion, we were like men who dreamed.  Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy.  Then it was said among the nations, The Lord has done great things for them.  The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.”

The writer remembered returning home after a long absence.  It was almost too good to believe, like a dream.  He remembered the laughter and the joyful singing of his friends and family.  The people from surrounding countries were amazed.  Even more, he remembered the source of these blessings.

It’s so much fun for us to see our dreams fulfilled and our goals achieved.  Our mouths are filled with laughter and we exult in every victory.  Those who watch you compete even join in the fun.  Occasionally we’ll even remember to thank the ultimate source of all that’s good… God.

During today’s competition, give your best effort to see your dreams fulfilled and your goals achieved.  Don’t be surprised when people comment like they did in the psalm, “The Lord has done great things for them.”  You can echo their comment in grateful prayer with a wide grin on your face.

Bible Reading Plan:
Psalms 103
I Samuel 21-23

Monday, May 28, 2018

S E L F I S H   P L A Y E R S
Proverbs 18:1

Do you have any teammates who seem to compete for themselves and tend to shun their responsibilities to the team?  Is there anything wrong with separating my personal competition from the rest of the team?  Should I pursue my personal goals if they conflict with the team's goals?

In the book of Proverbs at chapter 18 and verse 1 it says, “He who separates himself seeks his own desire, and quarrels against all sound wisdom.”

If you see a teammate who separates himself from the team, always trying to be an individual rather than part of the team, be sure that he's seeking his own desire.  The danger is obvious to the writer of the proverb.  This person is fighting against everything that makes sense about team activity.

The Proverbs and the whole Bible are written in the context of relationship.  God is our Maker and He knows that we operate best when we work together.  The Lord's wisdom is revealed best when we compete in loving, respectful relationships.  That's what it is to be a team, to have strong relationships with teammates and to seek the best for the team, not for one's self.

As you prepare  for competition in prayer today, ask the Lord to keep you properly related to your teammates and coaches.  Ask Him for the grace to not seek your own desire and so separate yourself from the team.

Bible Reading Plan:
Mark 11:27-33
II Corinthians 7

Sunday, May 27, 2018

S c o u t i n g   R e p o r t
Mark 9:30-32

Can you recall a time when your coaching staff told you something about an upcoming opponent that triggered some questions?  They’re how big?  Are they really that good?  They’re how fast?  Why are we playing them?  Can we compete with them?  Did you dare ask the question or did you bite your tongue, afraid to ask it?  Jesus’ followers had similar thoughts as they heard some tough information from Him.

We read about this in Mark chapter 9 and verses 30 through 32, “They left that place and passed through Galilee.  Jesus did not want anyone to know where they were, because he was teaching his disciples.  He said to them, ‘The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of men.  They will kill him, and after three days he will rise.  But they did not understand what he meant and were afraid to ask him about it.”

These men heard some very distressing news from Jesus and were immediately full of questions.  They didn’t understand what was about to happen, but they were sure it was not good.  Why would Jesus even tell them about this?  It’s like your coaches telling you that your next opponent is unbeatable.

The point of such a discussion is to teach and to prepare.  Wise coaches give their teams sobering information about upcoming opponents not to bring them fear, but to lead them to strongly prepare for a great competition.

In today’s competition, apply every bit of information you’ve attained from your coaches, from watching videotape, from each day’s practice and let it all lead you to a great victory.

Bible Reading Plan:
Psalms 98
I Samuel 11-13

Saturday, May 26, 2018

F r u i t   o f   t h e   S p i r i t
Galatians 5:22

Once again we’re talking about character.  The fruit of God’s Spirit in us.  Today’s list of three qualities relates to lifestyle commitments.

In Paul’s letter to the Galatians at chapter 5 and verse 22 he writes, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”  When people talk about you, do the words faithful, gentle and self-controlled come up?

These qualities would be great examples of a transformed life.  Let’s strive to have these things characterize our life styles:
·        Faithfulness - Loyalty and fidelity to commitments and relationships.  Is that you?
·        Gentleness - Not softness, but profound strength under control.  Does your life look like power under control?
·        Self-control - Not controlled by some outside stimuli like conditions, circumstances, people, but by one’s own will.  Are you in control of you?

In today’s competition, let’s show faithfulness as we hold tightly to our commitments and show loyalty to our teammates and coaches.  Let’s display gentleness by harnessing our personal strengths in serving others.  Let’s exercise self-control as we overcome the outside pressures that would rob us of victory.  Make this a day of greatness.

Bible Reading Plan:
Mark 10:1-16
II Corinthians 2

Friday, May 25, 2018

F r u i t   o f   t h e   S p i r i t
Galatians 5:22

We are again talking about inwardly held character qualities with outward expression.  This time they’re relational in nature... dealing with how we relate to our teammates, coaches and friends.

In Paul’s letter to the Galatians at chapter 5 and verse 22 he writes, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”  How would fruit be evident on your life’s branches?

Check your relationships to see if these kinds of fruit are hanging there:
·        Patience - bearing with the unbearable.  Do you know anyone like that?
·        Kindness - Giving the best to the undeserving.  To whom do show kindness?
·        Goodness - Emulating God’s character of moral purity.  Is that evident in your relationships?

In today’s game, be patient with each other’s failings.  Show kindness to each other, sacrifice to give your best to the undeserving.  Be good.  Express yourself with purity of motive and intention.  These qualities make for great relationships and for great teams.  Be one today!

Bible Reading Plan:
Mark 16
Galatians 6
Psalms 118
II Samuel 23-24

Thursday, May 24, 2018

F r u i t   o f    t h e    S p i r i t
Galatians 5:22

What are the characteristics of your life that show your true nature?  Do your actions accurately reflect the condition of your heart?  Let’s focus our minds on some inward qualities with outward expressions.  Let’s turn our attention on some transforming character qualities that will lead to victories on and off the field of competition.

In Paul’s letter to the Galatians at chapter 5 and verse 22 he writes, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”  As apples are the fruit of an apple tree, these qualities are the fruit of a lover of God.

These qualities that are held inside a person’s character are expressed in one’s speech and conduct:
·        Love - giving sacrificially to others without expectation of return.
·        Joy - Emotional stability in turbulent times.
·        Peace - Clear minded thinking in the middle of chaos.

In today’s game, employ love for your teammates in sacrificially giving all you have to achieve a win.  Exhibit joy in overcoming the emotional roller coaster that rides through the day.  Rest in the peace that comes with trusting God through the chaos of competition.  Bear some fruit in today’s game, everyone will see the source and they’ll honor your God.

Bible Reading Plan:
Mark 15:42-47
Galatians 5:13-26
Psalms 117
II Samuel 22

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

C o m p a s s i o n
Psalm 103:13-14

Have you ever felt like your coaches or teammates expected more from you than you were capable of giving?  How do you handle expectations that seem unreasonable?  What do you think God expects of us?

In Psalm 103 and verses 13 and 14, we get an idea of how God tempers His expectations of us.  There it reads, “As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him; for He knows how we are formed, He remembers that we are dust.”

God knows exactly what we’re made of and is thus very compassionate toward us.  That’s good news.  He lovingly cares for us like the best possible father would.  Trust Him.

In the world of sport, coaches, teammates, parents, media and others may project expectations that you find unreasonable.  If they really care for you, they’ll also be compassionate and will know what is truly reasonable.  They are the ones you can also trust.

As you prepare to compete today, examine your expectations and those of your teammates and coaching staff.  Give your absolute best effort to achieve each one of them.  Rest assured that those most committed to you will also be compassionate if their expectations go unmet.  They know what you’re made of and love you completely.

Bible Reading Plan:
Mark 15:33-41
Galatians 5:1-12
Psalms 116
II Samuel 20-21

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

R E N E W E D   S T R E N G T H
Isaiah 40:28-29

Where do you find strength for competition when you’ve become weary?  Who is your source of power when your legs, arms, back and even your mind is tired?  Today’s scripture suggests an ideal source.

In Isaiah’s book of prophecy at chapter 40 and verses 28 and 29 we read, “Do you not know?  Have you not heard?  The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.  He will not grow tired or weary, and His understanding no one can fathom.  He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.”

Isaiah is confident of the power and strength of God.  He knows Him as the Creator of the whole universe, possessed of limitless ability and infinite might.  That builds his confidence as he knows God to be gracious and giving of those same attributes.

Everyone who competes becomes weary and feels a loss of power and strength.  That is the perfect time to trust God and to commit more than ever to your relationship with Him.  He freely gives strength and power.  He delights to do so as we simply ask for it and trust Him to supply all that we need.
In your preparation for competition today, ask God for a transfusion of His power in your body.  Petition Him for a gift of strength and wisdom for your mind.  Pray for and seek more of His love and mercy in your spirit.  He’ll answer you from His limitless supply, right on time.

Bible Reading Plan:
Mark 15:16-32
Galatians 4:21-31
Psalms 115
II Samuel 18-19

Monday, May 21, 2018

A   B l a n k    C h e c k
Matthew 18:19

What would you do if you were given a blank check and allowed to write in the amount?  Would you write in a big amount or a more modest number?

Matthew records Jesus as saying this at chapter 18 and verse 19, “Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven.  For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.”  This verse sure sounds like a blank check onto which we can write our names as payees and can fill in any amount we want.  What amount would you write?  Champions...MVP...Coach of the Year?

Upon closer inspection we find that when two or three of us get together and pray about something, our Lord joins us with His presence and we find our desires and attitudes changing to match His.  We begin to see from His perspective and to desire His will.  We pray in line with His desires for us and we see God the Father answering our prayers.

In preparation for today’s game, as you pray together, realize that the Lord is present among you.  Let the assurance of His presence bring you confidence and courage.  Go ahead and ask Him to do something, the blank check may just get cashed.

Bible Reading Plan:
Mark 15:1-15
Galatians 4:1-20
Psalms 114
II Samuel 16-17

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Proverbs 17:10

How do you respond to your coach's correction?  How do you react when a teammate tells you your technique needs improvement?  The answers could reveal a lot about your character.

In the book of Proverbs at chapter 17 and verse 10 it says, “A rebuke goes deeper into one who has understanding than a hundred blows into a fool.”

How deeply impressed would you be by 100 blows to your back?  Pretty deeply I suppose.  For athletes this may be 100 laps around the gym floor.  I hope it wouldn't take 100 to make an impression.  For fools it seems that it takes 100 blows to make a good impression.  For people of understanding, it takes something else.

The scripture says that a rebuke makes a greater impression on a person of understanding that running 100 laps would.  One correction to a wise person is of greater effect than doing 100 ups-and-downs.  One closed door conference with the coach goes deeper into the smart player than 100 trips up and down the bleachers.

In today's prayer time, ask the Lord to make you a person of understanding.  Ask Him to give you an attitude of humility and wisdom. 

Bible Reading Plan:
Mark 14:66-72
Galatians 3:15-29
Psalms 113
II Samuel 14-15