Wednesday, January 31, 2018

John 14:27

From where does peace come for your life?  Is it found in quiet weekends with your family?  Maybe you get it from music or good books to read.  Could it be there is a source of tranquility that is internal rather than based on circumstances?

Jesus talks about such a source of peace in John chapter 14 and verse 27.  It reads, “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you.  Let not our heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”

Jesus was about to leave His disciples and was walking straight toward His death.  Everyone around Him was scared to death!  They needed someone to give them some peace.  Jesus stepped up and gave an extraordinary kind of reassurance.

The world gives peace in rather weak ways.  The world gives peace externally…it’s easily brushed off.  The world gives peace temporarily…constantly in need of refreshment.  The world gives peace with strings attached…there’s a hook on the end of that line.

God’s peace calms our fears and erases our anxieties.  He gives peace like Jesus demonstrates here on the last day of His earthly life.  He was unhurried and unafraid.  His peace is internal and won’t wear out with time.

Play today’s game with this sense of peace ruling your life.  Play like Jesus; unhurried and unafraid.  May the Lord’s peace be yours in today’s contest.

Bible Reading Plan:
Psalms 13
Genesis 32-33

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Acts 11:23

Payday for coaches comes when they see evidence that their team “gets it.”  When they see that the team understands and does what they want, that’s as good as it gets.  They’re enthused, happy, thrilled and renewed in their commitment to the team.  Today’s scripture shows us an example of this dynamic.

In the book of Acts at chapter 11 and verse 23 we read, “When he arrived and saw the evidence of the grace of God, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts.”  Paul was thrilled to see these people doing so well and encouraged them to love God with all their hearts.

Paul the Apostle and your coaches know that doing things with all our hearts is the key to achievement.  He saw evidence that his goals for them were being achieved and it thrilled him.  Your coaches see such evidence in you and they encourage you to give all your hearts in pursuit of your goals.  These are the great rewards of coaching.

I’d like to join Paul and your coaching staff as we encourage you to give your absolute best today.  Compete in total abandon.  Pursue a victory with all your heart.  Sell out 100% to your teammates, your coaches and to pursue God’s best.

Bible Reading Plan:
Matthew 5:13-20
Acts 7:39-60

Monday, January 29, 2018

Joshua 1:6-7

When does your sport demand courage of you?  Is it when you face superior competition?  Does playing through injuries require courage?  Is courage a factor in overcoming fatigue?  What role does courage play in overcoming adversity?  Today’s scripture links strength and courage in a powerful combination.

In the historical book of Joshua in the first chapter and verses 6 through 7 we read, “Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their forefathers to give them.  Be strong and very courageous.  Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or the left, that you may be successful wherever you go.”

Joshua had just taken leadership of his people after Moses had died and this was what God told him as he assumed this most intimidating role.  Twice God said to be strong and courageous.  The second time He said to be very courageous.  Courage would obviously be a most important quality for Joshua’s leadership.

What are the situations in today’s competition that may require you to be strong and very courageous?  You probably thought of some as we opened the issue earlier.  Some of those could be as scary to you as replacing Moses would have been to Joshua.

The Lord’s word to you today is the same as it was to Joshua, several millennia ago.  He would say, “Be strong and very courageous.”  Walk boldly into today’s competition with strength and confidence.  Take on your opponent with great courage and determination to win.

Bible Reading Plan:
Psalms 9
Genesis 25-26

Sunday, January 28, 2018

I Corinthians 9:24

Competition is a great thing as it moves people to greatness and beyond mediocrity.  The Bible is full of instances where the life of faith is likened to an athletic contest.  One of those follows.

In First Corinthians chapter 9 and verse 24 it says, "Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize?  Run in such a way as to win the prize."  I like that!  It's said very simply, "Run in such a way as to win the prize."

Your coaching staff has outlined for you the way to win the prize today.  Your part is to run that way.  Your part is to follow their direction and to compete to the greatest extent of your ability.  Invest all that you have and all that you are in the pursuit of the team's goals. 

As you compete today, do so in such a way as to win!!!  Strive to honor Him in all that you do.

Bible Reading Plan:
Matthew 4:1-11
Acts 5:1-16

Saturday, January 27, 2018

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

Trash talking on the field of competition has become more and more pervasive in the last few years.  How should we as Christians approach this issue?  The Scriptures are full of wisdom related to speech.  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, our chances of speaking foolishly certainly increase.  You probably know someone who talks too much and in doing so speaks in ways that cause harm to himself or to others.  That's 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 speak when there is nothing to say.  We would do well to speak only when it is appropriate and when the situation is enhanced by our comments.  "He who holds his tongue is wise."

As you pray today, ask the Lord to guard your mouth.  Ask Him to help you control what you say, when you speak and to choose appropriate settings for your speech.

Bible Reading Plan:
Psalms 4
Genesis 12-14

Friday, January 26, 2018

Mark 1:12-13

Do you ever feel isolated, cut off, all alone?  Though you’re surrounded by people, you may still be lonely.  Jesus knew that feeling and we can draw some courage and comfort from his experience.

We read about it in Mark’s gospel at chapter 1 and verses 12 and 13.  “At once the Spirit sent him out into the desert, and he was in the desert forty days, being tempted by Satan.  He was with the wild animals and angels attended him.”

Now I’m sure none of us has ever been sent out into a desert to be the personal whipping boy for Satan, but I’m sure we’ve all known some loneliness.  Notice who cared for Jesus in his loneliness, the text says that wild animals were with him and angels attended him.

Who is with you on your loneliest days?  Probably it’s your teammates.  Who attends to you when you’re at your lowest points?  That’s probably friends and family.  The loneliness comes to everyone; the issue is how we deal with it.

As you prepare for today’s competition, lean on your teammates and coaching staff for support in the same way Jesus would have depended on those attending angels.  Even in the loneliest moments of this season, look for consolation and companionship from friends and family as an oasis might appear in the desert.  Compete strongly today.

Bible Reading Plan:
Matthew 1:18-25
Acts 2:1-21

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Proverbs 10:17

No one likes to be corrected by his coach or teammate.  Everyone wants to think that he competes at the highest level of his ability every time out.  The problem is, most of us never approach that level of competence and thus need correction.

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

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

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

As you pray today, ask the Lord to give you the grace to heed discipline and to enable you to show all those around you the way to rich, full, abundant life in relationship with Christ Jesus.

Bible Reading Plan:
Matthew 10:1-20
Acts 15:1-21
Psalms 23
Genesis 50

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

F L E E    A N D    P U R S U E
II Timothy 2:22

Can you recall an instance when a great player was disqualified from competition due to poor off-field decisions?  I can think of dozens.  What do you suppose was driving their hearts to make such foolish decisions?  Many times it’s simply the strong, destructive, desires of youth.  Today’s scripture warns us about such desires.

In Paul’s second letter to his friend Timothy at chapter 2 and verse 22 we read, “Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.”

There’s no need to list the evil desires of youth, you probably have a few of them in your mind presently.  The point is to flee from them.  Don’t just stand idly by them, that’s the easiest way to be run over by such things. 

Further, we’re called to pursue four principles of wise living from a pure heart.  Let your pure heart lead you to pursue righteousness – doing what you know to be right.  Pursue faith – actively trust God, your coaches, your teammates, and your friends.  Pursue love – seek the best for others, even at your personal cost.  Pursue peace – work to keep your relationships open and honest. 

As you prepare to compete today, run away from the foolish desires that would compromise your ability to compete well and to contribute to the life of your team.  Pursue the best things of life from a pure heart.

Bible Reading Plan:
Matthew 9:27-38
Acts 14
Psalms 22:12-31
Genesis 49

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Isaiah 59:1

What do you pray about your life in sport?  Do you regularly talk with God about each situation or just when things seem out of control?  Which kind of prayer do you think God hears well?  My answer may surprise you.

Isaiah the prophet wrote about prayer at chapter 59 and verse 1, there we read, “Surely the arm of the Lord is not too short to save, nor His ear too dull to hear.”

It’s exciting to me to know that God doesn’t discriminate between my weakest prayers of panic and my most serene prayers of thanksgiving.  He clearly hears both kinds.  What’s more, He is responsive to both with His strong arm of protection and deliverance.

In today’s competition, invite the Lord into each moment of the game.  Pray during pre-game, asking for His help and protection.  Pray as the competition reaches its height, seeking His power and wisdom for excellence.  Pray after it’s all over, give thanks for the privilege of competing and for the win or the loss.

God’s more than willing to hear from you on your best day or at your worst moment. 

Bible Reading Plan:
Matthew 9:14-26
Acts 13:26-52
Psalms 22:1-11
Genesis 48

Monday, January 22, 2018

II Thessalonians 3:5

When does your heart need direction?  Do you ever feel like you’ve gone adrift or that you’re wandering through life with no clear path?  Today’s scripture will help our hearts to have a road map for living.

In the second letter Paul wrote to the Thessalonians at chapter 3 and verse 5 we read, “May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance.”  Paul is very simple with his directions; he says we should steer toward God’s love and Christ’s perseverance.

God’s love is the source for every good thing in life.  All that our hearts long for can be found in Him.  Let Him direct your heart toward such love, security, peace and joy.

Christ’s perseverance is beyond our wildest imaginations.  He can help us push through the pain of injury, the disappointment of failure, the sting of loss, the ache of loneliness.  The perseverance of Christ enables us to do the right thing even when everything in our minds and our bodies scream that we should just give up.

As you prepare to compete today, follow you heart as God directs it toward His love and the perseverance of Christ.  The best things in sport and all of life are awaiting your arrival.

Bible Reading Plan:
Matthew 9:1-13
Acts 13:1-25
Psalms 21
Genesis 46-47

Sunday, January 21, 2018

G O D ‘ S   W I L L
Mark 3:35

What is it that we as Christian athletes can do to bring about a more intimate relationship with the Lord?  Is there some program to work through, some book to read, a tape to listen to?  What makes for a closer walk with Christ?

In Mark's gospel at chapter 3 and verse 35 Jesus says, For whoever does the will of God is My brother and sister and mother.  Jesus says this just as His family is outside the house, ready to take him home.  They think He's lost His mind and is in need of real help.

Jesus flips the whole idea of who is most closely related to Him by using these powerful words.  He says that the ones to whom He is most closely related are those who do God's will.  People with whom He has no blood relation can enjoy a deep, personal, intimate relationship with the Lord in a way that mere relatives can never even understand. 

Let's join these to whom Jesus spoke and be the Lord's most intimate family members.  Let's do what Jesus says makes that happen.  Let's do the will of God.

As you pray today, ask the Lord to reveal His will to you.  Ask Him to make your relationship with Him rich and personal. 

Bible Reading Plan:
Matthew 8:23-34
Acts 12
Psalms 20
Genesis 44-45