Saturday, March 31, 2018

Psalm 51:16-17

What attitudes are most respected and appreciated by your coaches and team leaders?  We’d probably list qualities like a strong work ethic, loyalty, teamwork, a willingness to sacrifice and more.  What do you suppose would be the attitude most respected by God?

The writer of Psalm 51 answers that question very directly in verses 16 and 17, “You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.  The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.”

The writer has found that God’s not really impressed with the normal religious sacrifices.  Rather, God is very impressed with two primary attitudes.  A broken spirit and a contrite heart are of great value to Him.

Those attitudes would serve us well in our pursuit of excellence in sport.  A broken spirit is the very opposite of the arrogance so often seen in highly achieving people of sport.  A contrite heart is essential to maintaining good teamwork.  When one admits his failures or claims the fault for an error to his teammates, he’s exhibiting a contrite heart.

As you compete today, maintain a broken spirit and your attitude will win the hearts of your teammates.  Compete with a contrite heart and you’ll build loyalty and commitment in everyone.

Bible Reading Plan:
Psalms 58
Numbers 28-30

Friday, March 30, 2018

II Corinthians 4:17

Have you ever wondered in your mind, "What's the use, we're not doing very well, why put up with the suffering of losing?"  Maybe you're struggling through an injury that nags your every step and you're wondering when this begins to pay dividends.  The Scripture has some comforting and encouraging words for those days.

In Paul's second letter to the Corinthians in chapter 4 and verse 17 it says, “For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison.”  Sometimes in competition we encounter what seems like far more than "momentary, light affliction."  When illness or injury comes your way, you can choose how we react to it.

It's true that injuries can make us lose heart, become depressed and lose sight of our goals, but it doesn't have to be that way.  The writer of this verse was severely injured many times, but he knew how to make these things work in his favor.

Let the momentary, light affliction of your life turn your attention to your goals and to trusting in God's ability to complete them in you.  Be assured that these hard times prepare us for days of greatness in the future.

The Lord is working in us to make "an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison."  He uses these hard times to prepare us for receiving the glorious times with grace and humility.

Pray to see the Lord's purposes accomplished in your life and in the lives of your teammates.  Trust Him to use affliction and adversity to make glorious times and quality character for us all.

Bible Reading Plan:
Matthew 24:1-14
Romans 7:1-12

Thursday, March 29, 2018

I Chronicles 12:22

Who among your teammates leads in such a way that others will naturally follow along?  What difference does that make in your team’s performance?  In today’s scripture we see great leadership in the person of David.

David’s leadership is described in First Chronicles chapter 12 and verse 22 this way, “Day after day men came to help David, until he had a great army, like the army of God.”

Here’s David, a great leader assembling an outstanding team.  Day after day people joined him in his pursuits.  His team could only be compared with the army of God.  That’s remarkable leadership.

As you prepare to compete today, be the kind of team that defies comparison.  Don’t be satisfied with the most natural comparisons to last year’s team or the team presently leading the conference.  Lead and follow in a way that can only be compared with the army of God.

Bible Reading Plan:
Psalms 55
Numbers 21-22

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Mark 4:39-40

Have you ever had a coach or a teammate who could instantly bring peace and order to a chaotic situation?  Jesus was that guy for His disciples.

Mark records a remarkable story at chapter 4 and verses 39 through 41, “He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, ‘Quiet!  Be still!’  Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.  He said to his disciples, ‘Why are you so afraid?  Do you still have no faith?’”

In the middle of a furious storm, Jesus was sleeping below the deck of the boat.  The panic-stricken disciples woke Him up and thought He didn’t care that they were about to die.  Jesus calmly dealt with the situation and brought calm from the chaos.

As you compete today, there may be times when chaos and turmoil try to take over your team.  There will certainly be some stormy situations that could wreck your team’s ship.  Who will be the one to restore peace and to speak to the situation?

You can be the person on your team to speak to the chaotic situation in order to restore order.  Be the one who says, “Quiet!  Be still!” to the situation that’s bringing fear to your teammates.  Speak confidently and lead your team to a great victory.

Bible Reading Plan:
Matthew 23:1-12
Romans 5:12-21

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Hebrews 13:9

For decades the news has been full of stories about athletes who have resorted to counterfeit sources of strength to enhance their athletic performance.  These counterfeit sources had short-term effectiveness, but in the end led to their disqualification and shame.  Today’s scripture draws a strong distinction between wise and foolish sources of strength.

In the book of Hebrews at chapter 13 and verse 9 we read, “Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings.  It is good for our hearts to be strengthened by grace, not by ceremonial foods, which are of no value to those who eat them.”

Whether they are performance enhancing drugs or even superstitions about pregame meals, these things are of no value to our hearts or to our bodies.  They are counterfeits. 

Rather than trusting in those things, it’s good for our hearts to be strengthened by grace.  Grace is the receiving of something you don’t deserve and could never merit.  We have received abundant grace from God just to be here competing.  We receive grace daily to live and to pursue our goals.

As you compete today, rest in the grace that has been given to you.  Trust in the strength that comes from that grace and compete with all your heart.

Bible Reading Plan:
Psalms 51
Numbers 9-11

Monday, March 26, 2018

Q U I C K   T E M P E R S
Proverbs 14:29

Do you have any short tempered teammates?  Do you know anyone who gets angry at the drop of a hat?  How even tempered are you?  Are you easily angered?  What does God think about these things?

In the Proverbs at chapter 14 and verse 29 we read, “He who is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who is quick-tempered exalts folly”.

To exalt folly is to act as though foolishness is good.  Some people act like being easily angered is a good thing.  They think that they're better competitors when they play in a rage.  They take offense at everything said to them and often draw penalties and technical fouls due to their out of control play.  They exalt folly by their quick-tempered natures.

When you compete with a cool temperament, not easily angered, under control, you display great understanding.  You can think more clearly, make better decisions, have fewer distractions and honor God with your wisdom.  Let's exercise self control as we compete and resist the temptation to lose our temper.

Ask the Lord to keep your temper under control as you compete.  Ask Him for a cool spirit, a mind of understanding and a heart of love for God.

Bible Reading Plan:
Matthew 21:33-46
Romans 2

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Matthew 5:13

Have you ever chewed some gum until the very last drop of flavor was gone?  What did you do with it then?  I’m sure I know.

In Matthew’s gospel at chapter 5 and verse 13 he writes, “You are the salt of the earth.  But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again?  It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.”

What makes salt valuable as a seasoning?  Its distinctive taste seems to be what Jesus is driving at here.  He even says that if it loses its saltiness, its distinctiveness, it’s no good for anything.  You are the salt of the earth.  If you lose your distinctiveness your value to the team is diminished. 

We’d be a pretty bland team if each player was just a clone of all the others. Each player brings a unique flavor to the team and contributes to its success.

As you pray prior to today’s competition, thank God for your unique role on this team.  Thank Him for your teammates and the gifts they bring to your team’s life.  Employ each of those gifts in pursuit of a great victory.

Bible Reading Plan:
Matthew 28:11-20
Romans 16
Psalms 71
Deuteronomy 33-34

Saturday, March 24, 2018

I Chronicles 12:8

How do you describe your teammates and opponents who compete greatly?  You might say things like, “He runs like a ….”  “She’s as strong as an ….”  “That guy is a ….”  You may have dropped in words like, gazelle, ox or animal in those blanks.  The Bible talks about some warriors so fierce that they looked like lions.

We read about these men in the book of First Chronicles at chapter 12 and verse 8, “Some Gadites defected to David at his stronghold in the desert.  They were brave warriors, ready for battle and able to handle the shield and spear.  Their faces were the faces of lions, and they were as swift as gazelles in the mountains.”

I want those guys on my team!  Imagine having teammates whose courage makes them look like lions.  How great would it be to have the athletic grace and speed of gazelles to carry into competition?  That’s how these men are described.

As you prepare to compete today, show the strength of a Clydesdale.  Run like a deer.  Focus as sharply as an eagle and soar over your opponents.  Give your absolute best effort today and leave the description of your performance to the media.

Bible Reading Plan:
Matthew 28:1-10
Romans 15:14-33
Psalms 70
Deuteronomy 32

Friday, March 23, 2018

Mark 4:24-25

How do you measure an athlete’s performance?  What is your standard of measure for a player’s effort?  How do you gauge a competitor’s commitment, loyalty or teamwork?  Jesus had some sobering comments related to measuring such concepts.

Mark recorded these words of Jesus at chapter 4 and verses 24 and 25, “Consider carefully what you hear.’ He continued.  ‘With the measure you use, it will be measured to you – and even more.  Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him.”

Jesus seemed to be more concerned with faithfulness than fairness.  Fairness would have everyone receive and have the same amount of everything.  Jesus rewards those who are faithful with whatever they have.  They receive even more, while those who are unfaithful squander even what they have.

We’ve all seen this in athletes with whom we’ve competed.  The faithful competitor demands the same level of commitment that he gives.  He gives the same measure of loyalty that he asks of his teammates.  He shows the same kind of teamwork that he expects of his teammates.  For the unfaithful, sadly, the principle is still true.  They neither give nor receive sufficiently.

As you compete today, you can expect great commitment and teamwork from your teammates, if you have shown the same every day in practice.  You can expect great loyalty and effort, if you have given them greatly all through the season.  Give your absolute best effort today and watch your teammates reciprocate.

Bible Reading Plan:
Matthew 27:57-66

Romans 15:1-33

Psalms 69:19-36

Deuteronomy 29-31

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Psalm 37:23-24

How secure do you feel in your game?  Is your position on the team rock-solid and secure or a little tenuous?  From where does your security for life in sport and life in general come?

King David shares with us the source of his security in the words of Psalm 37 and verses 23 and 24.  There we read, “If the Lord delights in a man’s way, he makes his steps firm; though he stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand.”

This man was far from perfect; in fact he had some terrible character flaws.  However, he maintained his relationship with God as first priority.  Because of that he was very secure.

Some of us find our security in our strength, speed, skills or technical abilities.  The problem is that none of those will endure for ever.  They will all dissipate over time. 

The key to real security over time is relationship.  As we maintain our relationships with teammates, we find greater security on our team.  As we commit strongly to friends and family, we’re ever more secure off the field of competition.  As we build a deep, loving relationship with Christ Jesus, all of life is upheld by the secure, strong hands of God.

Bible Reading Plan:
Matthew 27:45-56
Romans 14
Psalms 69:1-18
Deuteronomy 27-28

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

II Corinthians 3:2

You're in a unique position to represent your school, your club or your community in the world of athletics.  Even more than that, you reflect your family, coaching staff and others of influence in your lives.  Today's scripture speaks to that dynamic.

In Paul's second letter to the church at Corinth in chapter 3 and verse 2 he says, "You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everybody."  This is a heart-felt affirmation from a leader to his friends.

It's like when you go places, people can see the signatures of the people from whom you've learned and with whom you've worked and played.  They see your mother's smile, your coaches' expressions, and sometimes they see Christ's character.

In today's game, compete in such a way that everyone who's been an influence on you is plainly evident as you represent them with grace, power, excellence and tenacity.  You really are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everybody.

Bible Reading Plan:
Matthew 27:27-44

Romans 13

Psalms 68

Deuteronomy 22-26

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Matthew 5:5

When you think of power under control, what images do you see?  Which people?  What words come to mind?

In his gospel at chapter 5 and verse 5, Matthew writes, “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.”  Most athletes hear the word meek, immediately think weak and don’t want any part of this.  This is a misconception.

Meekness is best described as power under control.  Imagine a powerful, horse being ridden by a skillful equestrian.  This is a great image for one who is meek.  The meek person is possessed of great power, but he’s also very disciplined.

Today’s game will require both great power and tremendous self control.  As you exercise both you will realize the promise in this verse.  Jesus says that the meek will inherit the earth.  There is no limit to our inheritance when we keep our power in check and employ discipline in our quest to achieve.

Drain every ounce of power from your bodies as you play today, focus your minds fully on the game, keep your emotions in check and watch for your inheritance to appear.  Have a great game.

Bible Reading Plan:
Matthew 27:11-26
Romans 12:9-21
Psalms 67
Deuteronomy 18-21

Monday, March 19, 2018

Proverbs 14:12

What would it be like to be going down the road, fully confident of being on the right highway, but you're actually heading straight for a washed out bridge that crosses a 1,000 foot cliff?  The Bible paints a similar picture in one of the Proverbs.

In Proverbs chapter 14 and verse 12 it says, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.”

Just like the road that leads to the washed out bridge and an awful crash, many of our choices can lead us to death or certainly to trouble and heartache.  Most of the time these decisions seem to make good sense... to us.  Our problem is that we lack enough perspective on the situation.  We can't always see that the bridge is out and without a warning, we could plunge right over the cliff.

As you pray before competition today, ask the Lord for the wisdom and grace to accept guidance and instruction from your coaches.  Ask Him for the ability to work well with your teammates.  They can add to your perspective and you can help them to avoid the washed out bridges and the tragedies that lie ahead.

Bible Reading Plan:
Matthew 27:1-10
Romans 12:1-8
Psalms 66
Deuteronomy 13-17

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Hebrews 12:3

Take some time to think of someone you know from sport that inspires you because of how he has endured opposition, but stayed true to his principles.  Do you know anyone like that?  The Bible is full of such characters and today’s scripture points to one in particular.

In the book of Hebrews at chapter 12 and verse 3 we read, “Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”  The author is referring to Jesus Christ as his example of faithful endurance.

Christ endured terrible opposition from nasty people during his life, but held tightly to the guiding light of his life.  We are challenged to consider his example and to gather encouragement for our hearts from him.

We who compete encounter opposition in every contest, that’s normal.  We sometimes even meet opposition from our own minds and bodies as they break down due to fatigue or injury.  Let’s not lose heart as we meet these foes, rather let’s follow Christ’s example, enduring the opposition while our hearts refresh our bodies and sharpen our minds.

In today’s competition, meet your opposition head on.  Consider the examples of others who have endured, do not grow weary or lose heart.

Bible Reading Plan:
Matthew 26:57-75
Romans 11:25-36
Psalms 65
Deuteronomy 9-12

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Psalm 37:5-6

To whom and to what are you most committed?  What do you expect to come from those committed relationships?  Today’s scripture tells of a person who is worthy of such commitment and one who rewards commitment greatly.

In Psalm 37 at verses 5 and 6 we read, “Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.”

As we commit ourselves to God and trust him with the details of life, he’s very faithful to reward us and to even make us look good.  This text says that our righteousness will shine like the dawn.  Just like the rising son, the issues of life become plainer and we know exactly what to do.  It says that the justice of our cause will shine like noonday.  Even those around us will see the shining result of our commitment and trust as we justly pursue God’s will.

In today’s competition, commit everything about yourself to God’s wise care.  He’s fully trustworthy with every part of life, even sport.  Entrust your whole life to him and watch as he strongly supports you in every way.

Bible Reading Plan:
Matthew 26:36-56
Romans 11:1-24
Psalms 64
Deuteronomy 6-8

Friday, March 16, 2018

Mark 3:20-21

Are you sometimes misunderstood by your family and friends because of your high commitment to sport?  Do they occasionally think you’ve lost your mind?  Jesus’ family thought the same of Him.

Mark wrote about a strange incident at chapter 3 and verses 20 and 21, “Then Jesus entered a house, and again a crowd gathered, so that he and his disciples were not even able to eat.  When his family heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, ‘He is out of his mind.’”

Imagine this, here came Mary and Jesus’ brothers and sisters to take him away thinking that he had lost touch with the real world.  I know my parents thought I was nuts when I’d skip meals, run miles in sweat clothes and stay after practice every day, just to be a better wrestler.

You are no doubt misunderstood by classmates, friends and even your family when you make sacrifices, prefer teammate relationships to others who don’t understand your sport, and when you commit deeply to your team’s success over your own convenience or comfort.

That’s what winners look like.  They commit to their teams and coaches in spite of misunderstanding and questioning.  Do like Jesus did and pursue excellence and authentic relationships in today’s competition.

Bible Reading Plan:
Matthew 26:17-35
Romans 10
Psalms 63
Deuteronomy 4-5

Thursday, March 15, 2018

I Chronicles 12:1-2

How would you rate the skills possessed by your teammates and yourself?  Are you so skilled that people will be reading about you in 1500 years?  Such were the abilities of the mighty men of David.

We read about these mighty men in First Chronicles chapter 12 and verses 1 and 2.  There it reads, “These were the men who came to David at Ziklag, while he was banished from the presence of Saul son of Kish (they were among the warriors who helped him in battle; they were armed with bows and were able to shoot arrows or to sling stones right-handed or left-handed; they were kinsmen of Saul from the tribe of Benjamin.)” 

These men were ambidextrous with any kind of implement of battle and were very experienced.  That’s a great team to have if you’re on the run from the king.

I’d like to challenge you to work hard in every facet of your sport.  Continually make constant improvements in your technique, strength, conditioning, mental preparation and teamwork.  Apply yourself fully to every skill and tactic with great diligence. 

Compete skillfully in today’s contest and maybe we’ll be reading about you for a long time.

Bible Reading Plan:
Matthew 26:1-16
Romans 9:19-33
Psalms 62
Deuteronomy 1-3

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

P A I N   A N D   I N J U R Y
II Corinthians 4:7

Why do some athletes seem so fragile?  Some seem to constantly be in the training room with pulled muscles, sprains, stingers, bruises, scratches or other maladies.  Often the greatest players seem to be playing through pain and injuries.  We see a similar picture in the Bible.

In Paul's second letter to his friends in Corinth at chapter 4 and verse 7 it says, But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.  It seems there are three ideas needing investigation here.

1) This treasure:  What is the treasure?  In this case it's the Spirit of God.  The very life God gives us is a treasure.  He puts in us the very life that filled Jesus of Nazareth, a life of power, grace and mercy.

2) Earthen vessels:  Like clay pots, we're rather fragile.  We're easily broken; physically, emotionally, psychologically, spiritually and other ways.  More like paper cups than fine china, we're not the most noble vessels for containing the great treasure.

3) The excellence of the power:  With such a weak container for a marvelous treasure, which do you think is seen as greater, the vessel or the treasure?  If the vessel was perfect, the treasure might be overshadowed.  As it is the vessel is hardly even seen as the treasure eclipses it with its brilliance.

God has chosen earthen vessels like you and me to be carriers of His great treasure.  Thank Him in prayer.  Let's be sure to highlight the treasure and not the vessel.  Ask Him to show the excellence of His power through your life.

Bible Reading Plan:
Matthew 25:31-46
Romans 9:1-18
Psalms 61
Numbers 33-36

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

F R U I T F U L   L I V E S
John 15:4

How successful is a star player without his teammates and coaches?  How well could that player compete if he took on the opposing team by himself?  The answers are obvious and Jesus paints an even clearer picture of our dependence in today’s letter.

In John chapter 15 and verse 4 we read, “Abide in Me, and I in you.  As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.”
What do you call a branch that’s separated from the vine?  Firewood!  It’s no good for bearing fruit if it’s been cut off from its source of life.

It’s the same with the players on a team.  No matter how productive the player has been, he cannot be fruitful if cut off from the team.  The star running back cannot succeed without his offensive linemen.  The outstanding volleyball hitter cannot score without an effective pass and set.  The greatest basketball player cannot compete if the scheme is one on five.

We can only be fruitful if we remain attached to our source.  For us as players, it’s the team and coaching staff that provides us the opportunity to be fruitful as players.  For each of us in life, it’s to stay attached to Jesus.  He’s the giver of real life.  Make this a very fruitful competition by staying firmly rooted in the life of your team.

Bible Reading Plan:
Matthew 25:14-30
Romans 8:18-39
Psalms 60
Numbers 31-32

Monday, March 12, 2018

Matthew 4:19

Who’s the best recruiter you’ve ever seen?  What was it that made him/her special?  How good would Jesus be at recruiting?

In Matthew’s gospel at chapter 4 and verse 19 he writes, “Come, follow me,’ Jesus said, ‘and I will make you fishers of men.’  At once they left their nets and followed Him.”  Was Jesus a great recruiter or what?  These guys left family businesses right there and followed Jesus into a new life.

These guys took a tremendous risk to pursue something they thought was important.  You’ve each done much the same.  You’ve left your families, hundreds of miles away for many of you, as well as friends in pursuit of a diploma and athletics.  You are to be commended for having the guts to take risks with life.

What could have gripped these men deeply enough for them to leave their livelihood and to follow instantly?  They surely sensed that Christ was more than just a man, more than another teacher, more than a religious leader.  May we all be so gripped that we follow Him passionately, risking all to find real life.

In today’s competition, faithfully follow your team’s leadership.  They’ve called you, now follow them.  Be sure to answer the Lord’s call when He asks you to follow Him.

Bible Reading Plan:
Matthew 25:1-13
Romans 8:1-17
Psalms 59

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Mark 3:13

How did you come to be a part of this team?  Did you just show up and volunteer or were you chosen?  Certainly most of you were recruited by the coaching staff and given a personal invitation to join this team.  When game day arrives, those who compete are all chosen for specific roles on the team.  It was the same for those who walked with Jesus.

In the book of Mark at chapter 3 and verse 13 we read, “Jesus went up on a mountainside and called to him those he wanted and they came to him.”  Though surrounded by thousands of people and certainly hundreds of willing volunteers, Jesus consciously chose the people to whom He would commit himself.

There are thousands of people who compete in your sport at lower levels, why aren’t they all here today?  It’s simple, they were not chosen.  Since you were chosen, you have the privilege of looking at your sport like a life calling.  Such a calling comes with certain privileges and responsibilities that those countless others can’t even begin to think about.

Some of those privileges can be exercised in today’s competition.  Compete with great joy as you revel in the privilege that comes with your position.  The responsibilities of your calling relate to your teammates, your coaching staff, and your family.  Represent them well as you compete honorably today.

Bible Reading Plan:
Matthew 24:36-51
Romans 7:13-25
Numbers 26-27

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Ephesians 6:6

Here’s a heart check – do you do what pleases your coaches all the time or only when they are watching?  Do you do the right thing just to win their favor or because it’s right?  Today’s scripture continues the heart check.

At chapter 6 and verse 6 of the book of Ephesians we read, “Obey them not only to win their favor when their eye is on you, but like slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart.”  Paul is rather direct with these people about their work ethic. 

I often watch teams closely during practice and as they warm up prior to competitions.  I always see players who give a great effort when the coach is watching, but as soon as the coach’s head is turned, some of those players immediately start cutting corners and cheating on drills.  Their hearts are not fully with their coaches or their teammates.  They fail the heart check.

My challenge to you is to give the same effort when no one is watching as you do when the head coach is right beside you.  That is called integrity.  A whole heart will lead you to do the right thing whether anyone is watching or not.

As you prepare to compete today, give a whole-hearted effort to the pursuit of a great team victory.  When you compete with integrity you don’t waste any time looking over your shoulder.

Bible Reading Plan:
Matthew 24:15-35
Psalms 57
Numbers 23-25

Friday, March 9, 2018

Psalm 37:3-4

In what parts of your sport do you find real delight?  Which situations or settings give you a wide grin?  Maybe it’s when you first walk onto the field or court to warm up.  Maybe it’s the opening minutes of competition.  Or maybe it’s the look on your opponent’s face when he knows you’re going to win.  Such things are often delightful to people of sport.

King David writes about delightful things in Psalm 37 and verses 3 and 4 where it says, “Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.  Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.”

To this former shepherd, David, to dwell in a land and to enjoy safe pasture would be a great delight.  Safety and security would give him a broad smile and a contented heart.

We can experience similarly delightful days when we follow David’s instruction.  The key seems to be that we trust God and follow his ways.  As we place our faith in Him and follow His ways, we will find fulfillment and security in our sport and among our teammates.  As we delight ourselves in God’s love, we’ll see the desires of our hearts come to full fruition.

Compete today in the freedom and security that accompanies those who trust and delight in God.

Bible Reading Plan:
Romans 6:15-23
Psalms 56

Thursday, March 8, 2018

I Thessalonians 5:24

Have you ever had a sense that God was calling you to do something?  Did the task seem too great or your resources seem too small?  Did the call of God overwhelm you and cause you to doubt whether you had really heard Him at all?  The Scripture speaks directly to our fears and doubts related to God's call.

In Paul's first letter to his friends in Thessalonica at chapter 5 and verse 24 it says, Faithful is He who calls you, and He will also bring it to pass. 

This is a marvelous promise for those who hear God's call.  It says nothing about the abilities of the hearer, but says volumes about the One who does the calling.  He is called faithful, that is fully reliable to do that which He promised.  That's encouraging!  Further it says that He will bring it to pass.  That's a whole lot better than saying that He'd watch as I bring it to pass. 

This powerful verse causes me to trust in the Lord all the way through this marvelous process called pursuing the Lord's will.  He does the calling and the carrying out of His will.  My part is to answer His call and to make myself available for His service.

In today's time of prayer, ask the Lord to make His call clear in your life.  Commit your life to Him, trusting in His power for both the hearing and the doing of His will.

Bible Reading Plan:
Matthew 23:25-39
Romans 6:1-14
Numbers 18-20

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

P L E A S I N G   T O    G O D
Matthew 3:16-17

Some athletes play to please their parents, others to please their boyfriend or girlfriend.  Some play to please the Lord.  But what really pleases the Lord?  Further, what makes us pleasing to Him?

In Matthew's gospel at chapter 3 and verses 16 and 17 it says, “Then Jesus, when he had been baptized, came up immediately from the water; and behold the heavens were opened to Him and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him.  And suddenly a voice came from Heaven, saying, ‘This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.’" 

What a day this must have been!  I've never seen anything like this on my days of competition.  What must have Jesus achieved on this day that merited such a powerful display of affection by the Lord?  Nothing!!  He didn't do anything but be baptized by John.

To this point Jesus had no followers, had done no miracles, had healed no one, had no great achievements.  So why would the Lord say He is well pleased with Him?  It's simple, He says that He is His beloved Son...that's why He's well pleased with Him.

It's the same with us.  Because of our relationship with Christ, we too are pleasing to the Lord.  It's not because of our achievements, or in spite of our failures.  If you have a relationship with the Lord God, you too are His beloved child and He is well pleased with you.

In your pre-game prayer today, thank the Lord for the marvelous privilege you have as His child.  Thank Him for the great security you have in your relationship with Him.  Compete today knowing that He is well pleased with you.

Bible Reading Plan:
Matthew 23:13-24
Psalms 54
Numbers 15-17

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Proverbs 13:12

What goals have you set that are still unachieved?  For what have you hoped and been disappointed?  How did these times affect you?  The Bible speaks of such times.

In the book of Proverbs at chapter 13 and verse 12 it says, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but desire fulfilled is a tree of life.”

When a dream doesn't come true, when a goal is not achieved, when a hope is deferred it makes our hearts sick.  We hurt inside when we have had the desired goal within our grasp, only to see it slip away.  This scripture serves as a reminder along the way to your goals.  Here's a road sign that encourages you to work hard and give your best, because failure is a bitter pill to swallow.

The marvelous promise here is that the fulfillment of our desires is like a tree of life.  Can you imagine a tree which has as its fruit, life itself?  Better than apples or oranges, the very stuff of life hangs from its branches.  This verse says that's what we find when we have our desires fulfilled. 

Pray in commitment today.  Give the Lord all that you have today to see your goals achieved, your dreams come true, your hope fulfilled.

Bible Reading Plan:
Romans 5:1-11
Psalms 53
Numbers 12-14

Monday, March 5, 2018

S T R E N G T H   A N D    P O W E R
 Ephesians 3:16

Who is the strongest, most powerful player you’ve ever competed with or against?  What seemed to be the source of that strength and power?  

If you could access an even greater, limitless source of strength and power for your life, would you want some?  Today’s scripture tells of such a source.

In his letter to the church at Ephesus at chapter 3 and verse 16, Paul wrote, “I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.”  Paul’s prayer for those in Ephesus and for us today is for God to give us the strength and power for Christ to fill our hearts through faith.

The strength and power of the greatest competitors comes from within.  Their real strength is not found in their muscles or even in their mental capacity.  Strength and power are found in their hearts, then they find expression outwardly.

God is gloriously rich in both strength and power so we should expect that we will be given them in abundance.  As Christ dwells in our hearts through faith, this is a very natural occurrence.

As you compete today, do so with your whole heart.  Trust that God will provide the strength and power to enable you to give your absolute best.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Psalm 21:1-2

What is there in sport that can match the joy of winning?  Probably nothing.  The feelings of excitement, joy, fulfillment and satisfaction in sport that come with a win are conspicuously absent in a loss.  This truth was also known by the great people of the Bible.

We read a description of such victories in Psalm 21 and verses 1 and 2 where it says, “O Lord, the king rejoices in your strength.  How great is his joy in the victories you give!  You have granted him the desire of his heart and have not withheld the request of his lips.”

Did you hear who the writer credits as being the source of these victories?  It surely wasn’t himself.

For the king and for us, the great joy in victories comes as a gift from God.  Both David and our team rejoice in the strength we feel in sport.   God has granted us all the deep desires of our hearts, we’re greatly blessed just to be here. 

As you pray in preparation for today’s competition, trust that the Lord will not withhold the request of your lips, and then compete in great freedom and joy.

Bible Reading Plan:
Matthew 22:15-33
Romans 3
Numbers 7-8

Saturday, March 3, 2018

E N E M I E S   A N D   A L L I E S
Mark 3:6

Do you ever think about the irony that accompanies some of the videotape exchange between your opponents?  Some of the bitterest rivals in your conference exchange the best film they have of your team because they both want to beat you.  In the world of sport, mortal enemies become momentary allies in order to defeat a common opponent.  There was at least one similar instance in the life of Jesus.

In Mark’s gospel at chapter 3 and verse 6 we read, “Then the Pharisees went out and began to plot with the Herodians how they might kill Jesus.”  The Pharisees and Herodians were bitter political enemies, but they found themselves with a common opponent – Jesus of Nazareth.

In your sport, there are times when natural enemies share information in order to beat another team with whom they both must compete.  Usually, that team’s above them both in the standings.  Sometimes their conspiracy of information may even lead them to compromise ethical standards.

What are you to do?  Be who you are.  Maintain your integrity and compete fairly, even when your opponents cheat and conspire.  That’s what Jesus did and it’s what He would do today.

As you compete today, do so within the rules and to the absolute best of your ability.  We’ll all be proud if you do and they’ll all be sorry.

Bible Reading Plan:
Matthew 22:1-14
Psalms 50
Numbers 5-6

Friday, March 2, 2018

Habakkuk 2:3

Have you ever been a part of a team that seemed destined to win?  How confident were you as you approached each competition?  The prophet Habakkuk wrote about destiny in today’s scripture.

At chapter 2 and verse 3 of Habakkuk we read, “For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false; Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay.”
It often seems that our dreams and goals from preseason will go unfulfilled and disappointment will surround our team.  Habakkuk would encourage us to not give up so easily.

His attitude is incurably positive and forward looking.  He says that success is awaiting our arrival.  We should remain confident and hopeful for it will certainly come and will not delay.

That’s my encouragement to you today.  Live with a sense of destiny.  Expect the best to happen rather than the worst.  Expect your teammates to make great plays instead of waiting for them to collapse.  Even in the worst of times, trust God to bring your marvelous destiny to full fruition.

Bible Reading Plan:
Romans 1:18-32
Psalms 49
Numbers 3-4

Thursday, March 1, 2018

I Thessalonians 5:16-18

As athletes we're subject to having good days and bad days.  Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose.  I always like winning better than losing.  Enough losses in a row and any of us can get a little blue.  So how do we maintain a joyful life?  The Bible gives us some good answers.

In Paul's first letter to his friends in Thessalonica at chapter 5 and verses 16 - 18 he writes, Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

 In these verses there are three directives and one reason that combine to show us the way to a joyful life.

1) Rejoice always:  More than a command, this is a reassuring encouragement that we can find something to be joyful about in every circumstance.  Lead with your will and let your emotions follow along.

2) Pray without ceasing:  If you took this seriously you'd never sleep, eat or study.  That's probably not what he meant.  Surely he meant that there is never a situation for us in which prayer is not proper and powerful.

3) In everything give thanks:  Not for everything, but in everything.  In all situations give thanks to the Lord and you'll cultivate a joyful, thankful attitude that rises above any circumstances.

Why?  This is the will of God in Christ for you.  The Lord joins you in your rejoicing, He communes with you when you pray and He blesses you when you thank Him.  He is most desirous of an intimate, personal relationship with you and He knows that these things serve to deepen that relationship.

As your prepare for today's competition do these three things:  1) Rejoice - have fun!  2) Pray - talk to God.  3) Give thanks - thank Him for it all.  In doing so you are fulfilling God's will for your life today.

Bible Reading Plan:
Matthew 21:23-32
Romans 1:1-17
Psalms 48
Numbers 1-2