Monday, April 30, 2018

B l e s s i n g s
Matthew 13:16

Yours is a unique privilege.  How many people around the world would love to compete in your sport?  How many would love to see what you see and hear what you hear? 

In Matthew chapter 13 and verse 16, Jesus says, “Blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear.”  Sure you can all see things and hear sounds, on the physical level, but there’s more to this.

Be thankful on another level all together.  There are untold thousands of people who would love to see what you see and to hear what you hear on a daily basis.  To see sports from the bench, rather than from the seats.  To hear what can’t be heard from the top row of the stadium is what some people dream about.

On still another level, you have a unique privilege to be on a team and to experience the depth of relationship that is much rarer in the non-sport world.

As you prepare to compete today give thanks for what your eyes see and your ears hear.  Look for the inspirational performances by your teammates.  Listen for the encouraging words from coaches.  Listen also for the Lord’s blessing.

Bible Reading Plan:
Mark 3:20-35
I Corinthians 8

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Proverbs 16:9

Have you ever wondered why your path seems to zig-zag sometimes?  Why am I here?  How did I end up in this place when I was going over there?  Lots of athletes ask those kind of questions as they consider their paths in pursuit of athletic goals.

In Proverbs 16 and at verse 9 we find a possible answer, “The mind of a man plans his ways, but the Lord directs His steps.”

Every athlete I know sometimes lays on his bed and dreams about what he'd like to achieve, the awards he'd like to win, the career he'd like to pursue.  In his mind he plans his way.

But, somewhere along the way to those dreams being accomplished, he gets sidetracked and before long he's not sure how he got here.  Here's the comforting word in this scripture.  It's the Lord's way to direct our steps along the path to the fulfilling of His purposes in our lives.  The Lord sees very clearly the best path for us.  He sees very clearly what we need in preparation for our ultimate place of serving Him.  Surer we can make plans, and that is good, but it's the Lord's place to direct our steps along the way.

Pray in thanksgiving for the Lord's direction of your life.  Ask Him to help you plan your way and for the grace to trust Him all along the way.

Bible Reading Plan:
Psalms 78:40-72
Joshua 20-21

Saturday, April 28, 2018

r e w a r d s
Colossians 3:24-25

Take a moment to think about the rewards that come from competing in sport.  The rewards for performing well in sport are numerous.  You probably thought of things like trophies, rings, medals and ribbons.  You may have also had thoughts of more intangible rewards like satisfaction, fame, and exhilaration.  The other side of performance based rewards is that when you perform poorly, there are less attractive rewards attached.  Who among us hasn’t felt the sting of disappointment, pain and disgust after a bad competition? 

We all have memories of being rewarded for a poor performance with second-guessing, ridicule or embarrassment.  Both kinds of rewards for athletic performance are given without regard to our position or prestige as competitors.

The Apostle Paul wrote about rewards in his letter to the Colossians at chapter 3 and verses 24 through 25, “…since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward.  It is the Lord Christ you are serving.  Anyone who does wrong will be repaid for his wrong, and there is no favoritism.”

The exciting thing about this scripture is that it tells of another basis for reward that’s more secure than your latest performance on the field of competition.  The reward that comes from inheritance is not based on your performance, but on your relationship with God through Christ Jesus.  Christ rewards those related to Him with gifts like love, peace, security, patience and self-control.  Competitors who love God find these rewards to be more enduring and of infinitely greater value than those which come from performance.

As you prepare for this competition, give all that you have to perform at your very best.  You owe that to your team, to yourself and ultimately to the Lord Christ you are serving.  Strongly pursue the rewards that come from performing well in your sport.  At the same time, beware the trap of being only in touch with the rewards based on your performance.  Trust fully in the Lord Jesus and reap the daily reward of your inheritance in Him. 

Bible Reading Plan:
Mark 2:13-17
I Corinthians 6:1-11

Friday, April 27, 2018

T r a d i t i o n s

Mark 7:9

Every sport has a set of traditions or practices that are a part of its culture and history.  Do any of those things ever violate your conscience or cause you to wonder if you should be involved in them?  Jesus had some tough things to say to people in His day about similar things.

Let’s listen as He confronts some people about foolish traditions in Mark chapter 7 and verse 9, “You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions!”  Jesus took these people on as they rationalized their way around the simple commands of God in order to make themselves look good for other people.

If we think everyone else cheats in recruiting, does that make it alright for us to do so?  If your sport has a tradition of violently hazing young players, does that make it a good idea?  From whom shall we take our cues for ethics within the world of sport?  These are all tough questions that we need to consider.

Jesus points straight to the most enduring source of truth in regards to ethical standards.  It’s the Word of God.  The Bible speaks straight to us in relation to all of life, even competition and the ethics we need to compete with fairness and justice.

In today’s competition, compete strongly and fairly.  Compete with great passion and within the rules of the sport.  Compete in a way that honors your teammates, your coaches, your family and even honors God.

Bible Reading Plan:
Psalms 76
Joshua 13-14

Thursday, April 26, 2018

S t r e n g t h
Psalm 73:26

Take a moment to recall a time when you’ve competed to the point of total exhaustion.  Your body, mind and soul were fully spent in pursuit of a victory.  How does one continue to compete, even when at the point of physical breakdown and total collapse?  The writer of today’s psalm knew what it was for his flesh and his heart to fail.

In Psalm 73 and verse 26 we read, “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”

The writer had lived through times when he had totally exhausted the capacity of his body to fight, but had lived on.  He had been to the very end of his heart’s ability to love, but found renewed strength of soul.

At the end of your body’s natural ability to compete, God is a limitless source of strength.  When your heart is poured out like so much water, God is a river of life to your soul. 

As you compete today, don’t simply rely on the power of your flesh to carry you.  Look to God as a continual source of power and strength.  Look for His wisdom and joy to carry you through the momentum shifts of the sport.  Compete with great strength and passion.

Bible Reading Plan:
Mark 1:21-34
I Corinthians 3

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

II Kings -14

Have you ever heard a disrespectful comment or seen a gesture by a competitor inflame the competitive edge in his opponent and lead to his/her team’s defeat?  It happens more often than you can imagine and today’s scripture tells about a similar instance.

In the Old Testament book of Second Kings at chapter 1 and verses 13 and 14 it says, “So the king sent a third captain with his fifty men.  This third captain went up and fell on his knees before Elijah.  ‘Man of God,’ he begged, ‘please have respect for my life and the lives of these fifty men, your servants!  See, fire has fallen from heaven and consumed the first two captains and all their men.  But now have respect for my life!”

This man was much wiser than the two who preceded him.  They showed terrible disrespect for the Man of God and were consumed with fire.  He knew that Elijah was not someone to be messed with and he took an appropriate posture.

As we compete, we might be better off letting sleeping dogs lie.  If your opponent is struggling and seems to be a little off his game, don’t trash talk him into a better performance.  Rather than showing him up with your mouth, give him proper respect and maybe he won’t destroy you in the second half.

Bible Reading Plan:
Mark 9:14-32
I Corinthians 16
Psalms 94
Ruth 4

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

S T R E N G T H   A N D    W E A K N E S S
II Corinthians 12:9

Have you heard about Kareem Abdul Jabbar’s college basketball career?  I’m old enough to have watched it.  In those days college hoop had a “no dunking rule.”  Though he was over seven feet tall, his highest percentage shot was taken away.  However, the rule that could have weakened his game caused him to develop his jump shot, the sky hook, better post moves, and more; making him the dominant player of his era.  His perceived weakness became the strength of his career.

In Paul’s second letter to his friends in Corinth, he encourages them with similar thoughts at chapter 12 and verse 9, “But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.”  Paul quotes the Lord’s word to him regarding his personal weakness.

Sometimes the Lord uses our perceived weaknesses as the platform for displaying His great power.  God makes His greatest evidences of power through some of the weakest looking people.  It is God’s way to show His strength in the middle of our weaknesses.

In today’s game, when it seems like all your strength is gone, look up!!  You’re now in position for God to show His power in your life.  He is ready to reveal His strength when we’ve exhausted all our natural resources.  When we come to the end of ourselves, there He is.  Give your best today, then watch for the Lord to empower you to even achieve even more greatly.

Bible Reading Plan:
Mark 9:1-13
I Corinthians 15:29-58
Psalms 93
Ruth 2-3

Monday, April 23, 2018

Proverbs 16:3

What are your plans for this season?  Do you have goals for your team or for yourself?  What are the keys to seeing your goals achieved? 

In Proverbs chapter 16 and verse 3 we find an important principle, “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.”

How does one commit to the Lord everything that he does?  Simply said, that would be to approach all of life's activities and pursuits with prayer and attention to doing things God's way.  Commit all of your life to pursuing God's will and His ways in school, in practice, in competition, in family life, in friendships and dating relationships.  Commit it all to Him.

The promise is that when we do this, He works in us to see that our plans succeed.  That assumes that you have some plans.  Make a plan that will honor God, then commit everything about yourself to Him.  The Lord is faithful and His promise is that He'll work to see our plans succeed.

As you pray, make those first commitments to the Lord.  Commit this day's competition to Him and watch for Him to make your plans successful.

Bible Reading Plan:
Mark 8:31-38
I Corinthians 15:1-28
Psalms 92
Ruth 1

Sunday, April 22, 2018

R e s t

Matthew 11:28

Do you ever get tired, a little leg weary?  Of course you do.  Does it ever seem like you’re dragging an anchor back and forth through practice?  It doesn’t have to be that way.

Jesus’ words are recorded in Matthew chapter 11 and verse 28 this way, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

When we take on the Lord’s yoke, we lay down the one we’ve been carrying.  This is like taking the anchor off your neck and replacing it with a lovely necklace.  Rather than being a burden to you, it’s an adornment.  It graces your life with beauty and freedom.

As you encounter fatigue and even exhaustion, rest in the assurance that the Lord Jesus’ yoke is easy and his burden is light.  Find rest for your soul in His gentle, humble heart.  Learn from Him and your energy and passion for sport will be renewed as well.

Bible Reading Plan:
Mark 8:22-30
I Corinthians 14:26-40
Psalms 91
Judges 20-21

Saturday, April 21, 2018

R e n e w e d   S t r e n g t h

Psalm 61:1-3

When, in the course of a season, do you begin to lose a little steam?  When are you starting to run low on energy?  What can you do to regain your strength and vitality?

In Psalm 61 and verse 1 through 3, we hear a poetic prayer for renewed strength.  There we read, “Hear my cry, O God; listen to my prayer.  From the ends of the earth I call to you, I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I.  For you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the foe.”

The writer felt totally alienated and exposed.  He felt like he was at the edge of the earth and called out to God as his heart grew more and more faint.  He saw God as a rock, as a refuge and a strong tower to protect him from his enemies. 

You may feel similarly when your strength is waning and all your muscles ache.  You may be physically, mentally and emotionally worn out by practice and competition.  What are you to do when your hearts grow faint?

As you prepare to compete today, follow the writer’s example and cry out to God as a refuge and a strong tower against your foe.  Today, that foe may be fatigue or pain.  Pray right where you are and He’ll be there to support and to protect you.

Bible Reading Plan:
Mark 8:14-21
I Corinthians 14:1-25
Psalm 90
Judges 19

Friday, April 20, 2018

H a r d   W o r k

Colossians 3:23

How do you approach the sport in which you compete?  Is it just a game to you or is there more to it than that?  How do you practice?  Do you apply all you have and all that you are to improving your game or do you just try to get through practice and do what it takes to keep the coach off your back?  The Bible gives us some encouraging words about work and practice.

My favorite verse related to work is from Paul's letter to his friends at Colossae at chapter 3 and verse 23.  Here he says, “Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for people.”  In your case this may be related to your chosen field of competition.  How should we approach these things?  Heartily, that is with all our hearts.

We might say that we should pour out our guts in pursuit of achieving excellence.  Give all that you are to doing the work that's before you.  Why?  Because ultimately we're serving God in this rather than just the coaching staff or our schools.

God is honored by our whole hearted pursuit of excellence in our work.  Let's honor Him today in the way we go about our work of competing and let's trust Him with the results.  Give all that you've got to your competition today.

Bible Reading Plan:
Mark 8:1-13
I Corinthians 13
Psalms 89:19-52
Judges 17-18

Thursday, April 19, 2018

C o u r a g e o u s   L e a d e r s h i p

Mark 6:46-51

In your life as a competitor, have you ever experienced great courage and an unnaturally calm spirit in the midst of tremendous struggle and fear?  Many of us have and so did Jesus.

We read about such an instance in Mark’s gospel at chapter 6 and verses 46 through 51.  There it says, “After leaving them, He went up on a mountainside to pray.  When evening came, the boat was in the middle of the lake and He was alone on land.  He saw the disciples straining at the oars, because the wind was against them.  About the fourth watch of the night He went out to them, walking on the lake.  He was about to pass by them, but when they saw Him walking on the lake, they thought it was a ghost.  They cried out because they all saw Him and were terrified.  Immediately He spoke to them and said, ‘Take courage!  It is I.  Don’t be afraid.’  Then He climbed into the boat with them, and the wind died down.”

There are a lot of things happening here, but let’s focus on just a few: 
Great team leaders are aware of the team’s condition.  Jesus saw that His team was straining at the oars and walked out to check on them.

Great team leaders speak strong words of encouragement to their teammates.  Jesus said three simple sentences to His terrified disciples and thus quelled their fears.  He said, “Take courage!  It is I.  Don’t be afraid.”  That was enough.

Great team leaders calm their teammates simply by being present.  As soon as Jesus climbed into the boat, the wind died down.  Some of you calm things down for your teammates by simply entering the contest.  Your very presence in the lineup makes your team more confident.

Be such a team leader in today’s competition and the whole team will be successful.

Bible Reading Plan:
Mark 7:24-37
I Corinthians 12:14-31
Psalms 89:1-18
Judges 16

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

S O W I N G    A N D    R E A P I N G

II Corinthians 9:6

How about a simple exercise in reason today?  If one farmer sows 100 pounds of seed and another sows 10,000 pounds, which one will have the greater harvest?  Simple, huh?  How about another one?

In the second letter to the Corinthians at chapter 9 and verse 6, Paul the Apostle writes, “Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.”  That seems simple enough, invest lots and you’ll get lots in return.  Sounds kind of like what investors hope for in the stock market.

This law applies to all of life; work, money, study, relationships, practice, everything.  In sowing and reaping; we always reap after we sow, we always reap more than we sow and we always reap exactly what we sow.  As you have sown generously in practice, you should expect to reap greatly on game day.  If you have sown sparingly on the practice floor, you should expect to reap sparingly during the game.

I trust that you’ve invested generously into the life of this team.  Therefore I expect you to reap a generous reward in this game.  Expect the hours of work, study, sweat and effort to produce a great victory today.

Bible Reading Plan:

Mark 7:1-23

I Corinthians 12:1-13

Psalms 88

Judges 13-15

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

I Samuel 17:48-50

What’s the greatest mismatch in competition that you’ve ever experienced?  On which side of the mismatch were you?  Were you the underdog or the heavy favorite?  What was the outcome?

We read about such a conflict in First Samuel chapter 17 and verses 48 through 50, “As the Philistine (Goliath) moved closer to attack him, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet him.  Reaching into his bag and taking out a stone, he slung it and struck the Philistine on the forehead.  The stone sank into his forehead, and he fell facedown on the ground.  So David triumphed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone; without a sword in his hand he struck down the Philistine and killed him.”

Here in one of history’s greatest mismatches – the underdog, the little guy, David – kills the overwhelming favorite – the giant, Goliath with a sling and a rock.  Notice David’s attitude in competition, he ran quickly toward the battle line to meet the giant.  No fear, no hesitation, no intimidation.  He was ready and willing to give his all.

As you compete today, cast off any fear or intimidation that you may feel of today’s opponent.  Compete with confidence, sling your stone, slay the giant then cut off his big, ugly head.

Bible Reading Plan:
Mark 6:45-56
I Corinthians 11:17-34
Psalms 87
Judges 10-12

Monday, April 16, 2018

C o a c h e s a n d A t h l e t e s

C o a c h e s   a n d   A t h l e t e s
Matthew 10:24-25

Who are your heroes in this game?  Who has mentored you in your career?  Wouldn’t it be great to be like that player?  Wouldn’t you like to emulate your mentor?

In Matthew chapter 10 at verses 24 and 25 it says, “A student is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master.  It is enough for the student to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master.”  Jesus seems to want these relationships kept in a proper order.

We’d be fools to presume to have knowledge, skills and wisdom beyond that of our heroes.  We’d be way out of line in boasting about our abilities in the presence of our mentors. 

In the same way we should guard our attitudes with our coaches, our team leaders and others associated with the team.  We should watch closely how we speak and relate to each one.  It would be great for us just to be mentioned in the same breath as some of those around us.

We should certainly seek to emulate our teacher and master Jesus Christ.  To be like Him would be the accomplishment of a lifetime.  Give your absolute best effort today to honor your leaders, mentors and coaches.  The Lord Jesus will be honored as well.

Bible Reading Plan:
Mark 6:30-44
I Corinthians 11:1-16
Psalms 86
Judges 9

Sunday, April 15, 2018


N O   G R E A T E R   L O V E
John 15:13

What is the standard for measuring commitment, loyalty and teamwork?  How about for a family?  How about for friendship?  Let’s see what Jesus says in today’s letter.

In John chapter 15 at verse 13 we read, “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.” 

There it is again, the recurring theme of self-sacrifice and service.  Jesus again challenges us to give ourselves up in preference of our teammates’ best and highest good.

How does one lay down his life?  Let’s think it through:
·        To sacrifice your personal goals for your team’s goals.
·        To sacrifice your selfish dreams of glory for the good of your team.
·        To play fewer minutes to help develop other players.
·        To sacrifice your body to make a play for the team.
·        To sacrifice your ego to praise your teammates and coaches.
·        To love and serve your team over seeking your own pride and glory.

Let’s play today with these attitudes and give everyone an example of the love Jesus says is without equal.

Bible Reading Plan:
Mark 6:14-29
I Corinthians 10:14-33
Psalms 85
Judges 8

Saturday, April 14, 2018

G o d ’ s H e l p

G o d ’ s   H e l p

Acts 26:22

Have you ever had a sense that God was helping you as you competed?  Do you remember having healed from an injury more quickly than normal?  Have you obtained help from God?  Have you told anyone about it? 

In the Acts of the Apostles at chapter 26 and verse 22, the Apostle Paul says to Festus the governor, “And so, having obtained help from God, I stand to this day testifying both to small and great, stating nothing but what the Prophets and Moses said was going to take place;”

Here is Paul in chains before the people who could free him or could send him on to Rome and ultimate death.  What does He talk about?  He speaks of how God has helped him and how Jesus is the fulfillment of everything spoken by the prophets and Moses.  Has your relationship with Christ so changed your life that it consumes your conversation with both great and small? 

Let's join Paul in speaking of the times in which we've sensed the Lord's help.  Times of recovery from injury, grief from a friend's death, hope in the midst of despair, displays of power when you feel weak. 

As you pray and prepare today, ask the Lord for His help.  He is ever present.  Ask Him also for the opportunity to speak of Him to both the great and the small.  He will be honored by your witness, as He was by Paul's.

Bible Reading Plan:
Mark 6:1-13
I Corinthians 10:1-13
Psalms 84
Judges 6-7

April 14

Friday, April 13, 2018

R e f u g e

R e f u g e

Psalm 57:1

Where and with whom do you seek refuge when the pressures of competition are getting to you?  Do you seek out family, friends, solitude?  All those can be good sources of refuge.  Where do you suppose is the best?

Psalm 57 and verse 1 reveals a most secure place of refuge.  There we read, “Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me, for in you my soul takes refuge.  I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings until the disaster has passed.”

The psalmist sought protection and comfort from God in the middle of a great disaster.  He begged for God to be merciful and to hide him.

We might encounter disaster in any number of forms during a season of sport.  It could come through injury or illness.  It might be a losing streak or a coaching staff transition.  The question remains, where will we find refuge when disaster strikes or pressures mount?

May I challenge you to trust God’s immeasurable power and protection as a secure place of refuge?  He will cover you with his love and compassion until the disaster has passed.

Let God’s mercy and love cover you as you compete today.  Trust Him to be a rock of refuge from the daily storms of life.

Bible Reading Plan:
Mark 5:21-43
I Corinthians 9:13-27
Psalms 83
Judges 4-5

April 13