Saturday, June 30, 2018

Isaiah 59:1

Have you ever felt like you were out of God's reach?  Have you ever prayed on game day and wondered if God was hearing you?  The Scripture is full of promises that assure us of His love and care.

In Isaiah's book of prophecy at chapter 59 and verse 1 it says, “Surely the arm of the Lord is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear.”  We have a great privilege in being related to God through Christ.  We have the assurance of His saving right arm of protection and we have His ear to hear our prayers. 

The exciting thing to me is that the Lord is interested in every area of my life.  His arm can reach into any area to save and to protect.  His ear never grows dull from hearing my prayers.  This is high privilege, to have the Creator of the universe listening to me and extending His arm to save.

Today as you pray and prepare, ask the Lord to extend His arm as you compete.  He's plenty strong.  Also thank Him for hearing your prayers, those of every sort in every area of life.  Let's trust Him in all of our lives and He'll prove Himself faithful to each of us.

Bible Reading Plan:
Luke 5:17-26
Philippians 2:12-18

Friday, June 29, 2018

T h o u g h t s
Psalm 139:17-18

How much thoughtful preparation goes into a single competition for you?  If we were to total up the collective hours of thought, contemplation, analysis, dreaming, visualization and anticipation among your teammates and coaching staff, the sum would be staggering.  How much do you believe God thinks about you?  How often are you at the front of his mind?  Who could calculate such a number?

We get a glimpse at how God thinks in Psalm 139 and verses 17 and 18.  Here’s how David described these ideas, “How precious concerning me are your thoughts, O God!  How vast is the sum of them!  Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand.  When I awake, I am still with you.” 

David was overwhelmed with the concept that an all-powerful God would spend His time thinking of him.  That’s a little staggering for me too!  He has a universe to run, but He’s concerned with every detail of my life.

The largest number David can conceive of is the number of grains of sand on the earth, but that’s a smaller number than the sum of God’s thoughts concerning each one of us.

For me, that leads to a great deal of confidence.  I draw great comfort from knowing that my life is not hidden in a corner out of God’s view.  Rather He’s intimately aware of every facet of my life and my every concern.

As you compete today, let these words from the Psalms result in a great confidence and assurance that every moment of this day is in the center of God’s attention for each one of us.  His thoughts toward us are precious, innumerable and always loving.

Bible Reading Plan:
Psalm 119:97-104
II Kings 1-3

Thursday, June 28, 2018

L o v i n g   G o d
Matthew 22:37-38

It’s important to have priorities and to know what’s most important.  These values give our lives direction and purpose.

In Matthew chapter 22 and verses 37 and 38, Jesus says, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.  This is the first and greatest commandment.”

Jesus says that the number one priority in life is to love God.  That’s the big deal, to love God with all your life; heart, soul and mind. 

Apply your heart - to loving God in deep devotion.
Apply your soul - love God emotionally, passionately, deeply.
Apply your mind - love God with thoughtful expression.

Let your love for God find expression today on the field of competition.  Give Him your absolute best - heart, soul and mind.  Make this contest a huge, gift-wrapped expression of love.  He’s worthy of your very best.

Bible Reading Plan:
Luke 4:1-12
Ephesians 6:1-9

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

W I S E   W O R D S
Proverbs 25:11

Have you ever wanted to say something to a friend, but chickened out at the last minute because you thought it might seem silly or embarrassing?  Did you later regret not saying it?  What does God think about such situations?

In the book of Proverbs chapter 25 and verse 11 it says, “Like apples of gold in settings of silver is a word spoken in right circumstances.”  We all know the value of gold and silver, even if we can't afford to have any.  We also know how sweet to the taste apples are.  How valuable and how sweet to our souls would apples of gold be?  Certainly they would have great value, especially when served to us on fine silver.

The point of this proverb is that our words, spoken in the right circumstances are of immeasurable value.  Here's my challenge to you:  speak with purpose to those in whom you'd like to invest.  You probably have teammates who have followed you all this season and possibly for your whole career.  Tell them what you want for them, challenge them to excellence, call them to be athletes of great character like yourself.  Build a tradition through speaking carefully chosen words to those who follow you.

Choose others in your program who have been important to you and express your appreciation for them as well.  The opportunity will soon be gone, don't miss your chance to serve some golden apples on a beautiful silver platter.

Bible Reading Plan:
Psalms 119:49-56
I Kings 12

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

F r e e d o m
Galatians 5:13

What is the difference between freedom and license?  How are liberty and anarchy different?  When does one cross the line from living freely to taking advantage of others?  Today’s scripture has some guidelines for good team relations.

Paul in writing to his friends in Galatia, writes at chapter 5 and verse 13, “You, my brothers, were called to be free.  But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love.”  Paul gives his friends some encouragement and an admonition.

Here are some guidelines in personified terms for us to think about today:
          License says, “I’ll do what I want without regard to others.”
          Freedom says, “I’ll do what’s best for everyone concerned.”
          Anarchy says, “It’s nobody’s business but mine how I live my life.”
          Freedom says, “I’m free to make good choices that benefit my teammates.”

In today’s game and in all of life, make your choices based on the freedom that comes from a renewed life.  Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that your life is yours alone and no one else is affected.  As a team, each player has a direct affect on the others, on the floor and off it.  Play in great freedom today.  Make this the greatest effort of the year.

Bible Reading Plan:
Luke 1:67-80
Ephesians 3:14-21

Monday, June 25, 2018

W o r l d l y   L e a d e r s h i p
Mark 10:42-43

From whom did you learn your leadership style?  Do you tend to emulate a coach or team leader from past teams?  Who might we find to be examples of poor leadership?  Jesus points to some of each in today’s scripture.

At Mark chapter 10 and verses 42 through 43, we read, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them.  Not so with you.  Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant…”

There are plenty of models for poor leadership and Jesus pointed directly at one in this passage.  He said, “Don’t do it like them!”  He then laid out simple, direct ways to lead in a way that most honors God and best honors your teammates.
·        The world’s supposed leaders pull rank all the time – don’t do that!
·        Their poor leaders lead purely by position and power – you don’t have to!
·        Not so with you – don’t give in to that lowest and most crude level of leadership!
·        If you want to be great – be a servant to your teammates!

That ethic certainly seems upside down to us, but it is full of wisdom.  Jesus knows that the greatest leaders don’t need to push their way around with position and power, but they lead by seeking the best for their teammates.
As you compete today, be team leaders like Jesus and seek the best for your team and for individual teammates.  As you do, you’ll find yourself becoming a great leader and you’ll find your team being greatly successful.

Bible Reading Plan:
Luke 7:1-10
Philippians 4:14-23
Psalms 122
II Kings 24-25

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Ecclesiastes 9:11

Can you remember a time when you defeated an opponent which was highly favored over you?  You might also remember a time when you were picked to win, but somehow the victory slipped away.  How does that happen?

The writer of Ecclesiastes saw this in his life and wrote about it in chapter 9 and verse 11.  There it reads, “The race is not to the swift or the battle to the strong, nor does food come to the wise or wealth to the brilliant or favor to the learned; but time and chance happen to them all.”

We’ve all been a part of competitions when we knew that the better team did not win.  We’ve all had days when for some reason, we didn’t have our “A game” and we lost to an inferior opponent.

What should we make of all this?  Simply put, you’re never out of a competition, even when terribly overmatched.  Conversely, you can never count your opponent out when you seem to be the clearly superior team.  Time and chance conspire to keep the lesser team in the contest and to even bring about amazing upsets.

As you prepare for competition, don’t dwell on your being the favorite or the underdog.  Rather, focus your mind on bringing your absolute best to this game.  Do all you can to take time and chance out of the equation.

Bible Reading Plan:
Luke 6:43-49
Philippians 4:8-13
Psalms 121
II Kings 22-23

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Proverbs 23:12

What are the keys to success as an athlete?  What brings about the best life for us as Christians?  It seems that these ideas overlap a great deal.

In Proverbs chapter 23 and at verse 12 it says, “Apply your heart to discipline and your ears to words of knowledge.”  As you press through your season of competition it is imperative that you apply your heart to discipline. 

The first part means you must involve your mind, your will, even your emotions in a life of disciple or self-control.  It's easy to let your imagination or your emotions get out of control and to thus see your hard work go to waste.

It says to apply our ears to words of knowledge.  That's what the coaching staff is for.  Apply your ears to those who have invested years in learning their craft.  Listen to the words of wisdom that come from your coaches, teachers, parents, ministers, teammates and others.

Lives lived with discipline and knowledge are of great worth and lead to profound success.  In today's competition, apply your heart to the discipline of your game with all your heart, soul and mind.  Pursue the goals you have set as an individual and as a team.  Apply your ears to working out the wise game plan as outlined by your coaches.

Bible Reading Plan:
Luke 6:37-42
Philippians 4:1-7
Psalms 120
II Kings 20-21

Friday, June 22, 2018

D e v o t i o n
Matthew 22:21

Do you enjoy paying taxes?  Of course not.  Do you pay them anyway?

Jesus was asked about paying taxes in Matthew chapter 22 and verse 21. He answered the question like this. “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”  Obviously he said to pay the tax because it was owed to the emperor.

He also said to give to God that which is His.  What claim does God have on your life?  What do you owe Him?  How could you pay Him?

I’ve chosen to give Him 100% of my life.  I’ve pledged my full devotion to Him.  You can do that too.  This is how we give to God what is God’s, by yielding our lives to His will and trusting Him with our hearts.

In today’s game, give to God that which is His.  Give Him a 100% effort in body, mind and soul.  I know He’ll be pleased with that and your friends and family will be thrilled to see you play at your very best.

Bible Reading Plan:
Luke 6:27-36
Philippians 3:15-21
Psalms 119:169-176
II Kings 18-19

Thursday, June 21, 2018

P r i d e
Galatians 6:4

Why do you compete in sport?  What is your underlying motivation for competition?  How do you view those with whom you compete and how well do you pull your weight for your team?  The Scriptures give us some instruction for answering these questions.

In Paul's letter to his friends in Galatia at chapter 6 and verse 4, he writes, "Each one should test her own actions.  Then she can take pride in herself, without comparing herself to somebody else, for each one should carry her own load."

Every once in a while we need to examine our motives and attitudes.  The hard part is to do this without comparing ourselves to anyone else.

We each have a part of the team's load to carry.  It's not important for you to evaluate whether or not the others are carrying their parts, but it is vitally important that you faithfully carry yours.

The scripture says that when we test ourselves and evaluate our own attitudes we can take pride in our progress and our achievements. 

Today as you pray and prepare, check your attitude at the door.  Give yourself fully to carrying your share of the load for the team and to pursuing its success.  The end of that process is a heart full of satisfaction and joy in achievement. 

Bible Reading Plan:
Luke 6:17-26
Philippians 3:10-14
Psalm 119:161-168
II Kings 16-17

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

T e a m    U n i t y
Psalm 133:1

How would you describe the sense of team unity experienced by this team?  What are the benefits that accompany a team with great unity versus a team that is full of strife, contention and selfish attitudes?

Today’s scripture describes such unity in Psalm 133 and verse 1.  There we read, “How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity!”  Simple, huh?  The psalmist says that unity produces an atmosphere that is good and pleasant.  It’s simple to describe, but harder to produce.

Team unity is good, leading to the best possible performance from everyone related to the team.  Unity brings out the best in each player, coach, trainer, equipment manager, etc…

Team unity is pleasant, smoothing out every potential conflict and contention.  Every team is made up of vastly different people.  It’s supposed to be that way.  Team unity allows us to maintain a focus on our common goals, aspirations and values.  That makes the living together pleasant.

In today’s competition, let great team unity produce an atmosphere of goodness and pleasance.  Strive together to see each teammate compete to his highest capacity.  Keep your focus on unifying words and actions that make the whole process pleasant for everyone concerned.  Compete in unified way and you’ll be unstoppable.

Bible Reading Plan:
Luke 6:1-16
Philippians 3:1-9
Psalms 119:153-160

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

A t t i t u d e
Philippians 2:3

My friend, Jim Hart, played quarterback for 19 years in the National Football League.  That’s a great accomplishment requiring great athletic ability and no small measure of toughness.  That’s why I was amazed when he told me of his favorite scripture. 

In Paul’s letter to his friends in Philipi, at chapter 2 and verse 3 he writes, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.”  Paul gives us two don’ts and one do.

Don’t number 1 - No selfish ambition - check your attitude for ideas like, “what do I get out of this?”
Don’t number 2 - No vain conceit - check your attitude for empty self-flattery or an inflated sense of your importance.
Do this - Humbly know your role and fill it to capacity.  Consider the team and each member of it ahead of your personal goals and desires.  This leads to powerful teamwork and fantastic friendships.

In today’s game, put away selfish ambition and empty conceited attitudes and take on a humble attitude that seeks the team’s successes, even above your own.

Bible Reading Plan:
Luke 5:33-39
Philippians 2:19-30
Psalms 119:145-152
II Kings 12-13

Monday, June 18, 2018

T e s t s
Mark 10:21-22

What are the most difficult tests for you as an athlete?  Do you find the athletic testing hard?  How about academic tests?  How well do you measure up when your character is tested? 

In Mark chapter 10 and verses 21 and 22, we watch as Jesus gives a man a test in character.  “Jesus looked at him and loved him.  ‘One thing you lack,’ he said.  ‘Go, sell everything you have and give it to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.  Then come, follow me.’  At this the man’s face fell.  He went away sad, because he had great wealth.”

This man failed Jesus’ simple test in character.  I wonder how well we’d do if given a similar test.

If asked to forfeit our position on the team, would we comply?  If asked to give up our prospects of success for the future, would we risk it?  If asked to even walk away from playing this sport, would we do it?  How badly do we want to achieve our goals?

I’d like to challenge you to pay whatever it costs to pursue your goals.  Compete without regard to the personal cost as you seek the best for your team.  Give all you have in order to help your team be victorious today.  As you do, you’ll pass the character test with flying colors.

Bible Reading Plan:
Luke 5:27-32
Psalms 119:137-144
II Kings 10-11

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Ecclesiastes 7:9

How quickly are you provoked to anger during competition?  Would your teammates say that you are slow to anger or that you have a short fuse?  Today’s scripture explains why it’s better to keep a cool head in competition.

In chapter 7 and verse 9 of Ecclesiastes we read, “Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit, for anger resides in the lap of fools.”

It’s very common in sport for a hot head to suddenly blow up during a competition.  They get provoked by some trash talk, by a cheap shot, by a coach’s comment or any number of things.  They are provoked in their spirits and erupt in a foolish demonstration of anger.  Some people even think they compete better when right on the edge of a fit of rage.

There is one very great problem with that.  Such anger and rage rest squarely in the lap of fools.  One’s rage is more often an indicator of foolishness than of greatness in competition.  Such anger more often results in technical fouls and penalties than excellence in technique and strategy.

As you compete today, stay under control emotionally.  Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit.  Rage and anger will only lead to foolish penalties and terrible consequences.

Bible Reading Plan:
Ephesians 2:1-11
Psalms 119:129-136
II Kings 8-9

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Galatians 6:2

How can we as athletes fully please God with our efforts?  How can we best serve God's will in relation to our teammates and coaches?  In the Bible we're given a great example of a transforming attitude.

In Paul's letter to the Galatians at chapter 6 and verse 2 it says, "Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ."  Here we can clearly see the values that God has for us in human relations.  The highest act of loving God can be accomplished by loving the people He's put in our lives.

Who do you know among your family or teammates who has a real burden to bear?  How can you help that person bear his load?  What can you do or say that will lighten his load or will allow him to share it with you?  That is the essence of God's kind of love.

Take this same attitude into today's competition.  How can you make your teammates better and more effective in their play?  How can you carry the load for a teammate who is injured or otherwise at less than 100%.  This is how we fulfill the law of Christ.

Bible Reading Plan:
Luke 5:12-16
Philippians 1:21-30
Psalm 119:121-128
II Kings 6-7

Friday, June 15, 2018

Proverbs 21:21

How many hours do you spend in preparation for one game?  How about your opponents?  Does extra practice always make for more wins?  What other factors go in to making a team victorious? 

In Proverbs chapter 21 and verse 21 it says, “The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but victory rests with the Lord.”  Every day at practice you and your team works hard to prepare for their days of competition, but ultimately we all must look to the Lord for victory in the things we cannot control.

Is this to say that it's God who determines who wins and who loses in our competition?  No, but it is saying that in the battles we face, there is a whole host of things that are beyond our control.  As much as we prepare for anything, there are still things we must trust God to supply.

It's our job to prepare to the best of our abilities, but we must also trust the Lord Jesus to bring the victory to our lives.  It's very encouraging to me to know that the Creator of the whole universe wants me to trust Him with all the affairs of my life...even competition.

As you prepare to compete today, give your 100% best effort to every detail... preparation is very important.  In addition, trust the Lord with your whole heart and look to Him to deal with the things you cannot control.  Ultimately, the Bible says that victory rests with the Lord.

Bible Reading Plans:
Luke 5:1-11
Philippians 1:12-20
Psalms 119:113-120
II Kings 4-5

Thursday, June 14, 2018

G r e a t n e s s
Matthew 20:26-28

In our society, who seems to be the greater, the player who scores 25 points and grabs 15 rebounds a game or the one who carries water to her teammates during time outs?

In Matthew chapter 20 at verses 26 - 28, Jesus says, “Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave - just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.”

Jesus turns the whole world upside down with this thought.  Those who are truly great are the ones who sere their teammates, making themselves and their team better in the process.

Service is greater than selfishness and sacrifice gives life to one’s team.  Let’s emulate Christ by serving each other and sacrificing for our teammates.

Play this game in an attitude of selflessness, giving to your teammates and coaches the last full measure of devotion.  We’ll be like Christ when we serve others and sacrifice for our team.

Bible Reading Plan:
Luke 4:38-44
Philippians 1:1-11
Psalms 119:105-112