Friday, August 31, 2018

T H E   C O M P L E T E   P L A Y E R
II Peter 1:3

What one thing could be added to your game that would make you the competitor that you’ve always dreamed of being?  I’m sure you have a short list of things that you dream about having that would make you more complete.  What do you really need to be the most complete person you could be? 

Peter wrote about these ideas at chapter 1 and verse 3 of his second letter, “…as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue.”  All things?  Really?

Yes, really.  God has given us everything that we need… pertaining to life and godliness.  We certainly may be missing some facets of the game that would make us more complete players, but we have been given everything we need to be the people He’s called us to be.

That’s great news.  I can practice, learn, train and compete to become a more complete athlete, but it’s tremendous to know that God has supplied all I need to honor Him with my life through godly living.

As you prepare for competition, remember the great gifts you’ve been given and employ them all in pursuit of a victory.  Remember also the great investment that God has made in you to be the person He has created you to be.

Bible Reading Plan:
Proverbs 14:1-18
Nehemiah 13

Thursday, August 30, 2018

H A T E   W I S D O M   –   L O V E   D E A T H
Proverbs 8:36

When does failure sting the most sharply?  Immediately or after a year or two?  What kind of failure results in personal loss?  Have you ever had a teammate who seemed addicted to failure?  Today’s scripture talks about people who seem to love death.

We again find Wisdom personified in Proverbs 8 and verse 36, “But whoever fails to find me harms himself; all who hate me love death.”

In direct contrast to verse 35’s encouragement about finding wisdom, life and favor; those who fail to find wisdom suffer harm at their own hands.  They could fail because of lack of effort, through being undisciplined or simply by quitting.  You probably know someone who suffered great loss by giving up too easily.

It says that all who hate wisdom, love death.  If we receive life as we attain wisdom, then when we despise it we reveal our bent toward death and destruction. 

In today’s competition, be careful to act wisely.  Don’t miss wisdom’s instructions when they come from your coaches or teammates.  Don’t despise the words of wisdom and so embrace the destruction of your team’s goals and aspirations.  Make this a day of life-filled victory!

Bible Reading Plan:
Luke 18:9-17
II Timothy 4

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Hebrews 11:1

For what do you hope with a great confidence that it will be realized?  A conference championship?  A win in this competition?  A date this weekend?  Your mother’s love?  Of what are you certain without ever having seen it?  Are you certain that the ball will come down after it goes up?  Are you certain that your mother will be there when you go home for break?  That’s what faith looks like.

Faith is defined in the book of Hebrews at chapter 11 and verse 1, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”  Obviously the things for which we hope are just out of reach or it wouldn’t be hope.  Faith is the substance of such things.  Things which we can’t see are often hard to believe, but faith is the evidence that they are real.

As competitors we’d be terribly weakened if we had no hopes, no aspirations, and no expectations of success.  Through faith, active trust, in our teammates and coaching staff we can experience the substance of those things hoped for.  We can touch those achievements that are often months in the future.

We all need faith, active trust, to continue to believe that we can achieve like champions on the days when we fail like losers.  To see the untapped potential in a teammate is the stuff of faith.  To see yourselves as winners during a frustrating practice session is to have evidence of things not seen.  Faith = active trust.
Exercise faith in today’s competition and so achieve like never before.

Bible Reading Plan:
Proverbs 10:17-32
Nehemiah 6

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

John 1:26-27

What would happen if the greatest player you’ve ever heard of came to your practice and wanted to play with your team?  How would you react?  How much respect would he be given?  A similar situation happened one day in Jesus’ life.

In John’s Gospel at chapter 1 and verses 26 and 27 we read, John answered them saying, “I baptize with water, but there stands One among you whom you do not know.  It is He who, coming after me, is preferred before me, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose.”

John the Baptist knew what no one else could grasp on that day.  He knew who Jesus was and he knew the respect that was due Him.  The people who stood there that day had no clue that this young man from Nazareth would in the space of three years die a sacrificial death on a cross in Jerusalem.

Had they been athletes, John might have said that he wasn’t worthy of carrying Jesus’ shoes to the gym.  John knew the respect that Jesus was due, even when no one else recognized Him.

It may be that way with you and your team today.  There could be in your midst, on the field of competition with you, one of the great players of the game.  The important thing is to recognize and respect such greatness.  Your coaching staff may prove to be among the most influential people in your life, give them the respect and honor they are due.  Be like John the Baptist and recognize the wise and honorable people who cross your life’s path.  Have a great game today.

Bible Reading Plan:
Luke 16:1-9
I Timothy 6:11-21

Monday, August 27, 2018

C O M M U N I C A T I  O N
I Corinthians 6:11

Who are the best leaders among your teammates?  Would you say that they communicate freely or rather grudgingly?  Today, we’ll all receive a leadership lesson in communication.

In his second letter to the Corinthian church at chapter 6 and verse 11, the Apostle Paul wrote these words, “We have spoken freely to you, Corinthians, and opened wide our hearts to you.”  This is the nature of good leadership – free and open communication.

In the first century and in the 21st century, good leadership comes from the open hearts of leaders.  When leaders are open and honest with their teams, following is rather natural and productive.  Good leadership speaks freely and from the heart.  Such speech inspires and encourages teammates to be their best.

Take a moment to examine your personal leadership style, is it characterized by an open heart and free communication?  Do your teammates believe you when you speak to them or do they wonder about what you’re trying to get from them? 
As you approach today’s competition, open wide your hearts to each other and your communication will flourish.  Let your open hearts lead you to a great victory.

Bible Reading Plan:
Proverbs 5
Ezra 8

Sunday, August 26, 2018

L I F E   A N D   F A V O R
Proverbs 8:35

What could you look for that upon its being found, pays the dividend of life itself?  What could be so valuable that when it’s attained brings the best stuff of life?  The scriptures have the answer.

In Proverbs chapter 8 and verse 35 we read further about Wisdom personified, “For whoever finds me finds life and received favor from the Lord.”

The proverb says that whoever finds me finds life.  I would infer that not everyone is going to look… there are plenty of fools around… they can’t even spell wisdom!  The person who would be wise will have to search for wisdom and pursue it at all costs.  When one does find it, the payoff is life itself… what a great reward!

Additionally, the one who finds wisdom also receives favor from the Lord.  Favor is often entrance to a most exclusive place of influence…like being a college athlete.  Sometimes it is gracious accommodation of you as a person…like when you get to fly first class when you paid coach fare.  We receive such favor from the Lord as we pursue and attain wisdom.

In today’s competition, find wisdom and find its rich rewards.  Life and favor will be yours as you compete wisely and with all you hearts.

Bible Reading Plan:
Luke 13:22-35
I Timothy 3:1-10

Saturday, August 25, 2018

John 14:6

Where do you look for wisdom about how to do things?  What is the source of ultimate truth?  How do we find real life?  The Bible answers these and many more questions with a one word answer...Jesus.

In the gospel of John chapter 14 and verse 6, Jesus says, "I am the way and the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father but through me."  In pursuing our goals in life and in competition we must know the way to go, the truth to hold on to and the life that satisfies.

Christ is the way - He directs our paths to the right things, the right people, away from things that are harmful to us and toward things that bring us life.  Look to Him for the way to win.

Christ is the truth - He speaks to us the truth about all matters of life.  A life based on lies cannot be successful.  Search God's Word to know real, timeless truth.  Listen for the truth when making decisions moment by moment.

Christ is the life - He gives us life through relationship with Him.  Life that is powerful, exciting, confident, secure, bigger than death and free of fear.  Receive this kind of life and enjoy it!!

Compete today with the great confidence that comes from knowing the right way, the real truth and possessing real life.

Bible Reading Plan:
Luke 20:20-26
Philemon 12-25
Proverbs 17:15-28
Esther 9-10

Friday, August 24, 2018

F A I T H ,   H O P E ,   L O V E
I Corinthians 13:13

What is the most durable thing you can think of?  What is there in your life that will outlive you?  I have some ideas from a powerful scripture.

In the first letter to the Corinthian church, Paul the Apostle writes at chapter 13 and verse 13, "And now these three remain: faith, hope and love.  But the greatest of these is love."  Here are three things that are eternally durable.

Two thousand years from today they will still be as vital and powerful as they are now.  Of the three, love is preeminent because it provides the relationship that is the context for the faith and hope.

Today play with confident expectation of good - that's hope.
Play in faith - actively trusting your coaches, your teammates and your God.  Play in the great freedom afforded by those who love you and are committed to you.

Bible Reading Plan:
Luke 20:9-19
Philemon 1-11
Proverbs 17:1-14
Esther 7-8

Thursday, August 23, 2018

F I E R C E   C O M P E T I T O R S
Psalm 104:21

Have you ever seen an athlete compete like he was stalking his opponent?  When you compete do you do it with passion and ferocity?  Is it possible that these kinds of ideas are in the Bible?

In Psalm 104 and verse 21 it says, “The young lions roar after their prey, and seek their food from God.”  I've read this at times and thought about how athletes sometimes "roar" after their opponents in competition.  Often when I'm competing in athletics it seems like I'm stalking my opponent, preparing to make a kill.

As we compete, like a wild lion, we can fiercely pursue our goals, but ultimately we must seek our food from God.  We must see the Lord as the only source of the kind of food that satisfies.  Food for our souls.

Let's compete today in a way that is like a roaring, young lion.  Let's doggedly pursue our quarry and let's not be satisfied until we've accomplished our goals.  As you pray, ask the Lord to feed your soul with the food that only He can provide. 

Bible Reading Plan:
Luke 20:1-8
Titus 3:9-15
Proverbs 16:17-33
Esther 5-6

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Matthew 7:6

What sort of things do you value most highly?  What are some treasures worthy of protection?

Jesus is recorded as saying these words in Matthew chapter 7 and verse 6, “Do not give to dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs.  If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces.”

 You are in possession of some of life’s greatest commodities: vision, athletic ability, intelligence, friends and leadership skills.  Don’t throw these pearls in the mud with the pigs.  Don’t give these sacred gifts to dogs.  There are people with whom you’re acquainted who are not worthy of your devotion.  They’d only trample your gifts and then turn to destroy you.

 Choose your friends carefully.  Judiciously think about with whom you’ll spend your time.  Invest your time in people with whom you can be influential for good and with people who bring out the best in you.

 As you prepare to compete today, focus on the tremendous gifts you’ve been given by a loving God.  Thank Him for your opportunities and ask Him for the wisdom to value and protect your pearls.

Bible Reading Plan:
Luke 19:39-48
Titus 3:1-8
Proverbs 16:1-16
Esther 3-4

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

L I V I N G    S A C R I F I C E S
Romans 12:1-2

What sort of sacrifices have you made for your athletic career?  What have you given up to pursue a life of athletics?  Sacrifice is something most people never even consider, let alone complete.  In these next three letters we'll consider what it is to be a living sacrifice.

In Paul's letter to the Romans at chapter 12 and verses 1 and 2 it says, "Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God-this is your spiritual act of worship.  Do not conform any longer to the pattern of the world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind."

At the time of this writing by Paul, sacrifices were usually killed and laid upon an altar to be burned up.  The problem with "living sacrifices" is that they tend to crawl off the altar when it gets a little hot.  We start with good intentions of making a sacrifice for our teammates, our family or career, but when it gets uncomfortable we often snatch the sacrifice from the altar and lose the reward that comes from faithfulness.

The good news is that God's grace enables us to offer our very bodies in daily service to Him.  He calls it holy, pleasing service that is a spiritual act of worship.  Let God's grace move you to sacrifice whatever it takes to pursue a life that's holy and pleasing to the Lord.  Further, make the sacrifices necessary to pursue the goals you and your team have established for this season.

Bible Reading Plan:
Luke 19:28-38
Titus 1:11-15
Proverbs 1518-33
Esther 2

Monday, August 20, 2018

D A I L Y   W I S D O M
Proverbs 8:34

When I was a young man and pursuing my girlfriend (now my wife of over 30 years), I knew exactly where she lived, when and where she went to class and every angle that made for an opportunity for me to know her.  Today’s scripture tells us to pursue wisdom just like that.

Proverbs chapter 8 and verse 34 says, “Blessed is the man who listens to me, watching daily at my doors, waiting at my doorway.”

Wisdom is personified by the author as a lovely woman, full of life giving truth.  It says the man who listens to her is blessed.  The key to receiving the blessing is to listen, watch and wait for her.

We can hear wisdom as we listen to our coaches and other mentors.  Further, we must listen daily; implying regularity and discipline.  We hear most effectively when we listen at wisdom’s doors… where she lives.

Wisdom lives in the minds of your coaching staff, your parents, your instructors and even in some teammates.  Listen closely and you’ll be blessed.  Wisdom resides in the Bible and God speaks loudly and clearly daily through its words.  Have a great competition today.

Bible Reading Plan:
Luke 19:11-27
Titus 2:1-10
Proverbs 15:1-17
Esther 1

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Hebrews 10:23

What were your preseason expectations?  Upon what were they based?  Were they based on returning veteran players, on new players just joining the team, on a new game plan or some other intangible factor?  Upon what do your expectations of God rest?  Let’s think together about how these fit in the life of a competitor.

The writer of the letter to the Hebrews writes at chapter 10 and verse 23, “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.”

It’s normal and often helpful to have great expectations of your team through the preseason and into the first competitions of the year.  We all start with great hopes for a successful season and dream of championships.  We’d be less than true competitors if we did anything less.  We are wise if we base these expectations on the people around us rather than on all the circumstances beyond our control.  We can hold fast to our hope, as a team, by trusting each other and working together.

Another comforting thought from this scripture is that our hope for real life, now and throughout the future, is based on the nature of God.  The writer says that “He who promised is faithful.”  The very faithful nature of God is the guarantee of the promises made by our Father to us in the Bible.  That’s worth holding onto with both hands!

As you compete today, hold fast to your expectations of your team and of yourself.  Cling tightly to your hope for the team’s success.  Trust the Lord Jesus to be faithful and to keep his promises to you.  Make this a day in which you exceed even your greatest expectations.

Bible Reading Plan:
Luke 19:1-10
Titus 1:10-16
Proverbs 14:19-35

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Psalm 20:7

Have you ever been a part of a great team?  Have you noticed how people around the team tend to boast and brag about how good they are?  They take great pride in the team and talk about championships.  In whom do you boast?  In whom do you take pride?  

 In Psalm 20 and verse 7 the writer says, "Some boast in chariots and some in horses, but we will boast in the name of the Lord, our God."  This makes me question the things in which I make my boast.  In what do you boast?  What do you talk about most?  Whom do you speak of most often? 

Some players boast in their physical strength or their jumping ability or their quickness.  Some teams boast in their coaches, or their records, or their winning traditions. Others, however boast in their relationship with the Lord Jesus.  These people  know that their relationship with God is the only thing that is truly permanent and eternally durable.  They know that strength will wane and teams will dissolve, but the Lord is unchanging and He is always available to them.

Today when you pray, look to the Lord for real strength.  Ask Him to give you opportunities to boast in His name.  Examine your heart and see where your boasting resides.  Is it in horses or chariots?  In strength or quickness?  In hops or jump shots?  Or is it in the name of the Lord? 

Make your boast in the Lord, today and every day of your life.

Bible Reading Plan:
Luke 18:31-43
Titus 1:1-9
Nehemiah 12

Friday, August 17, 2018

Jeremiah 12:5

When was the last time you did some honest evaluation of your abilities?  When have you sized up your competition to see how well you've done? 

In Jeremiah's book of prophesy he writes about this idea, If you have raced with men on foot and they have worn you out, how can you compete with horses? 

Many times athletes who are doing very well get overly confident of their abilities.  They are often simply competing against inferior opponents and receive a rude awakening when they face some better competition. 

Jeremiah asks a hard question.  He says that if these third string athletes are wearing us out, how well do we expect to compete with the first team players?  What are we to do?  Have an honest estimate of your abilities and work to improve.  Don't boast about your successes, you may have been playing against inferior competition and you could be embarrassed by superior athletes later.

As you pray before today's competition, ask the Lord to help you compete well.  You may be playing against athletes the level of men on foot or you may be up against athletes that seem to run like horses.  Either way seek to honor the Lord with your life.

Bible Reading Plan:
Luke 18:18-30
Proverbs 13:13-25
Nehemiah 11

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Matthew 5:8

With whom have you competed that had extraordinary vision for your sport?  Who seemed to be able to see things on the field of competition that no one else could see?  What would it be like to see things as God sees them?  How can we begin to do so?

In Matthew’s gospel at chapter 5 and verse 8 we read, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.”  This is another of the verses from the Beatitudes. 

To be blessed is to be contented and happy with one’s lot in life.  Jesus says we’re blessed when we’re pure in heart, that is pure in our motives and purposes.  We all need to check out our motives and our purposes for the things we do.  Am I being selfish or selfless?  Am I seeking the best for others?  Is my personal agenda being placed above that of the team?  How pure am I in heart?

The exciting promise is this.  When we are pure in heart we have an uncommon insight into God’s view of the situation at hand.  We can understand what would please Him and have the ability to choose wisely.

As you prepare for competition today, ask the Lord to cleanse and purify your heart.  Ask Him for pure-hearted vision to see what He sees and to thereby be the ideal teammate and competitor.

Bible Reading Plan:
II Timothy 3:10-17
Proverbs 13:1-12
Nehemiah 10

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

I Timothy 1:5

When do you feel conflicted, like your heart is divided?  Sometimes we’re caught between two sets of values.  These moments of divided hearts and conflicting values happen more often that we’d like to admit.

In Paul’s first letter to his young friend Timothy at chapter 1 and verse 5 he wrote, “The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.” 

Paul was instructing Timothy to focus on God’s work and to avoid foolish controversies.  His goal for such instruction was love, purity of heart, a clear conscience and faith with integrity.

The goal of these simple thoughts is love.  That you would love God and your teammates is my foremost aspiration.  Such love comes from a heart that is pure, one that’s been made clean and restored to wholeness.  Such love comes from a good conscience, one that has been freed from guilt and despair.  Such love comes form a sincere faith, one that simply trusts God with all the matters of life, especially sport.

As you prepare to compete today, take some time to examine your heart.  Is it pure?  Is you conscience good?  Is your faith sincere?  I trust that affirmative answers to such questions will enable you to compete freely and confidently.

Bible Reading Plan:
Luke 18:1-8
II Timothy 3:1-9
Proverbs 12:15-28
Nehemiah 9

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

L O V E   Y O U R …
Mark 12:31

We talked elsewhere about the most important principle of your sport and about the number one commandment for life.  What might be principle and commandment number two?  
 Jesus voices this second commandment right on the heels of the first in Mark chapter 12 and verse 31, where we read, “The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself.  There is no commandment greater than these.”

You’ve probably heard this for years, but I would like to have you substitute some sport-oriented words for the word “neighbor.” 
Give this a try…  Love your teammate as yourself.  Love your coach as yourself.  Love your officials as yourself.  Love your opponent as yourself.  Love your athletic trainer, equipment manager, even your fans as yourself.  That sounds easy, but how do we do this in practical terms?

Do you expect the best of yourself?  Expect the same of your teammates.  Love them as you do yourself.  Do you believe your intentions are pure?  Believe the same of others.  Love them as you do yourself.  Do you desire love and respect?  Desire the same for all those around you.  Love them as you do yourself.
As you compete in today’s contest, extend the love you receive from God to the people who surround you.  Whether coach, teammate, fan or official, give each one the love and respect that you desire for yourself.

Bible Reading Plan:
Luke 17:20-37
II Timothy 2:14-26
Proverbs 12:1-14
Nehemiah 8

Monday, August 13, 2018

Romans 8:28

What sorts of things get you down during the season?  Bad performances during games?  Ugly practices?  Long road trips?  Strained relationships on the team?  Challenges in classes?  Whatever the circumstance, we have a great promise related to God's will and His provision.

In Paul's letter to his friends in Rome at chapter 8 and verse 28, he tells them, "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to his purpose."  According to Paul, a guy who had decades of difficult days, God's at work in the whole process of our lives.

It says that He's at work in all things... good things, bad things, smart things, stupid things, fun things, painful things... all things.  God is at work in all these things to bring about good for you.  Even in the worst, most stupid and dreadfully painful situations of life, God is at work to bring good to you.

Whether it's a losing streak, a lost friendship, a broken family, a failing grade or whatever; God's promise to you is the same.  He's seeking your good every day, all day.  Rest in that promise today and trust Him as you compete in confidence and security.

Bible Reading Plan:
Luke 17:11-19
II Timothy 2:1-13
Proverbs 11:16-31
Nehemiah 7

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Proverbs 6:16-19

Have you ever been on a team where someone is constantly stirring up trouble between teammates or with the coaching staff?  It’s not a pleasant place to be and that person is in a precarious position.

Here is the last of seven things the Lord finds detestable in Proverbs chapter 6 and verses 16 through 19, “There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to Him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies, and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers.”

This is different that the other six in that this time it’s the person the Lord finds detestable, not just his or her behavior.  This kind of person dredges up the sediment of past hurts and divisions between people to divide them.  Once settled arguments are fired up again by his whispering accusations or emphasis on contrary opinions.

People who should be the most natural allies, like teammates or brothers, are suddenly divided by this person’s cutting words.  Rather than do that, let’s choose to preserve unity.  Instead of dividing people, we can unify them through encouragement and by promoting quick resolution of problems.  We can maintain tremendous attitudes on the team by seeking reconciliation at the first mention of conflict and division.

Preserve unity in this day’s competition by making your best effort in every moment as you pursue a win for your teammates and coaching staff.

Bible Reading Plan:
Luke 17:1-10
II Timothy 1:8-18
Proverbs 11:1-15

Saturday, August 11, 2018

P R E S S   C O N F E R E N C E
Proverbs 6:16-19

How well do you handle press conferences or newspaper and television interviews?  How do you handle it when a coach resigns or is fired?  What do you tell your friends when a teammate is suspended, benched, injured or dismissed?  Do you tell the truth or do you concoct a story to cover the situation?  Be careful…

In Proverbs chapter 6 and verses 16 through 19 we read about the things God hates, “There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to Him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies…”

A false witness is someone who knows the truth, but is unwilling to tell it.  Rather than tell the truth or say nothing, the false witness makes up a story to cover his backside.  Usually this takes place in public, like the courtroom or the press conference.

To pour out lies looks like a huge bucket being tipped over and spilling out its contents of deception, half-truth and perjury.  The lies thus poured out are meant to obscure the truth like paint would cover a stain.

Choose to speak wisely in public.  There are always situations that require us to protect information given us in confidence.  We must protect the trust given us by teammates, coaches and friends and sometimes the best thing to say is nothing.  Speak wisely and everyone will be pleased, with the possible exception of sportswriters.

Have a great day of competition and enjoy the interviews as you speak with tremendous wisdom!

Bible Reading Plan:
Luke 16:19-31
II Timothy 1:1-7
Nehemiah 4-5

Friday, August 10, 2018

S U D D E N   D E S T R U C T I O N
Proverbs 6:16-18

Have you heard the story of Len Bias?  He was the first round draft pick of the Boston Celtics in the 1986 NBA draft.  During the evening that followed his selection, he overdosed on cocaine and died.  His story serves to illustrate another of the things God hates.

In Proverbs chapter 6 and verses 16 through 18 we read, “There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to Him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil…”

You may be wondering why God hates these things.  It’s simple really; all the things from this passage injure people.  Some quickly, some slowly, but the end is inevitably the same, people die.  That’s why He hates these behaviors, He profoundly loves people.

Len Bias’ feet were quick to rush into cocaine abuse and it cost him his life that same night.  A thing that kills some people over the space of decades did him in with one stroke.  His feet were quick to rush into evil and death was waiting for him there.

Let’s choose to avoid evil.  You probably already know where it lives and which of your friends hang out there.  Avoid it at all costs!  You could dodge it effectively for a while, or you could be like Len Bias and suffer immediately.  The sure solution is to avoid the evil all together. 

In today’s competition, let your feet be quick to rush into first place!!  Let them be quick to serve your team and to fulfill your goals.  Have a great day of competition!

Bible Reading Plan:
Luke 16:10-18
Proverbs 10:1-16
Nehemiah 3

Thursday, August 9, 2018

W I C K E D   S C H E M E S
Proverbs 6:16-18

Do you remember hearing about some of the outrageous recruiting violations of recent years?  How about the academic cheating at some institutions?  Who dreams up that stuff?  Why do they do such things?

Such scheming is another of the things God hates as we read in Proverbs chapter 6 and verses 16 through 18, “There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to Him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes…”

The proverb says it’s the heart that drives these schemes.  Your heart contains your passions, your affections and emotions that can sometimes override your mind.  To devise a scheme is to conceive a plot, to carefully plan a course of action.  A wicked scheme is one that illicitly profits from another’s loss, it seeks to injure others, to cheat or defraud.  Nasty stuff, huh?  No wonder the Lord hates these.

Let’s choose purity.  Rather than devising wicked schemes, let’s plot how to encourage and uplift one another.  Rather than planning to cheat or steal, let’s consider how we may embellish our teammates and coaches.  Guard your heart and check your motives and you’ll keep your heart turned toward purity.  Compete with purity and passion today.

Bible Reading Plan:
I Timothy 6:1-10
Proverbs 9
Nehemiah 1-2

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Proverbs 6:16-17

Have you ever been the victim of a cheap shot in your sport?  Some athletes take advantage of their opponents by using a compromising position to hurt or humiliate them.  This is similar to another of the things God hates.

Proverbs chapter 6 and verses 16 and 17 says, “There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to Him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood…”

A person’s hands are symbolic of his deeds or actions and hands that shed innocent blood literally kill people.  In our world of sports though, we would say that they injure or wound an opponent or teammate.  

I’ve seen many competitors undercut while making a lay up or viciously hit after a whistle on the football field.  To maliciously injure a teammate, opponent, coach or friend is tantamount to shedding innocent blood.  What then shall we do?

Choose to love.  I don’t know anyone who is more competitive than me.  However we must make the conscious choice to subdue that old, win at any cost, mentality and choose to compete wisely.  That kind of an attitude is driven by love, the thing God loves more than anything.  Have a great day of competition.

Bible Reading Plan:
Luke 15:11-32
I Timothy 5:16-25
Proverbs 8
Ezra 10

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

L Y I N G   T O N G U E S
Proverbs 6:16-17

Have you ever had a teammate who lied to your coach or the team?  How did you react?  Don’t you hate that?  God does also…

In Proverbs chapter 6 and verses 16 and 17 we find more of the things God hates, “There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to Him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue…”

Your tongue usually betrays your real feelings and thoughts, even when you try to disguise them.  Your tongue sometimes brings out speech like, gossip, trash talking, and excuses for missing class or practice.  At other times it might deceive the trainer regarding the severity of an injury, or mislead the coach about your behavior away from the team. 
These are called lies and the Lord hates them.

Lying is purposeful deception, half-truths or empty flattery.  In any case, it is detestable to God and to the victims of such speech.

Choose to speak truth.  No one wins when we deceive and the best for everyone is always served when we speak the truth.

In today’s competition, speak the truth in encouraging your teammates and coaches.  Speak truthfully to the trainers and your opponents.  Remember, God hates a lying tongue… I’d rather have Him on my side than against me.

Bible Reading Plan:
Luke 15:1-10
I Timothy 5:1-15
Proverbs 7
Ezra 9

Monday, August 6, 2018

Proverbs 6:16

What do you hate more than anything on earth? Is it spinach, sauer kraut, cough syrup, lies, or losing?  Maybe it’s coming in any place but first.  In today’s letter we’ll hear about the first of 6 things that God hates, seven that he finds detestable.

 In Proverbs chapter 6 and verse 16 we read, “There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to Him: haughty eyes…”

Have you ever seen the swagger of a returning champion?  That’s what haughty eyes look like.  They’re proud of themselves and they haven’t even won anything yet! 

Haughty eyes are proud, arrogant and filled with selfishness.  They look down on others as they perceive everyone else as inferior.  They wear their superior glasses as they look in the mirror of vanity. 

Rather than being like those with haughty eyes, choose humility.  Put away arrogance and pride and take on a humble attitude toward your teammates and opponents.  Let your speed, strength and endurance speak for you and you won’t have to run your mouth nearly as much.

Make this a great day of competition and choose to compete humbly. In doing so you will avoid displaying the haughty attitude God hates. 

Bible Reading Plan:
Luke 14:25-35
I Timothy 4
Proverbs 6

Sunday, August 5, 2018

E X P R E S S I O N S   O F   H O P E
I Peter 3:15

How do you respond when you see a teammate who demonstrates strong commitment and devotion to his/her sport or to his/her team?  Do you wonder why?  Maybe you follow his/her example.  Have you ever asked him/her why he/she’s so committed?

In the book of First Peter at chapter 3 and verse 15 we read the following, “But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord.  Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.  But do this with gentleness and respect.”

Peter’s counsel is simple – a committed heart will be noticed by others.  A committed heart will prompt questions.  When people ask you about your commitment, give them an answer with gentleness and respect.

It’s the same for us in sport.  Your commitment to your sport and to your team will be noticed by many.  Some of them will even ask you questions about it.  Your committed heart is an enigma to them and most will not understand.  When they do ask you about it, give them a simple answer gently and respectfully.  Even if they still don’t understand, you’ve answered them well.

As you approach today’s competition, understand that your level of commitment may be out of the ordinary and others may not fully appreciate it.  Expect such commitment to be noticed, to raise questions and even objections.  Be prepared to answer all who ask with gentleness and respect.

Bible Reading Plan:
Luke 14:15-24
I Timothy 3:11-16
Ezra 7