Sunday, September 30, 2018

John 3:30

What does true humility look like?  Is it that, “Aw, shucks, it weren’t nothing,” kick the dirt with your head down and slumping shoulders look?  Maybe it’s the quiet, “Thank you,” when you’ve been complimented.  Maybe it’s something even greater.

In John’s Gospel at chapter 3 and verse 30 we read, “He must increase, but I must decrease.”  These are the words of John the Baptist as his younger cousin, Jesus of Nazareth, is being criticized. 

Please bear in mind that this man, John, is the first one in 400 years to do the job he’s doing.  HE’S THE MAN!!  There’s nobody else in his league.  Up comes Jesus and John immediately deflects the praise and honor to Him.  Even more, he says that Jesus must increase and John must decrease.

This is true humility.  John knew who was greater, it was Jesus.  He knew that Jesus was God and thus gave Him the respect and honor He was due.

A similar dynamic works on good teams.  We all know who the most talented players are and who is best to have the ball in the most crucial moments.  Let’s defer to them like John did to Jesus.  For the good of the team, let’s give proper respect and honor to our teammates.  In exercising proper humility, we will find ourselves to be winners of another sort, the godly sort.  Have a great game today.

Bible Reading Plan:
Luke 23:26-31
Hebrews 10:1-18

Saturday, September 29, 2018

I Peter 4:12

When have you most recently suffered as a result of competition?  Was that suffering physical, emotional or mental in nature?  Did it seem like you were alone in your suffering?  That’s a very common feeling, but I have good news for those in the midst of trials.

Peter wrote to his friends who were themselves undergoing intense suffering at chapter 4 and verse 12 of his first letter, “Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you…”  Peter calls his friends to be mindful that they’re in good company when they suffer.

In the middle of suffering, whether from an injury or a disappointing loss, there is often a profound loneliness that comes to us.  We feel alienated when injury or illness sends us to the sideline and we’re unable to contribute to the team as we’re accustomed.  The whole situation seems very strange.

Peter’s encouragement is that we are not the victims of some strange misfortune.  He says that these trials can even make us better than we were.  What’s more, if we’ll listen closely, we can sense the Lord Jesus right there with us in the middle of the trial and working for our good.  We can have the assurance of his presence as we suffer any misfortune.

Play this day’s game with courage and great passion.  Play with full confidence in the Lord’s presence and His great love for you.   

Bible Reading Plan:
Proverbs 24:1-22
Isaiah 34-36

Friday, September 28, 2018

Matthew 11:25

Are there things to be learned by playing sports that cannot be learned through books, seminars and lectures?  I think so.
In Matthew’s gospel at chapter 11 and verse 25 we read, “I praise you Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children.”

Could you as athletes, playing little children’s games, be privy to knowledge that escapes those in the philosophy department?  Yes!!  You know things about discipline, determination, teamwork and loyalty that can only be learned through competition.  The great thing is that those concepts are revealed to us from above.  Our Lord uncovers truth for us to observe and to grasp, then to implement in the life of our team.

Play today with great confidence, knowing that you’re among the highly privileged people of sport.  God has chosen to reveal things to you that most other people will never discover.

Bible Reading Plan:
Luke 22:39-46
Hebrews 7:1-10

Thursday, September 27, 2018

T H R E E     G R E A T    A T T I T U D E S
Romans 12:12

Some arenas have an atmosphere in which it seems almost impossible for visiting teams to win.  This is a tough place to play for every team that comes in here.  Let's talk about some attitudes that overcome atmospheres.

In Paul's letter to the Romans at chapter 12 and verse 12 he writes, "Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer."  Here we have three attitudes; joy, patience and faithfulness that work in three atmospheres; hope, affliction and prayer.

Here's how this works for us today:
• A joyful attitude helps you press on while waiting for the things hoped for.
• Patience helps you endure afflictions like muscle pulls, sprained ankles    and such.
• Faithfulness in prayer provides confidence and assurance in any     atmosphere.

Let these three attitudes: joy, patience and faithfulness lead you into greatness in today's competition.

Bible Reading Plan:
Proverbs 21:17-31
Isaiah 21-23

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Proverbs 14:35

Do you enjoy a good relationship with your coaches?  Do you have favor with them or do they seem to be angry with you a lot?  We read about some probable causes for both cases in the Bible.

In the book of Proverbs at chapter 14 and verse 35 it says, “The king's favor is toward a servant who acts wisely, but his anger is toward him who acts shamefully.” Don't let the king and servant language throw you, just think coach and athlete.
One good reason for a coach to favor a player is that he's acting wisely.  That player is working hard, responding to correction, being respectful, and working with his teammates, in short acting with wisdom.  This kind of behavior often results in a player having favor with his coach or teacher or supervisor.

One good reason for a coach to be angry with a player is that he's acting shamefully.  This person seems to do all the things that displease the coach.  No wonder he's angry!  Players who skip class, break curfew, engage in foolish activities and disrespect their coaches and teammates are acting shamefully.  They deserve and get their coach's anger.

As you prepare for competition in prayer today, ask the Lord for favor with your coaching staff.  Ask Him to lead you to act wisely, not shamefully.

Bible Reading Plan:
Luke 21:29-38
Hebrews 4:1-11

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Philippians 3:13

Every athlete I've ever known needed a powerful focus upon his goals in order to achieve his highest performance.  How do we appropriate our faith in Christ toward our life as athletes?  Today's Scripture speaks of these ideas.

In Paul's letter to the Philippians at chapter 3 and verse 13 it says, "But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus."  This is a dynamic principal about the pursuit of goals.

It's obviously hard to focus on your goals as a person or a team if you're constantly looking backward.  That's why he says he forgets what is behind.  Let go of the things that have hurt you in the past.  Forgive the people and forget the hurts.  Don't focus too much on your past successes either.  We can't be successful if we answer today's problems with yesterday's solutions.

He said to strain toward what's ahead.  The short term objectives that we set should be in line with our ultimate goal and should be kept fully in sight.  You can't play a whole season of games in one day, but you can work to win the one game you have to play today.  The short term objective is immediately ahead of you on the road to achieving your ultimate goals.

He also said to press on toward the goal.  You have a great opportunity to do that today.  Focus clearly on the goals you've established as a team and pursue them with great vigor.  Do as he said and strain toward what is ahead.  A clear vision of your team goals will add to team unity, teamwork, success and even increase the fun in playing.  Press on toward the goal!

Bible Reading Plan:
Luke 24:45-53
Hebrews 13:9-25
Proverbs 31
Isaiah 65-66

Monday, September 24, 2018

John 3:27

What would it be like to be a record holder in your sport, right at the top of your game, only to watch someone else come along and immediately break all your records with apparent ease?  John the Baptist experienced just such a dynamic, but with a lot more poise than most of us could manage.

We read about it in John chapter 3 and verse 27, “John answered and said, ‘A man can receive nothing unless it has been given to him from heaven.’”

You may say, “But I earned every point I’ve scored.”  You certainly have, but John knew that the real stuff of life, the things that have the greatest value are gifts from God in heaven. 

In John’s case, he is the first man in 400 years to speak with authority from God.  That’s impressive, but along comes his younger cousin and immediately eclipses his whole life.  As the people who watched expected jealousy, John exhibited joy and acknowledged God as the giver of every good gift.

Your gifts are much the same.  Much of the grace given to you is nothing you could ever earn.  It’s a gift, not a merit badge.  The ability to play and the opportunity to compete is a gift to be treasured and for which to be thankful. 

As you approach today’s competition, appreciate such gifts, revel in them, and enjoy them to the fullest with a grateful heart.

Bible Reading Plan:
Luke 24:36-44
Hebrews 13:1-8
Proverbs 30
Isaiah 62-64

Sunday, September 23, 2018

I Peter 5:5-6

How would you describe the attitudes on your team as the youngest players relate to the eldest and to the coaching staff?  Are they respectful and honorable or arrogant and rebellious?  What value does humility have among you?

Peter wrote about these dynamics in his first letter at chapter 5 and verses 5 and 6, “Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders.  Yes, all of you be submissive to one another and be clothed with humility, for ‘God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’  Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God that He may exalt you in due time.”

It’s very common for a young, talented player to come into a program with intentions to take over and to be the leader from day one.  The problem with that is obvious.  That player often discounts the years of investment made by the veteran players.  That kind of arrogance can cause the team’s total collapse.

A healthier attitude is for the younger teammates to keep themselves in respectful relationship to the veterans and to let their play win them the playing time and the positions to which they aspire.  Remember, “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”

Make this a day of great competition.  Compete with humility and grace.  Ask God to put down any arrogance or prideful attitudes in your heart and to replace them with the grace and wisdom that leads to great teamwork.

Bible Reading Plan:
Luke 24:28-35
Hebrews 12:14-29
Proverbs 29:15-27
Isaiah 59-61

Saturday, September 22, 2018

L I T T L E   F A I T H
Matthew 8:26

Of what are you sometimes afraid?  Are there some things that bring you fear and rob you of courage?  Jesus’ friends also had some fears. 

In Matthew’s gospel at chapter 8 and verse 26 he records the words of Jesus, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?”
He said this to his disciples as they were on a boat in the middle of the sea, being tossed around by the wind in a furious storm.  The answer seems obvious, “We’re about to drown here!”  Jesus seems to be looking deeper, though.

He points to their lack of faith as the source of their fear.  Faith is an active trust in someone.  The disciples had a less than great trust in Jesus or they wouldn’t have been so fearful of the storm.

In whom do you have an active trust?  The disciples had a less than great trust in Jesus or they wouldn’t have been so fearful of the storm.  Who do you trust when your team is in turmoil and nothing is working?

Continue to build your trust for your coaches and for your teammates.  They’re committed to you.  Even more so, build your trust for the Lord Jesus.  He will care for you on your worst day when you’re overcome with fear.  Actively trust the Lord with today’s competition.  He’s worthy of your faith.

Bible Reading Plan:
Luke 24:13-27
Hebrews 12:1-13
Proverbs 19:1-14
Isaiah 56-58

Friday, September 21, 2018

II Corinthians 3:2-3

Who are the coaches and players in your team’s history that are still impacting your lives today?  Take a moment to recall their names, their faces, their unique gifts and abilities.  They are a heritage for you, like a letter written to each of you to challenge and to encourage.

The Apostle Paul wrote these words in his second letter to his friends in Corinth, Greece at chapter 3 and verses 2 and 3, “You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everybody.  You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.”  Paul’s friends were the living evidence of his passion for people and his love for God.  It’s similar for us.

Players are the evidence of a coach’s skill, passion and commitment.  They are the coach’s legacy, like a letter written on human hearts and bearing his/her signature.  Coaches love to tell the stories of their favorite players from the past.  They are letters known and read by everybody. The players who come through this program behind you will be your legacy.  Your lives, your commitment to sport, the stories shared about you will be a letter written to them.  It’s up to each of us to determine the content of that letter.

The stationery for these letters is most remarkable.  It’s far more durable than paper or even granite, it’s written on the hearts of players and coaches.  Their hearts are immortal and will permanently carry the legacy we leave with them.

As you prepare to compete today, I pray that this passage will encourage you to write the best lines of your legacy on the field of competition.

Bible Reading Plan:
Luke 24:1-12
Hebrews 11:32-40
Proverbs 28:15-28
Isaiah 54-55

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Proverbs 12:23

As we approach competition, anxiety and worry often burden us.  I’m sure you wonder how you’ll perform, how good your opponents are, how well we know the game plan and more.  While these are legitimate concerns, they can serve to hinder our performance as athletes.

In Proverbs chapter 12 and verse 23 we read, “An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up.”
Anxiety seems to coat our hearts with lead and turns our legs to limp spaghetti.  Suddenly, doubt, confusion and frustration weigh us down.  All these lead to a performance on the court that’s far less than our best.

There is also a great promise in this verse.  It says that a kind word cheers one up.  Encouragement is a powerful tool for the athlete.  A simple word, a kind expression, a well-timed compliment can put a charge into a teammate or a coach, thus lifting the weight he’d been carrying.

As you pray and prepare tonight, ask the Lord to help you see just the right moment to encourage your teammate who’s being assaulted by frustration, doubt or discouragement.  Your kind word could cheer him up and make a great difference in the competition.

Bible Reading Plan:
Luke 23:50-56
Hebrews 11:17-31
Proverbs 28:1-14
Isaiah 51-53

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Deuteronomy 28:10

Have you ever seen an athlete compete who seemed to be completely in his or her own league?  No one else in the game seemed to be 1/2 the player in comparison.  That happens at times on the field of competition, but sometimes it's not just about athletic abilities.  Sometimes we meet a person like Moses writes about.

In Moses' book called Deuteronomy at chapter 28 and verse 10 it says, "Then all the peoples on the earth will see that you are called by the name of the Lord, and they will fear you."  Moses knew that when these people honored God by their obedient attitudes and actions, they would be honored by God. 

It's God's way to have people who honor Him to be noticed and revered by those around them.  In some cases the identification with God's name even causes fear in people.  Don't be surprised if your team is now intimidating to some of your opponents... that's what Moses said would happen.

Compete with confidence and power.  You may even see some people being awestruck by the way your team plays.  Play with great heart and let the world watch in amazement!

Bible Reading Plan:
Luke 23:44-49
Hebrews 11:1-16
Proverbs 27:15-27
Isaiah 49-50

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

I Corinthians 3:6

Who has been the strongest influence on your athletic career?  Has there been more than one person who has made a significant impact in making you the player you've become?  Today's scripture speaks about compounded influence.

In Paul's first letter to his friends in Corinth at chapter 3 and verse 6, he writes, "I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow."  Paul wrote in farming terms, we'll talk in athletic language.

Growing an athlete is like farming. In the growth process of a crop, there's the obvious collaboration between those who plant, cultivate, irrigate and harvest.   In athletics it's equally true.  In the growing of a champion, we see the compounding influences of parents, high school coaches, coaches from camps, teammates, opponents, college coaches and so on.

This is also true in the building of one's character spiritually.  Parents, teachers, pastors, priests and friends all walk beside us on the way to a rich life in Christ.

Let's honor our eternal architect in this day's competition.  Let's make each of our mentors and contributors proud through a great performance and outstanding character.

Bible Reading Plan:
Luke 23:38-43
Hebrews 10:19-39
Proverbs 27:1-14
Isaiah 46-48

Monday, September 17, 2018

John 2:24-25

With whom are you more likely to spend some time in conversation after a hard fought game, the first-time spectator or the friends and family who have invested years of life and love into your career?  Seem like a silly question?  Many athletes act like they don’t know the answer. 

Jesus knew very well how to answer and in John chapter 2 at verses 24 and 25 we hear how He sees people.  “But Jesus did not commit Himself to them, because He knew all men, and had no need that anyone should testify of man, for He knew what was in man.” 

This simply means that Jesus stayed aloof from the uncommitted and shallow.  He would not commit Himself to those who just wanted a show.  He wouldn’t give the same time to the first-time ticket buyer at a game as He would those among the family who had committed themselves long ago.

It should be the same with us.  Don’t commit yourself to the first clown to come around wearing your team’s colors and screaming at ball games.  Be a little discerning.  Look around to see who is paying the dues of commitment, investing the years, driving the miles and shedding the tears for your life.  Those are the ones in whom you can deeply trust and to whom you’d be wise to commit your own life.

Make some commitments on the field of competition today.  Invest in your team, your coaches and your family. 

Bible Reading Plan:
Luke 23:32-37
Proverbs 26:17-28
Isaiah 44-45

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Romans 12:10

What sort of person would be worthy of honor if he/she walked into this room right now?  A Hall of Fame player or coach?  The President?  The Pope?  How much do you honor your teammates?  How devoted are you to your team?

Paul writes about this idea to his friends in Rome at chapter 12 and verse 10, "Be devoted to one another in brotherly love.  Honor one another above yourselves."  Paul challenged his friends with these words and I will do similarly today.

Here we're challenged to be devoted to our teammates like we're family.  Further, we're challenged to honor each other above ourselves.  Let's give the same level of honor to our teammates that we would to people of position and authority.  Let's sacrifice our preferences for the greater good of the team, the family.

In today's competition, devotion and preferential honor will lead to a great performance by our team.

Bible Reading Plan:
Hebrews 9:11-28
Proverbs 26:1-16
Isaiah 42-43

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Proverbs 10:23

What do you do for sport?  I know guys who go fishing for sport, some hunt for sport, and some play golf.  What do you do?  Sport is the active pursuit of pleasure and fulfillment. 

In the book of Proverbs at chapter 10 and verse 23 we read, “Doing wickedness is like sport to a fool; and so is wisdom to a man of understanding.”

How could doing wickedness be like a sport?  Have you known any fools?  Lots of people I know seem to find great pleasure and fulfillment in activities that leave them with hangovers and social diseases.  They brag about doing foolish things in the same way you might boast about a career day of personal records and championships.  Fools find pleasure and fulfillment in things that dishonor God and ruin their lives.

The powerful message of this verse is that living wisely is equally pleasurable and fulfilling to the person of wisdom.  Doing things that honor God and serve others is like a sport to those who display wisdom.  A life of wisdom is not boring and passive; rather it’s full of power, activity and adventure, like a sport!

As you pray today, ask God to make you a person of wisdom and to make your life rich with pleasure and fulfillment. 

Bible Reading Plan:
Luke 23:13-25

Hebrews 9:1-10

Proverbs 25:15-28

Isaiah 40-41

Friday, September 14, 2018

II Corinthians 1:21-22

What is there in your sport that gives you a sense of belonging?  What makes you feel like you belong to the team or the organization?  Maybe your uniform does that or signing a letter of intent.  These are simply a foreshadowing of good things to come.  Today’s scripture speaks of similar ideas.

In Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians at chapter 1 and verses 21 and 22 we read, “Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ.  He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.”

When a person is in relationship with Christ Jesus all these things happen in our hearts.  We’re enabled to stand firmly; he marks us as his own and puts a portion of his own Spirit in our hearts.

That’s similar to what happens on sport teams.  We have coaches and teammates who enable us to stand firmly and to compete well.  We wear uniforms that declare our allegiance to a team.  We even begin to experience the best things of our sport during practices and early season games, each of them small deposits of what we trust will be postseason successes.

As you compete today, rest in the assurance that comes with being chosen for this team.  You have and will continue to experience in your hearts the best parts of sport as you stand firmly with your teammates.

Bible Reading Plan:
Luke 23:1-12
Hebrews 8:7-13
Proverbs 25:1-14
Isaiah 37-39

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Matthew 7:26-27

What are the foundational principles upon which your sport is built?  Do they appear to be wise or foolish?  How enduring will the lessons you learn from sport be?  Today’s scripture contrasts foundations, foolishness and wisdom.

In Matthew chapter 7 and verses 26 and 27 it reads, “But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand.  The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”

When you were on the beach last summer, did it seem like a safe place to build a house?  Of course not.  The tide alone would wash it away.  Throw in an occasional hurricane and you’d have to be a fool to build there.  That’s Jesus’ picture here.  The house has no foundation to withstand the wind, rain or floods.

A house or a team built on sand is one that has awareness of the principles for success, but doesn’t employ them.  Knowledge without application is empty and leads to destruction.  In the story the house and all its inhabitants would be swept away in the great crash.

We probably all know athletes and coaches whose foundations crumbled and they suffered a tremendous crash.  If we’re fortunate we also know people who have wisely built their athletic careers on strong foundations.  Which will you be?

In your time of prayer today, ask the Lord to lead you to wisdom and away from foolishness.  Ask him to help you build wisely upon the solid foundations of faith, hope and love.

Bible Reading Plan:
Luke 11:63-71
Hebrews 8:1-6
Proverbs 24:23-34

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Hebrews 11:39-40

How many Hall of Fame members or All Americans end their athletic careers without the ultimate championship for which they had hoped and competed?  Certainly the number is staggering, just think of the great competitors from your sport who never won a championship.  They and many others had stellar careers, but had one achievement left undone.  The Bible speaks of such hope unfulfilled.

Hebrews 11 and verses 39 and 40 says, “And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise, God having provided some thing better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us.”  These melancholy words follow 38 verses that list the names and accomplishments of the Bible’s Hall of Fame. 

There is a key element for a life of achievement that we can draw from this passage.  Though these great people had their lives come to a close without the fulfillment of their hopes and dreams, they were faithful and now enjoy rich, fulfilling life with us in Christ.

Similarly, when you consider the Hall of Famers and All Americans from your sport, many of them finished with goals unachieved and aspirations unattained.  Like the Bible’s Hall of Famers, they too join in our achievements and our successes.  They find great satisfaction in watching you compete and seeing you succeed.

As you compete today, give your absolute best effort and you’ll be a great part of fulfilling the unrealized portions of your predecessors’ careers.

Bible Reading Plan:
Luke 22:54-62
Hebrews 7:11-28
Isaiah 31-33

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

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

How much trash talking do you hear on the field of competition?  I can’t help but believe there are some players who run their mouths all the time.  How should we think about such speech?  The Bible is full of wisdom related to this and one such verse follows.

In Proverbs chapter 10 and verse 19 it says, “When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise.”

As we speak more and more words, our chances of speaking foolishly certainly increase.  You probably know someone who talks too much and in doing so speaks in ways that can cause harm to her or to others.  That is what is meant by “sin is not absent.”  Talk long enough and the best of us will sin with our tongues.

The other side of this is that when we remain silent in certain discussions, we display an uncommon wisdom.  Some people talk when there is nothing to say.  We would do well to speak only when it’s appropriate and when the situation is enhanced by our comments.  “He who holds his tongue is wise.”

As you pray in preparation for competition, ask the Lord to give you control of your speech.  Ask Him to fill your mouth with encouragement and wisdom, not criticism and foolishness. 

Bible Reading Plan:
Luke 22:47-53
Proverbs 23:19-35
Isaiah 29-30

Monday, September 10, 2018

John 2:5

In whom do you most strongly trust?  Your parents?  Your coaches?  Your closest friends?  If you were Mary, how much would you trust Jesus?  Let’s see how much she trusts Him.

In the Gospel of John at chapter 2 and verse 5 we read, His mother said to the servants, “Whatever He says to you, do it.”
While at a wedding with friends, the host had run out of wine and Mary was asking Jesus to do something special to lessen the host’s embarrassment.  He asks her to back off a little bit, then her trust of her Son shows in her instructions to the servants.

How much do you trust your coaching staff?  As much as Mary trusted Jesus?  You are probably thinking that Jesus is not our coach!  True, but the principle is the same.  This kind of trust rests in the knowledge of the trusted one’s love, respectability and competence. 

You can have that kind of trust in your coaches.  They do care for you deeply.  They are fully respectable.  They are completely competent.  You can also trust your teammates for the same reasons. 

In today’s competition, trust completely in your coaches and teammates.  Then when they give instructions and call plays, whatever they say to you, do it.  Have a tremendous game today.

Bible Reading Plan:
Hebrews 6:13-20
Proverbs 23:1-18
Isaiah 27-28

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Psalm 90:17

In Psalm 90 we read the prayer of Moses.  At verse 17 we read, "May the favor of the Lord our God rest upon us; establish for us the work of our hands- yes, establish the work of our hands."  This is the prayer of one of history's greatest leaders.

He asks for God's favor to be upon him, what would that be?  How do we see God's favor in our lives?  What makes an official give you a call in a charge / block situation?  Why does the football bounce to you, rather than away from you sometimes?  Why does your instructor give you a break in class when he doesn't have to?  Sometimes it's the favor of God upon you.

How would God establish the work of our hands?  What do you do with your hands that God should care to establish?  How many hours have you spent in the weight room?  How many miles have you run this year?  How many free throws have you shot during practices?  It's God's way to establish the hard work and effort we make by bringing them to full fruition. 

Let's join Moses in praying for God's favor and for His power to establish the work of our hands. 

Bible Reading Plan:
Luke 22:31-38
Hebrews 6:1-12
Proverbs 22:17-29
Isaiah 24-26

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Romans 12:9

Who is there in your life who loves sincerely?  Your parents?  Your teammates?  Your best friend?  How is sincere love expressed?  The Apostle Paul has some ideas in today's scripture.

In Romans chapter 12 and verse 9, Paul writes to his friends saying, "Love must be sincere.  Hate what is evil; cling to what is good."  In this passage Paul gives us an idea of the nature of real, sincere love.

Paul says that a sincere or pure hearted love will lead us to hate what is evil, that is things that harm people.  There are plenty of evil things that surround an athletic team, just think about everything that could creep into your team and harm various ones.

He also says that a pure hearted love will lead us to hold tightly to things that improve our lives and the lives of those we love.  That's what it means to cling to good.  What are some things to which you can cling that will enhance the lives of your team?

In today's contest:  Hate what is evil - things that will hurt your team.  Cling to good - attitudes and behavior that leads to victory and teamwork.  Let these values lead you to excellence today.

Bible Reading Plan:
Luke 22:24-30
Hebrews 5
Proverbs 22:1-16

Friday, September 7, 2018

Proverbs 10:17

Who among us likes to get his or her ear chewed off by the coach?  Who enjoys correction?  Obviously everyone wants to think that he or she competes at the highest level of his or her ability each time on the track.  The problem is, most of us never approach that level of competence and thus need correction.

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

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

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

Pray and ask the Lord for a gracious attitude that accepts correction and shows the way to life for your team.  Compete greatly today!

Bible Reading Plan:
Luke 22:14-23
Hebrews 4:12-16
Isaiah 17-20

Thursday, September 6, 2018

I Corinthians 3:18

What is your standard for greatness, for intelligence, for wisdom?  How are these things measured in the world?  Real wisdom is measured differently.

In the Apostle Paul's first letter to his friends in Corinth at chapter 3 and verse 18, he writes, "Do not deceive yourselves.  If any one of you thinks he is wise by the standards of this age, he should become a 'fool' so that he may become wise."  Paul calls us to change the standards by which we measure things.

No one would look at former N.B.A. star Spud Webb and think that he would be a Slam Dunk Champion.  He's 5'-7" tall.  By normal measures only a fool would say he could succeed in such a venture.  But there was more to Spud than could be measured with a tape.

It's the same with us and how we approach our competition.  If one was to measure our team just in terms of years of experience, national championships and other standards of this age, we wouldn't seem to have a chance.  Today we can confound the wise with our foolish ways and beat the experienced and talented at their own game.  Let's pull a Spud Webb and set the world on its ear with a day of greatness.

Bible Reading Plan:
Luke 22:1-13
Proverbs 21:1-16
Isaiah 14-16

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Matthew 7:13-14

As an athlete, yours is a special privilege into which only a few people can enter.  Don’t lose sight of that privilege or its responsibilities.

In Matthew chapter 7 at verses 13 and 14 we read Jesus’ words, “Enter through the narrow gate.  For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.  But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”

Achievement of greatness is rare thing.  In only requires a small gate to accommodate those who go that way.  The road is also straight for them because they have direction, purpose and goals.  This is the path that leads to life in its fullest sense.

Mediocrity requires a very wide gate, as there are so many flooding through.  The road of the mediocre meanders broadly as its travelers lack vision, foresight and leadership.
Let’s choose to enter through the narrow gate and walk the straight road of greatness.  Let’s have purpose, direction and vision.  Let’s walk the path that leads to life.

Come to think of it, lots of teams approach competition and walk through the gate of mediocrity.  Don’t be one.  Enter through the narrow gate and compete like a champion.

Bible Reading Plan:
Hebrews 3
Proverbs 20:16-30
Isaiah 11-13

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Proverbs 10:12

Does your team seem divided at times?  Is strife at work to tear your teammates apart and to cause disharmony?  How do we bring about the healing of relationships and the restoration of teamwork?

In Proverbs chapter 10 and verse 12 it says, “Hatred stirs up dissension, but love covers all wrongs.”  Hatred seems like such a harsh word for the things that we see dividing our team.  Most people wouldn’t admit to hating anyone.  Look at what causes the strife on your team and you’d probably say it’s selfishness, which is simply a soft word for hate.

The good news is that there’s a solution.  According to the scripture, love covers all wrongs.  Not just a few wrongs all of them.  What a powerful thing love is!  What’s more, it’s proven in the life of Christ.  His love for us has covered our transgressions for all time and has ushered us into an eternal relationship with God.

Love is the key to good relationships on your team.  Let love, selfless giving to each other, counter the strife born of selfishness.  Let love rule your conduct in practice, on the field of competition and in the classroom.  Cover your teammates’ shortcomings by loving them and seeking their best, even when it comes at your cost.
Let the love flow and compete like a champion today!

Bible Reading Plan:
Luke 21:20-28
Hebrews 2:10-18
Proverbs 20:1-15
Isaiah 9-10

Monday, September 3, 2018

Romans 12:3

Do you wonder from time to time how you'll match up with your competition over the season?  How good a player are you in relation to others on your team or on your opposing teams?  The older I get the better athlete I was.  The Bible calls us to have sober judgment about ourselves.

In Paul's letter to the church at Rome, at chapter 12 and verse 3, he writes, "For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you."

To have sober judgment is to think clear-mindedly about our abilities, skills, and our team's potential.  As we approach this season's games, let's not flatter ourselves and live in self-deceit regarding our team.  Conversely, let's not have expectations of ourselves that are too low.  Let's think clearly and set goals for our team and for each member that challenge us to achieve greatly with reasonable chances of success.

Compete today with clear-minded expectations.  Achieve greatly as you exercise sober judgment in evaluating your opponents.  Be champions today.

Bible Reading Plan:
Luke 21:1-19
Hebrews 2:1-9
Proverbs 19:15-29
Isaiah 6-8

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Romans 12:1-2

Metamorphosis is the process of transformation from a caterpillar into a butterfly.  What a marvelous, mysterious thing.  We can see it in insects, but can we see a similar thing in people?

Paul writes to his friends in Rome about metamorphosis in Romans chapter 12 and verses 1 and 2.  "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."

How can people undergo metamorphosis?  Paul says that it comes by the renewing of one's mind.  Like a caterpillar inside a cocoon, it's a process that works from the inside out.  With people, we don't build cocoons, but our minds are changed as a part of a long process.  We begin as unlovely as caterpillars, we offer our bodies as living sacrifices, we resist the conforming nature of the world and we're transformed in our thinking, suddenly we emerge as beautiful as butterflies.  We've undergone metamorphosis as people.
Let's look to God for the transforming power of His grace to change us, from the inside out.  Let's ask Him to make us ready for this day's competition, for great teamwork and for lives that honor Him every day.

Bible Reading Plan:
Luke 20:41-47
Hebrews 1:10-14
Proverbs 19:1-14
Isaiah 3-5

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Romans 12:1-2

When you were a child, did you play with Play-doh modeling clay?  Do you remember how it was soft and moldable?  You could form it with a mold or use you hands to squeeze it into most any shape you could imagine.  How much are you like Play-doh?  What pressures in your life squeeze you into strange shapes?

Paul writes to his friends in Rome about being molded by pressures in Romans chapter 12 and verses 1 and 2.  "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."

Paul tells his friends that the world has a pattern and it will work to make you conform.  We've all seen this in what's called "peer pressure."  There is an unseen pressure that comes from our friends, our culture, just the way the world does things, that tries to make us conform.  The problem is that many times the way of the world is directly contrary to the ways of God.  That's why Paul says, "Do not conform."  His call is for us to be less like Play-doh and more like a rock. 

If the world says, "That's good enough for them..."  Reject that thought, be a rock.  If the world says, "Go ahead, nobody's watching."  Reject the notion, be a rock.  When the world says, "Look out for number one."  Reject that attitude, be a rock.  Don't be squeezed any more by the world's Play-doh mold.  Be a rock that resembles God and His pattern for life.

Bible Reading Plan:
Luke 20:27-40
Hebrews 1:1-9
Proverbs 18
Isaiah 1-2