Sunday, October 21, 2018

C H A R A C T E R
Romans 5:3-4

All of us have things in our lives that require perseverance.  Whether it's suffering, pain from injuries, broken relationships or other pains; when we persevere through these things we find a great product.  Character is the result of a life of perseverance.

The Apostle Paul writes to his friends in Rome at chapter 5 and verse 4, "Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.  And hope does not disappoint us because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us."

Persevering through tough times is like a precious metal being refined by fire.  The fire purifies the metal as impurities are liquefied and skimmed off.  Perseverance removes the impurities, the excess baggage, the junk from our lives, producing character as its reward.  Paul tells us that perseverance produces character.  Persevere in today's competition and reap the reward of outstanding character.

Bible Reading Plan:
John 6:41-59
I Peter 3:13-22
Song of Solomon 5

Saturday, October 20, 2018

L E A D E R S H I P
John 5:19

From whom have you taken instruction in the game?  Certainly your coaches at each level of your sport have taught you well.  Who else provides wise guidance?  Who would have done this for Jesus?  He tells us in today’s letter.

In John chapter 5 at verse 19 we read, “Then Jesus answered and said to them, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner.’”
There it is, Jesus’ key to wise living.  Do whatever your leader does.  He saw what His heavenly Father would do and simply copied his actions. 

In like manner, we can emulate the best models we’ve gathered from our coaches, teammates and opponents to bring about the best game of our lives.  Remember the lessons of life and the game taught you through years of practices and hours of video study.  Remember the models for great play, and then simply walk in the footsteps of those who have gone before you.

Bible Reading Plan:
John 6:25-40
I Peter 3:8-12
Jeremiah 51

Friday, October 19, 2018

T A L K   O R   P L A Y ?
I John 3:18

Whom do you respect more, the player who talks a good game or the one who shows his game on the field of competition?  I’m sure your answer would be the same as mine.  Actions speak more loudly and clearly than any mouthy wannabe.

The Apostle John talks about this at chapter 3 and verse 18 of his first letter, there we read, “My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.”

I’m sure we all get a little tired of the people who make themselves out to be experts in the game, but when questioned a little further, turn out to be novices at best.  We’ve all known people who talk an “A” game, but can’t play up to a low “D.”  Their sport experience is in word and tongue only.

We must be players who live in deed and in truth.  A friend of mine is fond of saying, “Say less, do more.”  That should characterize our competition.  Let’s let our performance on the field of competition do our talking for us.  That’s how we compete in deed and in truth.

As you compete today, take seriously John’s admonition to love in deed and in truth.  Love your teammates and coaching staff by giving your best effort to secure a win.  That will speak volumes about your game and your character. 

Bible Reading Plan:
John 6:16-24
Song of Solomon 4:1-7
Jeremiah 50

Thursday, October 18, 2018

A F F E C T I O N
Philippians 1:8

Who is your dearest friend?  For whom do you care deeply, family, friends, teammates, coaches?  What is the source of those affections?  How durable are those relationships?  The Scripture points to a source of love that will endure forever.

In Paul's letter to his friends in Philippi, at chapter 1 and verse 8 he says, "For God is my witness, how I long for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus."  More than anything else, with these letters I want to communicate the love I have for you.  I want you to know furthermore that the source of this love is my relationship with God.  His love for you leads me to do the same.

There is a security and a power that comes from being loved.  As I know with certainty that I'm loved by my wife, son, mom and dad, my friends and most importantly, loved by God; I'm free and empowered to love others also.

This same security and power is a great source for competition and all sorts of pursuits.  In sports, business, family life, all the areas of life, you are free to love and to pursue excellence because you're loved and greatly valued. 

Take that confidence onto the floor tonight.  Play with passion, confidence, heart, power and perseverance because you're loved.  If not by anyone else in the world, you're each loved by me.  I'm for you in all of life.

Bible Reading Plan:
James 2:18-25
Song of Solomon 3
Jeremiah 49

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

S U F F E R I N G
Romans 5:3

Somewhere in the course of every season, suffering and pain come along to meet us.  Whether it's in the form of a losing streak, an injury, academic challenges or family tragedy, suffering is inevitable.  What makes the difference in people is how one reacts to suffering. 

In Paul's letter to his friends in Rome, at chapter 5 and verse 3, he writes, "Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.  And hope does not disappoint us because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us."

If our lives are without suffering, we just skate along and remain unprepared for life's big crises to come.  Paul says that suffering produces perseverance.  The small aches and pains of life prepare us for dealing with the big hurts and teach us how to press through them in pursuit of excellence.
  Let's let suffering produce in us the desired result... perseverance.  When we're possessed of that great quality, we can press through any difficulty and come out the other side as victors.

Bible Reading Plan:
John 5:31-47
I Peter 2:9-17
Song of Solomon 2
Jeremiah 47-48

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

P A T I E N C E
Proverbs 16:32

How well do you control your emotions during competition?  Do you get easily distracted or do you stay under control?  Might the Bible have anything to say about these matters?

Proverbs chapter 16 and verse 32 states, “Better a patient man than a warrior, a man who controls his temper than one who takes a city.”  Sometimes the greatest battles we fight take place between our ears.

It’s often the struggle over who controls our minds and emotions that is the foremost factor in our success or failure.  In this verse, patience and self-control are valued even more highly than physical strength or military power.

As you compete today, ask the Lord to enable you to master your mind and emotions.  Ask Him to take control of them for His purposes.  Compete with patience and in full control of your mental and emotional focus.  As the proverb says, these qualities make us better than the mighty warrior and even stronger than the one who can overthrow a city.  Compete like a champion today!

Bible Reading Plan:
John 5:16-30
I Peter 2:1-8
Song of Solomon 1
Jeremiah 44-46

Monday, October 15, 2018

H E A L I N G
John 5:8-9

When do you sense the real healing in a once injured knee, in the training room or while chasing a loose ball?  When does the confidence return, while looking at an x-ray or after making the difficult cut toward the basket?  I think you know.  So did Jesus.

In John’s Gospel at chapter 5 and verses 8 and 9 we read, “Jesus said to him, ‘Rise, take up your bed and walk.’  And immediately the man was made well, took up his bed, and walked.”

This man had been afflicted with his infirmity for 38 years!  Along comes Jesus and he says to get up.  Say what!?  He’s been lying here for 38 years! 

I wonder when his healing took place…while lying on the mat or when he made the effort to stand and walk?  I believe the latter.  That’s why Jesus said what He did.  It’s always a heart-check when we hear someone give us a command to do the seemingly impossible.  Do we trust or do we not?

In today’s game you must trust the Lord and your coaching staff when they say, “Rise, take up your sport, and compete like a champion.”  Whether you feel like one or not, you’re called to make the play.  That’s my challenge to you as well.  Play like a champion today!

Bible Reading Plan:
John 5:15-26
I Peter 1:17-25
Ecclesiastes 12

Sunday, October 14, 2018

T H E   I D E A L   T E A M M A T E
I John 3:16

Who is your model for the ideal teammate?  What does he/she do that makes him/her such a great teammate?  For me, that person is Jesus Christ.  Let’s consider him as a model today.

In John’s first letter at chapter 3 and verse 16, we read, “By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us.  And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.”

That’s what a great teammate looks like, one who lays his life down for the others!  Certainly we can see that vividly in the life of Jesus.  He died a real death in our places. 

How can we, in less drastic and bloody ways, lay down our lives for our teammates?  Think about it.  We do this when we give up playing time to help develop younger players.  We do it when we sacrifice personal records or accomplishments for the good of the team.  We do it when we change positions to fill a weakness that has appeared due to an injury or illness.  A great teammate is one who lays down his life for his friends.

As you compete today, lay down your life for your team.  Give your 100% best effort throughout the competition.  Sacrifice your personal goals for those of the team and you’ll be a teammate like the Lord Jesus.

Bible Reading Plan:
John 4:43-54
I Peter 1:10-16
Jeremiah 35-38

Saturday, October 13, 2018

G L O R Y
Romans 8:18

Some people say that difficult times develop character.  However, I believe that hard times reveal the character that's already in a person or in a team.

In Romans chapter 8 and verse 18, the Apostle Paul writes to his friends, "I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us."  In times of suffering we have a strong assurance that better things are on the way. 

Paul seems to say that the overwhelming greatness of the good to come far surpasses our present, momentary suffering.  Take that kind of attitude when you're competing and your legs ache.  Think that way when you've been in the training room all week recovering from the last game.  When anything assaults your attitude and tempts you to quit or to simply give up, focus your mind on the glory that awaits the completion of the task and the attaining of the goal. 

When you pray, ask for the power to press through the suffering and into the glorious reward of achievement.

Bible Reading Plan:
John 4:27-42
Ecclesiastes 10
Jeremiah32-34

Friday, October 12, 2018

D I R E C T I O N
Proverbs 16:9

Have you ever wondered why your path through life has zigzagged sometimes?  Does it seem that your path to a championship has been sidetracked?  How did I wind up here?  Lots of athletes ask those kinds of questions in their pursuit of excellence.

In Proverbs chapter 16 and verse 9 we read, “In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.”
Every athlete I know sometimes lies on his bed and dreams about what he’d like to achieve, the awards that he’d like to win, the career that he’d like to pursue.  In his mind he plans his way.

But somewhere along the way to those dreams becoming reality, he gets sidetracked and before long he’s not sure how he got here.  Here’s the comforting word in this verse.  It’s the Lord’s way to direct our steps along the way to fulfilling His purposes in our lives.  The Lord can see very clearly the best path for us and everything we need in preparation for our ultimate place of serving Him.

It’s good to make our plans, but it the Lord’s place to direct our steps along the way.

You’ve made your plans… a championship.  Now pursue it with all you have and don’t be frustrated if that wanders through a long stretch of practices, injuries and disappointments.  Compete greatly today!

Bible Reading Plan:
James 5:13-20
Ecclesiastes 9
Jeremiah 30-31

Thursday, October 11, 2018

I N J U R Y
I Peter 4:1

Who has more confidence about recovery from injury, the one who’s never been hurt or the player who has come through the pain and has found renewed strength?  If the answer seems obvious, you may have never been injured.  Suffering is tough, even after recovery.

Peter makes mention of suffering and its results in his first letter at chapter 4 and verse 1, “Therefore since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin…”  He’s not saying that after we’ve suffered that we’re somehow exempt from making moral mistakes, rather suffering changes our mindset and leads us to live for more than physical gratification.

Before we’ve suffered any significant injury, many of us play a little tentatively in dangerous situations.  There is a latent fear that if we risk a possible injury, we can never recover or play the same again.

However, in the player who has suffered and recovered, that indecision and fear is overcome by the assurance that even if this daring play leads to pain, he can come through it to compete even more strongly.

As you compete today, play with strength, courage and daring.  Don’t be intimidated by the potential injury that you may imagine could wreck your playing career.  Those of you who have come through injury, who have suffered in the flesh, loan some courage to your teammates and play with great passion.

Bible Reading Plan:
John 4:1-14
James 5:7-12
Ecclesiastes 8

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

G R E A T   C O A C H I N G
John 21:17

What is the hallmark of a truly great coach?  What characterizes the best of team leaders?  They deeply love their teammates and pay the price to seek their best.

In John chapter 21 and verse 17 we can read what Jesus says to His teammates related to leadership.  It says, “He said to him the third time, ‘Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?’  Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, ‘Do you love Me?’  And he said to Him, ‘Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.’  Jesus said to him, ‘Feed My sheep.’” Jesus simply tells Peter that to love Him is to nourish and care for those that He cares for.  It’s that simple.

It’s similar for us on this team.  Do you love your coaches and teammates?  Then the thing to do is to nurture the people on your team.  To develop the younger players is the most appropriate thing the veteran players can do.  To lead them well is to seek their best, even at personal cost. 
On a deeper level, do you love Jesus?  If so, do the same.  Seek the best things in life for your teammates and coaches.  Appropriate the Lord’s love for you in loving others.  Compete like this and we’ll all sense the Lord’s love in you.

Bible Reading Plan:
John 3:22-36
James 5:1-6
Ecclesiastes 7:15-29
Jeremiah 23-25

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

T E A M W O R K
Romans 14:19

Sometimes keeping the peace and building teamwork is easy, sometimes though it requires great effort.  Today's scripture speaks of this dynamic in the life of a team.

Paul's letter to his friends in Rome reads like this at chapter 14 and verse 19, "Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification."  Paul calls his friends to make every effort to improve their teamwork.

There are lots of things that fight against a team's peace and work to destroy their teamwork.  In these times we must make every effort to promote peace (harmony in relationships) and mutual edification (building each other up).

In today's competition, make every effort to promote peace on the team.  Let's also give our best to each other in building up our teammates in a day of greatness.

Bible Reading Plan:
John 3:16-21
James 4:11-17
Ecclesiastes 7:1-14
Jeremiah 19-22

Monday, October 8, 2018

P L A N N I N G
Proverbs 16:3

What are the keys to seeing your goals achieved?  How would one go about the pursuit of athletic achievement?  I have some ideas.

In Proverbs chapter 16 at verse 3 it says, “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.”

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

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

Pray and prepare for a great performance today… you can do it!!!

Bible Reading Plan:
John 3:1-15
James 4:1-10
Jeremiah 16-18

Sunday, October 7, 2018

G I F T S
I Peter 4:10

Which of your athletic gifts is most important to you as a competitor?  Is it strength, speed, hand-eye coordination, your competitive nature?  Who is the giver of that gift?  What would be a proper response to your benefactor?

Peter mentions giftedness in his first letter at chapter 4 and verse 10 where we read, “As each one has received a gift, serve one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.”  How do we thank the giver of our gifts, by serving our teammates.

Peter takes it as a given that each one of us is gifted.  Probably no group on the planet understands this like an athletic team.  The issue for us is not whether or not we’re gifted, but who gives the gifts and how shall we respond to him?

Our gifts are described as being part of the manifold grace of God.  In other words, God’s grace has been parceled out to each one of us in a unique way.  Our best response to a gracious giver is to employ our giftedness in the service of those around us.

As you compete today, drain every drop of benefit from your gifts for the good of your team.  Be a great steward of God’s grace as you serve your teammates in the pursuit of a great victory.

Bible Reading Plan:
John 2:12-25
James 3:13-18
Ecclesiastes 5
Jeremiah 14-15

Saturday, October 6, 2018

S O U L   F O O D
John 4:34

What is most pleasing to your soul?  Setting a new personal record?  Maybe it’s a new scoring record?  Perhaps a solid friendship is most pleasing?  Beautiful music? Today, we’ll see what was pleasing to Jesus’ soul.

In John chapter 4 and verse 34 we read, “Jesus said to them, ‘My food is to do the will of Him who sent me, and to finish His work.’”

Jesus says that doing God’s will and finishing His life’s work is more satisfying to Him than the biggest steak dinner.  Pleasing His Father in heaven was what fed his soul.

Think about it:
• Food for your body will only satisfy you for a short time, and soon you’ll be hungry again.
• Soul food like Jesus mentions will last for years.
• Pleasing God with all of your life yields satisfaction that endures throughout eternity.

Step up to the Soul Food Cafeteria line and satisfy your heart’s deepest longings.  Take as much as you like, the bill has been paid.  Jesus is picking up the check.
As you play today, invest your soul, your mind and your body in this season’s best endeavor.  Playing with your best effort will encourage your teammates and will feed your soul. 

Bible Reading Plan:
John 2:1-11
James 3:1-12
Ecclesiastes 4
Jeremiah 12-13

Friday, October 5, 2018

D I S C I P L I N E   A N D   K N O W L E D G E
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 and 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:
John 1:43-51
Ecclesiastes 3:16-22
Jeremiah 10-11

Thursday, October 4, 2018

S O U L   F O O D
John 4:32

We all know that we need to eat well for our bodies to perform well on the field of competition.  How many of us know what feeds our souls well?  What keeps your soul from starvation and running strongly?  Jesus knew about soul food.

In the Gospel of John at chapter 4 and verse 32 we read, “But He said to them, ‘I have food to eat of which you do not know.’”

Jesus’ disciples were thinking with their stomachs, but Jesus knew how to feed His soul with something even better than pizza.  He knew that doing what God wants for us is even more satisfying than your favorite meal at home.  That’s the food the others didn’t know about.

In your life, don’t simply feed your stomach and let your soul shrivel up from starvation.  Feed it with rich relationships, with sweet music and literature.  Dine on satisfying study and wash it all down with generous floods of prayer.  This diet will satisfy your soul and will endure long after you’re dreaming about a milkshake from the Dairy Queen.

Have a great game today, and then celebrate with food for the body and the soul.

Bible Reading Plan:
John 1:35-42
James 2:1-13
Ecclesiastes 3:1-15
Jeremiah 7-9

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

A   D A I L Y   D E B T
Romans 13:8

How many bills have you had come due this week?  I've had my share too.  Today, I want us to think about a debt that is always due.

As Paul the Apostle wrote to his dear friends in Rome, at chapter 13 and verse 8, he said, "Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellow-man has fulfilled the law."  It seems the one debt that is always due is our obligation to love people.

We'll always have bills to pay, the grocery bill, utility bills, car payments, etc...  This is a debt we can't pay with money; it costs us our blood, sweat and tears.

Our daily debt to our team is paid in our best effort, its payable in today's competition.  Our daily debt to our families, friends and team is to love sacrificially, it's payable today.  It's always due.  Make your payment on the field of competition today.

Bible Reading Plan:
James 1:19-27
Ecclesiastes 2:17-26
Jeremiah 5-6

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

H U M I L I T Y
Proverbs 15:33

Everyone likes to win awards, especially things like MVP trophies.  It's easy to assume that the person who wins such awards is just lucky or got a break of some sort.  However the Bible tells plainly how these things tend to work.

In Proverbs chapter 15 at verse 33 it says, “The fear of the Lord teaches a man wisdom, and humility comes before honor.”

Not everyone who wins awards is following the Lord, but many are living by this proverb's principles.  Most who win these awards have spent hours, months and years in practice and perfecting their skills.  Many spend years toiling in obscurity, out of the spotlight, then all of a sudden.... MVP!!  They worked in humility for a long time and were rewarded with honor.

Ultimately, the best honor springs from humility.  That humility is born of a relationship with Christ Jesus.  That's what he means by the fear of the Lord.  Fear of this sort is a reverential awe for the Lord God and that is best accomplished while in a daily, living, love relationship with Christ.

As you prepare for competition, ask the Lord to be honored by your humility.  Ask Him to work in your life as you humbly serve the Lord and your team.  Be assured as you do, He honors those who fear Him and humility comes before honor.

Bible Reading Plan:
John 18:1-18
Revelation 10
Job 34:1-20
Jonah 1-4

Monday, October 1, 2018

W O R R Y
Philippians 4:6

What are the keys to overcoming anxiety and worry?  What can we do that will lead to an active trust in God?  How can we approach the Lord and overcome our fears?  The Bible verse for today answers these questions.

In Paul's letter to his friends in Phillipi at chapter 4 and verse 6 he says, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”  Today, don't be overcome by the anxiety that sometimes accompanies a big game, rather take your needs and concerns to God in prayer. 

God knows just what you need, He just likes to talk with you.  That's what the Lord wants in prayer, a relationship with the people He loves.

As you prepare for today's competition, be confident that the Lord is hearing your prayers and He is working out the best for you.  You can be confident in praying for the Lord's purposes to be accomplished in your life.  Pray with thanksgiving in your heart and bring the Lord of love your requests.