Thursday, January 31, 2019

John 14:27

From where does peace come for your life?  Is it found in quiet weekends with your family?  Maybe you get it from music or good books to read.  Could it be there is a source of tranquility that is internal rather than based on circumstances?

Jesus talks about such a source of peace in John chapter 14 and verse 27.  It reads, “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you.  Let not our heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”

Jesus was about to leave His disciples and was walking straight toward His death.  Everyone around Him was scared to death!  They needed someone to give them some peace.  Jesus stepped up and gave an extraordinary kind of reassurance.

The world gives peace in rather weak ways.  The world gives peace externally…it’s easily brushed off.  The world gives peace temporarily…constantly in need of refreshment.  The world gives peace with strings attached…there’s a hook on the end of that line.

God’s peace calms our fears and erases our anxieties.  He gives peace like Jesus demonstrates here on the last day of His earthly life.  He was unhurried and unafraid.  His peace is internal and won’t wear out with time.

Play today’s game with this sense of peace ruling your life.  Play like Jesus; unhurried and unafraid.  May the Lord’s peace be yours in today’s contest.

Bible Reading Plan:
Psalms 13
Genesis 32-33

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Acts 11:23

Payday for coaches comes when they see evidence that their team “gets it.”  When they see that the team understands and does what they want, that’s as good as it gets.  They’re enthused, happy, thrilled and renewed in their commitment to the team.  Today’s scripture shows us an example of this dynamic.

In the book of Acts at chapter 11 and verse 23 we read, “When he arrived and saw the evidence of the grace of God, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts.”  Paul was thrilled to see these people doing so well and encouraged them to love God with all their hearts.

Paul the Apostle and your coaches know that doing things with all our hearts is the key to achievement.  He saw evidence that his goals for them were being achieved and it thrilled him.  Your coaches see such evidence in you and they encourage you to give all your hearts in pursuit of your goals.  These are the great rewards of coaching.

I’d like to join Paul and your coaching staff as we encourage you to give your absolute best today.  Compete in total abandon.  Pursue a victory with all your heart.  Sell out 100% to your teammates, your coaches and to pursue God’s best.

Bible Reading Plan:
Matthew 5:13-20
Acts 7:39-60

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Joshua 1:6-7

When does your sport demand courage of you?  Is it when you face superior competition?  Does playing through injuries require courage?  Is courage a factor in overcoming fatigue?  What role does courage play in overcoming adversity?  Today’s scripture links strength and courage in a powerful combination.

In the historical book of Joshua in the first chapter and verses 6 through 7 we read, “Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their forefathers to give them.  Be strong and very courageous.  Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or the left, that you may be successful wherever you go.”

Joshua had just taken leadership of his people after Moses had died and this was what God told him as he assumed this most intimidating role.  Twice God said to be strong and courageous.  The second time He said to be very courageous.  Courage would obviously be a most important quality for Joshua’s leadership.

What are the situations in today’s competition that may require you to be strong and very courageous?  You probably thought of some as we opened the issue earlier.  Some of those could be as scary to you as replacing Moses would have been to Joshua.

The Lord’s word to you today is the same as it was to Joshua, several millennia ago.  He would say, “Be strong and very courageous.”  Walk boldly into today’s competition with strength and confidence.  Take on your opponent with great courage and determination to win.

Bible Reading Plan:
Psalms 9
Genesis 25-26

Monday, January 28, 2019

I Corinthians 9:24

Competition is a great thing as it moves people to greatness and beyond mediocrity.  The Bible is full of instances where the life of faith is likened to an athletic contest.  One of those follows.

In First Corinthians chapter 9 and verse 24 it says, "Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize?  Run in such a way as to win the prize."  I like that!  It's said very simply, "Run in such a way as to win the prize."

Your coaching staff has outlined for you the way to win the prize today.  Your part is to run that way.  Your part is to follow their direction and to compete to the greatest extent of your ability.  Invest all that you have and all that you are in the pursuit of the team's goals. 

As you compete today, do so in such a way as to win!!!  Strive to honor Him in all that you do.

Bible Reading Plan:
Matthew 4:1-11
Acts 5:1-16

Sunday, January 27, 2019

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

Trash talking on the field of competition has become more and more pervasive in the last few years.  How should we as Christians approach this issue?  The Scriptures are full of wisdom related to speech.  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, our chances of speaking foolishly certainly increase.  You probably know someone who talks too much and in doing so speaks in ways that cause harm to himself or to others.  That's 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 speak when there is nothing to say.  We would do well to speak only when it is appropriate and when the situation is enhanced by our comments.  "He who holds his tongue is wise."

As you pray today, ask the Lord to guard your mouth.  Ask Him to help you control what you say, when you speak and to choose appropriate settings for your speech.

Bible Reading Plan:
Psalms 4
Genesis 12-14

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Mark 1:12-13

Do you ever feel isolated, cut off, all alone?  Though you’re surrounded by people, you may still be lonely.  Jesus knew that feeling and we can draw some courage and comfort from his experience.

We read about it in Mark’s gospel at chapter 1 and verses 12 and 13.  “At once the Spirit sent him out into the desert, and he was in the desert forty days, being tempted by Satan.  He was with the wild animals and angels attended him.”

Now I’m sure none of us has ever been sent out into a desert to be the personal whipping boy for Satan, but I’m sure we’ve all known some loneliness.  Notice who cared for Jesus in his loneliness, the text says that wild animals were with him and angels attended him.

Who is with you on your loneliest days?  Probably it’s your teammates.  Who attends to you when you’re at your lowest points?  That’s probably friends and family.  The loneliness comes to everyone; the issue is how we deal with it.

As you prepare for today’s competition, lean on your teammates and coaching staff for support in the same way Jesus would have depended on those attending angels.  Even in the loneliest moments of this season, look for consolation and companionship from friends and family as an oasis might appear in the desert.  Compete strongly today.

Bible Reading Plan:
Matthew 1:18-25
Acts 2:1-21

Friday, January 25, 2019

Proverbs 10:17

No one likes to be corrected by his coach or teammate.  Everyone wants to think that he competes at the highest level of his ability every time out.  The problem is, most of us never approach that level of competence and thus need correction.

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

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

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

As you pray today, ask the Lord to give you the grace to heed discipline and to enable you to show all those around you the way to rich, full, abundant life in relationship with Christ Jesus.

Bible Reading Plan:
Matthew 10:1-20
Acts 15:1-21
Psalms 23
Genesis 50

Thursday, January 24, 2019

F L E E    A N D    P U R S U E
II Timothy 2:22

Can you recall an instance when a great player was disqualified from competition due to poor off-field decisions?  I can think of dozens.  What do you suppose was driving their hearts to make such foolish decisions?  Many times it’s simply the strong, destructive, desires of youth.  Today’s scripture warns us about such desires.

In Paul’s second letter to his friend Timothy at chapter 2 and verse 22 we read, “Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.”

There’s no need to list the evil desires of youth, you probably have a few of them in your mind presently.  The point is to flee from them.  Don’t just stand idly by them, that’s the easiest way to be run over by such things. 

Further, we’re called to pursue four principles of wise living from a pure heart.  Let your pure heart lead you to pursue righteousness – doing what you know to be right.  Pursue faith – actively trust God, your coaches, your teammates, and your friends.  Pursue love – seek the best for others, even at your personal cost.  Pursue peace – work to keep your relationships open and honest. 

As you prepare to compete today, run away from the foolish desires that would compromise your ability to compete well and to contribute to the life of your team.  Pursue the best things of life from a pure heart.

Bible Reading Plan:
Matthew 9:27-38
Acts 14
Psalms 22:12-31
Genesis 49

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Isaiah 59:1

What do you pray about your life in sport?  Do you regularly talk with God about each situation or just when things seem out of control?  Which kind of prayer do you think God hears well?  My answer may surprise you.

Isaiah the prophet wrote about prayer at chapter 59 and verse 1, there we read, “Surely the arm of the Lord is not too short to save, nor His ear too dull to hear.”

It’s exciting to me to know that God doesn’t discriminate between my weakest prayers of panic and my most serene prayers of thanksgiving.  He clearly hears both kinds.  What’s more, He is responsive to both with His strong arm of protection and deliverance.

In today’s competition, invite the Lord into each moment of the game.  Pray during pre-game, asking for His help and protection.  Pray as the competition reaches its height, seeking His power and wisdom for excellence.  Pray after it’s all over, give thanks for the privilege of competing and for the win or the loss.

God’s more than willing to hear from you on your best day or at your worst moment. 

Bible Reading Plan:
Matthew 9:14-26
Acts 13:26-52
Psalms 22:1-11
Genesis 48

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

II Thessalonians 3:5

When does your heart need direction?  Do you ever feel like you’ve gone adrift or that you’re wandering through life with no clear path?  Today’s scripture will help our hearts to have a road map for living.

In the second letter Paul wrote to the Thessalonians at chapter 3 and verse 5 we read, “May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance.”  Paul is very simple with his directions; he says we should steer toward God’s love and Christ’s perseverance.

God’s love is the source for every good thing in life.  All that our hearts long for can be found in Him.  Let Him direct your heart toward such love, security, peace and joy.

Christ’s perseverance is beyond our wildest imaginations.  He can help us push through the pain of injury, the disappointment of failure, the sting of loss, the ache of loneliness.  The perseverance of Christ enables us to do the right thing even when everything in our minds and our bodies scream that we should just give up.

As you prepare to compete today, follow you heart as God directs it toward His love and the perseverance of Christ.  The best things in sport and all of life are awaiting your arrival.

Bible Reading Plan:
Matthew 9:1-13
Acts 13:1-25
Psalms 21
Genesis 46-47

Monday, January 21, 2019

G O D ‘ S   W I L L
Mark 3:35

What is it that we as Christian athletes can do to bring about a more intimate relationship with the Lord?  Is there some program to work through, some book to read, a tape to listen to?  What makes for a closer walk with Christ?

In Mark's gospel at chapter 3 and verse 35 Jesus says, For whoever does the will of God is My brother and sister and mother.  Jesus says this just as His family is outside the house, ready to take him home.  They think He's lost His mind and is in need of real help.

Jesus flips the whole idea of who is most closely related to Him by using these powerful words.  He says that the ones to whom He is most closely related are those who do God's will.  People with whom He has no blood relation can enjoy a deep, personal, intimate relationship with the Lord in a way that mere relatives can never even understand. 

Let's join these to whom Jesus spoke and be the Lord's most intimate family members.  Let's do what Jesus says makes that happen.  Let's do the will of God.

As you pray today, ask the Lord to reveal His will to you.  Ask Him to make your relationship with Him rich and personal. 

Bible Reading Plan:
Matthew 8:23-34
Acts 12
Psalms 20
Genesis 44-45

Sunday, January 20, 2019

O V E R C O M I N G   S T R I F E
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 restoration of teamwork?

In Proverbs chapter 10 and verse 12 it says, “Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all transgressions.”  Hatred seems like such a harsh word for the things we see dividing our teams.  Most people wouldn't even 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 transgressions.  Not just a few transgressions, 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 transgression 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.

Pray for the Lord to heal your team's divisions and to fill you with His love.  Ask the Lord to cover others' transgressions by His love expressed through you.

Bible Reading Plan:
Matthew 8:14-22
Acts 11:19-30
Psalms 19
Genesis 42-43

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Acts 4:32

Take a moment to recall a team from your past which had great team unity.  What were the key attitudes from which that unity sprang?  What made that team so special?  Today’s scripture shows us some attitudes that lead to a unified team.

In the book of Acts at chapter 4 and verse 32 it says, “All the believers were one in heart and mind.  No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had.”  What a team!  These people were winners.

Note some important things about this group.  They were one in heart – that is they shared the same values driven by the Spirit of Christ.  They were one in mind – their goals and the strategy for achieving them were unified.  They shared everything – they were totally selfless, each one looking out for the other’s best interest.

Your team can achieve the same unity.  You will be one in heart when you share the same set of values for your team.  You will be one in mind when you each align your personal goals with those of the team.  You will be fully unified when you compete selflessly and seek the team’s best over your personal achievement.

As you prepare today, ask God to unify your team.  Commit yourselves to being of one heart and mind.

Bible Reading Plan:
Matthew 8:1-13
Acts 11:1-18
Psalms 18:25-50
Genesis 41

Friday, January 18, 2019

G U A R D   Y O U R   H E A R T
Proverbs 4:23

To whom have you given your heart?  Your boyfriend or girlfriend?   An intimate friend and confidant?  Family?  The Lord Jesus?  Be careful...

In the book of Proverbs at chapter 4 and verse 23 it says, “Guard your heart with all diligence,  for from it flow the springs of life.”

Why would a person's heart be of such value that the Bible would say to guard it with all diligence?  The verse says that from it flow the springs of life.  The things that keep our life fresh and clean, like spring water, flow from our hearts.  If our hearts are pure and unspoiled, we can honor God with all of our lives.  However if we're polluted in our hearts, everything about us is unclean and lacks life giving freshness.

So what shall we do?  Guard your heart.  Be careful who you choose for friends.  Consider prayerfully the people you date and be very sober and sure about choosing a spouse.  Guard your heart.  If you compromise the purity of your heart to make a friend or to impress a lover, you're in peril of polluting the spring.

In today's prayer time, commit your heart to the Lord.  Ask Him to help you guard it with all diligence and to maintain its purity.

Bible Reading Plan:
Matthew 7:15-29
Acts 10:24-48
Psalms 18:1-24
Genesis 39-40

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Mark 15:33-34

Have you ever felt abandoned by your team during competition?  You look around and wonder, “Where did everybody go?  I feel like I’m out here all alone!”  Imagine how Jesus felt on a very dark day in His life.

This darkest of days is recorded in Mark chapter 15 and verses 33 through 34, “At the sixth hour darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour.  And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice… ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

This was the biggest, most important day of Jesus’ life.  This was the culmination of His life’s purpose.  In such a moment, He’d been abandoned by His followers, was even betrayed by one.  Worst of all, He felt abandoned by God.  In spite of how He felt, He fully completed His mission and honored God to His last breath.

Competition at the highest levels is not always pleasant.  It is surely not always fun.  You’ll occasionally feel like you’re all alone in the fight.  Don’t give in to discouragement and the temptation to quit.  You could be on the threshold of a breakthrough for yourself and for your team. 

Compete strongly today.  Press through your feelings and honor God with your life as a competitor.

Bible Reading Plan:
Matthew 7:1-14
Acts 10:1-23
Psalm 17
Genesis 37-38

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

J O Y   A N D   P E A C E
Isaiah 55:12

Which of these is a better descriptor of your frame of mind in competition; joy and peace or anxiety and rage?  I’ve known competitors from both camps and I know which ones were more successful and were better teammates.

Isaiah wrote these words in chapter 55 and verse 12, “You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.”

Though many competitors pursue their sport in anger, full of anxiety and rage; this scripture presents another alternative.  If we go out in joy and are led in peace, we find the whole course of life more pleasant and we receive great favor with those around us. 

Joy is simply emotional stability.  That’s most important during competition as we experience the inevitable swings of momentum from one team to the other.  If we go out in joy, we have the emotional stability to react appropriately to each situation that arises.

Peace is the capacity to be calm in the midst of chaos and confusion.  Competition is full of moments of confusion and we’re too often overcome by it.  Peace gives you the ability to keep your mind focused on your assignment even when everything seems to be coming unglued.

As you compete today, let peace and joy rule your hearts.  Pray for the capacity to remain calm and under control, even in chaotic situations.  Seek God’s character of joy to keep you emotionally afloat in the midst of a turbulent sea of momentum shifts.  Compete with a joyful, peaceful heart today.

Bible Reading Plan:
Matthew 6:25-34
Acts 9:20-43
Psalms 16
Genesis 36

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

I Corinthians 1:25

As athletes we are often looking for an edge over our opponents, something that will provide an advantage and lead to a win.  Sometimes we think that comes by being smarter and other times we think that being stronger will lead to victory.  The Bible points to a person who overcomes both great human wisdom and the power of physical strength.

In Paul's first letter to his friends at Corinth at chapter 1 and verse 25 he says, "For the foolishness of God is wiser than man's wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man's strength."  There is more to strength than what can be measured in the weight room, more to quickness than can be measured with a stop watch.  There's more to wisdom than what can be attributed to a degree or a g.p.a.

There is strength and wisdom available to us that comes from a whole other dimension, because it's the strength and wisdom that comes from God.  Live in that dimension today.
Ask the Lord to fill you with His wisdom, the ability to know the right thing to do.  Ask Him to fill you with His strength, the power to carry out what is best. 

Play with great passion and enthusiasm.  Use the Lord's wisdom and strength to achieve excellence on the field of competition.

Bible Reading Plan:
Matthew 6:16-24
Acts 9:1-19
Psalms 15
Genesis 34-35

Monday, January 14, 2019

R I S K    A N D    D A N G E R
John 13:34

What is the most reckless, dangerous and risky thing you’ve ever done?  Please don’t answer out loud!  If you said it was to love your family, friends and teammates, you’re thinking like Jesus.

In John’s Gospel at chapter 13 and verse 34 we read these challenging words, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.”

These words are remarkable for a couple of reasons.  Jesus says them while Judas, who would the same evening betray Him, is still in the room.  He also says these words to His disciples, His teammates, who within hours will go into hiding and one will even deny knowing Him.  His love was rather risky, but very deep.

We have the same challenge and opportunity as the disciples had.  We can also choose to love our teammates, coaches and families without reservation, all the way.  We can love them as we reflect Jesus’ love toward them.  Love with this kind of abandon is not safe.  Love with this kind of sacrifice is not cheap.  This is love with commitment it doesn’t look for an escape.  That’s what we need for team unity and loyalty.

Let’s exhibit this kind of teamwork in today’s competition as we love one another as Jesus has loved us.

Bible Reading Plan:
Matthew 6:1-15
Acts 8:26-40
Psalms 14

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Mark 14:35-36

What is there about your life in sport that is so difficult or painful that you wish it would just go away?  Maybe it’s a nagging injury, the pain of mounting losses or strained relationships with coaches or teammates.  Any of these can rip the joy from life.

Jesus faced a similar situation, but the consequences were far greater.  We read about it in Mark chapter 14 and verses 35 and 36, “Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him.  ‘Abba, Father,’ he said, ‘everything is possible for you.  Take this cup from me.  Yet not what I will, but what you will.”

In His last night on the earth, Jesus stared death in the face and knew that He’d be dead in less than 24 hours.  As any of us would, He asked that He be spared such pain and suffering.  Thankfully, He also had the self-discipline to submit His will to God’s.

As you face your every day pains, look for God’s will in the matters of life.  Don’t deny your feelings or hide your displeasure, God knows that it hurts.  Talk with Him about it and commit yourself to His purposes in the situation. 

In today’s competition, take the same attitude toward pain and suffering that Jesus did and press through them to achieve your goals.

Bible Reading Plan:
Matthew 5:33-48
Acts 8:1-25
Genesis 31

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Mark 14:17-19

Have you ever felt betrayed by a coach or a teammate?  Maybe something told in confidence was spoken to others or a promise went unfulfilled.  Such feelings of betrayal hurt deeply.  Imagine if betrayal were to lead to one’s death.  Such was the case in the life of Jesus.

We read about how Jesus handles a betrayal that hasn’t even occurred yet in Mark chapter 14 and verses 17 through 19, “When evening came, Jesus arrived with the Twelve.  While they were reclining at the table eating, he said, ‘I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me - one who is eating with me.’  They were saddened and one by one they said to him, ‘Surely not I?”

Jesus’ twelve teammates were all together at something very similar to a pre-game meal when He dropped a bomb on the group.  He said that He was aware that one of them would betray Him.  It’s curious that they would each ask him, “Surely not I?”  But it makes sense when we consider that each of them was fully aware that he was certainly capable, given the right circumstances.

These men knew that betrayal is easy, but loyalty is tough.  It’s easy to betray a confidence, to forward gossip or to turn our backs on our teammates.  It’s much tougher to be loyal in hard times and to hang in with teammates who perform poorly.

As you prepare for today’s competition, be loyal like John.  Don’t betray your teammates like Judas.  Even more, be ready to love extravagantly, like Jesus.

Bible Reading Plan:
Matthew 5:21-32
Psalms 12
Genesis 29-30

Friday, January 11, 2019

Proverbs 3:5-6

As we compete, there is a great deal of trust required from all of us.  At times we have to trust our coaches, our teammates, even our own abilities.  The most secure person to place one's trust in is certainly the Lord Jesus.

In Proverbs chapter 3 and verses 5 and 6 it says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.”

In competition there are always things that are beyond our control and things that are beyond our understanding.  Rather than leaning on our understanding, this scripture leads us to lean on the understanding of the Lord.  He's the Creator of the universe, He certainly has sufficient understanding for today's competition.

The call is to trust Him with all our hearts.  Let's commit everything to Him and lean wholly upon His understanding and His love for us.  Make your prayer today a whole hearted commitment of everything you are to the Lord Jesus.

Bible Reading Plan:
Acts 7:1-38
Psalms 11
Genesis 27-28

Thursday, January 10, 2019

C O U R A G E    A N D    S T R E N G T H
II Thessalonians 2:16

Who are the people in your lives who encourage your heart and strengthen you to do well?  Take a moment to recall their faces, their encouraging words and their strengthening presence.  What if God was on your list of such people?

In Paul’s second letter to his friends in Thessalonica at chapter 2 and verses 16 and 17 we read, “May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.”  Paul’s prayer for his friends is that they would be encouraged and strengthened.

To be encouraged is like getting a transfusion of courage for your heart.  You’re suddenly possessed of more confidence and hope for the situation at hand.  To be strengthened is like the hand of a spotter assisting you with that final rep in the weight room.  Completing your task is made much easier.

That’s my prayer for you as well.  May you be encouraged in every good deed and word.  May your actions and your speech be full of courage, confidence and hope.  May you be strengthened in every good deed and word.  May your behavior and your speech reflect the inward strength of your heart.

Prepare for today’s competition with courage and strength.

Bible Reading Plan:
Matthew 5:1-12
Acts 6
Psalms 10

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Isaiah 50:7

Have you ever known a competitor who seems to have an unbending will to win?  One he set his mind on his goal, he would not waiver from it for anything.  Perhaps you’re like that.  Many of the greatest competitors are.

In Isaiah’s book of prophecy at chapter 50 and verse 5 we read about such an attitude of resolve, “Because the Sovereign Lord helps me, I will not be disgraced.  Therefore have I set my face like a flint, and I know I will not be put to shame.”

Some of us are so committed to our goals that, on game day, our faces look like they’re carved out of stone.  Our resolve is so strong that we’re unfazed by outside noises or distractions.

Though he was exposed to possible disgrace and shame, Isaiah pressed on in the pursuit of his goals.  He did so because he had a profound trust in God and sensed His help day to day.

As you compete today and as you press toward the completion of this season, set your face like a flint.  Focus strongly on your team’s goals and let nothing deter you from their fulfillment.  Trust in your teammates, your coaching staff and ultimately in your God to help you in this marvelous pursuit.

Bible Reading Plan:
Matthew 4:18-25
Acts 5:17-42
Genesis 24

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

I Chronicles 28:20

At times it seems like our hard work and commitment will go for nothing.  Sometimes we get tired and discouraged.  The Bible speaks to these questions and fears very directly.

In the Old Testament historical book called First Chronicles at chapter 28 and verse 20 it says, "David the king also said to Solomon his son, 'Be strong and courageous, and do the work.  Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD God, my God, is with you."  This was a pivotal time in the nation of Israel's history and you are at an equally important time in this team's history. 

It's true that the preseason has held a lot of adversity for you and  could even lead to your being discouraged.  Take heart from King David's words to his son Solomon.  Don't be afraid or discouraged, rather be strong and courageous and do the work.  Focus on the task at hand and all the distractions will fade away.

The thing that makes all this possible for us is the same as what worked in David and Solomon.  It's the strong assurance that the LORD God, my God is with you.  That is strong stuff and the source of great strength.  Let the assurance of God's love and care for you result in strength and courage, both individually and as a unit. 

Bible Reading Plan:
Matthew 4:12-17
Psalms 8
Genesis 21-23

Monday, January 7, 2019

Proverbs 1:7

Everyone who competes needs knowledge.  We each need the knowledge of our games, of our positions and of the game plan.  We need to know another set of things that are even more important to life off the field.

In the book of Proverbs at chapter 1 and verse 7 we find the theme verse for the whole book, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; Fools despise wisdom and instruction.”

Most people, when they hear the phrase, the fear of the Lord, think of a fear of death, that somehow the Lord may get mad at you and kill you.  Rather than that, this proverb refers to a reverential awe that profoundly respects God and listens to His wisdom.

What's more, this profound respect is the said to be the beginning of knowledge.  This is where real knowledge starts!  It's easy to see how God sees people who refuse the starting place for knowledge, He refers to them as fools.  Only a fool would despise the real source for wisdom and instruction.

As you pray and prepare for competition today, ask the Lord to fill you with real knowledge.  Ask Him to give you wisdom and instruction.  All this begins with a healthy, profound respect for the awesome Lord of Creation...Jesus Christ.

Bible Reading Plan:
Acts 4:23-27
Psalms 7
Genesis 18-20

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Mark 14:3-7

Can you recall a time in your sport career when things were so good that you didn’t want them to end?  You wanted that winning feeling to last for days, but it was soon gone.  Jesus had similar days and we can read about some of them.

In Mark chapter 14 and verses 3 through 7 we read, “…A woman came with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, made of pure nard.  She broke the jar and poured the perfume on (Jesus’) head.  Some of those present were saying indignantly to one another, ‘Why this waste of perfume?  It could have been sold for more than a year’s wages and the money given to the poor.’  And they rebuked her harshly.  ‘Leave her alone,’ said Jesus.  ‘Why are you bothering her?   She has done a beautiful thing to me.  The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want.  But you will not always have me.”

Focus on the words, “The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me,” and remember the greatest moments of your athletic career.  Think of how precious those feelings and memories are to you.  Now when you recognize a similar moment, adopt Jesus’ philosophy and drain every drop of good from it.

When another great victory arrives, stay there as long as you can.  Savor the moment and grasp its significance.  Pay whatever it costs to enjoy every drop of its value and aroma.  The necessary, mundane things of life are always there, but moments like these are fleeting and few.  Recognize them and enjoy them to the fullest.  Compete well today and you may just create such a moment. 

Bible Reading Plan:
Matthew 3:13-17
Acts 4:1-22
Psalms 6
Genesis 15-17

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Proverbs 3:11-12

How many of us would say that we have an ideal father?  Who among us has a dad 100% without fault or inconsistency?  The Lord God is that kind of Father.

In Proverbs chapter 3 and verses 11 and 12 we read, “My son (daughter), do not despise the Lord’s discipline and do not resent His rebuke, because the Lord disciplines those He loves, as a father the son in whom he delights.”

Most of us know what it is to be disciplined by our coaches.  It’s something that if not understood, we could soon despise.  Our parents may have rebuked us for foolish things we did as children and many of us may have resented their chastening.  I don’t know how many times I wondered if my coach was crazy while we ran laps after practice for bonehead plays.  We often resented the discipline at the moment, but as we grew in our sport, we realized the wisdom in his correction.

That same principle applies to life on a wider scale.  God will lovingly correct those whom He loves.  He will not sit passively by and let you destroy yourself.  He will correct, discipline and sometimes rebuke us.    Be careful to not despise His correction, it comes for your benefit and is driven by His profound love for you.

In today’s competition, do not resent your coaching staff’s correction and discipline.  As we work together, we will be more successful that any of us dreamed.  Have a great day; compete like a champion!

Bible Reading Plan:
Matthew 3:1-12
Acts 3
Psalms 5

Friday, January 4, 2019

II Corinthians 7:3

How do you relate to your teammates when they’re at their best?  You probably congratulate them, look them in the eye, hang around and even embrace them.  How about on their worst days?  Do you ignore them, avoid them or even run and hide?  What does your heart tell you to do? 

In Paul’s second letter to his friends in Corinth at chapter 7 and verse 3, he wrote, “I do not say this to condemn you; I have said before that you have such a place in our hearts that we would live or die with you.”  Even in tense, ugly circumstances like those experienced by the Corinthians, we must be loyal to our teammates, friends and family.

A loyal teammate will not run from another who has failed or otherwise fallen from favor.  Rather, that loyal one will run straight toward and embrace his/her fallen comrade.  Our teammates must occupy such places of honor and respect in our hearts that we believe the best about them and seek their highest good, even at our personal cost.

On his best day honor, respect and embrace your teammate, he’s worthy of that.  On his worst day, honor, respect and embrace your teammate, he’s worthy of that.

As you pray in preparation for today’s contest, ask God to fill your heart with commitment and loyalty for your teammates.  Win or lose, live or die, be a loyal teammate and friend.

Bible Reading Plan:
Matthew 2:13-23
Acts 2:22-47
Genesis 9-11

Thursday, January 3, 2019

C O M P E T I T I V E    I N V E S T M E N T S
Mark 12:41-44

If athletic talent could be measured in dollars and cents, who would be the richest player that you know?  How generous is that player in relation to her teammates?  Who would be the poorest player that you know?  How generous is that person toward others?

Jesus speaks of a similar contrast between rich and poor in Mark chapter 12 and verses 41 through 44.  “Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury.  Many rich people threw in large amounts.  But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins worth only a fraction of a penny.  Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, ‘I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others.  They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything - all she had to live on.”

Why does it seem that often the poorest of us make the deepest investments in the team?  It happens all the time.  Often the least talented among us are the best teammates and give to others most generously.  It’s no surprise; Jesus saw it in His day as well.

Let me challenge you today.  Whether athletically rich or poor, invest deeply in your team collectively and in your teammates individually.  Give it all away in pursuit of a great team victory.

Bible Reading Plan:
Matthew 2:1-12
Psalm 3
Genesis 5-8

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Isaiah 40:30-31

What part of your sport comes so easily to you that you seem to effortlessly soar in it?  When does competition seem to flow naturally and relaxed?  The prophet Isaiah knew of such feelings and writes about them in today’s scripture.

At Isaiah chapter 40 and in verses 30 and 31 it says, “Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”

What an exciting promise!  As we trust God, as we place our hope in His love for us, we will be renewed and able to soar like eagles.  Can you really believe that simply trusting Christ will make a real difference in your performance on the field of competition?  What do you have to lose?

As you prepare to compete today, take the chance to ask God for His transforming power in your weary, aching body.  Ask Him to strengthen your tired legs and to breathe courage into your fainting spirit.  Trust strongly and compete courageously.

Bible Reading Plan:
Acts 1:12-26
Psalm 2
Genesis 3 and 4

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

I Corinthians 9:24-25

What is the value of the training you do every day in practice?  How efficiently could you perform on game day if you didn't train well?  What are the rewards of such training?  Today's scripture addresses these issues for all of life.

In the first letter to the Corinthian church, Paul the Apostle writes at chapter 9 and verses 24 and 25, "Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize?  Run in such a way as to get the prize.  Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training.  They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever."

Obviously you couldn't perform well at all on game day if you didn't discipline your mind, you body and your emotions.  You've had to exercise self control over these things throughout your athletic career with respect to diet, running, weight training, studying video tape and more. 

Expect it to pay off in today's competition!  Win the crown!
What's more, exercise discipline in the most important areas of life and you'll find yourself winning championships that don't fade in importance, collect dust on the shelf or diminish in value.

Bible Reading Plan:
Matthew 1:1-17
Acts 1:1-11
Psalms 1
Genesis 1-2