Thursday, February 28, 2019

Mark 1:45

Has your success in athletics and the resulting popularity ever led to a loss of privacy for you?  Many people of sport who achieve highly become celebrities and thus lose the ability to move about freely in society.  You might be thinking, “I’d like to have that problem.”  We can watch that happen to Jesus as we read from Mark’s gospel.

At chapter 1 and verse 45 we read, “Instead he went out and began to talk freely, spreading the news.  As a result, Jesus could no longer enter a town openly but stayed outside in lonely places.  Yet the people still came to him from everywhere.”

Jesus had just done some seemingly impossible things in town and the man that was most affected couldn’t help but talk about it.  Jesus asked him to keep it quiet, but the man’s excitement couldn’t be contained.  All this resulted in a level of celebrity for Jesus that began to rule his life, he couldn’t go anywhere without a crowd gathering.

Even if this season results in you and your teammates becoming big celebrities, stay connected to your coaches and friends.  Your teammates are the ideal support system.  Practice and competition can be your escape from the crush of the public.  The people you want in your life can still find you and you can enjoy the more private places for retreat, like Jesus did.

Let’s compete today in a tremendous way and give everyone a reason to treat us like celebrities.

Bible Reading Plan:
Matthew 14:1-21
Acts 20:13-38
Matthew 17:1-13
Psalms 41

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Ephesians 1:18

Are there ever opportunities to score or to make a great play that escape your notice?  It was there, but somehow you just couldn’t see it.  Are there other times when it seems like someone is shining a giant flashlight on the situation and the whole game slows down for you?  Today’s scripture will enlighten our hearts to great treasure.

In the book of Ephesians at chapter 1 and verse 18 it says, “I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints and his incomparably great power for us who believe.”  How well do the eyes of your heart see?

Paul prays that these people’s hearts would be enlightened toward three things – hope, an inheritance and power.  Hope is confidence in the future.  An inheritance is provision from someone who loves us.  Power is the ability to do what’s right.

This same prayer is applicable for us in the world of sport.  I pray that the eyes of your hearts are enlightened to know the hope you can have, in this life and in the next.  I pray that your hearts are enlightened to know the inheritance that is yours presently in the marvelous opportunity to compete and to have such teammates and coaches.  I also pray that your hearts are enlightened to the power that is yours to make choices that honor your family, your team and even your God.

As you prepare to compete, echo this prayer for enlightenment and then watch for its fulfillment in this very day.

Bible Reading Plan:
Psalms 27
Exodus 13-15

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Psalm 20:7

On what basis do your opponents or teammates boast?  Do they brag about their size and strength?  Maybe they talk loudly about their skills, technique or knowledge.  Does anyone you know boast in the power of his God?

That’s exactly what we hear from David in Psalm 20 and verse 7, “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.”

God’s power is greater than a whole division of chariots.  His strength is mightier than a thousand horses.  To David the warrior, God’s name is better than all the finest military equipment on the planet.

When your opponent boasts of his speed, God is faster.  When your teammate is bragging about his power in the weight room, remember that God is most powerful.  When the media boasts of your most recent victories, think about the eternal nature of God’s wisdom. 

In today’s competition, if you must brag at all, make your boast in the one unchanging, immovable person – God almighty.

Bible Reading Plan:
Matthew 11:1-19
Acts 16:16-40

Monday, February 25, 2019

Mark 1:35-37

What do you do to quiet your mind and to keep some perspective about your life?  Where do you go to relax, reflect and to meditate?  How do you stay true to who you are when everybody is praising you?  We’ll read today about how Jesus did all of these.

Mark writes about Jesus’ life of solitude and focus at chapter 1 and verses 35 through 37, “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.  Simon and his companions went to look for him, and when they found him, they exclaimed, ‘Everyone is looking for you.’”

Jesus had a unique quality in his life that most of us miss.  He valued solitude over popularity.  He maintained clarity of thought about who He was, about His values and about His life goals while in quiet reflection, free from the flattering crowds.  He knew that it’s very easy to pander to a crowd of people who tell you that you’re great.  He was more concerned with pleasing His Father in Heaven.

We can each carry a similar commitment related to our team.  Let’s be more committed and responsive to our teammates and coaching staff than we are to the fickle opinions of fans and sportswriters.  Let’s remember to value those who know us privately and their commitments to us.

Let’s value them more than those who only know us from what they see on game day and in public.  Compete powerfully today and honor those who are most committed to you.

Bible Reading Plan:
Matthew 21:12-22
Acts 28:17-31
Psalms 47
Leviticus 26-27

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Proverbs 13:10

Do you have any teammates who you'd call arrogant, boastful or proud?  Might others describe you in that way?  How should we view ourselves with respect to others on our team?  The Holy Scripture has some advice.

In the book of Proverbs at chapter 13 and verse 10 it is written, “Through pride comes nothing but strife, but with those who receive counsel is wisdom.”

Pride in our abilities, our intelligence, our looks, or whatever else leads us to boasting seems to have the same result... strife.  This kind of boastful pride only serves to divide our team and to hurt our relationships with teammates and coaches.  This is different than confidence, pride calls attention to itself and puts others down as inferior.

Wisdom calls us to not set ourselves up as greater than others, but to receive the wise advice of our friends, family, coaches and teammates.  To have a unified team and to enjoy success as a team, we will each have to put down our individual pride and work together with our teammates. 

In your prayer time, ask the Lord to expose your areas of pride.  Ask Him to change those and to make you a person of humility and wisdom.

Bible Reading Plan:
Matthew 21:1-11
Acts 28:1-16
Psalms 46
Leviticus 24-25

Saturday, February 23, 2019

G A M E   P L A N
Habakkuk 2:2

How clearly does your coaching staff outline your game plan?  How well do you study and implement each one?  Clarity of communication on each end will enable us to compete at the highest level.

The prophet Habakkuk speaks of clear communication in chapter 2 and verse 2, “Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it.”

The Lord told the prophet that his communication should be so plain that it could be written on big signs carried by a man on the run and those who saw him could easily understand the message.

Your season of sport moves like a herald on the run.  There is a ton of information coming your way every day.  Thus each competition’s game plan must be expressed very plainly so everyone may understand it fully and your focus must be clear in order to strongly fulfill it.

As you compete today, concentrate tightly on the game plan.  Explain it and execute it to perfection for greatest success. 

Bible Reading Plan:
Matthew 20:17-34
Acts 27:27-44
Psalms 45
Leviticus 21-23

Friday, February 22, 2019

I Peter 5:7

Have you ever approached a competition filled with worry and apprehension because you didn't know if you would be successful?  Have you ever faced an opponent who seemed unbeatable and wondered who could possibly be concerned for your feelings?  The Bible speaks of one who knows your worries very well and is doing something about them.

In Peter's first letter to his friends, at chapter 5 and verse 7, he says, "Cast all your anxiety upon Him because He cares for you."  During the first half of a season we all have anxiety about things like who will play, how many minutes will I get, will I be able to score well, and can I keep up with the player I'm asked to guard? 

The exciting part of this verse is the promise that we can take all that anxiety and roll in onto the Lord.  We can take all of life's worries to Him and rest in the assurance of His real and active care for us.

Today as you prepare to play, take a moment to pray and to cast all your cares, anxieties, worries and doubts upon the Lord.  He genuinely cares for you and is more than able to work in your behalf.  Let the assurance of His care and provision for you lead to your playing with great confidence and power. 

Bible Reading Plan:
Matthew 20:1-16
Acts 27:1-26
Psalms 44
Leviticus 18-20

Thursday, February 21, 2019

P U B L I C   A T T E N T I O N
Mark 1:27-28

How many newspaper clippings have your parents collected about your athletic career?  I imagine each of you have scrapbooks filled with photos and articles written about how you excelled in your sport.  Did you ever wonder at the attention you received for playing your game?  Jesus had a similar experience in his life, a few centuries before newspapers.

Mark writes about this incident at chapter 1 and verses 27 and 28, “The people were all so amazed that they asked each other, ‘What is this?  A new teaching - and with authority!  He even gives orders to evil spirits and they obey him.’  News about him spread quickly over the whole region of Galilee.”

Jesus had recently done some amazing things and the news about him was spreading like wildfire.  There was a buzz all over the region about this guy and the awesome works he was performing.

It’s fun to be in the newspaper, to see your face on television and to be the topic of conversation at the local restaurants on the morning after a great night of competition.  Jesus knew that exhilaration just like you.

As you compete today, focus your mind and prepare your body in order to give people something to talk about.  Give your absolute best effort on the field of competition and who knows, you might be the talk of the town.

Bible Reading Plan:
Matthew 19:16-30
Acts 26:19-32
Psalms 43
Leviticus 16-17

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Colossians 3:15

What are the attitudes that rule your hearts?  Are you ruled by fear, doubt, rejection, or pride?  Or maybe it’s peace that rules your hearts.

In Paul’s letter to his friends in Colossae at chapter 3 and verse 15 we read these words, “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace.  And be thankful.”

It’s no coincidence that the word “hearts” is plural.  Paul was writing to a group and he is making an appeal for them to be unified in heart.  He is calling them to let the peace of Christ rule their hearts, collectively.

On the field of competition, that looks like a team which is focused on their collective goals over personal achievement.  It’s a team whose leaders work for harmony and reconciliation among teammates.  It’s a coaching staff that openly communicates with each member of the team.  The peace of Christ rules their hearts, leading to their operating as one body.

As you prepare for competition, take some time to pray that the peace of Christ will rule your hearts, both individually and collectively.  Work together in harmony and achieve greatly as one heart, one mind, and one body.

Bible Reading Plan:
Matthew 19:1-15
Acts 26:1-18
Psalms 42
Leviticus 14-15

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Psalm 16:5-6

How much are you a student of your sport?  Do you know its history and traditions?  Who are the key figures in your own program’s history?  The Bible is full of stories and even poetry that recount the history of God’s people.

In the Hebrew book of Poetry called Psalms at chapter 16 and verses 5 and 6 we read, “Lord, you have assigned me my portion and my cup; you have made my lot secure.  The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance.”

The writer was well aware of his blessed heritage.  He credited God with putting him in position to be even further blessed.  He described his place in life as secure, pleasant and delightful. 

As you are in preparation for today’s competition, let your mind page back through the players and coaches from this program’s past.  Remember their names and the heritage in which you now live.  Recall the achievements of those who have gone before you.  You’ll probably join the psalm writer in seeing your position as secure, pleasant and even delightful.

Bible Reading Plan:
Matthew 18:15-35
Acts 25:13-27
Leviticus 11-13

Monday, February 18, 2019

Mark 1:19-20

What have you left behind to pursue your athletic career?  Many of you left your families hours away.  Many more left your best friends and possibly even a relationship with a potential spouse.  What do you suppose that Jesus’ disciples left when he asked them to follow him?  We get to see the price of such decisions in the writings of Mark.

At chapter 1 and verses 19 and 20, Mark writes, “When he had gone a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John in a boat, preparing their nets.  Without delay he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed him.”

These men walked away from their family business and their whole careers as fishermen to follow this man Jesus.  That’s what total commitment looks like.

You’ve shown similar commitment and you are to be commended for it.  You walked away from your family, friends, everything that was familiar and comfortable to you to come to a strange place and strange people. 

We must now show the same kind of commitment to our team and to the coaching staff that we’ve always shown to our family and friends.  Demonstrate family-like commitment and loyalty to your teammates as you compete strongly together today.

Bible Reading Plan:
Matthew 18:1-14
Acts 25:1-12
Psalms 40
Leviticus 8-10

Sunday, February 17, 2019

L A Z Y   O R   D I L I G E N T ?
Proverbs 13:4

Would you characterize yourself as a diligent, hard worker in practice or do you lean toward doing just enough to get by?  What might be the eventual outcomes of each of those attitudes toward training?

In the Proverbs chapter 13 and verse 4 it says, "The soul of the lazy craves and gets nothing, but the soul of the diligent is full satisfied."  It's true in all of life that some people will be lazy and will find their needs going unmet, while others who are consistently working hard will be rewarded with success.

This seems to be true of more spiritual matters as well as it says the soul of these people is the subject.  If we will be faithful in prayer, consistent in Bible reading, committed to our friends and teammates, we'll find that the real stuff of life is supplied in great abundance.  Our souls will prosper and be in good health as we diligently do the things that please God.

As you pray and prepare for competition, ask the Lord for diligence in all the affairs of your life.  To be diligent in the classroom, in practice, in the weight room, in your relationships, with your teammates and certainly in relation to spiritual disciplines, will result in a fully satisfied soul.  You'll find real happiness and great success.

Compete today with the focus and intensity befitting your abilities and your satisfied soul.

Bible Reading Plan:
Matthew 17:14-27
Acts 24
Psalms 39
Leviticus 5-7

Saturday, February 16, 2019

I Peter 5:6

What is the key to attaining a position of power and influence?  How do leaders and other people of prestige and authority attain their places?  It is shown throughout the Bible that God sets people in places of prominence and power after they have taken the lower position to serve others and the Lord.

In Peter's first letter to his friends, in chapter 5 and verse 6 he writes, "Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, that He may lift you up at the proper time."

Peter calls us to maintain an attitude of humility, both before God and among our teammates.  There seems to be no room for self promotion or arrogant attitudes in God's kingdom. 

The promise that Peter offers in this verse is that as we maintain a spirit of humility, God himself will lift us to prominence at just the right time.  I'm sure God is smarter than me and it's probably true that He's smarter than any of us.  Let's trust Him and His timing for our coming into positions of prominence. 

Hold your ambitions in check, He's guarding your best interests, at all times.  Conduct yourself with humility toward each other and certainly in relation to God's plan for you.  Trust Him to deliver you right on time.

Bible Reading Plan:
Acts 23:12-35
Psalms 38
Leviticus 1-4

Friday, February 15, 2019

E M E R G I N G   L E A D E R S
Judges 11:4-7

How do leaders emerge from among your teammates?  Is there a personality type or a position on the team that automatically makes one a leader?  Be careful, sometimes the best leaders appear from the most unlikely places.  One such leader is seen in today’s scripture.

In the book of Judges at chapter 11 and verses 4 through 7 we read, “Some time later, when the Ammonites made war on Israel, the elders of Gilead went to get Jephthah from the land of Tob.  ‘Come,’ they said, ‘be our commander, so we can fight the Ammonites.’  Jephthah said to them, ‘Didn’t you hate me and drive me from my father’s house?  Why do you come to me now, when you’re in trouble?”

Jephthah was an illegitimately born child who nobody cared for, but he grew up to be a mighty warrior.  Suddenly, when the people were in trouble, they came to him to be their leader.  There must have been something special about Jephthah for the people to reach beyond their prejudice to seek his leadership.

It could be the same among you.  Watch and listen to your teammates.  Look for and encourage the leaders who emerge, even if they don’t fit into your previous leadership profile.  These leaders are often God’s gift to a team.

As you compete today, respect and loyally follow your team leadership.  Your coaching staff and the leaders among your teammates may lead you out of real trouble and into tremendous victory.

Bible Reading Plan:
Matthew 16:13-28
Acts 23:1-11
Psalms 37:23-40
Exodus 38-40

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Mark 9:23

What are the limiting factors for you in relation to achievement?  What is the greatest thing you think you're capable of accomplishing?  Do you believe you're able to achieve everything God has called you to do? 

In Mark's gospel at chapter 9 and verse 23, Jesus speaks to a man with a great problem, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.” 

This man was faced with his son's terrible affliction and struggled to believe the Lord would free him from it.  Jesus tells him that all things are possible to him who believes.  Believes in what?  In this case in the goodness, compassion and mercy of God. 

What is it you're having trouble believing?  What is there about life that keeps you from fully trusting the Lord?  Look fully upon the Lord Jesus and trust Him.  He says to you the same words He said to that man.

In your prayers today, ask the Lord to help your unbelief.  Ask Him for more grace to trust Him.  Tell Him that you believe in Him and in all that He can do in you.  Commit yourself fully to Him for all of life.

Bible Reading Plan:
Matthew 16:1-12
Acts 22
Psalms 37:1-22
Exodus 35-37

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Proverbs 12:25

As we approach a competition, many times we're burdened by anxiety and worry.  Often we wonder how well we'll perform, how good our opponent is, how well we know our assignments and other concerns.  While these are legitimate concerns, they can serve to hinder our athletic performance.

In Proverbs chapter 12 and verse 25 it speaks of this dynamic, “An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up.” 

It's like our heart becomes lined with lead or our legs are made of rubber, when we are overcome with anxiety we are weighed down.  Suddenly we're weighed down by doubt, confusion and frustration.  All these lead to a less than our best performance during competition.

There is also a great promise in this scripture.  It says that a kind word cheers one up.  Encouragement is a powerful tool for the athlete.  A simple word, a kind expression of thanks, a well timed compliment can put a charge in a teammate or a coach and thus will lift the weight that he's been carrying.

In your time of prayer today, ask the Lord to lead you to someone whom you can encourage.  Ask Him for a chance to speak the kind word that cheers up your teammate, coach or friend.

Bible Reading Plan:
Matthew 15:21-39
Acts 21:27-40
Psalms 36
Exodus 34

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

P O W E R F U L    T E A M M A T E
Joshua 5:13-14

Have you ever had a teammate of whom you’d say, “I’m glad he’s on our team?  I really don’t want to be his/her opponent.”  There is a story in the Bible of just such a person.

In Joshua’s book of history at chapter 5 and verses 13 and 14 it reads, “Now when Joshua was near Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with a drawn sword in his hand.  Joshua went up to him and asked, ‘Are you for us or for our enemies?’  ‘Neither,’ he said, ‘but as commander of the army of the Lord I have come.’  Then Joshua fell facedown to the ground in reverence, and asked him, ‘What message does my Lord have for his servant?”

Joshua didn’t really understand to whom he was talking as he encountered this man.  It didn’t take long, however, for him to get a clear picture of who was the greater person.

It may be the same with you and your teammates.  After just a few practice sessions you probably knew who the superior athletes were.  Your probably saw right away who the leaders were.  With such people, it’s not a matter of them being for or against us; it’s more a matter of being sure we’re on their side.

In today’s competition, be sure to closely align yourself with your teammates and coaching staff.  They’re for you.  Be thankful them and the privilege you have of being on their team. I’m praying that we’re all with the commander of the Lord’s army.  He’s the ultimate victor.

Bible Reading Plan:
Matthew 15:1-20
Acts 21:1-26
Psalms 35
Exodus 32-33

Monday, February 11, 2019

I Peter 4:10

As an athlete you're a gifted person.  From where do these gifts come?  How is it that you're given certain abilities and others do not possess them?  How much of your talent is a gift and how much is cultivated skill?  How should we use our gifts and abilities in relation to our teammates and coaches?  The Scripture has some insight into all these questions.

In Peter's first letter to his friends in Asia, in chapter 4 and verse 10 he writes, "As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another, as good managers of the grace of God in its various forms."  What special gift have you received?  How are you specially gifted?  How well do you manage the gifts with which you've been entrusted? 

The key message for me in this sentence is that I'm to use my giftedness in the service of others.  The fact of my being gifted has very little to do with me, but everything to do with Him who gives the gifts.  These are gifts, not merit badges.  I'm called to exercise my gifts in the service of others.  Think for a minute about how to use your giftedness in the service of your teammates. 

Where sports are concerned, some of you are gifted at ball handling, others at rebounding, others at running, others in encouraging, others at defense, others at passing, still others at developing a game plan.  The key for us all is to not exercise these gifts selfishly, but in the service of all the others.  The Giver of the gifts is best honored by this kind of selfless, humble, effective, management. 

Pray and ask Him to give you the strength to serve your teammates through the exercise of your gifts. 

Bible Reading Plan:
Matthew 14:22-36
Psalms 34
Exodus 30-31

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Proverbs 12:24

Would you characterize yourself as a hard worker in practice or as a lazy player?  What would your coach say?  How about your teammates?  Today's scripture provides a warning for the lazy and a promise for the diligent.

Solomon wrote in Proverbs chapter 12 and verse 24, “Diligent hands will rule, but laziness ends in slave labor.”  Obviously none of us wants to labor like a slave, that is with no reward for our investment of time and energy.

The Proverb says that slave labor is the inevitable outcome of laziness.  Let's be diligent in our work and we will reap the reward that comes with diligence... ruling.  Ruling means to have success and authority in our spheres of influence.

As you compete today, be diligent in your preparation and in the execution of your responsibilities.  Your diligence, concentration and hard work will result in your ruling.

Bible Reading Plan:
Acts 20:1-12
Psalms 33
Exodus 27-29

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Acts 15:9

What distinctions are easily made between your teammates?  Surely you’re different in terms of size, strength, speed, agility, skill, intelligence, background and more.  What can be done to override these distinctions and to unify your team?  Today’s scripture gives us an idea of what God uses to unify people.

In the 15th chapter of Acts at verse 9 we read, “He made no distinction between us and them, for he purified their hearts by faith.”  Here’s Peter, a formerly terribly bigoted man, appealing for others to accept people that he would have hated just days before.  His heart was changed and he helped unify a very diverse set of people. 

They key to such unity is a heart made pure by faith.  Faith is active trust.  A pure heart can see past the distinctions to the hearts of his teammates.  A heart, made pure by faith, can see through the external differences to the essence of another.

As you prepare for today’s competition, purify your heart by faith.  Actively trust God to change your heart.  Trust your teammates as you pursue a victory.  Trust your coaching staff to enable you to compete at your best.

Bible Reading Plan:
Matthew 13:44-58
Acts 19:23-41
Psalms 32
Exodus 24-26

Friday, February 8, 2019

Mark 1:16-18

During the recruiting process, what would be the most important factors in your decision to attend a university?  Would it be something like the beauty of the campus, the prospects for the team or another factor like a perfectly matched field of study?  Jesus was an outstanding recruiter and we read today about one of his recruiting calls.

Mark records this exchange between Jesus and some of his soon-to-be disciples at chapter 1 and verses 16 through 18.  “As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen.  ‘Come follow me,’ Jesus said, ‘and I will make you fishers of men.’  At once they left their nets and followed him.”

The remarkable thing about how Jesus recruited was that he appealed to these men squarely within their life calling… they were fishermen and so he spoke to them in fishermen language.  He talked to them about fishing.  He simply shifted their focus from fish to men.

It’s the same for you.  Your coaches are shifting your focus from one level of sport and the limited area of competition to a higher level and to greater levels of skill and intensity.  It’s a big shift and requires a strong focus from each of you.

The question for today is, how will you respond to the call?  Will you respond as these men did and follow, ‘At once…’?   Or will you hedge and hesitate to commit to your team?  Let me encourage you to commit fully to your coaching staff, to your team leaders and to each member of your team.  As you do, you’ll see your whole experience in sport transformed into one that’s of the highest order.  Compete in such a way today.

Bible Reading Plan:
Matthew 13:24-43
Acts 19:1-22
Psalms 31
Exodus 21-23

Thursday, February 7, 2019

W I S E   A D V I C E
Proverbs 12:15

Some people compete in the ways that they always have and never improve or learn new ways.  Others continually innovate and look for new and better ways from their coaches and teammates.  The Bible speaks about these two avenues for competition.

In Proverbs chapter 12 and verse 15 it says, “The way of a fool seems right to him, but a wise man listens to advice.”

Those who shun their coaches' advice and the counsel of their peers are called fools.  The fool is betrayed by his attitude and his actions.  He follows the way that seems right to him and disregards the wisdom of his leaders and the helpful concern of his teammates and friends.

People who are wise listen to the advice of those who care for them.  We are wise when we listen closely to our coaches, teammates, parents and friends.  Their counsel and wisdom can keep us from being fools who have a poor perspective on life and walk down the path of foolishness.

In your prayer prior to competition today, ask the Lord to make you a person of wisdom who listens to advice.  Ask Him to not let you live like a fool who stumbles along in the way that seems right to his own blinded eyes.

Bible Reading Plan:
Matthew 13:1-23
Acts 18:18-28
Psalms 30
Exodus 19-20

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

I Peter 1:13

How do you prepare for competition?  How do you b
ring your mind into focus?  What do you think about and how do you keep your goals in sight as the season moves along?  The Bible has some great instruction for such questions.

In Peter's first letter to his friends, in chapter 1 and verse 13 he says, “Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed.” 

Here's what you must do in approaching today's competition: 
1)  Prepare your minds for action.  Bring some focus to your play.  Don't be distracted by the officials' calls, the trash talking of other players, the fools in the stands or anything else.  Prepare your minds for action.

2)  Be self-controlled.  Control your emotions and so avoid foolish penalties.  Control your mouth and so improve your teamwork.  Control your attitude and focus on accomplishing your task, not on placing blame for missed plays.

3)  Set your hope fully on Jesus Christ.  Ultimately the only person who can fully enable you to do all these things is Christ Jesus.  He has the power to bring a focused mind, self-control and real hope.  Trust Him in prayer, give yourself fully to Him and He will never fail you.

As you pray today, prepare your mind for action, be self-controlled and set your hope fully on Jesus Christ.  He is the ultimate winner in all things!

Bible Reading Plan:
Matthew 12:38-50
Acts 18:1-17
Psalms 29
Exodus 16-18

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

S T R E N G T H   A N D    P O W E R
Ephesians 3:16

Who is the strongest, most powerful player you’ve ever competed with or against?  What seemed to be the source of that strength and power? 

If you could access an even greater, limitless source of strength and power for your life, would you want some?  Today’s scripture tells of such a source.

In his letter to the church at Ephesus at chapter 3 and verse 16, Paul wrote, “I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.”  Paul’s prayer for those in Ephesus and for us today is for God to give us the strength and power for Christ to fill our hearts through faith.

The strength and power of the greatest competitors comes from within.  Their real strength is not found in their muscles or even in their mental capacity.  Strength and power are found in their hearts, then they find expression outwardly.

God is gloriously rich in both strength and power so we should expect that we will be given them in abundance.  As Christ dwells in our hearts through faith, this is a very natural occurrence.

As you compete today, do so with your whole heart.  Trust that God will provide the strength and power to enable you to give your absolute best.

Bible Reading Plan:
Matthew 22:34-46
Romans 4
Psalms 52
Joshua 5:1

What advantages are yours when you know your opponents are intimidated by you and your teammates?  Do you ever sense their fear?  Can you see them hesitate or compete tentatively?  Have you watched as the intimidated team was overcome by a momentum shift?  Such intimidation is not limited to the arena of sport.  In today’s scripture, we see it in the Bible.

In the Old Testament book of Joshua at chapter 5 and verse 1 it says, “Now when all the Amorite kings west of the Jordan and all the Canaanite kings along the coast heard how the Lord had dried up the Jordan before the Israelites until we had crossed over, their hearts melted and they no longer had the courage to face the Israelites.”

Did you hear how Joshua described the intimidation felt by his opponents?  He said their hearts melted and they no longer had the courage to face them.  This happened because of the stories being told by others.

This happens all the time in sport.  Teams read the newspaper or watch the polls on the web and hear stories of how powerful their upcoming opponents will be.  Often, just hearing the news is enough to melt their hearts and to drain every drop of courage from their souls.

As you approach today’s competition, expect the news about your team to have made it to your opponent’s locker room.  Watch for the ferocity of your competitive drive to melt their hearts.  Look for the opportunity to drive the courage from the souls of your opponents and to achieve a great victory.

Bible Reading Plan:
Matthew 12:22-37
Acts 17:16-34
Psalms 28

Monday, February 4, 2019

Micah 7:8

How do you react when you’re losing by a wide margin and your opponent rubs salt in your wounds with some trash-talk?  How does it feel to lose and to hear the snickers of the winners on their way to the locker room?  What should your attitude be in the face of such disrespect?

The prophet Micah had encountered such attitudes and writes about it in chapter 7 and verse 8, “Do not gloat over me, my enemy!  Though I have fallen, I will rise.  Though I sit in darkness, the Lord will be my light.”

Micah advises his triumphant enemy that it would not be wise to gloat over him.  He will come back.  He also says that though he knew the experience of sitting painfully in the darkness of despair, he would trust the Lord to give him direction for the future.

I love it when a competitor comes back to defeat an earlier trash-talking opponent through perseverance and self-control.  I’m impressed by the team that suffers quietly a disappointing loss, only to strengthen their resolve and to compete courageously the next time.

As you prepare for today’s competition, guard your heart from the foolish pride that comes with an early lead.  Don’t gloat over your enemy.  Even if you’re on the short side of the scoreboard, maintain your attitude and press through to the end, trusting the Lord to be your light to victory.

Bible Reading Plan:
Matthew 12:1-21
Acts 17:1-15
Exodus 10-12

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Mark 5:36

Have you had times of competition that assaulted your belief in your teammates, your game plan or even in your own abilities?  What do we have to believe in when our strengths are called into question?  The Scripture for today brings us strong encouragement.

In Mark's gospel at chapter 5 and verse 36, Jesus is talking to a man whose daughter has been critically ill and has just been told that she had died.  He says to the father, "Do not be afraid any longer, only believe."  Sometimes we can be overcome by a sense of fear when we see the vision of things we hope for dimmed by present circumstances.  Jesus' word to us is the same as to the father of the little girl, "Do not be afraid any longer, only believe."

This man's faith was assaulted by the news that his daughter had already died.  Our faith is sometimes assaulted by newspaper articles, t.v. reports, or second guessing and negative talk by classmates.  Jesus calls us to maintain a trust regarding our goals and the things we hope for in our lives.

He says "only believe."  Believe what?  Believe in a concept or a set of ideas?  No, Christ calls us to believe a person, Himself.  In the same way as you believe your friends to tell you the truth, we believe God to tell the truth about the real affairs of life.  I believe Him.

When you compete today, do not be afraid of anything, rather only believe!  Believe in what God's doing in you.  Believe in your coaches and teammates.  Trust God to do great things in you. 

Bible Reading Plan:
Matthew 11:20-30
Psalms 26
Exodus 7-9

Saturday, February 2, 2019

Proverbs 11:14

To whom do you look for guidance?  Your coaches, your teammates, your parents?  Who helps you make good decisions?  What would be the consequences of your not seeking the wisdom of others?  Let's look to the Scriptures for an answer.

In the book of Proverbs at chapter 11 and verse 14 Solomon writes, “Where there is no guidance, the people fall, but in abundance of counselors there is victory.”  Obviously none of us want to fall, so where does this guidance and counsel come from?

We get guidance from our coaches, from our teammates, from Bible reading, from church attendance, from family and friends.  We need guidance to guard against falls, both individual and corporate. 

It says that in abundance of counselors there is victory.  Let's see our coaches and teammates as our counselors during competition today.  Let's trust that in such an abundance as we have, there will be victory. 

You have the counselors to achieve victory and to avoid the falls that come from a lack of guidance. 

Bible Reading Plan:
Acts 16:1-15
Psalms 25
Exodus 4-6

Friday, February 1, 2019

S E L F – C O N T R O L
I Corinthians 9:25

What would it be like to compete for something that will not tarnish on your bookshelf?  All my trophies are collecting dust and fading in their importance. What would be a prize worth striving for that never fades, but requires great effort and concentration of will to achieve?   The Bible speaks of such a prize.

In Paul's first letter to his friends in Corinth at chapter 9 and verse 25 it says, “And everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things.  They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable one.”  We all need some self-control.

Some of us need self-control over our tongues, for others it's with our tempers, with others it's our appetites or our time or study habits or something else.

Why is self-control so important?  It keeps us from living our lives in an out of control way and from losing focus on the most important matters of life.  Without some self-control our lives would resemble a skidding car headed for the ditch and a horrible crash.

The writer spoke of competing for a prize.  In today's competition you'll be pursuing a prize and it will require self-control for you to maximize your gifts and abilities toward the goal of winning the contest. 

Pray for the fruit of self-control to be evident in your life today and approach the field of competition with great confidence in its presence.  Let's compete in such a way that leads to winning prizes, both perishable and eternal.

Bible Reading Plan:
Matthew 10:21-42
Acts 15:22-41
Psalms 24
Exodus 1-3