September 1 THOUGHTS BECOME WORDS
For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, 22 deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, and foolishness.
Athletes have to be very careful about their words. Because of their status, people pay more attention to their words. We also need to be cautious about what we think because our words come from our thoughts. Our words are a sure reflection of what is going on in our minds. We are representatives of Christ, so we need to be careful about what we think. Are you careful in your thoughts, knowing that is where your words come from?
2 Corinthians 5:11-21
WHO’S ON YOUR SIDE?
The Lord is for me; I will not fear; What can man do to me?
One of the things that we learn playing on a team is what we can expect from each other. For example, we may expect each other to make a certain pass or shot. First, coaches will teach each athlete how to run a specific play. Then the player will practice doing that play. We don’t expect each other to do things they don’t know how to do or haven’t practiced. Knowing this builds trust with each other. By reading the Bible, a Christian learns what he can expect from God. Trust should be increasing by learning what God is like so that tough times are no longer feared. How do you face trouble knowing the Lord is on your side?
2 Corinthians 6:1-13
September 3 WHO DO YOU TRUST?
For this reason, I also suffer these things, but I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day.
2 Timothy 1:!2
Sometimes teammates disappoint or let each other down. This makes it difficult to know if they can trust each other in the future. Most of us won’t trust each other if there is not a track record of success. Even Christians can sometimes let you down. But God will not let you down. He will always keep His promises. We can trust in the Lord because He will be there when it really counts. Are you putting your trust in the Lord?
2 Corinthians 6:14-7:7
September 4 GRATEFUL
Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.
Athletes should be very good at being grateful. When someone makes a great play, we might rush over and pat them on the back, hug them to celebrate. We know that celebrating encourages the rest of us to do well. Christians should celebrate God’s goodness not just individually but as a group as well. This sharing and celebrating can encourage others who are struggling by reminding them of God’s goodness. When was the last time you thanked God for His goodness to you?
2 Corinthians 7:8-16
Then he said to me, “Write, ‘Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” And he said to me, “These are true words of God.”
In sports, the bigger the game, the bigger the celebration. Many times those special moments of celebration are the most priceless memories. For Christians, there is coming a day of celebration like none other. There will be so much to celebrate. But like a game, not everyone will be celebrating. Only those who have become followers of Jesus will be celebrating. The difference in this is not a play on a field but a decision made in life. Will you be celebrating on that final day?
2 Corinthians 8:1-15
Have you not even read this Scripture: The stone which the builders rejected, This became the chief cornerstone;
Athletes all know first impressions are important, but they are not everything. If they were, many well-known athletes would not be famous today. They know that the first rejection is not the final one. Jesus’ life reflects this principle. He came and was rejected. His people rejected Him, and He was crucified. But that is not how the story ends. Because of His sacrifice and resurrection, He is now The Way. He has gone from outcast to Savior and Lord. Does your life reflect Him?
Song of Solomon 1:1- 4:16
2 Corinthians 8:16-24
September 7 HOME COURT
Then my people will live in a peaceful habitation, and in secure dwellings and in undisturbed resting places; 19 and it will hail when the forest comes down, and the city will be utterly laid low.
For an athlete, there is nothing like coming home after a long road trip. We know when we walk through the door that we are home. We can’t wait to sit on our own couch, play in our own yard, and sleep in our own bed. We love to be back there. For a Christian, knowing where our home is should help us keep our focus. A Christian’s home is the presence of God. By staying in the right relationship with God, we can walk with confidence in this world. Are you living with a longing for home?
Song of Solomon 5:1-8:14
2 Corinthians 9:1-15
September 8 GIVE PRAISE
Oh, give thanks to the Lord, call upon His name; Make known His deeds among the peoples.
1 Chronicles 16:8
As an athlete, it is easy to tell who makes the difference. Imagine how frustrating you would be if the credit was given to your teammate after you did something great. You would be frustrated. The same is true in our relationship with God. Many times people stand up and take credit for things only God could have done. Just as in a family, this is wrong. Are you praising God for the things He has done in your life?
2 Corinthians 10:1-18
‘Now, this day will be a memorial to you, and you shall celebrate it as a feast to the Lord; throughout your generations, you are to celebrate it as a permanent ordinance.
Athletes enjoy celebrations like winning a game or a championship, but no one celebrates losing. Celebrations are special and are forever etched into our minds: the more celebrations, the better. To a follower of Christ, we have something even better. We have a God who is always going to be victorious. Every day can be a day of celebration because He will never lose. What victories of God are you celebrating today?
2 Corinthians 11:1-15
September 10 TEAMWORK
I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.
Have you ever gone to a ball game at another school? As a VISITOR? As a visitor, you don’t get the same response as the home team because you represent the opponent or the enemy. As Christ-followers, we should welcome one another with joy and enthusiasm because we are on the same team. We shouldn’t give the same response to those who represent the enemy. Do you cheer for those who represent the Lord?
2 Corinthians 11:16-33
September 11 DEVOTIONS
Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
1 Corinthians 10:31
For an athlete to achieve greatness, they have to give all of their heart and attention to that one thing. If they try to focus on several things, they will never be great in any of them. So they must choose one thing and dedicate themselves to focus on that one thing. As Christians, we must follow the same path. You will never become all that you can be if your heart is not focused on God first. You need to choose to follow God and then live it out. Are you following Jesus with your whole heart?
2 Corinthians 12:1-10
September 12 REWARDS
His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’
Athletes enjoy rewards. There are times when they have played so well that the whole team is allowed to go home early or get a day off to rest. These small rewards are ways of saying thank you for our dedication and hard work—those who follow the Lord experience the same principle. God does reward and bless those who follow Him in obedience. If we are not obeying Him, we should not expect the same rewards. What kind of rewards is your life earning?
2 Corinthians 12:11-21
He who gathers in summer is a son who acts wisely, But he who sleeps in harvest is a son who acts shamefully.
Athletes work very hard to avoid moral failures and rule violations because those things disgrace your team. It is sad when you have given so much of your time and energy to be disqualified because you didn’t follow a rule. If you can discipline yourself physically, then you should be able to discipline yourself morally. For Christians, we should strive to live our lives so that we can avoid bringing shame to ourselves and the God we serve. If your life was put on TV for all to see, would you be proud or ashamed?
2 Corinthians 13:1-14
September 14 DILIGENCE
But now finish doing it also, so that just as there was the readiness to desire it, so there may be also the completion of it by your ability.
2 Corinthians 8:11
Athletes are expected to do all things with diligence. Diligence is defined as a constant and earnest effort. That means that every day, they are expected to give their best. Anything less than that shows up very quickly. A lack of diligence will equal a lack of effort. As Christians, we are expected by God to give our best effort to follow Him every day. A lack of diligence in following Him will lead to many problems that we could have avoided. Are you giving your diligence to keep His Word?
September 15 TEAM RULES
For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up.
Athletes understand that we play under the rules of our team. If we live by our team’s rules and honor others in our team, we will be considered a “good teammate” If we cause problems for our team by not following the rules, then things won’t be so happy. As followers of Christ, we are expected to obey His commands and honor other followers. By doing this, we have confidence in His help. Are you truly following Christ?
September 16 DIRECTION
The Lord alone guided him, and there was no foreign god with him.
When learning to play, one thing athletes learn early is what direction to go. This is vital because going the wrong way would embarrass you and cause your team to lose the game. Also, when we go the wrong way, it is not quickly forgotten. It is the same with life. Everything we do is based on going in the right direction. A follower of Christ is faced with the same situation. Everything God asks us to do is based on us going in the right direction. When we don’t, those around us suffer the consequences along with us. Are you headed in the right direction?
September 17 HOW TO CHANGE
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
Athletes are sometimes confronted with a need to change. Yes,
a long-standing habit can be changed. And even when athletes have a desire to change, they need help. The good news is that change is possible. God’s Word outlines a plan for change that is foolproof. If we want to change, we are asked to read the Word and then obey it. God has made it plain. The real question boils down to a desire to change. How much do you want to change?
September 18 WHOLE HEARTEDLY
And He said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’
For an athlete, one key to success for us is wholehearted dedication. Anything less than this type of commitment will lead to disappointment. An athlete will never reach his full potential without this type of commitment. The same is true for a follower of Christ. You can never be all that God meant for you to be with anything less than wholehearted effort. Are you giving your whole heart to following Christ?
September 19 REPITITION
Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.
2 Timothy 2:15
Athletes are sometimes asked to repeat back to their teacher or parent what was just told to them. This can be because they think the player is not listening, but more often, it is because repeating what you just heard reinforces it in your mind. It increases the ability to remember things.
Something quite simple can increase the remembrance of facts. As a follower of Christ, this is important. By repeating to someone else what we learn, we increase our memory and help them learn. Who are you repeating the Word to?
September 20 LEARNING
It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught of God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to Me.
Athletes know that to learn about something, they need to focus time, effort, and energy on knowing all they can about that “something.” This can help them to avoid making mistakes and help make their efforts more successful. It would be shameful to fail because of a lack of effort to acquire readily available information. As a follower of Christ, this same situation applies. Focused time, effort, and energy to learn the Word of God will pay off for the rest of your life. No one wants to fail. Are you applying your time, effort, and energy into learning the Word?
September 21 VALUE
Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.
Even athletes know that some things are more valuable than money. For example, playing for a championship and having good relationships are more valuable than money. Health is more valuable than money. There are some things that money can’t buy. A relationship with God is more important than money. This means that you should put more effort into your relationship with God than you do in pursuit of money. What do you value most?
September 22 THINKING
Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.
Athletes often spend a great deal of time thinking about the next day, especially when they have a big game. They are rehearsing in their minds plays that they would like to make – a performance of some kind. We understand there is a connection between thinking and performance. As a follower of Christ, we must think about how we should live. If we don’t think about it, we won’t do it. What do you think about?
Pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before stumbling
As an athlete, one of our greatest enemies is pride. When you are playing well, people come and praise you. It is easy to stop and think that you have done it all yourself. While it does take lots of effort, athletes all use the abilities that they were born with. Plus, we always have had others work with us. We are a product of many things. As Christians, we need to remember this as well. We are where we are today because of God and the help of others. Do you struggle with pride?
September 24 ENJOYMENT
For to a person who is good in His sight He has given wisdom and knowledge and joy, while to the sinner He has given the task of gathering and collecting so that he may give to one who is good in God’s sight. This too is vanity and striving after wind.
An athlete that enjoys doing what he is doing will perform better than one who treats it like work. When you enjoy it, you don’t worry about the time it takes to learn, the effort it takes to excel, and the required physical demands. If you enjoy your walk with Jesus, that joy will help you accomplish what He asks you to do. A person who thinks it is work to follow God will always struggle to follow Him. Do you enjoy your walk?
September 25 STRENGTH
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
Even athletes have times when they need to find some additional strength and motivation. When things are going wrong and not as well as they normally do, they need to find a place to go to for encouragement and strength. Being a follower of Christ doesn’t exempt us from having struggles and bad days. The difference is that we can go to Christ for help, encouragement, and strength. He has promised us this in His Word. Where do you go for strength?
September 26 CHOOSING YOUR PATH
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.
During a game, every decision athletes make leads them and their team down a path. Some choose the path of self-reliance and ignore their teammates. A wise player chooses to follow the game plan. All of these decisions impact our lives and, ultimately, all of those around us. The single best decision one can make in life is to follow Christ. This decision leads to a good ending. Which path have you chosen?
‘I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot.
As an athlete, you don’t want a teammate who only plays hard when they want to. You want a teammate who is all in, all the time, every time. It would be so frustrating to deal with a teammate who is not completely committed to your team. God views our situation in the same way. He is looking for people who are completely committed to His cause, not those who are only there occasionally. A person who is giving his all helps all of those around him be better. Are you all in?
September 28 FOLLOWING
You shall follow the Lord your God and fear Him; and you shall keep His commandments, listen to His voice, serve Him, and cling to Him.
Athletes have to make choices every day about who we will listen to. Whether it is a coach or a friend, these choices will directly impact their future career. Therefore, they should choose who we listen to carefully. The direction you choose ultimately will change where you end up. Even for Christians, we must choose our paths in life carefully. Following the Lord is the only sure way to get where we ultimately want to be. Are the paths you are choosing leading you where you want to go?
September 29 DISTRACTIONS
I have seen all the works which have been done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and striving after wind.
For athletes, one of the keys to success is to eliminate distractions. For example, if a professional race car driver spent his time playing video games instead of driving his race car, his chances of winning would deteriorate. It is foolish of him to waste time on something that wouldn’t help him be successful. This is a perfect mirror for the follower of Christ. If we want to follow Christ, we can’t be chasing other things. These things will lead us away from God. What distractions do you need to eliminate?
RESPECT FOR LEADERS
Honor all people, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king.
1 Peter 2:17
For athletes, another key to success for us is respect for our leadership. When we lose respect for our leaders, our level of performance will drop dramatically. This will affect the whole team. This is not an easy situation to fix. Without respect for our leadership, we will drift instead of following a set path. As a Christian, we all have a set path that God has chosen for us to follow. That sometimes includes us following the human leadership that He has established. When we lose respect for our leaders, we suffer, and the work of God suffers. Do you have respect for your leadership?