Pure Persistence

My neighbor wondered how raccoons kept getting into his commercial trash bin. Covered by two sturdy lids hinged side-by-side, the Dumpster lookedraccoon-proof. It wasn’t.

One day he saw two raccoons in a tree beside the trash bin. A raccoon dropped onto the container, slid its forepaws beneath a lid, and slipped over the side, clinging comically to the edge. The second raccoon then dropped from the tree onto the bin, causing the opposite lid to pop up. After several time-consuming tries, the strategically perched raccoon clambered successfully into the trash bin.

The persistence and ingenuity of those raccoons may be innate, but that doesn’t make them any less remarkable. What fascinating (albeit meddlesome) specimens of God’s menagerie!

The concept of persistence frames Luke 18:35-43, but it’s a persistence that is seasoned with faith. The chapter opens with Jesus telling His disciples about a widow who repeatedly sought justice from an indifferent judge. Finally, the judge relented. Jesus noted that if even a bad judge can bring justice, how much more will our loving heavenly Father! But He also wondered who would have such faith when He returned to earth (Luke 18:1-8).

At the chapter’s conclusion, Jesus demonstrated the love of the Father. When a blind man called out for help, some of the crowd rudely told him, “Be quiet!” (Luke 18:35-39). But the man only turned up the volume. Jesus heard him and said, “All right, receive your sight! Your faith has healed you” (Luke 18:40-42).

Are we more like those who tell hurting, searching people to “be quiet”? Or are we inclined to invite others to bring their deep heart concerns to Jesus in faithful persistence? He loves us and hears our prayers!


Gustofson, Tim. "Pure Persistence." Our Daily Journey. Our Daily Bread Ministries. Web. 4 May. 2015. <http://www.ourdailyjourney.org/2015/04/21/pure-persistence/>.

Son Reflector

This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light. —John 1:7

The cozy little village of Rjukan, Norway, is a delightful place to live—except during the dark days of winter. Located in a valley at the foot of the towering Gaustatoppen Mountain, the town receives no direct sunlight for nearly half of the year. Residents had long considered the idea of placing mirrors at the top of the mountain to reflect the sun. But the concept was not feasible until recently. In 2005, a local artist began “The Mirror Project” to bring together people who could turn the idea into reality. Eight years later, in October 2013, the mirrors went into action. Residents crowded into the town square to soak up the reflected sunlight.

In a spiritual sense, much of the world is like the village of Rjukan—mountains of troubles keep the light of Jesus from getting through. But God strategically places His children to act as reflectors. One such person was John the Baptist, who came “to bear witness of the Light”—Jesus—who gives light “to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death” (John 1:7; Luke 1:79).

Just as sunlight is essential for emotional and physical health, so exposure to the light of Jesus is essential for spiritual health. Thankfully, every believer is in a position to reflect His light into the world’s dark places.

Dear Father, help me to reflect Your light into the world around me today. May all that I say and do bear witness of Your light and truth. May others see how wonderful You are.

A world in darkness needs the light of Jesus.

INSIGHT: The author of the gospel of John is not the same John referred to in today’s reading (1:6). John the Baptist, the “man sent from God,” was the fulfillment of the “messenger” prophesied in Malachi 3:1 (see Mark 1:2-3). His main task was to introduce Jesus to the world and “to bear witness of the Light” (John 1:7-8). The miraculous circumstances of John’s birth are told in Luke 1:5-80. He was probably a cousin of Jesus (Luke 1:36), had the privilege to baptize Him (Matt. 3:13-15), and was imprisoned and later beheaded by Herod (14:1-12). His ministry is recorded in Matthew 3; 11:1-11; Mark 1:1-9; and Luke 3. Jesus said that of “those born of women” (i.e., those born by ordinary human birth), none is greater than John the Baptist (Matt. 11:11).

 

Ackerman, Julie. "Son Reflector." Our Daily Bread. 24 Mar. 2015. Web. 24 Mar. 2015. <http://odb.org>.

A Time for Everything

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If you’re like most people, you’ve struggled with having to say no to taking on a new responsibility—especially if it’s for a good cause and directly related to helping others. We may have sound reasons for carefully selecting our priorities. Yet sometimes, by not agreeing to do more, we may feel guilty or we may think that somehow we have failed in our walk of faith.

But according to Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, wisdom recognizes that everything in life has its own season—in human activities as in the realm of nature. “There is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven” (3:1).

Perhaps you are getting married or becoming a parent for the first time. Maybe you are leaving school and entering the workforce, or moving from fulltime work to retirement. As we move from season to season, our priorities change. We may need to put aside what we did in the past and funnel our energy into something else.

When life brings changes in our circumstances and obligations, we must responsibly and wisely discern what kind of commitments we should make, seeking in whatever we do to “do all to the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31). Proverbs 3:6 promises that as we acknowledge Him in all our ways, He will guide us in the way we should go.

Heavenly Father, give me Your wisdom to know what priorities I need to have at this season of my life. Guide me in all that I do. I only want to bring You the honor You deserve with the way I live.

 

Fang Chia, Poh. "A Season for Everything." Our Daily Bread. Our Daily Bread Ministries, 3 Mar. 2015. Web. 3 Mar. 2015. <http://odb.org>.

Longing for Rescue

The movie Man of Steel, released in 2013, is a fresh imagining of the Superman story. Filled with breathtaking special effects and nonstop action, it drew crowds to movie theaters around the world. Some said that the film’s appeal was rooted in its amazing technology. Others pointed to the enduring appeal of the “Superman mythology.”

Amy Adams, the actress who plays Lois Lane in the movie, has a different view of Superman’s appeal. She says it is about a basic human longing: “Who doesn’t want to believe that there’s one person who could come and save us from ourselves?”

That’s a great question. And the answer is that someone has already come to save us from ourselves, and that someone is Jesus. Several announcements were made regarding the birth of Jesus. One of them was from the angel Gabriel to Joseph: “She [Mary] will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21).

Jesus came—He did so to save us from our sin and from ourselves. His name means “the Lord saves”—and our salvation was His mission. The longing for rescue that fills the human heart ultimately is met by Jesus.

Shout salvation full and free,
Highest hills and deepest caves;
This our song of victory—
Jesus saves! Jesus saves! —Owens

The New Employee

“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.”-(2 Cor 4:7).

 

What would happen if Jesus took your place for a year in your workplace? Let's consider some hypothetical things that He might do.

He would do His work with excellence. He would be known around the office for the great work He did (Exodus 31:2).

He would develop new ideas for doing things better (Eph 3:20).

He would hang out with sinners in order to develop a relationship with them in order to speak to them about the Father (Mt 9:12).

He would strategically pray for each worker about their concerns and their needs. He would pray for those who even disliked Him (Mt 5:44).

He would rally the office to support a needy family during Holidays (Jer 22:16).

He would offer to pray for those who were sick in the office and see them get healed (Mt 14:14).

He would honor the boss and respect him/her (Titus 2:9).

He would consider the boss as His authority in His workplace (Rom 13:1).

He would be truthful in all his dealings and never exaggerate for the sake of advancement ( Ps 15:2).

He would be concerned about His city (Lk 19:41).

He would always have a motive to help others become successful, even at his own expense (Pr 16:2).

Sounds like some good ideas we could each model.

 

Hillman, Os. "Marketplace Meditations." Weblog post. Crosswalk.com. Salem Communications Corporation, 15 Jan. 2015. Web. 15 Jan. 2015. <http://www.crosswalk.com/devotionals/marketplace/>.

Encouragement: God is with us!

Pastor Fibion serves Forgotten Voices as Spiritual Ministry Advisor. He is a former Zimbabwe Director, overseeing local partnerships with African church partners. In his role, Fibion shares a weekly devotion with the Forgotten Voices family. Please enjoy this reflection from a pastor with a deep passion for bringing others to the heart of God.

Encouragement for a suffering world

After teaching a Sunday school lesson on the topic “God is in charge,” I encouraged people to write a story explaining the meaning of Christmas to a suffering world.  Rosina is one of the two young people who presented hers. She was part of our Children’s Ministry in her younger years and has recently rejoined the church as a young adult. As a child, her ability to master scripture verses was amazing. Pray that she will develop in her faith. I’m pleased to share with you below Rosina’s reflections to encourage those who are suffering.

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“The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son and they will call him Immanuel which means ‘God with us’ [Matthew 1:23].  

On Christmas day we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.   This is the day when God showed His love to this world by giving his only Son – Immanuel.    So each and every time we celebrate Christmas we should know that it comes with Good News – good news especially to the suffering world.   It is a time to remind everyone that God is with us.   No matter the suffering you might be in, don’t run away from it.   You have to embrace it.   Jesus was brought into this world to suffer for our iniquities.   He never ran away from his suffering because he knew that His Father was, is and will be always be with Him.   King Herod tried to kill Jesus as a small baby, but did he succeed?   The same applies to us.  

Suffering may discourage us and destroy our faith if we don’t focus on the meaning of Christ’s coming into this world – ‘God with us’.   Christmas is therefore there to remind us that God is with us.  

Whatever situation you might be in, perhaps it is the loss of a loved one, just know that it’s a matter of time.   God is with us.   God knows the plans he has for us.   Through Christmas we are encouraged to continue believing for God is with us.   No weapon against him shall prosper.   No-one or power can thwart His plans.  God is with us.     – Rosina

 

Shaffer, Ellen, Fibion Ndhlovu, and Rosina. "Devotional: Encouragement for a Suffering World." Encouragement for a Suffering World. Forgotten Voices, 4 Mar. 2013. Web. 17 Dec. 2014. <http%3A%2F%2Fwww.forgottenvoices.org%2Fdevotional-encouragement-for-a-suffering-world%2F%3Fgclid%3DCj0KEQiA8MSkBRCP5LaRlcOAusMBEiQAiqldkkFCE1naeZ2WAcUbCamCpvtxqCLNGtkU43Oh-MS67csaAou18P8HAQ>.

 

Faith

"For we also have had the gospel preached to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because those who heard did not combine it with faith"(Heb 4:2-3).

I run into anemic Christians everyday. They have a form of religion but fail to mix their belief with faith and obedience. The apostle Paul described them when he said "these people have a form of godliness but deny its power."

What are the telltale signs of anemic faith? When you no longer pray about decisions, you have anemic faith. When you fail to speak to others about their relationship with God, you have anemic faith. When you're unwilling to spend time with God everyday, your faith has become anemic. You no longer have a living faith.

God spoke to John, the apostle, through a vision and told him about some Christians who were part of the church in Laodicea:

"To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God's creation. I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm-neither hot nor cold-I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, 'I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.' But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see" (Rev 3:14-18).

These are strong words from our Lord. We are all susceptible to growing cold and anemic in our faith. Today, ask God to revive your heart and to restore the fire of your faith so that you will experience a vibrant and active faith that impacts the kingdom of darkness.

 

Hillman, Os. "Marketplace Meditations 12/10: Faith." Web log post.Crosswalk.com. Salem Communications Corporation, 10 Dec. 2014. Web. 10 Dec. 2014. <http://www.crosswalk.com/devotionals/marketplace/>.

A Reason to Worship

“O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” Romans 7:24

In Game 7 of the 2001 World Series, Yankees closer Mariano Rivera was brought in to preserve the lead against the Arizona Diamondbacks. In the ninth inning, his errant throw opened the gates to a 2-run rally. The Yankees lost the game and the World Series.

In the 2009 Super Bowl, just seconds before halftime, Kurt Warner threw an interception that was returned 100 yards for a Steelers touchdown. The Cardinals lost the game by four points.

Both Rivera and Warner are strong Christians. Both would tell us that those physical miscues, though costly, will have nothing to do with their eternal destiny.

What about spiritual miscues, that is, our sins? What do they have to do with our eternal destiny?

Rom. 3:10 says, “There is none righteous, not even one.” Rom. 6:23 says, “The wages of sin is death.” Psalm 5:4-5 indicates that sin, in any form, cannot dwell in the presence of God.

So we’re in trouble, unless somehow our sins can be deleted. I Tim. 1:15 says the very reason God sent Jesus to earth was to save sinners! Praise God above!

Jude 24 basically says that if we trust Jesus as our Sin-bearer, He will “present us faultless” before the presence of God. We’ll be faultless in the presence of a holy God. What a humbling thought. What a reason to worship Him.

 

Tucker, Stanley. "A Reason to Worship." Sports Spectrum. Sports Spectrum Publishing, 29 Oct. 2014. Web. 3 Dec. 2014. <http://www.sportsspectrum.com/articles/2014/10/29/devotional-of-the-week-a-reason-to-worship/>.

Impatience

Luke 15:11-19

We send a strong, negative message by exhibiting impatience toward God. When we demonstrate an inability to tolerate delay, we are telling the Lord, “I do not trust Your timing; mine is better.”

At times, we all stand at a fork in the road of life and must decide whether we’re willing to wait for God’s prompting. It’s critical that we obey Him and be patient with His schedule and plan. Consider the negative example of the Prodigal Son, who squandered his inheritance and then faced several consequences:

1. He brought sorrow on his family. Oftentimes our impatience hurts those we love.

2. He separated from his family. When we run ahead of God, we also frequently run away from voices of reason and wisdom in our life.

3. He faced poverty. We stand to lose a great deal when we ignore the Lord’s timing because His blessing accompanies our obedience.

4. He felt unworthy. We cannot experience fellowship with God when impatience keeps us outside of His will.

We know that at the end of the story, the Prodigal Son is joyfully welcomed back into his family. His father lavishes love and attention upon this son and assures him of his worth. But although he is forgiven, the results of his impatience are not entirely erased. He will never regain the wealth he wasted. It’s not always possible to take back our mistakes once we have jumped ahead of God. It is always better that we wait for Him to tell us when to move forward.

 

"The Consequence of Impatience." InTouch Ministries. InTouch Ministries, 19 Nov. 2014. Web. 19 Nov. 2014. <http://www.intouch.org/magazine/daily-devotion#.VG0uPFZRUds>.

Living For God

Living for God

“Moses said to the LORD, ‘O Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue.’‘The LORD said to him, ‘Who gave man his mouth? Who makes him deaf or mute? Who gives him sight or makes him blind? Is it not I, the LORD? Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.’” Exodus 4:10-11

On Oct. 10, 1976, at the age of 98, Greece’s Dimitrion Yordanidis became the oldest man to compete in and finish a marathon (7 hours, 33 minutes). That record still stands today, although an Englishman named Buster Martin said he was 101 in 2008 when he ran the London Marathon in just under 10 hours. Martin’s age couldn’t be verified, though, so Yordanidis retained the mark as the oldest to complete a 26.2-mile race.

The fact that Yordanidis didn’t win the race doesn’t concern me. That he lived that long inspires me, and the fact he competed in the race was amazing. But that he actually finished 26.2 miles was unbelievable.

He obviously wasn’t concerned with how old he was, the distance of the race or how long it took to complete the course. His main goal and reason for entering the race was doing well enough to finish.

Like our lives as believers, our situation or circumstances (whether it’s being too old or too young, or whether it’s a difficult task, etc.) shouldn’t hinder us from doing things for God or doing what God created us to do. If we are still breathing, God has a reason and a purpose for us being here. That alone should be reason enough to motivate us to live our life pleasing to God.

Today, let’s start truly living by living for God.

 

Honeycutt, Brett. "Living for God." Sports Spectrum. Sports Spectrum Publishing, 10 Oct. 2011. Web. 11 Nov. 2014. <http://www.sportsspectrum.com/articles/2011/10/10/living-for-god/>.

Perseverance

Read James 5:1-11

Professional golfer Paula Creamer had worked all year long to earn a berth in the 2008 ADT Championship, the year’s final tournament on the LPGA tour. When the event began, however, Creamer was suffering from peritonitis, a painful inflammation of the abdominal wall. Throughout the four days of the tournament, she was in constant pain and unable to eat. She even spent a night in the hospital because of the condition. Still, she persevered to the end and, amazingly, she finished third. Her determination earned her many new fans.

The challenges and crises of life can tax us to the very end of our strength, and in such times it is easy to want to give up. But James offers followers of Christ another perspective. He says that while life is a battle, it is also a blessing: “Indeed we count them blessed who endure. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord—that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful” (James 5:11).

In Job’s example, we find encouragement and the power to persevere in life’s darkest hours—power rooted in God, who is compassionate and merciful. Even when life is painful and hard, we can persevere because God is there. His mercy endures forever (Ps. 136).

God provides the power we need to persevere.

 

Crowder, Bill. "Power to Persevere." Our Daily Bread. RBC Ministries, 28 Dec. 2009. Web. 29 Oct. 2014. <http://odb.org/2009/12/28/power-to-persevere/>.

From the Heart

Read Psalm 32:8-11:

 

“This is a brand-new horse,” the lady said as she stood next to the mare who had bucked her off several weeks before. She told me that after a skilled trainer had spent time with the horse, the animal had returned with a new personality.

She explained, “Before, this horse’s attitude was, ‘Go away; don’t bother me.’ Now, when I approach her, it’s as if she’s saying, ‘What would you like me to do?’ I don’t know how the trainer did it, but my horse has a whole new outlook on life.”

The conversation caused me to think of God’s command in Psalm 32:8-9. He said, “I will instruct you and teach you the way you should go; do not be like the horse or like the mule, which have no understanding, which must be harnessed with bit and bridle, else they will not come near you.” The psalm speaks of knowing God in a relationship characterized by guidance, trust, and joy.

The Lord seemed to be saying that He did not want to have to use force on us. He doesn’t want us to be so stubborn that it takes external controls to make us obey Him. He just wants us to give Him our love.

When we are yielded to our loving Lord, we will welcome His approach. There is no need for the spiritual bit and bridle when we serve Him from the heart.

Obedience from the heart is wanting to do what God tells you to do.

 

McCasland, David. "From the Heart." Our Daily Bread. RBC Ministries, 17 May 2000. Web. 27 Oct. 2014. <http://odb.org/2000/05/17/from-the-heart-2/#>.

Stuff of Champions

The Stuff of Champions

Who's it going to be sports fans? What Sweet Sixteen team has the stuff that champions are made of? Which team is going to advance to and then win the Men's Basketball NCAA Final Four?

In my mind I still replay internal video clips of great Final Four moments: Larry Bird versus Magic Johnson; the hot-shooting Villanova Wildcats of 1985; Chris Webber's timeout; Kentucky's Jack Givens; Larry Johnson and the Runnin' Rebels; Keith Smart's bank-shot; Rumeal Robinson's clutch free throws; and many other Championship memories.

But my favorite memory is the thrilling drama of North Carolina State's upset of Houston in the 1983 NCAA championship game. Houston's highflying team was called Phi Slamma Jamma and included future NBA greats Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler. Nobody gave Jimmy Valvano's Wolfpack a chance to win. After all, Houston was the number 1 ranked team in the nation cruising with a 26 game winning streak. But North Carolina State accomplished the unbelievable.

To complete NC State's Cinderella story in their 54-52 championship win, Dereck Whittenburg launched the possible game winner from beyond the top of the key. The shot that could win the game was going to fall way short when Lorenzo Charles instinctively jumped to grab the ball and slam it home to beat the buzzer and the Cougars. Charles had turned an ugly airball into a miraculous alley-oop.

Do you ever feel like Dereck Whittenburg? The game is on the line, you want the ball in your hands, but your best shot turns into an airball. The good news is that time after time God takes our efforts and turns them into the stuff that champions are made of. Slam Dunk!

Jesus takes what little we have to offer him and turns it into victory. Defeat and failure were at hand one day when Jesus and his team had a standing room only crowd of 5000 plus to feed. No concession stands to handle this rowdy crowd. So Jesus asks, "Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?" (John 6:5) Is he kidding? There is no possible way. Not enough money. Not enough time. Not enough smarts. Jesus' teammates believe the situation is hopeless. Their resources are extremely limited. But one man, Andrew, informs Jesus that a young boy has brought forward five loaves of bread and a couple of fish. Andrew has faith that in the hands of Jesus a meager offering can go a long way. The food was multiplied, the crowd was fed, and there were even twelve baskets stuffed with leftovers! (John 6:13)

In the story, the Bible says that Jesus "already had in mind what he was going to do" (John 6:6) before Andrew came forward. That means Jesus was looking for someone who had great faith rather than great resources. The stuff champions are made of begins with faith. Faith to know that what we offer God may not be much, but God's going to get the victory and turn our airballs into slam dunks, and our defeats into stunning upsets. God calls you to give to Him what you have. You may not be the smartest, the strongest, or feel like you have the time or money to do much of anything for God. But God will use what you have to accomplish great victories if you have faith in Him. So don't be afraid to take your best shot. Faith in Jesus is the stuff champions are made of. God is always ready to stuff one more basket.

Christ My Coach -

Steve Teel

 

Teel, Steve. "The Stuff of Champions." Writings by Nate: Sports Devotionals for Christian Athletes. Www.themedattraction.com. Web. 20 Oct. 2014. <http://www.themedattraction.com/devotionals/thestuffofchampions.htm>.

Patience

P A T I E N C E

Proverbs 16:32

 

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

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


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


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

 

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

 

Lipe, Roger. "Patience." Daily Devotions for Competitors. 16 Oct. 2014. Web. 16 Oct. 2014. <http://devotions4competitors.blogspot.com/2012/10/p-t-i-e-n-c-e-proverbs-1632-how-well-do.html>.

 

Touchdown!

Danny Wuerffel 
Florida Gator Quarterback 
1996 Heisman Trophy Winner.

January 2, 1997. Sugar Bowl. 

Florida Gators vs. Florida State Seminoles for the NCAA Division I-A National Championship.

Operating out of the shotgun, I took the snap and looked for my receiver, Ike Hilliard. One problem: Florida State defensive end Peter Boulware was going to greet me before Ike could make his break. One solution -- anticipate Ike's pass route, throw the ball and have faith that he would be where he was supposed to be. 

Like it or not, faith is present in all of our lives, and we exercise faith in countless ways each day. 

Even sitting on a chair requires faith -- faith that it can hold us up. And our faith in the chair grows each time it doesn't let us down. So it is with my faith in God. Through joys and sorrows, He has never let me down. My faith continues to grow. 

My faith in God is not a reflection of what I've done for Him. Rather, it is a reflection of my countless experiences with the living God. And after all, that is what being a Christian is all about: not a formula or a feeling, but a true experience with Jesus Christ -- an encounter with God Himself. 

When I encounter God, I become aware of a problem. God commands me to be perfect, like He is, and I'm not even close. If all the things I've done wrong and all my secret thoughts were suddenly public knowledge, I couldn't bear the shame. I am fully aware that in and of myself I have no claim to be in the presence of a holy God. 

"But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8). 

Two thousand years ago, Jesus, God's own Son, lived a perfect life and pleased His Father in every way. When he sacrificed His life on the cross, He carried my guilt on His shoulders and paid the price for my sin. Every step toward God can be made only in Christ Jesus, for He is the "author and perfector" of faith (Hebrews 12:2). Jesus Christ is my salvation. 

I have been blessed to be a part of many championship teams and to win numerous awards over the years. But no championship or trophy can possibly compare "to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord" (Philippians 3:8). 

If you find yourself uncomfortable with the sin in your life and feel led to make peace with God through Jesus Christ, consider saying this simple prayer. At that moment, you'll begin your eternal walk with Christ. 

Dear God, I understand that I fall way short of Your standards, I know You are perfect and I need You. Jesus, thank You for dying in my place. Please come into my heart, forgive my sins, and help me to follow You. Amen. 

And by the way, Ike caught that pass. It was a touchdown.

 

Naversen, Nate. "Touchdown." Writings by Nate: Sports Devotionals. Nate Naversen. Web. 9 Oct. 2014. <http://www.themedattraction.com/devotionals/touchdown.htm>.

Slumps

Read Psalm 13

LORD, how long will You continually forget me? How long will You hide Your face from me? - Psalm 13:1

Athletes hate slumps. They’ll try anything to get out of those times when they can’t hit the baseball or make a foul shot or catch a pass. Some players will change bats or shoes or their routine. They will do whatever it takes to get out of the slump. As Christians, a spiritual slump can make us feel like we’ve been forsaken by the Lord. Like athletes in a slump, we can struggle with doubts, fears, and frustrations. We can even feel like we’re losing the battle.

David was struggling when he wrote Psalm 13:1–6. His spiritual slump came, as he saw it, from the Lord not responding immediately to his call for help. Psalm 13 teaches how David worked himself out of his slump. First, he appealed to the Lord which is the real source of spiritual victory in difficult times. Second, he trusted God , the only One who can guide the way out. Third, he praised the Lord. His singing to God was with an attitude of thanksgiving that in God’s time the slump would end.

Are you in a slump? Turn your focus on the Lord with your whole heart, trust Him, and praise Him. Then get back in the game!

 

Stronger For Christ

"I am able to do all things through Him who strengthens me." Philippians 4:13

As coaches, what do we expect from our athletes if we want to improve their performance? If they are going to be champions in the weight room, we expect them to be torn down. We expect them to push beyond their boundaries. When they do that, their bodies rebuild stronger than before. How do our athletes get faster? We put them on a treadmill, increase the incline, and again push them beyond their boundaries, beyond their comfort zones. Again, when their bodies recover, they are faster. Sometimes the increase is small but they are faster.

We treat leadership the same way. Coaches force athletes to lead. Standing in front of the team and stepping outside their comfort zone is hard for many, but they come back better leaders. Athletes must be torn down,pushed faster, and forced out of their comfort zone to reach their potential.

How about Christian coaches? How do we grow in our faith? How do we become champions for Christ? The same way our athletes grow. As we live our faith, many times we are torn down and pushed beyond our comfort zone. People challenge us. We feel uncomfortable at times; yet, when we come back, our faith is stronger than ever. Many times, the improvement is small, but God knows it is there.

The Bible, the Christian’s playbook, has all the answers for coaches. In Philippians 4:13 Paul says, “I am able to do all things through Him who strengthens me.” We, too, can do anything through Him. Just like our athletes, we will get stronger each day that we live for the Lord.

Ask yourself:
1. Are you the coach you want to be?
2. What are the areas in your life where you can “step up to the plate” to be a more Christ-like coach?
3. What is preventing you from being that coach?

Lord, help me demand of myself just what I demand of my players. May my increased efforts glorify You. Amen.

Just Be Nice

Read Psalm 143

"Teach me to do your will, for you are my God" - Psalm 143:10

In 1958 Bear was on a reruiting trip when he went into a restaurant "and every head in the place turns to stare at me. Seems I'm the only white fellow in the place." The food smelled good though, so Bear took a seat. A big ole boy in a t-shirt and cap came up to Bear. "You probably won't like it here. Today we are having chitlin's, collard greens and black-eyed peas with cornbread. I'll beat you don't even know what chitlin's are." Bryant replies, "I'm from Arkansas. I have probably eaten a mile of them. Sounds like I am in the right place." They are started to talk after Bear received his plate. Bear began to explain that he was the new coach at Alabama and was looking for a recruit. The man gave him directions to the local school. As Bryant left, the man asked if coach had a picture of him he could hang on his wall to show he had been there. Bear didn't, but he wrote down the man's name and address on a napkin and promised to send him one. Once back in his office he found a picture and wrote on it, "Thanks for the best lunch I have ever had."

Years later, Bryant recruited an offensive lineman from the area who told him he had his heart set on Auburn. Two days later, the kid called Bryant and told him he would play for Alabama if they still wanted him. Bryant asked him what made him change his mind. "My grandpa," he said. "You ate at his restaurant and you sent him an autographed picture just like you promised. That picture his is pride and joy. You kept your word, and to Grandpa, that's everything. He said you could teach me more than football and I had to play for a man like you."

Bryant said he learned again that is don't cost a thing to be nice and that it costs a lot to break your word to someone. In teaching us the way to live godly lives, God chose the Bible. He set down in his book the habits, actions, and attitudes that make for a way of life in accordance with his wishes. He also sent us Jesus to explain and illustrate. God teaches us not how to exist but how to live. We just need to pay attention.

 

McMinn, E. (2010). Lesson Learned. In Daily Devotions for Die-Hard Fans: Alabama Crimson Tide (1st ed., pp. 88-89). Extra Points Publishers.

Promises Kept

1934Alabama.jpg

Read 2 Peter 1:3-11

"He has given us his very great and precious promise, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature" - 2 Peter 1:4

In 1934 the pundits had Kentucky and LSU to meet in the SEC basketball tournament finals, especially after Alabama's leading scorer, Zeke Kimbrough, fractured his cheekbone and was out for the season. Kimbrough was the SEC's third leading scorer with 162 points for the season. The team stopped by the hospital, where Zeke was recovering from surgery, to tell their teammate good-bye. Everyone told him not to worry and they would win the tournament for him. But Jimmy Walker, Kimbrough's closest friend, told Zeke "We ARE going to win this for you. That's a promise - and I don't break promises."

As it turns out, Walker and his teammates kept his promise to Kimbrough and they won the tournament. Walker was the leading scorer in the championship win. Promise made; promise kept. What if everyone lived by that simple concept. Any promise you make is a promise that must be kept. It would definitely changes things, wouldn't it? We all too often make promises that we don't intend on keeping. But God doesn't operate that way. One scholar has discovered that the Bible contains 30,000 promises and God has kept and keeps every single one. What that means for us is a life shared with Jesus Christ and all the eternal blessings that comes with it. 

God cannot do everything; he cannot, for instance, break his promises.

 

McMinn, E. (2010). You Promised. In Daily Devotions for Die-Hard Fans: Alabama Crimson Tide (1st ed., pp. 78-79). Extra Points Publishers.

You Have Been Warned

Read Luke 12:4-10

"Whoever acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man will also acknowledge him before the angels of God. But he who disowns me before men will be disowned before the angels of God" - Luke 12:8-9

When head coach J.B. Whitworth was fired from Alabama in 1957, the players prayed that Bear Bryant would not be hired as new head coach. "The one we didn't want was Bear. All we knew was that he was tough," said junior tackle Chuck Allen. The workouts started on the first day in the wrestling room. Players went in by positions with centers and ends first. When the doors opened after the workouts senior end Baxter Booth came out bleeding from his nose and his ear and began to shout, "Don't go! Don't go in there! They'll kill you! Don't go in that room!"

They had been warned, but the players hesitantly went inside anyway. Allen said they all left that room "in the same sorry state: covered in their own blood and vomit." It stayed that way for months. Players said they would quit everyday in their heads. No one can say they hadn't been warned.

We spend tons of money for instruments to warn us of impending danger. A tornado warning makes us nervous. Our nation is devoted to different levels of warnings about possible attacks and impending danger. We are on the alert for health warnings and signs of problems such as cancer, stroke, and heart attack. No warning, however, should be as urgent for us all as the one Jesus Christ issued. Jesus warned us: claim him during our life and be claimed as God's own in Heaven; reject him and be banned from Heaven.

We have all been warned!

 

McMinn, E. (2010). Storm Warning. In Daily Devotions for Die-Hard Fans: Alabama Crimson Tide (1st ed., pp. 156-157). Extra Points Publishers.