“Cease striving and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”
An athlete cannot afford to get distracted. A moment of distraction can cost a team the game, or even as we saw this year, a championship. So the athletes do all they can to deal with and avoid distractions to perform well. For a Christian, it is even more important not to lose focus. A moment of distraction can cost a lifetime of pain and regret. Life is more important than a game. There are many distractions in this world. (Television, music, other people, not to mention our own desires). Are you pushing aside distractions so that your focus is on God?
Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might; for there is no activity or planning or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol where you are going.
One of the enemies of athletes is the loss of enthusiasm. We have all seen players perform when it didn’t seem that their heart was in it. A player can perform rote, memorized actions all day. But it takes enthusiasm to take their play to the highest level. It’s easy to see the difference. The Bible tells us that if we deem anything worthy of doing, we should do it with enthusiasm. God gave us the ability to care about what we are doing. As Christians, our actions testify of His greatness, so we should always seek to give our best. Are you giving your all to what you are doing today?
May 3 TROPHY
He chooses our inheritance for us, The glory of Jacob whom He loves. Selah.
Athletes spend untold hours sweating and working hard to obtain a trophy that they don’t even get to pick out. I have never seen an athlete refuse to lift the trophy in celebration and, in many cases, have seen them kiss it. At that moment, the design of the trophy is not important; having won it is. As Christians, we are getting a custom made reward just for us. The God of the universe who loves us more than we can imagine is preparing a reward for us individually. That’s a lot of rewards, but it is a labor of love. Are you excited about your reward?
May 4 A SONG WORTH SINGING
For God is the King of all the earth; Sing praises with a skillful psalm.
For an athlete, it should excite them to hear loyal fans singing the team’s “fight song.” Some songs remind us of our loyalty to our country. Others remind us of a person dear to us. Many others are frivolous and only serve to entertain us. Have you ever considered how God feels when we sing songs of love and devotion to Him? When it comes time to declare our love and devotion to God, I want to sing something that reflects how I feel personally, not something frivolous. When you sing a song to God, does it reflect how you feel about Him?
God is in her palaces; he is known as her refuge.NKJV
The fun part of sports is having things go well. The thing that you practice and prepare for is things don’t go well. Teams work very hard to prepare for this. They know that though things aren’t going well, it doesn’t mean the game is over. By refocusing on their objectives, they can still win the game. In life outside of sports, this concept is just as important.
Just because circumstances are not good does not mean that your life is a failure. In those times, we should get closer to God and refocus on His priorities. Our lives can turn around. Are you turning to God in your tough times?
Judges 21:1-Ruth 1:22
May 6 PREGAME SPEECH
My mouth will speak wisdom, and the meditation of my heart will be understanding.
It is often the pregame speech right before a contest that helps players focus and perform with enthusiasm. If a coach does a poor job, his players may not come out and play with much enthusiasm. For this reason, words should be chosen carefully and come from the heart. In our daily lives, we should also choose our words carefully. God’s word is full of encouragement and can give us the purpose for our daily lives. When we neglect to remember His words, we go out and live without much enthusiasm. Trouble lurks for us. Are we facing each day with the encouragement of God’s word?
May 7 EXCUSES
If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin.
Athletes prepare methodically for a game. Coaches try to prepare them for every scenario they will encounter so that they can do well in that situation. Occasionally in a game, a situation arises that a player is not sure what to do, and it usually does not go well. The player says, “I didn’t know what to do.” However, when it is a situation that they have practiced and prepared for, the player has no excuse. In our lives, God has made a way to know what to do in every situation. For us to do the wrong thing leaves us without excuse. Are you trying to make excuses, or are you accepting responsibility for your actions?
1 Samuel 1:1-2:21
May 8 INTIMIDATION
They saw it, then they were amazed; They were terrified, they fled in alarm.
There are times that games are won and lost before they start. Some teams are intimidated looking at the other team and watching them warm-up that in their hearts, the game is already lost. Whether it’s their size or skill level, the players can try to act brave, but a wise team will seize on this intimidation and attack. When Satan sees who is walking with us, he is intimidated. What he has learned is sometimes we forget who is with us, and we approach life discouraged. In those moments, he steals victories that should have been ours. Are you walking in the confidence that the presence of God is in your life?
1 Samuel 2:22-4:22
Why should I fear in days of adversity, When the iniquity of my foes surrounds me
During a game, it is important not to panic when you get behind. When panic sets in, more mistakes are made, and the game is lost. When this emotion is controlled, it allows the team an opportunity to get back into the game and win it. Fear is a terrible emotion. It can cause us to believe that we have failed when the initial circumstances aren’t favorable. Perspective tells us that initial circumstances don’t always dictate the results, and we should continue. Fear wants us to quit. Are you trusting in God even when things aren’t looking good?
1 Samuel 5:1-7:17
May 10 PAYING ATTENTION
“What right have you to tell of My statutes and to take My covenant in your mouth? For you hate discipline, And you cast My words behind you.
Every team has captains. They are usually one of the older or more talented players. Their job is to be the coach’s representative on the field. Imagine what would happen if the captain did not listen to the coach and made decisions opposite the coach. This player would not be a captain very long because he didn’t listen to the coach. In these verses, God is asking why do people pretend to be Christians when they don’t pay any attention to what He is asking them to do. God has no patience for this type of living. Are we obeying God before we try to teach others?
1 Samuel 8:1-9:27
May 11 KNOWING YOUR LIMITS
No man can, by any means, redeem his brother or give to God a ransom for him.
As an athlete, it is wise to know your limitations. Someone may be faster, can jump higher than you. To be the best player you can be, you must do what you do well. The surest way to fail is to try to do the things that are beyond your abilities. In the spiritual realm, this is even more important. To try to do for others what only God can do is a sure recipe for failure. Our value in our service to God lies in using our God-given gifts to serve others. Knowing what our limits are and what our gifts are the key to our lives. Are you trying to do something that only God can do?
1 Samuel 10:1-11:15
May 12 LIFE AFTER SPORTS
“What right have you to tell of My statutes and to take My covenant in your mouth? For you hate discipline, and you cast My words behind you.
Something that most athletes don’t like to think about is life after sports. But no one gets to play forever. Their career in sports will one day come to an end. A failure to think about this and prepare for it will guarantee difficulty. There is no second chance to prepare for life after sports. A wise person does it early in their career. A close parallel is that one must be prepared for the afterlife. Heaven or hell awaits. Many would like to go back and change things, but there are no second chances. Are you ready for this life to end?
1 Samuel 12:1-13:23
He who offers a sacrifice of thanksgiving honors Me, and to him who orders his way aright I shall show the salvation of God.”
One of the requirements of a coach to work with an athlete is to follow all of his instructions. The two things an athlete can’t do are talk bad about the coach and not obey his instructions. If an athlete fails at one or both of these, the coach will no longer try to make him a better player. Why would we think any less of God working in our lives? We should only speak well of someone we are trusting to help us. If we truly want help, we will follow the instructions we are given. God is willing to help you; are you willing to follow His commands?
1 Samuel 14:1-52
May 14 RELY ON HIM
Save me, O God, by Your name,
And vindicate me by Your power.
Every team has somebody they rely on when the going gets tough. These are your star players. The other team knows who you are looking for, but they can’t stop him. What a comfort to know they are always on your team, and you know you can count on them. God fills the same role in our lives. He is constantly there for us. He looks out for us and protects us. When the situation gets tough, we don’t have to wonder where to turn for help. He is already there for you. Are you relying on Him in your daily life?
1 Samuel 15:1-16:23
May 15 FOOLISH THINKING
The fool has said in his heart, “There is no God,” They are corrupt and have committed abominable injustice; There is no one who does good.
Some athletes have such confidence in themselves; they think that they can continue not to take care of their bodies without any consequences. At first, they notice no difference. Over time their performance goes down, and most people can never turn their lives around. If we think we can live as we please and ignore God’s instructions without consequences, then we are engaged in foolish thinking. Once we start down this road, we can’t undo the damage we have caused ourselves and others. Are you living your life like there is no God?
1 Samuel 17:1-18:4
Behold, God is my helper;
The Lord is the sustainer of my soul. He will recompense the evil to my foes; Destroy them in Your faithfulness.
Those moments in the heat of battle when we feel the other team has intentionally wronged us and gotten away with it, we are tempted to avenge our teammate. What typically happens is we are caught, and our team is penalized. Then we are left with the frustration of our injustice and then our attempt at vengeance that failed. There is a better way. When we have been wronged, we should appeal to a higher power. An attempt to get revenge ourselves puts us in the role of playing God. We should leave vengeance in His hands and focus on living our lives. Have you surrendered your desire for revenge to God?
1 Samuel 18:5-19:24
May 17 STAYING POWER
Cast your burden upon the Lord, and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken.
It occasionally happens that a star athlete has some personal tragedy, whether it be a divorce or a family member’s death. Many times they never seem to recover, and their careers go downhill.
What happened to them did not affect their physical ability but profoundly impacted their mental and emotional ability. This tragedy impacts their whole life. No one is exempt from tragedy. But God promises that if we will cast our burdens on Him and live according to His principles, He will help us get through the tough times. Now is the time to put your trust in Him before tragedy strikes. Are you trusting Him today?
1 Samuel 20:1-21:15
May 18 WHERE IS YOUR HELP?
When I am afraid, I will put my trust in You.
Life can be dangerous sometimes. Normally, athletes are briefed ahead of time whenever there is a potentially dangerous situation and are told where to go for protection. Then they depend on the coach to let them know when to seek cover. When the signal is given, the athletes run quickly to their protected area. As Christians, we have a place to turn to when the situation gets dangerous. We can turn to God. He is near, and He is watching out for us constantly. When the going gets tough, where do you turn for help?
_____________________________________ READING PLAN:
1 Samuel 22:1-23:29
MAY 19 ARE YOU LISTENING?
God will hear and answer them—Even the one who sits enthroned from of old— Selah.
Has the coach ever asked you, “Are you listening to me?” That is an embarrassing moment. His concern is not with your embarrassment but that you take what he is telling you and use it in the game. Not emphasizing what the coach asks you to do shows a lack of respect for him. So the question is, really, do you have enough respect for the coach to do what he asks you to do? God asks the very same question. He expects you to have enough love for Him to obey Him. God is asking you today, “Are you listening?”
1 Samuel 24:1-25:44
May 20 WHAT’S THE WORST THEY CAN DO?
In God, whose word I praise, In God, I have put my trust; I shall not be afraid. What can mere man do to me?
For an athlete, panic is not an option. Understanding situations helps us to handle them well. Sometimes we need to ask ourselves, what is the worst thing that can happen? Knowing this guides our reaction. A player with an excellent chance to score against your team should get a stronger reaction than one who has a poor chance to score. As Christians, we should know that God is there for us and that the worse thing the devil can do is cause us to lose our physical life.
No one can take our salvation away from us. We should never panic or act in fear because what is the worst our enemy can do?
1 Samuel 26:1-28:25
May 21 KNOW WHO TO CALL
I will cry to God Most High, to God who accomplishes all things for me.
As an athlete knowing your teammates helps you do well in tough situations. You wouldn’t want your worst player to take the game-deciding shot; you would want your best player to do it. You put your best defender out there to stop their best offensive player. Knowing their abilities guides your decisions. You know who to ask, depending on what you need. As Christians, we have a much easier task. We don’t have to decide from a multitude of options. There is only one God, and He is the best at everything. So no matter what your problem, who are you going to call?
1 Samuel 29:1-31:13
May 22 REWARDS
And men will say, “Surely there is a reward for the righteous; Surely there is a God who judges on earth!”
For athletes, there are temptations to take shortcuts to success. People try to break the rules in such a way as not to get caught. While there may be some short-term benefits, your reputation will eventually catch up with you, and your reputation will be bad. What you thought would get you ahead has only served to bring you down. As a Christian, there are temptations to take shortcuts to get what we want instead of trusting in God to provide for us. We begin to look just like lost people. True rewards come from doing the right thing. Do you trust God enough to do the right things and wait for His rewards?
2 Samuel 1:1-2:11
My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast; I will sing, yes, I will sing praises!
As an athlete, you cannot allow a difficult situation to make you quit. You have to reach down and recommit yourself to playing as hard as you can. How you respond to the adverse situation can determine if the game is won or lost. We should never lose heart or give up in difficult circumstances. As Christians, we should value determination as well. We have a great God on our side, and no situation is over until He says it’s over. He can and does do miracles at times in this world. Knowing this, we should never give up. Do you have the staying power to keep going because of your relationship with God?
2 Samuel 2:12-3:39
May 24 MY HELPER
O give us help against the adversary, For deliverance by man is in vain.
There are moments in games when you know that you need help. You look over to the bench and see who is going to come into the game to help. When you see certain players move towards the field, your spirits lift, and you feel excited because help is on the way. As Christians, we don’t have to worry about who will come and help us because we know that we can count on God. Because He is God, He can do things that people can’t. It is great to know that we can depend on God. Are you allowing God to help you?
2 Samuel 4:1-6:23
May 25 CONFIDENCE RESTORED
Through God, we shall do valiantly, And it is He who will tread down our adversaries.
When a team’s best player leaves the field injured in sporting events, there is usually a letdown that the other team tries to capitalize on. Yet even when they are down, if they look up and see their star player running back onto the field, their confidence returns, and their level of play improves. In life, if we try to face problems alone, it is easy to get discouraged and feel like we are losing the battle. Yet when we sense the presence of God, and He shows His power in the situation, our confidence soars because we know victory is at hand. Are you putting your confidence in God to win the victory?
2 Samuel 7:1-8:18
May 26 RIGHT REWARD
Do not trust in oppression and do not vainly hope in robbery; If riches increase, do not set your heart upon them.
There are times that athletes make plays or perform far above their skill level. We rejoice at their exceptional performance at a critical time. But it would be wrong to expect that kind of performance from them all of the time. This expectation would lead to frustration and disappointment. In life outside of sports, people find other things to trust that are just as unreliable. One of those is money. Some believe that if they just had more money, then all of their problems would be solved. This hope would again lead to frustration and disappointment. Are you trusting in God?
2 Samuel 9:1-11:27
So I will sing praise to Your name forever, That I may pay my vows day by day.
Athletes know and value the importance of daily exercise. They are aware that even a few days without training will make a difference in their performance. Even on days when they don’t feel like it, they go and work out because they want to avoid the consequences. They know to perform at their highest level, they must exercise daily. What is right in the physical is also true in the spiritual. It only takes a day or two of missed time with the Lord before we are susceptible to temptation, and our witness shows the effects. Are you daily working to keep yourself spiritually sharp?
2 Samuel 12:1-31
May 28 FALSE HELP
And lovingkindness is Yours, O Lord, For You recompense a man according to his work.
Athletes are motivated by awards. Whether it be a championship or being named the Most Valuable Player, these awards keep athletes working longer and harder than they would if they did not exist.
Unfortunately, there are times in sports when it seems like the wrong player received the reward. These things cause arguments, but there is nothing that can be done about it. We all say that we want fair judging of our work. God is the only impartial judge. Knowing that He will judge our work should both make us nervous and make us happy. He will judge correctly. What would God say about your life?
2 Samuel 13:1-39
May 29 EARLY START
O God, You are my God; I shall seek You earnestly; My soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for You, in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
When an athlete focuses on improving his performance, he will be working out while the other athletes are still in bed. You won’t have to ask them to come early; they will willingly be there early and often stay late after practice. When something is important, getting up early no longer seems like a burden; it becomes a joy. As believers in Christ, if we want to grow spiritually, we must take the same approach. One way that we can get more time in our days is to get up earlier. Is your time with God important enough for you to get up early?
2 Samuel 14:1-15:22
FOLLOW THE LEADER
My soul clings to You; Your right hand upholds me.
There are certain players that when we watch them play, we want to play like them. We will watch them play, listen to them talk. If we can, we will practice with them. We would do anything to become more like them. This motivation can sometimes help a struggling player to become better. For a believer in Christ, our Leader should be Jesus. We should read about Him, talk to Him in prayer, and even try to live our lives like Him. There should be no sacrifice too high for us to make in our pursuit of being like Jesus. We become like who we are following. Are you following Jesus?
2 Samuel 15:23-16:23
May 31 FALSE HELP
When I remember You on my bed, I meditate on You in the night watches.
The night before a big game, many athletes don’t sleep. Instead, they are mentally thinking of the game and the plays they hope to make. This mental walkthrough of the game and performance is called meditation. Some athletes believe they perform better because of meditating on their performance. A Christian should also meditate at night. Their thoughts should be focused on the goodness of God.
Another thing to meditate on is thinking about obeying the Lord in tough situations. This can help us to live better lives. Do you spend your nights worrying or thinking about your great God?
2 Samuel 17:1-29