I will also speak of Your testimonies before kings and shall not be ashamed.
One very common pitfall for athletes is to focus on themselves. They talk about themselves, and often their play focus on themselves. This is tolerated for a while, but after some time has passed, the other players on the team no longer enjoy playing with or being around this player. A well-liked athlete talks about his team and focuses on helping his team do better. A true follower of Christ will always speak of God’s things and keep his focus on helping others to follow Him. Is your focus more on Him or on yourself?
And I will walk at liberty, for I seek Your precepts.
Some family members want to set their own rules and continually challenge the system. The result of this is that there can be continual conflict and lots of wasted time and energy. They haven’t discovered the freedom that comes from living within the rules. There are no negative consequences for living by the rules. As a follower of Christ, it is the same. Ultimate freedom comes from living within the guidelines He has given us. When we get off His path, we get into trouble. Are you living in freedom?
And I shall lift up my hands to Your commandments, Which I love;
One of the keys to being successful as an athlete is the ability to follow instructions. There are many talented people not playing sports because they would not follow instructions. Teams win or lose based on players following instructions. As Christians, our lives are a blessing or a problem, depending on how we follow the instructions God has given us. The raising of one’s hands is a sign of surrender. Will you lift your hands and surrender to God and follow His instructions for living?____________________________________
October 4 THINKING ABOUT IT
And I shall lift up my hands to Your commandments, Which I love;
For an athlete, an often overlooked part of the game is the mental part. Athletes who take the time to study their game and learn their coaches’ game plans reap the biggest rewards. In a close game, the mental aspect can be the difference between winning and losing. Know your sport and your plan. The same holds true for a follower of Christ. A person who studies the Word and seeks to live it out will have a life that stands in the tough times. Are you thinking about and following His plans for living?
This is my comfort in my affliction That Your word has revived me.
Not only do athletes get hope from words, but they can also gain strength. Where there was only fatigue, there can be renewed strength and determination. Games have been won and lost based on responding to the words of their leader. The Word of God does this for the believer. When there is only tiredness and fatigue, life can be renewed and restored by the King’s words. Instead of weariness in the battle, there is a change of momentum that can lead to victory. Are you looking to the Word of God for your strength?
This is my comfort in my affliction That Your word has revived me.
An athlete that has hope has the power to win. An athlete without hope faces certain defeat. One of the roles of a coach is to provide encouragement, which fuels hope. He has to recognize a player that needs this encouragement. God is a perfect example of the one who encourages us when we need it. He continually watches us and gives us His Word ahead of time to be there when we need it. Are you finding hope by listening to His words?
The arrogant utterly deride me, Yet I do not turn aside from Your law.
As an athlete, you must never be intimidated. Intimidation wins the battle before it starts. Regardless of the enemy’s size or ability, the game is not over until the final whistle. Teams that refuse to be intimidated have won huge upsets. For a follower of Christ, we should never be intimidated by the world or the devil. These things may look tough, but they are already defeated. Their only hope is to intimidate you into handing them a victory. Have you been intimidated by the world?
I have remembered Your ordinances from of old, O Lord, and comfort myself.
Athletes are just like many other people in that they don’t like change. They love and find comfort in routine. Following the routine encourages the athletes in their quest for success. Knowing the routine and rules gives them confidence in their daily lives. For a follower in Christ, the same is true. God’s laws do not change and provide comfort and security for the Christian. Are you walking consistently with God?
This has become mine, That I observe Your precepts.
There is a time for an athlete where what he is instructed to do becomes automatic. This is the point of connection. Where the words equal actions, this is the moment when frustrations cease, and joy is found in the performance. For a Christian, this is a critical moment as well. When God asks us to do equals how we live, there are tremendous joy and freedom. This moment of connection is an exciting time. It is a product of time and self-discipline. Have you reached the point of connection?
1 Thessalonians 1 :1-2:8
October 10 FIGHT SONGS
Your statutes are my songs In the house of my pilgrimage.
Athletes, like ancient warriors, like to go into battle singing songs about their exploits. These encourage and motivate them to focus on the game at hand. There is something about music that motivates us and gives us joy. For a follower of Christ, this makes sense. Singing songs of worship helps us to be encouraged and motivated in our walk with God. The difference in these songs is the lyrics are focused on God. We also receive joy in the song. What songs are you singing as you face the day?
1 Thessalonians 2:9-3:13
Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, 24 knowing that from the Lord, you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve.
One of the keys to being an athlete is the ability to play wholeheartedly. An athlete who does not give his total effort will not achieve much and will not draw praise from his coach or the fans. An athlete is at his best when he gives his wholehearted effort. The same is true for a follower of Christ. A Christian who puts no effort into following Christ gains no praise from Christ. A follower of Christ who gives a wholehearted effort will gain praise and recognition. Are you wholeheartedly following Christ?
1 Thessalonians 4:1-5:3
October 12 YOUR REWARD
The Lord is my portion; I have promised to keep Your words.
Athletes all perform for a reward. For some, it is simply the joy of winning a game; for others, it is the applause of fans, a trophy, or even winning a championship. An athlete who is not seeking a reward tends to perform poorly. The same is true for Christians. For a Christian, the reward can be blessings, but the ultimate reward is Christ himself. If a Christian focuses on anything else, it becomes an idol. A Christian needs to know what his reward is. What is your reward?
1 Thessalonians 5:4-28
I hastened and did not delay to keep Your commandments
An athlete has to have priorities. If he does not prioritize the right things, it will impact his performance in negative ways. For an athlete, the priorities would include healthy eating, adequate rest, and practice. Christians should have priorities, as well. These priorities will determine how effective the Christian will be in his service of Christ. These priorities include Bible study, prayer, and Church attendance. What are your priorities?
2 Thessalonians 1:1-12
I considered my ways and turned my feet to Your testimonies.
Another key to improving athletic performance is to evaluate your performance. Without a truthful and careful examination, there is no hope for improvement. A good athlete focuses on the evaluation and then on making the changes needed for improvement. This parallels the Christian life. A Christian is expected to evaluate his life by the Word of God. Then as the Holy Spirit directs, changes should be made. Are you evaluating your life and making changes?
2 Thessalonians 2:1-17
The cords of the wicked have encircled me, But I have not forgotten Your law.
Every athlete faces opposition at some point. How they handle it says everything about them. The ability to face and overcome opposition says a lot about their character. When opposition comes, some people rise to meet it while others pull back from it. Just like athletes, Christians often face opposition. And just like athletes, some face opposition bravely while others pull back from it. A focus on Christ helps keep us moving forward when we face opposition. How do you react when you face opposition?
2 Thessalonians 3:1-18
At midnight I shall rise to give thanks to You because of Your righteous ordinances.
One aspect of every successful athlete is sacrifice. There are some things they give up to attain their goal. Things like personal time, sleep, and certain foods are all sacrificed to get something they want more. This is a wonderful lesson for a follower of Jesus Christ. There are some things on this earth that we must willingly give up to gain that prize that only God can give. What are you sacrificing in order to follow God?
1 Timothy 1:1-20
You have dealt well with Your servant, O Lord, according to Your word.
One of the most interesting relationships in sports is that of an athlete and his coach. Because this involves supervision and motivation, this relationship can get tense. An athlete doesn’t always want to follow what the coach tells him, but he knows that it is better for him and the team to follow the coach. This relationship mirrors a Christian’s life: it is not always easy to obey God, but you will still benefit from it. Are you following the directions that God is giving you?
1 Timothy 2:1-15
KNOWING YOUR TEAM
I am a companion of all those who fear You and of those who keep Your precepts.
One key to winning in sports is teamwork. You have to know who is on your team, and you have to identify with them. This sense of belonging and being part of a whole create unity and synergy, which helps the team achieve victory. For a Christian, this is an important concept as well. Identifying with those on the team creates strength, which helps the Christian to stand strong during trials. Are you part of a team that is striving to live for God?
___________________________________ READING PLAN:
1 Timothy 3:1-16
October 19 WELL TAUGHT
Teach me good discernment and knowledge, For I believe in Your commandments.
For an athlete, the ability to look at a situation, realize what he needs to do, and then do it is invaluable. The reality is that all this needs to happen in a moment. The fastest way to acquire this knowledge is to teach it because it would take years of mistakes to learn it on your own. As a Christian, the ability to look at a situation and do what is right is invaluable if it would be better to learn from someone else than to make all the mistakes yourself. Who is teaching you how to live life?
1 Timothy 4:1-16
Before I was afflicted, I went astray, But now I keep Your word.
Some athletes seem to be heading downhill, and then their career makes a comeback. The comeback is not fueled by new athletic ability. The secret is the athlete sees the mistake of trying to do things his way and decides to follow the advice he is given. A Christian can also experience a comeback in his life. It will happen when you cease to live for yourself and begin to live according to God’s Word. When this happens, a dramatic change will occur. Are you living according to His Word?
1 Timothy 5:1-25
It is good for me that I was afflicted That I may learn Your statutes.
As painful as it sometimes can be, some lessons are only learned through pain and difficulties. A team that just won a championship credited the pain of losing the previous year by teaching them what it took to be a champion. They think it was worth it. Even as Christians, there are things we can only learn through pain and struggle. While we don’t enjoy the pain, we should enjoy the results. The struggle can only teach us when we want to learn from it. Are your struggles making you better or bitter?
1 Timothy 6:1-21
The arrogant have forged a lie against me; With all my heart I will observe Your precepts.
Every athlete will face moments when their motives and effort will be questioned. These can be difficult times. At these moments, it is crucial to say the right things, but it is even more important to remember to be seen doing the right things. Actions alone will silence the doubters. For Christians, there are times when people will doubt us as well. It is important to remember that words won’t silence the doubters, but the right actions will. Are you living in a way that could silence any doubters?
2 Timothy 1:1-18
The law of Your mouth is better to me than thousands of gold and silver pieces.
Athletes should know there are things more important than fame and money. Some have made lots of money and have nothing today, while others made a little and have more today. The difference is in what do you invest your time and money. For a follower of Christ, the same is true.
If we make it our goal to pursue money, we could end up with nothing. If we pursue the things of God, we will have rewards for eternity. Your life seeks what you value. What are you pursuing?
2 Timothy 2:1-21
October 24 LEADERSHIP
May those who fear You turn to me, Even those who know Your testimonies.
Every team needs an athlete who will take leadership in tough situations. This type of athlete is consistent, and the other players already know what to expect from him. When the going gets tough, others turn to him. As a follower of Christ, this should be the type of person we strive to be. So consistent in our walk with God that others know what to expect from us. Others have already been watching us, and our actions have created expectations, good or bad. When people look at your life, do they turn to you in difficult situations?
2 Timothy 2:22-3:17
October 25 EFFORT
My soul languishes for Your salvation; I wait for Your word.
One of the keys to being a great athlete is effort. The interesting thing is that many times it is not even a conscious decision. It should be noted when it is a conscious decision, that effort usually goes up dramatically. This is a picture of Christianity. Many are making an effort without even giving it a conscious thought. Many times, we talk about how important it is to serve God without thinking about our effort. Have you decided to give your complete effort to following God?
2 Timothy 4:1-22
October 26 EXCELLENCE
May my heart be blameless in Your statutes, so that I will not be ashamed.
Every athlete strives for excellence. They want to follow the game plan and do all they are asked to do. They build a reputation for excellence or inconsistency. One of the keys is paying attention and knowing what is expected of you. What a perfect parallel for the Christian life. We should all strive for excellence. To help make this happen, we should be reading the Word and listening to the Holy Spirit. Are you building a reputation of excellence in following Christ or inconsistency?
Forever, O Lord, Your word is settled in heaven.
Athletes tend to push the limits physically. One area where they shouldn’t push the boundaries is that of the rules. Breaking the rules hurts them and their team. The rules don’t change, so they should learn them and live within them. For the Christian, we know that God’s laws are unchangeable. When we break God’s rules, we hurt ourselves and those around us. We should strive to learn God’s rules so that we can live within them. Are you living by God’s rules?
October 28 AVOIDING TROUBLE
If Your law had not been my delight, then I would have perished in my affliction.
Athletes need to have boundaries in their personal lives. Without these “guard rails,” their careers can get derailed. This works best when the athletes decide what boundaries they want in their lives instead of having somebody else tell them what they need to do. Christians can keep their lives on track and avoid trouble by having personal boundaries in their lives. A Christian should study the Bible and use that as the guide for their boundaries. The Bible is the guide that will keep you out of trouble. Are you living according to the Bible?
My life is continually in my hand, Yet I do not forget Your law.
A wise athlete takes responsibility for his life and performance in sports. By being able to say, ” I did well,” or, ” I did not play well.,” it frees the athlete from having to be perfect. By taking responsibility, they acknowledge that their choices impact their lives and performance. A Christian should also be able to take responsibility for his choices and how it impacts his life. They should also be able to admit when they have lived well and when they have not. This responsibility also includes the responsibility to change. Have you accepted responsibility for your life?
Your commandments make me wiser than my enemies, for they are ever mine.
An athlete can gain an advantage over his opponents by spending time learning the playbook and the rules of his sport. This extra knowledge, when translated into action, can be the difference between victory and defeat. A Christian can also gain an advantage over his enemies by spending time reading the Bible. By knowing the Word, we can avoid certain situations and also walk in a relationship with God. This relationship gives guidance to make wise decisions. Are you studying God’s playbook?
October 31 LOYALTY
I have inclined my heart to perform Your statutes forever, even to the end.
For an athlete, loyalty is an important character trait. Loyalty to their team and the other players on that team is expected. That decision should be firm and not on and off again. When we set our hearts to go in a specific direction, it makes many decisions for us. Loyalty is also important for a Christian. One shouldn’t pledge loyalty to God and then not live like He asks you to. The decision should be consistent and lived out daily. This decision also makes many other decisions for us. Does your life reflect loyalty to God?