"but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint." Isaiah 40:31 (ESV)

The St. John's Jaguars girls basketball team wrapped up their COAL league season with a wonderful victory over Granville Christian to become Silver Champions. The amazement from watching them improve as basketball players was only surpassed by the joy in seeing them grow as young Christians. Coach Austin did an incredible job as teacher and mentor for these young ladies.

The season made me think about a devotion I had written many years ago for soccer. I was actually able to dig it up on Dropbox...my electronic "hall closet"...

The Christian Soccer Player

In Competition, God is great and all Glory be to God

In soccer, a Christian may struggle with the question - How can I, as a Christian, play to be great and compete to win?

“It is not good to eat much honey, nor is it glorious to seek one's own glory.” Proverbs 25:27 (ESV)

“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” Philippians 2:3 (ESV)

God gives us our abilities. Some of us may be faster or stronger or kick harder. Some may think quicker and see the game faster. We have different abilities, different strengths and weaknesses. We must glorify God by using His gifts, never holding back, to reveal His greatness.

“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.” Colossians 3:23-24 (ESV)

“Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might, for there is no work or thought or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol, to which you are going.” Ecclesiastes 9:10) (ESV)

Along with these abilities, God gives us opportunities. We may see those that kicks farther or runs faster; but we may not have seen the effort already put forth to gain those abilities. We should be motivated by their God-given abilities and God-strengthened motivation to improve. Every day is a chance to get better. We must glorify God by using His opportunities, never doubting, to further His greatness.

“Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act.” Psalm 37:5 (ESV)

“Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.” Proverbs 16:3 (ESV)

Beyond these abilities and opportunities, God gives us responsibilities. We have a responsibility to our team. We must give our best effort so that our teammates will see God’s glory and in return give their best. God requires we give each other our best; only then may we improve and glorify God. We also have a responsibility to our opponent. The other team deserves the same opportunities as us; we must give them our best, so that they may improve. The competition will give glory to God. Our biggest responsibility is to God. All gifts are from God. God shows His greatness through His many gifts of grace and mercy. He does not hold back His best, likewise, neither should we.

“But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”  1Timothy 5:8 (ESV)

“Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.” Proverbs 27:17 (ESV)

Taking into account our God-given abilities, opportunities and responsibilities, never ask whether we are allowed to play great and win as Christians. God gives abilities and requires effort. God gives opportunities and requires commitment. God gives responsibilities and requires accountability. Play and compete knowing that God requires nothing short of your best.

“I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:14 (ESV)

“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it.” 1 Corinthians 9:24 (ESV)