October 25, 2021

Champions Pray in the Dark

“I call on you, my God, for you will answer me; turn your ear to me and hear my prayer” (Psalm 17:6). The true test of our character is not measured by the actions we take nor the attitudes we present when we are on stage with the spotlight shining on us. The true test of our character is measured when no one is watching but God. Many people make the mistake of wearing their spiritual maturity on their sleeves. But God is not impressed with how many Bible verses we know nor how many Sunday school lessons we teach. In fact, nothing we do can impress God. What God desires from us more than anything is a relationship. He designed us for this. We function best when we have others around us supporting us and challenging us to grow in our relationship with Him. And no relationship can thrive without communication. In 1 Samuel 22, we find David tucked […]
October 18, 2021

Champions Have Humility

“Humility is the fear of the Lord; its wages are riches and honor and life” (Proverbs 22:4). Becoming a champion challenges our faith in more ways than we think. When we experience a great deal of success and numerous victories in our lives, human nature begins to enjoy the praises that are given to us. Before we know it, the excitement that people have for us changes the way we view life, and we start believing our own press. Instead of dwelling on who got us to this point, we begin dreaming about where we are going to take ourselves in the future. Humility is the mark of a true champion. Godly love is emblazoned on his or her heart. Most people can sniff out false humility miles before they get to it. They hear the cliché about how we had nothing to do with it, and they know we do not believe a word we are saying. Sincere humility, […]
October 11, 2021

Champions Show Grace and Kindness

“You gave me life and showed me kindness, and in your providence watched over my spirit” (Job 10:12). Inside each of us there is a hunger and a thirst for justice. We want to see the guilty person get his just due. Yet, when it comes to us, we want mercy and grace extended in our direction. We may be deserving of the worst kind of punishment, but we long for someone to give us a second chance before harshly condemning us. Although God is just in His ways, He also is merciful. In fact, God’s Word makes it simple: “Mercy triumphs over judgment” (James 2:13). God would rather extend mercy toward us than the harsh consequences of judgment. That is why Jesus gave His life for us—so we would not have to suffer the consequences of sin. Jesus paid the debt we owe for our sin. As believers pursuing the heart of God, we must emulate His heart. As […]
October 4, 2021

Champions Have Hearts of Love

“Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34-35). There is something contagious about a heart of love. People who are selfless with their love can make giant waves in this world, whereas those who cling to selfish desires cause only ripples. In fact, those who have hearts of love view the people around them as being most important. A heart that bears the marks of God’s intimate love is not a selfish heart. The Truth is that when we look directly into God’s heart of love, we are transformed forever. The selfish desires that once dominated our heart’s landscape vanish in an instant—replaced by a desire to lavish love on others. As God begins to transform our hearts through His grace and kindness, we become vessels willing to reciprocate this type of love. Something happens inside of […]
September 27, 2021

Champions Victoriously Honor God

“My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge” (Psalm 62:7). In the New Testament, Jesus made it clear that we have to make a choice: Either we will serve God or we will serve something else. You can dedicate your life to living for the Lord, or you can spend your life living for yourself. However, to truly honor God in a way that places Him in high esteem over everything else, He must be at the center of your affections. Many people do good works. Some non-believers even do more good works than Christians. Yet, a look at the heart reveals their true motivation—whether their deeds are truly done for themselves or for the people they are serving. Some Christians are doing good works out of guilt or obligation, as opposed to the purest reason: love for God. To honor God is to serve Him out of our strong desire to see […]
September 20, 2021

Closer Than a Brother

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law” (Galatians 5:22-23). Whether we realize it or not, faithfulness is at the heart of all relationships. It is the very thing that prevents families and societies from falling apart. And it is the one element that has the ability to encourage us to persevere in times of failure and heartache. The psalmist writes, “The Lord preserves those who are true to him, but the proud he pays back in full” (Psalm 31:23). Therefore, it comes as no surprise that the apostle Paul lists faithfulness as one of the fruit of the Spirit. In fact, one of the first things we learn about God is that He is faithful. As children, we often sing the song “Jesus Loves Me,” and we know He does. No matter what we have done in the past or what we will […]
September 13, 2021

The Choice of Obedience

“And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands” (2 John 1:6). In his book of devotions Morning and Evening, Charles Spurgeon wrote, “[T]he first thing God requires of His child is obedience.” But human nature often rebels against obedience. The Bible is full of examples of individuals who disobeyed God. Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit. Lot’s wife blatantly looked back to see the destruction of Sodom. Jonah refused to go to Nineveh. Moses struck the rock, instead of speaking to it as God commanded. We all can remember incidents when we have disobeyed—whether it was against an authority figure, a law of the land, or a Biblical principle. Most likely, we even remember our punishment or the consequences we suffered. The act of disobedience brings guilt, sadness, and shame. There is no long-lasting pleasure in getting our own way. It brings grief to our heavenly Father because He longs for us to walk with […]
September 6, 2021

A Jonah-Sized Challenge

“Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him” (James 1:12). After Jonah allowed God to use him, we see the greatest miracle in the book of Jonah: the salvation of the Ninevites. These cruel pagan people experienced one of the greatest revivals in Biblical history. The Ninevites believed God. A fast was proclaimed, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth. When Jonah’s warning reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, took off his royal robes, covered himself with sackcloth and sat down in the dust. . . . When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he relented and did not bring on them the destruction he had threatened. (Jonah 3:5-6, 10) You may doubt your abilities or eloquence in sharing about Christ. You may […]
August 30, 2021
praying the word

Praying the Word

“Lord, hear my prayer, listen to my cry for mercy; in your faithfulness and righteousness come to my relief” (Psalm 143:1). When we study the book of Jonah, we often focus on the miraculous journey he experienced inside a giant fish: “Now the Lord provided a huge fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights” (Jonah 1:17). Yet the greater story is the transformation we see within Jonah through his model prayer during that underwater voyage. There is nothing that will bring us closer to the Lord than being in the belly of a fish. When we experience intense suffering, the best thing we can do is to pour out our hearts to God. Read Jonah 2. Why is Jonah’s prayer an example for us? Because Jonah is praying the Scripture. Many of the words he uses come from Psalms. Jonah 2:9 says, “But I, with shouts of grateful praise, will […]
August 23, 2021
handling storms

Reacting to the Storm

“Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent” (Revelation 3:19). There are many ways we can react to a storm. We can try to run away from its source, or we can keep ourselves so busy that we don’t have a moment’s rest for dwelling on our problems. But these human methods will not stop the storm nor help us learn from it and use it for our good and the good of others. How does God want us to react to our storms? He wants us to submit wholeheartedly to His will and to become willing servants to wherever He calls us. When confronted with his storm, Jonah knew what he had to do. He told the sailors, “Pick me up and throw me into the sea, . . . and it will become calm. I know that it is my fault that this great storm has come upon you” (Jonah 1:12). Jonah knew Almighty […]
August 16, 2021

The Storms We Cause

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). We can trace the origins of our storms to three primary sources. Some storms are of our own making—the direct consequence of sin in our lives. Other storms are caused by the actions of other people, and some are simply intended to test us. Read Jonah 1:4-16. In Jonah’s case, his storm was a direct consequence of his disobedience. When storms result from our sin, we must first repent of that sin before even attempting to work through the consequences.  My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, . . . Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? . . . No discipline […]
August 2, 2021

Keep Calm and Look Up

“A little while, and the wicked will be no more; though you look for them, they will not be found. But the meek will inherit the land and enjoy peace and prosperity” (Psalm 37:10-11). King Saul was on the hunt, but he wasn’t pursuing another army or some vile enemy of Israel. He was hoping to kill David, the man God had anointed to take his place on the throne. Along the way, Saul entered a cave. Unbeknownst to the murderous king, David crept up slowly behind him and cut off a corner of his robe. It wasn’t until Saul was back out in the wilderness that he heard David shouting from the mouth of the cave: “Some urged me to kill you, but I spared you; I said, ‘I will not lay my hand on my lord, because he is the Lord’s anointed'” (1 Samuel 24:10). Read Psalm 37. Have you ever wondered why some of the world’s most […]