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Then I will shout all day, “Praise the LORD God! He did what was right.” Psalm 35:28 (CEV)

Three seconds left in the second overtime of the state championship game. The moment all of us athletes (armchair and otherwise) dream of. He’d probably pretended to make this shot a million times in his backyard. The only difference then was that this time three seconds was really three seconds and there would be no second chance.

The ball was thrown in; he dribbled to half court and let it fly. As it flew through mid-air the final buzzer sounded. By the time the ball slipped softly through the net, the game was officially over. The only difference and it was a major difference, was that when the ball left his hand his team was down by two points. Now, they were the champions.

The crowd roared. On the one side? A ‘roar’ of anguish and disbelief. On the other side? A roar of amazement and celebration.

There are so many analogies we can make to the athletic field and life. Even the Apostle Paul makes athletically based references to this journey, this race we call life. All run, few are rewarded the champions crown. All serious athletes train diligently. None enter the contest hoping to come in second. Yet only one is left standing.

Before the ball hit that gymnasium floor that day, the ‘hero’s teammates surrounded him. His name is still in the record books these 20 years later, but relatively few remember the joy of those fleeting moments. And only those of us who experienced it really understand the euphoria.

When David reflected back his life he saw the ruins of broken relationships, the scars of battles lost and the oasis’ of encouragement from his followers. But one thing reigned supreme. His God had not failed him. Ever.

David had failed. Miserably sometimes. Others had turned their backs on him and thrown him under the bus. But God had always remained faithful. It was God who walked him through the dark, lion infested fields as he tended sheep. It was God who directed the stone that day as he faced the giant. It was God who protected him from the angry outbursts of a jealous King Saul.

Our journey on earth if full of various types of battles. Some we win, some we lose. But when those battles are done there is cause for rejoicing. Even in the darkest part of the night when the storms rage we can praise Him because we know he will bring us through and we’ll be stronger because of it.

Make every day a day of praise. Celebrate the fact that good or bad, even if you don’t see the good right now, your Heavenly Father always does right.

PRAYER: Father, it’s easy to celebrate the victories of our lives, but remind us to praise you in the midst of the darkness as well because we know you always do right. Amen.


Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:13-14 

The difference between a winner and a loser is often a matter of inches or moments. A slip on the ice for figure skater, a missed assignment in a ball game, a moment of distraction for anyone and victory can slip from your hands. Everyone loses. Champions are people who use losses as stepping stones to victory.

It’s no wonder then that the apostle Paul used this analogy when he wrote to the Philippians from a dark, cold and damp prison cell. In the most unlikely place and the most uncomfortable circumstances Paul gives us a glimpse of his life philosophy. He admits to failure. He is not proud or his past. But he puts that aside and looks forward to what God has for him in the future.

Each of us has things on our past that we are ashamed of. We’ve made decisions that have hurt the people we love the most. We have been hurt by trusted friends and lovers. We have been the victims of other’s abusive and vindictive attacks.

Like Paul we need to look ahead. God didn’t allow you to go through what you are going through to make you feel defeated. He has no intention of putting you on a shelf somewhere because you’ve made such a mess of your life. He put you here on earth because he can use you and wants to see you succeed. That success may not be as the world measures success: money, fame, power, etc. The success He has for you is on the inside.

Don’t let your past defeats keep you from being a champion. Your relationship with Jesus Christ it your best avenue to achieving all God has for you and He has promised you His very best.

PRAYER: Dear Jesus. You know the weight of my past mistakes. You know my feelings of defeat and weakness. Help me to pick myself up from this despair and move forward. Help me to be the champion you made me to be. Empower me with your Holy Spirit to live like a winner today. Amen.

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