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Men’s Devotional Seek the Kingdom of God

These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.
 
Matthew 6:32-33, NLT
 
America seems obsessed with sports. Other schedules often bow before the sports priority. There’s the Super Bowl early in the year. Then, in spring there are the Final Four, the NBA Championship, and the Stanley Cup. Meanwhile spring training gets under way, announcing the beginning of the baseball season. It’s one sport after another, with devoted fans cheering, paying, and following every move in the press.
 
I certainly have no problem with sports per se. I consider myself an athlete, and I’ve participated in many, including college football. Besides the physical conditioning, competitive sports have taught me many lessons. And I’m still an avid fan of all the local teams. But I do have a problem with the emphasis on money in all sports, especially the unbridled greed in the professional arena.
 
Each day brings new reports of athletes demanding, and receiving, contracts for multiple millions of dollars. With each new salary plateau, others demand to have their contracts renegotiated so that they can be the highest paid … and the upward spiral continues. It’s absurd to think that men are being paid fortunes to play games. It’s even more ridiculous that someone is willing to pay them.
And think of the consequences: With their salaries guaranteed after a great season or two, some players relax and turn in very poor performances; others play tentatively, afraid of ending their careers with an injury. And look at the drug and alcohol problems faced by so many who had too much too soon.
 
In addition, the big money paid to professional athletes is almost destroying college sports. Major universities vie for the television money and exposure so that they can recruit “blue-chip” athletes. And high school athletes choose colleges based on how they can be prepared for the pros. This leads to continual recruiting and eligibility violations, with secret payoffs and no-class graduates. Recently a professional football player—and college alumnus—admitted that he couldn’t read.
 
Although I fault the athletes and their agents for their greed and the team owners for their greed and cowardliness, the real fault lies with us, the fans. We put these men on pedestals, make them bigger than life, buy the souvenirs, and pay the big ticket prices. And the only way to stop the money madness is to boycott the sports, to stop giving in to the greed.
 
What if someone said: “There’s going to be a group of millionaires playing a game this afternoon. Want to go? It’ll only cost $20 each.” Would you be interested? Probably not. But that’s exactly what professional sports has become—millionaire gladiators. I know I’m going to take a second look at my cheering, viewing, and spending habits. How about you? What are we chasing after? In our entertainment are we seeking the Kingdom?


I Blew It!

“Then David said to Nathan, ‘I have sinned against the LORD.’ And Nathan said to David, ‘The LORD also has taken away your sin; you shall not die'” (2 Sam 12:13 NASU).
 
When Nathan exposed David’s adultery and murder, David’s guilt came crashing upon him like a tsunami. It overwhelmed him, and he confessed and cried out, “I have sinned against the Lord.”
 
David is not the only one in Scripture to confess the words “I have sinned.”   At least nine individuals confessed these words. Some were not sincere such as Pharaoh, Balaam, or Saul. Some were either caught and wanted an easy way out of the consequences, or the words sprang from just a passing pang of conscience that led to no change. Judas expressed these words when it dawned upon him that he had “betrayed innocent blood.” True repentance would have led him to seek forgiveness, but instead he ended his life.   God never intended our guilt to destroy us, but to motivate us to do the right thing. It is a God given-blessing to have godly remorse.
 
The Prodigal Son first said to himself, “I have sinned,” rehearsing what he would say to his father upon his return. He then met his father, and with deep conviction and remorse uttered the words, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son” (Luke 15:21 NASU).   The words, “he came to his senses” (v. 17), suggest a drastic change in the thinking every sinner must traverse before he admits “I have sinned” against the Lord. But for those words to mean anything to the Lord, they must be followed with true repentance, and a drawing nigh to the Lord with confession and commitment.
 
David, among all those who disclosed these heart-wrenching words, “I have sinned,” uttered them four times.   This doesn’t mean he was the worst sinner, but that his sins never hardened his heart to the point of no return. Twice he was convicted and cried out to God. Twice he penned two psalms with his confessions (Ps. 41:4; Ps. 51:4)
 
I am sure, like me, you have felt your confession of sin has not always been sincere, for it did not lead to a change of life. I am sure we have confessed sin to get out of a bad situation. Maybe we just had a passing pang of conscience. But I am also sure everyone reading this devotional wants to be as sincere as the Prodigal and David.
 
Let’s examine our hearts and sincerely confess the sin in our lives because He is faithful and righteous, and will forgive us all our sins (1 Jn. 1:9).
 
Hymn: “Amazing Grace”
 
Dear Almighty Father full of grace, we humble ourselves before You, seeking Your favor. Look deep into our hearts and reveal to us our sin. Help us to acknowledge our sinfulness and to feel its conviction. Forgive us if You find us sincere. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
 
Rob Redden, Arroyo Grande, CA
rredden604@aol.com

 



He’s Worthy

Revelation 5:1-14

Read

 

No one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll and read it.

Then I began to weep bitterly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll and read it. But one of the twenty-four elders said to me, “Stop weeping! Look, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the heir to David’s throne, has won the victory. He is worthy to open the scroll and its seven seals.”
 
Then I saw a Lamb that looked as if it had been slaughtered, but it was now standing between the throne and the four living beings and among the twenty-four elders. He had seven horns and seven eyes, which represent the sevenfold Spirit of God that is sent out into every part of the earth. (Revelation 5:3-6)

Reflect

In John’s day, books were written on scrolls—pieces of papyrus or vellum up to 30 feet long, rolled up and sealed with clay or wax. The scroll that John sees contains the full account of what God has in store for the world. The seven seals indicate the importance of its contents.
 
Jesus is pictured as a Lion (symbolizing his authority and power) and a Lamb (symbolizing his submission to God’s will). One of the elders calls John to look at the Lion, but when John looks he sees a Lamb. Christ the Lamb was the perfect sacrifice for the sins of all mankind. He was worthy to break the seals and open the scroll by living a perfect life of obedience to God, dying on the cross for the sins of the world, and being raised from the dead to show his power and authority over evil and death. He conquered sin, death, hell, and Satan himself. Therefore, he can be trusted with the world’s future. Christ the Lamb won the greatest battle of all. But as the Lion, he’ll return in victory to lead the battle where Satan is finally defeated (Revelation 19:19-21).
Respond
 
Which of Jesus’ roles—Lion or Lamb—brings you the most comfort? How has Jesus been victorious in your life or especially comforting to you recently?