Daily Devotional: Thursday, June 29 - The Fourth Quarter

“So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.” — Matthew 24:44

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I was raised a coach’s son, and I’ve coached football for 21 years at the college and high school levels. In that time, I’ve learned that both levels have one thing in common. I’m not talking about blocking and tackling, but the time between the third and fourth quarters — when you look around the stadium and people are holding up four fingers, believing their team is going to close the game out by winning the fourth quarter.

A friend of mine who played college football in a Southeastern Conference program that has won numerous national championships remembered one particular game in which his team was getting beat badly, 28-0, at the end of the third quarter. All season his team would hold four fingers high in the air before the fourth quarter with the declaration, “We’re gonna win the fourth quarter!”

This day was different, though. As he looked around, no one held their fingers high because they were getting whipped, and figured the game was over. My friend looked down the sideline one more time and saw one little wide receiver feebly holding up four fingers. He barely lifted his arm halfway as if to say, “I’m not actually sure we can win this game.” And sure enough, they lost.

I have coached teams that have been in similar situations, but they still held four fingers high to the sky, believing they could still win. And they’ve actually pulled it off. They didn’t win because they lifted four fingers, but because those four fingers were symbolic of what they believed deep in their hearts.

Years ago, football timekeepers kept the time on the field. Coaches, players and fans never knew exactly how much time was left in the game because the scoreboards did not show the official game time. Only one referee — the backfield judge — knew when the game really ended because he held the official timer in his hand.

That’s the way it is in the game of life: Only the backfield Judge (the Almighty God) holds the official timer in His hand. Mankind, angels and not even the Son know the hour when this life will be over — only the Father knows. But hold your four fingers up high and keep believing. Believe in Jesus and strive to make His name known. And when time does come to an end, you’ll stand victorious in your Heavenly Father’s home.

If you died today and met the Judge, would you be holding four fingers high with victory in your heart, or would you be doubting your final outcome? What do you need to do in the game of life to make sure you win in the fourth quarter?

— Sam Graham

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