Sports Spectrum Magazine Summer 2021

Devotionals from Fall 2015 print issue (Week 11)

SERIES: JEREMIAH 2, LESSONS FROM THE OLD TESTAMENT

Monday: “How can you say, ‘I am not unclean, I have not gone after the Baals’? Look at your way in the valley; know what you have done—a restless young camel running here and there, a wild donkey used to the wilderness, in her heat sniffing the wind!…” Jeremiah 2:23-24

‘Restless Young Camel’

According to USA Today, 78 percent of NFL players are divorced, bankrupt, or unemployed two years after leaving the game. Why? Well, it seems that once their identity as a football player is removed, they become frantic and restless—spending money, chasing women, and always unfulfilled.  They are unable to fill the competitive, glamorous void in their lives.

When we do not realize that our fulfillment comes from Christ, our restlessness usually leads us toward the danger of sin, which ultimately leads to death, as Romans 6:23 states.
We are prone to become restless and taste glimpses of emptiness—this world was not made to satisfy us. However, we must return again and again to the One who does satisfy our restlessness. He alone holds the key to meaning, purpose, and fulfillment. Nothing else. No accomplishment. No relationship. No thing of this world.

May we become more aware, daily, that His grace is sufficient for us.

By Stephen Copeland, Sports Spectrum


Tuesday: “But where are your gods, that you made for yourself? Let them arise, if they can save you, in your time of trouble; for as many as your cities are your gods, O Judah.” Jeremiah 2:28

None Will Save Us

In NFL quarterback Michael Vick’s book Finally Free, he talks about how all of his pursuits—his idols—led him astray. The money. The fame. The drugs. The rush he received from dogfighting. None of it could save him when he was imprisoned for 18 months after pleading guilty to federal charges in the Bad Newz Kennels dogfighting investigation.

Though Vick’s story is well-known, his story is also my own. I am prone to make gods for myself—to pursue them with all my heart and become consumed and lost in the chase. Never have they saved me in a time of trouble.

Part of following God is living in humility—being self-aware and understanding the depth of our sinful human nature. We are prone to make gods for ourselves. But Jeremiah 2:28 says, they will never save us. Ever.

In your devotion time today, take a step back and humbly look at your life. What is consuming you? What are you pursuing? What has become your god? Now, notice the God of the universe running toward you, seeking you, pursuing you, embracing you. What god of our creation could replace One of infinite love and compassion?

By Stephen Copeland, Sports Spectrum


 

Wednesday: “Can a virgin forget her ornaments, or a bride her attire? Yet my people have forgotten me days without number.” Jeremiah 2:28

‘I Was A Drifter’

In former Indianapolis Colts punter Hunter Smith’s most recent country album titled Story, the final song on the album is a worship ballad called “To Your Love.” In the song, at its crescendo, is my favorite line of the album (though there are a lot of good lines throughout the album): “I was a drifter, but Your love was waiting on every shore I’d find.”

In Jeremiah 2:28, we read that our tendency is to forget God, time and time again. We are prone to drift, just as Smith’s song suggests. I think that Smith’s song has such a deep impact on me because it reminds me of what I do not want to forget. Though I am prone to drift, I don’t want to drift. Though my tendency is to forget God’s blessings in my life, I do not want to spend a day without experiencing His love in some way. I challenge you to listen to the song and allow it to resonate in your spirit and then apply it to your life and your own story.

By Stephen Copeland, Sports Spectrum


Thursday: “…you say, ‘I am innocent; surely his anger has turned from me.’ Behold, I will bring you to judgment for saying, ‘I have not sinned.’” Jeremiah 2:35

Danger In Saying ‘I Have Not Sinned’

The summer of 2015 was a public relations nightmare for the New England Patriots. Whether it was the drama swirling around the DeflateGate scandal, or the investigative ESPN article that highlighted how the Patriots organization had “bent the rules” in the past, or Tony Dungy telling Dan Patrick that Peyton Manning and his offensive coordinator would go out into the corridor at Gillette Stadium and talk about game strategy because they feared the Patriots might be bugging the locker room . . . well, it just wasn’t a good summer for the Patriots organization’s reputation. Overall, no matter what your opinion is on the Patriots, many pundits have suggested that their lack of apologies and lack of ownership for their wrongdoings is one of the things that frustrates other organizations or the general public.

In Jeremiah 2:35, God does not bring up “judgment” because the Israelites sinned. I believe God sees our humanity in its full; in fact He probably expects us to slip and fall more than we expect ourselves to slip and fall. However, God brings up the idea of judgment because the Israelites were victimizing themselves, saying “I have not sinned.”

May we be reminded to be self-aware, to approach the throne room of the Lord knowing that we have sinned, knowing that we are in desperate need of His grace.

By Stephen Copeland, Sports Spectrum


Friday: “How much you go about, changing your way! You shall be put to shame by Egypt as you were put to shame by Assyria.’” Jeremiah 2:36

No Need To Change

The weeks leading up to the first college football game and first NFL game involved a lot of talk about different quarterback battles. Whether it was Ohio State, Alabama, or Georgia in college football or Philadelphia, Houston, or Cleveland in the NFL, many of the storylines heading into the season involved the most important position on the field: the quarterback.

I once interviewed a quarterback who mentioned that it was difficult for him to get in a groove on the field whenever it felt like his head was always on the chopping block. He offered the suggestion that a head coach needs to put all his faith in one quarterback, at least for several weeks, and allow the quarterback to live or die with his team. There was no need to constantly change the lineup, he said, because it only made the offense unstable.

In Jeremiah 2:36, God declares through Jeremiah, “How much you go about, changing your way!” The Israelites were guilty of constantly changing their ways and pursuing false idols when, ironically, God had already led them the right way in His grace. This passage is a reminder that the most important, meaningful thing we can do in this life is follow the Lord, and nothing else.

By Stephen Copeland, Sports Spectrum


 

Weekender: “…and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints.” Ephesians 6:18 (KJV)

Going Long

Do we constantly pay attention or watch with intensity (perseverance and supplication) when praying for others? Let prayer be so real that it moves you to urgently request God’s intervention, blessing and presence in people’s lives so that they can know Him in a deeper and clearer way.