The Watchman – Faithful Father Series

Swords for the Watchman

When you look at the feature image what do you see? A bible, a sword? Perhaps like me you see two swords. One to symbolize the combat faced in the world physically and one to combat the world spiritually. These are the tools of a watchman. These are the tools of a Christian. They are the tools of a faithful father who must guard his family against intrusion from enemies in both a physical world and the spiritual world. They are the tools he can and should use to educate his family for the now and for eternity.

“Be Watchful.” the Bible shows us in 1 Corinthians 16:13-14 and when I attended Harvest Bible Chapel in Hickory I had a chance to gain a deeper understanding of these verses. This monthly seminar that culminated in a retreat (I could not attend unfortunately) was a 6 Sunday study base don James McDonald’s ‘Act Like Men‘ book. It’s also something I think is important to touch upon in our Faithful Father Series as we are charged with protecting our family.

Did you know that one of the first sins man committed was not being watchful? In Genesis 2:15 God placed Adam in the Garden of Eden and Adam’s duty was to work it and keep it. Naturally, we assume the plants and animals but this includes all things in the garden. Including Adam himself and his helper, Eve. You can see where this is going, can’t you?

Adam’s duty was to protect God’s creation and yet he failed. He allowed Eve to eat the only fruit God had forbade them to eat. Not only did he allow but he participated. He was watchful but certainly not in the way God intended. He was not vigilant in his duty.

Being watchful is an exercise in God’s command to be vigilant against the enemy. In the first epistle of Peter we are told frankly (and people say the Bible is a mystery!) that we need to be watchful of the devil and what happens if we do not (1 Peter 5:8-10). Yet it also tells us the rewards we will receive if we are.

Act Like Men

Watchman and Education

Part of being a faithful father is teaching our children about the Trinity and the importance it has in our lives. The reality is that our children are never one hundred percent under our watch. It is our duty to prepare them for this world in more than just education. Painting a rainbows and butterflies picture of the world sets a child up for failure. We have to find a balance between allowing them to experience life and protecting them from harm.  One of the hardest things to do is allow your child to fail but it is also a chance to teach them that failure is an event that happens to everyone except God. It is an event that does not mean the end but is a chance to learn, implement new methods and to try again.

The Bible is full of great failures and then those who failed are given a chance to rebound. Often times when they have put their faith in God, they do. Moses, David, Jonah, Peter, and more. All men we consider great examples of sinners turned to God who did great works. All men who, had they given up would be but a vague mentioning and an almost forgotten memory.

Moses was a watchman of God’s chosen, the Israelite’s. He was charged with keeping them safe and turned to God during the exodus from Egypt. When they faltered God gave Moses the Ten Commandments to give them an understanding of God’s desire for them. David, Jonah and Peter were all men who God wanted to use as watchmen who would protect his people or warn them. Each stumbled and each also ran. They also found out that you cannot hide from God. They ran out of fear of the wrath God could have laid on them. What they really found was that God is forgiving in ways man can not even imagine.

That is something we should be teaching our children isn’t it? Unexpected grace. It is not something we just have in us, it is something learned. Even now I have to remind myself that how my children perceive life is so innocent and that when they do wrong it usually is not out of maleficent desire. They fear disappointing us but when we use it as a chance to show them that even in anger we can find compassion to let that anger flow away we show them that a response of fighting fire with fire is not the sole solution to their problems.

The Watchman has Long Term Goals

We can cover physical protection another day and we will, however the protection of the soul takes precedence. Our bodies are husks when we die and while we will do our best to preserve them until that time comes we need to cement our eternity more. We should teach our children to embrace God in a way that does not invoke fear of Him. The image of a Catholic nun going ham on a kid with a stick comes to mind. That is what we do not want to do.

I can’t give you a 10 step to salvation plan because I’m not God. I’m not even a pastor. I’m a guy who loves God, loves people, and wants men to embrace their heavenly father; then use that to empower their families for long term growth under God’s love and righteousness. My wife often calls me crazy for my long term planning and maybe she is right but one thing I know she appreciates is the time I take to talk to the kids about God and how our faith affects us long term.

Planning is Biblical (Proverbs 19:2, Luke 14:28) and it requires time, thought, patience and desire. The time I take to talk about the Bible with our children is being invested in who they are. It helps me plant long term growth in their lives and prepare them in ways that the world doesn’t teach. We have to teach our household to seek the Lord in all things and especially in times of weakness.

We should not just pour the word of God in to our children and friends but the most important vessel in our home, our wife. If she is the crown of our household then the care we take for our children, the desire to share God with our children, the exercises in devotion to her should be ten-fold that. Children are an amazing blessing from God but the relationship with our spouse is paramount to anything this world offers. A family, like a bridge, is only as strong as its supports and the parents together make a formidable pillar (Luke 11:17).

Prevent Rust

God has given us the tools to protect our family in all the ways that we need to. Becoming lazy and allowing your swords to rust does not just affect you. It affects all of the souls under your roof. Every person you love suffers when you do not provide direction or leadership in your home. Sometimes it will feel like a never ending loop when your children are tattling on one another but loving them in those difficult times is how you make progress in mindfulness. It is a chance to teach them why they won’t become more favorable because of ratting out one another.

Proverbs 27:17 is an often quoted verse about accountability among men. It is a fantastic and simple direction God has given us. It is also hard to follow because in the eight words of that verse we are to open ourselves up to others. Not in just a friendly manner but to reveal our heart, our dreams and our sin. That last bit is what men struggle with. It’s what every person who knows God or wants to know God struggles with. Recrimination is a terrible thing and it is not for a Christian to ridicule a person who has come to them and shared their sins. Instead we seek to help and prevent the continuation of the sin.

Beware of no man more than of yourself; we carry our worst enemies within us.

Charles Spurgeon

Iron sharpening iron means we seek men to help build one another together. This is why Just Hold Fast exists and why I open myself up every time I write here. I want to help, I want to be helped. A rusty blade is more dangerous than a sharp one because it is unwieldy and causes unintended damage. A sharp blade is an instrument of surgical precision allowing the warrior to defend what is his by God’s grace.

We need to be watchful that our walls are not broken and when that happens, because it will, we seek to mend them quickly and then fortify them to prevent it from occurring in the same manner.

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Men to Know: John Mark

Mark

For the most part when I look at who I want to highlight in the Bible I look for uncommon men who provide an uncommon lesson that just makes sense when it clicks. Sometimes, like today I look at the life of a well known man from the Bible. In fact, how about someone who wrote Bible? How amazing is that?! The life of John Mark or as we refer to him, Mark was much like our own. He was young at one time, thought he knew best and…well let’s dive in to see how that worked out for him.

Roots

John Marks beginnings start in Luke’s book Acts 12:12 where we find that he is the son of a woman named Mary. His mother was prominent in the Jerusalem church and it was not uncommon that their home was a meeting place for some of the congregation. We also know from Colossians that he was the cousin to Barnabas, a traveling companion of Paul. So here we have John Mark (JM), the son of a committed family to the church and cousin to the traveling companion of Paul who made it his life’s mission to bring God’s word to the gentiles. He was in some pretty amazing spiritual company you know?

John Mark’s Departure

We find that John Mark was the helper to Barnabas and Paul’s very first journey to spread the message Christ gave them (Acts 13:5). This great journey for JM was not all ups with no downs. Instead, after their visit in Cyprus he left Paul and Barnabas to return to Jerusalem (Acts 13:4-13).  The Bible doesn’t say why or what caused this departure but it was a cleaving point in Paul’s mind. He and Barnabas continued their journey to Antioch, Iconium and to Lystra where Paul was stoned and thought dead but rose when the disciples around him were to pray. The next day and went to Derbe to speak God’s word. This dude’s work ethic puts us all to shame!

A Second Chance

Barnabas is called the “son of encouragement” (Acts 4:36) and he did just that when Paul and he were planning their next mission trip from Jerusalem. He made a case for JM to come along again but Paul was having none of it. They had a “sharp disagreement” and parted ways. Paul took Silas and headed towards Syria. Barnabas took JM and headed across the sea to Cyprus (Acts 15:36-41). We don’t hear much about John Mark after this which leaves us to wonder if God had given him a chance at redeeming himself or if he was a lost cause. Does Paul continue to hold him at arms length after his desertion in Cyprus?

Fifteen Years

God is really good. We step away from Him purposefully and knowingly and yet He is always there for us. What of John Mark? Does he deserve that unchanging grace? Of course he does and if we look at Paul’s letters later in his life, around fifteen years from the sharp disagreement he had with Barnabas, we see a softening of heart in Paul. In Colossians 4:10-11 we see Paul tell the church in Colossae to welcome John Mark and that John Mark has been a comfort to him.

Paul continues to place JM close to his heart as he describes him as a fellow worker in Philemon 1:23-24. His final note to Timothy is one showing his adoration for John Mark as he tells Timothy to “Get Mark…because he is helpful to me in my ministry.” (2 Timothy 4:11).

Big Idea

John Mark’s life is proof that the early hiccups you have in life are not a death sentence to separate you from the glory of God. He is righteous and forgiving. We are so easy to look at our stumbles and become crestfallen over them that we don’t see the work God has prepared for us.

John Mark did two great things and he may have only been aware of one of them. He wrote Bible and that is the easiest one for us to see and discern. Yet if we look back we can see that the separation of Paul and Barnabas did great work because now there were two strong teams out spreading the word to the gentiles.

We know God’s long game, He has put it directly into writing for us. We should be focusing on what is right in front of us because our faith in the work of Christ has cemented our salvation by God’s decree. There is no refund on that glory, there is no loss of that redemption. Instead dust yourself off and do what John Mark did. He seized that chance in life and set the world on fire for God.

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Men to Know: Manasseh

King Manasseh

“I am not good enough.” – everyone at some time.

King Manasseh (2 Kings 21:1-18 and 2 Chronicles 33:1-20) is probably the most reviled if not the most wicked king that Judah ever had in the history of the tribe. This was a man who intentionally did undid all of his father’s (Hezekiah) work in removing idolatry in Judah. He rebuilt tore down altars and he created an Asherah as Ahab had done. He went beyond just that he began building altars to idols within the temple of the Lord. The place that God told David and Solomon would be where his name resided forever. Manasseh did some terrible things that even now my heart tightens at the thought of this but he sacrificed his own son by burning him.

I mean, can you draw the line any clearer that you hate God?

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Breaking the Shackles of Doubt

Shackles of Doubt

We all have doubt. I doubt myself. I doubt the person who says they’ve never doubted anything. I really doubt the person who says they’ve never doubted God. It’s hard not too when we face a difficult time in our life.

Why is this happening? Why does God allow it to happen? What did I do to be put through this?

All questions we ask ourselves in times where we are experiencing difficulties personally, read in the news or from seeing someone we know go through a trial. It is fear and it is anger that drives these doubts.

My biggest fear isn’t death, it isn’t even whether or not God exists. I know I will die one day and I know God is real. My biggest fear is failure. I fear failing God, my soon to be wife, our children and my family. I fear failing at work or failing my friends. That failure does not paralyze me but it affects how I react to things when I do and also affects the choices I make. Can I risk hours, days and months chasing something while allowing my family to suffer? Well no, no I cannot. Or what if I speak harshly to my children or Bethany? It drives my choices or it did.

God has a way of kicking people in the pants when they really need it. I needed it. I got a kick in the pants. When I set out to write for Just Hold Fast (JHF) I thought big things like people would take an interest and I’d be able to get men together, fellowship and maybe set up some things we could do publicly to spread our cause, to spread the gospel. I’ve spent so much time worrying about helping people that I allowed doubt to creep in. No one is interacting on Just Hold Fast, maybe men won’t peel back that armor and expose their pain as easily as I have seen women do. It isn’t an expectation, it is a hope.

Bitter obedience is just disobedience baptized in right action.

A Seed of Doubt

I walked away from God because I didn’t understand what it meant to love Him like I do now. I didn’t understand what made Him so important. I do now, I ‘get it’ so to speak. Since that fire has been ignited it’s all I’ve wanted to do, share and maybe help someone if God puts it in my path. So I started this, I was overly ambitious and thought I could manage to do a devotional every single day. I could but after some time and doubt I stopped. I hadn’t posted anything for over a week. During that time I became bitter, family and friends who I thought were supportive didn’t notice. So I thought, ‘what’s the point if it doesn’t reach anyone because no one spreads the word?’  Still during all of that I soldiered on albeit bitterly as I started writing again.

A Kick in the Pants

So that kick in the rear I said I got? Came from Ryan Huguley, a man I admire because he gives a straightforward message and it is always something I can take home and reflect on. We are going through Philippians currently, it is a time when Paul is imprisoned yet he finds joy as he writes to the church at Philippi. Paul, who once persecuted Christians with a tenacity that was only surpassed with his conversion and the fanatical love for Christ he eventually showed, was ultimately going to be martyred and yet found joy in his work. The moment Ryan said, ‘Bitter obedience is just disobedience baptized in right action.’ my brain exploded. It had been three weeks since I had done anything related to JHF because I had become fed up. I was writing because I had committed myself to a lofty goal. I was performing right action but my heart was out in left field looking at the grass.

Facing Doubt

I had allowed doubt in what I knew God was wanting for me to creep in because of my own hubris. My need to succeed and to fulfill a prideful mission was blocking the way to glorify God. So what do you do about that? You address the doubt and you seek God for healing. He’s the only one that can heal these deeply seeded things. Talking with people can certainly help relieve the pressure but if that is what you put your faith in then you will face issue after issue because a Godly man is not the solution it is a stopgap. That doesn’t mean men of God cannot help, we can guide someone to God but God does the real work, the real healing. We are advocates of Christ. We are disciples destined to help others find Him. So I had to face that doubt, pray a lot and make sure that I would continue on this path regardless of some tangible reward that is ultimately insufficient for the needs of my soul, of any soul.

Three Verses for Doubt

God provides us everything we need even though we may not need it right then but we may need in the future. So what does the Bible say that can help us combat doubt? It says some very clarifying things that helped me. I pray they help you as well.

1) Listen to the word of God like you have never listened to it before. In Romans 10:17 it says ‘Faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ’ (ESV). Put yourself in the path of someone who speaks the word of God in their life, a pastor, a deacon, someone from Church. Don’t allow yourself to stew and become bitter towards God.

2) Read the word of God like you have never read it before. In 2 Timothy 3:16-17 we are told plainly that all scripture is God’s word and we are also told what it is good for (everything). Correction and reproof are key because when we wander off the path and doubt we definitely need correction.

3) Speak the word of God like you have never spoken it before. When Christ was in the desert being tempted by the devil (Luke 4:1-13) it was in a way His right of passage. Immediately after this Jesus began his ministry and began the work that God set into motion after the Fall. During this temptation Jesus consistently defended against the devil by speaking against him using the word of God as his sword. He truly embodied having the whole armor of God (Ephesians 16:10-18).

I don’t know how much it will help exposing myself like this, sharing my doubt. I’m in a place where I don’t care if it affects 100 people or 1 person. God wants me to share myself and I am content with that. I know I will struggle and fail. I am imperfect but if I start to doubt I know I have the wisdom and experience to help myself. If God is willing, maybe I can help others too.

In Christ – Scott

Teaching Forgiveness

Teaching Forgiveness

Bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. – Colossians 3:13

Kids ask the darnedest things. Sometimes I don’t even know how to answer them in a kid like manner. I was talking to Bethany about that on the way home from a coffee run to Dunkin’ Donuts. While we were driving Elijah asks out of the blue, “Scott, Why did they kill Jesus?” He is deep like that. The death of Christ was terrible and every martyr since has died because people fear the truth and have lived a life of lies. It is one of many reasons that Jesus was slain. So how do you answer that for a child who is only 3 but asks about God and loves God in the way only children can? How do you go about teaching forgiveness in a way that glorifies God without losing the message that Jesus came to give?

Don’t be a Pharisee. You tell them the truth and you live it. You go about teaching forgiveness as Christ does. I struggle with how to answer some of his questions. Not out of lack of knowledge but in how to share it in a way he can comprehend but I think I did alright. He is at that stage where lying is commonplace unfortunately. So why not use that? I told him that people killed Jesus because they were strong and had lots of power . They gained that power by lying about God’s word and using it to make people believe something they couldn’t live themselves. I would be remiss to admit there was an ulterior motive there to teach him not to lie.

I went on to tell him how lying hurts people and that Jesus was killed out of fear. Fear that all the things those powerful people had won falsely would be taken from them. Jesus was teaching us to love one another above all things because God had sent Him out of love to save us. Which led to another question, “Did Jesus love the soldiers who kilt him?” This kid…

He did (Luke 23:34), He asked for their forgiveness even while they slew Him. I still saw no reason to not tell him that. I explained to him that Jesus forgave them for hurting Him, for not knowing what they were doing. Jesus came to save the world, not the Jews, not the believers, everyone (1 John 2:2). We in many ways teach this kind of forgiveness to our kids, or we should. Children are ignorant to the world, many of the things they do and we teach them by forgiving them and telling them why it was wrong.

We have no desire to brag, teaching forgiveness is a cornerstone of rearing Christian children. My children know about the forgiveness of the prodigal son, they know about the parable of the unforgiving servant but most importantly we make sure they know about the forgiveness of Christ.

Forgive like Jesus

Forgive like Jesus

Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” – Luke 23:34

This is literally the saddest time in the Bible for me. Christ is unjustly upon a wooden cross between two criminals and at His feet are men gambling for His clothing. These soldiers who unbeknownst to them were fulfilling a prophecy in the Bible (Psalm 22:18). Still Jesus did something I would find hard to do. He asked God to forgive them knowing that they would do this to Him. That is just hard to accept, forgiving those that are in the process of killing you. I can’t find it in my heart to justify the grace they are given because I’m human. Jesus is a better man than me because my nature is to seek revenge even if I know I should not.

Forgive Ignorance

Jesus is forgiving the soldiers, the pharisees, every single person who is involved with the persecution, imprisonment and active participation of His death. Not just for those actions but for their unbelief that He is the Son of God. They were killing the one person who could offer them salvation and they did not even know it. That is why we really do need to be like Jesus when we forgive people who say things and don’t realize it hurts us. This happens fairly often for me on a personal level because I love my kids so much, they who their biological daddy is and sometimes they say things that hurt because they don’t know how much I am dad. I know they love me, I know that if they get hurt and they cry for dad it isn’t me but I pick them up, hold them closely and comfort them. That happens to us all, doesn’t it? People are unaware of who we are or our circumstances current or past. Our seasons are different but we should not lash out in anger. Instead, forgive like Jesus and if you need to, ask them to not joke about whatever was said or done that caused that hurt to flare up.

Freedom in Forgiveness

What do anger, fear and heartache all have in common? Weight. Burden (Psalm 38:4). When you are angry at someone you may feel fine in the moment but after it is passed and it begins seething deep in your soul it becomes dead weight and starts weighing on you. Living a life of fear is suppression of who you truly are. Heartaches are traumatic and hit like a truck with no brakes. Each one of these things evolve after whatever catalyst caused them. They ultimately become burdensome on your soul. God doesn’t want that. Jesus showed us how to combat that. The spirit gives us the strength to win that fight.

If you’ve been saved you know the feeling of having the burden of sin lifted. It is vibrant and enriching, you are no longer condemn to a eternity separated from our Father. If you haven’t made that step in life where you can accept Jesus for the fullness of what He is I urge you to take some time and learn about the burdens He took on Himself so that we may have that chance of redemption. He took the spiritual bullet for us all and endured beatings and pain reserved for the most harmful criminals. His crime was telling the truth of God instead of spreading the lie of man (Matthew 15:14). Yet we want to hold on to things of tangible value because we have the terrible habit of putting value in physical objects and not in Him. When we learn to let go of all of this stuff that we can’t even take with us it is completely liberating.

Final Thoughts

What Christ did is nothing short of extraordinary. He endured hurt, anger, pain, betrayal, heartache, abuse, disrespect and so much more. All of those things he endured in about 3 1/2 years of ministry until He was crucified for it. Even while they were killing Him, Jesus never once complained, fought back or cursed them. Instead He continued shouldering His burden and then He forgave them for not knowing the true transgression they were committing. We cannot forgive like Jesus unless we learn to do the same. He forgave for so much more than some offensive words or someone speaking about a subject we find to not be our cup of tea. Try it, give it over to Him and you’ll feel lighter, you’ll live happier.

Don’t Seek Revenge

Revenge

Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. – 1 Peter 3:9

Revenge is something we all struggle with because our natural instinct is to retaliate against that which causes us loss of some kind. Whether it is loss of life, property, body parts etc. The idea of revenge in Christianity has been discussed and some say there is contradiction because of Mosaic Law (Exodus 21:23-25) and what Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:38-39) where Christ urges us to turn the other cheek. How can Mosaic Law which was defined by God and given to Moses to communicate come in to contradiction with the Son of God?

Revenge in the Old Testament

There is a misunderstanding of the terms of the Mosaic Law. It was given as a guiding point in that justice when rendered should be fair and equitable. There were times in ancient Israel and there are times now where death is deemed as the right action by law. There is no instance of the law being used exactly as it is said, no hand was cut off from someone because they caused another person to lose their hand. Instead it was intended for the lawmakers to allow compensation for those lost things. We see this in modern legal systems as a civil case usually. If something happened that caused a person to lose their foot then the owner of the business, perpetrator of the offense etc. would have to pay the person compensation. That is what the purpose of the law in the Old Testament was for and is still usable today.

Jesus on Revenge

Peter makes use of the knowledge that he gained being a direct student to Christ. This is not the only OT passage he addresses. Still he urges us to follow what Christ spoke of during His sermon on the mount (Matthew 5:38-42). He speaks plainly that we should not hurt someone in return for hurting us or to insult them because we were insulted. That’s a tough pill to swallow for anyone. As men, the leaders of our homes we are always ready to defend our loved ones and ourselves by any means necessary. That often manifests itself in retaliation of equal or more brutal forms. Martin Luther King Jr. said it well (he is not the first just his quote is being used), “The old law of an eye for an eye leaves everybody blind.” and he is right.

Final Thoughts

Our need for justice is well documented even in the Bible when you consider Gideon’s bloodthirsty actions of killing a tower full of men because they denied him bread. He was doing God’s work pursuing Zebah and Zalmunna but God did not call him to kill those men (Judges 8:1-17). Should Gideon have done that? It is not for me to judge that. Gideon saw but a portion of the picture in humanities history whereas God sees it all. He does not shy away from punishment but He is a fair judge who does punish equal to the crime. He is also the only one who knows how much more work forgiveness can do instead of punishment.

I mean look at what God chose to do. He chose to give His son up for man’s salvation. We can choose to forgive. We have the right to self-defense but the words of a person should not break your bond with Christ. It should strengthen it. If someone has said something cruel to your wife, your children and even you forgive them and put it in God’s hands. Payback just causes more suffering. Cut it to the quick and pray for them instead. As a Christian you know the blessings given to you in forgiveness instead of condemnation. Teach that to your family and show them that holding fast to their faith will see them through. Revenge has a sweet taste at first but the aftertaste is sour and bitter.

God’s Plan of Restoration

God's Restoration

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” – Matthew 28:19-20

We start this devotional with the great commission. What has happened is that Jesus has died, taken humanities sin with Him in to death and then in His resurrection has conquered death. He then spent forty days (Acts 1:3-5) with them preparing the disciples for His departure. It is in this time that Jesus laid down his plans and revealed to the disciples God’s plan of restoration for all people. It is where the separation of Jews and Gentiles is wiped away by the words of God’s Son. Salvation was intended for all peoples since God’s plan began with Adam and Eve and we have all sprung forth from them.

Our Responsibility for Restoration

We do have a duty as Christians in the restoration of humanity. Our Testimony helps fulfill that duty as we are obeying the Great Commission. Every time that we allow our distaste for anyone not Christian to take over it sends the message that Christ is not for them. It sends the message that Christians are an elite group unwilling to listen to a broken heart. And that is not what we are, it si not who we are. We are just as broken as they are, our iniquity is just different. When a man of the faith wanders and it wrecks his family because of his sin it sends a terrible message. Compounding that by ostracizing that man propagates that elitist image. Men, reach out to him and offer the strength of faith through Christ for this brother that has went to the wayside.

Our duty for restoration is not limited to Christians but to the lost as well. At Harvest Bible Chapel Hickory we are taking a class in Christology and Adam Ashoff walked us through a part of Ezekiel that makes that very very clear (Ezekiel 33:1-9) this comes from the Old Testament (OT) and then we have Christ in the New Testament (NT) giving the Great Commission that reiterates the total inclusion of every person in God’s plan. It is really amazing to see how the OT and NT were so well laid by God. We as the Watchmen are duty-filled to tell the people and the lost.

It may be hard to do that given whatever the sin may be. I admit I would have a hard time reaching out to someone who had hurt a child or raped a woman. Those things are my weakness in being forgiving but I pray that God gives em the strength to be like His Son if I am ever faced with those realities. Ultimately our responsibility for restoration lies in our testimony of who God is, what God can do, why Jesus died for us and how we can find redemption in that shed blood so that our salvation is secure.

Final Thoughts

God has given us an invitation to be part of His plan. His work of restoration for humanity has not ended and will not end until the Rapture. If the Father’s work, the one who has given everything to redeem us, does not end with Christ’s resurrection then why should our work end with our salvation? Our salvation is our resurrection, our life beginning and we know this because Ephesians 2 explains it with perfect clarity that we have been dead spiritually. Our story ends when we are with the Lord and are in eternity with him. That is the true plan of God’s restoration of humanity.

The Consequences of Sin

Consequences of Sin

To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat from it,’ “Cursed is the ground because of you;
    through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life. – Genesis 3:17

Prior to the Fall man lived in harmony with God. So much so that we had direct communion with Him. That’s amazing isn’t it? Speaking directly with the Creator. No mediator is how God intended our relationship with Him because of all animals man was given the ability to speak and think on a level higher than any other creation. Given that God is omniscient can you see how sad it would be to know your creation would fall from grace and turn it’s back upon You. That their actions would have dire consequences. That You would give Your own son to adopt multitudes more through His bloodshed.

We see some of that with our children don’t we? These children are created from us and they grow and become independent. They will sometimes test boundaries we put them within and other times they will flat out ignore them. As parents we want our children to love us eternally and to always follow the rules because we have been children, we know the consequences of our actions and the potential punishment that comes with ignoring the rules. We also set those rules to keep them safe. Not just from others but from themselves. Still, what kind of joy is it to have a child that does not do for themselves and think for themselves. I can build a robot if I want something entirely submissive to my will. Our children choose to obey because they love us, because it suits their wants or because they understand the wisdom of our boundaries. We have to be okay with the times that they don’t agree with them as well.

What are the Consequences of Sin?

It’s easy to think that our sin is minor. Something no one will know or care about as long as we are good at keeping it hidden. The sins we commit hurt us, look at the unfortunate circumstance of Uzzah from 2 Samuel 6:1-7, despite his good intentions he touched the Ark of the Covenant and was killed immediately. David was angry at God for that but the death of Uzzah happened to be a mixture of David’s fault since he ignored God’s commands on how the Ark was to be moved and Uzzah’s disobedience of touching the Ark. This includes a second of several consequences of sin, David sinned by ignoring God’s instructions but because of that sin the Ark was not carried properly and when the oxen stumbled Uzzah sinned by touching the Ark to steady it. Uzzah paid the consequences of sin by death. Sin hurts you and it hurts others.

Sin brings spiritual consequences with it as well. We become separated from God when not following His laws and it can be a slippery slope. Sin begets sin, first it starts with a wandering eye and then flirting and oftentimes coveting and ultimately adultery. For the believer we have the Holy Spirit there to reign us back in and convict us of our transgressions (John 16:7-8) but for the unbeliever they will need help and that my friends is the good news…

Final Thoughts

Sin does not have to mean death. Sin does not have to mean eternal separation from God. It can be those things but it can also be the catalyst that shows you how broken you are. The consequences of sin can be nullified by the salvation Jesus offered us when He willingly came to earth and was slain as the lamb only to defeat death like the lion of Judah that He is. God has done all the work for us to rise back to grace. We have to choose it. He chases us without remorse.

Sometimes we have to draw a line in the sand about things and for me, it’s time I do that. If you sin and proclaim that you have salvation upon your heart then you should be convicted by the Holy Spirit to repent. If you don’t then you should take a step back and consider if you have been redeemed. Jesus can save us but it takes a willing heart, an intentional mind and a soul on fire for God. Asking forgiveness just to avoid Hell doesn’t secure our place, it takes faith, it takes grit and a broken heart only Christ can mend.

What Does God Mean to You?

What Does God Mean to You

When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. – Genesis 3:6

Last time I asked ‘Who is God to You?‘ but now I am asking you, and myself, ‘What Does God Mean to You?’ they really are different questions. One inquires in to the title we give God which are many because He is everything.  Today though we ask what does He mean to us ultimately. Genesis is an interesting book because it shows us several things that are important to our existence and to our relationship with God as it is now. Humanity was pulled in to sin because we have a weakness for thinking that the grass is greener on the other side. I’ve heard Christians say that woman caused man to fall from grace because she ate of the fruit first, bluntly put, that is hogwash. Adam was with her and he was from his creation, charged with leading his wife and protecting her from harm. That does not mean just physically but spiritually. Adam failed to do that, sin came by man’s inability to follow God’s command. The sin of eating the fruit is a byproduct of Adam’s failure which is why you’ll see referenced in 1 Corinthians 15:21 that death came through man, not woman. To give that some support Romans 6:23 tells us what caused man to be yoked with death, sin. Now, we have these creatures that God created who have turned from Him. What does God mean to them?

What Does God Mean to the World

God means hope. God means love. Great and powerful things but what does God mean that is greater than both? Redemption. Even though God was angry with Adam and Eve, He did not kill them. Instead he sent them from the Garden of Eden and warned them that life would be extremely difficult for them compared to how they had lived before. I find it compelling to point out that Jesus promised us hardships as well (John 16:33). It’s like man just doesn’t get it. We are a stubborn and spoiled lot. Basically poking God in the eye by disobeying and yet He gives us his son for our redemption and we slay Him. Yet He turns the other cheek waiting for us to cause Him strife again and is waiting to forgive us, again. It’s like that with my kids some days, they just don’t want to listen. So I correct them and I correct them again but I still love them either way. God is just like that but better because He provided a path to allow us to find His grace once more so that we can walk beside Him once again. God is redemption, the only redemption you can use and the only redemption you need. That is what God means to the world.

Final Thoughts

God is the world’s only chance at redemption. That means that God is salvation to you, to me, anyone. While we are free to receive the holy spirit within us we must make a commitment to Him. It’s simple, in order to have been forgiven you must accept the truth of the gospel of Christ. It is only by Him that we can find redemption and have salvation. So, what does God mean to me? Everything.

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