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.

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.

Daily Devotional – Our Salvation

God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. – John 3:16

God knows the meaning of getting involved. He’s been involved with everything that has happened because he created earth, it’s waters, animals, plants and us. It is a hard idea to come to terms with for many people. This being who is all powerful, all knowing and always present has created us and knows all of history. He knew that Eve would disobey and that Adam would fall with her. As a parent we know that our children must fail and they must succeed on their own. What is the point of having children and not understanding the spontaneity they provide? An army of robots is not enjoyable. Knowing we would fail miserably God gave us the chance to earn our salvation. Have you ever allowed your child to accomplish something difficult because you knew they could do it with effort? That look on their face was magical when they found success. God wants that when it comes to our salvation.

God’s Involvement

Think about this for a moment. You have an employee who is always on time and always contributing to a meeting or email thread. They excel at their job and they look for ways to improve your business. That employee is fully involved in your company culture. They see that company as their work, family and their own business. God is like this but in so many ways more! He is there when you graduate Pre-K, elementary, middle, high school and college. He wants you to succeed in life and he is there when you’re having babies or burying loved ones. When you find joy over a child’s first steps or cry when a pet dies. He is fully involved in your life, ever detail he is aware (Hebrews 4:13). Our best and worst times are all accounted for. He knows when we succeed and celebrates that. He knows when we fail and is there to help us rise again. No employee is that dedicated.

Our Salvation = Getting Involved

If Jesus had never came where would we be? What if he had but he did not get involved with humanities struggles against the enemy? Thank God that did not happen. Instead He got involved with us and understood humanity from the human form. He died a physical death that He did not deserve and took with Him all of the sin that man had committed and would commit. We owe Him to get involved with others. Jesus didn’t shun the blind he healed them. He did not run from lepers and death. He confronted every difficulty and no matter how difficult it may have been he stayed involved and bled for our salvation. If you are a parent who is reading this, wouldn’t you do that for your kids? For any child? God isn’t selfish about who Jesus died for, He adopted all of us. We are eternally His children no matter our age, no matter our season.

Final Thoughts

Jesus paid a price we couldn’t ever come up with. Knowing that, knowing that it was God’s only Son, it isn’t hard to see how important our salvation is to God. Before Jesus man was damned. Didn’t matter who you were. God wanted to make us His once more but still give us the freedom of choice that He imbued in us. We, myself included since I’m just as guilty, have a tendency to not get involved with others who are hurting. It’s a fine situation that sometimes you’re going to stumble at, even with good intentions. Obviously forcing yourself in to someone’s life is not what I am talking about but it happens! If you know someone is hurting, reach out continually. Love on them even if they will only allow so from a distance. God works on hearts all the time and you never know when God is going to use your testimony to spark that fire in a dead heart.

Knowing all of this, how can you not get involved? It is impossible to not want to be.

Daily Devotional – Light in the Darkness

Light in the Darkness

For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ. – 2 Corinthians 4:6

When talking about Spiritual Fitness there is the need to exercise not your body but your faith. We do that by prayer, worship, devotionals and more importantly service to others. As men of families we are given the precious duty of guiding our family through darkness and troubles. In those times we must keep our family’s gaze on God. This is why service is so important to any Christian and certainly should be a focus for the husband who has a family looking up to him.

If you are a single mother reading this, I’m sorry that you are in that position and I will pray about that but this can be applied to you! As the head of house you are charged with caring for the way your children see God. You have the ability to set the tone that your home experiences. There is a reason the saying, “If Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.” exists and that is it.

As a couple, as parents you mutually set the tone for your home. That means being a team. A wife is not a bondmaid but a participant. There is a great difference and for an example of this you can see it in this message from Pastor Kurtis Massey at Harvest Bible Chapel of Hickory

Fill the Darkness

While spiritual fitness will help prepare you for an assault by the enemy it does something else. When we accept Jesus a void is filled immediately. That is the light of the Holy Spirit expanding in you and taking that spiritually dead heart and filling it with life. That’s where the change happens and when we start speaking life because that light, the joy of the Lord fills us. As we become spiritually fit we make more room for that light to expand in us. It is much like losing weight in the sense that you are shedding off fat and that fat leaves space in your physical body where it used to reside. Light fills that darkness and seeks total eradication.

Final Thoughts

God yearns for a relationship with us but he will not force us in to that. What reward is there in forced submission? Sure you have these souls who must bow to your whim but there is a joy in the willing worship of your children. As parents we see that when our kids look up to us in that wide-eyed wonder and listen to us intently as we converse with them. Some of the most awesome conversations I have are with a six-year old and a three-year old. God wants that with us! We have to make room for it though because only God can bring light in to our hearts. We must make an intentional effort to not only strengthen our relationship with God but to have those awesome conversations with our wives, our children, our family. Don’t just listen to them but hear what they need because if you aren’t making time for God and helping your family make time for God by serving them then no one in your house is growing spiritually. That will cause more strife than if we just take the time that we might think is inconvenient and set it aside purposefully for God.

Daily Devotional – Grow in Faith

Grow

Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. – 1 Timothy 4:15

If God has truly made an impact in your life because you have truthfully made the commitment to trust Jesus Christ as your savior then you will grow. To give the reference verse some back story, Paul is writing to Timothy whom he asked to go to the church in Ephesus because it was a mess. A mess because while they loved God they had forgotten how much God loved them. They were a church on autopilot. In Revelations 2:1-4 Jesus tells them directly that while they profess in faith and show a walk in faith for anyone to see they do not grow in faith because they have left their first love by putting their devotion in to the church and not the people of the church.

Faltering in the First Love

Remember the butterflies that you had when you accepted Jesus for what He is? Son of God, the Lion, the Lamb and more. I would be lying if I said that it did not wax and wane for me. I’m human and broken. Sometimes I don’t like what God is putting in front of me, but I still love Him. Those times when I am listening to the enemy and not to God is when that First Love falters. Maybe it is getting caught up in the trappings of portraying what a Christian should be like the church at Ephesus was. Their biggest transgression was forgetting how much Christ loved everyone, including the unbelievers. When we as a church, I say that meaning the people of God, attack unbelievers by slander, action or denial of even acknowledging their existence we are showing we have let our First Love go. How can we grow in Christ when we are doing exactly the opposite of what Christ did?

How to Grow our First Love

To have your First Love is to be like Christ. One way to be like Jesus it is to serve others. He did this exceptionally well, perfectly actually. Why did he come to Earth and die? In service to us so that we may find a path to Heaven. When we lose that love we lose our desire to serve others including the lost, and even our brother and sisters in Christ. God has breathed words in to the Bible, in to our hearts and it will help us combat losing our love. We need to do everything we can for God. He has done enough for us. We grow our love by doing just that, loving others and not loving what we think the church represents.

Instead of calling people freaks or perverts or assuming they are terrorists because their faith is different (Ephesians 4:29), we should be trying to understand why they feel the way they do and reaching out to them in love as Jesus did. When we reach out in anger we condemn them in a way Christ never intended. As Christians we understand what judgment is because all will be judged. It is not the act of judgment, which is the formation of an opinion, that is a problem. It is how we express that judgment that is the problem. If we express that opinion in anger or fear then what have we done? We have taken away from how we should present ourselves as Christians. We have robbed ourselves and others of that First Love.

Final Thoughts

To nurture our first love we must nurture our faith. It is a synergy that is necessary for us to grow. Proverbs 3:5 tells us to trust in the Lord and to not lean on our own understanding of things. Our understanding is often flawed with emotions of anger, fear etc. These things are where we are following our heart and not our faith. Worship God with all of your being, Pray to Him all the time, Serve others in everything that you do, Give all that you can muster to Him and then dig deeper and give more of yourself. There is no depth to which we can go that God doesn’t get. When we think that God just won’t understand we are wrong. He is God and He knew us before we were born and will know us long after we are gone. Plan seeds of faith, goodwill and love and water them to grow. Ignore the seeds of doubt the enemy tries to sow in your field of works.

Daily Devotional – Wonderful Love

Wonderful Love

His love endures forever. – Psalm 136

There is no love like the kind that God gives to you. Even the love of a spouse or child does not match it. That does not mean that the love we get from those we walk in life with is bad, just that it is different. Spouses and children have a tendency to withhold their loving feelings while God does not. We may think that God is so strict that we can not enjoy. This turns people away from God because they think that their life will become dull and without joy. The reality is that God’s love brings joy. Not only does it bring joy it brings comfort. The love we get from God is limitless whereas the potential of another human to stop loving someone is quite likely.

Why Does He Love Me?

It’s a good question, think about it a moment. We are born in to sin because we are from Adam and for that we must die (1 Corinthians 15:22). It is not that we are paying for the sins of the first man but that we would sin in the same manner given the chance. There was only one commandment given in the garden. We could not obey even that. I face this with my kids all the time, if I say not to do something, they generally do it because they are willful and independent even at so young an age! It can be extremely frustrating to see your children blatantly disobey you but you continue to love them despite their desire to not listen. Now, put yourself in the position of the child and look at God for the great Father that He is. Do you see why he has wonderful love for us? He sacrificed the only Son that He claims as His for everyone of us. We are the adopted Children of God in fact Paul tells us this in his Epistle to the Ephesians. In Ephesians 1:1-10 we are told directly that we were chosen to be holy and blameless in Him before creation. Our adoption through Christ is the only thing that secures that after the fall. God loves us because He created us so that He could love us! How awesome is that? We create children because we want to love them and so God has done the same.

What is meant by ‘Wonderful Love’?

Wonderful means to inspire delight or pleasure in something. God takes great pleasure in welcoming His children home. He takes great delight in the joy they get from His presence. He is a perfect Father who gives without reservation. Even now I still get jealous of my time or my resources because I am not perfection. I love my children and I take great joy in coming home and being stampeded with hugs from my boy and girl. I enjoy the chance to hold my loved ones close and kiss their brow. That love is not like the love God showers on us because even when we go astray He does not stop loving us. Sometimes it can be hard to show that love to your kids when their willfulness is directly against your desires for them. That does not mean you do not love them but it does mean that it makes it harder to give it so freely, God doesn’t have that hangup. Please, be honest with yourself, I am being honest here and it is not easy to shower our children with wonderful love sometimes. I would love it if I didn’t fail there but I do and I openly admit that. I pray that I do better every day because Bethany and the children are one of the best things I have been blessed with in life.

Final Thoughts

Those that do not know God are missing out on how amazing He is. Loving God and being a slave to Jesus is not dull or boring. In fact it is the greatest delight. Men have danced in joy of the Lord since the beginning of creation. We have sang and had wine and ate and celebrated in many ways with the Lord on our tongue and the Holy Spirit in our heart. Having God’s love is not the end of your fun times. It is the beginning. God only desires us to act responsibly. We fail to do that by not drinking but getting drunk to the point where our nature becomes sinful. We eat gluttonously to the point where we become defensive over food. We dance in ways that are sexualized and those dances are not filled with God’s intention. These are the things that any earthly parent would be upset about and withhold that wonderful love because there is no delight and pleasure in seeing your children act that way. God forgives that without a second thought if we truly mean it when we ask for His grace. That is the real meaning of Wonderful Love.

Daily Devotional: Stop the Doubt

Doubt

Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” – Genesis 3:1

There was no doubt before the fall of man. He was in God’s image and he was pure. The trust between God and man at that time was unquestionable. Yet God also foresaw what would happen and warned Adam and Eve that obedience to Him was paramount. Yet the serpent was able to cause Eve to second guess God’s command. Man had lost his trust in God because he doubted the power that God wields over him, even when it was God who created him. Every time man has sinned it is because he doubted God.

Defining Doubt

Doubt is a feeling of uncertainty or a lack of conviction. Both have separate consequences. When I am uncertain of things it is often a lack of confidence in myself. This I think opens us up to not only failure but sin. We are uncertain of ourselves and if our conviction is lacking then we doubt God. Doubting God alone is a sin, He is Creator and worthy of all of our reverence. Luke 24:38 asks us, why are we troubled, and why do doubts arise in our hearts? I think that it is two-fold, Satan is whispering to us but also our desire to self-fulfill our destiny and not place it in His hands.

Overcoming Doubt

To overcome doubt I think that we need to understand that it is not a lack of belief in Jesus but more a state of limbo. Having doubts does not mean you have turned your back on Christianity which it may feel like. How we overcome this is by addressing it directly. If you find yourself wavering in some manner, that is doubt creeping in. Don’t take the “I guess it’s okay to doubt” or “I’ll work it out later” road. Make strategic war with it. Eradicate it by praying and do as Jesus did. Tell Satan take a hike and don’t come back no more.

Final Thoughts

Granted saying how to overcome doubt is easier said than done but Jesus told us that if we do not doubt in our hearts and believe in what we say (such as telling Satan to be gone) then it will come to pass. Jesus used the word of God as a weapon to send Satan away. We can too because in His death we have been empowered against the enemy. Do not let that leave your mind. Satan fears you and that is why he tries to subvert you. He cannot defeat you but he can make you a bad example. Stop the doubt. Toss Satan out.

Cultivating a Living Testimony

Living Testimony

Living Testimony, we hear that all the time. At one point I wondered about the significance of those two words. They seem just two words that define themselves. You are alive and a testimony is a sworn statement. You have all you need for a living testimony. For a Christian is is much more than that because it is our proof of God’s change. It is how we show the world that our God is real, awesome and loves us no matter the circumstance. It is a two worded phrase that has a personal meaning and a public one. Let’s talk about the personal first.

Living

Ephesians 2:1-6 tells us how we have been dead in our sins and made alive in Christ. This is intensely personal because without Jesus we would be dead to our Father. Sure, we have seen someone say “You’re dead to me” in a movie and even cruel people have said it in life but to be permanently separated from your Father? It’s terrifying. It’s something we all live with until we have conviction to change. It doesn’t matter if you grew up in church, are a good person but not religious or even a murderer, when you become convicted there is a movement in you. The Holy Spirit can change the heart of men in an instant but, you have to want it. God provides our salvation, Jesus opened the way with his death and the Holy Spirit guides you to the Father when you are ready to live. Your salvation is secure in Christ once you do believe. But to be living…that is the change that drives you to chase God every day. His warmth, his love, his gloriously blinding face. Living things need light, Jesus is the light of the world but you still have to go to him for that life. Ultimately the term living for a Christian is their life in Christ and not the scientific definition we use to describe something that is living or not. (Romans 6:23)

Testimony

[su_pullquote align=”right”]…your testimony does not stop at your salvation but is the beginning…[/su_pullquote]

Testimony is your witness of God’s movement in your life. I know I fail at being a witness sometimes, it’s okay because I am not perfect, but I should do better. We should ask ourselves if our testimony is the public or outward reflection we want people to think when they think of a Christian. Testimony is not just about how you came back to God but should include your daily work. Our seasons may be joyous or they may be downtrodden but if our testimony is putting everything through Jesus then what have we to fear? Nothing. As Christians we should be helping those less fortunate so that we are a witness for Christ. Helping that homeless man get food is sharing your testimony and a chance to share more. Spending your evening with your significant other doing devotionals together is a great example of how you mutually share your testimony. If Paul can share his testimony in front of a king while facing potential death then we can surely share ours by giving someone a sandwich.

Living Testimony

I won’t ever claim that I am a better person, Christian or otherwise, than anyone else so this is my personal definition of living testimony. Your living testimony is the personal knowledge that Jesus Christ is the son of God who was slain so that we may be brought out of the death (eternal separation from God) that sin guarantees us. It is the public desire that we share our life changing story with others not only in our conviction to change, our return to God-first living but in our daily interactions with every child of God be they Christian or not. If a true change has come over you then it doesn’t matter so much in how you got to where you are but in how God is putting you on to a path to touching people and being a disciple of his grace and unyielding love.

Cultivating a Living Testimony

Defining what we believe is a living testimony is (as G.I. Joe said) only half the battle. How can we cultivate this testimony to be something we do every day? The easiest and also hardest idea when you make this commitment to share your testimony daily is mindfulness. It is so easy to forget and wander. Joseph and Daniel both were dream interpreters but they were also mindful In many instances where they were giving testimony before foreign kings by interpreting dreams (Daniel 2:19-28) and ensuring God was given the glory and not themselves.

I don’t know about you but I want that. I want God to have everything because once we give it all and are no longer encumbered by our own doubts and fears we open ourselves up to be the vessel he intended us to be. I use to and sometimes still do want to control every moving part of a situation and it just isn’t possible. Every day you cultivate a living testimony and there are so many ways you can do that.

I think that if we remember that your testimony doesn’t stop at your salvation but is the beginning and that to grow that testimony we need to chase God and have hunger for his word. Pray constantly and nurture others. Obey God’s truth and be mindful. If we remember those things then we know that we are giving God a great living testimony and that when our light fades and we are taken home then we have assurance that he will tell us that we have made him proud. We have pleased our Father.

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