Steadfast Provider – Rock in the Storm – Faithful Father Series

Steadfast Provider

As a father we provide for our children in many ways. It is east to think, ‘Well they have a roof over their head, food in their belly, and clothes on their bodies. I’m doing alright.’ and to a certain extent that is true but the logic is flawed. We provide more than tangible things for our children and must do so in a steadfast manner. Consider Matthew 7:9-11 where Jesus is speaking about how a father would not callously mistreat his children. A child asking for bread would get such, and not a stone in its place! Jesus confronts the iniquity of man directly in Matthew 7:11 where he is speaking to his following including the apostles and calls them evil, he does not mean this harshly but that in comparison to the perfection of the Father, man is evil. Yet he is not berating them but cautioning them out of love. Telling them that even an evil man knows how to do good  for his children because he has the child’s best interest at heart sometimes at least. Finally Jesus compares this action to God and how we should be like him giving in abundance to our children in a loving manner and not one done in anger.

The Christian who is steadfast, unmovable in the Word, goes forward to a discharge of his known duties, no matter what his feelings may be.

C.E. Orr

Jesus showed us that God wants us to be givers, not takers. This is important because a steadfast provider is not one that gives to get something in return. They give freely, with no expectation or reward. Christ laid down his live, giving an ultimate sacrifice so that humanity could take the chance to redeem through salvation and living as Jesus did. In 1 Timothy 5:8 Paul is writing to Timothy about his ministry at the church in Ephesus and cautions the church about the treatment of their relatives especially household members. Paul states it outright and it is true, to not provide for your relatives, especially members in your home is a blatant denial of the faith you profess. Paul goes on to say that this violation of duty is worse than an unbeliever of Christ, and I agree!

Being a parent is a lot of work. I’ve come to know this over the time that I met my wife and her children. It’s been four years and I have had ups and downs learning to be a father and that the world is not black and white but full of many gray areas. It is our duty to educate our children about these things in life so that they are not easily swayed by duplicitous individuals. The call for steadfastness does go beyond provisions and lessons you actively teach because children are super observant. How many times have you used a bad habit and your children have emulated it? Yeah, me too. It does happen and so it is clear that how you act in times of difficulty also teaches them good and bad behaviors. Living as Christ did is hard and does require a steadfast will to continue on in the face of adversity.

I posted recently about spending a month or more in prayer because I was trying to create a better connection with God. Not because I was afraid that God was not listening or had forgotten about me. It was because I wanted my kids to understand several important things about prayer. First, prayer is nothing you should be embarrassed about. Second, prayer works, it is that simple. Next, prayer can be done any where, any time. Last, and most importantly, it provides a direct communication to God which is so very key to being a Christian. My family has reaped the rewards of that, my children make no fuss about praying at a restaurant and do so loudly…I am sure some patrons would say too loudly but hey, my kids love Jesus and that is what matters. They pray at night and we read stories from the Bible every night.

I don’t always feel like doing those things, praying, reading Bible stories or even reading the Bible on a personal level. That is a flaw of mine and it is because of the same reason others give, I don’t feel like I have enough time to get things done. It is often said Satan’s greatest victory is convincing man he does not exist. I would argue his second greatest victory especially in the modern world, is preying on humanities drive to be greater as a means to disconnect Christians from God for worldly pursuits. The world moves fast and we may feel like we do not have the time but we have to be intentional in creating the time. This behavior, this intenationalist attitude, is the point, being steadfast in spite of my feelings and emotions. My desire to be this way is directly influenced by Jesus, consider, he knew he would be beaten and betrayed, he knew he would be disgraced and he knew that he would be crucified and slain for being a dissident. Yet he was not swayed and carried through with his Father’s design.

Steadfast Providing is more than food and a roof over your families head. It is cultivating a relationship with and teaching about Jesus with your family. Steadfastness is continuing to do these things and intentionally laying out lessons even if life just seems to suck sometimes, it can and it will. Jesus didn’t give up, to live like him means you should not either. Lean on your spouse and support one another. Marriage was designed to be a mutually beneficial connection that is blessed by God, use that grace to your advantage.

This is the last portion of the Faithful Father Series and I hope that it has touched you positively in some way and had encouraged you to a father who is a living example of Christ, that teaches the truth to your children while guarding them and leading them in a manner that raises them to respect authority instead of hate it. All of that has to come with being a compassionate friend to your spouse and children. Fulfilling those duties will go a long way to ensuring you have been a steadfast provider of your family. Times will be difficult but hold fast to the confession of your faith and the rewards you receive would humble any earthly king.

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The Fruit of the Spirit

Fruit of the Spirit

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. – Galatians 5:22-23

This should be a pretty familiar pair of passages for all of us. Galatians is an important part of how Christianity evolved after Christ ascended. Paul had visited the churches in Galatia (potentially founded many of them, it is uncertain) and after he left he received word that some individuals had begun teaching an alternate gospel to the newly converted pagans. Paul’s gospel was based on Jesus’ ministry while these individuals were saying that the gentile Christians must conform to Mosaic law. Even while rebuking them he always does this in love. Paul boils down how Christians should act in to the fruit of the spirit.

Fruit, not Fruits

I do feel that it is important to highlight that Paul signifies that all of the fruit of the Spirit is singular. The word used in Greek was ‘karpos’ a word that meant fruit but also meant ‘that which comes from something’ or an ‘effect’. This is significant because we as humans produce sinful things. We produce works of the flesh. Paul is clear in saying ‘works’ of the flesh in Galatians 5:19-21 but when it comes to the Holy Spirit it is singular. There is one Holy Spirit, there are many humans therefore only the Spirit can produce the nine traits that are the fruit of it’s presence in us. Humans can produce all the works of the flesh but the traits of the Spirit are the result of it’s effect on us. I hope I made sense there!

Final Thoughts

The fruit of the Spirit are things we as Christians need to pray for. Those traits are how Jesus lives. Jesus instructs us to abide in Him because we cannot bear fruit without the vine (John 15:1-11). Jesus is the embodiment of those traits and the way we learn to bear the fruit we are commanded to is by seeking strength in God when we face adversity. I would be a liar to say I got this on lock, I don’t. I get irritated over small and likely trivial things. I feel terrible about it because I feel like a backsliding serpent of a man. Maybe it is all the noise in the house and I snap and yell at my kids. I shouldn’t do that but I have. It’s those things I ask God for strength so that I can work on them. He’s a good father and listens when I call out to Him. It takes more effort to be mean to someone than it does to be kind. I pray every day that God gives me strength to not get irritated at my co-workers and to show His Son through me. I talk openly about church and God because we should never fear offending someone just because we are Christian. My hope is that I represent a child of His kingdom in the most honorable manner I can and produce fruit for God’s will.

Daily Devotional: Get Involved

Get Involved

This is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight. – Philippians 1:9

The ministry that Jesus built was a call to every person to reach out to someone hurting and broken (Matthew 5:14-16). To show them the gospel and bring them to God through Christ. We know that He is the only way to Heaven. He is the keeper of the key that unlocks the bountiful blessings that God will lavish upon us by living in His will. We need to be involved in more than just Sunday service. Not because the church needs us (it does, it always needs good folks) but because our Savior, our God desires it!

Why You Should Get Involved

Aside from God’s wish that we connect to our family in Christ we should want to for our own benefit and the chance to benefit others. When we get involved we are being servants of God and showing our brotherly love for our community. We are taking a huge next step because now we are moving beyond being saved and attending church to proactively showing and speaking our testimony. We become the army of Christ who helps people fight through troubled waters. Have you ever felt the reward of helping a friend through a rough patch? Amplify that a hundred times because when you speak life in to someone who is spiritually dead and they turn from a road to perdition and take the expressway to salvation. How awesome of an award is that?!

How To Get Involved

Getting involved in your church should not be hard. It should be easy because many offer programs like small groups where you can commune with other people who you may not have met otherwise. Stop by their guest services desk and ask them about a small group. Maybe you’re gift is your love for children, ask about volunteering to educate the smallest of the bunch and help raise them in God. For me personally this is huge. I cannot express how much I love hearing my kids talk about the Creator. Maybe you aren’t good with social functions and that is okay. The church has something for everyone, how can we grow if there are no opportunities to do so? All it takes to get involved is the intentional action of asking how you can help and a willingness to do God’s work in whatever form He has gifted you to excel in.

Final Thoughts

Loving people means you help when you can and where you can. You support them in the same way. Do you know how Jesus showed us love?  He shared the gospel with us. He walks with us as we come to the realization of salvation and then we receive that gospel in to our darkest places. Then He died for us because He knew that His sacrifice was capable of getting rid of every wrong man had or would commit. To put it in a rather geeky sense, the needs of the many outweighed the needs of the few or the one. He knew that His destiny was death for our sins. Yet he persevered and put aside any doubt and fear to still be betrayed as man has done time and again, arrested and accused of being false again as man has done and then He was slain just like man has done since the beginning.

We should get involved and let the world know the history of their savior. If only for that we should speak life and we should do our best to show love. Jesus did and He paid the ultimate penalty for us.

Daily Devotional – Brotherly Love

Brotherly Love

 Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. This is how we know that we belong to the truth and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence. – 1 John 3:18-19

How is it that Jesus could be humble and meek but a king and a leader? How is He both lion and lamb? The answer to that is in his ministry. What is the foundation of Jesus ministry based on? We all know it. We all acknowledge it when it is convenient for us. Sometimes it is hard to do when you do not agree with another person but we have all, as Christians, been called to do it. That is the brotherly love we have for each other and even those who are not saved. It is a love of humanity that even today we still don’t fully grasp. Instead of some booming voice with a form we could not see we were taught by Jesus, in the flesh on what love is. God’s message about the divide between man and Him would not have been as clear had it not been for Christ. This is why His message was so clear. He brought salvation down to our level so that we could understand the importance of not only the ministry of His son but of the love and salvation offered to us.

What Brotherly Love Is Not

I feel a little silly for even addressing this because it is a shameful thing to say to any Christian that you aren’t loving people enough. There isn’t a limit to God’s love but there is to ours. It is very hard for me to find any love whatsoever for a murderer or a rapist. It is the most difficult for me to summon anything even regarding the term “affection” for a child molester. I’ll own that sin and pray that God gives me strength to one day see something redeeming in people like that but for now I have to put it in God’s hands and beg for understanding and grace.

This is where the tolerance that Christians are enamored to use comes in to play. Tolerance is the accepting that someone’s beliefs differs from our own. But there is a slippery slope there. The ability to be over-tolerant is there. When that happens we have taken a tool that God has blessed us with and turned it in to a sin. By being over-tolerant we have done more than politely disagreed, we have accepted the persons beliefs as being truth. We have accepted an untruth for a truth and in doing so we have rejected something that God has deemed true.

Those people are enslaved to those who are not Gods (Galatians 4:8). Understanding what brotherly love is not only frees us from other sins like pride but allows us to do what Jesus did, get down on that persons level and reach them. It hurts my heart when I see over zealous brethren marching with picket signs and calling people ‘freaks’ or ‘perverts’ or ‘faggots’ and other things. They are human and broken, so are you. Just because you have Jesus and salvation doesn’t make you God’s sword to cut people down. It makes you renewed in His image and then you aspire to be in His likeness when you start reaching out to those people. You become a disciple, a banner to what a Christian should be, could be. I have dropped the banner, I did for a decade and He wanted me back no questions asked. It is that grace that drives me to reach out to other men, doesn’t matter what level of brokenness they are dealing with.

What Brotherly Love Is

The idea of brotherly love is a call to go beyond the love you have for your spouse, children and immediate family. This love is the emotional tie you have with those of your community. In context it means fellow Christians but if we are to love fellow Christians as Christ does then that love extends beyond kin and community but to the man on the street who is a homeless veteran begging for handouts. It’s not just for the people that make it to church, they are important but it’s also for the people who are 200 ft away from the church wondering why their life is the way it is. Sometimes all a person needs to hear is, “I love you, God does too.” and other times they are haunted by demons that we may have to help them combat. Brotherly love is about the ability to put yourself next to someone, anyone and show them a kindness that Christ would be proud of.

Final Thoughts

I can’t help but feel I got a little on a soap box about this topic. I don’t think it is bad, a devotional should be emotional. Good or bad it should affect you in some way. I have a passion to show that everyone deserves to see how much God loves them. I want them to know that fire I feel. We are commanded to love as we are loved with the Golden Rule. How can I do any of that if I can’t get out of the way of myself and out of the way of God’s work. If we are to be the body then how can we knowingly act like He didn’t sit with sinners and love them?

Daily Devotional – Milk or Solid Food

Milk or Solid Food

Though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! – Hebrews 5:12

In the fifth chapter of the epistle to the Hebrews we find some of the most important advice that is given in this book. The purpose of the book of Hebrews was an exhortation to those who began to doubt that Jesus was the Messiah. In many ways it rebukes the claim that he was simply a man who was devoted to God and ultimately crucified for those beliefs. The reference of milk relies on some of the other verses in the chapter that speak of infancy and maturity.

Milk in Infancy

As a newborn we are fed milk because we are not ready for solid foods. Even as we gradually grow our diets begin with liquids then mushy food and finally real food. Milk is the most easily digestible sustenance we can stand until we grow. If we apply this to our spiritual life we can see why this was spoken of in Hebrews. The newly saved individual is in spiritual infancy and they need to be spoon-fed information and shown how to enjoy God more. How many babies learn to eat filet mignon immediately? You’ll find that it is none. They just can’t understand the food at the time so they cannot consume it and gain nourishment from it. Some people never leave this stage of spiritual development and that’s fine but God really wants us to grow and enjoy solid food.

Enjoying Solid Food

So how do we get to enjoy solid food? By becoming spiritually fit! We do that by practice. I cannot stress enough how important it is to reach out to God daily and talk to Him. Pray, worship, walk, serve and do all those things in Christ. Become kingdom minded (Matthew 6:33)! Solid food is for the mature who have trained themselves (Hebrews 5:13-15) and as stewards who are mature we must also be disciples and spoon-feed the new brethren because they don’t know the good from the evil and they will have questions. Lots of them! We enjoy solid food through those acts that are Christ-centered. We get nourishment from nourishing.

Final Thoughts

The book of Hebrews is one of the meatiest books in the Bible because it covers a multitude of concerns including the validity of Christ as Messiah, the refutation that a believer must convert to Judaism to be saved (this is not in any way a condemnation of Jewish beliefs but it is the purpose of the book), to show that we must nurture those who are young in their spiritual walk and more. How can I speak life if I doubt it myself? How can I profess my love of Christ if I question if I really love Him? Deep questions that I examined myself before I even considered beginning this journey of wanting to help other men. Not because I struggled with those specific questions but because I wanted to take a long hard look at who I am, who I was and who God wanted me to be. When we take another person’s potential salvation into our hands we are making ourselves a target for the enemy. Did I want to wage that war? It hasn’t been a battle yet but I am preparing myself spiritually by doing these devotionals and reaching out to men. By praying and worshiping God so that I can put on His armor and protect myself and those I love. That is why the soldiers of Christ need solid food and not just milk.

Daily Devotion – Spiritual Fitness

Spiritual Fitness

Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly. – 1 Timothy 4:7

In this, Paul is telling Timothy to not waste time on myths or old wives tales but to use that time to become spiritually fit. How does that happen? With consistent nourishment and time. It is easy for us to get caught up in the trappings of the world. We often worry about things that have little meaning in the plan God has for us. Gossip (Ephesians 4:29) is often the demon we battle that tries, and often succeeds in being a parasite. One that sapps away the nourishment that we should be focusing on to reach a better state of spiritual fitness.

What does Spiritual Fitness Look Like?

It’s undefinable and not something that has a visual cue. I’m certain you’ve heard the story of a new pastor who dressed as a homeless man and sat outside of his church as the congregation went in and then proceeded to go in side where he was looked down upon as if he were less than. When the Elders of the church were confirming the new pastor this homeless man who was asked to sit in the back stood up and walked to the pulpit. The congregation was shamed. While the validity of the story may not be entirely true it does have some important lessons on what spiritual fitness looks like. It is also a message to how we deviate away from Christs’ mission. As disciples our mission is for each one to reach one. Even if we only help lead one soul to God in our life we have accomplished something great! Spiritual fitness has no definable physical trait.

How do Spiritually Fit People Act?

When I think of how I need to act so that my spiritual fitness is showing the first word that comes to mind is service. Service to others by speaking life. Giving hope by helping whenever I can in whatever role that God is putting before me. We shouldn’t try to pick and choose the opportunities that He presents us. Each is a gift and to turn from an opportunity that God has placed before us because it isn’t good enough is like turning away from Him and His plan for us. I no way profess that my place in life is better than anyone else when I talk about my qualities, it is just an expression of thoughts, I love everyone or try to, I’m not perfect. Spiritually fit people are always praying (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18), they are serving others (Galatians 5:13), they have faith through their works and not faith apart from their works. Ultimately they strive to be like Christ.

Final Thoughts

Spiritual Fitness requires a regiment just as much as physical fitness does if not more so. We can become spiritually unfit in a moment whether it is by action, thought or even inaction. There are two prizes we can gain from being spiritually ready for things that come our way. The first is the life we get to enjoy here on earth. If you walk with God here the things in your life will improve because you will be speaking life, showing love and acting in service to others through God. We can have a multitude of prizes (some tangible but mostly not) lavished upon us through our life by our service to others. Our works are rewarded in heaven but those works must be done in faith and not apart from it. If we make an effort to become and stay spiritually fit our life in the here and now can be so much better.

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