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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Give Me Strength

Give Me Strength

We have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. – 2 Corinthians 4:7

Paul was a passionate man for Christ. His epistles to churches are some of the most studied letters that make up books of the Bible. He is the author of at least 13 books (Scholars question authenticity of Hebrews often) and his second letter to the church at Corinth to me is where we see Paul’s humanity laid bare. God gave Paul immeasurable strength to pursue the ministry Jesus had laid at his feet on the road to Damascus. Through his imprisonment and until his death he still witnessed and never lost the light that he received from Christ. He epitomized the short prayer of supplication we often ask, “God, Give me strength.”

The Treasure and the Jar

The treasure Paul talks about in this chapter of his letter refers to the light Christ puts within us when we are redeemed by His blood. It is the ministry we are charged with. We are taught about this very important lesson as children with “This Little Light of Mine.” Our treasure is the Holy Spirit and we the redeemed are the jar. It is fitting because the jars that Paul would be referring to are the clay pots that were used by the common person. Many of the rich would use metals or wood for their vessels but the clay jars of commoners were frail like we as humans are. We are God’s vessels who carry the light of Christ in us. Those jars of clay were fragile and easily broken like we often are. It is why the potter who created them can repair them so that the precious treasures in them can be shared and not lost.

God, Give Me Strength

That’s the amazing thing isn’t it? We may face terrible circumstances and even death depending on the season we are in but God gives strength to endure those trials. I do think it is important to point that out. Endure and not fix. Endure but not escape. It sounds cold but it isn’t because it gives us testimony. It gives a Christian the ability to say what Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 12:1-10. The explanation Paul gives us is about a thorn placed in the flesh and that it was agonizing. He begged 3 times for the Lord to take it from him and God’s response was perfect, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Paul’s revelation in that is to boast about his weakness because if the Lord tells you that His grace is sufficient for you in your weakness then your faith in Him will carry you through the darkest of valleys. Admit your weakness and cry out to give me strength Lord and the Father will help.

Final Thoughts

God provides us everything we need. Love, Redemption, Grace, Comfort, Strength etc. He tempers it because can you imagine if we knew that as soon as we asked God for strength it happened, every time. We would become prideful or arrogant. Instead God does not give us strength to become free of our weakness but the strength to endure it and to continue walking with Him despite our frail nature. We are the vessel that Christ has chosen to extend His grace to. We are frail like a Palestinian clay jar but God’s strength given to us allows us to be repaired from the cracks and chips we have so that we can contain that treasure so that we can show it to the world and pour it in to other vessels like us. Jesus is an amazing artist and the potter of man, there is none greater and I know that if I call out, “God give me strength.” I have assurance that He will give me the strength to endure the season.

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 – Strength from God

Strength from God

Being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience.

God offers us everything we could ever want in life. Sometimes those things are tangible but the majority of them are not. Salvation, love, the strength to endure. The strength for what we call “The Race” or “The Walk” which imply different things, one cannot run and walk at the same time. It’s physically impossible. Which is fine! We are talking about the duality of our public spirituality (The Race) and the private spirituality (The Walk) that we experience in this life with God. In to both of those, if we pray and ask God for it, He will pour strength to continue on even when things look dire. Christians suffer the same malignancies that anyone else suffers from. We experience cancer, HIV, addiction and suicide just like any other person. God is not going to write us a blank check to be free from all of these things. If we did we would wonder why we even needed Him to begin with. That’s another thing we have a problem with as Christians, pride. It is so easy to think that we have it all because our position in Heaven is secure.

Strength not Solutions

So how do we solve all of these problems in Christianity…in life. Again we have a duality we must walk because we all act differently in public and in private, it’s easy to say just try to act the same. If only it really were that simple. I do this, I am sure others do but we pray for solutions instead of strength and that is not what we should do. Instead flip that and beg God to give you the strength to defeat what is ailing you. It doesn’t matter if it is cancer or a virus. It can be the desire to beat an addiction or the thought of suicide. That strength may come as a physical blessing or maybe the strength to step out of the shell you’ve created around yourself so that you can reach out to someone for help. That trial is food for you to grow in, if God washed it away you wouldn’t flourish. We should pray for the strength to carry on that race and find peace in the walk we have with God.

Walking and Running

The power we exhibit in our Christian lives comes from the ability to have synergy in our lives with God. First we have to learn to crawl and then we can walk and then we can run. To do each of those we must grow in strength. We grow in strength by reading the bible, praying, facing trials and just simply being what God wants us to be. Those are the fruits of our labors that we dine on to grow. Synergy is the interaction of two or more things so that the whole is greater than the separate pieces. You cannot run God’s race unless you are walking with Him every single day of your life. To do so is to make a farce of the life He wants for us. We mess up and it is unfortunate but to willfully on a daily basis pretend to be a Christian outside while on the inside you are not makes you a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

Final Thoughts

God has solutions for everything that we could ever imagine but if we are just asking for handouts then how can we say that we walk with God? How can we run the race if God isn’t center in our life? We need His strength more than we need the solutions that we try to prioritize over Him. We can walk and run at the same time in fact we have to! The closer you try to be with God and the more you grow in faith because of that will allow you to do something that impact this world. Maybe it is on person or maybe it is a multitude. The quantity doesn’t matter nearly as much as the fact that you are making an impact by walking with Christ and Running to God. Small successes lead to greater goals.

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