Devotions

Author Archives: Max Sinclair

Cover your Eyes 

Radioactive | Devotion #2: Cover your Eyes
Max Sinclair | Children’s Director

Growing up, I had an overactive imagination. To this day, I can see my overactive imagination get the best of me when I get mad at a situation and think that someone is trying to purposely sabotage an event or even just my day. I perceive or see things that affect the way I live my day to day, not only that but my life. I was young, around five years old, when I saw Star Wars: A New Hope. I was so enthralled and loved every second of it that I wanted to become a Jedi. I remember many times playing make believe that I would watch something and want to be just that. I went from being a firefighter to Jedi, from acting as a police officer to being a spy and even President of the United States. All of these things came from me watching or seeing something. To this day I try to move stuff from across the room with “the force” just to feel my wife playfully smack me on the head.  

Even though these are not necessarily bad things, how my mind is wired could cause me some problems. If I allow myself to let negative and corrupt ideas and things into my mind, that begins to affect my heart. In the Bible, we see many times the command or the instruction to guard our heart (Proverbs 4:23; Romans 12:2), yet we can see that it is the last line of defense. In the military, the goal of ultimate security is to have something to stop the threats before they happen, to intimidate or to have a large enough defense to stop the storm of attackers; our first line of defense is what we see. As I prepared for this devotion, I decided to start where it all began, Genesis chapter 3. In this chapter of the Bible, we see the fall of man from the perfect nature we were meant to walk with God. You see after Adam and Eve had taken the fruit, their eyes were opened, “Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew they were naked” (Genesis 3:7 CSB). We see that once sin had entered into the world, our eyes began to corrupt our heart. What they saw were shame and fear, and that is not what God had planned.  

Now we live in this broken world, sin has run rampant throughout society, and we see it everywhere. We are affected from scantily clothed women trying to sell products or fantasy, to just seeing what others have and comparing our lives to it. Our eyes are what cause us to sin, so we need to protect what we see. So how do we do that, how do we protect what we see? Hebrews 12:2 (CSB) says, “Keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of our faith.” Stop looking around, and start looking at Jesus. Focusing on Jesus and keeping our eyes on Him will stop us from looking around, it will stop us from falling into temptation. In my own life, this has spoken truly just in the past two years. I came from sin and shame of not guarding my eyes to the world and what it offered to train my eyes on Him and not allowing myself to focus or fall into what I have in the past. My life has begun to change, my relationship with my family has drastically changed, and I know that my relationship with God has moved to where it needs to be heading.

Brotherly Love 

Bonded | Devotion #5: Brotherly Love
Max Sinclair | Children’s Director

Brotherly love is a term to talk about a love for humanity and compassion for your fellow man. Most would say that brotherly love in a family is always present, that it is never absent, but I can tell you first hand that it is not. My father’s side of the family is that part of the family that most in the church probably do not want to talk about or meet. Most are alcoholics, a few believe, but they are those Christmas and Easter Christians. Growing up my Dad would take us to a few things here and there, but mostly we stayed in Michigan away from the house my dad grew up in Wisconsin. Around October of 2013, I got a phone call from my dad saying that his dad had passed away and the funeral was later that week. Now, I adored my grandfather; he was a smart, diligent, good man who worked hard. When I heard the news, I was broken but held myself together. I got on a plane meeting my parents and sister in Chicago where we drove up to the Green Bay area. As we arrived, I remember that the drinking had already started, my father was angry to be around them, he did not care for this behavior and tried for most of my life to protect my sister and me from it, but as the funeral ended, my father in anger cut his family out of his life. This affected not just them but my view of them. Now I am trying to reach back out, to try to re-establish that lost connection, but it is something that is so very difficult to do. 

Brotherly love in a family is what holds us together; it is what keeps us together. We see today so many broken families, and broken homes because we can not see the sanctity of brotherly love, yet brotherly love is not something easy. As I was studying for this lesson, I kept finding myself remembering an old sermon by Pastor Jim Combs. His message was that a sword from a brother is hard to take and that at certain times advice and love from your family is not always what you want to hear. We can see this story played out in 1 Samuel 20:14-15 (CSB) where David, who was not yet king, made a covenant with his predecessor’s son, Jonathan. Even though they were not family, the Bible tells us that they loved each other as they loved themselves. 

They loved each other so much that when God’s hand had departed from Saul and came upon David, they still maintained their love and devotion to each other. “If I continue to live show me kindness from the LORD, but if I die, don’t ever withdraw your kindness from my household-not even when the lord cuts off every one of David’s enemies from the face of the earth.” This act of brotherly love is significant because at this time when a new king came to power they would usually kill off all political rivals so that they could consolidate power. Instead of killing Jonathan, David acted with love to his brother and spared him and his house. Saul would later die at the hands of the Philistines along with his son, Jonathan. Mephibosheth, Jonathan’s son, would come to live in David’s house, eat from his table, and be given high honor in the house of David. This is something that we need to exercise in our families today. We need to start looking to help out our family, extend that brotherly love to create a united front from the evil that tries to assail the family every day.

Branching Out in Faith

Grow | Devotion #2: Branching Out in Faith
Max Sinclair | Children’s Director

When I hear the word “growth,” I immediately picture a tree with deep roots and branches that reach high up into the sky. I usually think of one that is at my parents’ house. Its trunk is about six feet wide and stretches probably around 50-60 feet high. Just looking at it and thinking about it makes me wonder how long it took for this tree to grow and how strong it must be.

It reminds me of a parable Jesus taught in Matthew 17:20, “He said to them, ‘Because of your little faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.’” 

Many before me have used this very same passage to talk about growth and that it takes faith. We forget that our growth stems from our faith. Right now as I write this devotion, I know that God is at work in the life of my wife and I. He is trying to show us that faith is far more important and impactful than what we truly understand. You see, she and I have been so blessed with the ability to own a house and live in a nice town that even though it is far from where we both work, we can make it work. Even though we are very blessed, we will be starting to go out on faith. My wife’s job that pays very well is not what God has placed on her life to do, so she will be leaving to pursue a graduate degree in counseling and work with addicts which is what she and I believe that God has planned for her. As we stress and worry about how this all will work, we keep coming to the same conclusion, God is able, and He will be there. 

We have begun to put more and more of our life in His hand, and it is scary. We here in America have been blessed with abundance, and we have been given so many great things, but we fail to give it back to God. We would rather maintain some semblance of control instead of handing it off to God. Then we became stressed and overwhelmed with the idea of being the “god” of our own lives when He even says, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30). 

When we truly see and realize this, then we can grow in Him. You see Christ gives us this peace beyond understanding as Paul says in Philippians. We are to grow in this knowledge of who He is by being faithful and having faith in our Lord. 

So how can you grow in your faith?

Recovering the Value of Gathering

Gather | Devotion #2: Recovering the Value of Gathering
Max Sinclair | Children’s Director

As we have seen the importance of reaching into our communities, we as The Church must look at the importance of “gathering” together as a community. This idea is not something that we can ignore, the importance of coming together is something that has been talked about by Christ Himself, “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them” (Matthew 18:20). The very idea that God would be among us when we are gathered in His name should make everyone excited to gather in worship, yet historically we are seeing a record decline of church attendance with less than 20% of Americans attending a church service or gathering according to churchleaders.com. Why is this happening? Churches are on a decline because believers do not understand the power of gathering together. We would rather go when it is convenient. People want to hear something that may make them feel good about their lives rather than hear the realness of God at work in our real life.

Something that has surprisingly been on my mind and dear to my heart is the recovery gathering on Tuesday night here in Waterford. It is heartwarming to see these men and women who are struggling with a real problem. For them to come and beg to hear the Word of God poured out is moving. 

This story starts in a very stereotypical way where I met a girl, and she has a passion for these hurting people. She had invited me to come and see what was happening here at Waterford on Tuesday nights. At first, I was very hesitant thinking that I would have nothing in common with these people. Later, I found out that I had more in common than I thought, what was just a night has become a pivotal and important part of both me and my now wife’s life.  This story is not just to promote something that we do in the church, but to show how they gathered: broken, distraught, sadden, and labored. This very intimate way that they had gathered was not met with judgment or contempt but with love. We find that these things are not to deter us from entering but to encourage us to go. Something that my wife and I say all the time is that we are all broken people here on earth. Going through life and pointing out others’ brokenness does not help, but humbling and building each other up will. 

I am going to get very personal, know my heart when I say that this angers me: we would rather sit on our high horse of churchiness and look down on those who try to enter because they are different. It breaks my heart to see people who serve judge those who have “problems.” Well I am sorry, but you have problems too, you are just better at hiding them. We are to lay that all aside as Paul states in Colossians, “Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all” (Colossians 3:11). We are all the same to Christ, all of our sins are equal in His eyes, yet He loves anyway. So, I encourage you to gather together in worship to Him, humbly stirring-up each other as we go through life together. 

James

Lesson Fifteen | Devotion #5: James
Max Sinclair | Children’s Director

I am the oldest of two children in my family. My sister graduated from Taylor University in 2016 with a bachelor’s degree in psychology, and she is planning on going to Trinity College in Ireland for the fall of 2017 to receive her Masters in Philosophy with a specialization in peace making. To say the least, I am very proud of her, but at the same time, I am jealous of what she has achieved. I am 23 and just skated by in high school. By the grace of God, I was accepted and attended Liberty University to study political science, but I was not welcomed back. I then joined the Navy where I fixed aircraft and went on many deployments and detachments. I do not have a degree, I do not have a fancy title (besides “the Intern”), and I do not feel as proud of what I have done as I probably should. I can only imagine what James, the half-brother of Jesus felt. His brother was perfect, never sinned. He became a teacher and a preacher who went forth to proclaim the Gospel and died for the sins of the world. James was His brother. Even on the cross, Jesus looks to John and tells John, not James, to take care of His mother, Mary. So when I was asked to write these devotions on world changers in the Bible, I can only thank and praise God for this opportunity.

James in his letter to the twelve tribes of Israel wrote about faith, and how faith is defined by what we do. Today, and back then, this idea of being justified by faith and not through works is somewhat controversial. James knew that faith in Christ and what he had done is how one is saved, but to have a real God act and move in our real lives we need to work. In James Chapter 2, the infamous verse 17 says, “So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” James comes to us with a simple idea, the idea that through our works our faith should be known. I encourage you to read James 2:14-26 to see the whole passage where James defends and promotes this idea.

Like Jesus, we are to be seen and act upon our faith. Who will be benefitted if we hide our faith? Like the light hidden under the bushel, or the light house on the shore with its light off during a storm, we would be worthless. We hurt our relationship with Him and with others. Throughout our lives, we will look at others and see what they are doing and feel discouraged. Do not let the lives of others dictate how we are to love Him and affect our doing the work of Christ.



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