Author Archives: Max Sinclair

Psalm 86

Acts • Devotion #3: Psalm 86
Max Sinclair | Young Adults and Guest Services Director

Prayer has always been something to me with which I have had trouble. I can remember saying my prayers before bed as a young child, and before meals. I recall my mom saying that I was her little prayer warrior and that I would talk to God as if I was talking to a friend. As this became a routine in my life, it lost its meaning and importance; it just became a thing that I did. While this became a more distant thing, so did my relationship with God. Instead of this intensely personal relationship, it felt more like an obligation, this nagging thing that I had to do instead of me wanting to do it. Because of that outlook, I began to feel my relationship with the Lord evaporate to nothing. I can say with some certainty that at points in my life I looked down on people who were praying because why would the God of the universe have any inclination to hear my wants, desires, pains, and problems? Is He not busy with other issues in the world? This mindset caused me to doubt my relationship to Him and cemented my distance from Him. In this time, I became a wreck of depression, anxiety, anger, and selfish. I drew ever closer to myself, and because of that I saw nothing but darkness and anger, and I did not know how I was going to get out; I thought there was no escape for me.

My story continues to the point where I contemplated suicide and even tried to do so. I saw no end to my suffering and my distance from God. At that moment, while laying on the bathroom floor of my barracks room, I cried out. I cried out in prayer for God to restore my heart, to help rebuild the broken relationship we once had. It was as if He picked me up and restored my soul. I felt that kindle of a great passion in my soul, I heard His voice, I saw His glory, and I felt His presence.

I am still trying to restore that relationship since that day three years ago. It is not something that was healed instantly, it was difficult, and from time to time I still feel unworthy to come before the Lord’s throne. Recently, while studying for this devotion, I found a Psalm by David that is also a prayer and it something of a wake-up call for me. Psalm 86 says,

“Incline your ear, O Lord, and answer me,
for I am poor and needy.
Preserve my life, for I am godly;

save your servant, who trusts in you – you are my God.
Be gracious to me, O Lord,
for to you do I cry all the day.
Gladden the soul of your servant,
for to you, O Lord, do I lift up my soul.
For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving,
abounding in steadfast love to all who call upon you.
Give ear, O Lord, to my prayer;
listen to my plea for grace.
In the day of my trouble I call upon you,
for you answer me.

There is none like you among the gods, O Lord,
nor are there any works like yours.
All the nations you have made shall come.

and worship before you, O Lord,
and shall glorify your name.

For you are great and do wondrous things;
you alone are God.
Teach me your way, O Lord,
that I may walk in your truth;
unite my heart to fear your name.
I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart,
and I will glorify your name forever.
For great is your steadfast love toward me;
you have delivered my soul from the depths of Sheol.”

 This prayer has been my rock that I cling to when all else seems dark, and the storms of life prove to be never-ceasing. In this, the truth of our sinfulness is revealed, and still, God loves us and calls for us to come before Him, to let our requests be known to Him. When we enter His presence with prayer, God does not see our sinful nature, but according to Ephesians 1:4 He sees us pure,“…that we should be holy and blameless before him.”

God does not want perfect people to come and say fancy words to tickle His ears; He wants broken people who put their faith entirely in Christ.

For the Love of Food

Fasting • Devotion #2: For the Love of Food
Max Sinclair | Young Adults & Guest Services Director

When I hear the word “fasting,” I have a slight rise in anxiety, and I begin to look around for some food so I can store up for afterwards. I guess it is because as a kid growing up in our youth program, we decided to do the “30-Hour Famine.” This event is really cool because you have the ability to raise funds for impoverished peoples across the world so that they may be able to eat while you do not eat for 30 hours. Now as a 12-year-old kid, I never really saw the point of raising these funds and fasting for 30 hours. It was an inconvenience for me. I could not have any pizza or Mountain Dew for 30 hours.

I remember being very upset by it; I remember being gloomy and sad that I was not eating and acting like it was the end of the world. Afterwards, we were shown a short film of these kids in Uganda who have not eaten in a few weeks and how they would travel for hours to find suitable drinking water. The realism of their plight brought me to a new understanding of hunger, and why through my hunger for something I can still see how God provides.

As we finish up our series on prayer, we can see after the Lord’s Prayer there is a passage on fasting. Matthew 6:16-18 says, “And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”

 We can see a reoccurring theme of doing this in secret, and of keeping this act of supplication and submission to God not as an outward act but between God and us. This act of secrecy is for us not to be seen as a godly person or more spiritual but as a devout follower of Christ. Being a hypocrite, or outwardly glum and braggadocios, shows that we are not fasting for reverence for Christ, but to promote ourselves. We begin to promote our spirituality, and because of that, we ruin the intimacy that we would create with God in our private actions.

As we look at Matthew chapter 4, we can see that Jesus spent 40 days fasting in the wilderness before He began his earthly ministry. He spent that time in preparation and seclusion to be with God, to ready His heart for service unto His Father.

When we speak unto God, when we fast, all of that is to show that God supplies our needs. It is not through our doing and our actions but through the Lord’s providence and grace. So, when we fast, we remove that which we need in order to grow more dependent on the Lord. It is not to show others how spiritual we are but to show how good our God is. According to Pastor and teacher John Piper, “We fast to express our ache for all the implications of Jesus’ power in the present moment.” Our fasting is us relying on Him for all that we have. Yes, at the moment it is not fun to skip meals. Yes, it is an inconvenience. Yes, this will probably trigger your “hangriness” as it does for me. Although these things may happen, Christ asks us to fast and to fast quietly ensuring our private relationship with God is not for others to look on us and give us glory, but for us to give God the glory.

Prayer of the Righteous

Chain Reaction | Devotion #4: Prayer of the Righteous
Max Sinclair | Children’s Director  

One of my fondest memories of my life is watching the movie Gladiator with my father. I recall us sitting down and my dad telling me how awesome of a movie it is, and we began to watch it. I think I was around age 14 when we did, and I still can see Russell Crowe saluting his officers and saying, “Strength and Honor.”

James 5:16 says, “The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.”

To prepare for this devotion and the writing of it, I decided to go to a commentary set that I love, The MacArthur New Testament Commentary. As I read the section on James 5:16, I see this quote which has inspired me to write this, “Weak prayers come from weak people; strong prayers come from strong people. The energetic prayers of a righteous man are a potent force in calling down the power of God for restoring weak, struggling believers to spiritual health.” It hurts reading that because I know I am not a strong prayer warrior. I remember a time where I was down, and I needed encouragement. I was up at a youth camp with the church, and I was struggling. A man who I can honestly say is one of the strongest men I know, placed his hand on my back and prayed for me. At that moment I felt an energy I had not had in me, I felt this pushing of my soul, and with that, I was able to keep going.  

Men, it is our duty as the spiritual leader of our house not to be weak, we need to be strong. Our job is to defend our house, and with that, we need this strength, we need to pray to strengthen not only ourselves but our families. I see more times than not, weak men who do not let their families move. I see men who would rather sit on the sidelines and not pray and dig deep. Our job is to move and see the Holy Spirit move in our families. 

Women, encourage your husbands. I say this with love and with the utmost respect, but your husbands do not need you to convict them of their wrongdoings. If they know Jesus that is already done. Instead pray for them, with them, and over them. Encourage them where they need to be and motivate them to go there. 

Do not forget that quote, “Strong prayers are from strong men.” Stay strong and do not stop praying.

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.

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