Author Archives: Max Sinclair

What is Your Excuse?

Twelve Spies | Devotion 3: What is Your Excuse?
Max Sinclair  

I am not an extremely confident person. I am insecure about how I talk to people; I feel very strongly about my beliefs, and sometimes I can come off too strong. I care about what others think, and I am very short. All of these things plague my mind when I act. I always look to others for acceptance and validation, and I can see my self as a disappointment to others. All of these are excuses that I use when I do not think that I can do something. It is something that plagues my mind as I try something new or something difficult. I become overwhelmed by my flaws and shortcomings that I do not go forth and try. This negative thinking is something that we all struggle with, but it is not about our flaws, but God’s supremacy.

In Numbers chapter 13, the Children of Israel are about to enter the Promised Land, and God instructs Moses to choose from the twelve tribes one chief from each tribe. Doing as God had commanded, these twelve men were tasked to spy out the land. They could provide precious intelligence about their home and tactical information for the invasion. Forty days later, they returned from their mission and gave their report. They said that the land was filled with milk and honey, that it was all that was promised, but there was a problem, the people were strong, they were giants, and they lived in well-fortified cities. They see that the land was good, that it is what had been promised to them, but yet they advise that it is not a good land because of the trouble that lies ahead. There are giants, there are obstacles, and it is hard.

I love how the transition happens in the Bible, “They reported to Moses: ‘We went into the land where you sent us. Indeed it is flowing with milk and honey, and here is some of its fruit. However, the people living in the land are strong, and the cities are large and fortified. We also saw the descendants of Anak there’” (Numbers 13:27-28 CSB). In a manner of a sentence, the promises of God were real and obtainable, for 400 years they had been enslaved but no longer would they be sojourners in a foreign land, they would have a home, but it was not going to be easy. I think it is comical when people ask the question, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” Whoever said that life was going to be easy? Our life was never supposed to be easy. Our life is in service to God and His Son, Jesus Christ, and the world has rejected both of them. How do you expect your life to be any different? Hardships will fall on us, but the great thing is victory has already been secured. When God told the Children of Israel that they shall have this land, He was telling them that He has already given it to them. Hard work is to expected, but the blessing was given. These things are important for us to remember and for us to see. God expects us to work for the blessing that He has already given us, not for us to be lazy and wait for it to be handed to us. Nor does God want us to come up with excuses to His promises. He told us exactly that which He would do for us, and yet we still shy to Christ’s command of the Great Commission to go and make disciples of all nations. Our limitations are not limitations on God, but amazing opportunities to see God work.

Servants of the Lord

Tabernacle | Devotion 1: Servants of the Lord
Max Sinclair

I never truly understood the Church, or the Christian way of life till I was 22 years old. I had grown up here at our Waterford location when it was still Faith Baptist, I remember having Pastor Josh as the Children’s Pastor, and he would take us to Ceasarland to have fun. I remember going through Pastor Jayson’s Youth Group and leadership. I remember going to Church. I remember these things, but I never truly understood them; I never truly got the point. For a while, I thought that it was something you needed to do, and you needed to go to, but as I got older, I fell away from that. I knew the stories of the Bible; I understood some passages of Scripture. I had an elementary grasp of the concept of salvation and the other “Christianese” words, but to say I understood the Church, I would be lying if I said that I did. It came to a head when I realized truly what salvation is, and why it is so important. Finally, I realized I had done nothing to earn eternal life, but it was given to me by God’s infinite mercy and grace. The price of my sin was paid for by another, and because of that, I am indebted to Him with my life or as the apostle Paul would say, “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me” (Galatians 2:20). At this point, as I cried on the floor of a bathroom 2,376 miles away, I truly understood what the Church is.

As we have studied the book of Exodus and the life of Moses, we start to come to the end. God has given His people the Law and the rules in which they are to worship Him. In Exodus chapter 35, we have at first the command of the holy day and recognition of the Sabbath; then God tells Moses how to build the tabernacle. Now for many, this word is foreign, and it was for me too, but tabernacle in Hebrew means “dwelling-place.” This was to be the portable house of the Lord and a place for the people to meet with and worship Him as they wandered in the wilderness. Moses is told by the Lord on how it is to be built, much like how God told Noah how to build the Ark. Specific things were required for its construction, and Moses listened and relayed this information to the children of Israel.

After they had heard what Moses had said, Exodus 35:21 (CSB) says, “Everyone whose heart was moved and whose spirit prompted him came and brought an offering to the Lord for the work on the tent of meeting for all its services, and [to make] the holy garments.” At this moment, the people of the Lord were moved in such a way that they went forth and did what the Lord had commanded. That is what we, as the Church, are to do. Too many times, I see people who walk into the doors of our location, week after week, and I see them sit in the same seats talk to the same people, but they never serve. As the church, we are to give back. Jesus did not say, “Go and sit in a seat on Sunday, have Christian radio presets in your car, and pray before your meals if you can remember to do so.” No, He said to go and make disciples of all nations. As a church, we are not to be encouraged on Sunday, and that is it, we are to go and bear fruit, go and be moved by the Spirit and bring forth offerings to Him. We are to offer our lives up in service to Him. We need to stop just being with Church people, and truly become servants of the Lord.

Who is Your One?

Advice | Devotion 4: Who is Your One?
Max Sinclair

It is extremely difficult working for a church. I say that with all joking aside; this is one of the most difficult places that I have ever had the privilege of working. I say that even though I served four years in the United States Navy. I love this job, being a part of a thriving ministry, and helping people get connected to our Lord, but the one thing I miss is being a light to others. Think about it; every day I work and see pastors and ministry leaders who know Jesus, preach His Gospel, teach, encourage, and strengthen me in my own beliefs. I do not come into contact with a lot of people who do not know the Gospel or do not know who Christ is. Now for some of you, my situation is your dream, being that it is a place where you do not feel ostracized because of your beliefs, or that you know all of the people you see daily know Jesus and their salvation is secured. Oh, how I envy you. You have the opportunity to share the Gospel with others that do not know. I know what you are probably thinking, “Max, don’t you get to do that?” Yes, but not every day, and not all the time. My week is made up of meetings with those who know Christ, and other ministry leaders to coordinate efforts to teach the Gospel or create lessons effectively. Most of my day is spent on the phone, behind a computer screen, or at lunch with a young adult or another volunteer.

Recently, I have been convicted of my time and how I spend it. I feel like I can do so much more, and not only more ministry but also with whom I minister. I pray every day that I can be effective with the meetings that I have and that I can see the fruit in the work that I do. With that prayer, I feel that the Lord has revealed something that I lack and that needs improvement. At The River Church, we hold ourselves to our core principles that we believe wholeheartedly is the mission of the Church, and that is Reach, Gather, and Grow. I know how to gather; I am required to do that because I am in charge of our gatherings at our Waterford location to a certain extent, and I love to lead growth communities and to be able to teach the Word of the Lord to young people. Yet, I am at a loss when it comes to Reach. Every so often with our Young Adult program, we will have a large “Reach” event where we encourage our young adults to invite their friends from school or work so they can hear the Gospel, but we only see a few people come on top of the steady number. I know numbers are not everything, and that is why I titled the devotion, “Who is your one?”

In North Carolina, there is a church pastored by Pastor J.D. Greear called the Summit Church, and in January of 2019, they started a campaign to see 1,000 people in their community come to know Jesus as their Savior. They called it the “Who is Your One?” campaign, and it is very self-explanatory. Who is the one person around you with whom you can share the Gospel? In the story in Exodus, we see that Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, comes and sees that our God, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the Great I Am, is the true God of all. He sacrificed unto the Lord and said, “Now I know that the Lord is greater than all gods, because in this affair they dealt arrogantly with the people” (Exodus 18:11). As powerful and important as Moses was, his significant contribution was the salvation of his father-in-law. That was his one, and he was able to share the “Gospel” with him effectively.

In our life, we need to find that one. It is the one person who we could share the salvation message with and see their life be changed for the better. Now there is a tactful way of doing it other than being that pompous Christian who beats everyone over the head with the Bible or just how good they are, but rather about how they care about people. We can share food with them, invite them over to your home, and love them.

I have known Christ, or better yet, have known the Christian lifestyle for all my life. I grew up attending Church services at Waterford when I was a child. I recall being in our student leadership group as well as small groups and attending our camps. It was great, and it really cemented who I was. When I was 19, I joined the Navy after a failed stint at Liberty University, and while I was in that dark hole of the world, where seeing Jesus was hard and understanding who Christ is even more difficult. I knew I was a Christian, but yet I did nothing about it. Now close to three years after the fact, I regret not sharing my faith.

I feel like the scene at the end of “Schindler’s List” where Oscar Schindler looks at all the expensive things he owns and contemplates how many more he could have saved from the concentration camps. I could have been a light to the people I served my country with, but instead, I hid and kept it to myself. I failed for four years to spread the Gospel. Do not do what I did because you are scared. In 2 Timothy 1:7, the author writes, “For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” Do not be afraid, but rather go forth with the confidence that the Lord has given us.

Being the Second Chair

Raised Arms | Devotion 3: Being the Second Chair
Max Sinclair

Throughout middle school and my freshman year of high school, I was in the school’s band, and I played the trombone. I was not really good, to be honest, I had a hard time reading sheet music, but I knew how to fake it. I sat at the second chair and would be able to use the corner of my eye to see what the first chair player was playing, and I would mimic the slide placement for the instrument making the same note. Now I am not ashamed of my inability to play, but one time, I was promoted to the first chair by a fluke instance. This now brought my insecurity to light, and immediately I realized that I could not pretend to play anymore. I could no longer hide my inability and had to realize that I was not first chair material. I had to come to grips with the fact that I did not possess the skill or ability to be the first chair trombone player for my school’s band. I still do not know how to play the trombone, but the truth that hurts to say is sometimes I need to understand that I am not going to be number one.

Exodus 17:8-13 tells the infamous story about the defeat of the Amalekites by God’s power displayed through the Israelites. The story starts with Amalek raising an army and marching against the Israelites. Moses tells Joshua to choose men and go out and fight with Amalek, and while they fight, Moses will held the Staff of God in his hand while standing on a hill overlooking the battle. Joshua did as Moses instructed and went to battle. As Joshua went into battle, Moses, Aaron, and Hur headed up to the hill. As the battle raged down below, whenever Moses held the staff aloft, the Israelites would start to win, but as soon as he put the staff down, they would begin to lose. The battle went on for such a long time that Moses’ arms grew tired, and his arms would fall. Aaron and Hur went and hold up his arms and even put rocks under them so that the Israelites would win. Eventually, the Amalekites were defeated, and the children of Israel had victory over their enemies. This awesome event shows that it is ok to be the second chair, to not be the leader, and to not be the one in the spotlight.

Over the past few weeks, I feel as if God has really been working in me to reveal my pride and correct it. It has hindered me in the past and has brought me to some of the darkest places I have ever been, all because I thought I knew what was best. I tried to be the first chair of my life, I tried to be the star of the movie of my life, and I realize that it is not about me. In this story, we see that it was not Joshua’s supreme fighting prowess, Moses was not strong enough to hold up the staff for very long, and that Aaron and Hur were smart to find something to help Moses hold up his arms. However, they still did not win the battle. What we need to focus on and look to in this instance is that the battle is the Lord’s.

A few hundred years later, we will see a man, who would later become King of Israel, say the same thing to a giant who stood opposed to God at the Valley of Elah. In 1 Samuel 17:47, David shouted, “And that all this assembly may know that the Lord saves not with sword and spear. For the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give you into our hand.” The battles that we face are already won. We do not win them. Often we sit back in fear and run. We retreat, falter, and fail, but the simple fact is we are not the hero of this story. Christ is the Hero of the story, He is the first chair, and He is the one who brings victory. It is not us nor our actions. In the start of Galatians 2:20, the apostle Paul said, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.”


Red Sea | Devotion 6: #NOTMYJESUS
Max Sinclair

“Thus the Lord saved Israel that day from the hand of the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore. Israel saw the great power that the Lord used against the Egyptians, so the people feared the Lord, and they believed in the Lord and in his servant Moses.” Exodus 14:30-31

With this study of Exodus, we get to see a lot of aspects of the Lord that we may not have wanted to see. We see His divine election of the people of Israel as His Holy Nation, we see the casting down of the gods of Egypt and the Lord’s divine authority through the plagues, and we see the Lord’s Power over His creation as He parts the Red Sea. All of this, however, some would argue, is not in character of the God in the New Testament who is rich in love and slow to anger, or even His Son the second person of the Holy Trinity, Jesus Christ, who did not come to condemn the world but to save it.

Now this Devotion is going to be very pointed, some might not like what I have to say or possibly agree with it, but I feel like it needs to be said. God does not care what you think of Him. As Hebrews 13:8 would say, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” We do not get to change that. We do not get to decide who our God is. If we do that, we are worshiping a false idol and an untrue god. Now I will not negate His love, grace, mercy, and amazing irresistibility but at the same time we can never forget that God is just, He is wrath, and He is to be feared.

At this point, the children of Israel feared the Lord. They have seen His just and awesome power displayed to all the world that He is the Lord, the divine authority, the King of kings, the Lord of lords. Even though they see this power of the Lord displayed, in a manner of days, they decide to build a golden idol of a calf and worship that. Is that not what we do as Christians today? Do we not go through a moment of fear and uncertainty only to be reminded of the realness of God and His undeniable sovereignty and then completely forget Him?

When I returned back to civilian life after my four years of service in the United States Navy, I asked Pastor Ryan Story to mentor me. In our meeting, I asked the question, “How could the Israelites forget how awesome and how powerful our God is and worship false gods or idols?” Ryan turned in his chair and with a pen drew a line on his office wall, “In a few weeks you won’t remember that mark was even there. It has become a permanent part of this room.” To my surprise, he was right. The mark became commonplace, it became ever-present and permanent, and I paid it no mind. Now, I am not saying that I should fear the pen mark on a wall in some office at our Holly location, but I am saying that we should fear our complacency with the Lord. God is not some genie that gives us three wishes, nor is He the conveyor belt of Blessings. God, YHWH, Jehovah, Adonai, is the Architect of the Universe, the undeniable sovereign of all creation. With this title and His authority, fear should be given, a total submission should be observed, and praise will be His.

I love you, and I know that the Lord loves you as well, but it is time that we take a realistic approach to the God that we serve. Yes, He is love, and His divine love also has divine justice and wrath. Yes, He will bless you, but He will also punish you. In Francis Chan’s book “Crazy Love,” he states, “I sometimes struggle with how to properly respond to God’s magnitude in a world bent on ignoring or merely tolerating Him. But know this: God will not be tolerated. He instructs us to worship and fear Him.” That is the God whom we serve, and it is about time that we realize that.

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