As mentioned last week, we are starting a new blog post layout where every Monday we will post a simple (yet hopefully impactful!) devotional. Something encouraging to reflect on for the week ahead, as well as uplift you from whatever last week held. This weeks Monday Motivational is going to be a recap of what we learned during our Mid-Winter Retreat at the beginning of the year! Lets get into it.
I think it is important for me to mention who our speaker was even though he would disagree. We were blessed to have Michael Hancock, along with his wonderful wife Chelsea, as our speaker this year. Michael is a Knoxville native who grew up in the Alice Bell community. During his schooling years he attended Berean Christian School. While a student there he lead bible studies, participated in student government, and played soccer among other extra curricular activities. He was a camp counselor for us for a couple of summers as well. He is a young man that is intentional about seeking the will of God and leads his family in that manner too. Being someone that I look up to spiritually made it all the more a special weekend for me. Although I was thrilled about the fact Michael was speaking for us, I was even more excited about what he spoke on and I cannot wait to share it with you!
Session 1 Breakdown:
The main theme of session one was for us to be rooted in Jesus Christ. To be rooted in Christ we must first understand why it is important for it to be Christ that we are rooted in and not simply the concept of church or the theology we hear there. From what we learn in Romans 3:20-23 it is made clear that if we try to obey the law in order to justify ourselves in the eyes of God we will fall short because that is us trying to be our own root system. This falling short has a consequence that is very drastic, but also very real. What is the consequence you ask? Great question and the answer can be found just a few chapters later in 6:23. The wage (consequence) we pay for falling short of God’s glory is death. However, when we fall short God extends a free gift to us which is “eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord”. Jump back to 3:24 and we can also learn that we “are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus”. It is crucial for us to build our life upon this truth that our wrongdoing has one consequence, and that only Jesus could overcome it. In addition to being rooted in Christ to understand our salvation, we were also challenged to root ourselves in Christ through an understanding of his sovereignty. Colossians 1:15-20 paints a beautiful picture of the sovereignty of Christ. Take a moment to read those verses if you would like and reflect on the fact that Christ is the “image of the invisible God’, “firstborn of all creation”, “all things were created through him and for him”, “in him all things hold together”, and “in him the fullness of God was pleased to dwell”. Jesus Christ is sovereign and offered himself up as a sacrifice to pay the consequence we could never pay. As believers we must root ourselves in this truth!
Session 2 Breakdown:
The main theme of session two was for us to be rooted in scripture. It is mind bottling to think about what all went into the making of God’s word. Sixty-six books, around forty authors, written over 1,500 years all coming together to point ahead and back to the Messiah. In the life of a believer scripture must become a necessity. There are many reasons for scripture to be a necessity, but we focused on three. The first was that it is necessary for us to understand our salvation. If we read scripture for entertainment purposes or as a leisure read we will miss out on the purpose of its content. When the actions of Jesus were challenged by those who knew the bible and its words (Pharisees) he responded by asking them if they have read the scripture (Matthew 12:1-8 & 19:1-6). He was not questioning if they had physically sat down and read scripture, but rather if they had understood what it was they were reading. The same is true for us that if we do not read the bible with an understanding that we are the sin problem that lead Christ to the cross, then we cannot understand our salvation and the necessity for it. Romans 10:14-17 paints this picture perfectly: someone must be sent to preach the word, people will hear what is being preached, they can then believe in what they have heard, and once they believe they can call on him! God’s word is necessary for us to understand and hear the gospel so that we can call on him and receive the gift of Christ’s sacrifice. The second necessity of scripture is that it helps us to know certain knowledge about God’s will. It is important to note that we will not understand or know ALL of God’s will (Deuteronomy 29:29), but with scripture we can be shown specific facets of His will. Through scripture we can find specific instances of what God’s will is like in 1 Corinthians 10:31 when we are told to “do all to the glory of God.”, or in Matthew 28:19 when we are told “Go and make disciples of all nations…” , or even something like in Romans 13:1 “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities…and they have been instituted by God.”. This understanding brings us to a capacity to discern the will of God better. Colossians 1:9 says “And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God”. Through God’s word we are equipped with spiritual wisdom so that we can make the decisions required of us in our day to day life. The final point about the necessity of scripture was that it is needed for our continued sanctification. Sanctification is a progressive work being done in our lives from the point of salvation through the end of days. Psalm 119:9-16 illustrates this very well, and I would recommend you giving that passage a read when you have some time to really chew on what is being said. The first verse of that passage says ‘ How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word.” God’s word is necessary if we hope to keep our way pure.
Session 3 Breakdown:
The main theme of session three was to emphasize the importance of what we learned and why. We recapped the importance of being rooted in Christ and why it is only Christ that will provide a firm foundation for a believer. We recapped the importance of being rooted in scripture and why it is necessary for us to understand our salvation, discern certain knowledge about the will God, and the means in which we continue our sanctification. We went back to Romans 3:24-26 so that we could understand that everything we have learned was “to show God’s righteousness”(verse 25). This life is not about us, this camp is not about the campers, but rather everything we do should point back to God’s glory and righteousness. Furthermore, it is our duty as believers to take this truth and make it a lifestyle so that it is spread to the lost and glory is brought to God!
It was an incredible weekend!! I hope that you can read this and feel inspired about what God has on the horizon for you!