The Giver, not the Gift

It’s the Giver, not so much the gift.

From the pages of Scripture, God calls us to, “rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18) What is God’s will for your live? To live a life of joy, prayer, and thankfulness.

The object of our thankfulness reveals much. The author of Hebrews exhorts, “Therefore, let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken.” (Hebrews 12:28) Considering Jesus, we ought to be thankful for things eternal. We ought to be thankful for the Church, Heaven, God Himself, and Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant. (Hebrews 12:22-24)

It’s the Giver, not the gift.

The Gift

We like the gift.

Last summer I inherited a cherry, ’89 Ford F-150. My wife’s grandfather bought it new and drove it around his little West Virginia town where he served as the town barber for fifty years. He drove it on fly-fishing excursions and after he passed several years ago, unbeknownst to me, my father-in-law had it restored, had a new engine installed, and drove it down to me. I was overcome with gratitude. I become a boss when I slide behind the wheel. Everywhere I go, it turns heads, catches eyes.

I should be thankful for this wonderful, uh, blessing. We thank God for our food before consuming a meal, and we should. We thank God for health, our families, our jobs, and we should.

But I hesitate to even use the word blessing, so twisted and perverted has it become.

To be clear, in sovereignty, all things come from God. I have a ’89 Ford F-150 because God decided that I should. I had my dinner tonight at the provision of God. My health, my job, my family: all come from God.

And we should be thankful for these things, these gifts, but…

The Gift is Transient, Fading

Twenty-three years ago, my father bought me an ’89 Harley Davidson Sportster 1200. It was a sweet ride, two-tone blue and grey. I quickly lowered the rear and installed a set of wicked drag pipes to ensure everyone knew I was coming and that it was appropriate to look at me.

On it, I became a rebel, a free spirit, an outlaw biker though the extent of my scoffing of the law probably involved driving a little more aggressive than I should have. I mean, I didn’t actually want to get in trouble, but my leather jacket and illegal, non-DOT-approved skull cap certainly generated an appropriate appearance. But, I loved my scooter, this gift from my father.

Today, it is no more. It exists only as a well-worn memory.

The gift always fades; it diminishes.

John assures us of the transient nature of all things. “And the world is passing away along with its desires.” (1 John 2:17) Isaiah affirms that, “The grass withers, the flowers fade.” (Isaiah 40:8) James confirms that our very lives are as a vapor, here today, gone tomorrow. (James 4:14)

In the end, all things will perish. One day in the not-too-distant future, Christ will return, bodily and in power, and He will set all things right. There will be a Resurrection and a Judgement, and all things will perish in the fire, the heavens and the earth. And there will be a new heaven and a new earth as Jesus sets all things right, for good. (Hebrews 12:25-27)

Nothing will last.

My cherry pickup will one day be a pile of rust. I may never have another meal after this one. I may rise to death tomorrow or the Lord may see fit to remove my family. Yes, we should be thankful for all these things, but we should understand a bitter truth learned by Job so long ago. The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away. (Job 1:21)

I Merit no Gift

Back to the blessings. I sometimes cringe when I hear people refer to the gifts given to us as blessings.

Yes, the Lord blesses us when He gives to us, but the failure occurs when we attach these blessings to merit.

Tyler Perry stood before T.D. Jakes’ congregation at The Potter’s House to inform them of his intent to donate $1 million. He was a giver, he informed the audience, and had been his whole life. “You see, when you have favor with…come on somebody,” as Perry pointed heavenward…as if man could earn or merit the favor of God.

Be not mistaken. God calls the believer to bear fruit, to live a life of holiness, purity, and obedience to Him. Yet, these works, done in the will of God, conformed to Christ, empowered of the Holy Spirit, though pleasing to God, merit no favor or special consideration.

I wonder, on what basis a man like Tyler Perry thinks his favor with God is based.

Is that why he has so much wealth, why God has chosen to bless him?

I wonder about the Christians in Africa slaughtered at the hand of Al Shabab. Where is their favor? Why didn’t they earn it? What did they do wrong? What about the martyrs, the countless number who’ve perished, often violently, at the hand of man purely because their faith? Did they merit no favor? Even the Apostles, the foundation of the Church—why did God’s favor not keep them from a martyrs’ death…well, maybe John merited favor as the sole Apostle not martyred on behalf of Christ.

God blesses, but He does so as He sees fit and not based upon any thing that we may have earned. This type of thinking inevitably leads to stratification based upon possession and inevitably a works-based salvation, both anathema to the word of God.

The True Gift

My two-year old son loves me, at least at first, because of what I give to him just like I loved my parents for what they gave to me, like a motorcycle. At some point though, a change occurs, a transition happens.

Though I am still thankful for all that my parents gave to me, I’m ever more thankful just that they are my parents. I pray that my son would feel the same at some point.

The true gift is the Giver, an unperishable, unshakeable, immoveable gift. I love the other gifts and cherish His blessings and thank Him for them daily, but with an understanding of an eternal truth.

It’s the Giver, not the gift.

My heavenly Father is the greatest reason I must be thankful this day. The Giver is the greatest gift I could ever have. My adoption as a son, my status as a sinner justified by His grace alone, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and the anticipation of one day hearing, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” (Matthew 25:21)

Let us be thankful this day for what matters most.

Bradford Smith

Bradford Smith

Author - Founder

Soldier, Pastor, Author – Bradford stays busy, with his wife Ami, raising their 9 children, serving the nation, pastoring, preaching, and writing books (#3 is due out October ’17).

THE 413 REPORT

If you loved this article, and would like to learn more about foster and adoption care, and to stay up to date on our projects, missions, and programs, as well as the release of Bradford's third book, Brave Rifles, please sign up for our Newsletter. The 413 Project is made up of common people empowering and serving others to accomplish an uncommon good.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

This is a powerful read in a small book. The subtitle hits the mark with its description of, "A Biblical Treatise on Adoption." The author poses a challenge to the reader to stop reading the book upfront if the reader does not want to be moved to action.

   Janice S. Garey  

The call that sounds for the incredible need of emotionally and physically abandoned and orphaned children and one that when answered manifests the love of Christ.

  Anne Rightler

This book is a must read for anyone affected in any way by addictions. So many of the situations in this book seem hopeless, but as Brad so clearly points out, Christ is the solution and the only hope of man. As long as there is breath, there is hope!

  Scott Doherty

In Scourge, Brad offers us more than cold statistics or a cautionary tale. Instead, he offers us the solution - faith backed by action - to overcome this insidious problem Insightful and provocative, Scourge is a warning flag, guide post and rally to hope for all of us.

 Chad Chasteen

Wartime Reflections: The Sovereignty of God and the Goodbye Do-over

At 22 years of service I can say that I love the United States Air Force, beyond a shadow of a doubt. I love ‘em…except when I hate ‘em.

Anyone who has deployed may know where this is heading.

As I prepare to lay down my sword and embark on my final deployment before retirement, I am reminded once more of the unique pressures of military life and the unique stressors placed upon military families. Military life taxes families in unfathomable ways. The goodbye do-over is but one excruciating example of such a burden.

I almost hate the goodbyes more than the deployment itself. I hate the days and weeks preceding the goodbye, the inevitable march of time toward the dreadful day.

The Switch

I’ve got a switch. I discovered it several years ago. Ami and the girls drove me to the airport. For a reason I cannot remember, I was deploying via commercial air this trip. After checking in, I lingered with Ami and the girls for a few moments. I held Ami tightly as the girls, not quite knowing how to act, misbehaved a bit. I struggled between wanting them to settle down and not wanting my last words to them to be a reprimand.

At some point, a man came over and asked if I was a deploying soldier. Perhaps he sensed the gravity of what he witnessed. I informed him that I was at which point, he thanked me for my service. I thanked him in turn, gave Ami and the girls one last kiss and squeeze and got in the security line. A minute later, I turned and somberly waved goodbye.

Immediately after clearing security, I found an isolated area behind a sign and sat down and wept quietly—don’t judge me—for just a minute. No one saw. The I flipped the switch. Time for business. The task at hand beckoned and I could finally punch the clock on the countdown timer until I could be in the loving arms of my beautiful bride once more.

Once I flip the switch, things are okay. Once I cross the threshold from goodbye anticipated to goodbye complete, all is well. It is the hours, days, and weeks leading up to the flipping of the switch that tear at my soul, the dread, the lump in my stomach. When I look at my little guy sleeping soundly and know he won’t understand where his daddy is the next day. That’s what eats at me.

Sovereignty, in Theory

I’m so thankful we worship a sovereign God.

God’s sovereignty is codified by His authority. He has absolute authority over all things. Everything! From the smallest to the greatest. From the simplest to the most complex. Not a single word is spoken, not a molecule moves, not a gust of wind blows, without His ordaining. This may be difficult to reconcile with the sheer breadth of creation, but true difficulty arises in reconciliation with moral free agents exercising independent will.

Yet Scripture speaks clearly to the issue, that it is though it doesn’t necessarily explain how it is.

Acts chapter 28 describes Paul’s shipwreck onto the island of Malta. He is under Roman custody already, facing an uncertain future, likely death. He and his shipmates nearly starve to death prior to running aground. Paul is bitten on the hand by a viper. It is literally hanging from his hand so that the natives think he will surely die. These things, not good things, had to happen. And why?

The chief’s father had fallen ill with dysentery. Paul visits him, prays, lays his hands upon him and heals him. Verse 9 records that after this, the rest of the sick people on the island came and Paul cured them as well and the people honored them greatly. These horrific things—the storm, the starvation, the shipwreck, the viper bite—these things had to happen that Paul might heal these people of their diseases. You can bet he shared the good news of the Gospel, as was his custom.

How many came to know the Life-giver, Jesus Christ, because of Paul’s misfortune?

Solomon writes “He [God] has made everything beautiful in its time.” (Ecclesiastes 3:11a) God is in the business of making all things beautiful, in His time! It’s what He does. He heals. He reconciles. He mends. He sets free. Allow me to repeat, it’s what He does!

Well I can’t see how that would be the case! The things that have happened to me are just too horrid.

O’ short-sighted man, let not your purview limit your trust. Solomon further affirms that man “cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.” (Ecclesiastes 3:11b) We are limited in scope and time, finite in our grasp. Scripture well affirms that He is about the business of working all things for the good of His people. (Romans 8:28)

Sovereignty, in Practice

The Air Force left me hanging. Not the first time but, prayerfully the last. I had showed promptly at 6:30 a.m. to be told after two hours that the plane was hard broke at its point of origin. Twenty-four-hour bump at least, likely longer.

The good news was that I got to go home and see my family again. The bad news was that we had already crossed the threshold, issued our tearful goodbyes and now must retrograde back across the threshold and do it all again. For half a second, I contemplated going to get a room to spare the agony of the goodbye do-over.

However, I quickly headed home, calling Ami to inform her of the change. Two things happened as a result:

1) I had promised to take my boys fishing the previous day but due to my poor planning, had been unable. This delay allowed me to make good on a promise to my boys. As a bonus, my little granddaughter caught her first fish ever!

2) My wife and I had been struggling to reconcile some personal issues. Our goodbye had not been on the best of terms. That evening, the Lord worked a veritable miracle in our relationship, as an outpouring of healing, love, and tenderness overtook the two of us as the Lord shattered the strongholds that held us captive. It was quite literally a turning point in our relationship, an amazing reconciliation, perhaps the sweetest time in our nearly 17-year marriage, all but for a delayed flight courtesy of the United States Air Force.

God is in the business of healing, reconciling, mending, and freeing…and He will even use the Air Force and a broken C-17 to accomplish this very thing.

The next day, I showed promptly at 1330 and still no aircraft. I returned home a second time. Expecting another 24 hours, this time I only got four, just enough to time for a few more hugs and kisses, one last trip through the Starbucks drive-thru, and one more round of goodbye do-overs, which I hated.

God is so good!

Bradford Smith

Bradford Smith

Author - Founder

Soldier, Pastor, Author – Bradford stays busy, with his wife Ami, raising their 9 children, serving the nation, pastoring, preaching, and writing books (#3 is due out October ’17).

THE 413 REPORT

If you loved this article, and would like to learn more about foster and adoption care, and to stay up to date on our projects, missions, and programs, as well as the release of Bradford's third book, Brave Rifles, please sign up for our Newsletter. The 413 Project is made up of common people empowering and serving others to accomplish an uncommon good.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

This is a powerful read in a small book. The subtitle hits the mark with its description of, "A Biblical Treatise on Adoption." The author poses a challenge to the reader to stop reading the book upfront if the reader does not want to be moved to action.

   Janice S. Garey  

The call that sounds for the incredible need of emotionally and physically abandoned and orphaned children and one that when answered manifests the love of Christ.

  Anne Rightler

This book is a must read for anyone affected in any way by addictions. So many of the situations in this book seem hopeless, but as Brad so clearly points out, Christ is the solution and the only hope of man. As long as there is breath, there is hope!

  Scott Doherty

In Scourge, Brad offers us more than cold statistics or a cautionary tale. Instead, he offers us the solution - faith backed by action - to overcome this insidious problem Insightful and provocative, Scourge is a warning flag, guide post and rally to hope for all of us.

 Chad Chasteen

No Father, No Rest—of the Fatherless

“Not one has a father,” Ami commented as we watched our sons bounce.

My oldest had stopped by bringing his girlfriend’s young son. He quickly rounded up my other sons and they made a bee-line for the trampoline in the backyard. Within a few seconds, all were immersed in the delirious gaiety of bouncing, frequently dissolving into a pile of flailing limbs and kicking feet. Laughter was the order of the day.

Ami’s comment prompted a quick mental roll call. Yep, all of ours had come from fatherless homes. Our young visitor’s father had long ago walked.

“Sad.”

We never sought out the fatherless. Years ago, we’d relinquished control of the foster system to the Lord. “Send us who you will,” though I wrestled with the Lord on each occasion. Still, over the years God took the opportunity to fill our home with boys, young men, all fatherless.

They had all been abandoned in varying fashion. Their fathers had walked out, signed away rights, or drifted away. They succumbed to addictions or lost interest in fathering. They failed financial obligations or were deported to other countries. And just like that, I found myself a father to the fatherless.

Easy research reveals the plight of the fatherless. The deep inward wounding wrought by fatherly abandonment manifests itself in a number of typifying behaviors, the usual suspects of addiction and affliction. Over the years, Ami and I have noted unifying characteristics that all our fatherless sons exhibited to varying degrees.

Most of them could be traced to a single quality. They lack the ability to rest.

I love our church’s children’s class. Every Wednesday, children of every shade and background gather to learn of the Lord. Ami pointed out to me that there were just as many kids from a non-traditional background as there were from a traditional background. Foster kids, adopted kids, kids with amazing biological parents, kids from unspeakable circumstances: all accepted one another without question, without hesitation. What a beautiful picture of the church!

However, after just a few minutes in the class, you could make an educated guess about who came from traditional families, who had been fathered and who had not. A restlessness, an anxiety, pervades in the hearts of the fatherless, even the formerly fatherless. They had no ability to just rest, to just exist, to just be. They constantly fretted about seeking something that they could not comprehend. An unsettled spirit drove them, manifesting itself in some obvious ways. They cannot be content with things as they are, even if things are the way they desire.

The fatherless find no rest.

Want of a Heavenly Father

In much the same way, those lacking a heavenly Father want for peace. I know of two men from opposite ends of the socio-economic spectrum. Meth addiction drives one of the men, the biological father of one of my sons. He leads a day-to-day existence scratching out a living from whatever handyman work he can muster. His refuge lies in the gratification of the flesh in the form of whatever chemical he can obtain. The other man is a highly successful corporate lawyer having dabbled on Wall Street for a bit before finding his niche. The wealthiest man I know, he finds his refuge in obtaining—homes, cars, motorcycles, wives etc.

Both men pursue the bread of anxious toil. “It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest.” (Psalm 127:2)

With no heavenly Father, both men live as slaves, long since vanquished by their idols. The pursuit governs their drive despite the disparate nature of their pursuits. Contentment evades them, satisfaction but a dream. In desperation, they shred themselves for one more hit off the pipe, sacrifice their family on the altar of promotion for a bit more prestige and influence.

They have no Father in whom they may rest.

The Father beckons, calling forth. “I will satisfy the weary soul.” (Jeremiah 31:25)

“They who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles.” (Isaiah 40:31)

“Be still, and know that I am God,” He commands. (Psalm 46:10)

In Him, His children find their rest. In Him, we abandon hapless worldly pursuits. In Him, we forsake the gratification of the flesh. As sons of God, because He has sent the Spirit of God into our hearts, we may cry, “Abba! Father!” (Galatians 4:6) In Him, as sons, we may…rest.

Father to the Fatherless

Jesus calls to us, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)

I know of few heavier laden than the fatherless. The fatherless—even the functionally fatherless, those absent a father during the formative years or those absent an engaged or godly father—the fatherless bear a burden that those unencumbered can never fathom.

Considering Christ, for those of us appropriately reared, it becomes easy to assume the marvelous. Incredulously, we observe the adoption of the fatherless as sons of the living God and still the doubt, still the fear, still the anxiety. Why does the warm embrace of our heavenly Father not still your restless heart? We wonder at the harsh reality of a fatherless existence, maybe doubt the efficacy or potential for healing.

All men cling to their sin. Even in adoption as sons of God, our sin nature refuses to die necessitating the daily call to crucify the flesh, to mortify our flesh. Some cling to sins of pride or sins of lust. Some grasp at doubt. Others, often the fatherless, cling to the sins of other men, men who’ve walked away in abandonment, the sins of their fathers. The sins of an absent father afflict well into salvation.

God heals. It’s what He does. It probably won’t be as tidy as you’d like.

Fatherlessness twists and distorts the psyche of a man far beyond comprehension. My own sons, even after being fathered, some of them for as long as they can remember, bear unfathomable scars. Some of them are of Christ, some are not yet. Either way, their restlessness persists, their pursuit continues, tempered though it may be by the presence of an earthly father, me, and the knowledge and promise of a heavenly Father.

God’s effectual call summons His children, His sons from the darkness. The healing salve of His grace melts and mends, softens and sustains. He will give peace. In Him we find rest. His way, His timing, they are perfect.

For the fatherless, this promise may seem a never-to-be realized dream as the all-too-familiar feelings of restlessness persist. Why can’t I have peace? When will my struggle end? Why did God allow this to happen?

All we can do is cling to the promise and to our heavenly Father. He is good. He defines goodness and I pray that you’ll soon realize that serpent is actually a fish. (Luke 11:11) Liberty for the oppressed…the very business of our Lord Jesus. (Luke 4:18)

For those called to minister to the fatherless, as husbands or wives, fathers or mothers, know that superficial banners and vain, shallow excursions into the faith will likely yield little fruit. Answers, when they do come, do not come easy. Steel yourself for the onslaught of a life in tatters. Find honor that God has called you as a tender healer and joy in the promised redemption. 

 

Bradford Smith

Bradford Smith

Author - Founder

Soldier, Pastor, Author – Bradford stays busy, with his wife Ami, raising their 9 children, serving the nation, pastoring, preaching, and writing books (#3 is due out October ’17).

THE 413 REPORT

If you loved this article, and would like to learn more about foster and adoption care, and to stay up to date on our projects, missions, and programs, as well as the release of Bradford's third book, Brave Rifles, please sign up for our Newsletter. The 413 Project is made up of common people empowering and serving others to accomplish an uncommon good.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

This is a powerful read in a small book. The subtitle hits the mark with its description of, "A Biblical Treatise on Adoption." The author poses a challenge to the reader to stop reading the book upfront if the reader does not want to be moved to action.

   Janice S. Garey  

The call that sounds for the incredible need of emotionally and physically abandoned and orphaned children and one that when answered manifests the love of Christ.

  Anne Rightler

This book is a must read for anyone affected in any way by addictions. So many of the situations in this book seem hopeless, but as Brad so clearly points out, Christ is the solution and the only hope of man. As long as there is breath, there is hope!

  Scott Doherty

In Scourge, Brad offers us more than cold statistics or a cautionary tale. Instead, he offers us the solution - faith backed by action - to overcome this insidious problem Insightful and provocative, Scourge is a warning flag, guide post and rally to hope for all of us.

 Chad Chasteen

A Bloody Mess: Life and Redemption in the Arms of Christ

I recently spent some time with men in the crucible, men caught up in the whirlwind of sin and Satan. There was the young man struggling with an adulterous affair and self-mutilation. There was the elder statesman battling the demons of lust. Addiction—both alcohol and drugs—and pornography abuse pervaded.

To see them on the street, you wouldn’t look twice. They looked just like everyone else but these men were broken, broken beyond belief. Choking back tears, they spoke of their struggles and shame, their failures and faults, people they’d harmed, wives they’d betrayed, family they’d walked out on. Tragically, these men were all believers in the Lord Jesus Christ.

This encounter afforded me a stark reminder. Life is a messy, often bloody affair.

A Great Forgery

That is not what we want. The average Christian wants his church like his life, nice and tidy. Each Sunday, we’ll dutifully load the children into the minivan, ensuring they’re dressed appropriately, make the short drive to church, put on the appropriate smile, sing some encouraging songs, hear some encouraging words and hopefully make it out in time to beat the rush at Cracker Barrel. No one gets dirty, no one gets bloody, nice and neat, clean.

That night, the wife abuses her prescription anti-depressants, a son immerses himself in lust on his smart phone, a daughter cuts up her arms from the emptiness, as the dad sits oblivious on the couch. The wife later cries herself to sleep from neglect.

No matter how clean life looks, the mess is there, the blood pools on the floor, whether you acknowledge it or not. Most of us stuff it down, suppressing or ignoring the sin that separates us from the Lord, sin that ensnares us so easily. (Hebrews 12:1, Proverbs 5:22) We become content, in our fear, to lead a faux life, a shallow existence desperately trying to ignore the bloody handprints on the floor, obvious though they may be.

Bloody Expectations

How could life not be bloody? Man’s sin represents the ultimate betrayal.

David sins against Bathsheba by calling her to him in adultery. He betrays Uriah, his brother-in-arms by sleeping with his wife and then has him murdered to cover it up. He sins against the people, the Israelites. It is the spring, when kings go out to battle and David is at home, not where he should be. The people trust him to rule fairly, justly, righteously and instead, he becomes embroiled in the fallout from the affair. The people look to him as a leader and he betrays them.

He later writes in agony, “Against you, you only, have I sinned.” (Psalms 51:4a)

David sins against all these people but truly, he sinned against God. He sinned against the Creator, the Sustainer, the all-powerful, all-knowing, ever present God of the universe, the God of unlimited love and mercy who breathed the very breath of life into David’s lungs, the God who raised David up as a king. David betrayed God. David sinned against God.

David said, “Thank you very much God. I understand who you are. I understand what you’ve said and what you’ve commanded, but in this moment, I love my sin more than you. I love my lust more than you. I desire the physical gratification of my flesh more than you, God. I am making a willing and free choice, God, and I am not choosing you.”

David’s confession puts our sin in perspective. I have sinned against you God, only you. As sin betrays God, it is serious, deadly serious. The stakes are high.

Knowing this, why wouldn’t life be bloody and difficult? As men have betrayed the Life-giver, the Lord Jesus, how could we expect anything different?

And there we are, on our knees with a sponge as we hemorrhage, sopping up what we can as the life-blood drains from our withering bodies. No matter how furiously we mop, the growing mess will eventually betray our efforts.

A simple fact confronts the hearts of prideful men—the notion of being helpless and weak, powerless to pursue that which your human nature despises. You have two options:

      1) Clean yourself up the best you can and present yourself before the Lord hoping it’ll be enough. It won’t.

      2) Admit that you need a Mediator, a Redeemer.

You’ve sinned, maybe dwelt in sin for years, decades even, your entire life, “but if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” (1 John 2:1b) Though you are helpless and weak, in your weakness, God is strong…and lest we forget, He is good.

Redemption – a Bloody Affair

God reminds us, “Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sin. “(Hebrews 9:22b)

Moses descended from Mount Sinai with the Old Covenant, the Ten Commandments. He built an altar and sent young men to slaughter oxen as a peace offering. Moses took half the blood and threw it against the altar. He read them the book of the Covenant, the Law. Upon hearing it, the people responded with, “All that the LORD has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient.” (Exodus 24:7) And then he doused them with blood. He threw the other half of the blood upon the assembled masses.

By the blood of bulls and goats, God inaugurated the Old Covenant, a lesser covenant that always pointed to the New. (Hebrews 10:4)

Ultimately, by the blood of the Lamb, God redeems a people for Himself. (Ephesians 1:7)

Do you think your sin or your affliction is too much for God? Consider the words of Jeremiah, “Ah, Lord GOD! It is you who have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and by your outstretched arm! Nothing is too hard for you.” (Jeremiah 32:17) Nothing is too hard for God. Nothing!

As such, He provided the perfect and ultimate sacrifice. The Father slew the Son, relieving men from the curse of the Law, freeing men from the bondage of works and religious ritual. Without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness of sin. It is the shed blood of Christ that forever satisfies this requirement, reconciling men to God.

What Must We Do?

Christ always confronts with this question, “What then must we do?” Since you know that Christ’s shed blood atones for the sin of all who would believe, what then must you do?

David makes this heart-felt plea following his earlier confession, “Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.” (Psalm 51:7) This is exactly the business of God.

John writes, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9) We must confess our sin and by confession, that means we say and think the same things about it as God. We must hate our sin as God does and here is a great promise. He will forgive and He will cleanse.

God alone can save. God alone can heal. Only God can cleanse us from the messy filth of this broken world. God is in the business of redemption. It’s what He does! The call is the same as it always has been, “Repent!” Repent of your sin and turn to faith in the Lord Jesus.

Broken Men Made Whole

I think about these broken men, men kneeling on the battlefield, bloodied and weakened, wiping the sweat from their brow. It is Christ who will lift them to newness. It is Christ who will pull them to their feet. It is Christ who will redeem them. The celebration is that they know the Lord Jesus.

The humbling aspect is understanding that I am they, just as broken and bloodied.

I bet you know a bloodied soul. Perhaps you’ve been bloodied yourself. Your sin or the sin of others long ago drove you to your knees. No matter how hard you try, you just cannot get clean. Quit taking matters into your own hands and turn to the One who can wash you clean.

Turn to the one who’s been bloodied and say, “I know another way.” In that there is hope, great hope as Jesus calls men from the darkness and into His marvelous light.

Bradford Smith

Bradford Smith

Author - Founder

Soldier, Pastor, Author – Bradford stays busy, with his wife Ami, raising their 9 children, serving the nation, pastoring, preaching, and writing books (#3 is due out October ’17).

THE 413 REPORT

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This is a powerful read in a small book. The subtitle hits the mark with its description of, "A Biblical Treatise on Adoption." The author poses a challenge to the reader to stop reading the book upfront if the reader does not want to be moved to action.

   Janice S. Garey  

The call that sounds for the incredible need of emotionally and physically abandoned and orphaned children and one that when answered manifests the love of Christ.

  Anne Rightler

This book is a must read for anyone affected in any way by addictions. So many of the situations in this book seem hopeless, but as Brad so clearly points out, Christ is the solution and the only hope of man. As long as there is breath, there is hope!

  Scott Doherty

In Scourge, Brad offers us more than cold statistics or a cautionary tale. Instead, he offers us the solution - faith backed by action - to overcome this insidious problem Insightful and provocative, Scourge is a warning flag, guide post and rally to hope for all of us.

 Chad Chasteen

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