Between God and the World

A common method of transport in Managua is moto-taxi. Drivers tend to personalize their moto-taxis with flamboyant stickers and decals, often of famous brands (especially Nike) and sports teams. As Nicaragua tends to be a very religious country many have religious decals, either as an expression of their faith or as a way to attract religious costumers. This week I found myself riding in a rather curious moto-taxi. On one side of windshield was a Playboy Bunny sticker, while on the other was a decal of the crucified Christ. This juxtaposition of the sacred and the worldly really struck me. Here was the Playboy Bunny, one of the most overtly worldly symbols I can think of, right next to Jesus, the holiest symbol there is.

This juxtaposition really struck a chord with me, because I feel most of us live out a daily struggle between following God and following the world. We live a Christian life when it is convenient (at church, around Christian friends, etc.), but we live a very worldly life when it seems more convenient (when it helps us get ahead, when we are around worldly friends and influences, etc.). We know that we should live a life that follows the way of Jesus, but we so often give into the worldly temptations surrounding us. Lucky for us, Jesus knew that we would all face this problem. This is what he prayed on our behalf:

I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world.  And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified] in truth. John 17:15-19

Here are some key things for us to remember as we fight the daily battle between follow God and following the ways of the world:

  1. Jesus has CHOSEN to keep us in this world. Why? So that he can use us to make this world a better place. There is a reason that each of us is in this world, even if we can’t always understand it. When we follow his ways we not only live the life He has created us to live, but also position ourselves to best impact others.
  2. Jesus asks God to make us holy. In other words, he asks God to help us deal with the temptation to chase worldly things. God answers this prayer by providing us the Truth of Scripture and the guidance, conviction, and presence of the Holy Spirit. God wants to help you be more like Jesus, you simply have to choose to follow Him.
  3. Jesus dies for our mistakes. When we do fall into temptation Jesus’ death of the cross saves us for all eternity.

Spiritual Milk

1 Peter 2:2-3New International Version (NIV)

Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.

Ever see the commercial or advertisement, “Got Milk?” Milk for a new born baby is absolutely essential for them to live. That is why the bond between mother and child is so important. The baby grows from the milk that comes from the mother.

Peter uses this illustration of spiritual milk as a dependency of spiritual life itself. He points out the importance of being pure and not contaminated. The purity of milk is important for us as we grow up in our faith.

So, how is your milk consumption? Do you crave it? I hear from some that they don’t have time to read or don’t understand what they are reading. I get that. When I was young in my faith, I said and felt both of these things. And I gave those answers myself.

What I found out by not craving spiritual milk is that I struggled more in my life. I made greater mistakes. And I failed in relationships with people because I was going on my own thoughts rather than seeking out the wisdom from God and getting spiritual milk from the Bible.

The book of Proverbs has incredible insight to those who seek spiritual milk as to the fool who does not. Proverbs 18:2 says, “A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.” That was me. I was a man without spiritual milk.

So what do we do? Think of it this way, “Got Spiritual Milk?” Jump into God’s Word and get spiritual nourishment for your life. then you will grow up into the spiritual maturity in being a man God has called you to be.

Strength and Courage

Michael

 

Vital Ministries News

Five Locations and Now We Have Added a New Time and Location for Vital Men

Don’t miss out in joining us in one of our 5 evening locations of Vital Men. Go to vitalministries.org to find a location near you, get signed up to receive devotionals for both men and women, and get information on up and coming events. 

Also, we now have a new location for Vital Men for ages 20-40 in Oskaloosa. We are meeting on Tuesday Mornings from 6:30-7:30 at the Brickhouse Cafe. If you cannot make an evening Vital Men, come to our early morning time. Hope to see you!

We are studying 1 and 2 Peter. These are great opportunities to have fellowship with other men and grow deeper in your faith.

Strength and Courage

Michael

 

Choices

So often we find ourselves asking, praying to God for the answer, to steer our choice.  “What is Your will on the matter my Lord?”  We presented with options, we ask Him, what course should I take.  When He doesn’t answer us in the obvious, we take His silence as indifference.  That is never the case.  When you’re not hearing clearly or directly from God, it is most often because He has already given you His answer through His word.

We all face choices every single day, some small, some not so.  Currently, I am faced with a number of choices, decisions to make.  They include professional, financial and relational aspects of my life.  They are difficult decisions, but decisions that must be made.  I have been asking Him for guidance, and though I’m not receiving a loud and clear enunciation, I know He hears, cares and is answering, I just have to chose to listen.  

He prepares us through His word and our relationship with Him.  He equips me, and you, as we progress in our faith and understanding and when we’re ready, trusts us do do what He has trained us to do.  

Our peace and confidence comes in knowing that He will not set us upon a precipice void of footholds.  No, He sets our feet firmly, in a broad expanse, and when we’re ready, He trusts us.  He has prepared us to know where and how to hear His voice and how to apply it when needed.  Have a blessed weekend.

Psalms 31:3-9 (NASB) 

For You are my rock and my fortress;

For Your name’s sake You will lead me and guide me.

You will pull me out of the net which they have secretly laid for me,

For You are my strength.

Into Your hand I commit my spirit;

You have ransomed me, O Lord, God of truth.

I hate those who regard vain idols,

But I trust in the Lord.

I will rejoice and be glad in Your loving kindness,

Because You have seen my affliction;

You have known the troubles of my soul,

And You have not given me over into the hand of the enemy;

You have set my feet in a large place.

Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am in distress;

My eye is wasted away from grief, my soul and my body also.

In full pursuit of the greatest Trophy,

Scott Pace

god or God?

What is the longest you have gone without giving a thought to God?  3 hours, 3 days, 3 weeks or longer?  If you ask anyone, myself included, you will hear that life is busy.  There are endless things we like to do, and a few we have to do to get through each day, and we still often feel like we barely made a dent sometimes.  Is everything we are doing each day worthwhile?  Do you ever find yourself saying, ‘well that was a waste of time,’ though we are usually  more critical of others wasting our time than us wasting our own time.  If we are not even giving a thought about God, much less talking to him for long periods of time, where are our thoughts and attention focused?  What do we value most and give our time and energy toward…what do we worship? 

You shall have no other gods before me.  Exodus 20:3

It has been stated by many people that we all worship someone/something, and I have found this to be true as well.  If anyone is in doubt as to what they worship, just take a look at what they put their time, money, passion, and energy into and it should be fairly obvious.  For many it may be striving for money, fame, or power of some sort, and much of this goes back to the worship of self.  Just scan through the most popular Instagram feeds and it is almost always a bunch of selfies, attempting to make ‘me’ look as good as possible to everyone else.  This essentially says…’I worship my own image, maybe you should worship me too!’  This permeates most every aspect of life and media if you ever look very long into pop culture.  I heard someone ask recently how long we can go without checking our phone, or how we feel when we are without it.  We don’t have to look far to find other things upon which we have become dependent. 

Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.’”  Luke 4:8

Other symptoms of a growth in selfishness in society are increased entitlement, people quick to anger, increased criticism and lack of care for other humans, excessive concern about what others think of me, misguided priorities, and the list goes on.  With an increase of our on-demand culture, I think we are losing the ability to patiently wait for anything.  Even when Christians don’t get the answer they want from God, they may decide to ‘do it my way’ anyway.  I find myself laughing at how quickly I can become impatient anymore, and I realize that I shouldn’t put myself in situations where I need to rush.  Instead of blaming others, I should be blaming myself.  Instead of worshiping my own self-interests, I should be listening to God to guide me in where I should go.  You think we would realize our own faults by now.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;  in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.  Proverbs 3:5-6

So, take a little inventory into where we are investing the resources we have been given, and what fruit has come of it.  Take time to talk about this with those you care about, or anyone who will listen.  Change the attitude of worship from the created to the Creator and priorities will fall into proper perspective.  May God continue to reveal His worth to you as you seek Him!

Yours in Christ,
Clark

Every Sunday at 8:30 AM

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