Joy Fulfilled

John 6:38-40 (NKJV) “For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. 39 This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day. 40 And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.”

In a world, especially here in the United States of America, where we have been given much, have so much to be thankful for and can do so many wondrous things, you’d think joy would flow abundantly from the hearts, minds and actions of the majority.  Yet, as I allow myself to observe others more and more closely, I find joy to be a rather rare commodity.  We have sooo much, so why?

Jesus Christ had so little in comparison.  The disciples during and since Jesus’ earthly ministry, also had so little.  Yet, as I read the words above, Jesus’ words throughout the gospel, the words from the disciples, there is joy, abundant, fervent, unending joy.  So ask yourself, in a world where we can have and do so very much, why does it seem to be painfully lacking in joy?  

I would contend that true joy is found in the execution of the purpose, our mission, for which we were created.  Jesus’ joy was found in the perfect execution of His purpose.  He knew why He had been sent, His mission and He joyfully fulfilled it.  The disciples, despite the deprivations and persecutions, found joy in knowing their mission, recognizing their particular ministry and fulfilling it.  Their joy, true joy, was not found in doing a thing, but rather found in executing God’s will in their life.  

Each and everyone of us is “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalms 139:14), purposefully created and tasked for a mission, a ministry.  Upon understanding what our ministries entail, God will equip us.  

Hebrews 13:20-21 (NKJV) Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, 21 make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.  

There is a saying, “God does not call the equipped, He equips the called.”  This phrase is not found in scripture but is certainly an accurate summation of a number of verses.  However, if we are to be equipped, or use that which we have been equipped with, we must know our purpose, God’s will for our life, our ministry He has set for us.  

To know this, you must know God’s heart.  To know God is one thing.  It is quite another to have a deeply committed relationship with Him.  To realize true, unending, unabashed joy, the same joy as the disciples, Jesus’ joy, you have to fully pursue a deep, unwavering, intimate relationship with God.  You must desire to know His heart, partner with Jesus, so that you can uncover His will for your life and aspire to the perfect fulfillment of His purpose.  Your life’s value is found SOLELY in the fulfillment of that ministry.  Your joy.

You have a mission, a ministry.  Do you know what it is?  Are you passionately pursuing a perfect execution of it?  If not, why?  Is the mission you’re pursuing yours or His?  Have you asked?  Have a blessed and JOYOUS weekend!

Romans 20:24 (NKJV) But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.

In full pursuit of the greatest Trophy,

Scott Pace  

A Prayer in the Air

This past week, I was sitting in a window seat as we took off in a flight from the Midwest to the West coast of our vast country.  It is a unique perspective as you quickly rise from a few feet to thousands of feet about the city and countryside and you catch a glimpse of little vehicles and houses along the way.  I have done it a few times before, but I found myself praying for the people in those little cars, houses, and buildings as we flew overhead.  A prayer in the air, way up there, could that even make a difference in some stranger’s life?  What if we all asked ‘what is possible’ for the friends and strangers we encounter each day? 

Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.  James 5:16

Just stopping to wonder what God could do in someone’s life left me caring a little more for the stranger sitting next to me, as well as the one I may never meet.  I took that further to the people I encounter on a daily basis, as I seldom fly above the rest of the world anymore.  I often spend over 100 miles behind the wheel of my car during the work day and thought about the people who pass by me, as well as those who are driving a few miles per hour slower in front of me.  My usual attitude is ‘how fast can I get around this guy,’ instead of ‘I wonder what kind of day this person is having?’  If I am running behind schedule, it is often more about me and my needs instead of caring at all about the people around me.  This should not be.  People should be more than obstacles to be hurdled, right?                 

But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.   Matthew 5:44

So, as you go through your day, look for opportunities to consider those around you and how God could touch their lives in a unique way that day.  For those you see and talk to each day, and for those you may never even see at all, but just pass by for a moment, say a quick prayer and blessing, and ask God to touch their heart today.  In doing this, maybe as often happens to me, your heart and attitude will be changed in a better way moving forward as well.  If our prayers and concerns for people around the globe can be effective, how much more for the person crossing the path in front of us through our prayers, actions, and words.  May your day be blessed as you go about life, right here, or way up there!

Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else.  Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.  1 Thessalonians 5:15-18

Yours in Christ,
Clark

What REALLY matters?

My grandfather was just placed in hospice this week, after 12 years of fighting cancer, open heart surgery, and diabetes he does not have much time left.  To say it has been hard would be a huge understatement.  He is going to leave behind a wife of 58 years, three kids, eight grandkids, and seven great grandkids to date.  He loves Jesus and served Jesus, the Church, and people well.  He was not a perfect man and didn’t always get it right.  He did not have new cars, fancy toys, or a large retirement.  Depending on what you value, some may say he had it all and others very little.  He went to most of my games as a kids, taught me to hunt and fish, and taught me to work on cars.  I think he had what matters most. 

I asked him after 80 years of life, what really matters.  He said that is easy.  

1. Jesus
2. Marriage
3. Family

He told me if I am successful in those areas, that is what matters most.  Family for him is a lot more people than blood relations. I was overwhelmed at the number of people who came to visit that told me he is family.  

At one point, Jesus was asked about priorities and what really matters.

Matthew 22:35 One of them, an expert in religious law, tried to trap him with this question: 36 “Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?”
37 Jesus replied, “‘You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’e 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. 40 The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”

Verse 40 sticks out to me.  Jewish laws and customs had over 600 regulations that children spent years learning and old men spent years debating. Jesus wraps up the entire point of the Old Testament in three sentences.  Can you imagine the response?

So I have a question for you: What do you really value?  Not what do you say you value… what does your time, talent, and treasure say you value?  It is what your words say?  If you say you value your church but do not give and serve, your time, talent and treasure trump your words.  If you say you value family, but spend all your free time in front of a TV, hunting, and side projects, your time, talent, and treasure say different.  I am not trying to make anyone feel shame, but I want to challenge you to make your time, talent, and treasure line up with what you say you value.

If you are unsure, ask the people who know you best what you really value and just listen don’t defend. Create a plan for your time, talent, and treasure to match your values.  Value the right things!

Recklessly, obsessively following Jesus

Brandon Sereg

Live One Life

Allan Mullay took a job nobody wanted: CEO of Ford Motor Comoany at the peak of the US financial crisis. Ford flew him from Seattle to Detroit to be introduced as its new CEO. He was surprised when the car that picked him up was not a Ford, but one of its competitors. He chuckled, thinking someone made a silly mistake when selecting a car service. When the car pulled into the parking lot at Ford headquarters he was down right flaburgasted: there was hardly a Ford in the entire lot. He looked up and down the rows of vehicles of the people who designed, sold, and led Ford, and was dismayed that hardly any of them chose to purchase and use the very product they spent their days working on. This signaled to Mullay that there was a major cultural problem within Ford. Think about it for a second: if you knew someone who worked at Ford, but chose to drive another vehicle, would you be inspired to buy a Ford? Most likely not. I know it would make me severely question the quality of their vehicles if their own employees were unwilling to drive them. 

Are we like these Ford employees when it comes to living out our faith? Do we act one way within the hallowed halls of the church, a quite another way in our daily lives? From what I have seen in the lives of many, as well as experienced in my own life, the answer is YES. When we are inside the church we are enthusiastic followers of Christ, but when we enter the world we far too often become enthusiastic followers of the world’s ways. Like a Ford employee driving the competition’s vehicle, think about what our actions signal to those around us. They see us going to church on Sunday, but then they witness us living and acting contrary to Scripture day in and day out. Do you think that inspires them to follow God? Not in the least. At best it teaches that God’s commands are optional, and at worst its evidence of Christian hypocrisy. 

This is not at all a new problem. The Apostle Paul famously wrote about it in Romans: 

Present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:1-2

I often get asked “how do I share the gospel with others?” My answer comes straight out of this illustration and this scripture: you simply live every minute for Jesus. Your actions will always be substantially more impactful then any evangelistic technique or speech. If you want to spread Jesus’s light in our dark world then don’t give into the temptation to play Church on Sunday and live a worldly life the rest of the week. Live one life: a life for Christ. 

Love My Church

Ephesians 1:15-16New International Version (NIV)

Thanksgiving and Prayer

15 For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all God’s people, 16 I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.

We often see at this time of year, “Love My Church”. I think the local church has great opportunities for us as men to get plugged in and be involved. There are opportunities for relationship, commitment, and banding together as brothers.

My thoughts for us today are, “What can I do in being engaged in church?”

First, what is your commitment? I believe men who love their church get their families there. We help our wives with the kids. By doing this we are showing love for her and telling our children that church is important.

Second, invite over men to church. This is important, guys. Shoulder tapping with the ask brings men. By doing so, it tells that man you care for his life. You want the best for him and for what God has for his life.

Third, be involved. Nothing shows a man’s heart when he shows us he is involved. You can get involved in a church event by setting up tables and chairs. You can barbecue at a picnic event. Invest in friendship whiles getting involved.

Fourth and finally, love Jesus. When you love Jesus, you want to know more about him. You will be attentive in church. You will listen to what the Pastor says, and it will bring transformation to your life. It will encourage others.

Men, I do love my church because Jesus is coming after her some day. We need to be a church that waits with expectancy of Christ’s return. There lies the power of the church. The church is his bride.

Strength and Courage

Michael

 

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