Red Letter Day: Father, Forgive Them

This lent we are walking through the final words that Jesus uttered before dying on the cross for our sins. We find today’s words in the heartwrenching story found in Luke 23:32-34. 

Two others, who were criminals, were led away to be put to death with him. And when they came to the place that is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”And they cast lots to divide his garments. Luke 23:32-34

While I have never suffered anything in the ballpark of crucifixion, I have had a couple of scary moments in my life. One was in a triathlon in Chicago, with an open water swim in Lake Michigan. The water was 59 degrees with 20 mph winds, which made for extremely hazardous conditions. To top it off, it was a pier start, meaning your body has no time to acclimate to the water. About 30 seconds in I switched from trying to achieve a good time to simply attempting to make it out alive! Another scary moment was when our family flipped our SUV on our way home one Christmas. We spun out of control long enough, and flipped enough times, for me to realize this could be it. It was a pretty scary moment. 

Notice what I thought about each time? Myself. Maybe in the back of my mind my family was there, but I was pretty much concerned with self-preservation. Contrast that with Jesus. What is he concerned with as he dies an excruciating death on the Cross? Forgiving others. In the midst of all that Jesus is concerned with others receiving forgiveness. Yet, many of us (including this writer), struggle to forgive others in substantially less trying circumstances. We have a harder time forgiving someone who cuts us off on the road or, even worse, violates the sacred rules of the Oskaloosa McDonald’s drive-through lane (I have not been there for five years, but drive-through budgers drive me crazy!). Yet God, who created our world perfectly, and watched our sinfulness mess it all up, was willing to suffering and die so that we may be forgiven. If God can forgive, why can’t we? 

Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. Ephesians 4:32

I really encourage you today to take a few minutes to forgive someone you’ve not yet forgiven. Maybe it’s for something that happened yesterday, or something 30 years ago. Let’s not forget Christ’s example this lent, and instead forgive those who have wronged us. 

I Have Others

John 10:16 New International Version (NIV)

16 I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.

I love this portion of the Bible. In Jesus’ own words, he is speaking about us. We are the other sheep in the sheepfold. Today, there are three things that I want to hit on that stand out and apply to us as men.

  1. I must bring them. It is always important to remember that Jesus does the bringing. He brings others to the door of salvation in that our salvation was paid for by Christ’s blood. Our part is to do the asking. Introducing men to Christ and sharing our story of how he brings us along in life is our part.
  2. Listen to his voice. Are you hearing the Holy Spirit speaking to you? Jesus speaks through his creation, His Word, another person, and even in a still, small voice. The key is to listen and hold back outside voices that my not be speaking the truth.
  3. He has one flock, and Jesus is the Shepherd. Men, Jesus is the Good Shepherd bringing the nations to him. No one is excluded. It is important that we see all men through Christ’s eyes. 

I am thankful, today, for all men. May we live in peace and under our Lord’s blessing in how we serve him.

Strength and Courage

Michael

 

Vital Ministries News

Vital Biker Couples Ride

Clear Lake, Iowa

June 28-30

Kickstands up at 7:00 am

 

Stand

Ephesians 6:10-17 (NASB) ‘Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth , and having put on the breastplate of righteousness , and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace ; in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation , and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. ‘ 

 

Attacks will come to us from and endless number of directions and in an endless number of forms.  They come in the form of physical ailments, disease, injury and the degradation of age.  They come in the form of financial distress.  They come in the form of loss or suffering of loved ones.  The attacks materialize in the form of distressed, damaged and lost relationships.  Attacks can come in the form of injustice, lies, malicious intentions, selfish and wicked intentions by others.  The point is, attacks take many forms, and it is often so very hard to bare.  It can be very hard to reconcile the “why”.  No body wants to experience them, or see others that they care about have to bare them.  

The thing to remember is that the attacks are nothing more than an attempt by satan to derail you, your faith and your ability to serve God and the kingdom in the manner in which He would have you serve and represent Him.  It’s very easy to lose sight of Him in the midst of the storm.  It’s very easy to fall into despair, perhaps even doubt God or His love for you.  That’s satan’s goal, to render you ineffective.  

I believe as we grow more resolute in our faith, more focused on the Lord, the attacks often times intensify.  For it is within these storms that the opportunity to provide our most compelling witness to the power, glory and sovereignty of God.  How we walk through these storms, showing the world our willingness to trust God and relinquish all on faith to Him, carries tremendous weight.

In order to do this, however, our focus must be on Him, not ourselves or our circumstance.  We live this out by being firmly grounded in His word, devoting time every day to the study of scripture.  We must equip ourselves with the full arsenal God has made available to us.  We must spend time every day, intentionally devoted to conversing with, praying to and worshiping the Lord.  When we dedicate to do this, only then will we recognize the attacks for what they are, and be able to “stand”  when the time calls.  Have a blessed weekend.

In full pursuit of the greatest Trophy,

Scott Pace

Who’s the Boss?

Have you ever come up with a bright idea of a new way to accomplish a task and decided to run it by the boss?  If you are fortunate, the boss says ‘sure, give it a try’ and then the idea fails miserably.  Or maybe you are the boss, or think you are, and the same thing happens.  How many second chances of trying the same thing do you think you should take?  How many trials would the boss give you before you are told, ‘go back to the way we know that works!’  Probably no more than a couple times before you are demoted or tapped on the head and told get back to work, otherwise you have a very forgiving boss.  Sometimes the boss knows best and following orders is best for everyone.  Sometimes you quit and try to do things your own way  instead of taking orders with which you don’t agree.  Sooner or later, you figure it out.  When have you ever gone against what you have been told to do?

Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.  James 4:10

If you have a good boss, or employee, or wife, or anyone else you have offended, or told off in the past, only to realize that they were right in the first place, then you either have to pretend that you were right, or admit your mistake and one way or another, ask for forgiveness.  Because if they are not very forgiving, and many are not, then they will likely tell you to get lost.  We don’t always get it right every time, and having others around us who are willing to be a little gracious to us and others is important in life.  When we are more gracious and forgiving toward others, they tend to be so toward us as well.  When we are harsh and rigid, others act the same way toward us, and we see the consequences. 

Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.  The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.  The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so.  Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.  Romans 8:5-8

When God gave us rules, plans and procedures to follow, it was not just for our own benefit, but for the benefit of others as well.  It is also for the benefit and reputation of our team and the company we work for.  When we are God’s children, we represent Him and everyone else in the company and ‘the church’ as well.  He gives us the guideline of laying down our lives and letting his Spirit guide our steps in all we do in accordance with His will.  Its not always an easy thing to do, as it fights against our selfish nature, but when we practice it more and more, it shows in our lives.  When we go against God’s law and His guidance for our lives, it negatively impacts Him, us, and those around us.  Thankfully, when we humble ourselves and seek forgiveness, he allows us a second, third, and fourth chance to try to get it right.  Where is He giving you that chance today? 

 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.   Galatians 2:20

Yours in Christ,
Clark

 

Every Sunday at 8:30 AM

Listen to Mike Sereg on kBOE 104.9FM

LISTEN NOW

Sign me up!

  • Yes, I would like to receive the the Vital Men Daily Devotion email. Sign me up!
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.