Make Myself A Man

1 Chronicles 29:17 New International Version (NIV)

17 I know, my God, that you test the heart and are pleased with integrity. All these things I have given willingly and with honest intent. And now I have seen with joy how willingly your people who are here have given to you.

Our twentieth president of the United States was James B. Garfield. This man only served as a president for two hundred days before he was gunned down and killed. History says that in the 1880 Republican Convention was in a deadlock on who would win the ballot. Somehow Garfield’s name got placed on the Republican Ballot, and he wins.

This man was the only ordained minister to be elected president. He was a man who had chosen to live a life in godly virtues. He made this statement, and I think all of us can resinate with what he says, “I mean to make myself a man, and if I succeed in that, I shall succeed in everything else.”

Men, succeeding is choosing to live a life of godly virtues, to delight in living in uprightness, and to be a man of integrity. I believe James Garfield made those choices early in life. We never know when those defining moments will show up in life.

I am realizing that more and more as the older I get, that you can work on living a life of integrity to only lose it in a moment of a bad decision. I want to choose to “Make myself a man” who walks in the uprightness of the Lord. When I do that, I will always have integrity in my heart.

Strength and Courage

Michael

 

Vital Ministries News

We want to promote the Klompen Classic this year. You can run or walk. This is held on May 2 and costs $25.00 if you preregister. For you fitness folks, it is a great event. Go to www.crossroadspella.org for more information. If you show up, you will see my wife and I running the 5K. Well, you will see us jogging at an easy pace. But, the key is, we are moving and having fun.

Strength and Courage

Michael

My Rock and My Fortress

Psalm 18:20-24 (NASB) 

20 The Lord has rewarded me according to my righteousness;

According to the cleanness of my hands He has recompensed me.

21 For I have kept the ways of the Lord,

And have not wickedly departed from my God.

22 For all His ordinances were before me,

And I did not put away His statutes from me.

23 I was also blameless with Him,

And I kept myself from my iniquity.

24 Therefore the Lord has recompensed me according to my righteousness,

According to the cleanness of my hands in His eyes.

I have been reading The Crucified Life, by A.W. Tozer, for the second time.  If you haven’t read it, I would highly recommend it.  I won’t go into a book report here, but only mention it, because his discussion of what a sold out life, a crucified life, in Christ can and should look like, puts one in a certain frame of mind.  It is that frame of mind that directed my study on Psalm 18 and what I feel I am supposed to write about today.

Psalm 18 is a reflection of David’s personal expression of gratitude to the Lord found in 2 Samuel 22.  David adapts that expression into this psalm for the whole of the people to sing, as their security is now tied to David’s line, the ultimate culmination of which is our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  

Psalm 18 is a beautiful expression of the power and protection wrought by God on David’s behalf.  However, what I want to draw attention to is who (David) and why (his righteousness) God’s intercession and protection was provided.  

Tozer talks, in depth, in his book about the lack of desire for the Lord in today’s christian.  He talks about the willingness of those to gladly accept the freely given gift of salvation bestowed upon us by our Lord and Savior, but our unwillingness to give all that we have and are over to Jesus, a refusal to “crucify” ourselves, to be born aain into the new life that He promises.  We want the best that He has to offer, we want peace, protection and prosperity, but we so seldom are willing to pay the price.  

In Psalm 18 God intercedes on David’s behalf, because he has faithfully pursued God.  He has tried to honor God, follow His statutes, obey His commands.  In the onslaught cast upon David, God sees him as righteous, blameless, his hands are clean.  Now, do not mistake my meaning here.  I am not saying that David’s works saved him, but they did shine favorable light on him in God’s eyes.  He made faithful conscious decisions and for that God rewarded him.

Psalm 18:32-35 

32 The God who girds me with strength

And makes my way blameless?

33 He makes my feet like hinds’ feet,

And sets me upon my high places.

34 He trains my hands for battle,

So that my arms can bend a bow of bronze.

35 You have also given me the shield of Your salvation,

And Your right hand upholds me;

And Your gentleness makes me great.

Now, God didn’t just snap His fingers and obliterate David’s enemies.  He equipped David with righteous instruments, He empowered Him to prevail over the evil that plagued him.  How often do we ask for God’s intercession, expect Him to just sweep in and save the day, but then miss the tools and means He equips us with to handle the hardship that plagues us?  What would we gain, in what way would we grow and mature, if every time we find ourselves in a tight spot, God just wiped it all away?  

David is an example, certainly, of bad things happening to a faithful, God fearing person.  He was persecuted, hunted, starved, unsheltered.  He had it rough, despite being a faithful servant, but he remained faithful.  Bad things do not only happen to “bad” people.  But God hears the cries of the righteous, as He did David’s.  When David was ready, God pulled Him from the grips of his enemies, equipped him to battle back and earn the monarchy God had established for him.

Another question, is the only time you come to God when you need something?  David was consistently desiring to know God intimately, to follow His statutes, to obey Him.  David sought righteousness, knowing to do so draws him closer to the Lord.  God was merciful and provisional, because David was humble, hungry for righteousness, and faithful.  Have a blessed weekend.

In full pursuit of the greatest Trophy,

Scott Pace

 

 

KISS

As I was growing up, I heard a phrase in reference to trying not to make things more complicated than we have to.  KISS:  Keep it Super Simple.  Or the more pejorative, Keep it Simple, Stupid!  Generally in life, we tend to make things more complicated than they need to be.  We can get lost in the details of what we are doing and lose sight of our original objective.  We can make mountains out of molehills, when we fear a task looming before us that we are not prepared for, or that seems impossible to complete.  However, after we start and work to completion, it may not seem as difficult as it once did.  I think it is a good challenge to sum up things in one or two sentence descriptions, whether it is your job, a gameplan to complete a task, or any number of things, it helps you keep focused on what you are trying to accomplish.  There is even a principle called Occam’s razor, which postulates that the simplest answer is usually the most likely or accurate one.  How about when it comes to God…does He like to keep it simple, as well?

“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”   Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’  This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’  All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”  Matthew 22:36-40

Jesus summed up the Old Testament law with two simple commands.  It was much simpler than the myriad of laws and extra commands that the religious leaders of the time gave people to be ‘accetable.’  The Ten Commandments can be divided by 2 as well, when you consider the first 4 are directed toward Loving God, and the last 6 are toward Loving others, it seems to fit well with Jesus’ love commands.  When you approach challenges of life with these two principles, it is not difficult to come up with a valid way to approach almost anything you may encounter.  When we get puffed up with pride, greed, envy, anger, and the like, problems are bound to result.  When we approach people and situations with love as our primary motive, we will still face challenges, but the results will be less problematic.  Now we know the answer to the question, ‘What’s Love got to do with it?’

Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.  1 John 4:11

How well do we love God and others?  The more we practice, the better we get, though we will never do it perfectly.   Jesus shared many parables, like the Good Samaritan, which illustrated the degree we would have to go to love perfectly, which is ultimately an unattainable ideal.  More often than not, when we consider these areas of our lives that we ‘need to work on,’ it reveals to us the degree to which we are all still sinners in need of saving, no matter how ‘good’ we get.  Sure, we may appear to our neighbors like we’ve got it all together, but they don’t see our hearts like God does.  If they only knew X,Y,Z.  But the good news is that God continues to forgive us, when we humble ourselves and come to Him, we receive mercy.  Though we are imperfect now, when we model the fruit of the Spirit toward others, as He does toward us, we become more like Him. 

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.  Galatians 6:9

So, let us not give up our pursuit of striving to be like Christ in all we say and do.  The more we read the Word and become familiar with his life, the more we will see opportunities to do the same.  We can demonstrate love toward others as He has toward us.  We can forgive others, as He forgives us.  We can give our lives for him and others, as He has for us.  Keep it simple and love the way He loved!

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.  By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.  John 13:34-35

Yours in Christ,
Clark

How to Change the World… part 4

A little over three years ago I bought a house. The ceiling was falling down. The water pipes were broken. The HVAC was broken. Most of the house didn’t have any flooring in it. Oh and it was UGLY!!! Wow it was ugly. The house had been on the market for months. No one wanted it.

I went to go see it and I offered more than they were asking. I bought the house. Then I fixed that house. It has new everywhere! I put it on the market and it was under contract in 36 hours. The house sold for $81,000 more than I put in it. Most people saw a problem, I saw an opportunity.

I wonder how often we see problems and get stuck in our complaining instead of seeing it as opportunity.

Joshua inspected the promised land with 11 other spies. 10 spies saw giants, massive armies, and huge walls. Joshua and Caleb saw an opportunity. The 10 spies gave their report and here is what happened next.

Numbers 14:5 Then Moses and Aaron fell face down on the ground before the whole community of Israel. 6 Two of the men who had explored the land, Joshua son of Nun and Caleb son of Jephunneh, tore their clothing. 7 They said to all the people of Israel, “The land we traveled through and explored is a wonderful land! 8 And if the Lord is pleased with us, he will bring us safely into that land and give it to us. It is a rich land flowing with milk and honey. 9 Do not rebel against the Lord, and don’t be afraid of the people of the land. They are only helpless prey to us! They have no protection, but the Lord is with us! Don’t be afraid of them!”

The 10 spies saw the problem and felt defeated before they even started. Joshua and Caleb saw the problem with God in mind and the problem looked small and the opportunity was great.

The fourth way to change the world is…. See problems as opportunity

When we compare our problems to our abilities it is easy to get defeated. When we look at our problems compared to God we see opportunity.

So what are the greatest problems you are facing now? Write them down… like for real, do it now.

Now compare them to God one at a time. Ask Him what He thinks of your problem. Write that down too! The Lord opened Joshua’s eyes to opportunity that looked like giants, massive armies, and huge walls. May the Lord open your eyes to see as He sees.

Take the opportunity!

Recklessly, obsessively following Jesus

Brandon Sereg

Every Sunday at 8:30 AM

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