Vital Ministries News

CARE – LESS

Acts 18:12New International Version (NIV)

12 While Gallio was proconsul of Achaia, the Jews of Corinth made a united attack on Paul and brought him to the place of judgment.

Have you ever heard it said, “I could care less.” Sure, all of us have probably said it multiple times. That was the place in which the governor of Achaia was. He was tired of dealing with the Jews and their on going Jewish Law issues.

I wonder at times about my own attitudes about Christianity on what is law and with rules. We get pummeled with them by speakers, teachers, and religious people. It will get you to the point of, ” I could care less.”

If you read further in Acts 18:12-17, you will see God using Gallio’s attitude for his work. Paul was brought before him with false accusations. The Jews did want to hear the truth about Jesus being the Messiah.

We should all be checked in our hearts about having a ‘care less’ attitude. The world, religion, and misguided people can make you have this kind of attitude. I have heard it said that as you get older, you will either get harder or softer. Jesus, keep me being softer. How is your heart, men?

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Live Well and Leave Well

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Philippians 1:21-23 (NKJV) For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. 22 But if live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell. 23 For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better.

In July of 2012, I got sick.  I was diagnosed with a fairly rare kidney disease.  My immune system decided to target my kidneys and before the disease progressed to obvious symptoms, my kidneys were headed for failure.  My disease is incurable, but manageable.  

I tend not to share my aches and pains with others.  When I’m sick or hurting, right wrong or otherwise, I generally keep it to myself.  However, in this case, word got out and the outpouring of love and support was remarkable.

I don’t recall when, exactly, or whom, but a few weeks into my treatment, someone inquired as to how I was doing.  After I briefed him on what exactly was going on, he asked, “is this deadly?”  Until he asked, I hadn’t thought very long on that possibility, “I don’t think that’s a likely outcome, but if not gotten under control, I suppose that’s possible.”  “Wow, I’m so sorry,” he replied.  “That is truly scary!”  Until, that moment, I hadn’t thought of the situation in that way, either.  “Not really,”  I replied.  His expression shifting to bewilderment. “Huh?  How not?  That doesn’t frighten you?!” he asked.  I thought about it for a moment and, “no, not in the least.  You see, I know where I’m going,” I stated.  Again, bewilderment, “what do you mean?”  At that question, it dawned on me.  My friend doesn’t know the saving power of Jesus.  “I certainly don’t want to leave my wife without her husband or my girls without their father.  But, if it is my time, afraid?  Quite the opposite, in fact. I’m going to heaven to be with Jesus and my Heavenly Father.  Why on earth would I be fearful?”  He simply nodded his understanding, wished me the best and headed on.  

Prior to my friend asking, why had I paid death no never mind? My conclusion, why should I.  Three years prior, I guarantee my mind would have been drowning in the idea of death.  I would have been submerged in fear.  But not anymore.  I had hope and faith in the promise from my Lord Jesus.  I had peace, knowing that the end of this life is merely the beginning to life ever after in heaven with Him and my Father.  Like Paul, I now have a “desire to depart and be with Christ”.  It’s far better!  

In the meantime, I know that my time here is measured and He would have my life be fruitful.  So, I’m trying to do just that.  I’m trying to allow Him to use me in a way to help lead others to this same hope, faith and peace that carried me through that conversation with a friend, through the battle with this disease and that carries me from one day to the next.  This disease may get me yet.  If so, it’s alright.  We are all departing this world eventually.  I would just like to make the most of the time I’m allowed, live well and leave well.  God bless you and have a glorious weekend my friends!

In full pursuit of the greatest Trophy,

Scott Pace 

Turn Around

Turn to me and be saved, all you ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is no other.  Isaiah 45:22

Where are you looking?  In this life, we may put our hope in a lot of different things and a lot of different people.  Where is your hope?

Just look at the world around you and you can see where people are putting their faith.  They try to accumulate wealth to be self-sufficient and not need from anyone, even God.  Some put their hope in their health and youth, trying to control how they eat, sleep, and exercise to prolong their lives, until they realize they have little control over what happens.  There are some who are motivated by pleasure and experience, seeking only the next best meal, drink, thrill, or self-indulgent behavior, ultimately leading to their own self demise if they do not realize the path they are on.  Remember, none of these activities in their proper place are bad, in and of themselves, but when it is your source of purpose and hope for why you are here, it then becomes an idol. 

All people will disappoint you sooner or later.  Either because they are sinners and don’t do what they promised you, or because your expectations are unrealistic.  Every politician may fit in this category, as they make promise after promise we want to hear during their run for election, and then are unable to deliver on everything.  When we are young children, we think our parents are the best people ever, then as we mature, we realize they have some flaws, just like everyone else, even if they still love us.  For various reasons we may let down others as well, even if we justify our actions in our own minds.  Even God may disappoint us when he doesn’t come through in the way we expect Him to act.  When our prayers go unanswered, something doesn’t turn out how we wanted, or we experience a series of unfortunate events, we question whether he hears us, or cares about us. 

Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him.  Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.  Psalm 62:5-6

So, wherever you turn for meaning and purpose in this life, remember if it is on anything or anyone other than God, sooner or later you will be disappointed.  There are many things that will disappoint us in this life and eventually we will learn that most things are fleeting, including this life.  Stand on the promises that God makes and take hope in him.  Share with others this truth found in Christ alone.  He is our hope. 

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  Hebrews 12:1-2

Strength and Courage in Christ,
Clark

UpSide Down Kingdom

I am teaching my kids about money right now.  My daughter Eden asked about why God needs our money.  I told her that God can do more with 90% than we can do with 100% of our money.  My son Levi was not convinced.  His question is why doesn’t he just bless our 100%.   I asked him how much he likes having money.  He said a lot. I said Jesus knows your heart and your wallet are connected.  Jesus wants your heart.  

Throughout scripture Jesus defies social norms and seems to put culture on its head. So often His ways seemed upside down to other nations.  Jesus told them to work only 6 days a week and rest on the 7th.  Also to give a farmers field a year of rest every 7 years. Later, Jesus disciples were arguing over who was the greatest.  His response was so confusing to them:

Luke 22:6 Those who are the greatest among you should take the lowest rank, and the leader should be like a servant. 27 Who is more important, the one who sits at the table or the one who serves? The one who sits at the table, of course. But not here! For I am among you as one who serves.

photo-1464500422302-6188776dcbf3Jesus says the greatest is not the one who holds the position of influence, a seat of power, or the greatest pedigree but as a servant.  Other translations substitute servant for slave.  In the roman empire, a slave and servant where of the lowest position.  Jesus said to aspire to be like them.  Wait, Jesus wants me to be a slave. Yes, His slave.  Now Jesus said He came not to be served but to serve.  Jesus is not some terrible slave master but a serving King.  

We have been made right with God by grace through faith in Jesus, we have been given freedom from sin and death.  Now our lives are not our own. We have been purchased.  Greatness in the Kingdom now sits with the slaves in Christ.  

Where are you serving?  Jesus wants you to serve His church with the time, talent, talk, and treasure He has entrusted you with. Where do you need to take a greater role as a servant?  Who do you need to serve at home today?  Who do you need to serve at work?

I believe at the end of our lives we will not celebrate the money, things, or accomplishments we have acquired, but the ways we have been able to give, serve, and people we were able to love. So start today!  Serve someone today.  

Recklessly, obsessively following Jesus

Brandon Sereg

Law, Love, and Light

stones-1470279-640x480Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12

These are some of the most familiar, beloved, and memorized words in all of scripture. Yet, as familiar as these words are, we often don’t know the context in which Jesus uttered them. Jesus spoke these words to the assembled crowd right after he told a group of religious leaders that whoever was without sin should cast the first stone {v. 7}. Do you remember that encounter?

Jesus was at the Temple in Jerusalem early one morning, when a crowd sought him out to hear his teaching. Soon a group of religious leaders came to him, dragging in their wake a woman who had recently been caught adultery. Adultery was considered one of the two most serious sins at the time, and was thereby punishable by death by stoning. These religious leaders thought they could use this woman’s case as the perfect trap for Jesus. If Jesus {who was known to preach love and forgiveness} forgave her then the leaders would be able to show that he did not fully follow the law. If he did follow the letter of the law, allowing the woman to be executed, then the leaders would be able to show Jesus’ followers that he was not really all that loving and forgiving after all. All in all it seemed as if they had laid the perfect trap for Jesus.

Jesus’ response, however, proved to completely turn the world of the leaders on its head. He turned to them and proclaimed “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her” {v. 7}, to which the leaders all the leaders turned away, letting the woman go. Jesus managed to show that he was both perfectly loving and perfectly followed the law. This encounter speaks to three major teaching about Jesus.

  1. The law Reveals Our Guilt: The commandments and teachings of the Bible are meant both to give us a road map to life and to shine guilt on our sins. God’s commands are not there to simply point out the flaws of others, but to reveal our own sins. This guilt should lead us to confessing our sins and, like Jesus told the woman that day, to “go, and from now on sin no more” {v.11}.
  2. The Love Reveals God’s Grace: Jesus’ love reveals the grace God has for all of us. This incident shows us that Jesus’ love is so great as to gracefully forgive all of our sins so that we may all avoid the punishment we deserve.
  3. The Light Reveals Our Hope: The summary of this whole story, as laid out so beautifully in verse 12, is that Jesus offers his love and forgiveness to all. Jesus shines a bright light into our world, giving us all the hope of a PERFECT eternity with HIM in Heaven. 

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