Remember This Verse

Romans 15:13 (NKJV)  Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Paul is reiterating the words proclaimed by David so many times over and over.  How precious, yet powerful at the same time, is this proclamation.  As we progress through our daily lives, I feel this verse is one that we could and should keep readily in our fore thoughts.  

Whether things are going well, as you would have them, or as we many times must, have to deal with stress, turmoil and tragedy, keeping focus on this simple truth can carry and guide us.  

When our hearts are aligned with God, there is most assuredly a peace and joy like no other.  When we are focused and pursuing a strong connection with Jesus, and allow the Holy Spirit to fill and work through us, there is nothing that can erode that.  

When things are great and running smoothly we can lose focus, get complacent or unappreciative. Remember this verse.   

When things seemed to be stacked against us, nothing goes the way would would like, trouble, strife and tragedy befall us, don’t lose heart.  Remember this verse.  

Have a joyous and safe holiday weekend celebrating the birth of this greatest nation on earth, these United States of America.

In full pursuit of the greatest Trophy,

Scott Pace

 

Hungry

Steak 2

From the time we are born, it is one of our most driving desires – to get our bellies full.  Kids have a built in alarm against hunger – when they want fed, they let you know.  We can go a while without food, but the longer we do, the more we are reminded of our hunger.  Every night this week, I have had food cravings before going to bed.   Most nights I eat plenty earlier in the evening at dinner time, but still, I am getting into a pattern of a late snack.  I don’t need it, but I am really starting to crave it.  Who is in charge, me or my stomach?  What are you hungry for? 

He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your ancestors had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.  Deuteronomy 8:3

What lengths will you go to get the meal you want?  Maybe it is a certain restaurant you will drive hours for to sit down for your favorite meal, a special desert that only your mom can make, or a certain sweet corn that you track down when the season draws near.  People will drop a lot of cash to get that special meal or drink that they long for.  Is it worth the effort?  It must be, or we wouldn’t be doing it.  Do we put forth the same effort to fill our spiritual hunger as we do to meet our physical needs? 

Taste and see that the Lord is good;  blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.  Psalm 34:8

We are often reminded throughout scripture of the connection between our spiritual needs in relation to our physical hunger and thirst.  God provided manna and water in the desert when they were in need.  Jesus began his ministry with a 40 day fast as he was tempted in the desert.  Most of his miracles involved meeting the physical desires (blind, lame, sick, hungry) of those he encountered, while emphasizing the even greater spiritual needs that they had.    We are reminded to give thanks before gorging ourselves on whatever sits on our plate.  The very act of taking communion incorporates all of our senses in the process.  When we fast, our hunger reminds us of an even greater need for God in our lives. 

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.  Matthew 5:6

As we start to reap the benefits of our gardens and other Summer time produce, let us be reminded of how fragile our lives are.  We wouldn’t have to go more than a day without food, before we would start taking drastic measures to get what we want.  The next time you celebrate around food or sit down to your favorite steak, be reminded of how blessed we are that our physical needs are so well met, but even more so, sing and praise Him for meeting every spiritual hunger that we long for.  When that hunger comes back time and again, know where you can go to be fully satisfied. 

Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.  John 6:35

Strength and Courage in Christ,
Clark

Knowing God

Growing up I loved going to the skating rink. In elementary school you had to leave at 9 pm.  The high schoolers could stay until 11. I remember wanting to get in so bad. But it was ” access denied.”  I never liked being told what I could not do.

photo-1428591850870-56971c19c3d9Before Jesus, the High priest could go into the presence of God. So one man one time per year could walk into a small room and meet with God. If you are not a Jew or simply not the high priest which is everyone, you never got to experience the presence of God.  Why is that? I’m glad you asked. Sin separated us from God and the Law (standard found in the first five books of the Bible) kept us from ever gaining relationship with God.  So I grew hearing that I could know God, but before Jesus they believed they could know about God. God could be found in a room by one guy once a year. Separating people like you and me from what was in that room is a 65′ veil (really thick curtain). That veil kept me from knowing God and sin kept me from the veil, and to make things worse because of sin that I can’t forgive I am stuck and helpless.

Have you ever felt the access was totally denied.  Right before Jesus died…

Matthew 27:45 At noon, darkness fell across the whole land until three o’clock. 46 At about three o’clock, Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” which means “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?”

50 Then Jesus shouted out again, and he released his spirit. 51 At that moment the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom.

Jesus wanted us to have access to the presence of God which has the power to free us from the bondage of sin and not just forgive us from the consequences.  Jesus died so we could know Him and experience the power that would eventually raise Him from the dead.  When Jesus asked why God had abandoned Him, Jesus was experience gap in relationship that we had with the father because of sin. The Father knew He would have to treat Jesus like us, so He could treat us like Jesus.  

So right now, GO to Jesus and ask to experience His presence.  Let Him change you and make you new. Don’t go with fear or shame because of sin.  Jesus paid all that!! Get in His Word, Worship Him, and get to know His presence.  He loves you despite your past.

Recklessly, obsessively following Jesus

Brandon Sereg

Sharing the Joy

share-key-1524927How do you react when something good happens in your life? For me the first reaction is to celebrate, and if you know me you won’t be surprised to know that my celebrations are quite loud! My second reaction is to share the good news with others, starting with my family and moving outward to my family and friends. In this day in age that often includes sharing the good news on social media {Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.}. My third reaction, unfortunately, happens considerably less then the first two, and that is to pass the blessing onto others. When I was in seminary a family in the church I interned at gave us an amazing new car as a baby present. We could have easily just sold our perfectly fine old car and pocketed the cash, but instead we chose to donate it to a ministry that gave it to a single mom with a special needs child that could not afford a reliable car. Unfortunately, that’s not often how we react when we get blessed in a big way {I could have shared MANY stories where I did not share my blessings very well!}.

 

I’ve been think a lot lately about this passage from Paul’s letter to the church in Philippi:

So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.    Philippians 2:1-4

At the core of Paul’s message here is that if we have been blessed in ANY way by God then we need to spread that blessing to others through our thoughts, words, and actions. Often we jump to thinking of spreading blessings in monetary terms, but that misses much of Paul’s point. If God has blessed us then our first response should be to love others. That means we encourage others, help them in times of need, pray for them, and do whatever we can to make their lives better. It also means that we share the gospel with them if they’ve never accepted it before so that they too may experience the joy we’ve been given by Christ. And yes, it also means that we may help others financially if that is what they need.

I’d really like to challenge you this week to keep track of all the times you feel blessed and full of joy. Each time you experience a blessing think about how you can pass that joy onto someone else. God has blessed us all in so many ways, so lets be passing those blessings on to others who need to experience joy this week.

 

Surrender And Power

Mark 10:28New International Version (NIV)

28 Then Peter spoke up, “We have left everything to follow you!”

Surrender is a battle term which means to give up all rights to be conquered. It literally means for an army to lay down their weapons to the opposing army and the winner takes control.

Surrendering to Jesus works very much the same way. When we surrender our lives to Christ we set aside our own plans and eagerly seek His.

Romans 6:13 says that God demands that we surrender the totality of ourselves; He wants the whole, not the part. Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourself to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to his as an instrument of righteousness.

Peter in Mark 10:28 gave up his livelihood to follow Christ like Paul in Romans 6:13 gave up himself to follow Christ. As men, we struggle inside with both. Can I allow who I am and my job to be surrendered? Also, can I give myself to be surrendered to Christ?

Clearly in Scripture these are the demands of choices we make each day. Will I yield my power and my will and lay it down as a sacrifice to Jesus? So goes the internal battle in every man.

I believe yielded power of our own gives us greater strength that can only come from the Holy Spirit. Will I allow my life to be surrendered to His. I believe, men, it is an every day surrender. It says in Luke 6:22-25, that a surrendered life is pleasing to God, and we will reap ultimate rewards in Heaven.

Let’s stand together as men wholly surrendered to Jesus Christ our Lord. He surrendered his life from the Father so that we might have right relationship with Him. That, men, is surrendered power.

Strength and Courage

Michael

 

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