Feed the Fish

Fish

I grew up watching Mr. Rogers, and I recall he would often take 5 seconds to feed the fish as he walked through his house.  This was just a quick reminder that others may be depending on us for some of their needs, and when we take just a little time to invest in them, they are better for it.  Whether it is making sure the animals are fed, taking out the trash, doing the dishes, speaking words of love to your family, or any number of other daily routines, there are some habits we engrain into our routines because they are good for us, our families, and others we meet through the day.  There are also habits that we can develop that may be more detrimental than beneficial to us or others, and these may be hard to change, even if we know they are bad for us.  So, we are all probably a mix of some good and bad habits and disciplines, but what is most evident to others in your life?  Have you ever asked?

So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air.  But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.  I Corinthians 9:26-27

Whatever we feed our minds shapes and forms us.  This can be most anything and anyone we encounter each day from the TV shows and movies we watch, what we read, to the words of advice we consider from any source.  The words we hear from our family, co-workers, the media, and our pastor on Sunday may also linger with us through the week.  Just as we seek to give weight to one source and not another, we try to discern the truth from a world full of lies in the information we encounter each day.  Do you give more weight to the words in the news or to the Word each day?  If I look at where I invest my time and attention through the day, I am sometimes disappointed in how much time I waste on unfruitful things.  I ought to know better, or at least be more disciplined at doing what is beneficial and trimming away at the things that are of no benefit.  The same things Paul struggled with are real in my life as well! 

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.  I Thessalonians 5:11

Practice good or bad habits and the result is fairly predictable.  You have surely seen the results many times in your own life and in those around you.  Most of these disciplines are choices.  I truly enjoy reading, but in recent time, reading books or time in scripture often seems to take a back seat to other disciplines and duties throughout the day, but it is still a choice I am making.  Even the limited time I do spend is fruitful, so why the struggle?  Am I taking on too many things, or are my priorities out of balance?

I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from?  My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.  Psalm 121:1-2

What promises of God do you celebrate and stand on as truth?  When you are struggling with difficult decisions or trying to just get through the day sometimes, where do you turn for strength?  When His word dwells in our hearts and minds, it is much easier for us to be reminded of these truths when we need them.  His word is living and active when it dwells within us and speaks to us. 

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.  Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.  Philippians 4:8-9

As Mr. Rogers suggests, take a moment and thank those who invested in you and are a living illustration of love in your life.  We all need someone we can look up to, and while God offers us the example of his Son, he also places people in our lives to show us how this is lived out in their love and encouragement of you and others.  While none of us is perfect in this life, we all have the capacity to love and serve others, even if for a season.  There were even people who were willing to love us.  Think of a couple people who value your words and ask God how you can continue to be an encouragement to them and others in your own live.  Always strive to live out your love in your words and actions toward others!

Strength and Courage in Christ,
Clark

Relationships Without Conditions

pipe-cleaner-people-1177063-640x480I have been thinking a lot about relationships lately, whether that be marriage, friendships, parenting, working with co-workers, etc. As I’ve thought about it, I think I’ve put my finger on two of the most dangerous words we use in relationships. Now, don’t worry, they aren’t curse words! However, I think they can do more danger to relationships then a curse-ridden tirade. The words? If and but. Such small simple words, yet in relationships they can create all sorts of problems. “I would help you, if you were nicer to me.” “I would love to help you with that problem, but you have not really been that nice to me lately.” It seems many of us, myself included, are willing to do many great things in a relationship, as long as certain conditions are met.

Now, don’t misunderstand me here. There are certainly times in relationships where using such conditional phrases can be appropriate {i.e. when we are teaching our children or assisting someone in conquering a bad habit or addiction}. When it comes to the core of what relationships should be about, showing love, care, and making one another better, we need to take our lead from Jesus and drop the ifs and buts.

Checkout these two verses from Paul’s letter to the Philippians:

Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded.

Philippians 2:1-2

Look at all the things Christ gives us when we are in relationship with him: comfort, love, the Spirit, tenderness, and compassion. We can add to that list joy, peace, hope, eternal life, and so much more. When we are in relationship with Christ we are given so many awesome things, no ifs or buts about it. Jesus does not say “I will give you encouragement this week, if you do 73 good things” or “I would comfort you, but when you were six you stole a piece of candy from Wal-Mart.” The only condition with Christ is believing in Him and confessing our sins to Him. When we do that He freely gives us so many amazing things that make us better now and for all eternity.

As you go about your many relationships this week take special notice of how often you are being conditional with your love for others. Christ has chosen to freely give so much love and care to us despite our many flaws and sins. He has chosen to focus on making us better in this life and for all eternity. Let’s start doing the same in our relationships, having the same mind as Christ Jesus. Let’s strive to make others better, no if’s or buts about it, just has Christ has made us better.

Cease Fire

Acts 21:30New Living Translation (NLT)

30 The whole city was rocked by these accusations, and a great riot followed. Paul was grabbed and dragged out of the Temple, and immediately the gates were closed behind him.

Paul was truly needing a cease fire with this angry mob who were totally out of control. If you read further into the text, they were trying to kill Paul. For what reason? It was possibly pride or religion. They were following the Book of the Law, but they were forgetting its Author.

I want to ask for you to think about this question today, “How do we save life while pointing fingers?” That is what was happening with Paul here. Fingers were being pointed at Paul because of their own religiosity. The rioting people were more concerned with their religious past than their spiritual futures.

If you read in Galatians 2:21-22, is says, ‘Is there conflict, then, between God’s Law and God’s Promises? Absolutely not! If the law could give us new life, we could be made right with God by obeying it. But the Scriptures declare that we are prisoners of sin, so we receive God’s promise of freedom only by believing in Jesus Christ.’

If you dig deep into what Paul is saying here, you will find law and grace compliment each other. The law was not given to provide life, and law was not given to reveal sin. The law was given to prepare the way for Christ.

The Jewish Zealots had missed the mark, but Paul was right on target with Jesus Christ. Jesus says it best in Matthew 22:34-40, ‘Love God with all your heart, mind, and spirit and love people. On these two hang all of the law.’

Let’s be men with cease fire attitudes. Love God more and love our fellow man with less pointing fingers and more grace.

Strength and Courage

Michael

 

Corporate Prayer for Peace

1 Timothy 2:1-4New Living Translation (NLT)

Instructions about Worship

I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity. This is good and pleases God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth.

The primary activity of believers is meeting together in fellowship and to minister to the Lord in prayer. Prayer should be given on behalf of all people. As believers, our primary responsibility is to pray for the government of our nation. We are to ask God that we may lead a quiet and peaceful life in all godliness and reverence. The government we live under affects the life we lead. We are to ask that our government will achieve conditions in which we who are under the government may lead a quiet and peaceful life. We are to lead a life in all godliness and reverence. We must pray that our government will do its job well and properly. We are to pray for a good government. The basic purpose of our Constitution that was put together by our founding fathers was to create a country where people could lead a quiet and peaceful life in all godliness and reverence. God approves of good government. God desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. God wants the truth of the Gospel proclaimed to everyone everywhere. We know that good government is the will of God because it helps the preaching of the Gospel, and that is the primary purpose of God for our world. What goes on is not beyond our control. We must grasp the limitless possibilities of prayer and praying according to God’s will that is revealed in his Word. Pray for the government.

Matthew 18:19-20New Living Translation (NLT)

19 “I also tell you this: If two of you agree here on earth concerning anything you ask, my Father in heaven will do it for you. 20 For where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them.”

When two or more are lead together by the Holy Spirit in the name of Jesus, they can count on His presence. If we are in different places praying in solitary, our prayers still come up before the Lord’s presence as one corporate voice as we pray His will and in His name. Pray 1 Timothy 2:1-4 as a corporate prayer for peace.

 

 

Vital Ministries News

Obeying Authority

Romans 13:1New Living Translation (NLT)

Respect for Authority

13 Everyone must submit to governing authorities. For all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God.

Do we or do we not obey the authority of those who are over us? Our country is falling within itself due to noncompliance to authority. What I mean by this is that there is a noncompliance to those in law enforcement. There are those who are choosing to take away their ability to enforce law.

Are there good law enforcement officials and bad law enforcement officials? Yes there are. But, we have to trust God in those who rule over us. Romans 13:6-7 says, ‘For because of this, you also pay taxes, for rulers are servants of God, devoting themselves to the very thing. Render to all what is due them; tax to tax is due, custom to whom custom, fear for who fear, honor to whom honor’.

When you read these Scripture verses, they do not say to do this only sometimes. Paul says that they are servants of God. This is the attitude or context of submission. If law enforcement or those in authority rule over us and are corrupt, pray for the government and work toward godliness and reverence.

We have very controversial situations going on in our country, but this is an opportunity for light to shine in the darkness. Take your light and allow it to shine. Pray for our government and leadership.

Strength and Courage

Michael

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