My Stronghold

Psalms 18:2 (NKJV)  The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; My God, my strength, in whom I will trust; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.  

This was my memory verse for this week.  As I read it, meditated on it and wrote it over and over, I was captivated by the power in this proclamation.  This is a Psalm of David, spoken to the Lord on the day the Lord delivered him from his enemies’ hands and the hand of Saul.  This was an extremely trying time for David.  Saul was enraged and paranoid by thoughts of David plotting revolt.  David’s scheming was non-existent, but the danger from Saul was very real.  David keeps his mind focused where it needs to be.  He doesn’t look to himself and his own capabilities for security and rescue from this threat.  He calls on God and God alone.  Had he relied on his own abilities, he likely would have compounded his distress.

Isn’t this just as true for ourselves and our day to day lives?  We may not have a paranoid, power crazed, lunatic king chasing after our heads.  No, what we have is a relentless adversary in satan, dogging our every step.  He is after us day in and day out.  So, ask yourself, do you call upon the Lord in these times of distress?  Or, do you rely on your own cunning and abilities?  I know that when I rely on the latter, I nearly always fail.  Without God, I’m simply vastly under equipped for the battle.

We all have struggles that we deal with.  For some it may be finances, temperament, lust, dishonesty, greed, pride, envy, gluttony or any number of others.  These become strongholds of sin or stubbornness, places we retreat to and cannot climb out of.  We get stuck, maybe because of convenience or shame or pride or even comfort, but we’re stuck.  When that happens, the devil, has you where he wants you.  He wants you to think that’s where you belong.  Stuck, locked away in a stronghold of sin, shame, pride, or self indulgence, unworthy of God’s grace and redemption, afraid or too arrogant to call on the Lord.  

NO MORE!!!  David says, “the Lord is my rock and my fortress…MY STRONGHOLD!”  As I read these words over and over, went through the rest of chapter 18 and then read the words of 18:2 yet again, I wanted to scream it!  THE LORD IS MY ROCK…MY STRONGHOLD!!!  What power!  What freedom!  What peace!  What confidence!  I can see the evil one shrinking before these words, God’s powerful proclamation shared with us through His son David.  

As I mature in my faith, my willingness to call on the Lord and recognize my shortcomings and humble myself grows.  I will not fully mature in Christ until I join Him in eternity and that’s ok.  Why?  Because I have Him to fight my battles for me.  All I have to do is ask.  Simple.  The Lord is your rock and your fortress and your deliverer, your STRONGHOLD!  Next time, ask and take refuge.  God Bless you all!

In full pursuit of the greatest Trophy,

Scott Pace 

Kingdom Minded

 

How often do you think about God’s Kingdom? How often are you aware of it, or do you see it, or do you want to? Jesus’ teaching on the kingdom was pretty radical in his time, as the Jews were hoping for a political movement or military to redeem them and overthrow the oppression they faced. We have the whole bible and countless examples and stories of God working in the lives of his people through the ages, and yet we still struggle to live this out from day to day. Where is our hope?

Your kingdom come. Your will be done. On earth as it is in heaven. Matthew 6:10

Often, there is a battle within us with desires for the things of this World and all it has to offer, versus the things of God. If we see these clearly, it can be easy to see the difference, but at times they are not what they appear to be, as we are fooled into believing they are something else. The enemy would desire to deceive us all into chasing after the worldly kingdoms and not to trust in God’s kingdom.

Now when He was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, He answered them and said, “The kingdom of God does not come with observation;  nor will they say, ‘See here!’ or ‘See there!’ For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you.” Luke 17:20-21

Here are a few indicators and things to evidence that the Kingdom of God is within you:

-You have pledged allegiance to Jesus as your Lord, and if anyone asks, you will acknowledge this.

If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. Romans 10:9

-As you mature, you are more aware of any sin, or hint of sin in your life, and you are repulsed/offended by it. It is also easy to see in the lives of those around you.

-You desire more of God and Less of the World’s influence in your life. There will always be temptations you will face, but you are aware of these and the empty promises they offer compared to the riches found in following God.

But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you.  Matthew 6:33

Again, the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory.  And he said to Him, “All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.’” Matthew 4:8-10

-Your love for others is a natural outflow of who you are and often is something that others can see in your life. It is not always easy to show love to those that are difficult to love, but it is something you desire to do and have acted on.

-You forgive others quickly.

And forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us.  Matthew 6:12

This list is not exhaustive, as there are things that you may also have observed in others that indicate they are citizens of God’s Kingdom. There is often tangible fruit you can see that shows where your heart is and where that comes from. If you are aware of things that you struggle with and areas you need to work on, that is good, as God may be calling you to grow in these areas. If you are not aware of any areas in your life where growth was needed (or if others have concerns for you here), that would be more concerning.  It should be our desire to invite as many who are willing to accept the call to join us in becoming citizens of God’s kingdom.  Interact with others in the kingdom who will both challenge and encourage you in your walk. May God’s Spirit continue to grow more and more influential in your life as you seek to live out each day in his kingdom!

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. Romans 15:13

In His Service,
Clark

In the Light

I was leading a mission trip last spring, and I was responsible for leading the guys in the morning.  The morning after a full day of concrete is not an easy morning to wake up teenage boys up.  So I decided to just turn on the lights and do the loudest rooster crow I could.  When teenage boys wake up quickly things go bad.  Did I abuse my authority by waking them up an hour early… Maybe. 

John the disciple knew Jesus as good as any man did in this time.  He wrote 4 books of the new testament and never referred to himself by name. He referred to himself as the disciple Jesus loved or the beloved. He knew Jesus.  In his letters he referred to Jesus as love and light.  When we think of the light of Jesus we are often afraid. 

John 3:20 All who do evil hate the light and refuse to go near it for fear their sins will be exposed.

Yet John says we miss understand the light when we are afraid.  We think Jesus is going to use the light the way I did in Honduras.  We think it will hurt and expose.  But that is NOT the gospel…

1 John 1:This is the message we heard from Jesus and now declare to you: God is light, and there is no darkness in him at all. So we are lying if we say we have fellowship with God but go on living in spiritual darkness; we are not practicing the truth. But if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin.

Followers of Jesus love the light. They know it is gentle and kind.  They know even when brought into christian community there is no condemnation, no record of wrongs kept, or fear.  Instead they know that by bringing sin in the light they will receive mercy, grace, and freedom.  As a result, this believer walking in the light can walk in joy!  Real joy… Joy without consequence… Joy without shame… Real Joy!  I want this joy! I want this kind of christian brothers!  I want to walk in the light!

Where is there darkness in you that needs to be brought into the light?  What if we simply misunderstand the gospel?  Often we believe that sin is fun.  We believe that the ecstasy found in sin and the thrill in perversion is better than life God’s way. Could Jesus replace that ecstasy and thrill found in sin?  If this were true we would come quickly to Jesus!

John is saying this is the Jesus he knows.  When you know Jesus you do not want to sin because it is not light and there is not real life and joy in it. So today who do you need to confess the things you have hidden in darkness?  What do you need to bring into the light?

Go be vital! Be in the Light!

Recklessly, obsessively following Jesus 

Brandon Sereg

Love in Action

It’s just a couple of days after Valentine’s Day, and relationships are still on my mind for some reason (the heart decorations still hanging in the coffee shop I’m writing in could be part of it). I’ve recently been thinking a lot about why we engage in any sort of relationship, whether it be dating, friendships, family, work-related, or in the church. Why ask such a question? Because, lets be honest, relationships often cause a ton of stress. A friend betrays our confidence, a co-worker’s foibles drive us up the wall, our spouse and us seem to be constantly divided, etc. In fact, in my just over a decade in ministry, by far the most prevalent problem walking through my door has been dysfunctional relationships. How do we not only navigate the difficulties of relationships, but actual turn every relationship we are in into a POSITIVE for everyone involved?

 

1 John 2:10 says: Anyone who loves their brother and sister lives in the light, and there is nothing in them to make them stumble. I was really amazed when I looked up what the term love here means. Love as referred to here means taking loving action for someone else, which is pretty contrary to how we often think of love. Too often we envision love like many middle schoolers I’ve known. They sit in their room “loving” a member of the opposite sex that they’ve probably never even spoken with. They think about them at length, journal their thoughts, stalk their social media pages, and speak glowingly about their love interest to their friends. But, they never actual do anything about it. They never speak to this person or do anything positive for them; they simply crush on them from a distance. In a sense many of us are prone to this. I often have people start a conversation with “I love my spouse/parent/child, but they make me so angry.” They express love for them verbally, but because of struggles in life do little to nothing to act lovingly towards them. See friends, that’s the big kicker here. To really love someone is to take action to improve and better their life, ensuring they do not stumble and that they live the best life possible.

 

I want to leave you with a big, but important, challenge. Write down the first five names that come to your mind. Friends, family, co-workers, whoever comes to mind. Next to their name write 2-3 ways that you can actually show them love this week. It does not have to be seemingly gigantic things, but can include things as simple as praying for them, doing a task without being asked, inviting them to dinner, meeting a need they have, etc. Let’s show real Christian love this week by taking loving action for others.

A Sense Of Duty

 

Isaiah 5:1 New International Version (NIV)

The Song of the Vineyard

I will sing for the one I love
    a song about his vineyard:
My loved one had a vineyard
    on a fertile hillside.

 

When you look in both the Old Testament and New Testament, we see God giving us duties. In the Garden of Eden in Genesis 1 and 2, it was care of the garden and animals. In the book of Isaiah, God describes Israel as a cultivated garden. When you look in John 15, Jesus speaks of himself as a vine, and we are his branches.

These Scriptures show us a sense of duty that work has to be completed. In the very paradise of Eden, Adam had to work the garden. He was not just sitting around and not doing anything. He was doing something.

Adam had a duty. He did have freedoms in the garden, but he also had boundaries and restrictions. He could enjoy most of the fruits in the garden except two. He could not eat of the fruit which came from the Tree of Knowledge. Then after his fall, he could not eat from the Tree of Life.

We too have freedoms in America in which this country or garden in which we live, and we have duties. We also have the price of duty. Today, we have somehow lost our balance in realizing that our freedoms come at a price. It took blood, sweat, and tears.

There is a shift to wanting to use ‘Free’. Some may disagree with what I am about to say, and that is okay. Promising free college, free insurance, and free housing does come with a price to someone. Should we help the poor and down trodden. Absolutely. But help is not about giving everything away for free.

When idealism and self sacrifice are seen as obsolete, we have slipped dow a slope and have lost our sense of duty. Duty has to be in our actions. It is doing what has to be done. It is answering a call when it comes in the night.

Our God put a sense of duty in us in the beginning of His Creation. He gave Adam a job and obligations. There was not sitting around looking for, “God, what will you give me next?”

Vital Men are called to a sense of duty. They are hard working men seeking our their pursuit of happiness by honoring God. We help and protect family, community, and country. We choose to put our duty first.

Strength and Courage

Mike

 

 

 

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.