Rejected

Have you ever been so ashamed you wish you could change your name and who you were?  That was the story of Levi in the New Testament.  He was most likely given the name Levi because his parents believed he would be a priest.  Either at the age of 12 or 18, he was told he did not have what it takes to be a priest. So he changed his name and became the person priests hate the most… a Tax collector. 

Can you imagine the conversation over dinner when Levi tells his parents he is going to become what they hate and he is going to change his name to Matthew.  That is not a Hebrew name but a Roman name.  So not only was he going to be come what his parents hated, he was choosing to identify not as a Hebrew but the government that oppressed them.

Levi leads his life as a tax collector, robbing the jewish people along the way.  He is getting wealthy doing too by the way.  With wealth come parties and parties come with stories.  

I know what it feels like to not measure up.  I had a massive head growing up (I had to get a varsity helmet in the 5th grade because the kid and middle school helmets were too small), that will get you made fun of.  I often did not make the A team.  I was never the smartest kid in the class.  I was not the most religious or best behaved at church growing up.  I have been fired on more than one occasion.  I was an outsider in college. I had pastors say I did not have what it takes to lead in ministry.  

I am sure you have your moments to. I am sure there have been days that you have felt like moving away and changing your name.  Levi just did it in their faces.  Then one day Levi’s life changes forever…

Matthew is working his booth when a famous teacher shows up.  This teacher named Jesus comes right up to his booth and invites him to be his disciple.  Matthew knows what this means.  The most famous teacher in the region just said he was good enough.  The phrase he longed to hear for his whole life and thought would never happen, just happened.  I am sure he has to question if he heard correctly, or if Jesus wasn’t talking to the person standing behind him.

Jesus was talking to Matthew.  He knew what Matthew did and the mess he had made of his life.  He still chose him.  If you were Jesus and could only choose 12 men to change the world, wouldn’t there be a man with a little less baggage?

I wonder if that was the idea all along.  Matthew was a mess.  Most of the mess he didn’t create but he certainly made it worse and not better.  Jesus still chose him.  Matthew didn’t deserve it and did nothing to earn it.  He just got picked.  Jesus was able to see past the mess and into who Matthew really was.  You know the best part Jesus doesn’t change his name back to Levi.  He takes the broken part of the story and gives it purpose and meaning.

What is your mess?  Jesus is calling your name too.  He knows what you have done.  He knows the shame you carry.  He knows what they did to you.  He knows how you made it worse.  He knows you got looked over.  He knows you don’t have it all together.

What Matthew did right was get up and follow Jesus.  He gave Jesus the mess and let Jesus decide what to do with it. His decision to follow gave him a front row seat to the greatest moments of history.  Matthew later dies preaching the message of Jesus.  He finished well. So can you.  I do not know what you have done or what you are stuck in.  I do not know the messes you have made or the ones you sit in others made.  What I do know is when you give your broken life to Jesus.  He changes everything.  So right now what broken rejected place do you have to give to Jesus?  Give it to him now!

Helping People Live a Better Story

Brandon Sereg

Real Relationships

I 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 than 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 been nice enough 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. There are certainly times in relationships where using such conditional phrases is 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.

Check out 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 that Christ gives us when we are in a relationship with him: comfort, love, the Holy Spirit, tenderness, and compassion. We can add to that list joy, peace, hope, eternal life, and so much more. When we are in a 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 the grocery store.” The only condition with Christ is believing in Him and confessing our sins. 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 I pray you take 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 as Christ has made us better.

True Manhood Part 1

1 Corinthians 7:7 New International Version (NIV)

I wish that all of you were as I am. But each of you has your own gift from God; one has this gift, another has that.

I want to take the month of June to talk about true manhood. It is more than taking care of yourself, working, paying bills, buying food, and buying a home. All of these things are good, but Biblical manhood demands more.

This is especially important for the men who are single. What is true manhood and being single. I especially want today’s thought to go out to young single men. These men are trying to find their way in life.

According to Paul, being single is a gift. It is a time to mature as a young man. It is a time to look at life through robust lenses. Life is like jumping onto a horse that has never been broke. It tries to buck you off at every turn. You have to learn how to hold on with steady hands. You need to look to the next jump or turn. You may even have to bail off. 

I would like to look at three important matters for young men.

  1. Dating: Today, dating means that you may go out on one date, and it will end up with sex. That is not living a life of biblical manhood. It is essential to treat women with respect. Take her out and get to know her. Talk with her and spend time together.
  2. Video Games: Nothing is a greater turn off than to take your girlfriend to your home or over to a friend’s place and expect her to watch you play video games. Instead, get into the game of life and get out there in the world. Find out what you both like and go do that together.
  3. Lead: What if you paid for the meal on your first date? Better yet, what if you prayed with each other. This is risky, but she will know she is with a man of God.

Being a single man AND one who follows Jesus is not easy. The world is always trying to pull you away from the truth. Enjoy your singleness. It is only for a season. Step into manhood and lead as a man who follows and loves God. She will see the true, yet tender warrior you are.

Strength and Courage

Michael

Vital Ministries News

Vital Biker Couple’s Ride

June 28-30

Clear Lake

Contact Buck Kraft at 641-780-1295 or Mike Sereg at 641-660-7715

 

Thanks for Reminding Me

II Corinthians 4:16-18 (NASB) ‘Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.’ 

I came across this passage the other day.  Under my current circumstances, it served as a much needed reminder that these circumstances are but a small piece,to a much bigger picture. 

It reminded me that each and every one of us is inching closer to eternity, and whatever our present circumstance, healthy or unwell, none of us is guaranteed tomorrow. 

It reminded me that despite what is happening to my fleshly body, there is no cause to lose heart, that there is a Hope regardless of any circumstance.

It served to remind me that such trials are used for our spiritual progress and how we approach ALL things is a reflection of God and meant to reflect His glory.

It reminded me that how I represent Him through this and ALL things, eternally impacts the spiritual health and development of those He allows to be a witness to my life. 

He reminded me that the choice is mine.  I can choose to wallow in self pity over the the decaying outer man, or I can embrace what He is doing for my progression, focus on and cherish the unseen,  and glorify Him, bringing eternal hope to myself and all those around me.  I’m choosing the latter.  Thank you for the reminders, Lord.  

In full pursuit of the greatest Trophy,

Scott Pace

Every Sunday at 8:30 AM

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