Tick Tock

So, did you stay up this past week to ‘watch’ the time change and usher in 2018?  To me, it was more enjoyable to just go to bed early and wake up in the New Year!  Each year that goes by seems to speed up, just a little more, though the seconds are the same.  How about you, do you do anything special at the turning of the calendar each year?  Do you take inventory of all that has transpired over the past year and look to where you want to make changes?  Some make new goals or resolutions of how they will work to improve their lives.  Someone even asked me to rate the year (0-10) on how well I though it went.  What will the new year have for you? 

Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.  Psalm 90:12

The time each of us are given each day is the same, yet how we use it varies widely.  Have you ever felt that you have ever ‘wasted’ a day because you were unproductive or that some bad choices led you to a place you would rather not be?  Or maybe the opposite is true as well, where you had an extremely productive day, or the experiences were something you will remember the rest of your life?  We can even expand this to a whole lifetime.  Who comes to your mind when asked if you know of someone who has basically ‘wasted’ their life, likely through consistent selfish actions, or the number of people they have hurt over time?  Just looking at a day or a year out of our lives can help us get a good idea of how things are going, and where we need to improve, to forgive, or to grow in our future. 

Lord, what are human beings that you care for them, mere mortals that you think of them?   They are like a breath; their days are like a fleeting shadow.  Psalm 144:3-4

Occasionally, each passing year serves to remind us of how short our time on this big globe really is.  We see babies and children grow up quickly before us and wonder, ‘what will that 2 year old be doing 40 years from now?’ and at the same time, we wonder if we will even be here in 40 years.  We see how fleeting material things are as money comes to us and goes just as quickly, and how relationships cannot be bought and sold as easily as things.  We look at how we have grown closer or further apart in our relationships with others and with God over the years and wonder how things will go this next year.  We see society change around us, for better or worse, and wonder if it will influence us, or if we will be salt and light to the world we encounter.  Have you made any plans to spend your time any differently this year? 

Our days may come to seventy years, or eighty, if our strength endures; yet the best of them are but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away.  Psalm 90:10

So, as we start our first steps into this New Year, let us choose 1 or 2 things to focus our attention on that can help us produce better fruit in our lives.  It may take some discipline for us to give up some things so that we can have time to invest into other things we know are better for us.  Whether that be physical in how we sleep, exercise, or eat, or more spiritual and relational in how we spend time with God or others, good things can happen when we invest in the right ways.  Also consider how you may give more effectively in your use of money and time, so the rewards will last long after we are gone.

All people are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field;  the grass withers and the flowers fall,  but the word of the Lord endures forever  1 Peter 1:24

Forever in Christ,
Clark

Build on the ROCK

2000 years ago, two men move to a desert near a river.  One man wants to grow his new business quickly and builds his house like every other man.  He builds it right on top of the sand.  The second man builds his house on a rock.  Everyone said it was not necessary and mocked him for having such a high unnecessary standard.  A couple years pass by and a storm hits.  The banks of the river flood and now both houses have water in them  Both families respond by getting on their houses. Soon the man who built his house on the sand recognises that his house will not hold and his whole family is in danger.  He gets his family off their house right before the collapse and joins the family who built on the rock.

How often has that been the story of our lives?  We build friendships, finances, health, entertainment or many other things only to find out its value in the midst of a storm. 

john-hult-58894.jpgMatthew 7:24 “Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. 25 Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock. 26 But anyone who hears my teaching and doesn’t obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand. 27 When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash.”

How to build on the Rock?

  1. Listen to God’s Word

How many of us know that hearing and listening are two very different things?  Someone you have value for or someone you want to learn from, you will listen to.  Others you might hear but will forget what they say quickly.  Listening is leaning in and weighing every word and filtering your beliefs through what is said.  How different would our lives be if we listened to God’s Word.  

2. Follows God’s way

Listening is a powerful first step, but unless you follow what you have learned the impact is considerably stunted.  God does not want you to just know, understand, and agree with His ways, He actually wants you to live this way.  To do this you have to believe that even when what He wants you to do something that does not make sense, His plan is good for you.

3. Build in God’s will

All of us want to know clearly what God’s will is for our lives.  Many Christians want to know God’s will, then they will walk in God’s ways, and maybe they will get in His Word.   Jesus taught something different.  He said first listen to His teaching, then follow His ways, and then you will find yourself in the center of His will.

So what does this mean for you today?  Where have you built your life on the sand?  would it be your relationships? Money? Health?  Career?  Choose one today to focus on rebuilding on God’s will.

Recklessly, obsessively following Jesus

Brandon Sereg

Taking Real Advice

I’ve been back in the US the past two weeks, and among the highlights has been getting to go to bookstores. Call me old fashioned, but I still prefer a paper book to an e-book, and the selection of English books in Nicaragua tends to be slim (and it takes me about five times as long for me to read in Spanish). As I’ve pursued book stores the past two weeks I’ve noticed that the shelves are chocked full of self-help books, presumably aimed squarely at the 40% of Americans who make New Years resolutions each year. You can find advice on everything from weight loss, to exercise, to dating, keys to a better marriage, to how to live like a movie star, without actually being one. Given The sheer volume of self-help titles it should be of little surprise that the “advice” industry raked in over $11 BILLION last year. It’s therefore quite clear that many of us are looking for advice and guidance in life, and are indeed willing to pay mightily for it. But, are we really looking in the right places?

Much of the Book of Acts focuses on the attempts by the Apostles to evangelize cities throughout the Roman Empire. In Acts 17 Paul is evangelizing the city of Berea, where the people look to two different sources for advice:
Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so. Many of them therefore believed, with not a few Greek women of high standing as well as men. But when the Jews from Thessalonica learned that the word of God was proclaimed by Paul at Berea also, they came there too, agitating and stirring up the crowds. Acts 17:11-13

One group in Berea chose to follow the advice of “experts” from Thessalonica, who passionately proclaimed that the Apostles were nothing more than charlatans and heretics. Another group, however, chose to check Paul’s claims with the scriptures. Finding his teachings on Jesus to be inline with the promised Messiah, they joyfully accepted the Good News of Jesus.

There will never be a shortage of sources trying to give us advice: authors, TV and radio personalities, public figures, friends, social media, advertisements and more. At the end of the day we need to remember that there is only one source that is perfect, infallible, and True, and that is the Bible. Instead of chasing after all of these other sources we need to always turn to God’s Word and the guidance it gives us. This year let’s make the Bible our primary source of guidance and advice.

Happy New Year!

Hebrews 10:24-25New International Version (NIV)

24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

Out with the old and in with the new. 2017 is in the books. What will 2018 hold? Every January most of us will make resolutions or promises of change that we hope will happen. We promise everything from more discipline, to a better diet, and to getting closer with God.

I have found that if I do not make actual steps to doing change in my life, it will usually not happen. Then, I need to hold to those steps and keep to doing the change in my life. Last year at this very time I had very high cholesterol, and I knew I needed to make a change. I asked my wife if she wanted to start exercising and make a diet change. She was totally on board with this, so we both started working out three times a week at our local CrossFit, then two days a week we either jogged or walked, and we changed how much we ate, as well as, changing the quality of food we ate. We stayed the course for the entire year of 2017 and the dividends payed off very well. My cholesterol went down 60 points to a very healthy range, may weight went down 15 pounds and is holding at a healthy range. My wife had very similar changes and is maintaining her weight. We also noticed that our coordination and athletic ability greatly increased. For 2018, we will keep to this life choice and maintain because the benefits are so inspirational.

There was another dividend of 2017 that I wanted to do, and that was to continue to read the Bible through in a year. I reached that goal, and this was my third time to do this. The Bible is getting into the very marrow of my bones like it says in Proverbs3:8, “This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones.”

This year I am going to journal my thoughts of my day with the intent of hearing the Holy Spirit deeper in my soul; allowing Him to lead me deeper in my decisions of my every day life making life fuller, as well as, reading my Bible daily. I read Proverbs every day and will continue this for 2018. 

What are your plans for 2018? Will you make it intentional to do good works for other people? Will you be an encourager? Will you make ready your life, if Christ returns? Will you read the Bible every day? Will you do a life or health change? Do not neglect the promises and blessings that Jesus has for you in 2018. Include Jesus in your life. He will walk with you every step of the way.

Strength and Courage

Michael

 

Vital Ministries News

Vital Ministries Men’s Ministry going STRONG! Bring friends, fathers, brothers, sons, and friends. Encourage them. Spread the word to sign up for daily men’s devotionals. We even have women’s devotionals for the women in your lives. Encourage your wives, sisters, and mothers to sign up for the Vital Ministries Women’s Devotionals. Jesus is for each one of us, and he truly has a plan for each one of us.

Strength and Courage

Michael

 

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