Lost Love?

Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first.  Revelation 2:4

Have you ever had your heart broken by someone?  Maybe in middle school and the person you had a crush on gave you the cold shoulder, or as an adult, maybe a relationship you hoped would work out didn’t?  Have you ever been the one to put an end to a relationship or love interest?  No matter which side you have been on, losing the hope of love, infatuation, or the object of your affection is difficult, because we all want to love and be loved, even if we won’t admit it publicly.  Maybe that’s why it is the subject of so many books, movies, and topics of discussion in every culture.  We were made to love!

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.  John 3:16-17

Who is your first love?  In your life right now, who would you drop anything for to go help if they were in need.  For me, it is probably an 8 month old little girl, who fell asleep in my arms a few times today.  Oh, I still love my wife and the rest of my family as much as ever, but just thinking about this little sweetie brings me joy, and makes me act a little goofy sometimes.  She is not always sweet (though almost) as when playing, she will occasionally try to bite me with four new teeth, and pinch me with her super strong little fingers, but I still love her.  Your first love may not even be a person, it may be an activity, or thing that takes front seat in regard to your thoughts, time, money, and passion right now.  Is it, or has it ever been Jesus?  You would know if it was. 

Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said:  “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple.    Luke 14:25-26

Since I’ve been married, I find that I seem to have less and less time, energy and passion to love the things and people I once did.  Maybe the enthusiasm, or frequency of it, has dissipated, but my willingness to do things, in love for others has probably grown.  We show people we love them by what we say to them and do for them.  The questions I tend to ask is, how well am I doing this for my family, and for strangers, and for God?  There is usually a close correlation between how we love others and true selflessness.  If we say we love our family and hate others, our love is probably very conditional or more of a feeling, and may wax and wane a lot.  Genuine love forgives and perseveres through adversity. 

 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.  1 John 3:16

How often do you hear about people falling out of love?  What does that mean, when you don’t love someone anymore?  Especially in reference to a married couple.  If you are married, do you love your spouse as much today as you did the day you were married?  You may not have the exact same feelings toward them, but you may love them better, or worse, as you did earlier in your marriage.  If you don’t like or love them as you once did, is it possible to return to that state, and be ‘in love’ again?  God calls us to this in regard to our commitment to Christ.  Are we willing to give up everything else in our lives for Him?  If it can happen between people, it can surely happen between a forgiving God, and us.  So, if you have forsaken the love you once had for Christ, ask him back to that place.  Not just to be a co-pilot, but to be the pilot and Lord of your life!

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  1 Corinthians 13:4-7

Yours in Christ,
Clark

 

Prayer of Jabez

I am not very religious and do not like prayer on repeat, but I have learned that praying scripture is powerful and can be done in a way that is not at all religious.  Today I want to share one of my favorite scriptures to pray.  It is the prayer of Jabez.  This is in the middle of a geneology.  You know the scripture we usually just skip or breeze through.  In the middle of the list of first borns comes this…

1 Chronicles 4:There was a man named Jabez who was more honorable than any of his brothers. His mother named him Jabez because his birth had been so painful.10 He was the one who prayed to the God of Israel, “Oh, that you would bless me and expand my territory! Please be with me in all that I do, and keep me from all trouble and pain!” And God granted him his request.

 

  1. Pray of Blessing

Here I ask God to give me favor.  I need favor with men, in my finances, and as I do what God has called me to.  I ask God to bless my finances as I want to honor Him how I spend the resources He gave me.  I also ask for wisdom beyond my years.  I am a young man but do not want to walk in the wisdom of a young man.  So I pray this, “Give me more than I need that I might be a blessing to others.”  God knows how much I need, I want my heart to align with His why which is to be a blessing to others.

2. Pray for Influence

Here I ask God to expand my territory.  I pray, “Fill my heart with vision and purpose from you.”  I do not want vision and purpose of my own ambition or from the values of the world.  When you meet a man who has found purpose birthed in conviction from God’s presence, he is different than other men.  He sees life different. His wife looks at him different. He has a drive that is not tainted with pride but making a difference in the lives of others.

3. Pray for His Presence

Deuteronomy 31:Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; he will neither fail you nor abandon you.”  The reason we do not walk in fear or discouraged is because he goes before us.  He is already where He wants us to be.  He is also with us.  He is not only the God of our future but the God who is in our present.  He knows you and sees you.  He knows your heart is bent toward fear and discouragement, which is why over 365 times in the Bible you will read “Do not be afraid.” It is not because the circumstances were not worthy of fear, but because the God that was with them is greater than their circumstances. So I pray, “What you have called me to is bigger than me.  God would you lead me to where your hand is leading me.”  I want to go to the future that he designed.

4. Pray for Protection

I have an enemy that does not want my to know God and fulfill my purpose.  In fact he wants to steal my purpose and kill my knowing God intimately.  It is what he fears the most.  So I pray, “Strengthen me and protect me from the attack of the enemy.”

So I encourage you to pray this prayer everyday!

Helping People Live a Better Story

Brandon Sereg
www.thevibrant.church
@brandonsereg

 

My Big Fat Mouth

I’ve fallen off a bicycle more times than I care to count, and have a variety of scars to show for it. I’ve been thrown off a four-wheeler, been in two roll-over accidents, and had my appendix out.  Yet, I can honestly say that what has caused more hurt in my life than any of the above physical pains has been that caused by words. I can vividly remember names I was called in elementary school, friends that broke my trust, rumors that were spread about me, and times I was flat-out lied to. Many of those hurts still sting, even many years later. What’s even more painful for me to admit, is I know my words have hurt others. There have been times that my anger has gotten the best of me, and I’ve spewed things I desperately wanted back. Other times I’ve gotten caught up in gossip and lies that ran their course in hurtful manners. Yet, I’m guessing for every time I’m regretful for how I’ve used my words there is another time (or more) that I’ve totally forgotten about.

Here’s what James has to say about the power of our words.

If we put bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we guide their whole bodies as well. Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. James 3:3-4

James is telling us that words are a REALLY big deal. He points out that while a ship may be massive, in reality, it is controlled by a tiny instrument called a rudder. It’s similar with our words. They may seem like a really small thing, but they make a massive impact. As seen above, they can cause a ton of pain. BUT, they can also do a lot of good. I would never have known about the love of forgiveness of Jesus had someone not shared it with me. A major reason I am in ministry today is because of the many encouraging words people shared with me over the years. The reason I can get through some of the most difficult moments in my life is the words of love and encouragement others have shared with me. The words that come out of our big fat mouths, and are big fat texting fingers, have the power to impact lives in big and powerful ways, both for good and bad. This week, I encourage you to really think about your words. What impact are they having? Is it an impact God would approve of? Realize the words coming from your mouths and fingers are some of the most powerful resources you will have ever. Make sure you are being the best stewards of them possible. 

 

Fishing For Men

Mark 1:18 New International Version (NIV)

18 At once they left their nets and followed him.

I can remember as a young boy my grandpa teaching me how to fish. He was an avid fisherman. When the work was done, it was off to the nearest pond, lake, or river. He was a bank standing, rod and real fisherman.

Going fishing was an event for my grandpa. He would bring worms, chicken livers, stink bait, and minnows if he had them. He had a special worn out Chevy car that he drove. He would allow us to fish with two fishing poles and carry a bucket to sit on loaded with all his tackle.

This man would sit for hours waiting and beating off the mosquitos. This did not distract him. He loved to fish. He was always patient for the bite or the big catch.

I often ask the question, “Why did Jesus hang out with fishermen?” Well, fishermen know what it takes to make a big catch. That would be how it would be to fish for people. We must know how to use the right equipment for each person. People are unique and different. We have to use the right bait, or no matter what you do, they will never launch onto the hook.

For some reason, Jesus called us to be fishers of men to help us realize we are all sinners in need of a Savior. Jesus is the hook and the line.  He is still calling men to fish for people.

Will you answer the, “Come follow me.”?

Strength and Courage

Michael

 

Vital Ministries News

We have begun our Vital Men Small Groups and are studying the Gospel of Mark.

Go to vitalministries.org for a location nearest you.

Hope to see you.

Strength and Courage

Michael

 

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