Searching For Love

Luke 2:23-24New International Version (NIV)

23 (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord”), 24 and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: “a pair of doves or two young pigeons.”

Mary and Joseph had to go to the temple for purification rites. That was the Law, Leviticus 12. They had to redeem their son since he was the first born son. They paid their money to redeem the Redeemer who would one day redeem his parents and all mankind with his blood.

This may not be part of the Christmas story that you are looking for today, but this was a sacrifice of love in the form of two birds. The birds would be the sacrifice of Jesus redemption according to the Law.

We always want this Hallmark photo of Mary and Jesus giving birth in this seemingly sterile stable, yet that wasn’t the case. It was a mess with foul odors, stinky shepherds, and probably blood on the floor from birth.

Yet, according to John 3:16, God so loved the world He sent His Son down to earth to our mess. It is a place of struggle, pain, and eventual death. Yet, we celebrate Christmas searching for love.

God is love and so is his Son. It is hard for me to wrap my brain around it to the place where God sent his Son for me and my brokenness and shame. Like David says, “I lift my eyes to the hills for a glimpse of my Savior’s love.”

Are you searching for love today? It’s not in a manger anymore. He came. He died. He rose from the dead. We wait for His soon return for us. That is love. 

Merry Christmas to all my brothers in Christ and your families.

Strength and Courage

Michael

 

Vital Ministries News

Love Jesus more than anyone. Point your life choices to Jesus. Have transparent love for Jesus. Have real love for Christ. Be thankful for Jesus in your life.

Strength and Courage

Michael

 

Vital Ministries News

Only 2 more days until Christmas. Choose to be an expression of Christ’s love these next days. Take time to love on family and friends. Be an expression of love with your time. Be present in family moments.

Strength and Courage

Michael

 

Battle

I have been struggling for the past few weeks.  I’ve been struggling personally, professionally, financially, mentally and most of all, spiritually.  

I had lunch a few days ago with two close friends, Pastor Jeff and Pastor Ben.  These men are solid, go to counsel for me and they were concerned.  These men wanted to talk with me, listen to me, exhort me, and reassure me.  What was truly fascinating about this conversation was when they pointed out something that I know, but hadn’t considered.  This current state, the afflictions, they’re satan.  It’s a spiritual assault.  

Pastor Ben pointed out the victory in the Lord that the three of us shared just a few weeks ago.  The victory was the Lord working a sermon out for me just a couple hours before I had to deliver it.  It was amazing, and it had an impact.  Days later, the onslaught began.

Pastor Ben pointed to a passage in Luke 22, in which Jesus addresses Simon Peter and tells him of his impending denial of Jesus and their (the disciples) loss of heart and personal torment. 

Luke 22:28-30 (NASB) You are those who have stood by me in my trials. 29 And I confer on you a kingdom, just as my Father conferred one on me, 30 so that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

Before Jesus tells of the anguish, He proclaims this to them, (sic) “I’m giving you a kingdom.  We will live, eat, drink and judge along side one another.” What a spiritual high!  These men, with Jesus at the Last Supper, have just been told by the Son of God, you will be with me, side by side for eternity!  It doesn’t get much higher than that, does it? 

Luke 22:31,32 “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. 32 But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”

Then Jesus drops this on Simon Peter, (sic) “satan asked to shake you to your core, put the screws to you.  But don’t worry, I prayed that your faith may not fail you and that you’ll return full of fire, vigor and serve as my ambassadors to your brethren of this world!”  What?  He didn’t say, “no way! I’ll never let you mess with them!”  And… just as surely as the Lord lives, that very thing happened.  

You see, God knew the condition of their hearts, the depth of their faith.  He had a purpose that was best served by men who’s world had been rocked, their faith tested.  Why?  Because He knew through the midst of it, their endurance would be witnessed and God glorified.  He knew that when they came out the other side, they would be challenged, bolder, stronger, more effectual in the work He had prepared for them to do.  

Does God allow satan access to His children, yes… absolutely!  Scripture shows us here in Jesus’ own words.  He shows us the same in Job.  Paul speaks of it  For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. (Ephesians 6:12)

He does so, however, knowing that He has prepared us, or He would not allow satan to war against us.  These spiritual battles so very often come on the heals of a spiritual high, a victory.  That makes them the even more crushing.  The stronger we grow in our faith, the more effectual the work that God is able to do through us, the greater satan’s desire to have at us.  As we mature in our faith and we learn to recognize these attacks for what they are, satan’s attempt to render us ineffectual, to question God and the reason’s for our Hope and faith, we can glory in them.  Glory?  Yes, absolutely revel and glory in them!  Shout from the rooftops, “thank you Lord for empowering me and trusting me to the point that you would allow satan the opportunity!”  As He matures us and develops in us the ability to discern these attacks from the outset and utilize the tools He has equipped us with, satan is rendered impotent.  

I want to thank God for sending Pastor Ben and Pastor Rabe to be the tools of my rescue from these attacks.  Be watchful and vigilant.  Remember, when you’re under attack by the “god of this world”, it merely means that God knows He’s prepared you to glorify Him in that battle!   Have a blessed weekend.

In full pursuit of the greatest Trophy,

Scott Pace

 

 

Savior Song

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.  An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.  But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.  Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.  This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”   When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”  Luke 2:13-15

Have you ever thought about what sights and songs the shepherds experienced out in the fields that night?  It must have been quite remarkable, because if this happened to me, I would have proceeded cautiously, though what the angels said would have likely lingered in my mind.  I wonder what songs were sung around the newborn king that night, and if they had any idea of the hundreds more that would be sung in the centuries to come that would celebrate with them? 

Angels we have heard on high
Sweetly singing o’er the plain
And the mountains in reply
Echoing their joyous strains
Gloria, in excelsis Deo!
Gloria, in excelsis Deo!

While we were caroling with a group from my church this past week, we asked each of the recipients (from young children to those with Alzheimer’s) if they had a favorite Christmas song.  Some did and some did not, but most enjoyed our attempt to sing some familiar songs in the cool December night.  How about you?  Do you get a little excited when you hear Hark the Herald Angels Sing on the radio, or is it more of something you dread?  Do you sing along, even if slightly off key?  After all, it only comes along 1-2 months each year, right? 

Sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth.  Sing to the Lord, praise his name; proclaim his salvation day after day.  Psalm 96:1-2­

Even if you don’t enjoy singing them, have you ever read about the history of how some of these songs came to be?  Many are quite remarkable and give you a small glimpse into the time and place they were written.  Inspired by the Psalms, a composer named Isaac Watts published a tune called Joy to the World in 1719.  A century later in 1818, a song called Stille Nacht was written in a little Austrian town that would be sung for many years to come.  And just who is Good King Wenceslas?  There are probably new songs sung each year that we will never hear, but that someone does. 

Sing joyfully to the Lord, you righteous; it is fitting for the upright to praise him.  Praise the Lord with the harp; make music to him on the ten-stringed lyre.  Sing to him a new song; play skillfully, and shout for joy.  Psalm 33:1-3

Most years, I even come across songs that have just been written or that are new to me that find a place on my favorite list.  A recent one (which came out 10 years ago) that I enjoyed was an arrangement of Angels We Have Heard on High by Sara Groves, which has more of a Southwestern feel to it.  There are also those secular songs that have nothing to do with Christ or Christmas, except the title, that are still popular each year, but for different reasons.  Though they may be catchy, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer offers more praise to animals than anyone, Last Christmas may have you longing for big 80’s hair more than a quiet Christmas night, and who even heard of Six White Boomers.  You get the idea.

This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.  1 John 4:10

So, this coming week when you get a chance to sing along to some of those familiar songs again, do it as a praise to your Lord who was born a little baby two thousand years ago, and lives with us still today.  The God of the Universe gave us hope through a helpless baby that would one day take away the sin we could not remove ourselves.  Think on how his life and death would inspire so many to write songs of praise and thanksgiving for the gift that we could never repay.  Think of all the songs yet to be written and sung that will bring a new appreciation for the Newborn King as he is born into the hearts of new believers around the world each day.   Even if you don’t enjoy singing, doesn’t it make you want to sing, even a little? 

Christmas Blessings,
Clark

Every Sunday at 8:30 AM

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