For Who?

Throughout each day, the time and energy you expend goes toward something.  If you have a traditional job, much of the work you do goes toward producing something for your employer, at least it should.  If you do what you are supposed to be doing, you usually get a paycheck in return.  Depending on where you live, part of your paycheck goes to pay taxes, insurance, social security, and other things you are required or choose to contribute toward.  After work, maybe you get to hunt down some food for your family, so you can all eat together when you get home.  If you have a couple hours of free time, maybe you spend it on your favorite hobby, trying to be entertained by the latest thing across the screen, or some other endeavor which you value.  By the end of the day, you have given of yourself for your boss, government, family, friends, community, and maybe a little for yourself or even your God.  Who do you serve? 

Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.’  Luke 4:8

Though we may think we give a lot of ourselves to others, much of what we do is really for selfish reasons.  Would you go to work for very long if you did not get paid to do so?  Many pay for a higher degree in hopes that they will get a better job when their education is finished.  We usually get some reciprocal benefit from the time we spend with our family and friends.  Undoubtedly, if you have children or grandchildren, you have invested much into who you would like them to become.  You may even hope they shine like stars as a reflection of how great a parent you are, or that they will be there to help you some day when you need it.  We hope that all our time and energy goes toward something better for us, even if good feelings, when all is said and done. 

No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.  Matthew 6:24

When we look at the motive behind our actions, in the short or long term, it is usually to benefit ourselves in some way.  How often do you give your time and energy to someone who can never return the favor?  Giving a one-time quick gift to someone you may never see again doesn’t take much effort, but investing weeks or years in someone else who can’t do the same for you is much more difficult, even if a friend or a family member.   Even if you are paid to do something for others, it can be physically and emotionally draining to do this long term.  Has anyone ever invested this much in you?  Maybe your parents, or a close friend who walked with you through tough times, but do you feel God has been with you through the good and bad as well?  How much does He have invested in you?  We may not realize it often, but Jesus did this for us on the cross.  Our servant-leader gave of himself something that we can never fully repay or match. 

Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people.  Ephesians 6:7

So, every once in a while, take a deep look at the reasons behind why we do what we do.  What am I hoping to get from this, or what benefit is it to others?  If we have tried to spend time in the Word or prayer and seen few results or little return for ourselves, we most likely will commit less time toward this in the future.  How has that worked?  Maybe we were looking for the wrong things to begin with.  How we spend our time affects not only us, but those around us in a positive or negative way as well.  Ask God to show you your true motives and allow Him to guide you to grow in seeking less for yourself and more for others. 

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit.  Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.  Philippians 2:3-4

Yours in Christ,
Clark

When Not Doing is a Bad Thing

In Nicaragua I am surrrounded by sin. Well, not necessary THAT kind of sin, but the Spanish word sin. In Spanish sin mean “without,” and you see it on billboards everywhere. Cellphone companies advertising plans sin roaming, soda companies advertising drinks sin sugar, and donut companies advertising chocolate cream filled donuts sin calories (ok, maybe I made that last one up). It’s a little jarring for a Calvinist to see the word sin everywhere, but it has gotten me thinking. We often think of sin as the bad things we do, i.e. lying, cheating, lust, etc. What we often forget about our sins of omission, not doing things that we SHOULD be doing. Connecting to Spanish, what are we without in our lives? What are we not doing that God has called us to do? 

James does a great job of teaching is this point: 

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin. James 4:13-17

Let’s start at the end. James tells us that if we know the right thing, but choose not to do it, it’s the same as telling a lie or throwing a punch. For example, we may know our neighbor needs to hear about Jesus, and even feel God stirring us to share the good news, but out of fear we choose not to. Or, we may know it is right to share our time and financial blessings with God and others, but we choose to keep those precious resources for ourselves. God desires us not only to not do bad, but to always be doing good. 

On that note, look at what James says about waiting to do good. I’ve been guilty of doing that so often. “God, I’ll share my finances with you after I pay off my car.” “God, I’ll share the gospel with that person, but first let me take care of these 78 things.” We know we should do it, but we continually put it off. Yet, James tells us that the moment we are to be doing good in is the moment we are living in. It’s not just yesterday or tomorrow, but now that we are to do good for God. 

This week remember that sin is not only the negative things you do, but also the good you choose not to do. Don’t put off goodness this week, but look for opportunities to do as much good for God as possible. 

The Bad

1 Corinthians 5:13New International Version (NIV)

13 God will judge those outside. “Expel the wicked person from among you.”

What is the bad in my life that I need to adjust or get rid of? This is a great question, but what is the bad in a man’s life? It can often be the people we hang out with. They can affect our attitudes, opinions, and cause bad influences in our life. It directly affects our behavior.

As my dad always reminded me as I was growing up, if you lie with dogs you get fleas. He is right. My dad knows this because of the people he used to hang around with when he was a young man.

My dad worked construction all of his life. When he was younger, the men he hung out with influenced him to go to the bars after work to drink. Eventually, this bad behavior caught up with him, and he eventually became an alcoholic. He almost lost his family over it. This was all because of bad company.

Later in years, dad had to deal with his bad, the alcohol. He allowed a Pastor of a local church who was a good man who cared for him to influence him to make a change in his life.

Dad still reminds me today to keep good company and to be a person of affluence rather than a person who gets influenced. I want you to think of bad company this way. If you run with turkeys, you become one, but if you fly like an eagle, you will lead like one. 

Which choice of influence will you make?

Strength and Courage

Michael

 

Vital Ministries News

New Teaching Series on KBOE 104.9 FM, 8:30-9:00 am on Sundays

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

We will be discussing what is the good in our lives. What is the bad that I we walk in each day. And finally, we will look at the ugly things in our lives that we need to confess before the Lord. Do not miss out on this teaching for the next three weeks. Tune into KBOE 104.9 FM each Sunday morning from 8:30-9:00.

 

His Will Be Done

John 15:7 (NKJV)  “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.”

I’ve heard it said many times, and have mistakenly said it myself, “why are my prayers unanswered?!”  The truth is, God hears all prayers, and… answers all prayers.  Our problem is we expect our prayers be answered as we desire, that we get what we ask for.  If we do not receive what we ask, if our will is not done, we chalk it up to “unanswered prayer.”  

All prayers are heard and all prayers are answered.  The answer is at times simply, “no, not yet or I have something better for you.”  That’s not what we want to hear, so… we choose not to.  God works all things to His purpose, because His purpose is right, true and always perfect.  Despite what we think, His answer is ALWAYS according to His will.  A faithful, mature disciple, abiding in Jesus, knows this and faithfully accepts it.  

 I John 5:14,15 (NKJV) Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. 15 And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.

So, often our prayers amount to wants, desires, perhaps at times perceived needs.  There are cries of anguish, desire for reprieve from torment, etc.  If you’ve allowed God to steer your walk to diligent pursuit of Him, you devote time to study and internalize His word.  If you remain devoted to continual prayer and communication with Him, your ability to discern His voice, understand His direction, will sharpen and you will be more in tune to what your prayers, your requests of Him should look like.  You’ll more readily receive and accept His ever present and immediate answer.  You will have peace like you’ve never known, due to the understanding and utter confidence that it is His will to be done, to His glory and His will is ALWAYS right, perfect and precisely what you need.  

Psalm 66:19 (NKJV) But certainly God has heard me; He has attended to the voice of my prayer.

Realize, as the psalmist above does, it is not necessary to hear or see the answer, rather, our assurance is cemented in God’s word!  Have a blessed weekend.

In full pursuit of the greatest Trophy,

Scott Pace

 

 

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