All Aboard!

Have you ever met anyone who agrees with everything you do?  Maybe you married this person who thinks exactly like you do, but likely not.  Most everyone will disagree with us on some point, from the way we live or spend our money to food preferences, politics, or our faith, the differences can be large or small.  So, what is your attitude toward such people?  Maybe you consider them just stupid and less educated than yourself on certain things, in which case you may share your views to help them understand.  Would you ever consider listening to another viewpoint, especially if from someone you respect?  Have you ever changed your views on certain issues? 

Deliver me from my enemies, O God; be my fortress against those who are attacking me.   Deliver me from evildoers and save me from those who are after my blood.  Psalm 59:1-2

I worked with an organization several years ago that was going through some major changes and restructuring.  They also developed an action plan and a list of principles that you had to agree with and then sign a paper stating such, meaning you were getting ‘on the bus’ with everyone.  If you didn’t agree, you got left behind, and some people were actually fired as a result.  But then, who wants to take a trip with others when they are headed somewhere you would rather not go?  Are you just along for the ride?  Do you know where you are headed?

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’   But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.  Matthew 5:43-44

Most of us like to learn new things and consider this a part of growing and maturing, but there are likely certain principles we won’t change our minds about, especially as we get older.  I admit that changing to a new program or way we do things at work, or home, gets more frustrating the longer I have been used to doing things ‘the old way’, but realize that many things are constantly changing, and I need to as well to be relevant in my work.  How about in our faith?  How have you grown and matured in your faith over the years?  Would you disagree with yourself on certain things if you had a discussion with you from 15 years ago?  Know that God is constantly at work on us, not willing to leave us where we are, but always bringing us to a better knowledge of Him and His ways.  Growing is never an easy thing.

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.  Romans 12:2

So, when you get into a heated debate with someone over a little, or even big issue, don’t leave them mad at you, but, if possible do it with kindness.  Be willing to find some things you can agree on with others, so at least you can live peaceably, even if you still disagree on what you consider a big issue.  Allow God to continually conform you to His likeness, which may mean giving up some things, and taking on new priorities from time to time.  Look to Him for the things you should value, and be quick to forgive others, as He was with you. 

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.  Hebrews 13:8

By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.  John 13:35

Courage in Christ,
Clark

Owning Up to It

I recently had a friend write a confession on social media. She went into great detail about how she had made a mistake, how that mistake had affected others, what she had done about it, and what she was doing to address the issue in the future. I found such a social media post so refreshing! Lets be honest: social media has become a place for bragging and searching for compliments (i.e. posting a picture of yourself, a car you’ve worked on, or an animal you’ve shot, expecting to hear lots of praise). To see someone use it to own a mistake was rather new and refreshing to me.

I don’t think that’s its only on social media that we struggle to admit out mistakes and failings, but in every aspect of our lives. Get a speeding ticket? It’s the cops fault. Get in trouble at work? Your supervisor is out to get you.We are so quick to pass the blame in life, and very slowly to actually admit when we make a mistake. Think about it this way: how many mistakes have you made today? Now, ask yourself this very scary question: how many mistakes have you admitted and apologized for? If you are like me the first number is likely MUCH larger than the second number!

I’ve always been amazed by David’s affair with Bathsheba. Here he is, the King and leader of God’s people, and he goes on a sinning spree. He starts by being a peeping Tom, standing on his rooftop checking out women as they bathe. Then, he has the best looking one forcibly brought to him. Soon, she is pregnant, so to cover it up he has her husband killed. Then a prophet named Nathan is dispatched to confront David with his sins. Remember, this is a totalitarian King. He doesn’t have to listen to anyone. In that day one would expect the King to summarily execute anyone confronting him with something negative. But, that’s not what happens with David.

Here’s what Nathan says to him: This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul. I gave your master’s house to you, and your master’s wives into your arms. I gave you all Israel and Judah. And if all this had been too little, I would have given you even more. Why did you despise the word of the Lord by doing what is evil in his eyes? II Samuel 12:7-9

And here is David’s IMMEDIATE response: “I have sinned against the Lord.” II Samuel 12:13

Nathan’s response is even more powerful: “The Lord has taken away your sin.” II Samuel 12:13

Like David we all sin, and we all need to hand our sins over to God so that he can forgive them. What sins are you not admitting and confessing to God? Which ones do you need to bring out into the open this week and lay at the foot of the cross? The greatest news of all time is that, like David, God will forgive every wrong you confess.

The Good

Hebrews 13:16New International Version (NIV)

16 And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrificesGod is pleased.

There is an iconic movie called, The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly. It is one of the few spaghetti westerns that became a film that lasts time. Obviously Clint Eastwood, Blondie, is ‘The Good’. Lee Van Cleef, ‘The Bad, is the hit man who always sees his job through. And finally, ‘The Ugly’ Eli Wallach, Tuco, is a wanted outlaw.

You might be thinking what does this have to do with any spiritual connection. It actually has moved me to a teaching series that broadcasts every Sunday morning on KBOE 104.9 FM on Sunday mornings.

Here is were I went with it. Is there any good in my life? What areas are bad in my life? What are those hidden ugly places that I need to confess. For today, we will hit on, ‘Is there any good?’.

In Hebrews 13:16, the writer is saying that I can give a spiritual sacrifice of doing good works of sharing. This includes hospitality that is found in Hebrews 13:2, doing ministry to prisoners in verse 2, as well as in verse 3, sharing food with the needy, giving people rides to and from church, and giving money.

Doing good covers a lot of ministries. Good can come from my life. People say that the only good in them is Jesus. And I say, “YES!” But because of Jesus, there comes out of my life the good. Does your life exemplify the good of Christ in it? 

Let it be your sacrifice of doing good.

Strength and Courage

Michael

 

Vital Ministries News

Concert on the Square

Free Outdoor Concert at Oskaloosa on the Square

August 5

5:30 – Dark

Special Guests: Ryan Stevenson and Tim Timmons

Guest Worship Bands and Family Friendly Activities

Come to a Night of Worship, Fellowship, and Great Music!!

 

Live and Die a Better Man

Hebrews 4:12 (NKJV) For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

Paul states, very vividly, in Hebrews 4:12 the essence of God’s word.  It’s not merely words on a page, scribbled out for our entertainment.  It’s not something to peruse when the mood strikes us.  God’s word is ALIVE, POWERFUL, piercing straight through to our hearts.  It’s God’s revelation to us, a glimpse of His heart.  To know God, is to know His word, to desire to devour it.  It is power for us, from Him.

In a letter to a friend, Abraham Lincoln said, “I am profitably engaged in reading the bible.  Take all of this book upon reason that you can, and the balance on faith.  You will live and die a better man.”

God’s word is certainly profitable for a man or woman seeking a better way of living.  However, it requires more.  It is not enough to simply read scripture.  It’s not enough to reference it as a “how to book”.  It requires a total immersion.  It requires a complete surrender to it and ultimately its author, God.  

Reading scripture, and understanding what you are reading, its meaning and application to your life can be daunting.  In my earliest attempts at reading scripture I struggled, most was lost on me, much still is.  However, once I surrendered my heart to the Lordship of Jesus Christ, things gradually began to make more sense.  You see, without surrender, rebirth in Christ Jesus and the Holy Spirit taking up residence in my heart, there can be no revelation.  So much of scripture is lost on us.  It requires the guiding and translation provided by God Himself through His Spirit.

Having surrendered my heart to the governance of Jesus Christ, I must read His word to grow in the fullness of life He promises.  The more I read, the more I want to.  The closer I draw to Him, the more I desire to draw nearer still. Through His gift of grace, my rebirth and salvation are assured.  Of that I am certain, because through His WORD He assures me of that.  

Not for His love (that He gives freely for we could never accomplish anything remotely close to its deservance), rather because of His love, I desire to know Him, pursue Him, express my love for Him in return.  One of the ways I must show this is through the study and internalizing of His word.  I desire to live and die a better man, to honor the loving sacrifice He laid down so that I could.  Have a blessed weekend.

In full pursuit of the greatest Trophy,

Scott Pace   

Every Sunday at 8:30 AM

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