Sacrifice

 

We have it pretty good. We live in a land flowing with milk and honey, as well as drinkable water, coffee, orange juice, soda, wine, beer, candy, meat, nicotine, gasoline, or whatever else we want at the local convenience store that suits our desires. If any of these were to dry up and never be as easy for us to get as they are now, would we feel slighted? That our rights to the availability of these things has somehow been infringed upon? When we give up any of these conveniences in life, such as for Lent, we may feel we are making a considerable sacrifice in our lives. Are we? In our on demand, have it now society, if we don’t get our selfish way all the time, we may cry injustice, without a real sense of what true justice is.

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

When I took economics as a freshman in college, besides the supply-demand curve, I recall that most transactions and decisions we make have a cost and a benefit. Even if we decide not to do/buy something, there is a cost to that, an opportunity cost. If we choose not to have insurance, maintain equipment, or have an emergency fund, it may cost us more at a later time. When we choose not to invest time, money, or energy into the growth, development, and education of our children, ourselves, or others, we may only regret those decisions later on down the road. When we keep choosing only what benefits us instead of others in life, the outcome is fairly sad.

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. John 15:13

When I read the above verse, I used to think that laying down one’s life meant ‘taking a bullet’ for them. It can mean this, but it can also mean living for the benefit of others instead of just myself. It can mean taking a few minutes to help someone in need even though I am running behind schedule. It can mean tough love toward a child or a friend who has trouble seeing the consequences of their actions. It can mean living a life of integrity over the years in front of those who look up to you, or to others who don’t share your faith. It can look a lot of different ways in each of our lives, but in almost every way, it looks like what Jesus would do.

But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ.  Philippians 3:7-8

Christ is our perfect example of how to live a life of sacrifice. We may never live up to the example or notoriety of Mother Theresa, Albert Schweitzer, or others in the impact of our sacrificial living, but to those in our lives, it can make a huge impact. In our own lives, while they were not perfect, we can look to our own mother or father and consider what they gave up for our own benefit. When we look at the cross, we start to learn what true sacrifice really is. The cross serves as a reminder of what Christ did for us, of how we ought to live for others, of how selfish we can become. It reminds us that we can live for something greater than just ourselves and what is in this world. It stands in stark contrast to what the world stands for. It stands for love.  What do we stand for?

And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1-2

Living for Him,

Clark

Proverb of the Day

For the last several years, I have been reading the Proverb of the day.  There are 31 proverbs and 31 days in the longest month.  I have grown so much in wisdom and my love and dependance on the Lord’s wisdom grows daily.  I read the same Proverb every month and every month I see new things and new perspective. 

Today’s Proverb 6:1 My child, if you have put up security for a friend’s debt
    or agreed to guarantee the debt of a stranger—
if you have trapped yourself by your agreement
    and are caught by what you said—
follow my advice and save yourself,
    for you have placed yourself at your friend’s mercy.
Now swallow your pride;
    go and beg to have your name erased.
Don’t put it off; do it now!
    Don’t rest until you do.
Save yourself like a gazelle escaping from a hunter,
    like a bird fleeing from a net.

What I hear in this is debt is a trap.  Being a cosigner for someone could cost your relationship. If you were to watch the discovery channel and watch the gazelle run from the lion, or watch a bird try to flee a falling net, there is an intensity to it.  Run from debt with the intensity of a gazelle.

Here is what Proverbs 1 says about wisdom:

Proverbs 1:1 These are the proverbs of Solomon, David’s son, king of Israel.

Their purpose is to teach people wisdom and discipline,
    to help them understand the insights of the wise.
Their purpose is to teach people to live disciplined and successful lives,
    to help them do what is right, just, and fair.
These proverbs will give insight to the simple,
    knowledge and discernment to the young.

Let the wise listen to these proverbs and become even wiser.
    Let those with understanding receive guidance
by exploring the meaning in these proverbs and parables,
    the words of the wise and their riddles.

Fear of the Lord is the foundation of true knowledge,
    but fools despise wisdom and discipline.

The promises are wisdom, insight, discernment, knowledge, discipline, success, and guidance.  Who among us doesn’t need that?

It is not about you getting in the Word of God daily, it is about getting the Word of God in you daily.  It is not about religion, legalism, or you should do this.  It is about humility saying we need wisdom, insight, discernment, knowledge, discipline, success, and guidance.  It is saying we don’t have it all.  

So to start of 2016 right, I encourage you stop trying harder!  Stop doing religion!  Stop! Start pursuing wisdom! Start pursuing revelation from the Word of God!  Start getting the Words of Jesus IN YOU!

Papa, I pray right now that 2o16 would be the blessed year ever as these Vital Men walk as sons at your table.  I pray for a spirit of wisdom and revelation as the get Your Word in them.  I pray the would know your voice and be submitted to your will. In Jesus Name!

Go Be Vital

Recklessly, Obsessively Following Jesus

Brandon Sereg

When God Doesn’t Make Sense

If you are anything like me the dawn of a new year brings exciting thoughts. You make big goals, dream big dreams, and draw up long lists of things you hope transpire. All of that is perfectly fine and healthy, and indeed setting goals is something we should always be doing. Do we, however, ever think about what we are going to do when things don’t go according to plan? Because friends, here is the reality: things will not always go your way this year. Things you hope will happen will never occur, and things you wish to never occur will come to pass. There will be moments this year when you find yourself thinking that God simply doesn’t make sense. Instead of waiting for those moments to come, and not being prepared, its important to spend a few moments pondering what we do when God doesn’t seem to make sense to us.

 

The truth is, God will not always make sense. This is for two big reasons. First, human sin has messed up God’s perfect creation. God made our world perfectly, and formed humans in his image. Humanity was to live in blissful harmony forever, but our sin messed that all up, bringing suffering, death, and all other ills into the world. I once met with the family of a man who committed suicide. As if his death was not tragic enough, they had to endure person after person telling them that his death was God’s plan. We cannot forget that God’s plan was never for us to suffer, it was us who brought suffering into this world. God, in His perfect love and grace, gives us the perfect antidote to all pain and suffering: eternal life in a perfect heaven. No matter the difficulties this world hurls at us Jesus suffered and died so that we may have an eternity that is entirely perfect, devoid of any of the suffering we experience in this world.

 

Here’s the second thing we need to understand when God doesn’t make sense: God is so much greater then us that we can’t possibly fully comprehend Him. God has a plan for all of humanity for all of eternity, while we tend to get laser focused on what’s going to happen to us 15 minutes from now. The fact that God is not giving you what you want today does not mean He is not present, it just may mean He has a better plan then you do. Almost a decade ago I felt God making it clear I was supposed to turn down what appeared to be a dream job. In the months that followed, especially as I experienced difficulty in my job, I could not understand why he had me turned the position down. Yet, in the years that followed, it became so clear that turning down that job was absolutely what God needed for my family, my ministry, and myself.

 

There will be moments in 2016 that God will not make sense. When that happens, understand that God is right there will you, both now and for all eternity.

 

 

Looking For Courage

 

Ezekiel 22:30 New International Version (NIV)

30 “I looked for someone among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found no one.

 

A gap represents a place of weakness, vulnerability, and danger. God expressed to Ezekiel his longing to find faithful men who would have the courage to stand in the gap against moral failure that was growing in that time amongst that generation. He was looking for a few courageous men who were committed to building their lives in righteousness.

The Lord is still seeking men who will stand for the moral law of God. He is looking for men to stand in the gap and confront the enemy with God’s help. Yet, it will take men who have the courage to stand and face adversity straight in the eyes.

As men, we often face those challenges with fear. We must meet our fears in order to know the courage that each of us has inside. We will not just freeze in that moment, but we take that fear and face it and have the courage to stand.

Fear can be paralyzing, and it can keep us from growing into the men God has called us to be. Standing in the gap, we can acknowledge our fears and confront them head on.

I believe that today our God is still looking for men with courage. We will stand in the gap for our wives, families, and our country. Men who stand for righteousness stand in the gap. Men who have the quality of being morally right stand in the gap.

We cannot be perfect in righteousness for it is impossible to attain. The good news is that it is possible by the cleansing of sin by Jesus and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

The Bible says in 2 Corinthians 5:21, ‘God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God’. This means we are made righteous in the sight of God.

This is how we can stand in the gap and be men of courage. Yes, we will have fears. This is good because it causes us all the more to lean on Christ in becoming the men he has called us to be – Courageous!

Strength and Courage

Mike

 

 

 

Crazy Faith

 

2 Timothy 2:13 New International Version (NIV)

13 if we are faithless,
    he remains faithful,
    for he cannot disown himself.

 

It has been said by Dr. J. Oswald Sanders, “Faith enables the believing soul to treat the future as present and the invisible as seen.” How many of us live in assurance of things hoped for? When was the last time you made a decision with the future in plain sight? Is that what people mean when they say, “You just need more faith.” How do I know how much faith I have?

What if your crazy faith cost you everything? That was a question, I believe, that the disciples grappled with while they walked with Jesus, and as he ascended back to heaven. Look at this portion of Scripture in Matthew 17:20, ‘You do not have enough faith.’ Jesus told them, “I tell you the truth, if you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, move from here to there, and it would move. Nothing would be impossible.”

Jesus is rebuilding the disciples because of their lack of faith from being able to cast out a demon in a boy. It was all because of faith.

All of us have the crazy faith moments. We either seize up in that moment or have a little faith as the size of a mustard seed and believe. This year I am challenged with the one word, ‘Deeper’.

I want to have the crazy faith of believing I can see the miraculous in my life. I want to have deeper encounters with Jesus. I want to be called a friend of God like Noah, Moses, and other men of God.

I want to have the crazy faith in 2016 of seeing people come to Christ, addictions broken, marriages saved, cancer beaten, and life given. That takes crazy faith, but I pray to have it.

Where is your crazy faith for 2016? Want to walk on water? Want to see demons flee? Want to see the spiritually dead come back to life? It will take crazy faith on your part. It will take reading God’s Word, cultivating a deeper prayer life, and resisting the devil. Join me in ‘Crazy Faith’.

Strength and Courage

Mike

 

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