Searching For Peace

Luke 2:24New International Version (NIV)

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.”

Are you searching for peace? Peace is truly something everyone wants, yet few people find it. If you look up peace in the dictionary, it is defined as tranquility, harmony, or security. In the King James Bible it uses the word ‘peace’ 429 times in various forms.

Christmas is always a time when our focus goes to peace on earth and good will towards man. When I visited Israel in the spring of 2017, the Jewish people would say to each other, “Shalom”, which means, peace. Yet the nation itself have nations without peace on every border of their country.

So where is their peace, and can it really be obtained? Often I hear people tell others that, “I hope they fine peace.” I have found in my own life that peace is directly related to my actions and attitudes towards people. It is ultimately a gift from God.

When you go to your Bible and look up Isaiah 45:7, we find what God our Father says about peace. He says, “I create the light and make the darkness. I send good times and bad times. I, the Lord, am the one who does these things.”

Truly, God is the one who directs our peace which he gives as a gift. Maybe this is the best gift of Christmas. It is to have peace within yourself. The world will continue to have wars and people will have interpersonal conflicts with each other, but the Lord our God is the one who places his peace in our hearts so that we might share peace with each other.

Strength and Courage

Michael

 

Vital Ministries News

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My Portion

Lamentations 3:22-24 (NASB) The Lord’s loving kindnesses indeed never cease, For His compassions never fail. 23 They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. 24“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “Therefore I have hope in Him.”

This was my memory passage for this week.  As I recited this over and over, really meditating on the power in this passage, I was hit with a revelation.  God was telling me that I rely on myself far more than I rely on Him.

That, my friends, is a frightening realization.  I, and I’m betting a great many of you, tend to count more on God’s gifts than God Himself.  An person gifted with high intellect will tend to lean on that.  A person of wealth, will count on His money, gifts, blessings from God.  When I struggle, I most often think and act on what I can do rather than first call on God.  Pridefully, I believe that I can handle this and work my way over, around, under or through the obstacle.  Why?  I’m gifted!  In these instances, our strengths, His gifts become extraordinary weaknesses.  Our pride and illusioned self determination and self reliance becomes an immense stumbling block to our discipleship and oneness with Christ.

Often times struggles fall upon us after a time of peace, plenty and closeness with Christ.  When we ask something of God, and He doesn’t provide in the manner we believe He should, subconsciously, if not consciously, we abandon Him.  We push ahead under our “own” power, determining that it is up to us.  Instead, we should be thanking and praising Him in these times.

Faith is not a bargain that we’ve made with God… “give me this, do that for me and I’ll trust You, I’ll follow You.  If you don’t, well I think I’ll do it my way.” 

Our faith MUST be firmly rooted in Him, not His gifts.  Who do you go to first, Him or you?  What to you lean on, the gifts or the Giver?  Have a blessed weekend.

Proverbs 16:19-20 It is better to be humble in spirit with the lowly Than to divide the spoil with the proud. 20 He who gives attention to the word will find good, And blessed is he who trusts in the Lord.

In full pursuit of the greatest Trophy,

Scott Pace

Clouded Vision

A few weeks back, I had filled up my old 86 pickup truck with a load for the dump the night before, and planned to head out when they opened at 7 am, so I could still get to work on time.  It was cold that night and the windows had frosted over, yet it was also quite foggy out.  After scraping the windows and heading South of town, the fog began getting thicker, and the defrost on the truck was also not working.  I was peering out a small space at the bottom of the windshield and along the way I commented ‘this is probably not a good idea.’  I could barely see out the windshield and what I could see was not clear.  I nearly missed the sign for the dump turnoff and slid to a gravelly halt, got unloaded and then back on the road.  Pulling out on a 4 lane in the fog was probably the most questionable thing, as I hoped others were not speeding and would see me.  Fortunately the heater started working and I made it the 6 miles home without incident, but was maybe a bit wiser through the experience.  Do you keep pushing forward with things in life, whether or not you can see clearly?

Look on me and answer, Lord my God.  Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death.  Psalm 13:3

If I kept driving they way I did that day, I would likely be in an accident sooner than later, but fortunately conditions improved.  I am also thankful for the vision that I have to help me see clearly when conditions are not well.  I often wonder how others with limited vision are able to do as well as they do.  My grandfather had only one eye for most of his life and he was still driving a car into his 90’s.  Sometimes we persist despite obstacles before us and continue to push forward.  We even have challenges to our faith and continue to persevere.  Other times we encounter obstacles and decide to ‘play it safe’ and not risk our health or the lives of our family to move ahead in poor conditions.  The key to deciding what to do in any given situation calls for good discernment. 

Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.John 3:3

The longer we live, the more we realize that we never know what may happen next in life.  People we know and love may be here one day and gone the next.  Opportunities to have meaningful conversations rarely ‘just happen’ and we eventually lose touch with others.  Many things in life do not always go how we plan or expect, but that may also bring about unexpected blessings as well.  If you were able to ask God anything and get a definite answer, what would it be?  Have you asked?  I believe that God may not give us the ability to perfectly see the road ahead of us, because we would then take all the credit for the trip, ignoring Him again.  But I believe He often gives us glimpses of what lies ahead, even in the world to come.  If you could know when your last day in this life would be, how would it change the way you live now? 

For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.  1 Corinthians 13:12

May you be able to make wise choices even when the road ahead looks clouded or questionable.  Seek the guidance of God and his Holy Spirit in day to day decisions and especially in major life decisions and you will be able to hear more clearly from Him as you do.  Using the guiding principles God gave us in Scripture does not promise us a trouble free life, but in fact, helps us persevere through these difficulties, even beyond the point of death, to the Kingdom ahead.  Take comfort in that as so many have done through centuries before us.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.  Hebrews 12:1

Seeing Clearly in Christ,
Clark

Have Grits

My wife and I have been working on instilling a core value into our kids. Of all our values, this is the hardest one to explain.  The value is “Have Grit.”  My seven year old daughter heard this was a family values she heard… “have grits”  She tells me that she does not like grits but would like our value to be “have pancakes.”  So my family values according to my seven year old would be…

Follow Jesus
Take Courage
Choose Joy
Have Pancakes

I agree pancakes are good but not quite family value level.  So then I started working on how do you explain grit to a child.  I want my kids to grow up to be adults with grit.  I wrote down ideas of how to explain this.  I came up with “Sereg’s don’t quit” or “We like a challenge”  Then it hit me… “we do hard things and we finish them.”

I have been on a one year Bible reading plan, and God has really highlighted the men and women who had grit.  They were put in impossible situation where normal men and women would crumble or quit.  These heros of our faith are not heros or worthy of writing about without these great challenges.  The fact that it was hard and that they finished strong, causes us to tell our children their stories.  David kills the giant. Benaiah chases the lion. Esther challenges the law. Joseph forgives his brothers. Abram leaves everything he knows. Peter preaches Jesus after the crucifixion of Jesus. 

So then I thought, when did they find the courage to do this really hard thing?  Was it the courage in the moment, they found an internal strength they didn’t know they had?  Was it God’s grace that they obeyed to the point of risking their life?  I do think this was a defining moment and I certainly believe apart from grace they would not have done this… However I believe something more.  I think they decided ahead of time that they would hard things and finish them.  They developed grit before these epic moments.  Why did every person in the Bible face tragedy?  Is it because God is cruel and makes this life hard?  Is it the devil?  Or is it a loving father who knows when the struggle, meets His grace, meets “have grit” that the world will marvel by how great God is and that God’s greatness lives in men. 

In my life, marriage is hard, parenting is hard, ministry is hard, and love is hard.  I decided along time ago that I do hard things and I finish them.  It is the struggle that builds strength.  It is the perseverance that builds character.  It is the epic moment in our stories that reveal our grit.  We all want to be victorious and be known as an overcomer, but do we want to finish hard things.

So what is hard in your life?  How are you responding?  Are you trying get out of the hard thing?  Are you blaming someone for the problem?  Or do you “have grit” and finish hard things?  

Do hard things and finish them… Have Grit

Recklessly, obsessively following Jesus

Brandon Sereg

Every Sunday at 8:30 AM

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