Good Sunday morning this is Mike Sereg the voice of Vital Ministries and it is good to be with you on this another beautiful Sunday we want to thank you for listening to KBOE 104.9 FM on your radio dial you might be traveling down the highway today. You have tuned us and we just want to thank you so much for participating and being part of this, this ministry maybe you’re driving on your way to church. Thank you for just being with us today and also to maybe you’re at home and you always see your faithfully turning us on. We just want to say a big thank you for letting us share a part of your Sunday.
But we before we jump into our teaching series this morning, we just have a few things that we want to bring to your attention on August 10 we’re going to have donuts and Devos again it’s going to be our last one we’ve done it this summer an opportunity for men we get together at seven o’clock here in Oskaloosa on a Saturday morning again August 10 and it’s at the Vital Ministries building and we have donuts the Jaarsma stuff it’s all good and then also to we’ll have a devotional together what a great time to start on your on your Saturday again that will be our last one because we will be starting back in for Vital Men back in September so we’re looking forward to that and also to with that September 8 we have another Vital Gathering coming up and you won’t want to miss this this is a Debbie’s Celebration barn just south here in Oskaloosa it’s on a Sunday evening from five to seven What a great opportunity to bring family will have food there for you will have a music last time we had a special group come in they did a knockout wonderful job a worshipful time that we can come and praise God and for who He is and then also too will have a teaching will have after that a little bit more singing and coffee and lemonade and coffee time. How often do you really get a chance to come and enjoy some fellowship together where you can come out and hang out and have just a good time and visit back and forth and chatting with each other. I am so looking forward to that event that’s coming up on on September eight so you won’t want to miss that at all.
But we’re we’re beginning as we started today just something new and and we’re beginning a new teaching series today called Work. We all do it we work away our lives to attain something don’t we. Matter of fact, it says a lot of Americans are our work. We work so much that we have become literally workaholics from sunup to sundown we work. I tell you what that depicts what I would call a lot of the Iowa generation the Iowa folks here in our great state love to work and we’re thankful that we are in a what I call a get er done state.
This past week, I had my 40th class reunion. Yes, folks, I am getting older, and I graduated in high school in 1979. The last year, last few years, the baby boomers, the generation from 1946 to 1964. My generation represents 29% of the population in America, that’s amazing to me, the generation that worked and achieve and I think that would kind of depict that this a baby boomer generation. I have a good friend of mine who who I graduated with later, who became a director of a hospital and we talked about what it meant to work in our lifetime as we as we start to focus down as is as we start to end the career start to change and, and look differently. And he looked at me and said Mike, I’ve worked 65 plus hours weekly. And what I was was salary then I gained nothing from working more hours. Matter of fact, I he said I felt like I’ve just simply have worked my life away. And I and I and that is true. So often as we as we work it becomes so much of our lives that life passes by so quickly. But he was asking me a question. He said that I pretty much that he pretty much did the same thing. And and we talked about how our parents were we’re work we’re workaholics as well that a lot of them came off of a world war two families and and during that baby boom era. And our parents had taught us how to work and with teaching us how to work it also implied that that defined you in such a way and it was it gave you value or importance. But that’s a wrong case scenario. But that’s what was built into that generation. Now don’t get me wrong. I’m thankful for my parents, and they taught me how to work. And I’m grateful for that and we have a generation that is coming on the scene that could what I would say could use a little a bit more work ethic, a little bit more determination of work. But that’s that’s a whole nother story. And I don’t want to I don’t want to be critical about that generation. But that generation looks at work much differently than how the generation of the baby boomers did.
But my dad, he’s in his 70s. Matter of fact, he still works he runs a dozer for a local contractor right here. Oskaloosa, a man of work, and I tease him that someday when he passes away, I’m going to put his put on his stone here lies Phil Sereg, he worked. My Dad, I’m sure we’ll get a chuckle out of that. But my my father just taught me a great work ethic and loves continuing to work today. He likes to work that I was always like that my dad’s promise is trying to do what he did. He taught me so many so many different things. But here’s here’s some interesting statistics. And I like to prove them some things according to kind of back up a little bit what I’m saying. It says that the United States that 86% of the men and 66% of women work over 40 hours a week. It’s a it states that Americans work that get this folks, this is amazing that Americans work 137 hours more than the Japanese workers. 260 hours more than British workers. And 499 more hours than the French. I tell you what we go to France don’t have to work so much. But that’s a lot of extra hours, isn’t it? Folks, no wonder we feel tired. And we don’t have time for hobbies. And we don’t connect with friends. We work. That is so much that is so true that I would say it’s in our culture it’s built in. And I would have to say it’s very much evident for the folks that live in Iowa.
But it’s not only in what I was saying the secular or the business world, but we do the same things as Christians. We live faith based on how we do work, Do we work for God enough? Our performance is based on whether or not we make it to heaven. That is so true, all based on the word work. And I don’t believe for one minute that we can get to heaven. And that Jesus is going to ask us this question. Well, let me see how much you worked before you can enter into my kingdom. I believe that with all it’s within me, but we get this mindset case scenario, and also to do the fact that the different ethnic groups that we have, and a lot of people will say, well, the Dutch especially know how to work. Well, folks, I am half Dutch, my mother was a Vos. But yeah, that incredible work ethic that is drawn from that from that culture. But this cost is nothing more than bondage in our Christian lives. We are we’re going to, to do what Jesus says, what does the Bible say about work, and we’ll see him stepping out onto the scene with I love this with James, he does a beautiful job and he deals with works itself. And we’ll see him stepping out into a scene with a healthy dose of what I call straight talk about practical living.
James doesn’t dance around hard issues, and neither will we in this teaching. And folks, I we are really going to be direct on this teaching as we looked into the book of James. And so if your home today, go ahead and pull out your Bibles. And we’re going to start with James one. We’re going to look at that James this morning, we’ll see how trouble in life will give you two options. Isn’t that true? Your outlook will determine your outcome, and how attitude will determine action. So let’s get started this morning, as we study in the book of James and we’ll look at what it says what Jesus his brother his his half brother says about work. So my first point today is this work for Jesus. And we’re going to look at James chapter one. starting with verse one. It says this, this is a letter from James a slave of God and the Lord Jesus Christ. I’m writing to the 12 tribes, Jewish believers scattered abroad. And then he says greetings with an explanation point. What we find these things about James and his reason for writing, James calls himself a slave for God. And for Jesus know, where do we see James calling out for entitlement or his position for being Jesus, his half brother, his writing to the Jewish he’s? James is writing to his Jewish brothers, like, like john the baptist, who claims that unworthiness of baptizing Jesus. He tells Jesus, I he is so unworthy that he is. He’s unwilling to baptize Jesus because he’s not even worthy to untie his sandals. But James goes even to a deeper sense of humility, no claim for being the actual blood of Jesus, a younger brother, no, call me his slave. He passes over leadership to followership, the word slave has a negative connotation, in most places in this world, and especially in America.
But James was saying that God and Jesus have my life, I yield it up to them, they have no power over me, that that they they can totally can troll my life. They have power of everything that I do in my life, I said that incorrectly. They have power over me, ice. They serve a father who created Jesus who, Lord who died for James himself. I’m indebted to them, even to the place that I’m a slave to them. Now, this isn’t an easy concept for us this morning is it yielding to someone work says I’m, I’m the boss over my destiny. If I just work enough for God, and Jesus, I will shirt they will surely take me in. That means I can live my own way of life, being more of a part time Christian of faith. Look how much I do for the church. And I have no relationship with Jesus as my Lord. But folks, that is not that that is not the right wording of what works means work means that we work for Jesus as part of our life as a transformational portion of that, and I love again how how James says that he’s a slave, and he is working for Jesus and working for his father. And that way they can extend the kingdom of God. And I hope that how we look at it today was so much of what some of you who do so much in the church, yes, that is a great thing. But what reason are you doing it for are you doing it for the the enhancement to get the kingdom of God to get there? Are you doing it to advance the kingdom of God? See, there’s a difference in that, and you got to look at that in a different again, that’s pretty straight dose of talking this morning. But I really believe that’s what the Bible is really telling us that we do it out of relationship with God, it’s a transformation process out of that, and that’s why we do works. But let’s keep going. Point number two is this trials will they will make you bitter, or they will make you better. And let’s continue in in James one looking for verses two through four. Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind, come your way. Consider it all an opportunity for great joy, for you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow for when your endurance is full developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing. See folks character is everything. When you face trials, you will either make you bitter, or they will make you better. And a lot of us consist say that we’ve had trials in our lives and a different things.
But James tells us that yes, we will have troubles, but when they do count it as an opportunity for great joy. But I when I read that, am I the only one that sits back in his seat this morning and says Yeah, right, that look at it for an opportunity for difficulties in my life to bring joy. Nobody likes going through troubles, do we matter of fact, we will do everything possible in our lives to get out of them. Because they are hard and usually oftentimes painful and bring heart pain to our lives. My grandparents, they went to the Great Depression. Both of them shared stories with me about just how hard it was. They raised kids on 100 and 110 acre farm plot. They raised livestock for food chickens for eggs, and had a huge garden. And they milk cows sunup to sundown. They work. But this is what was interesting that I found about my grandparents. When Sunday came, work stopped. They went to church, they rested. that taught me something because they did Yes, they work six days work week sign up to sundown and sometimes even before the sun came up, and even after the sun going down, but they work. I asked him how they got through that time. And they both said this emphatically and I spoke to them both differently. And they they my grandparents were George and Ruth Vos. And a lot of times I know some of you may or may not know them, but they meant something to me. They I’m a third generation past my grandparents living.
I asked them the question about that, and how they got through it. And they said Mike, it was through faith, their faith in God that they work together. And family meant everything. It wasn’t more acres, buying bigger, better equipment, not even going to a counselor, they trusted in God and loved each other more. And my grandparents so much they showed me in their life, about how hard work paid off. They were not rich people by any means. But what they were rich in, they were rich in relationship with Jesus, and they were rich in relationship with their family. And and it was so evident through as my family got back together during the holiday seasons and birthdays and my grandparents, everybody came back. They couldn’t wait and spend time with my grandparents because they invested in our lives.
I also saw this when I went to Nicaragua a couple of years ago, and, and most of most of that nation is unemployed. They’re they’re literally a third world country. They have a dictator for President. And folks, most of the time, they have tough times. But here’s what I noticed. They took time to talk with each other, they visited with the each other and even in this in the tough state that they were in. Those of them that were in faith, found great joy. And you can see smiles there was there was a there was such freedom in their lives as they worship God is they come together and Sunday, they would come to Sunday to church, and they would be dressed in their best. And it was unbelievable. But what I really especially noticed was their freedom in praising the Lord. But I’m so thankful for that. And they were joy filled. And when I went back home, I thought there’s something folks that I could truly learn from what I met from those, those three pastors that were there, that there were just great men of God, I looked at it as a privilege, because through their trials and tribulations, that I could see the evidence of God’s work in their life, how the Holy Spirit worked.
And too often I think when when we get into church and stuff like that, because we can, we can pay for most things in most churches, most churches can’t, and we miss out, I think at times of how we can really have the relationship and the dependence on God. And a lot of times we don’t get dependent on God until we have this extreme struggle. The folks in Nicaragua, the Nicaraguan church, had faith day to day, and that really spoke to my heart and really something that was different. And I went through it with some of the folks at Central Church right here in Oskaloosa. And it was great opportunity to spend time with them as well. But we learned so much from those people, as we were in that great nation of Nicaragua, and especially as our church friendship relationship was with the churches at the Nehemiah center. And I encourage you to look that up sometime, if you’re looking for in a country to give to the Nehemiah Center does some incredible things down there for their country. And I’m so impressed.
But let’s keep going this morning. Point number three is this works will fade. And I want to show you something out of that, as James continues starting with verse nine. We’re going to skip around a little bit this morning, because there’s so much here and and we don’t have enough time to cover but it says this believers who are poor have something to boast about for God has honored them. And those who are rich should boast that God has humbled them, they will fade away like a little flower in the field. The hot sun rises in the grass withers in the little flowers droops and falls and his beauty fades away. In the same way the rich will fade away with all of their achievement achievements. And then you man you hit work head on with these words of James. But see, James calls out the poor, as being rich, the poor has something to boast about how God has honored them. And the rich should boast about how God has humbled them two different case scenarios here. And it’s really important that we seize that. But now that doesn’t seem a just a little thing in my own mind. But how does God honor the poor. And I believe that Jesus came to the poor first when he when he walked the planet when he lived on earth. And he would he would listen to them. He fed them he loved them. He met them in the needs of where they were.
You know folks in the past years, Vital Ministries has done we would go out and and on the on the day after Thanksgiving, and we’d visit the homeless shelter and we went to the one specifically up in Des Moines, we would go and we clean rooms folded clothes and serve food. And we all saw things differently with with the homeless people and the poor that live in the city of Des Moines. And I’ll never forget one year when this young woman she was she was sobbing about her situation I had time to sit down and and stop work and just to listen to her knees and she had lost her home or current or living due to drugs and poor financial choices. She shared with me Mike that she never thought in a moment that her life that she would ever be homeless and an addict. She asked me how could I ever get here? What do you say in moments like that? And for me, I listened I cared and I prayed with her. You just needed someone to to spend time to care and to listen, I’m that was the need of the moment. And I was honoring her in her situation. I wasn’t telling her what she didn’t do and didn’t cast judgment. Just try to honor her and have eyes like Jesus. I think that’s how you honor people in those moments. But how about the rich, it says that the rich it says that they will humble, they will be humbled that it all says that when I when I go to funerals, folks, and I gotta be honest with you here to people, and I’ve done people, funerals for people who were who have had great wealth and have done great things in their lives. And again, this isn’t a negative connotation. But I’ve never yet seen Wells Fargo show up at the grave site.
It all ends when you come into the world. This is This is amazing. And listen to me on this one, we come into the world with nothing, and we leave with nothing. And that is so true. And you can read in the Bible of some of the great men even even King Solomon. He said in his own thing that King Solomon is called everything and life about the things that he he he gained from life was meaningless. But what was really true was keeping the commands to decrease in the regulations for God. He said that is what met something. And I just encourages as we go out, and we are a workforce people to realize, folks, what is the workforce to attain more things, I gotta be honest with you, I struggle with that too. In my life. I like new things. I like new trucks. I like new motorcycles I like to attain, but the truth of the matter. The fact is, I will take nothing of that with me. And it will all disappear someday.
So my life, what matters most is the relationships of how I deal with people and my relationship with Jesus, and that I love my wife. Well, I love my children well, and I love my grandchildren. Well, that is priceless. That is what I call true riches that will as far as getting into heaven, but let’s keep going the next point. My final point this morning is this is works is is listening and doing. I’m going to read a portion of Scripture here this morning’s a little bit longer, but I think it’s worth reading because there’s so much in it. starting with verse nine, it says this, understand my dear brothers and sisters, you must be quick to listen slow to speak and slow to get angry. Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires. So get rid of all the the filth and the evil in your life. humbly accept the Word of God that has planted in your hearts for it has the power to save your souls. But don’t just listen to God’s word, you must do what it says otherwise, you’re only fooling yourself. For if you listen to the Word of God and don’t obey it. It’s like glancing at your face in a mirror. You see yourself walk away and forget what you look like. But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free. And if you do what it says and don’t forget what you that God will bless you for doing it. If you claim to be religious, but don’t control your tongue, you are fooling yourself and your religious worthlessness, pure and genuine religion. in the sight of God. This is good guys. Pure and genuine religion. in the sight of God, the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to allow the world to corrupt you.
James is saying, Just don’t listen to God’s word, you must do what it says. I don’t know about you. But it’s easy to read the Bible. I get a star I use that all the time I get a star and that’s my star for the morning. Matter of fact is is that the day that’s what I do, but it becomes more of a duty as opposed to a way of living a better life. I’ve read the Bible through this these past few years. And it has helped me and I can’t but I can tell you this is literally getting into my bones. its history. I’m beginning to retain it. Remember when I I hear teachings on the radio or a church and I can never navigate through the Bible pretty well. So should I get a star? Right? But here’s what the road when the rubber hits the road? Am I transformed from reading it? James says if you’re going if you’re not changed, you’re only fooling yourself. It says like looking into the mirror and forgetting what you look like. I think people use all kinds of reasons for not reading the Bible. Not enough time. I don’t understand it. It’s irrelevant for today. And Matter of fact, all those are real answers. But will it get it before Sunday when you before God, James says the Bible will set you free. It’s truth. People don’t want truth today from the Bible. They just want their truth, be your own truth. But it’s a sad place that we’ve come to realize that none of that can find truth. I found that reading the Bible is true that there is the place where the Holy Spirit gives me a glimpse in the mirror of the man that God is calling me to be. Even this morning. I am struck by James word, control your tongue. If you don’t control it, your religion is worthless. Hear that, folks? If you don’t control your tongue, your religion is worthless. My wife is always reminding me Mike, Watch your words. People are watching you and even more of listening to what you have to say. It’s easy to tell how spiritual I am on the radio, right? Doesn’t it? I’m just being honest with you this morning. But do the men who work with me here praise and my words? Or do they hear a critical man? Do they hear transformation? Or do they hear regression? Do I speak life? Or do I speak death? We all face these questions and our each and every day as the as we go and people around us. Then James closes in verse 27 Pure religion in the sight of God means caring for orphans, widows, and not only letting the world corrupt you I’m currently working in building homes for three widows in our in our great city of Oskaloosa. So two of them have lost their their men recently in the past year and and the other one has been a few years past. But these women are very fine ladies and are grateful. And it’s my place to be fair, and to care for the desires. As I build their home. They’re in distress and they need a man who is fair and who is safe. That is without a doubt my desire as I build these homes for these ladies. Now, folks, I’m not around orphans much and I see him on TV, Facebook and and emails, but it’s easy to click away and to change your channel is it? What obligation? does it play in the whole scheme of things in my life? do I care? Or do I become what I would say? They become simply just faces? We all have decisions to make when we help orphans. Then in closing, do I allow the world’s to corrupt my life? Do I get diligent to what I watch on TV into the places I serve from my phone to my computer? The world can take you down to dark places can it it really can it can really move you to the wrong places. But I’ve been reading a book called The Veil by Blake K. Haley, it talks about the unseen realms of angels dancing and worship and demons latching onto people through addictions and bitter hearts. I’m challenged by his writings and how the world corrupts people and goes after Christians hard. James hits us with straight talk doesn’t do this morning gives little time for hypocrisy and drives right straight to the truth works will never be enough for any Christian, hear me on that, again, works will never be enough for any Christian, you can fall into countless hours of doing and have little change happening in your life. Here’s my final question for us this morning. How is your work changing you? If it doesn’t, you will see live and die and miss the journey of transformation that God has placed us on this planet for the transformation because folks, everything that we do in this life enhances the life to come. How are you spending your work?
Let’s pray. Jesus again, I just want to thank you for another day, I want to thank you for her being part of our lives a part of our work, not only the work that was as we go out and doing but the work that we do. That’s the transformation of our lives ourselves. I pray Holy Spirit that maybe there’s somebody here even this morning in the in my listening ear that is checked by the words in the Scripture, the words of truth that come from the Bible that can truly transform their lives. Maybe they might be saying, Jesus, I’m sorry, I’ve allowed work to become more of something of a duty as a son, as opposed to something I do for you a transformed life so I can live a better story. Lord, I just pray for those people this morning, that if they truly want transformation, they get into the Bible. And they read it and they take it in and out of that they can take it back to the workplace and be different people. Lord, help us all in this as we do this journey called life. We thank You Jesus for dying on the cross for our sins. We thank you for for what you did. You rose from the grave three days and now you sit at the right hand of the Father. And now you sent the Holy Spirit to help change our lives. We thank you Holy Spirit for what you’re doing, and your precious Holy Name. Amen.
Folks, it’s been another great day as we talk about this new teaching series on works you’re not going to want to miss next week as we jump in to chapter two. Looking at how works can truly change and transforms our lives. I’m Mike Sereg, the voice of Vital Ministries.