Good Sunday morning this is Mike Sereg, the voice of Vital Ministries and it’s too good to be with you on another beautiful Sunday in Iowa. We are having tremendous weather here we are, it is just amazing about how things are. And just thankful as you were, it’s on the crest of having a harvest season, you can just see it, feel it in the air. The days are getting growing shorter. And it just as we as we head into fall, it’s just another incredible great season that we can experience here in Iowa.
Before we get started though this morning I want to I want to bring you some updates on a few things that we’ve got coming up. The first one is this our first event is September 8. It’s called Vital Gathering. Now this event includes both men and women, children all ages are welcome to this event. We’re going to be at Debbie celebration barn again on September 8, and it’s going to go from five to seven o’clock, it’s on a Sunday evening. And what we’ll be doing will be serving food, so come hungry. We’re going to have some food there for you some time of fellowship getting to know other people will also to have a worship, praise and worship time. I just think what a great experience that is that we can really sit back and allow the Holy Spirit to move in a place that we don’t have so many contingencies of, of how many things that have to be done in a teaching or an interest in or in a period of time. We will also to will do a teaching. It will be short, it’ll be brief, but it’ll have to pertain about how we live life in the culture that we live. And I just encourage you about that. I think it’s going to be something exceptional. And also to we’ll have a coffee time afterwards. So just a great time of fellowship. A great time to ask somebody who doesn’t necessarily is unwilling to maybe go to church for whatever reason it might be but they would go to Debbie’ Celebration barn here right here in Oskaloosa, it’s on the south side, a beautiful building. Debbie has done this, and Danny, had this building and it’s exceptional to have weddings and different events and things that go on out there and it just spectacular. So just encourage you again that September 8 from five to seven o’clock.
Also too we’re going to have our Vital men kickoff coming up. It’s on 911 September 11, and we’re excited about that that is going to be at Pella at the well again that is on September 11th. That’s a Wednesday night. We’re going to start and go from six to eight. We’re gonna have BBQ and this is again, a men’s event, we’re going to have barbecue at a time of praise and worship for men, we got a praise team coming up out of Ottumwa from the Bridge with Marty Schmidt, his church. We’re excited about bringing those men up and give us a time and also to Marty Schmidt will be our guest speaker. Another time as men as we get ready to launch our new team teaching series as we discuss what it means about followership the difference between leadership that moves us to followership, we’re going to go in depth study, and First and Second Kings and steady men like Elijah and Elijah. You are not going to want to miss this event. And just another great time for for us is meant to get together and grow with each other iron sharpening iron, what a great time that’s going to be. So I just encourage you to be looking for that event, as that rapidly comes so quickly.
But we’re we are continuing our teaching series this week. We’re in our second week, and it’s about work. We all have a pre-conceived notion about what work is. Works: work hard, and good things can happen, right?
I do both ministry and own a construction company both require a lot of work to make it successful. It takes time, I have a good friend of mine who who are managed to this week who’s who’s both a farmer trucker. He’s uh, he hauls pigs from, from the farmer to the place of the processing plant, places where they where they take pigs, and it’s a slaughterhouse for better words of saying, but they go and that’s what he does for a living. This man works hard and works long hours. Yet you will see the gleam in his eyes. Every time he talks about his family, and especially his grandkids. He says, Mike, this is why I do what I do spend the time that I do in a truck. So I can make spent set aside special time for my family. He was sharing with me, he’s going to take his grandkids up and they’re going to go up to Boone and, and ride on the railroad and have a great experience. But again, he’s a hands on man, and works hard. There are many opinions today about work there, there was a man by the name of Bob black, who penned an essay about what work is and he call it the abolition of work. He said, No one should ever work. Work is the source of misery and the world. Almost any evil, you’d care to know that comes from work, or working for a living comes from living in the world designed for work. In order to stop suffering, we have to stop working.
Man I sit back and I think Man, what a what a that’s quite a statement is it to make to respect his opinion. But there is some truth in what he has to say. We are we as Americans, we spend 50% of our waking hours doing work. If we all get up each morning, and then we get up we go to sleep, we repeat. And we did what we did today. And we do it again tomorrow. And we continue this it’s a it’s like checking into what I would call a a matrix or, or something that just is a repeat. And we just keep doing it day after day to bit but to be honest, folks, I got it. This is the truth.
I enjoy working and I get pleasure and gratitude from and I know many of you do the same my family comes to from a lineages of hard working men, but it’s but it has to be a balance and work itself. Because if you don’t, then all you do in life is simply work. The Bible talks a lot about work and how to do life in it. But work is also a part of our Christian faith. See, we are studying in the book of James and the book of James the writer dedicates five chapters about works within itself, that out of our Christian faith leads to action, or works. Today we’re going to look at James chapter two, to look into an in depth study about what faith and work says and James again, he I love He doesn’t dance around when he talks about work or talks about these issues. He goes full head in hard force and brings it to light about the things that we really truly need to look at about what it means to have work. So let’s jump into the Scripture.
Maybe today you’re traveling down the highway, want to thank you for turning into KBOE Welcome 104.9 FM on your radio. Thanks for listening, I hope you enjoy this what we have to say today, maybe you’re on your way to church again, thanks for listening, we very much appreciate that. Travel safe, and also maybe to your simply at home. This is your church service. This is something that you’ve set aside, and we want to thank you for participating and Vital Ministries and how we pray that this glorifies God and also to gives it a place in your life where it makes it real and authentic. That is always our prayer. But let’s jump into the scripture this morning.
James chapter two, reading with verses one through seven. If you have your Bibles open with you today, my dear brothers and sisters, how can you claim to have faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, if you favor some people over others? For example, suppose someone comes into your meeting dress and fancy clothes and expensive jewelry, and another comes in and was poor and dressed in dirty clothes. If you stay, stay, special attention, and a good seat to the rich person, but you say to the poor one, you can stand over there or else sit on the floor. Well, doesn’t that discrimination show that your judgments are guided by evil motives? Listen to me, dear brothers and sisters. Hasn’t God chosen the poor in this world to be rich in faith?
Are they the ones who will inherit the kingdom? He promised to those who love Him? But you dishonor the poor? Isn’t it the rich who oppress you and drag you into court? Aren’t they the ones who slander Jesus Christ, whose noble name you bear? See, folks, prejudices is big, wherever you are, especially in in America, but it is prejudices all over around the globe.
But James is is talking directly to Christians about prejudice. Giving people preference over other people based on clothes, money or even their race. I have to ask myself, does that happen in our own churches? Do we only allow people in our church if they hold a certain economic status, or even color we live in a community that is for the most part, white, Caucasian, not trying to be racist here. But in our area in Iowa, predominantly white, Caucasian is the majority. It’s only in our cities of our state that we truly find color or race differences. That is so true.
In Oskaloosa, we have a we have William Penn University, You just go just sometime you get a chance go on campus, and you’ll see as the school begins, you will find diversity in race. According to statistics, there are about 1050 students who attend that university.
Now, here’s the hard question. How many of those students come to our churches? Or are they welcome? Now, please hear me no judgment on anyone. But could we be doing something better? That’s always the question that I wrestle with, as I think about the students as they come and come into our community. Because it seems like this that the university is set aside, they have their own living, and then as a community, we have half hours. So how can we as Christians, embrace those young people as they come into our community?
My son, Brandon, he’s planting a church. Matter of fact, next Sunday will be his start date in plantation, Florida. That community is what I would call a melting place of diversity in race. People are from all over. They have people come into his church that are from multiple ethnic groups. He loves diversity. And his his his tagline, which I just love for his church is to live a better story, who doesn’t want to live a better story? But what if our faith we stepped into action? And when I think about that, when we step into action, I’m gonna go back to the to the to the young people that are you at the university? How do we do it? One, this is what I think, folks, we do it one student at a time. We welcome them back to our community.
You to think about that for a moment. How do you do that? You tell them. You have a conversation with them. You do see though, as a matter of fact, if you want to see the Penn college students, and you want to know where they go, there’s actually one, one of the biggest places I see them go and not that they hang out, but just do the fact because we have a Walmart, go there, you’ll find them. They’ll be buying food, stuff for the rooms and stuff for school.
But I want you to think about this for a minute. What if you would slip them a $10 or $20 bill and simply say this? Welcome back? Maybe they’ve never been here. Maybe they’re freshmen. Just simply Welcome back to Oskaloosa. Thanks for coming. Thanks for making William Penn University part of your career. It could, it could be an open conversation, even to the point where it might lead where you actually have an opportunity to invite them to your church.
But let’s keep going here. Faith in action works without a doubt go hand in hand. How what that person who’s at the gas station who goes to the trash for pop cans? How do we look at them? Now, folks, I want you to give me a umbrella of mercy. Because when I when I’m talking about this, I’m not casting judgment, because I’m also thinking about my own self and my own prejudice and my own preconceived notions Do we? Do we look at them with disgust and prejudice? Or do we show compassion? They have a story of why they’re looking for the pot cans and the trash cans. That’s for sure. What if you showed them generosity?
They got to think about this for a minute. What if you simply gave them some cash. Bought them a meal? It’s always easy to help someone who we think deserves it. But what if our opinion is wrong? And what if it’s somebody that simply that the Lord put in your path to do something of action of your works?
It’s been a period of time, but we have at one time in Vital Men, we sent men out on a Wednesday night, each of them giving them $20 each. We had every one of them to go out and bless someone who seemed to be in need. They went to the grocery stores, the gas station, the laundromats wherever they felt or sense the Holy Spirit leading them. The following week, they came back with their stories.
What do you think, who was blessed greater? The person who received the gift? Or was it the giver? Obviously, it’s the giver.
But let’s not stop there. Let’s keep looking at James chapter two. And I’m going to show you something else in verses eight nine. This is what it says. And God’s word. It says yes, indeed is good when you open the Royal law and found the scripture Love your neighbor as yourself. But if you favor some people over others, you are committing sin, you are guilty of breaking the law. Love your neighbor as yourself. Doesn’t that only count for those who like, this is a tough teaching this morning is it but it hits me right in the face to as I’m teaching you even this morning. I like people who are similar to me that just being honest, how I live and how I do life, that’s easy for all of us to do.
But this past week, I went to opening day to the fair with my wife, we do that every year and we’ve been doing that for the last 14 years and we love going and spending time together. But at the fair, you will see all kinds of people in all walks of life. I love going to the Iowa State Fair there’s nothing greater where you can see people in of Iowa, is that the fair?
I love it. I love going through the to the livestock barns and seeing the stuff and the varied industry buildings and also to the 4-H and the FFA and, and all the stuff and even down to the buck skinner’s that are on the on the what I would say on the eastern portion of the fairgrounds. I love all that. Matter of fact, I’m getting acquainted with some of the people one of the buck Skinner’s over there is a man by the name of Marty. I’ve known him most of my life and I look him up his father passed last year and we had a moment. And we we and I talked about his dad Tim because I actually had worked with his father. But one place I really enjoyed the most is is the varied industry building. My wife picks up posters for through third or third grade students every year. Most of the times it’s always in years past. To be honest, and always been to Iowa State University. She graduated from Iowa State so she has loyalty there without a doubt. Matter of fact, of her three kids, two of them graduated from Iowa State. But this year, it was different. My wife said let’s go to the other universities as well. Let’s go and see if we can find some posters. So we did. But the interesting thing is as we did that we actually stopped at the Iowa University.
Now, if you’re an ISU fan, you don’t much care for Iowa, and if you’re an Iowa fan, you don’t much care for ISU. That’s kind of how it is. It’s kind of the the battleground in a state. But for the first time my wife has her youngest son who’s now attending and is enrolled in Iowa. My wife picked up posters and took a picture in front of me in front of her key. This has never happened befor in all our years. I loved it. But I like Iowa. I am an Iowa fan. Matter of fact, I got Iowa plates on my pickup. But now she has a change of mind. I watched her being proud of the college because of her son is attending. She has allowed the prejudice and the preconceptions of what she had to be different because now her son attends there. And a lot of times we do that don’t we because it’s a place that we go to or someone else doesn’t see folks, folks education is education, whether it’s an Iowa State, Iowa or a local university in your community, people gather there.
My youngest son is dating a girl whose dad believes in Buddha. Not tell you what, that it was hard for me. I went and I met him for the first time and, and obviously, I want everyone to believe as I believe in the one true God. It’s just how how it is. Matter of fact, when I went to meet him for the first time, to be honest, I had prejudiced and pre-conceived notions. And I always say this because folks, it’s got to be real. And I don’t want anybody to think that Mike Sereg walks on water because he doesn’t. I am just like you I have my good days, I have my bad days. But I hope the Holy Spirit helps me in both areas of my life.
See, I met him. And the interesting thing was my main my preconception of this man, I thought, in my mind, here’s some radical right. But the issue was was this. This guy, guess what, was a gentlemen.
Boy, was I ever wrong. I was the radical and not him. I was showing favoritism all because of faith. Now, we didn’t talk about religion or theology, but we just talked. Can we love on other people? Can we live and love on other people in whom we don’t agree with, even in religion?
Now, this is hard, isn’t it, folks, because we want to show prejudice, we want to tell everybody about the good news of the gospel. That is what we’re called to do. So please don’t misunderstand me. That is not what I’m saying. But what I am saying, if we’re ever have a chance to get past the prejudice, especially people who believe in something different than we do, we have to lower our prejudice and our pre-conceived notion and simply have relationship with them. We don’t have to agree with what they believe. But we have to have relationship with them. So the Holy Spirit is working on me. And this is one I believe with most people. I too am a work in progress in my own prejudice.
But let’s keep going the second part of our our teaching today. Point number two is this is your work dead. We’re going to jump to James to starting with verse, verse 14. And I want to show you something through 20. It says this. What good is it dear brothers and sisters, if you save you have faith, but don’t show it by your actions? Connect kind of face save anyone. Suppose you see your brother or sister who has no food or clothing and you say goodbye, and have a good day, stay warm and eat well, but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What does that do? So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough, unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless. Now, some may argue some people have faith, others have good deeds, but I say how can you show me your faith if you don’t have good deeds, I will show you my faith with good deeds. See, that’s important for us to believe. Because it says this. You say you have faith for you believe that there is one God, good for you. Even the demons believe this and they tremble and tear. How foolish Can’t you see that faith without good deeds is dead. You know, as I read this, verse 14 jumps off the page for me as I look into my Bible, and again, faith and action again, folks we see go hand in hand.
This past week, I did a funeral for a family that I that I’d never met and that in they were extremely guarded about religion. It was a it was a tough situation to step into. So normally, I usually meet family and normally in Oskaloosa I know most of the family but and and I usually try to get some stories, or, or something on a Bible verses something to work with. The truth is I got nothing other than the obituary itself to work with. Matter of fact, this was an interesting thing that happened prior to the funeral, I asked a person if they would like to have prayer, wish the family for they would pray with him for the first time. That person simply told me, no. Now remember, in that situation like this, it isn’t about you. It wasn’t about me. It’s about that the family and listening to their needs. I could have copped an attitude, or took it personal. But that’s not why I was there. I was there to do a service and to serve them. That was the key. See, this is what happened to my heart at the funeral, I prayed. And I asked the Holy Spirit for direction as as I was preparing to do the funeral itself. I was absolutely folks drawing straws for better words of saying and as I prayed, I kept feeling a nudge to go into my computer and look up teaching opportunity to entities for moments like this one. Two things kept surfacing in the situation, show compassion, and preach the good news. So that’s what I did.
You see, folks, Jesus always stepped into our humanity, his faith in the doing the Father’s Will moved him to action. So I spoke to this family on the day of the funeral funeral about Matthew 9:35 to 38. And the reason why I chose that portion of the Bible, because it talks a lot about hands on working. See, Jesus preaches the good news of the gospel. He has compassion on the crowds. And he speaks a word about needing more workers, I felt they could understand that and relate because it had to do with work this man for the most part of his whole life, work with this hands and worked hard. I didn’t speak long, because I wanted to honor the families wishes but they received the good news of the gospel, that Jesus loved them. And he loved the man who died. And Jesus brought me to be a worker. In this moment, folks, I was casting seed, that’s exactly what was happening. Only the Holy Spirit brings people to Jesus, not me. I’m I’m just a voice. I was asked to stepped into the moment. So I stepped into the moment, which means I stepped into action. But let’s keep going. James 21 through 26. And we’re going to close with this this morning. But it just some really good teaching here that I don’t want to miss out on today. And I really hope this brings us something that says this, that Don’t you remember that your ancestor Abraham was shown to be right with God by his actions, when he offered his son Isaac on the altar. You see, his faith and his actions work together, his actions made his place complete. And so what happened, just as the Scriptures say, Abraham believed his faith, and he was even called the friend of God. So you see, we are shown to be right with God by what we do, not by faith alone. rehab, for instance, the prostitute is another example. She was shown to be right with God by her actions. And when she hit those messengers, and sent them away safely, on a different road, justice, the body is dead without breath.
So also faith is dead without good works. Now this is really good. James talks about Abraham, you can read about a greater detail in chip in Genesis chapter 1518. Ham takes his son Isaac and offers his son as a sacrifice to God. Why? Because God asked him to God wanted to see Abraham’s faith was his faith greater in his son and what he could persevere or greater in God Himself. So God put him to a challenge. God wanted to see Abraham’s faith in action, will he do it? Abraham follows through, but God stops him just as he was getting ready to sacrifice his son and brings her RAM and ties him to a thicket to be the sacrifice. Abraham had such a great relationship with God himself that God called Abraham, friend.
Most Christians have faith go to church, read your Bibles and even pray, all that is faith, and it’s good. But here’s faith and work, live it out. Take action.
Think about it this way. Look at a football player. As we get ready to go is his football just on the threshold? Matter of fact, you can go on and on TV and watch NFL preseason. But let’s think of a football player who who studies his playbook. He knows the place there in his mind. He’ll even go to practice day after day doing all the coach asks, he’ll even dress for the game looks like one of the players. But only problem is he won’t step onto the field to play the game. What good is it? All that prep all that study all that look, but no live action? It’s dead. It doesn’t happen. I think that’s a great example that would would God it would James is trying to say from God’s faith and works have to work together.
James also gives another example of rehab. Yeah, the prostitute. You can read about her story in Joshua chapter two. Now she’s a Canaanite who lives in Jericho and who hides two spies, Israelites, they get caught in the city and need a place to hide. So she she invites these men into her home and she hides them. By doing that her family is now spared when, when Joshua member he walks around Jericho and the walls come down. She believed in the Israelite God and not the gods of the Canaanites. From that she marries an Israelite by the name of Solomon, who is from the tribe of Judah. They have a son, who was Boaz, who is a direct descendant to Jesus Christ. See Ray have is the first Gentile believer her faith moved her into action, and was proven righteous because of to God, all because of what she did. See, we’re prone to judge people by their past and not their future. Folks, we as believers have to get to learn about our prejudices and set them aside with me included, the devil always wants to remind you of where you came from. But Jesus always wants to show you the future to live a better story that you could ever dream in your life. I love that portion.
I started hanging out and be friends, some friends from Teen Challenge, and I love these men, these men without a doubt have a past. But the cool thing is, is they came to know Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit is on them. The past is now behind in the future is what’s ahead. There are free and how they believe. I’ve learned a lot from those men. Maybe today, the Holy Spirit is speaking to you wanting to put your faith to work into action. Only thing stepping out into stepping into moments. stops you are these three things I want you to think about this. Mike, I’ve never done it before. Number two, what will that person think? Or number three, Jesus only calls certain people. I’m going to encourage you don’t fear. In closing, here’s a remark I want to read by Oswald Chambers. And he puts this about faith and works. He says faith never knows where it’s been led. But it loves know that it loves and knows the one who is leading Isn’t that good? Let’s pray Jesus again. I want to thank you again for another day and opportunity to speak your words, I prayed that our faith and our action go hand in hand faith and works. And I pray that maybe somebody today this even listening has been inspired and wants to step into more of those moments where faith and action come together. It’s just not about reading it. It’s about living it. That’s what the Bible is about not just reading but living. Help us father, to be Christians who live not only read the word, but live the word. In your name I pray.
Amen. Folks, time goes so fast and I I could I could speak a whole lot more and I want to just thank you for taking part of your day to listening to Vital Ministries. I am Mike Sereg, the voice of Vital Ministries.