Good Sunday morning. This is Mike Sereg, the voice of Vital Ministries. It is good to be with you on this Sunday. I tell you what, August is almost done. We are staring down looking at September Labor Day is on the horizon. It is amazing how fast time goes, but again hasn’t it been a wonderful summer. We have seen some incredible things enjoying the State Fair. All the activities, the fairs the the the different events that have happened amongst the different cities in our local area. It is great. I’ve just come from Florida and was gone for about six days to visit my son. And folks, I’ve gotta just tell you, I appreciate Iowa’s so much. I’m glad to be in Iowa and I’m glad I was born here. I know I’m going to die here and God is good. And we have a great place in the midst of our state and I hope the most of you have that you can appreciate the same things.
Before we get started this morning, we have a few things that we just want to get set up for you to know different events that are coming along the way and the first one is this this morning. I just want to remind you on September 8, we’re going to have the Vital Gathering. You don’t want to miss this. It is an event for everyone, men, women, children, everybody, it’s just going to be a great time we’re going to be at Debbie celebration barn. And again, that’s on September 8, we’re going to go from five to seven o’clock we’re going to feed you right the very beginning, we have some great food we have a vendor that has done a wonderful job and just encourage you to be a participate in that we’re going to have great worship music, we have a band that is just fantastic and allows the presence of the Holy Spirit to come. I will give you about a short 20 minutes teaching about what the application of how we can look at life, we’re going to look at what it means who are the real heroes in our life. So just some good things that are coming. You don’t want to miss that event again that September 8, from five to seven o’clock pm at Debbie celebration barn. What a great time for everyone to join as we gather together in the presence of God himself and allow the Holy Spirit to be with us. I just hope you don’t miss this great event. And it’s also a great opportunity to invite somebody who doesn’t know Jesus, but it’d be a great way for them to come to know Christ in a greater way. So again, what a great opportunity.
Also on 9/11 we are having our Vital men kickoff. Man, it’s hard to believe the ministry season is about to begin on 9/11. We’re going to be going from six to eight o’clock that’s on a Wednesday night 9/11 in Pella. Iowa. We’re going to be at The Well this year. We’re looking forward to that it’s gonna be a great time we’re gonna have barbecue out front. Guys are going to be barbecue and men, who doesn’t like BBQ meat? And we promise you great, great food so you’re not going to want to miss that event that again that’s on September 11. 9/11, we’ve picked that date for a purpose. And we think some great things are going to happen we’re going to have the worship band coming from the Bridge down in Ottumwa, It’s going to be great. They do a wonderful job and music and also to Marty Schmidt is going to be our guest speaker it’s all going to happen from six to eight o’clock kickoff for Vital men. You are not going to want to miss this event so I just encourage you to participate in that.
We send out devotional six days a week my for both Vital men and Vital women. We have five different writers for the men, Monday through Friday. You don’t want to miss the good stuff that comes – it gives you a nugget in the day – just a point of inspiration allow God to work and speak into your life. Great writers, five different writers, for the men. My wife also writes for the women; a great inspiration you can go out on Vital Ministries.org for all the events, devotionals, and all those things that are coming up with Vital Ministries and Vital Gathering are all on our webpage. So again, that’s Vital Ministries.org. You don’t want to miss out on all that great stuff.
Today we’re continuing our series that we’re going to look at what it takes to draw close to God and what hinders us from that happening. People will often ask me, Mike, what keeps me from having a real relationship with God? Then they will tell me that there they’ll give me reasons of why they can’t spend time with God themselves: too busy to read the Bible, too busy to pray, wanting something to hear from God, or the only time that they do pray is when something tragic, horrific happening happens in their life. Basically, they’re asking God to be to be their God, only when it’s convenient for them. Now that is not a way to draw near to God. And those are the things that promise you this morning are ways that separate us and keep God at a distance not that he does it.
That we do see folks, relationships take time. It’s work. That’s how it is with God. What it is, to what the Bible says about, how we can truly draw closer to God Himself. We are the ones that opened the door or we take the first step to have a relationship to draw with God in a deeper way of our life. That first step for to me is what we believe God wants from us is a pure heart.
Do you hunger for God. This past week, I went down to Plantation, Florida, which is a suburb of Fort Lauderdale in Florida. And my son Brandon and his wife Gianna are planting a church there. They had their launch last Sunday, and I got to experience that. It was just a wonderful time. Almost 400 people showed up to the launch. It was exciting, and it was well done. What a great opportunity. Now bear in mind now Florida is a state that only has 3% of the public population who attend church. I was blown away by that statistic. But hard, hard but true fact. Now my son is is has been planning and praying hard that God can use him in the suburb of Plantation, Florida, where 92,000 people live. I’ve never seen him pray more into God’s word walking and faith more than he is right now in his life. He is drawing near to God both him and his wife Gianna working to draw closer and his heart is pure. And his motives are pure in what he’s trying to do. But church planting folks has a big price. It’s called hard work and blind faith.
Many men and women in the Bible operated under this those same conditions. Moses prayed and hungered for God’s presence, nothing else in the world’s compared to his experience of drawing near to God. Matter of fact, God showed Moses, his backside, his glory, because he wanted to see God Himself to go into a deeper level level of presence. But God told him you cannot see my face, Moses, because if you did, it would kill you. Now this morning, let’s jump in. And let’s look at it maybe today, your home and go open up your Bibles to James chapter four. Or maybe you’re on your way to church this morning, you you take time to listen, we want to say shout out a big thank you for that time, as you take time and your way to church. Or maybe you simply turn to KBOE, 104.9 FM on your radio dial as you are headed down the highway. And you have picked us up this morning.
I hope today as we jump into James chapter four, we learn to what it means to draw closer to God that you have a truly experience a presence of God Himself. And I, and I believe folks, we have a word from the Lord today that is going to help impact and change our lives if we allow the Holy Spirit to speak to us. So without further ado, this morning, we’re going to jump into James chapter four. And we’re going to look at verses one through 10. And this is what the word of the Lord says, what is causing you the croc the corals and the fights among you? Don’t they come from evil desires that are war within you. You want what you don’t have so you scheme and kill to get it. You are jealous of what others have but you can’t get it. So you fight and wage war to take away from them. Yet you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it. And even more you ask and you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong. You want only what you can give out of pleasure. You adulterers, don’t you realize that the friendship with the world makes you the enemy with God? I say it again. If you want to be a friend of the world, you make yourself an enemy of God. Do you think the scriptures have no meaning. They say that God is passionate that the spirit he has placed within us should be faithful to Him. And He gives grace generously as the scripture say God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. So Humble yourselves before God, resist the devil and he will flee from you. Come close to to God and He will come close to you wash your hands you sinners, purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world, that there’ll be tears for you. For what you have done, let there be sorrow and deep grief. Let there be sadness instead of laughter and gloom instead of joy. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up and honor.
See, James gives us a formula for drawing close to God. If you committed sin, confess it, get rid of it, put it under the blood of Christ. And secondly, James says examine your heart, your motives and the things that make you do what you don’t want to do. Bring your heart under Jesus is worship. Now, there’s a lot there this morning isn’t there, folks. So let’s let’s look at confessing sin first. For some reason, it’s hard for us to confess sin, we don’t want to do it. We don’t want to look at it as if we think we can hide it within the depths of our soul that no one will ever see or notice again. In my experience of sin, it eventually gets revealed. The more we hide it, the more we find its way that it wants to come to the top truth always folks comes to the top.
Recently I had this man who who had to sin his life which he covered up. And it’s and he put it and he hid it for over 40 years of his life. Now this man, he was a Christian, a good husband, a good father, a good Grandpa, he loved and serve the Lord all the days of his life. But he knew he had this one thing that he had to work out of his life and get taken care of before God Himself. He had his wife, his wife, he had his wife give me a call and he wanted desperately to talk with me. So after his wife got ahold of me, we talked. So we got on the phone, we start talking, talking about this hidden sin. And I told him, let’s, let’s let go of this sin. Let’s see. Let’s see what it is. It’s not something that I need to personally know. But let’s take it to Jesus. Now this man was older and he was struggling in his words, and, and I could tell that his time on Earth was limited. So he was preparing he was he was making things ready in his life. He wanted everything to be taken care of before he met the father. I said to this man, because he’s struggling with his words on how to price it. I told him, I said, Sir, let me pray for you. And let me speak the words that I believe that the Holy Spirit is speaking to me that you want to have come from your heart. So he agreed with me. And we prayed, and this man confessed hidden sin.
It talks about this in James chapter five, verse 20, you can be sure that whoever brings the sinner back we’ll save that person from death bring about the forgiveness of many sins. This man I was having a private discussion about sin. He wanted to make all things right to get rid of his he literally wanted to get his life back in order. So he humbled himself and asked from help, not only from the Father, but from another brother, and became right before God, he no longer wanted to keep his sin, hidden Man, what a beautiful story and and it shows about how how we can do that in our life and how sometimes, other people, other Christians can help us confess sin, confess shame that’s been hidden. We all bring our sins before Jesus, we confess we asked forgiveness. But another man speaks of shame to another, and they bring it for God and brings about forgiveness for all sins.
We just read that at a James chapter 5:20. This man died two days later went back he went to the Lord, he was ready, he humbled himself before God and was made right by his faith in Jesus. He walked in, enter into eternity before God, a free man, man, isn’t that just a beautiful story and a beautiful story of redemption of how to live a life and how to finish? Well, folks, when we humble ourselves before God, we resist the devil, and he wants you to follow His ways the world doesn’t he? He knows. He knows that his destiny, Destiny itself is hell, and he wants to take God’s most prized possession to hell as well. And as you and me, folks, resisting the devil requires work on our part. He always entices us with sin, in the midst of a moment destiny, he always comes in moments.
The key to these 10 verses as we read this morning, the first step is getting closer to God. God doesn’t want divided loyalty to him. You’re either all in or you’re not. You can’t live for the world and also live for God. That’s just how it is. That’s how it says in the Word of God itself. All of us have a choice. That is the choice that God gives us. He doesn’t demand our love or loyalty to him, does he? God is a gentleman. And he wants us to come to Him, we take the first step, as the picture shows in Revelation 320, as the Jesus stands at the door and knocks. But if you always notice in that picture, you only see a knob that is not on the side where Jesus is at. The knob is on the other side. And the opening the door is our part. Folks, what a great, great way this morning to my mind to see how sin can entice us, but also to how we can leave live a life of freedom of sin and literally draw closer to God Himself. But we’re going to continue this morning to point number two, drawing close to God requires you not to judge and I want to show you there’s just two verses here that talk about judging, and I think is really good for us this morning, helps us to kind of look at things in a deeper way, says this in verse 11. Don’t speak evil against each other dear brothers and sisters, if you criticize and judge each other, then you’re criticizing and judging God’s law. But your job is to obey the law not to judge whether it applies to you. God alone who gave the law is the judge. He alone has the power to save or destroy. So what right do you have to judge your neighbor? What a great word see there’s a difference from discernment or discerning about someone as to judging one another person.
I once heard a man who was in Ministries came up to me said he was a fruit inspector. He was he was measuring a person’s Christianity to the fruit that he thought they bore. Now not what God saw, but what he saw, but folks, I’m sorry, folks, this is nothing more than simply judging another person, this kind of action, a religious spirit hurts the church, and most importantly, hurts the people’s view. As for us who are Christians, we got to be very careful of that. We have a big hurdle to overcome as Christians, because people view Christians as simply judging people. My hope is that we can change that. And how do we do that, folks? We change it with one person at a time. And everyone is every one of us have that opportunity to make that change that judgment view of what how people judge or excuse me how Christians judge other people of how we can change that.
Many of you know I work in construction, and in the construction world itself in it, and you meet many, many, many different people. And we may experience a change in our in the industry. Now in the bigger cities, you’ll see those changes in race, but not so much as we do here in our smaller communities. But in fact, that is also changing. And with that, we see different changes for the most part in the construction world has been white, Caucasian, male men working. But now that day is changing. And we’re seeing more of the Hispanic workers coming to the job site and doing work on the different projects. And again, it’s even more so it’s already there in the bigger cities in different states. And it’s it’s time that we get rid of it, get rid of this judgmental question about our Hispanic brothers. I will get asked often are those people that you have working? Are they legal? Or are they American citizens? Now, I think as as as I look at that, and I only hire credible subcontractors who hire Hispanic workers, my experience is that these these Hispanic men, that they’re hard workers, they want to earn a better way of life, and they love their families. Without a doubt we need. We need to have regulations in our country. I totally agree with that. I fully support our president, but that does not, that also gives does not give us a right to be judgmental towards people in which we don’t know their stories. Did you hear me about that. And I’m gonna say it again, that does not give us a right to judge those people who are doing those jobs, when we don’t know their stories, folks, as Christians, we are called to be kind. We have compassion towards our fellow our fellow man no matter what race, religion or even their political party they’re in.
Now, I’m talking some pretty tough stuff this morning, aren’t we? Especially as we get ready to head to the 2020 election, a lot of judgmental things are going it’s already pounding us on the TV and on the radio. God, folks, is the final judge, he has the power to save or destroy. As James says, I’m challenged this morning by these words, and I got to confess to you that I’ve judged as well. I asked Holy Spirit to help me every day in my judgmental words. And in my judgmental thoughts. Having a judging spirit keeps us from drawing closer to God. Jesus hung on the cross and didn’t pass judgment on those who crucified Him. Matter of fact, he calls to the Father and He says this, forgive them for they don’t know what they are doing, basically is saying, Lord, I’m not passing judgment, they simply don’t know.
But let’s finish this this morning. I think this is some good stuff, and also challenging us as Christians about what God can truly do and change our hearts so that we can draw closer to Him. Point number three is this drawing near to God requires your obedience. It was final let’s look at these final verses this morning and see what it says. starting with verse 13. It says this, look here you who say today or tomorrow, we’re going to a certain town and we’ll stay there a year, we will do business there and make a profit. How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow, your life is like a morning fog. And it’s there for a little while. And then it’s gone. What you want to say if the Lord wants us to We will live and do this or that otherwise, we are boasting about our own pretentious plans. And all such boasting is evil. The final verse, it says this in 17. Remember, it is a sin to know what you ought to do, and then not do it. See, this is important here, folks. And please hear me this morning, apart from God’s will, life is a struggle.
It can only be when I’m in the center of God’s will. It is only when we asked Jesus to be our Savior. And we seek His will that we begin to understand God’s will for our lives. Have you ever asked yourself this question? I didn’t see life going this way. I think everyone has and can relate to that very question our physical world all around is always changing, isn’t it? I think of this past week. In Iowa on Tuesday morning, I will experience an f1 tornado in different parts of Iowa and the southern portion. I think about those folks that are over and Tracy is they get they go they go to bed on a Monday evening. And they get up on a Tuesday morning to a storm to only see the wake up and things have changed around them and destruction has happened. Their world was changed in the moment overnight. There’s their visual, their physical circumstances changed. Anyone who has went through a storm and has had any kind of damage can attest to what I’m saying.
I realized as I get older I get that life is every day is a gift. And I thank the Lord for my wife every day she is a good health mate. We work together we love together and we do family together. We are both in our second marriages. And at times both of us could say I didn’t see life going this way. But we both never thought that we would have stepchildren, but God had another plan. And I’m thankful to share those moments with her. That God’s will is always good. And he always sees the greater picture of our lives. If we choose to draw closer to Him. We also see these these verses of brevity of life itself that life is simply a vapor compared to eternity. When we are young, we see life altogether different that is actually could be endless. I can remember looking forward to getting married, having children and have enjoying life, folks, it has been going in a blink, I no longer considered a young man. And you and especially when you realize that when you get your AARP card sent to you when you’re 55, your body moves in places that you don’t want it to move anymore. And now I’m a grandpa and I have seven grand children all the way from eight months to 12 years old. It goes in a blink, doesn’t It now folks. But this is what I’ve learned. I’ve learned that life is short, that everything that we do in life positions us in eternity in eternity itself with those who call Jesus Lord, my time on earth is closed in its time in my life to speak into the lives of those who are younger. The next generations that are following the things that I’ve learned the things that the Holy Spirit has showed me and how Jesus has helped me in the midst of my life.
We are called to obedience to following Christ and doing but the thing that strikes me as verse 17 when I finished this this morning, it strikes me and I hope it strikes something within you. It says this. Remember it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it. Quite a verse to ponder on. I believe that God is always giving us moments with other people. This past week on the on the night when I came when I flew in from Iowa to into Florida, visiting my son and his family. We went we went for supper and we and we we went to chick fil a and it was just a great time a family place. I love chick fil a you go there, it’s always clean. Food is always good. And I tell you what they have over the top hospitals quality and service. They have figured it out. And I just I love going there. And I love to take my family and my and my grandchildren there. But that evening, we had this opportunity where we were we sitting with this young woman, this young Hispanic woman. She’s from Venezuela, Venezuela, and she had her daughter that was with her as she started sharing her story about her life. And we’re having this moment that’s all of a sudden happening in our lives. And the kids are off my grandkids are off playing in the play room and her her her daughter’s often playing in the room as well. And then she starts sharing her story, the reason why she’s in America versus living in Venezuela. And she’s living here, all due to the fact about the controversy and the things that are going on. In her country. She has actually been granted asylum to live in America. And for her to come to America. It was at Florida, and she’s doing life there she lives with her aunt and and and she was sharing her story. And she pays $400 on a month to live in a bedroom with her her daughter and and doing life. And she was sharing with us about how she does two jobs and how life has been been has been hard. But at the same time she’s away from her family. They majority of them all live in Venezuela. And due to the fact that the things that are happening in our country currently that they can’t freely come in and go out. They have to have a special pass to come in. And I agree with that. But it separates them from their family. So she works a second job and she was sharing with us. And she says every year I work extra to make $500 so she can bring her mom from Venezuela to visit her over Christmas time. And she spends a month with her and and she sacrifices in order for her to make extra money to bring her mom there because her mom doesn’t make that kind of money. And she was sharing her story. And the Holy Spirit was really working with me. And as she was sharing how she was going to bring her mom to come in September because it was her daughter’s fifth birthday. And she wanted her her mom to be with her on her fifth birthday. So all her money that she has made, but now her mom can’t come at Christmas. And she’s saying I know I can’t make money fast enough in order to make it so her mother could come. So we get ready to leave in the Holy Spirit’s really working on my heart. And again, it comes back to knowing what you should do the Holy Spirit speaking. And so I I stepped into a moment and I gave her some money. And she looked at me She says, Oh sir, I can’t take that money. I can’t. It’s your money. It’s not something I can take. And I said, I looked at her I said, Young lady, I said this was a moment the Holy Spirit was speaking to my heart. Please take this. This is a this is a part of the money that you can raise. This will help you to get your mom to come to America during Christmas. she wept and she sobbed. And we we parted company. And the next day. This was what was so cool about the whole this whole story. Her mother from Venezuela, searches out and find my son and his wife’s web page about vibrant church. On the website. She calls them and she tells them this, she goes you have impacted my daughter in such a way. I just want to thank you for how you helping her. She the young girl is really looking for humanity really looking for somebody who actually cared that could do life.
And we had these moments in our life where we we have we can step in, but a lot of times we’re afraid because what people might think or somebody who we don’t know or they’re a different race, folks, I’m challenged by moments about I don’t want to get before the Lord God gives me these moments and I walk away in fear and not step in because of omission. sees the sin of omission separates us from God. God wants us to draw closer to Him. So I hope this morning as we looked at these, these verses and James for that we get a glimpse about truly what it means to have a relationship to draw closer with God Himself. I hope today that you’re encouraged, let’s pray, pray together there Jesus again, I want to thank you for this day. I pray and we confess sin, the things that we don’t do in our lives that keep us away from you. Maybe there’s somebody this morning that needs to have that prayer. Lord, I have sent. I want to confess that because it is separated from you and me. We can do that today. We thank You, Jesus that you’re mighty to save and you’re mighty to forgive. And we love you and we praise you. In your name I pray. Amen. Folks, I want to thank you for listening. This is Mike Sereg, the voice of Vital Ministries.