Monday, September 20, 2021
Today, I want to talk to you about the most famous verse in Philippians, the most well known verse, the most popular verse in the whole book of Philippians.
Monday, September 20, 2021
Neither does it say I can do all things, and Jesus will help me do all things. That's another myth. It's not that YOU can do all things. Neither is it that you can do ALL things. You can't do everything. You have to do all things through Christ, which means that not everything that you want to do is something you are going to do, unless it is through Christ. So that's the balance. And here's what I want to say: I'm really joyful, that I can do all things through Christ, who gives me the strength. I'm really glad I can't do all things through myself, because then I'd work a steadfastly independent life of God. I wouldn't want that. And I'm sure glad it's not "I can do all things by using Christ to do anything I want," because some of the stuff I really want, I don't really need. The beautiful balance is this: you can do all things through Christ. This means two things. Number one, I can do all things only through Jesus Christ. Number two, since it comes through Jesus Christ, he only strengthens us for what is good for us. I find joy in that. Aren't you glad for that?
Friday, September 17, 2021
Today, I want to talk to you about something that every commercial will find aggravating, every advertiser will be upset with, and every company that's trying to sell you something will not like.
Friday, September 17, 2021
I get that from Philippians 4:10-12. Take what the Apostle Paul has to say to heart, because this man knew contentment. He says, "I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you have renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you have been concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.
Let me summarize. Apparently, the Philippians hadn't expressed concern for Paul. Well, they at least lost touch for whatever reason. They reconnected and then they were able to express to Paul the concern that they always had. Paul was not saying to them, "I'm glad you're concerned about me because I have a need, and now I need to leverage you for some of my need to be met." Not that that would be wrong, but he's saying that that wasn't even the purpose. Rather he, he says that he has learned to be content, at ease inside, at peace inside with what he has.
Paul said, "I have learned the secret of contentment." What is the secret of contentment? It is that whatever you have before God is enough. You might say, "Oh, but God doesn't understand. I need this." God does understand. You don't need this. "Yeah, but if I had that I'd be happier." God says that will not make you happier. You and I must remember that whatever God gives us is right, and whatever we have, if we're living right and we're not squandering away through sinful living (That's a whole 'nother subject), but for striving to live for God, whatever we have is what God wants us to have. In that we should be content.
Father, help me, help all of us reading this life lifter to remember that our contentment is in you. Help us to learn the secret of contentment when we have, and when we don't have. When we're in need, and when we have plenty. Whatever it is, help us to learn contentment, that our contentment is found in seeing life through your eyes and remembering that Jesus Christ is enough. I pray that for me and for all my friends reading this life lifter in Jesus' name, amen.
Wednesday, September 15, 2021
Have you ever heard the old saying, garbage in garbage out? It's true. Whatever garbage is in your head is going to come out of your life. What are the right thoughts?
Wednesday, September 15, 2021
What are the right thoughts? I'm so glad you asked. Philippians 4:8 gives us eight thought filters. These are the eight things you should allow in your mind only, and everything else you should not. Paul tells us that we can find joy through right thinking. He says, "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things." What is Paul saying? I don't know that it's exactly limited to these eight things, but these are eight filters. Paul is saying we should only think about these things, and not the opposite of them. Not ignoble things, but noble things. Not impure things, but pure things. Not things that are horrible, but things that are excellent. Not things that are praise-un-worthy, but praise worthy. Think on these things. What's he saying? You have to filter your mind and make sure you're thinking the right thoughts.
If you want to have joy in your life, it starts right here, it's the battle of the mind. You have to filter out the things that are going to tilt your life in a negative direction. Only allow yourself to think about things that tilt it in a positive direction. I'm not talking about the name-it-claim-it stuff, because they take that crazily. What I'm talking about is the right kind of holy, godly thinking through these eight metaphors, and having that shape how you think about God, yourself, and life. Do you do that? Can you do that? For some of you, you may need to write down these eight things. You just need to get an index card and write down, "true, noble right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, praiseworthy." Then, you need to say, "Am I thinking these things?" It's going to take time because guess what? It took you as many years as you're alive to start and keep thinking the way you're thinking. But if you think the way God wants you to think with these eight filters, it will slowly but surely change your life. You'll have more joy in your life. Filter your thinking with these eight great filters.
Let's pray. Father, help us to think along the lines that you want us to think. Help us to think through these eight things in our life so that they become filters. Let them filter out everything that's not that and filter in only what these are. We'll find more joy there. Our world always wants to bring us down. Like crabs in a bucket, people want to bring us down with them into the bucket. We want to crawl out and we can crawl out of the bucket when we practice the right kind of thinking. Biblical thinking. Help us to find joy in that, God. Help us to not give up if it doesn't work in one day, because it takes a long time to change your stinking thinking. And I ask this in Jesus' name. Amen.
Monday, September 13, 2021
The Bible says you can find joy through your anxious times. Whatever times you're going through that are leading to anxiety, you can replace your anxiety with joy.
Monday, September 13, 2021
So, he says, "Do not be anxious about anything." It's like, "Oh, thanks. Just don't be anxious." But then Paul explains, "but in everything, by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God." What's Paul saying? The way you avoid being anxious about anything is to pray about everything. Whenever you feel anxiety, pray on it. Whenever you feel anxious about this, that, or the other, pray for this, that or the other. Anxiety and prayer to God cannot coexist. Prayer will always bring a defeat of anxiety. Why? Because of the rest of the verse. Paul says, "And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." That's the result. When you are anxious about anything. You pray about everything, and the peace of God will guard your hearts and mind in Christ Jesus. First, it'll guard your hearts. The word guard means to establish a century guard, a powerful protective guard that is virtually impenetrable. He'll guard your heart. What is your heart? It is your emotions, the seat of your emotions. In the Hebrew Old Testament, the heart was considered a seat of the human emotional system. It will guard your emotions.
Let's pray. Father, I pray right now that whatever is bothering me and whatever is bothering anybody watching this life lifter, I pray that they would lift it up to you, God. I pray right now to just give it to God. Say, "God, I'm anxious about such and such. I'm anxious about this. I'm anxious about that." Tell him tell him in your own words. Pour out your heart to him. He's a God of refuge. God, as they pour out their prayers to you now and throughout the day, week, month, year, and throughout the rest of their life, give us the answer to this promise that you'll give us a peace that guards our heart and our minds in your son Jesus Christ. I claim this for them. I claim this for me, in Jesus' name, amen.
Friday, September 10, 2021
You can't always be happy... but you can always be joyful. Joy is a choice.
Friday, September 10, 2021
I want to look at a passage of scripture from the book of Philippians. Philippians is the letter of joy, and I want to read a blunt statement in Philippians 4:4 and unpack it because it seems like it's impossible. It says, "Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!" Why does he say it again? Because I don't think we believe him. Sometimes we don't believe what God says. Even though we know it's intellectually true, sometimes it needs to soak into our total being so that we live it out. So, I think he repeats it, "I say it again: rejoice," so that we remember it. But the key word, the word that we struggle with in that verse is "always." It's not rejoice in the Lord when you're at church on Sunday morning, or when you read the Bible, or when you pray, but rejoice in the Lord always. It doesn't mean you rejoice in your problems, but you rejoice in the Lord always.
You say, "Vince, that's impossible. I can't always be happy." I would agree, you can't always be happy... but you can always be joyful. Joy is a choice. Happiness is conditioned upon your emotions. Whatever your emotions are feeling like, that's usually what will dictate your level of happiness. But when you have joy, it's unshakable and impossible to take away. But how do you have joy always? Well, joy isn't based on circumstances. Happiness is. well okay, But then, how do you find joy? Paul said, "Rejoice in the Lord." You have to be in the Lord. Not necessarily in church, though that's helpful. Not necessarily in Bible reading. That's very helpful. Not necessarily in prayer. That's also very helpful. All three of those are very helpful. But you have to be in the Lord. You could be in the Lord at work, you can be in the Lord in your car, you could be in the Lord in your golf game - although if you've seen my golf game, I'm not in the Lord in terms of performance all the time. The point is, it's focusing on the Lord and saying, "I don't like this situation., but I'm in the Lord. God, you're in control of it. I don't like what's happening in my family, but I'm in the Lord, I'm going to do my best to contribute to making it right. I can't stand what's happening at work, but I'm in the Lord and I'm going to continue to focus on God, and, and work hard as unto the Lord, not of the people."
Here's the point. You can always be joyful, but you have to do it in the Lord. If you try to find your joy in circumstances, they'll come and go. If you try to find your joy in other people, that'll be great, but they can't always deliver. You can always find your joy in the Lord, in the Lord's goodness, in the Lord's grace, in the Lord's control of all the events that you're experiencing, in the Lord's love for you, in the Lord's promises during your tough, difficult trials. You can rejoice in the Lord. Rejoice, always. You can't always be happy, but you can always be joyful. You must make the choice to rejoice. And how do you make the choice to rejoice? You must rejoice in the Lord. Find something about the Lord to give you the joy you need. If nothing else, the joy that you're forgiven, the joy that you're going to heaven.
Father, this life will rob our joy. People can rob our joy, circumstances can rob our joy if we let them. But they never have to, because if we rejoice in you always, we can have joy no matter what. We may not be happy, but we can be joyful. Inspire somebody today who needs a pick-me-up, who needs joy in their life, who needs to see life from a different perspective, from your perspective, to find this joy that Paul encourages us to pursue. We ask this in Jesus' name, amen.
Wednesday, September 8, 2021
One day, we will have bodies that don't ache, we will have bodies that don't get sick, bodies that are pain free, sin free, disease free, and problem free. In fact, they will be like Jesus Christ, and that brings me joy.
Wednesday, September 8, 2021
I've been working really, really hard. I have been trying to work out, lose a little weight, work on my conditioning, get my heart rate up for a healthy heart, and work on what I affectionately call Uncle Eddie. Uncle Eddie has gotten bigger, and I don't like how Uncle Eddie is growing. I've been doing a lot of different things, including some core work and some brisk walking. I walk about a mile and a half to two miles every morning. I'll tell you what, it's harder to lose weight as you get older. Those of you who are like me, in your 40s (and who lie), as we get older I get more sore. I mean, I do brisk walks and the next morning I get up and every joint is creaky and old. I've had some stents put in me, I've had health things, you've had health things. Your body just breaks down. Even if you're on the TB12 Tom Brady health plan, or if you don't eat meat, or some other type of diet - those things are really good, I applaud all of that, and I'm going to fight tooth and nail to stay healthy. But at the end of the day, our bodies will lose and our life will be over. We should fight it all we can, but we should also remember that that's how life goes. One day we will not have that problem. One day, we will have bodies that don't ache, we will have bodies that don't get sick, will have bodies that don't have an Uncle Eddie, bodies that are pain free, sin free, disease free, and problem free. In fact, they will be like Jesus Christ, and that brings me joy.
So, I want to tell you about joy and our future bodies. When your body is hurting today, remember that one day you'll have a future body that will never hurt if you are a Christian. I get that from Philippians 3:21. I want to start in the previous verse and explain the context. It says, "But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so they will be like his glorious body." So, Christ will transform our lowly bodies, our broken-down bodies, our sin-stained bodies, our disease-potential bodies, so they will be like his glorious body. That's a fascinating thought. When Jesus Christ rose from the dead, he put on what theologians call a "glorified body." Jesus Christ is God in His essence, but he took on a human body that was tempted in every way, yet never sinned, as Hebrews tells us.Then, that human body was crucified on the cross, put into a tomb, and, if you know the Easter story, three days later rose again. When Jesus Christ rose again, he rose in what is called a glorified body. That means he could teleport to different places, he no longer feels disease, sickness or any of that. The Bible says we will have a body like that in heaven.
What a fascinating thought. We'll have a body that's never sick, never sin-laden, never diseased, and never dies. It will be a glorified body like Jesus Christ's body. Some of you are hurting right now. Some of you are in pain, some of you hate the aging process (I think we all do unless you're young), some of you have the Battle of the Bulge that I have with Uncle Eddie. But here's the thing, one day our bodies will be like Jesus Christ's: glorified and pain free. I hope that brings you joy and encouragement to know that the body we have now will one day be replaced with a glorified body. People ask me, "Vince, when a person dies do they get the glorified body then?" No, we don't get the glorified body until the rapture of the church, the next great event in the future. We'll talk more about that at Lakeshore in our series How It All Ends in October of 2021. I hope you'll check that out. But here's the thing, you will get that new body. Then you ask, "What happens when a Christian dies now?" Their soul and spirit, their immaterial being, goes to heaven. Their body goes to the ground, and one day that body will be resurrected and reconstituted into the glorified body that will never feel pain. I hope that encourages you.
Father, whoever is hurting physically, I pray that you would help them and heal them. Whoever is struggling with health things, I pray that you will help their bodies recover. In the meantime, give us the joy that one day we'll have a new body to replace this lowly body. Encourage us with that thought. In Jesus' name, amen.
Monday, September 6, 2021
If the world is in fact falling apart (it is), and if the world is going to continue to fall apart (it will), what are we supposed to do? Just be miserable?
Monday, September 6, 2021
If you are a Christian, meaning you put your faith alone in Jesus Christ alone, you have an option. That's this, to remember your ultimate citizenship. See, as a Christian, your ultimate citizenship is not as an American, I'm extremely proud to be an American. There's no other country I would rather live in and I'm extremely proud of my American citizenship. If you're from another country watching this, then you should be very proud of your nation. That is, unless it's a totally corrupt nation and you're watching this underground. But I am even more proud of the fact that as a Christian, I am a citizen of heaven. My citizenship is in heaven. That's how you cope with all that's happening in our world. If our citizenship was just in the world, the world will collapse, and it will all end. But our citizenship is in somewhere eternal. It's in heaven.
Our citizenship is in heaven because a savior will come from there. Lord Jesus Christ, verse 21, "who by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly body, so that will be like Him in His glorious body." I'll cover that verse 21, in just a moment, but all I want to say is this: Paul says, if you focus on the world you're going to be depressed, you're going to be morally bankrupt. But if you're a Christian, you need to focus on heaven. One day, we'll be in heaven. One day, all the wrongs will be made right. One day, there'll be no more tears, no more pain. One day, all our sin will be taken away in the presence of the Sin-Taker-Awayer, Jesus Christ. That's why he's called our Savior. He saves us from sin.
I don't know what's got you down about this world doesn't take much five minutes of the news, we'll do it. But I'm telling you right now, your citizenship in heaven ought to remind you that Earth is not your home. You're just passing through, as the old Negro spiritual sang. So, I hope you'll be focused on citizenship in heaven, and I hope you'll know Jesus Christ because that will give you the confidence that you'll be there. Father, thanks for citizenship in heaven. We do pray "on earth as it is in heaven," but we know that's not going to be fully answered until you come back. So help us to remember when times are tough and our life is really really hard, we find joy in our citizenship in heaven one day. It's promised and you'll never take it away. Thank you, in Jesus' name, amen.
Friday, September 3, 2021
Today I want to talk to you about faith in a can. That's right, faith in a can. Not a jar, not a bottle, but faith in a can.
Friday, September 3, 2021
Today I want to talk to you about faith in a can. That's right, faith in a can. Not a jar, not a bottle, but faith in a can. At Lakeshore, we believe that God's Word, the Bible, is the source of all truth. We encourage you to read it, study it, rely on it, and apply it to your life so that it guides you into a victorious Christian life. I've been reading this book called Victory Over the Darkness by Neil Anderson. In this book, Neil Anderson says, "The Christian has far greater potential for success in life through the power of believing the truth of the Bible." He's not talking about the kind of success that's like being at the top, climbing the corporate ladder, or amassing wealth. He's not talking about that kind of success. He's talking about a victorious Christian life, navigating with God the difficulties, the temptations, the worries, the fears, or whatever else life throws at us. It's the world, our flesh, and the devil that throw these things at us. So, when we successfully navigate these things, remaining obedient to God, that is a victorious life. That is the success that Neil Anderson is talking about.
- Why should I say I can't when the Bible says I can do all things through Christ, who gives me strength (Philippians 4:13)?
- Why should I worry about my needs when I know that God will take care of all my needs according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19)?
- Why should I fear when the Bible says God has not given me a spirit of fear, but of power, of love, and of a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7)?
- Why should I be weak when the Bible says that the Lord is the strength of my life (Psalm 27:1) and that I will display strength and take action because I know God (Daniel 11:32)?
- Why should I allow Satan control over my life when he that is in me, the Holy Spirit of God, is greater than he that is in the world, Satan (1 John 4:4).
- Why should I ever be in bondage knowing that there is freedom where the Spirit of the Lord is (2 Corinthians 3:17)?
Here's the bottom line, the point I want you to take home. Jesus Christ wants you to live a faith-filled victorious life, overcoming the challenges and temptations that the world, the flesh and the devil throw at us. We are told how to do this in the Bible. And so the question is this, do you have the faith to believe it? The object of our Christian faith is Jesus Christ, our goal is to get to know him more and more every day, increasing that measure of faith. When we look at what His Word says, what he can do through us, and for us, I take great encouragement in that. I hope you will do the same. And I hope that you will apply these truths to your life.
Let's pray. Father, thank you because your word is our promise. Lord, I pray right now that as every person reading this goes back and studies these truths, that they would apply them to their lives, and that they would be more and more obedient to you, victorious over the things that the world, the flesh, and the devil throw at us. Help us to let our lives be an offering to you, Father, in Jesus' name, amen.
Wednesday, Septemeber 1, 2021
Imagine if I was to ask you, "What is your relationship with God like? What do you know about God? How is God working in your life?" If I asked you those questions, your responses will tell me a lot about how much faith you have.
Wednesday, Septemeber 1, 2021
This week, we've been talking about faith. Yesterday, we asked a question, "What is the object of your faith?" Today, I want to ask you, "Do you know the object of your faith?" And so I want to talk to you about the struggles that people have with faith. What I have found in in my almost 20 years of being a pastor is that when people struggle with their faith in God, it is more times than not tied to a lack of knowledge of who God is and his ways. Read that again: struggles in faith more times than not are tied to a lack of knowledge of who God is and his ways.
Romans 10:17 tells us this, "Faith comes by hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ." The key to increasing your faith in God is to be in his word every day. By hearing the message, by reading it in our Bibles. The more you read the Bible, the more you will get to know God and his ways. If you are struggling to have more faith in God, then I want to encourage you to spend more time with him reading your Bible. But you may say, "Well, Frank, I already read the Bible." I want to encourage you, don't just read it, study it. Maybe you already study the Bible. Make sure that you're praying, speaking to God. You know, prayer doesn't have to be in some high and lofty English. It is just common, everyday language. It's having a conversation with God. Praying is also listening to God, spending time in quiet, just listening and letting God speak to you. Is it an audible voice? I've never heard it as an audible voice, but deep down inside in your heart, you sense the leading of God in your life. If you want to go even deeper in your faith, try fasting. Fasting is a great way to grow deeper in your faith and your connection and closeness to God. These are all spiritual disciplines to draw us closer to God to help us know Him and to know his ways better. The result will be an increase in our faith. When we know God more, we will trust him more, and we will trust his word in our lives in an increasing measure.
Let's pray. Father, thank you that you have given us the opportunity to know you through your word, the Bible. May we study it, may we apply it to our lives. As King David said, may we hide it in our hearts to know you more and more. Thank you that we can reach out to you in prayer. Thank you that we can sit in quiet and let you speak to us. Thank you that you've given us fasting to draw us closer and make us more and more dependent upon you, increasing our faith. Thank you, Father. For this we ask this in Jesus' name, amen.
Monday, August 30, 2021
Whether we consider ourselves religious or not, the truth is, we all live by faith to some degree. Even atheists, yes, even atheists live by faith.
Monday, August 30, 2021
I want to ask you a question. What is the object of your faith? Whether we consider ourselves religious or not, the truth is, we all live by faith to some degree. Even atheists, yes, even atheists live by faith. You don't believe me? Think about a chair. How many times do people sit in a chair, trusting that it's going to support their weight without even considering to check the structural soundness of the chair before they sit down on it? The simple task of sitting in a chair occurs millions and millions of times a day without people giving a second thought to the soundness of that chair. That takes faith. But what if the object of your faith proves to be unreliable? It probably wouldn't take very long for you to find a new chair if you sat in it and it broke, being unreliable. You would look for another chair right away to sit down and that would be able to support your weight.
In fact, when we lose faith in something, I want you to consider that the problem is not your ability to believe, but the object of your faith. One of the most widely trusted and reliable objects of faith by the world's population is our solar system. We set our watches to it, we plan our calendars around it. Each month, and each year is based on our solar system. If the Earth's orbit was to shift by just a few small degrees, the world would be in utter chaos and anarchy. We trust and rely on the solar system. In fact, it's incredible how much we trust and rely on the rotation of our planet around the sun. But as Christians, our ultimate faith object is not the S-U-N, it is the S-O-N, Jesus Christ. He is the one who created our solar system and the entire universe and the author of our faith.
Hebrews 13:8 tells us this, "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and today and forever." He never changes. He is immutable, and that's what makes him so trustworthy. Numbers 23:19 says this, "God is not human, that he should lie, he's not a human being, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfilled?" The point that Moses is trying to make is that people will let us down, they will be inconsistent, they will lie, they will not be true to their word, they will not follow through and produce what they said they would, but God will always be faithful. Even God's word is completely trustworthy and reliable. Isaiah 40:8 says this, "The grass withers and the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever." The point is that things come and go, they sprout up, they die off quickly. But the one thing that is steady, the one thing that is trustworthy, reliable, and lasts the test of time is the word of God, our Bibles.
So what is the object of your faith? Is it Jesus Christ and His Word? Is it Jesus, the most reliable, trustworthy, and never-changing object of faith? Or are you putting your faith and trust in something less? Let's pray. Father, thank you that your Word tells us that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He is the most reliable and trustworthy object of faith. And I and I use that term object loosely, Father. Jesus is way more than an object. He is worthy of all our praise and there is none like him. Father, we thank you for that, and we ask that we can learn to put our faith and trust in Jesus Christ more and more every day. We ask this in his name, amen.