Monday, June 21, 2021
Why do you believe in the Bible? Why do you believe the Bible is worth living for? Do you have an answer for that?
Monday, June 21, 2021
2 Timothy 3:16
The Bible is the basis for everything we do at Lakeshore. It's the basis for all our services, all our groups, all our studies, all our events. It's the basis for Life Lifters. The Bible is the basis for everything we believe as a Christian. It's the basis for everything we do as a Christian, it's the basis for truth that every Christian lives for. But here's the question: why do you believe in the Bible? Why do you believe the Bible is worth living for? Do you have an answer for that? If somebody says, "Hey, man, I don't believe the Bible. Why would anybody believe the Bible?" What would you say?
I want to spend a few Life Lifters explaining why I believe the Bible. I'm going to give you three helpful reasons to believe the Bible. Here is the first. I believe the Bible is true, I put all my faith in the Bible because it is God's inspired word. The Bible is inspired by God. I get that from a very important passage, 2 Timothy 3:16. It says, "All scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness." So, the beginning of the text says all scripture, not some scripture, most scripture, or just Jesus' words (the words that are in red), but every word of scripture is, as the NIV translates it, "God-breathed." That's a literal translation. Some translations say inspired. And the Greek word for "God breathed" literally is Theos-pneuma. Theos meaning God, and pneuma, where we get our word pneumatic from. If you have a door with a wind cartridge, also called a pneumatic cartridge, the door doesn't just slam shut, the air in the cartridge helps it close gently. Pneuma is almost like breathed or spirited, and is also the word for the Holy Spirit. The Hagios Pneuma, or Holy Spirit. So what he's saying is that God breathed the scriptures. All scriptures are God-breathed. They're they're literally God's word.
Let's pray. Father, thank you for this precious book called The Bible. We trust in it because it is your word. You have breathed it to us, you inspired it for us. It is profitable for every good work. Help us to have confidence in it and share our belief in it to others in a way that they will believe too. We ask this in Jesus' name, amen.
Friday, June 18, 2021
I don't know what situations you face, what difficulties you have, what problems, what circumstances, but God wants you to take courage. What does that really mean?
Friday, June 18, 2021
Acts 23:11, Matthew 14:27
Today, I want to say something. Somebody out there watching right now needs to hear this: Take courage. You need to take courage. I don't know what you're going through. I don't know what situations you face, what difficulties you have, what problems, what circumstances, but God wants you to take courage. What does that really mean? Take courage means to take heart, to be of good cheer, to be encouraged. Why? Why does God want this for you? Because God is with you. And he's got you. He's got the situation that you're facing right now.
We see this illustrated wonderfully in Acts 23. The apostle Paul was a Pharasee. He was one of the Jewish leaders, he had an encounter with Jesus and became a follower of Jesus. Now, he was sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ wherever he went, and people didn't like that. So, Paul was arrested for doing that and found himself on trial in front of a council called the Sanhedrin. The Sanhedrin were the Supreme Judicial Council for the Jewish religion. They were the ones to uphold the Jewish law. There was a plot going on to kill Paul because he was now preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. We see in Acts 23:11 the following, 'The following night the Lord stood near Paul and said, "Take courage! As you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome."'
First, you see how the Lord stood near Paul? Next, this was God's way of saying to Paul, "Even though your circumstances look bleak, I've got you Paul. I've got this situation. Take courage, I am right by your side. Paul, you faithfully preached the gospel in Jerusalem, just as I've asked you, and now I have another assignment for you. You're going to preach that same gospel in Rome, in the center, the capital, of the Roman Empire. So Paul, take courage, you're safe with me." This is essentially what God was saying to him.
I don't know what plans God has for you and your life, but I do know he wants you to remain obedient to Him in whatever circumstance you find yourself. He wants you to trust him and trust that he's got your best interest in mind, just as he did for Paul. These words, "take courage," are the same ones that Jesus spoke to his disciples when he walked on water. He was meeting up with the disciples as they were out on a boat in the middle of the Sea of Galilee. They thought he was a ghost, and they were scared. We see this in Matthew 14:27, 'But Jesus immediately said to them: "Take courage! It is I. Don't be afraid."'
Take God's courage. When you take his courage, fear disappears. Fear goes away. Fear flees. Take courage. I don't know what fearful situation you're in, but I know God wants you to take courage. The Bible is clear: when we remain obedient to Him, to God, blessings follow. The Bible is clear that our circumstances may not change but God replaces our fear with his peace. It is a peace that we cannot explain. It is only of God. So, stay the course, remain obedient to God, trust in Him, take your courage. I hope you find that encouraging today. Don't just go and have a great day, go and make a great day.
Wednesday, June 16, 2021
In our culture, oftentimes worship is expressed in the form of music, visual arts, dance, or literature. But today, what if I was to tell you that the foundation of worship has nothing to do with any of these?
Wednesday, June 16, 2021
I want to ask you a question. When I say the word worship, what comes to mind for you? Maybe for you, it's music. Maybe it's a modern chorus that we sing here in church on Sunday, or maybe it's an older hymn. Maybe when you think of worship, you think of an experience that you've had with God, a closeness that you've had with God, where you've experienced his goodness, faithfulness, grace, or mercy. In our culture, oftentimes worship is expressed in the form of music, visual arts, dance, or literature. But today, what if I was to tell you that the foundation of worship has nothing to do with any of these?
I want to take a look at the passage where the word worship is used for the very first time in the Bible. We have to go back to the Old Testament, back to the book of Genesis chapter 22. For a little background, we're going to be taking a look at Abraham. God promised Abraham that he would be the father of many nations. Here we find Abraham and his wife, Sarah, and they're getting on in years in life, and they still have no children together. So, Abraham held on to that promise, even though he was getting up in age. It wasn't until Abraham was 100 years old, and his wife Sarah was 90 years old (their bodies were as good as dead, the apostle Paul tells us) when Sarah conceived and gave birth to their son, Isaac.
Fast forward into Isaac's life. Now Isaac is a young boy, we're not exactly sure how old he is in Genesis 22, but I'm guessing he's probably somewhere between seven and 10 years old. So, Abraham is around 110 years old and God tests Abraham in this chapter. We pick up in verse two, 'Then God said, "Take your son, your only son, whom you love - Isaac - and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you." Early the next morning Abraham got up and loaded his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. When he had cut enough wood for the burnt offering, he set out for the place God told him about. On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. He said to his servants, "Stay here with the donkey while I in the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you."'
When I look at this passage, I see the foundation of worship as two things: first, obedience; second, sacrifice. When you look at the way Abraham was obedient. When God told him, "I want you to sacrifice your son, Isaac," he got up early the next day. He didn't put it off or procrastinate. He got up and he prepared. He prepared the wood, he prepared the donkey, he prepared his servants. He was obedient to what God had called him to do, even though God promised Abraham that he would be the father of many nations, and God is asking him to sacrifice his one and only son. It didn't make sense, but Abraham was obedient. The second foundation of worship is sacrifice. Abraham made huge sacrifices. If you think about it, he's 110 years old at this time. He had to go on a three day journey on a donkey through the mountains. He sacrificed comfort, and he sacrificed an easy life just to follow God.
'"Yes, my son?" Abraham replied.
'"The fire and the wood are here," Isaac said, "but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?"'
'Abraham answered, "God himself will provide the land for the burnt offering, my son." And the two of them went on together. When they had reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son.' - There's that obedience piece again, following through on what God called him to do. - 'But the angel of the Lord called out to him from heaven, "Abraham! Abraham!"
'"Here I am," he replied.
'"Do not lay a hand on the boy," he said, "Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son." Abraham looked up and they're in the thicket, he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son.'
Abraham remained obedient, and he was committed to making the sacrifices that God called him to do. Worship without obedience and sacrifice is not sincere. However, worship that results from obedience and sacrifice is life changing. It was life changing for Abraham, and I know it will be life changing for you. I want to encourage you today to pursue obedience to God, and willingness to make sacrifices for him that he calls you to do. Not sacrifices that he doesn't call you to make, but sacrifices that he calls you to make. I want you to make that obedience and that sacrifice the foundation for your worship. When you do, there will be a closeness to God, and the worship that you give him will never be the same. I hope you find this encouraging. Don't just go and have a great day, go and make a great day.
Monday, June 14, 2021
We are living in an interesting time right now with COVID. So many of you are working from home, the lines between work time and family time, they've blurred and they've melted together. Some of you are questioning your ability. Some of you are questioning is it time to throw in the towel. And if you're having any of these thoughts, you may be bordering on burnout. And I want you to know this, you're not alone.
Monday, June 14, 2021
Before we start, I just want to established something. I am not the main chef in my house. My wife, Laura, is the one who does the bulk of the cooking in our house and the reason for that is because she's so much better at it than I am. I can remember one time when Laura asked me to help (now I'm a pretty good helper), but this particular time, I wasn't so good. She needed to run out, she was making lentils. They were boiling on the stove, and I had one job to do, which was to watch the lentils and stir them. Well, I got distracted, and I totally forgot about the lentils. After several minutes had passed by without stirring them, I started to smell something coming from the kitchen. I ran in and I looked in the pot, and all of the water had boiled off. Now, I just had a bunch of blackened, stuck together massive lentils that were stuck to the pot. The pot was ruined, dinner was ruined, we had nothing to eat ready that night, and my wife was upset. So, it is very easy to burn lentils and you can burn lentils when three things happen. One, there's too much heat. Number two, the water boils off. And number three, we neglect to stir them. Just like lentils can get burned, so can people.
I want to take those three statements that Jesus just said, "Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest" and break them down. Come with me by yourself. Jesus wants to spend time with you. That's right, you and you alone. No kids, no spouse, no parents, no friends, no significant others. Just you and Jesus. Why? So you can have a conversation with him. So you can not only talk to him, but you can listen to him. And we listen to God through our prayer time, through our Bible time. Sometimes we listen to God just by sitting and being quiet. He wants to give you his peace. And I want to encourage you to get away by yourself with Jesus.
Does your soul need rest today? Get away and spend time with Jesus in a quiet place. I want to encourage you, burnout is avoidable. We just need to get away and spend time with Jesus in a quiet place and you will get that rest. I hope you find encouragement in that today. And don't just have a great day, but go and make a great day!
Friday, June 11, 2021
You have to realize that relationships have limits. You say, "But Vince, if relationships have limits and I have love-needs, and they can't meet my love needs, then where do I turn?"
Friday, June 11, 2021
Proverbs 20:6, Proverbs 18:24
Today, I want to talk to you about this truth: all human relationships have limits. I think you know that, but I think we sometimes forget it in the heat of relationships. Sometimes we put too much on people. We want people to meet needs they can't meet. We want people to love us in ways they can't love us. We want people to be something for us that they can't be, and the problem is not them. The problem is in our expectations. Relationships are important, you have to have relationships. The worst thing you can do to a human being is to put them in solitary confinement in prison. But you have to realize that relationships have limits. You say, "But Vince, if relationships have limits and I have love-needs, and they can't meet my love needs, then where do I turn?" You turn to the lover of your soul, to God, to Jesus Christ.
The rest of that verse says this, "But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother." Nobody knows for sure. But this seems to be proverbs doesn't necessarily do this a lot. But it seems to be a foreshadowing of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is our brother. He's our father, he's the Son of God, he is our Savior, but He is also our brother in a certain sense. He is the lover of our soul, and he will love you in a way that no human being can. Are you making sure that your most important relationship needs are being met by Jesus Christ and not by human beings? Because humans can't do it. And they'll let you down and they'll hurt you not because they're intentionally doing it, although sometimes they do, but because they can't. Only Jesus Christ can. Are you letting Jesus Christ love you? You know, to become a Christian is the way you start letting him love you. And if you are not yet a Christian, you can't experience the love of God. When you say, "Jesus Christ, you are God. Jesus, I am a sinner, I sin, I mess up, I make so many bad decisions that hurt you, others myself, my family," and when you believe he died on the cross in your stead, in your place for your sin, and you receive him into your life by faith alone you become a Christian. Then you have his love, then you have the love of God. And you will have your deepest love needs met through Jesus Christ. You need your human love needs met, but there's a limit to that. Jesus Christ is infinite. And he'll meet your deepest needs in ways you never dreamed possible, because he's the lover of your soul.
Wednesday, June 9, 2021
Today, I want to talk to you about something that might throw you through a little bit of a loop, but it's really important. It's the concept of relational distance.
Wednesday, June 9, 2021
Today, I want to talk to you about something that might throw you through a little bit of a loop, but it's really important. It's the concept of relational distance. Here's where I'm coming from. First of all, the Bible says that if you are a Christian you must love everybody, you don't get a choice. God loved you unconditionally. We love as he first loved us. If he loved us unconditionally, we have to love people unconditionally. You don't get a choice in this. Unless you want to be disobedient to God, you have to love all people, but not all people are truly lovable. So what's the rub? You have to love all people but not all people are lovable. What's the rub? The rub is this. There are some people you must learn to love from a distance.
I want to talk to you about a passage in the book of Acts. I found it very fascinating. It's the account of the Apostle Paul and Barnabas. They're really good friends and they're getting ready to do a missionary journey. In Acts 15, they have a Christian fight. I'd like to see that on pay per view. Let's get ready to rumble! Paul versus Barnabas the Missionary! Anyway, enough of that. So the Apostle Paul and Barnabas are getting ready to go on a missionary journey, they have a Christian fight, and we are witness to it in Acts 15:36-40. It says, 'Sometime later, Paul said to Barnabas, "Let us go back and visit the brothers and all the towns where we preach the word of the Lord and see how they are doing." Barnabas wanted to take John, also called Mark, with them, but Paul did not think it wise to take him, because he had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not continued with them in the work.'
So, in other words, Barnabas said, "Come on, let's take John Mark." John is also known as John Mark, he wrote the Gospel of Mark. Paul said, "Nah, I tried that already. He deserted us." There are two things happening that maybe you wouldn't read or know from the text. First, they have different personalities. Paul was more of a task achievement guy. He loved people, but he had to get the job done, the mission that God gave him - see Acts 20:24 where he says, "Nothing else, but the mission God gave me." Now Barnabas' name literally means Son of Encouragement. He was a little bit more on the people side. So he asks Paul to give John Mark a second chance, but Paul said, "I gave him a first chance, it didn't work." That's the first thing.
Here's the second thing, John Mark was Barnabas' cousin. So he knew him a little bit better, and there was maybe a little familial pull there. But listen to this, starting in verse 39, "They had such a sharp disagreement that they parted company. Barnabas took Mark and sailed for Cyprus, but Paul chose Silas and left, commended by the brothers to the grace of the Lord." They didn't even do the missionary journey together. You know, it's interesting, the Bible never says who's right or who's wrong. The Bible never even says if they totally patched things up, although there are some suggestions that they at least were friends. But here's what probably happened, at least, as a result of that occurrence: They were friends from a distance.
Sometimes, you're going to have to learn to be a friend from a distance, to love from a distance. There are some people I really don't want to engage with. They're toxic, they're dark, they're evil, but the God of heaven and earth says I'm called to love them. So, I have to love them from a distance. Is there anybody in your world that you have to love from a distance? Love from a distance. Give that some thought, because you are called to love everybody, and the two errors are either that you think to love means to pretend nothing happened. Wrong. The other error is to believe that love means you're not going to engage them even if they didn't hurt you, and you never can do anything. Wrong. Love from a distance is the answer.
Let's pray. Father, we all have people that drive us nuts, but those are the people who you have called us to love. Help us to learn how to love them. If needed, help us to love them from a distance. I asked this in the strong name of the lover of our soul, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Monday, June 7, 2021
We don't always do relationships so well. If we are great at relationships, then why is the world such a mess?
Monday, June 7, 2021
Proverbs 12:26, Proverbs 19:2
Relationships are super important. I have found more and more that people need biblical help on relationships. We don't always do relationships so well. If we are great at relationships, then why is the world such a mess? It's a mess, in part, because people struggle with how to relate to each other. So today, I want to talk to you about this truth. This is a little bit of a challenging truth, it's going to challenge your views on relationships. Here it is: Not everyone is a close friend. You know, there are three levels of relationships. You have acquaintances, friends, and close friends. I would define a friend as somebody who you might see semi-regularly, you can share a little bit with them, and you remember things about each other. Close friends, or companions, are really tight relationships. Here's what I want to say. Sometimes you can treat an acquaintance like a close friend and you get in trouble. Or you can treat a friend like a close friend, or a companion like an acquaintance. You have to know and correctly define your relationships. Not everybody is a close friend. In fact, here's what I want to warn you. I believe this because I have found this to be true. You have fewer close friends than you realize. We tend to think we have lots of close friends, but they're not as close as you think. I think you have less close friends. I think most of us have less super close friends than we think. There are exceptions, of course. Where do I get that from? Here's a couple passages of Scripture that speak to this from the book of Proverbs.
Proverbs 12:26, "A righteous man is cautious in friendship." Why is a righteous man cautious in friendship? Because not everybody is a companion or a good friend. They might be a friend, they might be an acquaintance, so you're cautious. Remeber that you have to pace relationships. Don't go too fast. Don't go 10 miles when the first time you meet somebody you should only go 100 yards. Here's another one - Proverbs 19:2 says, "Zeal without knowledge is not good." In other words, you may be zealous for a relationship, but if you don't know that person, it doesn't work out. By the way, that speaks of anything. Zeal without knowledge in any area of life is not good. So who are your closest friends? Are you sure they're your closest friends? Who are your friends, or your acquaintances? You probably have no more than 5 to 10 really, really close friends. I heard one person say that a close friend is someone you call at three in the morning with something you need to talk about, and not one time in that conversation do they say, "Do you know what time it is?" That's when you know you have a close friend. So, just be careful with your close friends. Not everybody is a close friend. Don't expect to have massive numbers of close friends. By definition, a close friend is a small, tight knit group.
Let's pray. Father, it's so important that we understand our relationships. And it's so important that we understand that not everybody is a super close friend. We may wish it, we may want it, but it takes two to form a close relationship. Help us to know who those close relationships are with, and who they are not with. Help us to accept that. Someone we thought was a close friend is just a friend, or someone we thought was a friend is just an acquaintance. God, help us to be pleasantly surprised that a friend was really a close friend who loved us more than we ever realized. Help us to discern that and accept the close friends you've given us, and to do everything we can to be close friends back to them. We ask this in Jesus' name. Amen.
Friday, June 4, 2021
Relationships are what life is all about. The people who have the best relationships are always learning how to relate better, and we all can learn to relate better to people.
Friday, June 4, 2021
Proverbs 25:19, Proverbs 17:17
Here's all I want to say: If you want to have great teeth, you have to have regular checkups to see if there are any problems. If you want to have great relationships, you have to check up on your relationships. That's why relationships are like teeth. And I didn't just randomly make that up, I get it from the Proverbs. The book of Proverbs has tons of advice on relationships. Look at what Proverbs 25:19 says. It says, "Like a bad tooth or a lame foot is reliance on the unfaithful in times of trouble." In other words, if relationships are like teeth, and you want to do checkups, sometimes you think you have a great relationship and it's not. you think that's a strong tooth, but man it's got a massive cavity or a small cavity that you haven't seen. You have to check up your relationships know where your relationship is, do a little trial tests to see how they respond. And you may sometimes find that you have overestimated that relationship.
Let's pray. Father, thank you for the reminder that relationships are like teeth, and we need to rely on the right ones, not the wrong ones. Help us to know how to give ourselves relational checkups like our dentists knows how to check our teeth for cavities. Help us have the discernment to know who we can rely on, and who we shouldn't in our relationships. In Jesus' name. Amen.
Wednesday, June 2, 2021
Do you think most people go too fast in a relationship or too slow today? The answer is too fast. Most people go way too fast - sometimes, people get into a relationship and they go from zero to 60 faster than a Lamborghini and that's not good.
Wednesday, June 2, 2021
Proverbs 25:17 NIV; Proverbs 19:2b NLT
Today, I want to talk to you about relationships like I did last time, and will for the next few times, because relationships are so important. They determine the direction of our life and the satisfaction of our life. With COVID and things opening up, relationships are kind of getting more back to normal, we're seeing more people, we're going to need skills and wisdom on how to manage relationships. So today, I want to talk to you about this principle, you need more "easy-does-it relationships". Easy-does-it, take it easy, calm down, and here's what I mean by that - sometimes, people get into a relationship and they go from zero to 60 faster than a Lamborghini and that's not good. A relationship that moves too fast, is not going to be a reliable, solid relationship. So when you start to make a friend by being a friend, which was our last life lifter, you have to learn how to pace a relationship.
Most people struggle with pacing a relationship. Do you think most people go too fast in a relationship or too slow today? The answer is too fast. Most people go way too fast. They go on a first date, and somebody wants to plan the wedding, it's a little too fast. I know somebody that met someone and got married within two weeks of meeting them, a little too far, too fast. And then sometimes people go way too slow. And so you have to learn how to pace a relationship.
Father, I pray that if there's anybody that may be moving too fast or perhaps even too slow in a relationship give them the wisdom to pace it. Give them the wisdom to know not to move too quickly, not to always be at the person's house or in the person's world, but to pace it, to have an easy-does-it view. Help them to know when to do one or the other. And we ask this in Jesus name. Amen. Hey, easy does it have a great day!
Monday, May 31, 2021
Life, it's all about relationships, our relationship with God, and our relationships with people. Today, I want to talk to you about the most important relational vitamin.
Monday, May 31, 2021
Thank you for joining me for this edition of life lifters. Our whole purpose on life lifters is to give your life a lift, there a five minute blast of encouragement, and scripture. You know, for these next few life lifters, I'm going to talk to you about relationships. Life, it's all about relationships, our relationship with God, and our relationships with people. And through COVID, we learned a lot more about relationships. For these next few life lifters I'll talk to you about relationships. We'll talk about different aspects of relationships to help you in your relationships with other people.