Monday, July 12, 2021
Paul painted the blackest picture he could of who they were and what they were like. But then he tells them this...
Monday, July 12, 2021
1 Corinthians 6:11
Our Life Lifter today comes from 1 Corinthians 6:11. The Apostle Paul had told the people there in Corinth that some of them were sexually immoral, some of them were thieves, they were greedy. Some of them were slanderers, swindlers, and drunkards. He painted the blackest picture he could of who they were and what they were like. But then he tells them this, "And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God."
What he was telling them was that even though they were dirty with all of this sin, they had been washed by God. I remember a commercial some years ago for a famous detergent. The wife in the picture was constantly trying to clean her husband's shirt. His neckline was constantly dirty, and she was trying to wash it out, scrub it out, clean it out. And I remember a comedian on television saying to the wife, "Why are you scrubbing that shirt? Tell that filthy man to clean his neck!" Well, when God cleans something, or when you are cleaned and washed in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, how many of you know that that washing is clean, and pure, and without spot? Some of you who used to be these evil people have been washed clean by Christ Jesus. All of us who have put our faith in Christ Jesus for our salvation and the forgiveness of our sins have been washed clean by Christ, and through the spirit of our God. We have been sanctified, which means we've been made holy. That's a difficult one to believe because typically we don't think of ourselves as being holy. But what has happened is when we came to Christ Jesus, that old life, and all of those things that made us up and defined who we were, those things are gone. We have now been made holy in Christ Jesus. And we have been justified. We have been declared not guilty, not simply because God declared us not guilty, but because he made us not guilty in Christ Jesus.
That is really good news. What the language of this particular text of Scripture says is that in Jesus Christ, and by his Holy Spirit we have been made all of these things right now, we have been washed, we have been sanctified, we have been justified in Christ Jesus. That means no matter what has happened to you, no matter how you have sinned in the past, even yesterday, or today, or even in the future, you've been washed, you've been sanctified and made holy. You've been justified because of your faith in Christ Jesus, and by his Holy Spirit. No matter how you think you failed, because you're in Christ, all of these good things are true of you. Therefore, when you look at your life now, and throughout this day, you can go throughout it rejoicing in Christ Jesus because of what he's done for you. And my hope for you today is that because you go rejoicing, because you realize what Christ has done for you, it will be that lift for your day.
Monday, March 29, 2021
It just seems so true that we are unwilling to forgive. The reason why we're so unwilling to forgive is because we're quick to judge.
Monday, March 29, 2021
It's all because of this: We have forgotten how to forgive. We have forgotten how to forgive because we're so quick to judge. The Bible says so much about judging and the dangers of judging. I do not mean judging in terms of rendering a verdict. If I see somebody call an African American or an Asian American a derogatory name, and if I say that's wrong, that's not judging. That's just the truth. In the Bible, to judge is to assign motive and to say something about someone's character that isn't necessarily true. For example, judging would be if you say, "You said that because you're a racist," or, "You did that because you're a bad person," or, "What you said when you were 17, that carries over, and you can't change that. So you're done." The Bible says that judging is basically assigning somebody's motives to something that's not true, or that you couldn't even possibly know. And it's got a negative view.
Monday, March 22, 2021
Sometimes when I have a really crazy day at work, or a challenging day, or people problems, etc., I tell myself this, "if it wasn't for sin, I wouldn't have a job."
Monday, March 22, 2021
Sometimes when I have a really crazy day at work, or a challenging day, or people problems, etc., I tell myself this, "if it wasn't for sin, I wouldn't have a job." I don't like thinking that, but sometimes the stuff I have to deal with in my own life and in working with other people just reminds me that sin is a reality in life. I would love to just preach a sermon and say, "if you sin, stop. Amen." That would be great! But here's the problem: it's hard to tell a person who has a sin nature and sometimes chooses to sin, even when they're Christians, to stop sinning. So what I want to do is tell you that sin is bad, and you shouldn't sin. But today, I want to focus a little differently. I want to focus on this idea that if you sin, have a short account with it. I don't encourage sin, but unfortunately, being who we are, it's inevitable. So, have a short account with sin, and I will unpack how to do that.
In James 1:13-15, James says, 'When tempted, no one should say, "God is tempting me." For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death." When James says that God does not tempt anyone, that means you can't say, "God made me do it," or, "God put me in a position where I had to sin." That's not what you can say. You can say the devil made you do it you, but you're still pawning off and making excuses. That's what Adam and Eve basically said. But then James goes on to say that each one is tempted by his own evil desire. And he's speaking to Christians, which means Christians still have evil desires. He says, "he is dragged away and enticed," so he's talking about sin dragging us away. Unfortunately, we've all been caught and dragged away by sin. But watch this. Here he talks about the danger of having a longer account with sin. If you engage a sin, and you continue in the sin, here's the process. He says that after the desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin. That means desire is a sin too. If you desire something wrong, that desire is a sin as much as sin itself. Because he says when desire is conceived, it gives birth to sin. The moment desire conceives that's a sin and sin when it is full-grown gives birth to death. What does this say? The longer you hang on to sin, the more destructive it is in your life. Let me be clear, I highly encourage you not to sin. Let me also be clear, we all sin.
So here's the rub. When you sin, cut it off quickly. Have a short account with sin. If you don't, sin will give birth to death. You might say, "will I die?" Listen, I don't know. I'll let God be the judge that. I know in 1 Corinthians 5:1-5 Paul said "hand that man over to Satan for the destruction of his flesh that his spirit might be saved in a day of the Lord." In other words, what's he saying there? He's saying, take this guy out physically. So it could happen. But I'm saying it could lead to other kinds of death, perhaps death of a relationship, of peace, of satisfaction, of contentment. Do you want that? Remember that when you sin, that it has long-term implications. So have a short account with sin, apologize where needed, stop looking at what you're looking at, if it's sinful, and stop doing what you're doing. Whatever it is, stop it, before it leads to further damage, destruction, and death.
Father, we all sin, forgive us of that. And also give us the power to have a short account with sin. To repent of it, to turn from it, to stop it, so that it doesn't lead to further damage in our life. Help us have the power to do this, and we ask it in Jesus' name. Amen. Shorter accounts with sin. That's the goal of life. Thanks and have a great day.
Wednesday, March 3, 2021
Today I want to talk to you about something really uncomfortable for me. Maybe it's uncomfortable for you as well. I'm talking about when someone you love and care about, maybe a friend, a family member, a co-worker, and they betray you—they stab you in the back or they say something hurtful about you.
Wednesday, March 3, 2021
Today I want to talk to you about something really uncomfortable for me. Maybe it's uncomfortable for you as well. I'm talking about when someone you love and care about, maybe a friend, a family member, a co-worker, and they betray you—they stab you in the back or they say something hurtful about you. Over the years, this has happened all too many times and I've learned to deal with it in a certain way. I want to share that with you today. It's dealing with it by separating the person from their sin.
We see this modeled by Jesus in Matthew 16:13. Matthew writes this: "When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, 'Who do people say the Son of Man is?' They replied, 'Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.' 'But what about you?' he asked. 'Who do you say I am?' Simon Peter answered, 'You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.'"
In that moment, Jesus really commends Peter for that. He prophetically shares what's going to play out in Peters's life as the church unfolds. What we see here is that Jesus replied with the following to Peter: "Blessed are you, Simon, son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven." So Peter listened for the voice of God. God revealed something to Peter and he listened. He had that seed planted in his mind and he proclaimed that truth back to Jesus.
Just a few short verses later, though, we see a completely different story after Jesus commends Peter. We pick up in verse 21: "From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life. Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. 'Never, Lord!' he said. 'This shall never happen to you!'"
Are you nuts, Peter? You don't do that! Can you imagine if Peter prevented Jesus from going to the cross? I don't even want to think about that. But I'm glad that this is what Jesus did. We see in verse 23, "Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns." And so we see here, Jesus rebukes Peter, but did He actually call Peter Satan? I mean, it sure sounded like He did. He knew Peters's name and we know that that was not Peter's nickname. So what's really going on there? Did Jesus call Peter Satan? I think the answer is no. I think what Jesus was doing was that He was speaking to Satan through Peter; He was speaking to Satan through Peter. There's an enemy that works behind each of us and that enemy is Satan. He's trying to trip us up. He's trying to tempt us. He's trying to get our sinful nature to act out on the temptations that he plants for us. So what Jesus did here is He modeled separation.
You see, Jesus separated the real Peter—the one that wanted to listen and obey the Lord— from the one that desires to listen and follow the kingdom of Satan. So here's the ugly truth. This not only happens to people around us who say and do things to us. This happens to us, as well. This idea of separation that Jesus modeled for us has been helping me in dealing with relational issues. It's opened up my eyes and it's helped me to take ownership when I'm the one who has sinned. It's helped me to truly forgive people when they have sinned against me.
So I want to encourage you to learn and understand that there is an evil force that often works behind us trying to trip us all up. Why do we have relational issues? Well, oftentimes, I think it's because we, instead of listening for the voice of God like Peter did at the beginning of this story, we end up following the voice of Satan and giving in to temptation.
Let's pray. Father, I want to thank you for this idea of separation that Jesus modeled for us. Help us to understand that there is an enemy that wants to trip us up and get us to screw up our relationships and screw up our faith. So Father, help us to recognize that when we open our mouth and when we act, let us take responsibility and ownership when we make the mistake of following Satan instead of following you, Father, and let us be quick to forgive those around us Father who do the same. Father, help us to encourage one another, as we forgive one another Father, and we thank you for this and we ask this in Jesus' name. Amen. Thanks for joining us today. Don't just have a great day, but go and make a great day!
Friday, February 26, 2021
One of the great truths is that when you are a Christian, you have victory. You have the victory already. Isn't that great to play a game and know that you're going to win? The good news is the Bible says that you're going to win, you're going to have the victory.
Friday, February 26, 2021
1 Corinthians 15:55-57
One of the great truths is that when you are a Christian, you have victory. You have the victory already. Isn't that great to play a game and know that you're going to win? The good news is the Bible says that you're going to win, you're going to have the victory. Who will you have the victory over? You'll have the victory over sin and death.
I get this from 1 Corinthians 15:55-57 where it says this: "Where oh death is your victory? Where oh death is your sting? The implied answer to both questions is it's nowhere. Verse 56 says, "the sting of death is sin and the power of sin is the law." The law helps us to know right and wrong and that's what helps us see sin. The wages of sin is death. So the law leads to sin, or at least leads to us seeing that it's sin, and sin leads to death. But we have victory over all of that. So the text goes on to say, "but thanks be to God, He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ".
You're a winner. I'm not talking about looking in the mirror and pumping yourself up. You're a winner because of Jesus Christ. You have one question? Do you want to be a winner or not? If you do, then follow Jesus Christ. Put your faith in Jesus Christ and trust Him alone. He will give you the victory. When I put my faith in Jesus Christ many yeas ago in October or November on a Sunday night, 1983, I felt the victory. I had some things going on in my life that I instantly changed. Yeah, there's some other things that took time and some other things that are still a battle right now, but I know this: from that day on, I knew I was right with God. I knew I had won. I had victory over sin and death in the law.
Do you? You can have victory if you commit your life to Jesus Christ. Many of you have, some of you have not, and there might be some of you who think you have, but you really have not. So how do you have the victory in Jesus Christ? You invite Him into your life by faith. You do that by saying "Jesus Christ, you are God. Jesus Christ, I am not and I'm a sinner. I believe when you died on the cross, you took my place and paid for my sins. You allowed me to be forgiven of everything so that I can be in right relationship with you for the first time ever and so that I can go to heaven. Because of all that, I have your victory."
Have you ever committed your life to Christ? You say, "Vince, I've always believed that." First of all, you didn't "always believe that". When you're three months old, you didn't believe anything. There has to be a point in time when you believe it. You might say "I believed it when I was a kid." Great. That's not enough, either. Have you received Jesus Christ? You have to believe it and receive it. Have Jesus Christ come into your life. He never goes where he is uninvited; he must be invited. Will you invite Him into your life? Say, "Jesus Christ, come into my life. I put my faith in you alone, not in my good work, not in my religion, not in my sacraments, not in any human effort, but in you alone. Come into my life. I receive you by faith." If you say it and mean it, you're a Christian. Life might be hard. In fact, it might get harder. Just because you become a Christian doesn't make your life automatically easier, but I will say this: with Jesus Christ at the center of your life, you have the victory. You have won.
I want to win. Do you? If you've committed your life to Jesus Christ by saying that prayer, let us know about it! You can send us an email or tap the Connect button in the Lakeshore App. We want to celebrate with you and support you in your new faith! Thanks for joining me today, have a great day.
Wednesday, February 17, 2021
I have to deal with so many people all the time throughout the week. I deal with people here at church in a work environment, nearly 15 staff members, other volunteers, and other people that come in.
Wednesday, February 17, 2021
I have to deal with so many people all the time throughout the week. I deal with people here at church in a work environment, nearly 15 staff members, other volunteers, and other people that come in. On the weekends, like on Sundays, we're talking hundreds of people. Here's what I have learned. I have learned that if I really want to, I can take things that people say so literally and so negatively that I could be discouraged. I can also choose to give people what I would call "the benefit of the doubt". And I find I live better.
So let me give you an example. Somebody might say something, and then they say, "you know, that was a good message, Vince", and I could think about how come they didn't say it was a "great" message. Somebody could say something like, "I think you could have done better," and I can take it in the most negative way. What I find is that a lot of people can say things and you could take it the most negative way. Somebody can crack a joke and you can say "you attacked me." I have found that if nothing else, give people the benefit of the doubt. When you're not sure how to take something, take it the most neutral or positive way you can. Life goes a lot easier that way.
I get this from 1 Corinthians 13:7, which is one of the 15 traits of love in the Bible. This chapter is called the "love chapter". If you read 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a, you pick up 15 traits of love, and I want to focus on a few of them related to giving people the benefit of the doubt.
1 Corinthians 13:7 says this: "love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres". Love always protects. Protects what? People and relationships. Love always trusts. Of course, you trust God, but you trust people to the degree in which you can. It says love always hopes. You're always hoping for the best in a relationship, and love always perseveres—it goes for the long haul. So here's what I want to say, when people say things or when people do things, and you're not sure, and there's any possible way that you can interpret it another way, interpret the most positive way possible. Somebody says something, just say they're having a bad day. Or maybe they really meant this, or somebody does something, maybe things aren't going their way. Here's the thing, just give people the benefit of the doubt.
Now, sometimes, you can't give people the benefit of the doubt, because there is no doubt what they did was mean and awful and vicious. And listen, it is what it is. You have to forgive them and you have to move on. Not forgive and forget, but forgive and release. So, give people a benefit of the doubt. Don't jump on every word and don't jump on everything—don't be jumpy. Let it go. Just let it go. Give people the benefit of the doubt. I know many times people have said, "Vince, you know, I said that to you. I hope that didn't bother you", and I go, "Not at all". You know why? Because I gave them the benefit of the doubt. So instead of taking something and running with it negatively, when you give people the benefit of the doubt, you're better for it and you give them room to be better for it as well. Do you give people the benefit of the doubt? It's a great way to live.
Let's pray. Father, I pray that you'll help us give people the benefit of the doubt. Lord, You gave us the benefit when there was no doubt that we did not love you. We were sinners and we turned our back on you. And I pray Almighty God because you gave us the benefit when there was no doubt that we were alienated from you and sinful. Help us to give other people the benefit of the doubt as well. We ask this in Jesus' name, Amen. As you go throughout the day, don't take it the wrong way. give people the benefit of the doubt as long as you can.
Monday, February 1, 2021
Our theme "Your identity in Jesus Christ". It's amazing to me that when people become a Christian they really fail to grasp who they are in Jesus. They've been transformed, translated, and they're new creations. And they don't understand how.
Monday, February 1, 2021
So we're looking at Ephisians 1, which is a fascinating, rich chapter that speaks more of our about our identity in Christ and different traits of that than any other chapter that I'm aware of in the Bible. And so far, we've looked at five of them, and I'll give you them by way of review from last week. And if they intrigue you can read, watch or listen to them. So far, we've learned that our new identity in Christ means that because of Jesus Christ, we are blessed, chosen, adopted, accepted, and redeemed.
So today, I'm going to talk about the sixth, it's perhaps the most plain, but the most beautiful nonetheless, in Jesus Christ, our new identity is that we are forgiven. We are forgiven. It doesn't matter what somebody wants to hold over your head. You're forgiven. I had a friend, when I worked at RIT, we had desks next to each other in the office, where we were technical lab assistance. And he had a sticker on the wall behind our desk that said "Christians aren't perfect, we're just forgiven".
We're not perfect. We're just forgiven. But thank God that we're forgiven. I get that from Ephesians 1:7-9, it says "in Him, we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding,...". God forgave our sins, according to the riches of God's grace. And he lavished us in forgiveness.
What a thought -- lavished in grace and forgiveness. Forgiveness, the Christian bar of soap, it cleanses you, from everything in the past, everything in the present, everything in the future. Did you know that? That God has forgiven you of everything in your past? That's the most obvious. Do you know that because of his forgiveness, he's forgiving you of the sins you're struggling with in the present? Did you know that he's forgiving you of sins you haven't even dreamed of committing yet? That's how rich His grace is, forgiveness. I know this, when God has forgiven me of something, I can forget about it. It doesn't mean I don't learn from it. It doesn't mean I'm not warned to not do it again. Jesus said "go and sin no more" to the woman caught in adultery who he forgave, and didn't condemn. But forgiveness is a great feeling. When I know I'm forgiven, man, I feel good. Life has meaning. When you are a Christian, you are a forgiven person. Live the freedom that forgiveness provides. That's your identity in Jesus Christ.
Are you living free? You should because you're forgiven.
Let's pray. Father, thank you for forgiving us. We didn't deserve it. But your grace, determined that we would be forgiven and not only do forgive us, by grace you lavishly, graciously forgave us. Thank you for something we couldn't do, couldn't earn and it was all through your Son, Jesus Christ who shed his blood to forgive us. Help us live free, free not just to do what we want, but free to please you with our life, because that's our new identity. And we ask this in Jesus name, Amen.