Monday, April 26, 2021
Jesus wants us to use a hook and some bait. You see Jesus is that hook, but we have to provide the bait.
Monday, April 26, 2021
The response of Peter and Andrew is seen in verse 20. I find this just as intriguing because verse 20 says this, "Immediately they left their nets, and followed him." That's the part that really got a hold of me, because it was that very night after reading that verse, that I immediately got down on my knees, and receive Jesus Christ in my life as my Lord and my Savior for the very first time. But here's the thing. I wasn't a fisherman. Yes, I fished before. I knew what it meant to use a rod and a reel. But I knew nothing about what it meant to fish for the souls of people. And that's when Jesus began to, over time, show me how he wants me to use my gifts and my abilities that he gave me to attract other people to him. Now, Peter and Andrew, they were commercial fishermen. When they went out to fish, they used a net and would drop the net into the water, and they would pull it in, and the net allowed them to catch dozens, or 50, or maybe even 100 fish at a time. But in my experience with Jesus, he often wants us to fish for one person at a time. So instead of using a net, Jesus wants us to use a hook and some bait. You see Jesus is that hook, but we have to provide the bait.
So let me ask you a question. What are you good at? What gifts and abilities has God given you? What hobbies do you have? At work are you on a team, or maybe you're a part of a group? What clubs or organizations do you belong to? These can all be that bait. You see, when you decide to follow Jesus, He will use your gifts and your skills, your activities and your interests, the connections and relationships that you have. He will use those as the bait on the hook. He will use the things that you have in common with people to help you build deeper relationships and friendships so that you can eventually share your faith in him. For me, that bait is often music. God has opened up the door for me to be involved in a few different pit orchestras, playing the guitar for local high school productions. And music is that bait on the hook that has allowed me to meet other musicians who I would not normally get a chance to meet and build friendships with them. And there's always those one or two musicians that God has put me in with, where he's opened the door for me to get to know, share my faith and invite them to come to church. So I want to ask you this. Where can you build relationships? Are there people that you have things in common with, common interests? Begin praying and ask God if he wants you to use this as bait to attract people to him. You may be the one person that God wants to use in someone's life, to share the gospel with them, and to have them come to know Jesus in a personal way. Will you accept Jesus's invitation? You've probably already accepted the invitation to follow him. But will you be a fisher for the souls of men and women? I hope you guys find encouragement in that today. I hope you feel challenged in that today. And I want to encourage you right now, don't just go and have a great day. Go and make a great day.
Friday, February 19, 2021
Today, I want to talk to you about giving yourself to God's work. A lot of people think serving God is optional, and that's unfortunate. What makes it really unfortunate is when people who follow Jesus Christ say, "working for God is optional."
Friday, February 19, 2021
Today, I want to talk to you about giving yourself to God's work. A lot of people think serving God is optional, and that's unfortunate. What makes it really unfortunate is when people who follow Jesus Christ say, "working for God is optional." Now, nobody ever comes out and says that, but what people do is they basically don't work for God. They end up doing their own thing and they end up saying, "well, I go to church and that's work for God." There's some truth to that, but here's what I want to say: You should spend your life finding ways to work for God.
Why should you work for God? Well, He pays well. He has great rewards, a great benefits package. He's a kind boss. Doing His work is thrilling if you really love Him. I get that because of 1 Corinthians 15:58, the very last verse in the chapter, where the Apostle Paul says this: "Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain." What does that mean, "not in vain"? It means it's not useless. I already told you all the benefits, but here's what I want to say. Give yourself to the work of the Lord.
You might say, "Vince, what does that mean? What does that look like?"
1. Here's the first. Whenever you're at work, model your faith. When you're at home, if you're the parent, if you're the child, whatever you are, model your faith by playing your right part in the family.
2. Here's another one: serve God at church. It's amazing to me how Christians who profess a faith in Jesus Christ, year after year after year, do nothing to lift a finger to serve God in the church. I find that disturbing. This text says, always abound in the work of the Lord, always finding ways to do God's work. You can do God's work at home, at work in church, in so many different places, but He wants you to abound in it, not dip your toe in it. He wants you to get involved in His work. Whether that's working in the church or working with people who are not yet followers of Jesus Christ to help them, whatever it is. Get to work for God. Always be at work for God. Find your way. There's so many ways. God has a way for you.
Ephesians 2:10 says that we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works which God prepared in advance for us to do. He's got a plan. You just have to do it. You may not know the plan. Just begin to do God's work wherever you are at, the best you can. And guess what? You'll be in God's plan. He'll work it out. He'll open doors for you. He'll create opportunities for you.
Are you abounding in the work of the Lord? He wants you to be because He loves you. He knows it's fulfilling to work for Him. Nothing in life is greater, and that's kind of why I got into the ministry full time from engineering. Working in ministry is so satisfying because I love working for God. It's not always easy, but it's always rewarding and it's always fulfilling. Are you abounding in the work of the Lord? You don't have to be a full-time pastor to do that. No, all you have to be is available. Availability is so important. God cares more about your availability than your ability. He'll give you the ability. You just make yourself available. I hope you'll find a way to abound in the work of the Lord today and every day of your life.
Let's pray. Father in heaven, thank you so much for the reminder, to be steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in your work and that is not in vain. Help all of us to find your work, to pursue it and to live it. Help us to get to work for you because you are a kind boss. You have great rewards stored for us and heaven when we do. Thank you so much, in Jesus' name. Amen. Hey, it's an absolute privilege to work for God. Are you at work for him? I hope so. Thanks and have a great day.
Thursday, January 14, 2021
Today, I want to answer the fourth question, which is, Where do we use our spiritual gifts? There is a certain sense in which you could say we use them everywhere, and you would be right. But the Bible seems to focus our use of spiritual gifts in two primary areas.
Thursday, January 14, 2021
1 Corinthians 12:7
Today, I want to answer the fourth question, which is, Where do we use our spiritual gifts? There is a certain sense in which you could say we use them everywhere, and you would be right. But the Bible seems to focus our use of spiritual gifts in two primary areas. We use them primarily in the church and around the world. The Bible talks more frequently about using your spiritual gifts in the church than anywhere else. In 1 Corinthians 12:7 (TLB) Paul says, "The Holy Spirit displays God's power through each of us as a means of helping the entire church." God has given you spiritual gifts to help the church. We live in a day in which things have changed, largely due to the 2020 pandemic, and a lot more people are watching church online. I have mixed feelings about that. In one sense, if watching church online is something you're going to do over nothing at all, then it beats that. Also, watching online is great if you're sick, or if you're out of town or something, but I think there's something better. One of the reasons why God wants you in church in person is because you can't encourage and be encouraged unless you're with people. There's a reason why solitary confinement is one of the worst things you could do to a human being. We need each other. But the other reason it's better to be in church in person is because you can't use your gifts in your pajamas. Or, you can't use your gifts just watching online. You have to be with people to help people. There's no impact without contact. The Holy Spirit gives us gifts to use in the church.
Let's pray. Father in heaven, thank you for giving us gifts. Help us to use them in the church, and to help the church. Help us know where we should use the gifts, the unique gifts you've given us. And help us to use them in the world to make disciples. Help us not forsake them, take them for granted, or underappreciate them, for we only appreciate them when we apply them. I thank you for this in Jesus' name. Amen.
Wednesday, January 13, 2021
The third key question I want to answer today is this: When do we get the spiritual gifts?
Wednesday, January 13, 2021
1 Corinthians 12:13-14
Some people think that they have spiritual gifts before they become a Christian, but that clearly isn't true. Look at 1 Corinthians 12:13-14. Speaking to Christians in the Corinthian church, Paul says, "For we were baptized by one Spirit into one body ... and we were all given the one spirit to drink. Now the body is not made up of one part, but many." I want to emphasize the line "we were all given the one spirit to drink." One view, which I would call the hyper-charismatic view, teaches that you do not receive the Holy Spirit the moment you believe. Not that all charismatics believe this, but some do, and it's preposterous and thoroughly unbiblical. The Bible teaches on this in John 14:16 and Acts 1. Jesus said, "When I leave, I'm going to send you another Comforter." In other words, when Jesus leaves as the Comforter for all believers, he will send the Holy Spirit, who is also God like Jesus is God, to comfort us. This text in 1 Corinthians says that you are baptized by one Spirit into one body the moment you believe. The baptism of the Holy Spirit is a very misunderstood event. It has nothing to do with supernatural gifts or speaking in tongues. It has everything to do with receiving the Holy Spirit.
To be baptized means to be immersed, or to be a recipient of something. But then Paul says we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Drinking of the Spirit means enjoying or engaging in the Holy Spirit's power in your life. One of those things is spiritual gifts. You get spiritual gifts the moment you believe. Even if you don't know what they are, that doesn't mean you don't have them, it just means you don't know how to unlock them or use them. Or, you might be using them and not even realize it. Either way, it's important to know that once you become a Christian, you have spiritual gifts that God has specifically given you. You don't have to pray for them, wait for them, hope for them, or choose them. In fact, you don't even get to choose them. The Holy Spirit chooses them for you.
So, you receive spiritual gifts the moment you believe, but the problem is that some people have no clue what they're about, sometimes for years after receiving them. You have to use your gifts to know what they are. We have a class called Discover Your Purpose in which we'll teach you all the gifts, and we'll help you start the journey of finding which gifts are yours. But you'll never fully know what gifts you have until you use them. Something that might help you is what I call the E Test. The E Test means that when you use your gifts you use them with ease, effectiveness, efficiency, enthusiasm, elation, energy, etc. When you do that time and time again with a certain gift, you know you've got it. So that's what I want you to know about gifts of the Holy Spirit. They come the moment you believe, because we have a great God.
Let's pray. Father in heaven, thank you so much that the Holy Spirit is the one who gives us spiritual gifts the moment we believe. Thank you so much for that amazing promise that when we believe, not only do we have heaven, we have gifts to live out until we get there. Thank you, Lord. Help us to understand, know, and use our gifts wisely and effectively. We praise you for this in Jesus' name. Amen.
Tuesday, January 12, 2021
Today, I want to ask a second question to help you understand spiritual gifts. Who gives spritiual gifts to us?
Tuesday, January 12, 2021
1 Corinthians 12:4, 11
Today, I want to ask a second question. Who gives spritiual gifts to us? You say, Vince, you just already gave us the answer. God! And that would be correct. But I want to get a little more specific. Who actually gives us spiritual gifts? I'll give you a hint. Who actually gives us Spirit-ual gifts? I think you know the answer. The answer is the Holy Spirit. While the entirety of the Trinity is involved in every area of our life, it seems like one person of the Trinity kind of runs point, not that the others aren't involved. And in the case of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit seems to run point on giving those to us. I get that from 1 Corinthians 12:4, 11. It says, "There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit gives them... It is the same and only Holy Spirit who gives all these gifts and powers, deciding which each one of us should have." Isn't that interesting? You don't get to pick or choose your spiritual gifts. You don't get all the spiritual gifts, but you get some of them, and you get them by the Holy Spirit. Isn't it amazing that the Holy Spirit gives you a custom set of gifts, based on his knowing you, his knowing what needs to be accomplished in the world, his knowing where you are? He is putting all of that together and saying, "Here are the gifts. Use them."
I thank God that the Holy Spirit does so many good things in our lives. And one of the great things he does is assign us and give us these amazing, unique gifts. Gifts of teaching, gifts of evangelism, of helps, administration, knowledge, etc. God gives us gifts to open and use. He doesn't give us gifts to admire. But isn't it amazing that God gives us the gift of eternal life when we put our faith in Christ, and then he gives us the gifts of the Holy Spirit? Do you know your spiritual gifts? We have a class called Discover Your Purpose that will help you. But the only way you're really going to know your gifts is when you first acknowledge that the Holy Spirit has decisively, definitively, and certainly given you the gifts you have right now. If you've never become a Christian, these are things you can look forward to. But if you are a Christian, these are the gifts you already have. And you can thank the Holy Spirit for them. So let's do that right now.
Holy Spirit, thank you so much that you decided the specific gifts that we have the moment we became Christians. We thank you for it. Thank you that you have entrusted us with these gifts, and want us to open up and use these gifts. We thank you that you have given us supernatural abilities to accomplish specific tasks in the church, everywhere we go. I praise you and thank you for that. Help everybody listening be encouraged that you love us enough to do more than just give us eternal life, but to give us power between now and when we enter eternity in heaven with you through these gifts. We thank you for it in Jesus' name. Amen.
Monday, January 11, 2021
I want to spend each day this week answering one of the five biggest questions that people ask about spiritual gifts. Today, I will start with the first question: What are they? What are spiritual gifts?
Monday, January 11, 2021
1 Corinthians 12:1
In 1 Corinthians 12:1 Paul says, "Now about spiritual gifts, I do not want you to be ignorant." And I have to tell you, most Christians are absolutely clueless about spiritual gifts. They don't know what they are. They don't know how they work. They don't know which ones they have. Here at Lakeshore Community Church, we have a whole class called Discover Your Purpose. You take this class after you take Discover Lakeshore, which is the first class to understand the vision and values of Lakeshore. In Discover Your Purpose, we will help you find your spiritual gifts. But when Paul says, "I don't want you to be ignorant," I wish Paul would say that again to a lot of Christians today, because many are very ignorant. People don't know about spiritual gifts.
I want to start right at the top. What is a spiritual gift? I would define a spiritual gift as a supernatural ability to accomplish specific tasks in the world. So let's break that down. First, let's talk about supernatural ability. Don't confuse spiritual gifts with natural gifts. A natural gift would be like if you're a natural extrovert, or are naturally organized. Those are things that you have from birth. But a supernatural gift is, if I could put it this way, it's when God puts his super on your natural. And what I mean by that is that God can sometimes take what you're already good at and put supernatural ability on top. And sometimes he gives you a supernatural gift that has nothing to do with what you're good at naturally. It's a mystery. Sometimes that happens. Sometimes it doesn't. But here's the point. It's a supernatural ability. God gives you a unique supernatural ability to do specific tasks.
Now, unless you're the Apostle Paul, you don't have all the spiritual gifts, you only have some gifts. There are several different gifts throughout the Bible, and not everybody has all the gifts. There are teaching gifts, administration gifts, the gift of helps, the gift of the Spirit, gifts of wisdom and knowledge, etc. If you want to study the Bible on the spiritual gifts, you could find those gifts listed in four places. The way I remember how to find them is this: twelve, twelve, four, four. You can find the four spiritual gift lists in Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12, Ephesians 4, and 1 Peter 4. Twelve, twelve, four, four. If you look at those, you'll find all the different spiritual gifts, and some of them are yours. How many gifts do Christians have? The Bible never says. My sense in talking to people is that someone typically has two to three spiritual gifts. These are specific tasks that God will equip you with. But here's the question: Now that you know what a spiritual gift is, will you use it? It's important to know that God does not give you gifts just to fascinate you. He gives you gifts to use them. Those supernatural abilities help you do specific tasks that you are uniquely equipped to do. I hope you'll use your spiritual gifts. We're going to talk about how you can do that throughout the rest of the series, but I hope this helps whet your appetite for the week.
Father, thank you so much for the unique thing you do for us when we follow you, and that's you give us spiritual gifts. Thank you that you know us. You know the gifts you've given us, and we appreciate them. We thank you for the unique ones you've entrusted to us. Help us to use them wisely and effectively, and help us to not be ignorant about what spiritual gifts are any longer. Please use this week to accomplish that in Jesus' name. Amen. Hey, if spiritual gifts are an intriguing topic to you, I hope to see you tomorrow.