Friday, September 24, 2021
It's easy to just appreciate what people do for you and think about it from your perspective, but the Apostle Paul has something to add to it.
Friday, September 24, 2021
Look at what he says in Philippians 4:17-18, "Not that I'm looking for a gift, but I am looking for what may be credited to your account. I have received full payment and even more. I am amply supplied, now that I have received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent. They are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God." Paul is referring to the Philippines giving him a gift to fund his ministry when he was running low on funds, or had no money, and no other church helped him. He says he was not looking for a gift, even though he needed it, but was looking for something to be credited to the Philippians' account. That's a deep statement. In other words, at the end of the day you get money for ministry to help people grow. When you help people grow by having them give to your ministry, it's the same thing. Money is a means to an end, and that's to help people find Christ and grow in faith in Christ. He's saying, "That's what I'm seeing in you. The money is great, but the joy I find is not the money you gave, but the reason that you gave it because you have the right heart." He's talking about them and their heart in giving and how proud he was to see people growing like that.
Then he goes on to say, "I have received full payment and even more. I am amply supplied, now that I have received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent. They are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God." Those are the kinds of descriptions that speak more than just about the amount. They speak to the giver. And here's the point: when people help you, you should find joy in getting help from people. That's what we talked about last time. But if you love God, and you love people, you should also find joy from the way people are growing and maturing and being more Christ-like as they give to you. So you should be thankful for the gift and thankful for the giver themselves, and how they're growing and how they're being Christ-like when they help. One of the great things in life is to watch people grow.
At Lakeshore, we sometimes get a knock or a myth that all we want to do is help people who aren't sure about Jesus Christ put faith in Christ. People say that's all we care about. Anybody who has come here knows that's simply not true. The biggest thing is after you come to faith in Jesus Christ, we want to help you grow. It's why we offer things like First Steps, Second Steps, Discover Lakeshore, Discover Your Purpose, Small Groups, Midweek Bible Study, and the like. We do all these things for one reason. We not only want to help people become Christians, we want to help people grow as Christians. That's what brings us joy. It's one thing to see somebody become a Christian, but if somebody becomes a Christian and doesn't really grow, that's not as satisfying as if they did grow. We love that. So the Apostle Paul, he loved that the Philippians gave him a gift, but he loved even more that they were the kind of people that would give gifts. Do you love people for what they do? Or do you love people for who they are, which leads them to being generous and helping you in doing what they do? I suggest that you love people for who they are. Love them, appreciate them. Not only their gift, but appreciate them, because if you love people, you want to see people grow.
We live in a dark world where a lot of people aren't growing, aren't spiritually interested, and we need to celebrate those that are. I find joy in that. I find joy in seeing many of you who come to Lakeshore grow in your faith. It's exciting. I hope you'll do the same. So let's pray. Father, thank you so much for this message on the joy we find in seeing others grow. The apostle Paul found joy in the Phillipians growing, so help us to find joy in seeing others grow as well. We thank you for it in Jesus' name, amen.
Friday, August 20, 2021
The whole goal of becoming a Christian is not to say, "I'm done. I've got a relationship with Christ, I'm going to heaven!" No...
Friday, August 20, 2021
Here's what I want to say to you. When you become a Christian, it's the same thing as what Dr. Madhu and as my karate instructor, Kurt Sawyer, told me: when you become a Christian you're ready to learn. The whole goal of becoming a Christian is not to say, "I'm done. I've got a relationship with Christ, I'm going to heaven!" No, you want to love him more. That's what the Apostle Paul said - learn to love him more than anything. Look at what he says in Philippians 3:7-8, "Whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ."
In other words, all the things Paul had before he was a Christian, the prestige of being a Pharisee and all of that. Nothing compared to the greatness of knowing Christ. Knowing, present participle, not "having known" Christ. Knowing. It's a process. He said he would lose everything if that's what it took to know Jesus Christ. And guess what? Jesus Christ demanded the loss of so many things for the Apostle Paul. The Apostle Paul experienced as much loss, or more, than any other human being ever has for the sake of Christ. And Paul said he would gladly suffer loss if it meant knowing Christ more deeply. He even says everything else is like rubbish, and honestly, the word for rubbish in Greek, which I've shared on Sundays here a few times, is the Greek word scubula. Excuse my crassness, but it is basically the word for for feces, dung, crap, whatever you want to say. And Paul says, all of that stuff that I had doesn't matter as much as knowing Christ. Do you want to know Jesus Christ at that same level? Do you want to know Christ more? You'd like to become a Christian? Great, now you're ready to learn, like my black belt and karate instructor, Kurt, said. Like the dean of electrical engineering, Dr. Madhu, said. Like Paul, now you're ready to learn more about Jesus Christ. You'll learn more about how to get closer to him. I want to know Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is infinite. That means that you'll never know everything about him. So I want to know more and more every day. Do you? How do you do that? Read the Bible every day. Pray every day, not only for yourself, but for others. Use your gifts to impact the world and share the good news in the church and in the world. Do these things and you'll get closer to Christ and you'll know him more.
Father, help us to know you more every day. Just like we know our spouses if we're married, just like we know our kids if we have kids. Every day we know them more, and we want to know you more, and nothing else. Whatever it costs, it's not worth anything compared to knowing you. Thank you for this. Help us to know you more in Jesus' name, amen.
Wednesday, July 28, 2021
Today, I want to talk to you about joy killer number two, and that is suffering. If you don't handle suffering right, it will kill your joy.
Wednesday, July 28, 2021
We have been talking about joy over the last few life lifters. All this week I am talking about some joy killers that the Apostle Paul shares will kill our joy. These are from his his letter of joy to the Philippians in the New Testament. Today, I want to talk to you about joy killer number two, and that is suffering. If you don't handle suffering right, it will kill your joy. I've seen people who had a pretty good walk with God, they go through a bout of suffering, and man, it wrecks their life or wrecks their faith. It wrecks their walk with God - they stop reading the Bible, stop giving, stop serving, stop coming to church. I see it again and again and again. They let suffering do what the evil one wants it to do: take away their joy. God wants suffering to do something better. He wants suffering to refine your life so you have even more joy, just like a plant that's pruned. Initially, you prune a plant and the plant is smaller, but by pruning the plant appropriately, it allows it to grow fuller and thicker. When you nail in a nail with a hammer, you have to bring the hammer back to go forward. Suffering is like that. It's like a pruning. It's like bringing the hammer back. It doesn't make sense, but when it's fully accomplished it changes us and fills us with joy.
I get that from Philippians 2:17-18. Look what the Apostle Paul says. He says, "But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you. So you too should be glad and rejoice with me." Paul says, "Even if my life is being poured out like a drink offering." What does that mean? Basically, even if I'm in the process of dying because I'm living out my faith, you should rejoice with me. What Paul is saying is, "I know what suffering is all about. I know this life is temporary. I know suffering is always fitting into a plan for good for me, for God's work, and for God's people, and for the people who will become Christians." Paul had an amazing attitude towards suffering. Other than Jesus himself, I don't know anybody who suffered as much as the Apostle Paul. He suffered so much for the Lord. And yet, I don't know anybody that had more joy, other than Jesus, than the Apostle Paul, because he learned that suffering was doing a great work. He even said, Don't you even worry about me, Philippians. Don't worry about me. Rejoice with me because the suffering is for God's glory. Even if I'm being poured out like a drink offering, even if my life is slowly being taken from me through these circumstances, rejoice.
Can you do that? Can you rejoice in suffering? You say, "Vince, how do I rejoice in suffering?" You see God's work in it. You see God working something good out of something which is uncomfortable and not good in your own eyes. The other way to do it is to have eternal vision. You see the future, you see a reward in heaven. You see your life five years from now, if you handle the suffering well today, and that fills you with joy. Again, when you're suffering you may not be happy, that's okay. You don't have to be, but you can be joyful when you make the choice to rejoice in your suffering. Are you suffering? I feel bad for you. But God is doing something in you, and for that I rejoice with you. And I hope you rejoice in that too.
Let's pray. Father, I pray that we would all realize that suffering is not fun - it hurts, it stings - but it's doing something good in us. Paul said, don't cry for me. Rejoice because I rejoice. What an amazing attitude. Help me to find joy in my suffering. Help those listening to find joy in our suffering, knowing that you're the God who either sent it if we sinned, or allowed it if we didn't. Help us to be more and more like your son Jesus, because that will bring us joy, and suffering is a part of that journey. We ask this in Jesus' name, Amen.
Monday, July 19, 2021
When I know God is at work in me, even if some of the edges that are rough need some extra work and smoothing, I can have joy.
Monday, July 19, 2021
We all need a little pick me up when it comes to joy. Joy is something that is always available from God, but isn't always something that we engage in our life. So I'm going to spend the next few life lifters writing about joy. This week I want to talk to you about some reasons for joy. I will use the book of Philippians, kind of march through it a little bit, and give you some reasons to have joy. The first reason you can have joy in your life - that uncontainable, amazing feeling of inner satisfaction, peace, contentment, and robust energy that comes from God - the first reason you can have that joy no matter what is because God is at work in you.
When I know God is at work in me, even if some of the edges that are rough need some extra work and smoothing, I can have joy. Even if I have to go to the bandsaw and get some extra stuff cut off, or get stained and varnish, whatever it is, I know God is at work within me. It may not be pleasant, may not be easy, like how varnish stinks and sanding hurts, but it makes us better, and that's what our life is like. I find joy in that, and so did the Apostle Paul. In the book of Philippians, the book of joy, we're going to draw all these principles out for the next few life lifters. Today we will read Philippians 1:3-6. Writing to the Christians at Philippi, Paul said, "I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus."
So, Paul says he's always praying with joy. Why? Because of the partnership that he has seen in the Philippians, because of the progress he's seen in their faith. This fills him with joy. Then, not only has there been progress in their faith, there's guaranteed to be future progress. Once God gets a hold of a person's life, once you become a Christian, God is doing a work that is unstoppable. He will not stop until he is finished. This is the great promise from verse six. Paul says, "I'm confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." He who began a good work in you - what's that? It's God's work in you the moment you became a Christian, if in fact you have. It's the work he began when he forgave you of your sins, when you put your faith in Jesus Christ alone. Paul says God "will carry it on to completion." It's not just a work he does when you become a Christian, it's work he does all the way until the day of Christ Jesus. What is the day of Christ Jesus? It's one of two things. It's basically when your life on Earth ends, and that happens one of two ways. Either you die, which is how it's been for 2000 years, or the Lord comes back for you at the Rapture and takes you to heaven. Whatever the day of Christ Jesus is for you, God says he'll keep doing the work.
Tuesday, January 5, 2021
Today, I want to talk to you about weaknesses. Don't worry, I want to talk about weaknesses in a constructive way.
Tuesday, January 5, 2021
Today, I want to talk to you about weaknesses. Don't worry, I want to talk about weaknesses in a constructive way. God has given you weaknesses to develop your dependence. If God didn't give you any weaknesses, you wouldn't know that He can help you through them. You wouldn't depend on God like you do. By allowing us to have weaknesses, He calls us, or even forces us if need be, to depend on Him. Where do I get that from? I get it from the well-known passage, John 15:4-5. In it, Jesus is speaking and says, "Remain in Me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself, but must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. If a man remains in Me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing."
What was He teaching? Just like a branch can do nothing unless it has a vine it attaches to, we can do nothing without God. God gives you weaknesses to develop your dependence on Him. And the greatest thing you can do in life is develop your dependence on God, because He is a dependable God. And He wants to be the one that you acknowledge when you're weak. What weaknesses do you have? Do you struggle with bad habits? Have a temper? Are you independent, you like to do things by yourself? Has it been a while since you've been in church or read the Bible? Do you have trouble sitting still, or do you have trouble getting going? Whatever your weaknesses are, depend on God. That's what He wants to get out of you. He wants to develop dependence in you so that you depend on Him in your weaknesses.
We all have weaknesses. Nobody reading this can say, "I don't have any weaknesses." If you say you don't have any weaknesses, you just told me you have one, and it's lying, because you just lied. But God wants to use that to develop your dependence. You know what, when you're a little child, you hang on to your mom and dad's hand. My grandson, Brandon, who's nine and a half now is kind of getting out of holding my hand. Every now and then he'll hold my hand if nobody's looking. but he doesn't want me to hold his hand in front of his friends. And that's natural and understandable. But when he was really young, and he really needed a parent, he wanted to hold my hand. When Brandon was younger, sometimes even now when he's around strange people, he'll kind of come up and snuggle next to me and, and kind of have that confidence being near me. He thinks, "I want to depend on my grandfather, my Nono, because these are all strange people and I feel weak." God wants the same thing from us. That's why He's called our Heavenly Father. So wherever you're weak, develop your dependence on God. It's his plan.
Let's pray. Father, we all have weaknesses. Some of them have probably come to the forefront of our attention during this Life Lifters. I pray, God, that when we encounter weaknesses in our life that we would develop dependence on You. Like Jesus said, that we would be the branches that know that we cannot live unless we are attached to the vine. I pray that we would depend on You, God, as if our life depends on it, because it does. Help us to grow through our weaknesses, and to limit them and minimize them. We'll always have them, but help us to have victory over them. We asked this in the strong name of Jesus Christ, amen.