Wednesday, April 14, 2021
Wednesday, April 14, 2021
1 Thessalonians 2:3-6
I want to talk to you today about our relationship to God and our relationship to people. Jesus said life is all about our relationship to God, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength," and it's all about our relationship to people, "Love your neighbor as yourself" (Mark 12:30-31). There is sometimes a perceived tension that you sometimes have to choose between whether you love God or love people, even if really loving God means always loving people, because you're doing the right thing. It's not easy is it?
I've heard people say, "I don't care what people think about me, I don't care." Here's the truth, we all care about what people think. Some people care way too much. Others, I haven't met too many, but some people care way too little. The truth is, we all care about what people think. To deny it is to lie to yourself. But at some point, we have to decide who matters more, God or people. I've heard people say this, "Vince, I want to get baptized, but I don't think I'm going to do it because I'm worried about what my family would think." And I will tell them, "Okay, are you worried about what God thinks?" They say, "You know, I would do that, but I don't know what people would think. They'd think I'm a Christian freak." And I would say, "Well, what does God think?" And here's the thing, if you're living for God, no matter what happens they're going to think you're a freak. So you might as well confirm it.
I get that because it's 1 Thessalonians 2:3-6. Paul was explaining his ministry to the Thessalonians. The Thessalonians had been influenced by his ministry, and many of them became Christians. He wanted to come back, but he wasn't able to. He writes First Thessalonians because they were panicked, they thought the rapture had occurred and that the Lord had already taken the church out, and they were left behind because they weren't true believers. They were young, insecure, and unsure in their faith, and Paul explains why he couldn't be there. He then defended his ministry against others who said. People were saying, "Well, Paul's not a real apostle, he's fake. He's this and that." Paul was constantly attack, and if you're in ministry long enough, there will always be people that will attack you. I'm not saying they're not sometimes right about me, or anybody else. I'm just saying that it's constant and sometimes very unfair. The apostle Paul used that opportunity to say look, I love you. But I love God even more. Look at what he says in 1 Thessalonians 2:3-6, "For the appeal we make does not spring from error or impure motives, nor are we trying to trick you. On the contrary, we speak as men approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel.We are not trying to please men, but God, who tests our hearts. You know we never used flattery, nor did we put on a mask to cover up greed - God is our witness. We are not looking for praise from men, not from you, or anyone else."
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.
Friday, February 12, 2021
Our world has a lot of people that have a lot of views. That's to be expected when you have 7 billion people on the planet. The problem is how people share these views. Some people share them, peacefully and quietly. Some people share them violently i
Friday, February 12, 2021
Our world has a lot of people that have a lot of views. That's to be expected when you have 7 billion people on the planet. The problem is how people share these views. Some people share them, peacefully and quietly. Some people share them violently in an anarchist way. Regardless, if we don't share our message with love we never can win anybody to our side. And what the world needs is love, sweet love. And I get that from a passage in Romans chapter 13, where it talks about love as we get closer and closer to the very end of time as we know it and the Lord returns. Romans 13:8,10 says, "let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellow man has fulfilled the law". So the first thing it says is that the only thing we should ever owe people is love. You always owe people love. If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, you forfeit your right to hate anybody because God doesn't hate anybody. He hates sin, but he doesn't hate people. So that's the first thing, we need to be a source of love.
Then I think about verse 10, where it says, "love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore Love is the fulfillment of the law". We see a lot of people saying "you need to change", but they're saying it with a bat, or catching things on fire, or punching, stabbing, shooting and killing people. There's a lot of violence in our world and there's a lack of love. In fact, Jesus said "the love of many will grow cold" in the end times, and I think we're getting they're getting very close to there, if we're not they're already.
But this is your chance to shine, to show love when there's so much hate. I know this --I'm responsible for my behavior. I'm not responsible for how people respond to my queries. So be a person who extends love. I know Valentine's Day is for your sweetie, your boyfriend or girlfriend, your husband or wife if you have one. But, let's extend love and show love to people. We owe that to them. And if we want to represent Jesus Christ well, if we want to be heard, if we want to make the world a better place, we have to communicate the message of love. And most importantly, perhaps, if we want to model Jesus Christ so that people will see Him in us, let's show love.
So when you see people remember you owe them love and if you really love you will show no harm. Love is the fulfillment of the law. So I hope this week that you'll be a loving person that you'll show love everywhere you possibly can. I think your life will be better for it and maybe the world's a little better for it.
Let's pray. Father in heaven, thank you so much for your love. Your love is what fuels our love. We live in a world of hatred, and enmity, and strife and bitterness, and cantankerous and fighting. I pray that we'll be people of love that we will love the people that we engage with even if we disagree. I pray that we'll be able to show your love through it and that people will see you in us. I thank you for this, in Jesus name. Amen.