Monday, July 5, 2021
Think about that, for a moment: The Creator of the universe, the Giver of all life has a desire to know you firsthand. How can he possibly do this?
Monday, July 5, 2021
This week, I want to talk to you about Psalm 139, one of my favorite Psalms. It was written by King David, and today we're going to take a look at the first six verses of Psalm 139. It says, "You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely. You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain."
Let's break it down one or two verses at a time. Starting in verse one, "You have searched me, Lord, and you know me." There's something comfortable right there. In that very first verse when David talks about being known by God, that's comforting, because it's comforting to be known by someone. To be known by people who know you and love you. And David says that the Lord has searched him and knows him. Think about that, for a moment: The Creator of the universe, the Giver of all life has a desire to know you firsthand. How can he possibly do this? How does God know you inside and out? It's because God is omniscient. That's a big word that basically means he is all-knowing. God is omniscient. He knows everything about you and me. He knows everything about everything. The psalmist knew this about God.
And he continues in verses two and three, when he writes, "You know when I sit, and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out, and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways." See, God knows when you do things, he knows not only what you do, he knows when you do them, and he knows your thoughts. He knows where you are going, where you're coming from. You are never out of God's sight. You can try all you want, but you will never be able to be out of God's sight, because his loving eye is always on you, like a parent watching their child. I remember when I was a young dad, and I would take my kids to the playground when they were younger. They would try and hide behind the slide or one of the items on the playground, and then they would peek around the corner to see if I was still watching them. And that's how it is with God. We could try all we want to escape from God, but his eye is always on us, but not in a weird Big Brother kind of way, but in a loving way, in a caring way, because he desires to know us.
David continues. In verse four, he says, "Before a word is on my tongue, Lord, you know it completely." God knows what we're going to say. And he knows the thoughts that go into what we're about to say. He knows it completely and perfectly. He knows our motives. He knows the thoughts behind the words that we're about to speak. Verse five, "You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me." He goes ahead of you, looking out for you, looking out for pitfalls. He's behind you, guarding you, watching you. His loving hand is upon you. When he uses that word hem, think about the hem in your pants. It's the idea that God is both in front of you and behind you, hemming you in, covering you on both sides, from front and back at all times.
Verse six, "Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain." Not only could you never fully comprehend such knowledge that God has, but it's too profound for us to handle. But here's the thing. It's true, God is madly in love with you. He wants to be a part of your life, every moment of your life every day, and not just in the good times, not just in the bad times. He wants to be in your life during the ugly and during the triumphant times. Why? Because he loves you.
Let's pray. Father, thank you for this Psalm that David wrote for us to help us to understand how you know everything about us, and you desire to know everything about us because you love us deeply and profoundly. We thank you for that encouraging thought and the fact that you're always with us, going before us and behind us, knowing everything about us. May we take comfort in that today, knowing that we are so deeply loved. Thank you, Father. We ask this in Jesus' name. Amen. Hey, I hope you guys found encouragement in this today. Don't forget: 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.
Friday, May 21, 2021
It's important that you remind yourself of appointments, dates, holidays, etc. But even more importantly, you need to find a plan to remind yourself of the greatness of God.
Friday, May 21, 2021
So I want to talk to you about a brief reminder of God's greatness from Psalm 63:2-3, Listen to it, take it in, and think about how great God is. The Psalmist says, "I have seen you, God, in the sanctuary and gazed upon your power and glory. Your unfailing love is better to me than life itself, how I praise you." He talks about God's power, glory, and love. Think about the power of God - he's omnipotent. Think about the glory of God and the unfailing love of God. God is great. He loves us when we don't deserve it. He glorifies himself through us, and we get some of the credit sometimes. He's all powerful. He's over your life, over this world, and over everything that happens, even if it doesn't make sense. For that, we need to be reminded of God's greatness. Maybe you need to put that verse on your phone every day when you wake up. God is great. Maybe you need to write yourself a note and put it on your mirror for when you shave, or put on makeup, or whatever you do in the mirror. You need to remind yourself of God's greatness.
When you do look at what the psalmist says, when you remind yourself of God's greatness, he says, "Your unfailing love is better to me than life itself." In other words, the Psalmist says he would rather have God's love than be alive. In fact, God's love is what gives us life. Are you in love with God? Have you remembered his greatness? Have you forgotten? Have you let the distractions of this world pull you away? I think of the great hymn, "Turn your eyes upon Jesus. Look full into his wonderful face. And the things of this earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace." I would even add greatness there.
Maybe you need to have a little heart-to-heart with God, spend a little time with God. A little reflection about God's greatness. Because I know this, when you acknowledge God's greatness, God will bring greatness into your life. Think about how good he's been to you. Think about all the things he's done for you. If you're a Christian and if he did nothing more than forgive your sins, put you in right relationship with Him, and promise that you don't need to do anything more, that would be enough. And yet, he does so much more. So, let's thank God for his greatness.
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.