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!
Wednesday, February 24, 2021
Are you an ambassador? What is an ambassador? It's someone who represents a person or entity to another person or entity. So for instance, in the United States of America, we have ambassadors to different nations; we have an ambassador to Italy, to Ireland, to France and to other nations.
Wednesday, February 24, 2021
2 Corinthians 5:20-21
Are you an ambassador? What is an ambassador? It's someone who represents a person or entity to another person or entity. So for instance, in the United States of America, we have ambassadors to different nations; we have an ambassador to Italy, to Ireland, to France and to other nations. What's the whole goal of the ambassador? To faithfully and accurately represent the nation that sends them before another nation, to make sure that our intentions are clear. Our desire ideally, is for a good relationship based on honesty and truth. The ambassador helps that communication flow between the nation they represent and the nation they're standing before to help them understand who they are, and to have a better relationship.
That's why I come back to my original question, are you an ambassador? So the question is ambassador for who? An ambassador to whom? Are you an ambassador for Jesus Christ? Are you an ambassador to other people? See, other people need to see Jesus Christ and you might be the only Jesus some people ever see, so you're called to be a great ambassador. Now, as I said, hopefully, you're an ambassador for a great nation. We're ambassadors, as Christians, for the living God who is perfect and holy, splendid and magnificent, amazing and wonderful. We get to be His ambassador.
What does that mean? That we represent Jesus Christ well. That we tell people about Jesus Christ, appropriately and at their level, when they're ready to hear it. It means we keep representing Christ well, so that ultimately, we can form a pact between God and the individual. It's called the covenant. It's called the New Testament. It's called the gospel, the good news message, that God wants to forgive people of their sin. Are you an ambassador for Jesus Christ? Do you live your life in such a way that you model and inspire grace and the good news of Jesus for others? Do you make it easy for people to want to become Christians because they admire the way you live? I know that sometimes there are people that don't agree with the way we live as Christians, but they do usually quietly, inside, respect us (and that's not the goal. The goal is only to respect us so that they respect and commit their life to Jesus Christ). But it all begins by being an ambassador.
It says this in 2 Corinthians 5:20-21: We are there for Christ's ambassadors as though God we're making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ's behalf be reconciled to God. God made him who knew no sin to be sin for us that we might be made the righteousness of God. Romans 10 says, how will people ever hear the good news unless somebody tells them? Are you telling them, Ambassador? It's the best way to live. Being an ambassador for Jesus Christ is a tremendous honor and there is no greater joy than being such an ambassador before others that they want to follow Jesus Christ too. Some of the greatest joys in my life have occurred that way.
As you know, I've done a few funerals here, and it's always such a joy when people have come to Christ and put their faith in Him here at Lakeshore Community Church. I do those funerals with the biggest smile I possibly can have on my face, because I know as sad as their loss is, it is nothing compared to their tremendous joy as they spend eternity with Jesus Christ. Nothing greater.
So let me pray. Father, I pray that you help all of us be an ambassador, and that we would do what this text says, that we would be an ambassador for others, as though we were making an appeal. "We implore you before Christ to be reconciled to God". That's what the text says. I pray God, that you will help us to be that ambassador who represents you well, so that people can be reconciled to you. We ask this in Jesus' name. Amen.
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.