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.
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.
Monday, February 15, 2021
Hi everyone, welcome back to another week of Life Lifters. We live in a day in which we suffer from a critical disease called "me-ism", where we tend to think about ourselves.
Monday, February 15, 2021
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Hi everyone, welcome back to another week of Life Lifters.
We live in a day in which we suffer from a critical disease called "me-ism", where we tend to think about ourselves. We used to have a magazine in our country called "Self", which seems appropriate. For this disease, me-ism, we have a term called "narcissism" where all we do is think about ourselves and what interests us. We all know that's wrong, but unfortunately, we're all tempted to live in "Me-ism Ville". That's a new word (or place)!
I want to instead propose a new idea that's completely countercultural, radical, and goes against the flow of everything you probably see, read and hear: put others first. It's interesting that narcissistic people that focus on themselves are the most unhappy people. All the research shows you this; the more you focus on yourself, the more unhappy you are because all you're doing is examining yourself and critiquing yourself. It's why social media is such a colossal flop for so many reasons. I mean, it has some positives, for sure. The negative of social media is that you see all these people putting their fake images of themselves out there, and meanwhile you're going, "I don't seem that happy, I'm not doing all these fun things like they are." All social media can do quite often is feed narcissism, or me-ism. All the research says that it will depress you. "I think about myself all day long."—It's a radically depressing thought. But you know what the research shows about people who put others first? They are the happiest people! Counterintuitive? Countercultural? Yeah, but it works.
I get this idea from the words of Jesus Christ with one of his marquee statements in the Gospel of Mark, chapter 10, verse 45, where he said this: "For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” He didn't come to be served, but to serve. Now, Jesus Christ is God. Jesus Christ is perfect. Jesus Christ deserved to be served. Instead, He served. Why? Because in His humanity and deity, He loved us to the full and because of this, He served us. He served us because we needed serving because of our sin. He served us because He loved us. He also served us so that He would be a model for us. In fact, here at Lakeshore, when we teach people about leadership, we teach about not just any leadership, but the driving motive for the leadership we teach here is servant leadership. Servant leadership puts other people first.
Do you put other people first? It's really hard, in fact, it's probably impossible, but I can say this: when you begin to engage and appreciate God's love for you, then you have something to give others. You cannot give what you do not have. But if you are a follower of Jesus Christ, you are a Christian, and God's love is in you, and then you can put others first.
I already told you that if you think about yourself all the time, it's depressing. If you think about others first, it's enjoyable, but here's the thing: if you put others first and yourself second, you're going to be more satisfied because what happens is when you put others first, most 'reasonable' people will be appreciative of you. It will encourage you and you'll feel more satisfied. If you think about yourself, people are going to think, "I don't want anything to do with that". That's depressing. So, put others first. When you do, you'll find life has more meaning. If Jesus Christ said the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve and give His life for ransom, I'm thinking that's the right way to live for me. Is it easy? No. It's especially hard if you're Italian, but I can tell you this: it's worth it. I think it'll be worth it for you, too.
Let's pray. Heavenly Father, thank you so much for this reminder to put others first. If you Lord, and your Son, Jesus Christ, put others first, help us to do it. Help us catch ourselves when we're trying to put ourselves first, and others second. And help us to think about ways we can elevate others and when we do, you'll lift us up. You say that the last shall be first when we humble ourselves. You will exalt us. So many great promises. So help us to do that. Help us start at home, start at work, start in our neighborhood and do it to everyone we can. We asked this through your Son, the servant leader, Jesus Christ, Amen. Thanks for joining us today. Have a great day.