Monday, December 20, 2021
The best thing you can do for your life and the direction that it goes, is to change the way you think. Have you ever heard the old saying, garbage in garbage out? It's true.
Monday, December 20, 2021
Originally Published September 15, 2021
Through the end of the year, we’ll be rerunning some of the best Life Lifters from 2021. We hope you’ll join us each Monday, Wednesday, and Friday morning!
What are the right thoughts? I'm so glad you asked. Philippians 4:8 gives us eight thought filters. These are the eight things you should allow in your mind only, and everything else you should not. Paul tells us that we can find joy through right thinking. He says, "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things." What is Paul saying? I don't know that it's exactly limited to these eight things, but these are eight filters. Paul is saying we should only think about these things, and not the opposite of them. Not ignoble things, but noble things. Not impure things, but pure things. Not things that are horrible, but things that are excellent. Not things that are praise-un-worthy, but praiseworthy. Think on these things. What's he saying? You have to filter your mind and make sure you're thinking the right thoughts.
If you want to have joy in your life, it starts right here, it's the battle of the mind. You have to filter out the things that are going to tilt your life in a negative direction. Only allow yourself to think about things that tilt it in a positive direction. I'm not talking about the name-it-claim-it stuff, because they take that crazily. What I'm talking about is the right kind of holy, godly thinking through these eight metaphors, and having that shape how you think about God, yourself, and life. Do you do that? Can you do that? For some of you, you may need to write down these eight things. You just need to get an index card and write down, "true, noble right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, praiseworthy." Then, you need to say, "Am I thinking these things?" It's going to take time because guess what? It took you as many years as you're alive to start and keep thinking the way you're thinking. But if you think the way God wants you to think with these eight filters, it will slowly but surely change your life. You'll have more joy in your life. Filter your thinking with these eight great filters.
Let's pray. Father, help us to think along the lines that you want us to think. Help us to think through these eight things in our life so that they become filters. Let them filter out everything that's not that and filter in only what these are. We'll find more joy there. Our world always wants to bring us down. Like crabs in a bucket, people want to bring us down with them into the bucket. We want to crawl out and we can crawl out of the bucket when we practice the right kind of thinking. Biblical thinking. Help us to find joy in that, God. Help us to not give up if it doesn't work in one day, because it takes a long time to change your stinking thinking. And I ask this in Jesus' name. Amen.
Friday, April 30, 2021
The question is, how will you handle those difficult times, not if they come, but how will you handle those difficult times when they come? Because they will come.
Friday, April 30, 2021
As I said, it's like a cycle, they come in waves. And we see Jesus illustrating this for us when he invites Peter to walk with him on the water of the Sea of Galilee. Just a little background, Jesus had just performed this incredible miracle, the feeding of the 5000, as it's called, with just five loaves of bread and two fish. Jesus dismisses the disciples. He tells them after this speaking engagement to go in the boat and cross the sea of Galilee. He tells them he will meet them there on the other side. So, Jesus stays behind, goes up on a mountain, and he wants to be by himself so he can pray to his father. Then, in order to to meet up with the disciples, Jesus begins to walk across the Sea of Galilee. So again, the disciples went ahead of him, Jesus needs to catch up. And here it is, he's walking on water. The passage tells us that the water was kind of rough. In fact, it says the wind was strong, and the waves were buffeting against the boat. So, you can imagine how freaked out the disciples were, since the waters were a bit rough, and all of a sudden there's a person walking on the water towards the boat. We see in Matthew 14:27-29 Jesus says to them in that moment, '"Take courage! It is I. Don't be afraid."
Let's go back to the first thing as we wrap up. Back to what Jesus said to the disciples as he was approaching the boat. He said, "Take courage! It is I. Don't be afraid." Someone watching this needs to write that down right now. "Take courage! It is I. Don't be afraid." Remind yourself daily to take your courage, the courage that Jesus gives to you to keep your eyes on Jesus throughout the problem, and to not be afraid. Fear is the opposite of faith. Where there is fear, there's a lack of faith. Jesus will see you through your problems. I hope you find that encouraging. I hope that brings a lift to your week. And I want to encourage you to do one final thing. Don't just have a great day. Go and make a great day.
Wednesday, April 28, 2021
Wednesday, April 28, 2021
Jesus knew this. Jesus, who created us and our eyes, who designed the eye, he knew this. And he used our eyes as an illustration to help us understand the importance of remaining devoted to God. So, in Matthew 6:22-23, Jesus said, "The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!" You see, the Greek word that is translated into English as "healthy" can also mean perfect, complete, wholeness, or singular. So, the eye that is singularly focused is a metaphor for being fully devoted to God. And when we focus our eyes on that which is good, that which is pure and holy, on those things that are pleasing to God, then our entire body, Jesus tells us, will be radiant, and filled with light. Our eyes, which is which is the lamp of the body, will lead us to follow God with full devotion. Then, we won't have to worry about material items, and the things that the world tries to entice us with and to draw us away from God with. So, focus on that which is good is the message that Jesus is telling us. Be devoted to God.
But, then he contrasts this by saying this, "But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great that darkness!" And that last statement, "how great is that darkness," is not a question. It's an emphatic statement that Jesus is saying. You see, the word unhealthy in verse 23 can also mean imperfect, evil, or morally corrupt. This is a metaphor for following after all of the trappings and material items that the world has to offer. So, Jesus is telling us that if we focus our eye on what the world has to offer, that which is evil or corrupt, that our entire body will be filled with darkness. I don't know about you, but that doesn't sound good to me. And when our body is full of darkness, we will have no light to guide us, and we will wander and remain lost and hopeless in such great darkness. So we have a choice. We can we can only focus on one thing. So what will we choose to focus on? Will we focus our eye on God and remain devoted to him? Or will we let it wander? And will we allow it to focus on the things of this world? Will you focus on God and the eternal things that please him? Or will you focus on the world and the temporal counterfeit pleasures that this world has to offer?
Maybe you're struggling to focus on that which is good and remain devoted to God. I want to encourage you, then, today to go a little bit deeper. Take your Bibles and read Philippians 4:8. Then, flip over to Romans 12:1-2. I hope that these verses will give you some encouragement, some insight, and ways to stay focused on God today. I hope you guys found this challenging and encouraging at the same time, and I want to encourage you right now: don't just have a great day. Go and make a great day.
Wednesday, March 24, 2021
Today, I want to talk to you about being single minded. Now, I'm not talking about being obsessive, or only thinking about one thing. I'm talking about being single minded, as opposed to the alternative, which is being double minded.
Wednesday, March 24, 2021
I want to read James 1:5-8 because James talks about the dangers of double mindedness. He implicitly says the alternative is to have a single minded attitude. Look at what he says: "If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do. " So, the context is wisdom. The context is for if you need direction, and are asking God what you should do in a certain area of life. If you ask God in faith, and with an expectation that He will guide you, he will give you wisdom. He will guide you, whether overtly or covertly, whether he tells you how he wants you to do it, or whether he is apparently silent but you do what you're going to do, he will guide you if you ask for wisdom.
Father, we all struggle with double mindedness. I pray that we will be as single minded as we can be on as many convictions and areas of life as we should be. Help us to arrive at your will, your wisdom on every important matter of life. And when we change positions, help us to make the change carefully, cautiously, slowly, and righteously. We ask this in Jesus' name, amen.
Monday, March 22, 2021
Sometimes when I have a really crazy day at work, or a challenging day, or people problems, etc., I tell myself this, "if it wasn't for sin, I wouldn't have a job."
Monday, March 22, 2021
Sometimes when I have a really crazy day at work, or a challenging day, or people problems, etc., I tell myself this, "if it wasn't for sin, I wouldn't have a job." I don't like thinking that, but sometimes the stuff I have to deal with in my own life and in working with other people just reminds me that sin is a reality in life. I would love to just preach a sermon and say, "if you sin, stop. Amen." That would be great! But here's the problem: it's hard to tell a person who has a sin nature and sometimes chooses to sin, even when they're Christians, to stop sinning. So what I want to do is tell you that sin is bad, and you shouldn't sin. But today, I want to focus a little differently. I want to focus on this idea that if you sin, have a short account with it. I don't encourage sin, but unfortunately, being who we are, it's inevitable. So, have a short account with sin, and I will unpack how to do that.
In James 1:13-15, James says, 'When tempted, no one should say, "God is tempting me." For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death." When James says that God does not tempt anyone, that means you can't say, "God made me do it," or, "God put me in a position where I had to sin." That's not what you can say. You can say the devil made you do it you, but you're still pawning off and making excuses. That's what Adam and Eve basically said. But then James goes on to say that each one is tempted by his own evil desire. And he's speaking to Christians, which means Christians still have evil desires. He says, "he is dragged away and enticed," so he's talking about sin dragging us away. Unfortunately, we've all been caught and dragged away by sin. But watch this. Here he talks about the danger of having a longer account with sin. If you engage a sin, and you continue in the sin, here's the process. He says that after the desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin. That means desire is a sin too. If you desire something wrong, that desire is a sin as much as sin itself. Because he says when desire is conceived, it gives birth to sin. The moment desire conceives that's a sin and sin when it is full-grown gives birth to death. What does this say? The longer you hang on to sin, the more destructive it is in your life. Let me be clear, I highly encourage you not to sin. Let me also be clear, we all sin.
So here's the rub. When you sin, cut it off quickly. Have a short account with sin. If you don't, sin will give birth to death. You might say, "will I die?" Listen, I don't know. I'll let God be the judge that. I know in 1 Corinthians 5:1-5 Paul said "hand that man over to Satan for the destruction of his flesh that his spirit might be saved in a day of the Lord." In other words, what's he saying there? He's saying, take this guy out physically. So it could happen. But I'm saying it could lead to other kinds of death, perhaps death of a relationship, of peace, of satisfaction, of contentment. Do you want that? Remember that when you sin, that it has long-term implications. So have a short account with sin, apologize where needed, stop looking at what you're looking at, if it's sinful, and stop doing what you're doing. Whatever it is, stop it, before it leads to further damage, destruction, and death.
Father, we all sin, forgive us of that. And also give us the power to have a short account with sin. To repent of it, to turn from it, to stop it, so that it doesn't lead to further damage in our life. Help us have the power to do this, and we ask it in Jesus' name. Amen. Shorter accounts with sin. That's the goal of life. Thanks and have a great day.
Wednesday, March 17, 2021
We live in a day in which people do not have firm values and convictions. We have people that just want what they want. It doesn't matter their beliefs, it doesn't matter their convictions, they just want what they want.
Wednesday, March 17, 2021
We live in a day in which people do not have firm values and convictions. We have people that just want what they want. It doesn't matter their beliefs, it doesn't matter their convictions, they just want what they want. They will say whatever they need to say, believe whatever they need to believe, do whatever they need to do, to get there. We live in a day in which people lack convictions. So today, I want to talk to you about convictions.
What is a conviction? It is a concrete, immovable belief on a certain issue that you believe either this is the right way or this is the wrong way. It has the idea that you are absolutely determined and clear in your views on certain areas of life. In some areas of life that we talked about in our previous Life Lifter, you can have a personal conviction, but it's not an absolute conviction for everybody. Instead, here I'm talking about the convictions you have for your life. Do you have convictions in your life? Things that you will absolutely never do? Things that you will find acceptable to do? The Bible says having convictions will keep you from sinning.
I want to look at James 4:17. It says, "anyone that who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins." Anyone who knows the good he ought to do—that is, convictions—and doesn't do it, sins. By the way, that tells us that there are sins of commission, sins that you commit, and sins of omission, sins of something you should do but didn't do. So sin isn't only something bad that you do, but it can also be something good that you withhold or don't do. Here's the point. It says when you know what to do, and you don't do it, it's sin. And here's the thing, we should all have convictions, and then our convictions should lead to actions.
So, do you have convictions? Do you live by them? Is there a line you will not cross? Or, is there a line that you write in pencil so that you can use an eraser to move it when it's convenient? It's really tough, isn't it? It's tough to maintain your convictions all the time. Perhaps its convictions like "I will not lie." That's hard. Or, "I will not steal". Or, "I will not talk behind somebody's back." We have to have convictions and we have to live those convictions. So what convictions do you have? Are you living them? I will tell you this: sometimes living with convictions is difficult in the heat of the moment, at least in the short term, but in the long term, it's the only way to live. So I hope you'll live with convictions and I hope you'll have good convictions to guide you.
With that, let's pray. Father in heaven, I pray that you'll help all of us have convictions, convictions based on the truth of the Bible, and that you'll help us live them out every day of our lives. Help us to have lines we will never cross. Help us to have convictions on the truth that we will only try to live by the truth and that we will not live in lies. And when we violate those convictions that we'd have very short accounts with them. And I pray that we'll have well-drawn lines, clear lines that we don't even flirt with. We don't even get close. We don't even tippy-toe over the line just to see what it's like over there, but that we will stay far away from them. I pray that you'll help us do that because we will live a more satisfying life in the long run even if in the short run, sin is pleasurable. We thank you for this in Jesus' name. Amen.
I hope you are a person of convictions and that people around you see it in your life. Thanks and have a great day.
Friday, March 12, 2021
Today I want to talk to you about something that I know we all struggle with, and it's about being patient, specifically with God. We're going to look at Psalm 13 so we can gain a couple of 'truth nuggets' from this.
Friday, March 12, 2021
Today I want to talk to you about something that I know we all struggle with, and it's about being patient, specifically with God. We're going to look at Psalm 13 so we can gain a couple of 'truth nuggets' from this. Let me read this passage.
"How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me? Look on me and answer, Lord my God. Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death, and my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,” and my foes will rejoice when I fall. But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing the Lord’s praise, for he has been good to me."
There are three main points that I see here. Look at verse one: "How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me?" What's he doing there? He's pleading to God. It's okay to feel the pain. It's okay to even have momentary fear within the circumstances. But cry out to God. Let him know where you are so that you can finally come to terms with that plea to God.
Then in verse two, there's something different. Then we ask God—we get more specific. He says, "Look on me and answer, Lord my God. Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death, and my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,” and my foes will rejoice when I fall." Ask God specifically, just as Philippians says, "let your requests be made known to God."
Lastly, from verse three, is the truth about God. "But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing the Lord’s praise, for he has been good to me." At the end of the day, regardless of what happens, remember what you know is true about who God is. Remember what you know about the truth of God, even when the prayer isn't answered, and even when things get even more difficult. Remember what you know is true about God. So for today, I want you to remember those three things. Plead to God, cry out to Him, it's okay to feel it. Ask Him specifically for what you need. And third, remember what you know is true about Him.
Let's pray. Father, we know that life can get very, very difficult, and sometimes, Lord, we just need that extra amount of patience because we know our time is not your time. I pray that whoever's reading this would just have that encouragement and they would have the courage to plead to you and to cry out to you to ask you specifically what those needs are. And Lord, that we would remember what we know is true about you, regardless of how the circumstances play out so that we may always be encouraged. We thank you. In Jesus' name, amen.