This is Beneficial

What is speaking in tongues? And what is prophecy? Why does the Bible say that prophecy is more beneficial in church than tongues if both are from the Holy Spirit? And what does this supernatural stuff have to do with us today? These are the questions we consider as I continue our series through 1 Corinthians, This is Church.

Sermon delivered at LakeView Church on 7/29/2018.

Let the Discerning Get Guidance

“Let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance.” (Proverbs 1:5, NIV)

After finishing Leviticus, I had thought to go through Hebrews. However, as I started it, I had a distinct impression I wasn’t reading in the right place. So I stopped and asked the Lord where He wanted to connect with me, and He said, Proverbs. Honestly, I didn’t want to go to Proverbs! I told God, “Everyone reads Proverbs. Can I read something else? Can we spend this time together in something different? I’ve read Proverbs so many times–is there something else I’m less familiar with that we could do?” But God said, No time spent with Me is wasted. Go to Proverbs.

Reading through the first few verses in Proverbs felt like a weight lifting off my shoulders. I confessed to the Lord that I had wanted to read Hebrews because we’re planning to do a sermon series through Hebrews next spring, and I thought reading it now could help me prepare for the series. I felt His smile, and He said, I know. You can study for your sermon series on the clock. Off the clock, you’re Mine.

When I read Proverbs 1:5, I had to smile. After being at LakeView almost a year, I still feel like a rookie. There are so many aspects of being a lead pastor that I have yet to learn. I have been asking God for wisdom and guidance, and He directed me to this verse in Proverbs to let me know He’s going to answer my request. I love God!

My prayer for this week is that you will feel God’s smile in your life as you seek His wisdom and guidance. For true wisdom is understanding just how little we know and how much we need the Lord.

Photo by Austin Chan on Unsplash

This is the Most Excellent Way

I continue the series through 1 Corinthians with one of the most all-time well-loved passages of Scripture in history: 1 Corinthians 13, the “love” chapter. We’ll see that this passage isn’t about marriage, but rather about the pathway to spiritual greatness. Why is love the most excellent path to true spirituality? Listen and find out!

Sermon delivered at LakeView Church on 7/22/2018.

A Day of Rest

“There are six days when you may work, but the seventh day is a day of sabbath rest, a day of sacred assembly. You are not to do any work; wherever you live, it is a sabbath to the Lord.” (Leviticus 23:3, NIV)

It seems like the Sabbath Day is misunderstood and misused by many Christians. We tend to invoke the Sabbath whenever there’s something we don’t want to do on a Sunday. “You know, I think we’re just going to head home after church for a day of rest. It’s our Sabbath.” Yet most Sundays we’re happy to fill the day with lots of not-resting activities that we enjoy.

Many of us are confused by the Sabbath. Is it Saturday or Sunday? Do we have to keep the Sabbath today, since it is part of the Ten Commandments and we obviously aren’t free to lie, steal, murder, dishonor our parents, commit adultery, covet, worship other gods, or use the Lord’s name in vain? Isn’t the point of the Sabbath our own health and well-being?

Many doctoral dissertations have been written about the Sabbath, but in short, the answers to the questions above are: (1) The Sabbath is Saturday because Saturday is the seventh day of the week. Even though we often think of Sunday as the last day of the week, technically it’s the first. (2) We are no longer bound by the Old Testament Sabbath law. Every one of the Ten Commandments is repeated for us to obey in the New Testament except the Sabbath. (3) There are likely several aspects to the meaning of the Sabbath, and our well-being probably factors in somewhere.

When I read Leviticus 23:3 this morning, the Lord asked me Do you trust Me? He brought to mind something Dr. Wong Loi Sing had said in one of my seminary classes at Moody.

“None of you are going to work on your papers this weekend because all of you are going to take a Sabbath rest, right? If you can’t knock off work for a day, you have control issues. The Sabbath isn’t just about being healthy, it’s about trusting God. Do you trust that He can manage things without you for a day? Guess what? God has been holding the Universe together for thousands of years without your help. He’ll be fine if you take a day to rest. When you leave Moody and become pastors, missionaries, and Christian leaders in the marketplace, you have to trust that God is in control. Your church, your ministry, your business isn’t going to crumble because you take a day off.”

God reminded me this morning that there is more to life than work… and my tendency is to overwork! We may not be bound by the Sabbath laws like Old Testament Israel, but we can certainly benefit by demonstrating our trust in God and stepping back for a day. Whatever your work is, whether paid or unpaid, my prayer for the week is that you will find a day to rest.

Photo by John Sekutowski on Unsplash


This Is The Body of Christ

“The church is the Body of Christ.” Those words are so familiar, almost too familiar, we sometimes forget the significance of them. As I continue our series through 1 Corinthians, This is Church, we’ll see that just as one Holy Spirit manifests His power through many different gifts, so the one Body of Christ is formed from many different parts, and the church is made up of many different people… but all according to the will and plan of God.

Sermon delivered at LakeView Church on 7/15/2018.

Don’t Be Just Like Everyone Else

“I am the Lord your God. You must not do as they do in Egypt, where you used to live, and you must not do as they do in the land of Canaan, where I am bringing you. Do not follow their practices.” (Leviticus 18:2-3, NIV)

Leviticus 18 is the most extensive treatment of sexual ethics in the Bible, and it begins with God telling the Israelites not to do what the cultures around them were doing. As Mark Rooker points out in The New American Commentary, “it was in the sexual realm particularly that the Israelites were aware of their differences with the Canaanites.”1

I recently spoke with a pastor who was ranting about how Christians today are too concerned with legislating sexual relationships between consenting adults. He said, “It’s time to get out of the bedroom and into the streets. We need to stop worrying about what people do in the privacy of their bedrooms and start serving the poor, feeding the hungry, and loving the lonely.” But I think Leviticus 18 demonstrates that not only does God care about the poor, He also is concerned with what we do in the privacy of our bedrooms.

The church today is in a similar position as the nation of Israel was a few thousand years ago. It is in the sexual realm, particularly, that Christians are aware of our differences with the surrounding culture. The Bible clearly teaches throughout its pages in both testaments that marriage is a lifelong commitment between one man and one woman, and any sexual relationships outside of marriage are sinful.2 As unpopular as it is, that is the standard to which God calls us, and perhaps the greatest opportunity we have to be set apart from the world.

As we pursue a holy life, we must remember to show grace and love to those around us–especially to people who have not given their lives to Jesus. Jesus regularly interacted with people, including prostitutes, who were involved in lifestyles and sexual practices that violated God’s Word. Yet, Jesus treated them with love, even while inviting them to repent and live a different way. Let us, like Jesus, be known for our love as well as our purity. If you struggle with sexual sin, please seek help. This is one area where we need the accountability and encouragement of a brother or sister in Christ in order to win the victory.

  1. Mark F. Rooker, Leviticus, vol. 3A, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2000), 240.
  2. See also Gen. 2:24; Matt. 19:3-6; Rom. 1:27; 13:9; 1 Cor. 5:1-5; 6:9-11; Heb. 13:4.
  3. Photo by salvatore ventura on Unsplash.

Prepare to Meet Your Maker

The Lord said to Moses: “Tell your brother Aaron that he is not to come whenever he chooses into the Most Holy Place behind the curtain in front of the atonement cover on the ark, or else he will die. For I will appear in the cloud over the atonement cover. This is how Aaron is to enter the Most Holy Place…” (Leviticus 16:2-3, NIV)

The Most Holy Place was the inner sanctuary of the Tabernacle, where the Ark of the Covenant was kept and where God made His invisible presence visible. This was sacred space, and it could not be entered into willy-nilly. For a human being to be in the physical presence of the LORD God Almighty was no small thing! Aaron, the high priest, had to go through a strict ritual cleansing to enter the Most Holy Place. He had to bathe, wear certain clothes (even special underclothes), and sacrifice a bull for his own sin before he could enter into the Most Holy Place to offer the sacrifice for the people of Israel. Once Aaron was done making the sacrifices for the people, he was to change out of the clothes, bathe again, and offer another burnt offering for himself.

Thank God that Jesus is a better sacrifice, that His blood is superior to that of goats and bulls, and that through His death on the cross He won access for us to come directly into the presence of God–to “approach the throne of grace with boldness” (Hebrews 4:16)! Because of Jesus’ death on the cross, we’re not going to die when we come before the LORD, we can approach Him with boldness like a small child who runs up to their Daddy, grabs onto his legs, and says, “Pick me up, Daddy!”

And yet, as beautiful as this is, the challenge from Leviticus this morning was to remember that for a human being to stand in the presence of the Most High God is no insignificant matter! If there is one mistake we Evangelicals make (and there are many), it is that we often don’t take the worship of God seriously. We think of Jesus as our homeboy and are so familiar with God we risk losing the reverence we should have toward Him. When we come to church on Sunday morning, we are coming to literally meet our Maker.

If you were going to meet the President of the United States, the Queen of England, a Prime Minister, Emporer, or another world leader, what would you do to prepare yourself? Most of us would look in our closets for appropriate clothes to wear. We’d shower, shave, get a fresh haircut, clip our fingernails, and brush our teeth. Before being ushered into the presence of the very important person, we’d be searched. We may have a background check done on us. The point is, you don’t just walk into the President’s office or the Queen’s palace willy-nilly.

God is not just a VIP, He is the VIP, the Most High. Are you ready to meet your Maker this Sunday? My prayer is that this week we will get a glimpse of the power and majesty of God, and remember that while God has called us friends, He is still the King of the Universe. Humility, confession, and repentance are appropriate as we prepare to worship Him together next Sunday.

Photo by Cristina Gottardi on Unsplash