The Gift of Love

1 Corinthians 13:1-13

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal.  And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.  And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.  Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away.  For we know in part and we prophesy in part.  But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.  When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.  For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.  And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

Love – what does it mean?

  • Strong affection
  • Attraction based on sexual desire
  • Affection based on admiration
  • A warm attachment
  • Enthusiasm
  • Devotion
  • Unselfish, loyal and benevolent concert for the well-being of another
  • An embrace
  • A score of zero in tennis
  • Last, but not least – it means God

In the Greek there were three words for “love.”

  • Phileo – brotherly love like that of David and Jonathan.  This is where we get the word “Philadelphia” – “city of brotherly love”
  • Eros – the love between a man and a women like that of David and Bathsheba.  This is where we get the word “erotic”
  • Note: (Everywhere in the Bible where this kind of love is spoken of it is a love between a man and a woman.  The sexual love of man to man is an abomination in the Bible.)
  • Agape – love of God as in John 3:16

1 Corinthians 13 speaks of love, not lust, not control, not manipulation.  Try substituting the word “Christ” for the word “love” everywhere in this chapter, and you get a greater feeling of the definition of love. 

Another way to check your own attitude of love is to read it and insert your name.  Then, ask your self if that can really be said of you.

There are many who have gifts, but they lack grace.  The exercise of their talents is spoiled by the absence of the loving spirit that can only come from a genuine love of Christ in us.  The gift of love is one that should be permanently manifested fully in the life of, and the relationship of, believers.

Paul states that in all the gifts, in God’s eyes, nothing can match love.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 – Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up;  does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil;  does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth;  bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Dare we measure our lives against the test of these verse?  Should we pray in repentance?

Faith, hope, love

  • Faith is the eye by which we see the loveliness of Christ.  When we see Him face to face, faith will not be necessary any longer
  • Hope enables us to look beyond the present.  Once we are with Christ we will not have any more reason for hope.
  • Love, however, will abide throughout eternity becoming greater and greater as God’s glody unfolds before us.

Running the Race

1 Corinthians 9:24-27

Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it.  And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown.  Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air.  But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.

  • What is right and what is wrong?
    • Right – those things that bring glory to God
    • Wrong – those things that go against the very nature of God’s holiness
    • Gray area?
    • Acquired sin factor – those things taught, believed, culturally identified with wrong, but in and of itself was not wrong.

2 Timothy 2:15 – Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

1 Corinthians 9:19-22 – For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more;  and to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews; to those who are under the law, as under the law, that I might win those who are under the law;  to those who are without law, as without law (not being without law toward God, but under law toward Christ), that I might win those who are without law;  to the weak I became as weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.

These verses speak of freedom but are followed by verses 24-27 which emphasize a life of strict discipline.  The Christ walk involves both freedom and discipline.  The goals of Paul’s life and our life are to bring glory and honor to God and bring people to Christ.

So then…glorify God, honor God, and bring someone to the knowledge of the saving grace of Jesus Christ.

You might ask yourself, “Can I do this?  Can I participate in this?  Can I go there?  Can I say this?  The Bible states that we are to “abstain from the very appearance of evil.”

Paul compares the Christian life to a race.  Someone who is getting ready to run a marathon will be very careful of their diet, will exercise and get needed rest before the race.  They will not sit up watching movies until the wee hours of the morning and indulge in a huge meal the night before the race.  There is nothing wrong with sitting up late watching movie or indulging in a huge meal in and of itself.  But if they want to win, they discipline their body.

So it is with our Christian walk.  They are things that in and of them self are not wrong, but we must ask our self  will they sidetrack us or someone else?  Will they cause us to be entangled in the cares of this world?

if they hinder us from spending time in God’s Word, in being in fellowship with other Christians, in showing to our community, we need to reject them.

Freedom and discipline are both important.  We can have varied opinions on a lot of things but we must discipline ourselves and also care about how our freedom will affect others.

! Corinthians 10:1-6 – Remember our history, friends, and be warned. All our ancestors were led by the providential Cloud and taken miraculously through the Sea. They went through the waters, in a baptism like ours, as Moses led them from enslaving death to salvation life. They all ate and drank identical food and drink, meals provided daily by God. They drank from the Rock, God’s fountain for them that stayed with them wherever they were. And the Rock was Christ. But just experiencing God’s wonder and grace didn’t seem to mean much—most of them were defeated by temptation during the hard times in the desert, and God was not pleased.

The same thing could happen to us. We must be on guard so that we never get caught up in wanting our own way as they did. And we must not turn our religion into a circus as they did—“First the people partied, then they threw a dance.” We must not be sexually promiscuous—they paid for that, remember, with 23,000 deaths in one day! We must never try to get Christ to serve us instead of us serving him; they tried it, and God launched an epidemic of poisonous snakes. We must be careful not to stir up discontent; discontent destroyed them.  (The Message Bible)

Free is fine, but do not use your freedom to stray, to walk in those areas that could lead you into wrong doing. 

Take care that your freedom does not cause you to rebel.

Are Tithes and Offerings Required Today?

Tithes

  • The tenth part of agricultural produce or personal income set apart as an offering to God or for works of mercy, or the same amount regarded as an obligation or tax for the support of the church, priesthood, or the like.
  • Any tax, levy or the like, especially of one-tenth.
  • A tenth part or any indefinitely small part of anything.

Offerings

  • Something offered in worship or devotion, as to God.
  • A contribution given to or through the church for a particular purpose, as at a religious service.
  • Anything offered as a gift.

Where did this concept or belief begin?

  • Tithing is 400 years older than the Law of Moses.  Abraham, the father of the nation of Israel, gave tithes to God through Melchizedek, the king-priest. 

Genesis 14:18-20 – Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was the priest of God Most High. And he blessed him and said:  “Blessed be Abram of God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth; and blessed be God Most High, who has delivered your enemies into your hand.”  And he gave him a tithe of all.

  • Jacob promised a tenth to God in return for His blessing.

Genesis 28:22 – And this stone which I have set as a pillar shall be God’s house, and of all that You give me I will surely give a tenth to You.”

Deuteronomy 14:22-29 – You shall truly tithe all the increase of your grain that the field produces year by year. And you shall eat before the Lord your God, in the place where He chooses to make His name abide, the tithe of your grain and your new wine and your oil, of the firstborn of your herds and your flocks, that you may learn to fear the Lord your God always. But if the journey is too long for you, so that you are not able to carry the tithe, or if the place where the Lord your God chooses to put His name is too far from you, when the Lord your God has blessed you, then you shall exchange it for money, take the money in your hand, and go to the place which the Lord your God chooses. And you shall spend that money for whatever your heart desires: for oxen or sheep, for wine or similar drink, for whatever your heart desires; you shall eat there before the Lord your God, and you shall rejoice, you and your household. You shall not forsake the Levite who is within your gates, for he has no part nor inheritance with you.  “At the end of every third year you shall bring out the tithe of your produce of that year and store it up within your gates. 29 And the Levite, because he has no portion nor inheritance with you, and the stranger and the fatherless and the widow who are within your gates, may come and eat and be satisfied, that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hand which you do.

  • When the temple was repaired and cleaned up to be used by Israel after a long period of decline under the reign of King Hezekiah, a storehouse was set up for depositing the tithes and offerings of the people.

2 Chronicles 31:11 – Now Hezekiah commanded them to prepare rooms in the house of the Lord, and they prepared them.

Why?  What was the practical purpose for tithing?

  • It was instituted by the Law as a way to support the priests who served in the tabernacle/temple of God.

Numbers 18:20-32 – Then the Lord said to Aaron: “You shall have no inheritance in their land, nor shall you have any portion among them; I am your portion and your inheritance among the children of Israel.  “Behold, I have given the children of Levi all the tithes in Israel as an inheritance in return for the work which they perform, the work of the tabernacle of meeting. Hereafter the children of Israel shall not come near the tabernacle of meeting, lest they bear sin and die. But the Levites shall perform the work of the tabernacle of meeting, and they shall bear their iniquity; it shall be a statute forever, throughout your generations, that among the children of Israel they shall have no inheritance. For the tithes of the children of Israel, which they offer up as a heave offering to the Lord, I have given to the Levites as an inheritance; therefore I have said to them, ‘Among the children of Israel they shall have no inheritance.’”  Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak thus to the Levites, and say to them: ‘When you take from the children of Israel the tithes which I have given you from them as your inheritance, then you shall offer up a heave offering of it to the Lord, a tenth of the tithe. And your heave offering shall be reckoned to you as though it were the grain of the threshing floor and as the fullness of the winepress. Thus you shall also offer a heave offering to the Lord from all your tithes which you receive from the children of Israel, and you shall give the Lord’s heave offering from it to Aaron the priest. Of all your gifts you shall offer up every heave offering due to the Lord, from all the best of them, the consecrated part of them.’ Therefore you shall say to them: ‘When you have lifted up the best of it, then the rest shall be accounted to the Levites as the produce of the threshing floor and as the produce of the winepress. You may eat it in any place, you and your households, for it is your reward for your work in the tabernacle of meeting. And you shall bear no sin because of it, when you have lifted up the best of it. But you shall not profane the holy gifts of the children of Israel, lest you die.’”

  • Tithes were mandatory – offerings were optional.

Are tithes necessary today for a Christian?  If we are no longer under the law, but grace, then does the principles of paying a tenth still apply?

Let us take a look at what the New Testament says about giving.

  • The Apostle Paul indicated that the church should function now by means of giving from His people.

1 Corinthians 9:1-14 – Am I not an apostle? Am I not free? Have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord? Are you not my work in the Lord? If I am not an apostle to others, yet doubtless I am to you. For you are the seal of my apostleship in the Lord.  My defense to those who examine me is this: Do we have no right to eat and drink? Do we have no right to take along a believing wife, as do also the other apostles, the brothers of the Lord, and Cephas? Or is it only Barnabas and I who have no right to refrain from working? Whoever goes to war at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard and does not eat of its fruit? Or who tends a flock and does not drink of the milk of the flock?  Do I say these things as a mere man? Or does not the law say the same also? For it is written in the Law of Moses, “You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain.” Is it oxen God is concerned about? Or does He say it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written, that he who plows should plow in hope, and he who threshes in hope should be partaker of his hope. If we have sown spiritual things for you, is it a great thing if we reap your material things? If others are partakers of this right over you, are we not even more?  Nevertheless we have not used this right, but endure all things lest we hinder the gospel of Christ. Do you not know that those who minister the holy things eat of the things of the temple, and those who serve at the altar partake of the offerings of the altar? Even so the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should live from the gospel.

Galatians 6:6-10 – Let him who is taught the word share in all good things with him who teaches.  Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.  Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.

So we give to help support those who labor in the ministry.  Of course, having a church building also requires funds for practical needs such as:

  • Building payment/insurance
  • Salaries/allowances
  • Telephone/electricity/gas/water/sewer/trash removal
  • Snow removal/lawn maintenance

However, scripture indicates that our giving should also be to help those in our community in need.

2 Corinthians 9:10-15 – Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.  This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of the Lord’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God.  Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, others will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else. And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you. Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!

Hebrews 13:16 – And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.

While the New Testament clearly indicates we should be generous and give of our financial means, it is not clear what percentage that should be.

2 Corinthians 9:6-8 – But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.  And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work.

Paul’s letter to the Corinthians indicates that our giving should be from a willingness not because it is a duty.  Some have suggested that to put a percentage on our giving is to make it just another law of man.  There are those who God has blessed and they have become very successful in life.  For them, God might desire more than ten percent.  For others, ten percent might be a hardship. 

I think Jesus showed this when he pointed out to his disciples the give of the poor widow.

Mark 12:41-43 – Now Jesus sat opposite the treasury and saw how the people put money into the treasury. And many who were rich put in much. Then one poor widow came and threw in two small coins. So He called His disciples to Himself and said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all those who have given to the treasury;

I think the key in giving today is to recognize that all we have is a gift from God and that He desires to give so that the work of the church can be done and that those less fortunate can be helped.  Giving should be an act of love and worship on our part.  When it becomes just an obligation it has lost its true meaning.

Our ultimate example is Jesus.

John 3:16 – For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

Our God is a giving God.  So his children should be givers. 

Sanctity of Life

1 Corinthians 6:19

Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?

Webster’s dictionary describes “sanctity” as “Holiness of life and character:  Godliness.”

Life is Holy…why else would He say “You are the temple of the Holy Spirit.”   If His game plan was to live in you, why would He not want a dwelling that was holy? 

We are to be God-like.  That is the way He intended us to be.  To be God-like or godly we must be Holy.

Did He not say “Be holy as I am holy?” – 1 Peter 1:16

We often think about the sanctity of human life in relationship to the Roe vs. Wade decision that was made several years ago.  There is more to the sanctity of human life than the issue of not aborting babies.

Life begins in the womb.  God intended that the act of creating another human life would happen between husband and wife, but whether or not that life begins by way of rape, incest, pedophilia, failure to abide by God’s rules, sexual promiscuity or by way of a married couple, that life created is still holy.   The means to become life may have been accomplished in an unholy way, but that new life, make no mistake about it, is holy.

All life is holy in God’s eyes.

Life is a Trinity.  It is physical, it is spiritual, and it is social.

  • Physical body: 

Way back in the Garden of Eden in Genesis, chapter 2, we find the creation of man by God Almighty.

Verse 26 of that chapter states, “Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness.’”  Verse 27 continues, “So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.”

In verse 28 it says, ”God blessed them and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over’”  He meant there to be a physical union between man and woman. He designed us that way, to come together and produce off-springs.  That was His first command to mankind.  He could have duplicated all down the land one Adam after another and taken a rib out of every one of the Adams and created an Eve, but that was not His intention.  He created us to be truly physical and do the further creation of human life on our own.  And if you look around you, I believe we have done that.

The physical body was created to bring honor and glory to God.  Any violation of God’s intention of the man and woman coming together in sexual union would have corrupted God’s original and only plan for mankind.

Psalms 139:14 – I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well.  My frame was not hidden from You.  When I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.  Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed.  And in Your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them.

Did you hear that last phrase “the days fashioned of me, when as yet there were none of them.”   God knew how many days you were going to live when you were still an embryo in the womb.  You are Holy.  

  • Spiritual Body

Our Spiritual Being…that is the real me, the real you.  When this body is laid in the grave and decays, your spirit will live on forever.  If you are a child of God, the moment you draw that last breath, your spirit goes to be with God.   At His coming “the trumpet shall sound, the Lord shall descend.”  “Behold, He comes with ten thousands of His saints.”  He will come with the saints…those spirits of the ones who have followed Him in this life and their bodies shall come forth out of the grave incorruptible and their spirits who have been with the Lord will be reunited in their glorified bodies and “so shall we ever be with the Lord.”

But what of our spiritual body now?  What is it, where is it and what is its purpose?  It is in fact the breath of God within you and what God intended you to be.  Your spirit resides within you and is you, and directs your path because it is your God given directional compass that guides and directs you in all manner of life.  Now, being a free moral agent you may decide to go your own way and ignore the direction of God, but His Spirit belongs to you. You may insist on rejecting Him, and in that case you will be fulfilling that portion of scripture found in Paul’s letter to the church in Rome.

Romans 1:21 – because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.

Our spiritual body was ordained to have a relationship with the Creator.   All that is within me, within you, cries out to the living God for a relationship.   Job had that relationship when He exclaimed “I know that my Redeemer lives.” 

That part of you that is God is Spiritual.  It desires to worship and praise Him.  It is designed to maintain and lift up the glory of God.  

My prayer is that all I think, say and do will bring glory to the living God.  If in our spiritual walk with God we do that very thing, we will have a happier, more enjoyable life, here on this earth and throughout all eternity.  Jesus said, “I have come to give you life, and that more abundantly.”  Have you partaken of that abundant life?  If you have made Jesus your Lord and Master, you have abundant life.   We tend to think on the mediocre but God wants us to focus on the abundance that He has blessed us with.  “Blessings all mine and ten thousand beside.”     

  • Social Body

Man is a physical, spiritual and social being.  Man was made for fellowship with God and his fellowman.

We all love fellowship.  We love to eat and talk and interact with each other.  God is good and as we fellowship one with another as a body of believers we are finding out a little more about our neighbor across the table and we begin to know them better.  The better we know them socially, the more we know of their spiritual life and their likes and needs and prayer needs.  We begin to interact with one another and become the social being we were meant to be.  Then at the close of the service we pray for one another’s needs and concerns.   That is socialization of the body of Christ as it was meant to be.

One verse says, “We are not our own, we are bought with a price.”  If we are not our own, then whose are we?  Well, we belong to God first, then to each other.  The Word says that “when you come together, let one have a song, let one have a testimony, let one have a praise.”  I Corinthians 12:25-27 “There should be no division in the body, but the members should have the same care for one another.  And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it, or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.   You are the body of Christ, and members individually.”

There is unity and diversity in the body for we are all different.  We all have needs physical, spiritual, and social.  Let us minister one to another and thus fulfill the will of God.  Amen and Amen.  Now, go forth and be the man or woman of God you are called to be.  May God be praised.

What is Required?

1 Corinthians 4:1-2

Let a man so consider us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful.

What is a steward?

A steward is one who looks after and manages the household of another. C.S. Lewis in Mere Christianity notes that “Every faculty you have, your power of thinking or of moving your limbs from moment to moment, is given you by God. If you devoted every moment of your whole life exclusively to His service, you could not give Him anything that was not in a sense His own already.

What is faithfulness? What would you consider to be faithfulness? What margin of error would you allow? Would you require 100% 50%, 10%?

  • If your auto worked 50% of the time, would you consider it faithful?
  • If your spouse was faithful 75% of the time, would you consider them faithful?
  • If your children only loved you when they needed something, how would you feel?
  • If you only received a check half the time, how would you feel?  Would you keep working at that job?
  • What about your church?  If the doctrine changes every week, the teaching flip flopping with the changing wind, would the church be faithful to the Word of God and to you?

Dr. Laura Schlessinger noted that “The path to solid, supportive, healthy relationships, self respect and a quality life starts with the usually painful decision to do the right thing.  Regardless of emotions and temptations, to be fully human and to benefit from life, you must get back to the three C’s –Character, Courage and Conscience

What is faithfulness? – I’m glad you asked!

  • Steadfast in affections, loyal
  • Firm in following the promises made or in doing one’s duty as promised
  • Conscientious
  • True to facts, constant, faithful

Do you waffle on your faithfulness to God?

Hebrews 4:12 – “Let us hold fast to the profession of our faith without wavering; for He is faithful that promised.” 

He is faithful! His love is everlasting.

Hebrews 8:13 – “I am the same, yesterday, today and forever.”

Romans 8:35-39 – “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?  As it is written: “for Your sake we are killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.”  Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.  For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” 

What part of “Thou Shalt Not” did you not understand?

James 1:22 – “Be doers of the Word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourself.” 

God is not willing that any should perish, but our sin separates us from God.

Romans 12:1 – “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.”

Proverbs 3:5-6 – “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.

What is your basis for trust?  Will your faithfulness stand the test?  You know that God will meet your needs, answer your prayers, keep you from harm, and heal your body because of his past faithfulness.  What of your past faithfulness to Him?

  • Question:  If God was as faithful to you as you are to Him, where would you be today?

1 John 1:9 – “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 

Considering what Christ has done for me, what kind of person should I be?

The Power of God

1 Corinthians 2:1-5

And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.

  • Definition:  Man’s Wisdom – learning more and more about less and less until you know everything about nothing.
  • Example of man’s wisdom:  A statement attributed to the 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln:

“I have been driven to my knees many times by the overwhelming conviction that I had no where else to go.  My own wisdom and that of all about me seemed insufficient for the day.”

2 Timothy 3:1-5 – “But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!”  

1 Corinthians 1:18 – “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”

Romans 1:16 – “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.” 

  • We talk about that power but God talks about purity, faithfulness, obedience, prayerfulness (just to name a few).  Forgiving one another, loving our neighbor as our self, mercy.
  • Wanting the power of God in our lives is fine, but the power of God will only come as a result of the manifestation of purity, faithfulness, obedience, prayerfulness.
  • Wanting the power of God in our lives or ministry is very similar to some wanting a gift.  The gifts are the manifestation of the Holy Spirit but they first need love for God and others.  Then the rest follows. 
  • What gift of ministry can God trust you with? 
  • Are you accountable?
  • The power of God does not come without some personal cost:  In Matthew 17:19-21, Jesus told the disciples that it takes prayer and fasting to overcome unbelief in some instances.  Jesus spoke these words upon the return of the 70 disciples sent out by him: 

Luke 10:19 – “Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you.” 

2 Corinthians 11:23-28 – “Are they ministers of Christ?—I speak as a fool—I am more: in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequently, in deaths often. From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness— besides the other things, what comes upon me daily: my deep concern for all the churches.”

  • How many of these have you been through?  If you cannot make it out to church when it rains, do not expect any special ministry gift from God.
  • Strength/power from God comes by way of prayer, faithfulness, reading His Word, loving your neighbor, helping those in need, giving of time, talent, finances, self.

James 1:27 – “Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.” 

Micah 6:8 – “He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.” 

  • What the Word says about God’s power:

Job 26:14 – “Indeed these are the mere edges of His ways, and how small a whisper we hear of Him! But the thunder of His power who can understand?”

Psalm 66:3 – “Say to God, ‘How awesome are Your works!  Through the greatness of Your power your enemies shall submit themselves to You.’”

Zechariah 4:6 – “So he answered and said to me: ‘This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the LORD of hosts.’”

Romans 1:16 – “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.”

Ephesians 1:15-19 – “Therefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, do not cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers: that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power.”

Ephesians 6:19 – “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.”

2 Timothy 1:7 – “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”

2 Peter 1:3-4 – “as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” –

Is It Rain or Shine?

2 Corinthians 1:18-20

But as God is faithful, our word to you was not Yes and No.  For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by us—by me, Silvanus, and Timothy—was not Yes and No, but in Him was Yes.  For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us.

How do we view our circumstances? Is it rain or shine?

The weather forecast always tells you what the percentage of rain, snow or stormy weather will be for the next day or the next month.  Most people usually consider rain, snow or bad weather as a negative.  We talk about the 40% chance of rain, but what about the 60% chance of sunshine

1 John 5:12-15 – He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.  These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.  Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.  And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.

The promises in His Word establishes, seals us, anoints us and guarantees to us all that He has for us as long as we walk in the Spirit and not in the flesh.  To be carnal minded is opposed to God’s will.

1 John 5:20 – And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us an understanding, that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life.

Hebrews 13:8 – Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

Hebrews 1:12 – Like a cloak You will fold them up, and they will be changed.  But You are the same, and Your years will not fail.”

The message found in these short passages are positive messages from a positive gospel, for His Word is positive.  To be anything else is to be negative.  There are NO grey areas.  His Word is either positive, forever unchanged or it is totally unreliable and untrue and cannot be depended upon.  Which is it for you?  You have to make up your mind.  If it is not reliable and true, then you might as well give up on your faith.  Either He really died on the cross for “whosoever believeth” or He did not.

There will always be naysayers.  There will always be skeptics and doubters.  The Word of God calls that double minded.

Where is my mind when I dwell on “I can’t”, “it’s impossible,” “there’s no way,” “it can’t happen?”

Philippians 4:8 –Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.

This passage tells us to dwell on the positive, the good things in life.

Philippians 4:13 – I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Give your doubts to God and believe positive affirmations to what the Word says.

The Old Testament referred to the children of Israel “murmuring” for 40 years in the wilderness.  Do not grumble, but be thankful.  Put a smile on your face and praise God.  All the promises of God are positive.

Farmer Jones drove his big old farm wagon to market with a portion of his bumper crop of potatoes.  Someone complimented him on all the great crop of potatoes he had harvested.  His reply was, “Yeah, but not one rotten one to feed the hogs.” 

Ever hear of that old hymn of the church, “Great is Thy Faithfulness?”  His faithfulness is everlasting!

Servant Hood/Stewards of the Mysteries

1 Corinthians 4:1-2

Let a man so consider us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God.  Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful.

  • Servant hood

How many women, when they plan a meal and company is coming, ignore everything about that dinner engagement until the very last minute….They start at the beginning….They start where they are…They tear apart the food pantry or the cupboard where they have stored their food and use what they have….then they do all they can.

How many men plan  project, let us say building on to their house….they plan ahead….they start where they are….they use what they have….and they do all they can.

No one begins in the middle of a meal or in the middle of a project.  You start at the beginning.  God did the very same thing.

Genesis1:1 – In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.

We all know the creation story and we know one of the first things God did was to make the heavens and the earth.  What would have happened if He had created man first?  No place to live, eat, sleep.  God is a God of order.

Our spiritual life must be ordered by Him and in Him.  Otherwise, we will have chaos in our life. 

  • Do you want your life to bring glory and honor to the Lord Jesus Christ?

Today is the very first day of the rest of your life.  You probably cannot do anything about most of the things that already have taken place in your life, but you can do something about Now.

Start where you are – use what you have – do all you can.

Mark 9:33-37 – Then He came to Capernaum. And when He was in the house He asked them, “What was it you disputed among yourselves on the road?”  But they kept silent, for on the road they had disputed among themselves who would be the greatest.  And He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, “If anyone desires to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all.”  Then He took a little child and set him in the midst of them. And when He had taken him in His arms, He said to them, “Whoever receives one of these little children in My name receives Me; and whoever receives Me, receives not Me but Him who sent Me.”

This passage deals with the subject “Who is the greatest?”  To be great, we must first be a servant – to all.

  • Stewards of the Mysteries – Administrators of the Gospel Truth of God

Colossians 2:2-3 – I want you woven into a tapestry of love, in touch with everything there is to know of God. Then you will have minds confident and at rest, focused on Christ, God’s great mystery. All the richest treasures of wisdom and knowledge are embedded in that mystery and nowhere else. And we’ve been shown the mystery! I’m telling you this because I don’t want anyone leading you off on some wild-goose chase, after other so-called mysteries, or “the Secret.”  (The Message)

Servant Hood/Stewards of the Mysteries – what does it all mean?  How do we understand this?  First we must know Jesus Christ personally, not just a name in a book, not just a name you hear occasionally as a swear word, not just a good man, not just the leader of one of the world’s religious beliefs.

1 Corinthians 2:14 – But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

To know Him, to have an ongoing minute-by-minute, hour-by-hour, day-by-day, seven days a week, 365 days a year….know Him as your Lord and Savior, your strength, your helper, your comforter, your healer, your provider.

To know Him, eat, work, sleep, dream, breath, be totally absorbed with Him in your life so ultimately nothing else matters.  To be so full of Him that we do not care about anything else but serving Him and doing what He wants.  To be that kind of follower of Jesus is to truly be His disciple.

Philippians 3:10 – that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death.

To live this verse we have to totally surrender to Him 100%.  We cannot know Him like this verse says “in the power of His resurrection” unless we first have died to sin, have laid it all down.

When you say, “I can’t do this or I can’t do that,” referring to a habit or a character management issue like temper, patience, lack of control, whatever it might be, you make God and His Word a liar. 

Philippians 4:13 – I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Start where you are – use what you have – do all you can.

You may fall flat on your face the first time you try to determine that you are going to be what God really wants you to be rather than being a false advertisement of what God says you can be.  Get your mind off “I can’t” and on “I can.”  Hold up your hands in front of you and do a ten-finger prayer.  I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.  When temptation comes and you feel like you cannot…hold up your hands in front of you and say, “With God’s help, I can.”

As you have that close relationship with Him, be the servant of all you come in contact with.  You cannot be thinking about yourself if you are trying to help someone else.  To have this kind of relationship and be a servant – wow!  Live your life and wake up in the morning so full of His love and knowledge of His Word that you pray, “OK God, here I am.”

  • What is your will for me today? 
  • What do you want me to do? 
  • Where do you want me to go? 
  • What do you want me to speak?
  • Who do you want to put in my path?
  • How can I make a difference?
  • How can I stand between eternal punishment for sin and the sinner and point them to You?

All this cannot be done in a moment’ time.  There are the three rules to get to that point.

Start where you are – use what you have – do all you can.

Look again at our text – this time from The Amplified Bible

1 Corinthians 4:1-2 – So then, let us [apostles] be looked upon as ministering servants of Christ and stewards (trustees) of the mysteries (the secret purposes) of God.  Moreover, it is [essentially] required of stewards that a man should be found faithful [proving himself worthy of trust].

  • Faithfulness – this is where we should start. 

It is required in stewards to be faithful, not it is required of stewards to be faithful.  “Of stewards” would indicate something we do.  “In stewards” indicates something internal, inward, an ongoing developing influence of the power of the Holy Spirit in your life.

  • Faithfulness comes by way of a relationship with Christ
  • Faithfulness is not an attribute or character that is learned
  • Faithfulness is not something we put on in the morning like a garment
  • Faithfulness is a life style of one whose heart, mind, soul and body is fixed securely on Jesus Christ.

Start where you are – use what you have – do all you can.

A servant does what his master requires.  Is Christ your Master?  If Christ is truly your Master, your Lord, He has the power of life and death over you.  If He is truly your Master, you will do, go, say and be what He wants you to do, go say and be.

1 Corinthians 6:20 – For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.

Romans 6:16 – Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness?

We must do what God requires.  We are no longer a free entity.  We belong to Christ.  We are members of His body.  The parts of His body work like the parts of one’s natural body.  He is the head; we are the parts.  He controls our actions.  That is, if we truly are part of His body.

At the same time that we are servants and slaves of Him that redeemed us, we are “free from sin,” “free from the penalty of sin,” free from the final destiny that sin brings upon mankind.  We are free in Christ to live godly or ungodly – our choice.  But as we yield our bodies, lives, hearts, minds, our entire being to Him, we become His.  We become His servants, His slaves out of love, not compulsion.  Love.

When we become truly His servants, we will obey Him, be faithful to Him and serve Him.

James 4:7 – Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.

1 Corinthians 13:11 – When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.  Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God

Hebrews 5:13-14; 6:1 – For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe.  But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.

Start where you are – use what you have – do all you can.

Philippians 4:13 – I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

The Power of God vs the Wisdom of Man

1 Corinthians 2:5

that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.

  • What we do and say, the very way we conduct our lives, is many times based on the things about us, the things we have seen, the things we have heard, the things we have experienced – all man’s wisdom.
  • Our faith is simply based on the power of God, on the ability of God to move and act and touch our lives.
  • That faith, based in the power of God has its foundation, its cornerstone in the Lord Jesus Christ
  • The one who came to earth
  • The one who agonized in the garden
  • The one who died on the cross
  • The one who was laid in the tomb
  • The one who rose again the third day
  • The one who ascended on high
  • The one who is now making intercession on our behalf
  • The one who is coming again to take his children home to be with Him
  • Let’s look a moment at the scriptures to see what it says about our foundation.

Isaiah 28:16 – “Therefore thus says the Lord GOD:  ‘Behold, I lay in Zion a stone for a foundation,  A tried stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation; Whoever believes will not act hastily.’”

Ephesians 2:19-20 – “Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.”

1 Peter 2:6-8 – “Therefore it is also contained in the Scripture, ‘Behold, I lay in Zion a chief cornerstone, elect, precious, and he who believes on Him will by no means be put to shame.’  Therefore, to you who believe, He is precious; but to those who are disobedient, ‘The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone,’ and ‘A stone of stumbling and a rock of offense.’  They stumble, being disobedient to the word, to which they also were appointed.”

Acts 4:8-12 – “Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, ‘Rulers of the people and elders of Israel:  If we this day are judged for a good deed done to a helpless man, by what means he has been made well, let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole. This is the ‘stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.’2 Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.’”

  • But after the foundation has been laid, after the cornerstone has been set, we build our lives based on the Word of God.  The Word of God, not the wisdom of man, the Word of God.
  • Remember the children of Israel.  Caleb and Joshua brought back a good report.  It was rejected and the children of Israel were doomed to wonder around in the wilderness for 40 more years before they went in and took the land God had promised them.
  • Whose report are you going to believe?
  • The doubters
  • The skeptics
  • The worry warts
  • The TV
  • The newspapers
  • Or the Word of God
  • Man’s wisdom – We moan, groan and complain and say within us and verbally, “I can’t get through this trial, this time of difficulty.”
  • God’s power – Philippians 4:13 – “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
  • Man’s wisdom – “I’m sick, I hurt, and I’m not going to make it.  I’m in pain. 
  • God’s power – Isaiah 53:5 – “But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed.”
  • Man’s wisdom – I’m financially not going to be able to pay all my bills and obligations.
  • God’s power – Philippians 4:19 – “And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”
  • Man’s wisdom – looks at our family, the sin and degradation they are involved in and we say they are just hopeless.
  • God’s power – Isaiah 59:1 – “Behold, the LORD’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; nor His ear heavy, that it cannot hear.”
  • Man’s wisdom – looks at our country and says it’s going down the tubes.
  • God’s power – 2 Chronicles 7:14 – “if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”
  • Man’s wisdom – says I’m afraid.
  • God’s wisdom – 1 John 4:18 – “but perfect love casts out fear.”
  • If we have built on the sure foundation, Jesus Christ, we can be like Jairus who told Jesus, “Just say the word and my daughter will be healed.”

Don’t Doubt

Don’t pout

Shout it out

“I believe!”

  • If we really believe, if we truly have built on a sure foundation, Jesus Christ, we can agree boldly and triumphantly with 1 John 5:14 –  “This is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.”
  • Where does your faith stand?
  • In the wisdom of man
  • In the power of God
  • My God is big enough to meet every need I have – every need you have.