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.

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?

God’s Word is Faithful

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.

One thing is for certain.  God’s Word is faithful.  It does not vary from day to day or hour to hour, season to season or year to year.  His Word is faithful to all generations.  It does not change.  It is the same yesterday, today and forever.

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 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. God’s Word says “as long as the earth remains, there will be summer and winter and spring time and harvest.”  The cycle of weather was created by God for our benefit so are we not grumbling against Him when we complain about the weather. 

The stop light is always 50% green, but we do not call it a “go” light but a “stop light.”

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.”  Some people just like to be negative.

Matthew 21:22 – And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.”

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

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!

What Do You Have?

Mark 6:32-44

And He said to them, “Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.” For there were many coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat.  So they departed to a deserted place in the boat by themselves.  But the multitudes saw them departing, and many knew Him and ran there on foot from all the cities. They arrived before them and came together to Him.  And Jesus, when He came out, saw a great multitude and was moved with compassion for them, because they were like sheep not having a shepherd. So He began to teach them many things.  When the day was now far spent, His disciples came to Him and said, “This is a deserted place, and already the hour is late.  Send them away, that they may go into the surrounding country and villages and buy themselves bread; for they have nothing to eat.”  But He answered and said to them, “You give them something to eat.”  And they said to Him, “Shall we go and buy two hundred denarii worth of bread and give them something to eat?”  But He said to them, “How many loaves do you have? Go and see.”  And when they found out they said, “Five, and two fish.”  Then He commanded them to make them all sit down in groups on the green grass.  So they sat down in ranks, in hundreds and in fifties.  And when He had taken the five loaves and the two fish, He looked up to heaven, blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to His disciples to set before them; and the two fish He divided among them all.  So they all ate and were filled.  And they took up twelve baskets full of fragments and of the fish.  Now those who had eaten the loaves were about five thousand men.

The disciples had just returned from a time of sharing the gospel as Jesus had sent them out in pairs to tell the good news.  They were probably excited about this time, but also tired.  Jesus called them to find a deserted place and rest awhile.

Jesus recognized that there is a time to work but also a time to rest.  Way back in the beginning, in creation, we need this principle of the need to rest.  After six days of creation, Genesis tells us that God rested on the seventh day.  We know God did not need to rest, but He was setting an example, a guide to us.  Sometimes we can be so busy “doing” that we do not take the time we need to “be.” 

The multitudes saw them leaving and hurried to join them.  To the disciples, this was probably a cause of stress and they may well have resented them.  But Jesus had compassion. 

Interesting that when he had compassion his first response was not to feed them, to heal them, but to teach them.  For many following Jesus was just to get their physical needs met, but Jesus wanted more for them than that.  Today, how much of our prayer time is spent on our physical needs rather than taking time to just draw closer to Jesus? 

Although His first priority was for their spiritual needs, He also recognized the physical need and wanted to meet that. 

The disciples, despite all the miracles they had seen Jesus do and despite their successful preaching tour they had just returned from, still did not truly recognize what Jesus could do.  They questioned how they could feed the multitude. 

Jesus told his disciples to give them something to eat.  But they just did not “get it.”  They felt they had nothing to give.  Their response was to send them away empty.  How many times does Jesus call on us to minister to someone but our response is that we cannot do anything?

Jesus told them to go and see what food they did have.  God always begins with what we do have.  I think of something I often told my church when I was a pastor.

  1. Start where you are
  2. Use what you have
  3. Do all you can

They ate until they were filled.  Afterwards, there was food left over.  If anyone went away hungry, it was their fault for not taking what they needed.  The Early Church clearly remember this great miracle and took comfort that Jesus would meet their needs.  Much of early Christian art, especially on the walls of the catacombs, show pictures of loaves and fishes. 

Jesus is our example of how we should respond to those in need, not the disciples who wanted to send them away.  But as Jesus, taking what we have and doing what we can knowing that with Jesus’ help we can much more than we think possible.

James 2:14-17 – What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him?  If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit?  Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

Stretch Out Your Hand

Mark 3:1-6

And He entered the synagogue again, and a man was there who had a withered hand.  So they watched Him closely, whether He would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they might accuse Him.  And He said to the man who had the withered hand, “Step forward.”  Then He said to them, “Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” But they kept silent.  And when He had looked around at them with anger, being grieved by the hardness of their hearts, He said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” And he stretched it out, and his hand was restored as whole as the other.  Then the Pharisees went out and immediately plotted with the Herodians against Him, how they might destroy Him.

Also in Matthew 12:9-14 and Luke 6:6-11

Jesus knew that He was being watched by the religious leaders trying to find an excuse to harm Him.  But His compassion for the man was greater than any concern for Himself.

He gave a command to the man.  First, he called him to step forward.  Step out from the crowd.  This would draw attention to him – perhaps not something he wanted.  Then Jesus told him to stretch out his hand.

This was a direct instruction from Jesus.  Not “If you want to.”  “If you would like to.”  Of course the man had the choice of obeying or not.  But if he was to gain his healing, he had to do what Jesus said.  By stretching out his hand he was acting in:

  • Obedience – Do what God has told you to do.  Do what is right.
  • Faith – Believe God will do what He said he would do.

Believing and obedience go hand in hand.  To truly believe is to obey.  The man could have believed that Jesus could heal him, but it was only as he obeyed and stepped forward from the crowd, then stretched out his hand that healing came.

What is it Jesus is calling you to do?  Would it require you to “step away from the crowd”, to open yourself to possible ridicule or rejection by others?  Would it require you to take belief to the final step of obedience?

John 14:15 – If you love me, obey my commandments.

We can take this idea of stretching out our hand a further step.  We do not know what this man did after Jesus healed him, but we hope that we began to share the good news with others.

That is what Jesus has commanded us to do – to stretch out our hand and share the love we have received from Him.

John 15:12-13 – This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.  Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.

  • Stretch out your hand – Rescue and Save –

Jesus told us that we were to be sent just as He was.

John 20:21 – So Jesus said to them again, “Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.”

  • How was Jesus sent?
    • In obedience
    • In faith
    • In love and compassion
    • To rescue and save

We can take this idea of stretching out our hand a further step.  We do not know what this man did after Jesus healed him, but we hope that we began to share the good news with others

Who do you know that could use a helping hand today? 

  • A word of encouragement
  • A meal
  • A card saying “thank you”
  • An offer to babysit and give parents a date night
  • Just a smile

Too often we tell others “I’m praying for you” which is good, but let us put legs on those prayers.

1 John 3:16-18 – This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.

James 2:14-17 – What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

What If I Doubt?

Mark 16::14-18

“The Great Commission” – Later He appeared to the eleven as they sat at the table; and He rebuked their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they did not believe those who had seen Him after He had risen.  And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.  He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.  And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”

Before sending out the disciples to share the Gospel, Jesus rebuked them for their unbelief and hardness of heart.  In order to be obedient they needed to have a firm belief in the resurrection of Jesus. 

In Scripture the heart is used often to describe the whole person – the place where a person thinks, feels, and plans.  To have a heart that is hard is to ignore, reject, refuse to believe in God’s Word. 

Unbelief hinders obedience.  Jesus is not limited by unbelief as some teach. They refer to the scripture where it says He could not do mighty works in Nazareth, his hometown, because of their unbelief.

 Yet we see many times when Jesus perform miracles in spite of lack of faith. 

Martha lacked belief that Jesus could raise Lazarus, yet he did.  We see one father who brought his son to Jesus for healing and asked for help with his unbelief. 

Mark 9:23-24 – Jesus said to him, “If you believe, all things are possible to him who believes.”  Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!”

Jesus did not mighty works in Nazareth not because their unbelief weakened or destroyed His power.  One of the main purposes of Jesus’ miracles was to bear witness to His claim to be the Son of God.  Since the people of Nazareth had rejected him, there was nothing He could do to make them believe.  They had hardened their hearts against the very revelation they needed. 

John Calvin says, ” Unbelievers, as far as lies in their power, bind up the hands of God by their obstinacy; not that God is overcome, as if he were an inferior, but because they do not permit him to display his power.”

 So when one refuses to even entertain the thought of a miracle or of the claims of Jesus to be the Son of God, one has hardened their heart.

I am so thankful that while Jesus rebuked them, He clearly reached out to them and gave them proof of His resurrection.

First, to Thomas.

The other disciples therefore said to him, “We have seen the Lord.”  So he said to them, “Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.”  And after eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, “Peace to you!” Then He said to Thomas, “Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing.”  And Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!”  Jesus said to him, “Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

To many others

1 Corinthians 15:5-6 – He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep.

They clearly saw and believed Jesus was alive!  And thankfully they were then able to obey the Great Commission so that today we have the truth.

So what do you do if you have sometimes have doubt?  Do as the father did who brought his child to God.  Confess you struggle to believe.  Be honest with God.  This idea that we cannot express doubt or God will not hear us is so wrong.

He knows our heart, He knows when we doubt.

Be honest and cry out to Him to help you.  

Do not let moments of doubt keep you from reaching out to Him.  He is able to handle your questions.  

Believe in the Gospel

Mark 1:15

Mark 1:15 – and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.”

  • Repent – The word “repent” in the Bible means more than being sorry.  It means “a turning around.”  It involves both turning from our old way of living and turning to God.  Jesus began His ministry with this call to repent.  The reason for this need of repentance (change of living) is that Jesus has come to usher in the Kingdom of God.  A total change of purpose and living would be required to be a part of this kingdom of God. 
  • In order to really repent and be a part of God’s kingdom required belief.  A total and complete confidence in the message of Jesus Christ.  The story of Charles Blondin illustrates what true belief in Jesus Christ is all about.  The story is told that Blondin walked 160 feet above the falls between Canada and the United States.  After crossing to the United States he then returned to Canada pushing a wheelbarrow while blindfolded.  It is said that he asked his audience “Do you beliee I can carry a person across in this wheelbarrow?”  The crowd enthusiacally shouted “Yes!”  Blondin then asked “Who will get in the wheelbarrow?”  Nobody was willing to do that.  Their faith was not total and complete.  Jesus is asking us to “get in the wheelbarrow” and trust Him to take us safely across.
  • Jesus declared that the time was fulfilled.  The perfect time for the Son of God to come..

Galatians 4:4-7 – But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law,  to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.  And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!”  Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.

  • There are several reasons we might see that Jesus came at this particular time in history.  At that time there was an international language that all the citizens of the empire spoke – Greek.  The Roman Empire had created a great road system and there was peace making travel easy.  Although these are reasons that we might think made this the “fullness of time” ultimately we cannot know for certain why God felt this was the time.
  • God sent Jesus for one purpose – to make us his sons and daughters and to thereby have a relationship with Him.

BUT

  • We must accept that redemption
  • We must believe in the Gospel – the Good News
  • We must believe and receive

Galatians 3:26 – For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.

  • Repent and believe in the Gospel
    • Repent – to change one’s way of living; to confess wrong; to change one’s mind or purpose – Turning from sin – turning to God
    • Believe – commit; entrust; agree; obey; persuade; trust; yield

2 Timothy 1:12 – For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day.

The Whole Armor of God – Shield of Faith

Ephesians 6:10-20

Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.  Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints— and for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.

  • The word “shield” does not mean the small round shield which the soldier held in his hand to fight off the enemy.  That is called a buckler.  The shield is a large oblong shape worn by the soldier to protect his body from the fiery darts thrown by the enemy.  The darts were dipped in pitch or some other combustible material and set afire.  When they struck, they served the purpose of small incendiary bombs.   Satan has his fiery darts—those things that cause the believer…
  • to question his salvation
  • to question his call
  • to question if he is worthy
  • to question if he can really serve
  • to question if the project can really be done
  • to question, doubt, and wonder
  • to become discouraged, depressed, and defeated
  • to burn with passion and desire.
  • Such fiery darts often assault the mind—one doubting and evil thought after the other—fighting against the will—struggling to get hold of the mind and subject it to doubt or evil.
  • However, the sign of the Christian soldier is that of the shield of faith.  Faith in God—a complete and perfect trust that God will quench the darts of doubt and evil that attack him, that God will help him control his mind and conquer the evil doubts and thoughts.  The Christian soldier’s consciousness of God’s presence is so great that God’s presence itself becomes his shield and defender.

Genesis 15:1 – “After these things the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision, saying, “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward.”

Psalm 3:3-4 – “But You, O LORD, are a shield for me, my glory and the One who lifts up my head.  I cried to the LORD with my voice, and He heard me from His holy hill.  Selah”
 

Psalm 84:9 – “O God, behold our shield, and look upon the face of Your anointed.”
         

Psalm 84:11 – “For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD will give grace and glory; no good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly.”

Romans 10:17 – “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.”

Hebrews 11:1 – “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

Romans 1:17 – “The just shall live by faith.”

2 Corinthians 5:7 – “We walk by faith, not by sight.”

2 Timothy 4:7-8 – “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.  Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.”

  • Hebrews 11 has much to say about faith.   In Hebrews 11:6 we are told “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.”
  • After hearing of all the great men and women of faith in chapter 11, Hebrews 12:1-2 tells us

“Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

Endure to the End – Enter into His Rest

Hebrews 4:11-15

Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience. For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.  Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.

Be diligent, keep the faith, hold steady, keep on keeping on.  The end is in sight, keep your eyes on the goal, the race is almost run.  Hear what God is speaking to us through His Word.  Note the signs of the times (but the real signs are as stated in God’s Word

Speculation is constantly going on about the end of the world.

  • Planets lining up – What does the Word say?
  • False prophets saying this and that – What does the Word say?
  • Apocalyptic (end time) teachers and groups and movies – What does the Word say?

Be diligent, careful, watch out, be on guard.  The Bible is our sole source.  Any other source must line up with the Word of God.  “You know not the day nor the hour.”

Matthew 24 gives us Jesus words to His disciples about the end time.

  • Verses 3-14 – Signs of the time and the end of the Age.
  • Verses 15-28 – The Great Tribulation
  • Verses 29-31 – The Coming of the Son of Man
  • Verses 32-35 – Parable of the Fig Tree
  • Verses 36 – No one knows the day nor the hour
  • Verses 37 – As it was in the days of Noah (eating, drinking, marriage, violence)
  • Verse 44 – KEY – Be ready!!!

Many of the Scriptures telling about end times (Matthew 24, Daniel, Revelation) are difficult to understand.  They are open to a lot of various interpretations.  In all of the Scriptures we can read, it comes down to this final analysis.

  • Be watchful – Be careful what you get involved in that you are not totally consumed and lose sight of the time and lose your vision.
  • Be holy – “Be holy as I am holy.”  No clothesline doctrine, no manmade rituals, no rules.  Just ask yourself “Should I or would I do this, go there, say this if Jesus Christ Himself was with me.  Well, he is.
  • Be ready – Be forgiving, be without sin, be like Christ. 
  • Have the fruit of the Spirit in your life

Galatians 5:22-23 – But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.

  • Put on the whole armor of God.

Ephesians 6:10-14 – Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.  For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.  Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness

Note:

Ephesians 6:17 – And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

Hebrews 4:12 – For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

The Word of the Spirit – the Word of God –

  • Divides, cuts away the truth from the lies (Beware of half-truths, you may have heard the wrong half)
  • Divides, cuts away the important from the trivial
  • Divides, cuts away the specific requirements from the optional
  • Divides, cuts away the “must do” from the “can do”