Saturday, March 23, 2013

Paul's Confidence 130324

Romans 15:14-16 I myself am satisfied about you, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able to instruct one another. 15 But on some points I have written to you very boldly by way of reminder, because of the grace given me by God 16 to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles in the priestly service of the gospel of God, so that the offering of the Gentiles may be acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.
Paul encourages the church in Rome with these words. You are full of goodness. You are filled with all knowledge. You are able to instruct one another. He was confident that the spiritual needs of the church there was being met by the people. He only needed to remind them of their needs and abilities. He was able to do this because his gift was to be a minister to the Gentiles concerning the gospel of God. Isaiah had prophesied that the glory of God would be declared among the nations. He said the time would come when believers from all nations would come as an offering to the Lord.(Isaiah 66:19b-20) That process began while Jesus was on earth and has been expanded by the ministry of his disciples and the church through the ages.
Hebrews, Chapter 11, shows us that God has always related to mankind the same way. By grace, through faith. In that rollcall of the faithful God begins with Able who, by faith, offered a more excellent sacrifice than his brother, Cain. And the list goes on: by faith Enoch; by faith Noah; by faith Abraham; by faith Sarah… Etc. All of these were people chosen by God to maintain a faithful lineage from which Christ was born. They were not chosen because of their works of righteousness. And neither were we! However, once chosen they, and we, were qualified by God. Paul states his satisfaction that the Christians in Rome were full of goodness, full of knowledge and able to instruct one another. Let's look at each one of these qualities. Paul said that they were…
Full of goodness.
We know, from Scripture, that he was not talking about human goodness. A thousand years before Christ, David, inspired by the Holy Spirit, penned these words: Psalm 14:1-3, The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds, there is none who does good. 2 The LORD looks down from heaven on the children of man, to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God. 3 They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt; there is none who does good, not even one.
First, David refers to the atheist as a fool. Then he goes on to say that there is none who does good. Apart from the work of the Spirit of God in a person's life, there is no goodness.
All humans are born dead in trespasses and sins. Only the great mercy of God gives us any hope of attaining to life and goodness. Human goodness will not measure up to the standard set by the word of God. All have sinned and come short of the glory of God. The standard is nothing less than God's glory, and friends, we do not measure up! Jesus made it very clear…
There is none good but God. Listen to the story of the rich young man as presented in Mark's gospel. Jesus was walking along the road when he was confronted by a young man. Listen while I read, Mark 10:17-22, And as he was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 18 And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. 19 You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.’” 20 And he said to him, “Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth.” 21 And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” 22 Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.
Jesus' response to the young man might seem out of place to us in our society. "Good Teacher" might have been answered with, "Thank you for recognizing that I'm good." Instead, Jesus said to him, "Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone." I think Jesus was calling for a confession of faith. In essence, he was asking if the young man recognized that he was God. But Jesus knew the man's heart and pushed on to challenge him. "You know the commandments," he said, and went on to list some of the commandments that involve our relationship with people. The young man asserted that he had kept these from his youth. And so Jesus said to him, "sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come follow me."
Mark then notes that the young man went away in sorrow because he had great possessions. In reality great possessions had him.
There is none good but God and…
He gifts us with his goodness. When Paul listed the fruit of the spirit he showed us that a part of that fruit is goodness. Listen while I read Galatians 5:22-23, But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
Because of the presence of the Spirit of God in the life of the believer we are full of goodness and should make every effort to display and exercise the goodness that God gifts us with. We are not just full of goodness we are also…
Full of knowledge.
Remember, it is God who gives us everything we need to live the Christian life. We have been…
Enriched by grace. Listen while I read, 1 Corinthians 1:4-5, I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus, 5 that in every way you were enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge…
The grace of God given to the Christians in Corinth is the same grace released in the church today. "In every way" includes all that we have need of in life. We are "enriched" by the grace of God in speech and knowledge. The problem that we have is that we forget that our speech should be seasoned with grace. We forget that we don't gain the knowledge we need through education. Our speech and our knowledge is a grace gift of God.
When a person accepts Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior Holy Spirit comes to live in them and goodness and knowledge are…
Gifted by Holy Spirit. Let's look at two passages of Scripture. They're short and to the point. The first is found in, 1 John 2:20, But you have been anointed by the Holy One, and you all have knowledge.
Wow, John, the elderly apostle, doesn't say, "You should have been anointed by the Holy One and therefore should have knowledge". He says, with great confidence, "you have been anointed By the Holy One, and you all have knowledge.” All have knowledge? Can that really be true? There are many things I do not have knowledge of. By the way, there are many things I don't want to have knowledge of. But the important things — the things of the Spirit of God — I do want to have knowledge of. Is it possible that we really do have the knowledge we need? Let's look at our second passage of Scripture. Remember, these are the words of Jesus spoken during his last days on earth.
John 14:25-26, “These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. 26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.
These words were spoken by Jesus in the last week of his life on earth. He had many things he wanted his disciples to know. He knew that his disciples really didn't "get it". Many of the things he taught them had to be repeated again and again and still they did not grasp the truth.
There is a school of thought that says that Christ taught his disciples all that he could in the time that he had and then finally left them on their own to carry on the work. Nothing could be further from the truth! He did not leave his disciples on their own operating with the world's values. He himself said, "I am with you always even to the end of the age." You see, our goodness and knowledge are…
Not according to the world. Let's return to first Corinthians and see what Paul had to say to them. 1 Corinthians 1:26-31, …consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 28 God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, 29 so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. 30 And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, 31 so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”
Not many of the Christian church are wise according to worldly standards. In fact, when Jesus set out to choose his disciples he walked past the Bible school and the seminary and went along the seashore to choose some fishermen, a tax collector, a rebel and one who would betray him. In fact, Paul himself was the only one that we know of who had formal training. He might, by the world's standards, be considered "qualified" to serve as a Bible teacher.
Now he writes to the Corinthians and says that God choose the foolish and the weak, the lowly and despised, the "nothings" to carry out his work. One thing Scripture is very clear on, none of us have anything, in our selves, to boast about. Our goodness is not our own and our knowledge is found only in Christ Jesus who became to us "wisdom from God". So that we can boast only in the Lord.
The apostle Paul had to unlearn a vast amount of knowledge in order to know only Christ crucified, buried and raised again. Once we recognize the source of our goodness and knowledge then we are…
Able to instruct one another.
One of the gifts given to the first century church was a man named Barnabas. "Barnabas" means "son of encouragement". The church today is in great need of Barnabases. Paul was in great need of a Barnabas when he came to Jerusalem some three years after his salvation experience. Remember, we are able to instruct one another because we are full of goodness and full of knowledge. Each of us needs to…
Be a Barnabas. Let me read about him from, Acts 9:26-28, And when he (Paul) had come to Jerusalem, he attempted to join the disciples. And they were all afraid of him, for they did not believe that he was a disciple. 27 But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles and declared to them how on the road he had seen the Lord, who spoke to him, and how at Damascus he had preached boldly in the name of Jesus. 28 So he (Paul) went in and out among them at Jerusalem, preaching boldly in the name of the Lord.
Barnabas was a man of courage. He was willing to approach this man who was known in Jerusalem as Saul of Tarsus. He was a persecutor of the church and for all they knew was pretending to be a disciple in order to infiltrate their ranks and betray them.
Barnabas put that aside and went to Saul, who would soon be Paul the apostle, determined that he really was a disciple of Christ and brought him to the apostles. The apostles were those chosen to lead the church but they needed instruction and encouragement from a Barnabas. In the same manner we need to…
Encourage one another. In order to be an instructor one has to be an encourager. Let's look at, Hebrews 10:24-25, And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

"Stir up one another" is a phrase that might describe how some Christians operate but the things they stir another up to is not necessarily "love and good works".
"Consider" implies a need to create a plan. To think through what needs to be done before beginning the process of instructing. "Stir up one another" is more than preparing a lesson plan and presenting it. We need to stir the desires and emotions of one another. This is not just "head knowledge" this is "heart knowledge". We are full of goodness and full of knowledge and therefore, able to instruct one another. We need to meet together and encourage each other day by day. The strength of the early church was found in close fellowship. Take the time to read the second chapter of Acts and see how the first church operated.
Today, there is very little close fellowship in any church I know of. This local church included! We need to focus more on helping each other and encouraging each other to build the strength this church needs for the days that lie ahead. We need to instruct one another…
In every way. Paul wrote to Timothy the following words 2 Timothy 4:1-2, I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: 2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.
Preach the word! Not someone's opinion or philosophy but the word of God. We are to reprove, rebuke and exhort and it can come across as very harsh. Many Christians have never learned how to reprove, rebuke and exhort in a manner that will be listened to. If you approach a person with a severe tone in your voice, you're words very likely will be rejected and good advice may be lost. Sometimes it's necessary to reprove a person but it should be done in a manner that will be listened to.
So, if we are to reprove, rebuke and exhort, we must do it with patience. More than that, "with complete patience" and that should be accompanied by teaching. Jesus was not harsh in his treatment of people. Oh yes, he did go into the temple courtyard and overturn the money changer's tables and drive their livestock out of the house of prayer. But we must remember that in his day-to-day activities Jesus was often approached by people who were rejected by others and therefore very conscious of any feelings of rejection. Also, much to the displeasure of his disciples, he was approached by little children. Little children are attracted to people who are not harsh disciplinarians. So, when we have to reprove, rebuke and/or exhort we should always do it with complete patience and accompany it with teaching.
Peter said you must always be “prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,”. Our instruction should always be done with patience, gentleness and respect. It has taken me many years to grasp this concept and is not easy to put into practice. I pray that these qualities will always characterize my ministry.
Every believer in the Lord Jesus Christ has the ability to instruct others. The problem is we often think that such ability only comes after Bible school or seminary. Bible school and seminary are important. In fact, every method of improvement of our understanding of the word of God is important. But the truth is the ability to instruct, encourage, preach and exhort is given by God not by education. No one, in their own strength, is qualified to minister in the name of Christ. Anyone, in the power of the Holy Spirit, is qualified and capable. God does not call the qualified. He qualifies the called! Paul's satisfaction is not based on the high quality humans in the church in Rome, or in today's church, it is based on the high quality God that we serve. Is he your Lord? Have you put your faith in him? If not, do so now!

All scripture quotes from:The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Hope of the Nations 130317

Romans 15:8-13, For I tell you that Christ became a servant to the circumcised to show God's truthfulness, in order to confirm the promises given to the patriarchs, 9 and in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written, “Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles, and sing to your name.” 10 And again it is said, “Rejoice, O Gentiles, with his people.” 11 And again, “Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles, and let all the peoples extol him.” 12 And again Isaiah says, “The root of Jesse will come, even he who arises to rule the Gentiles; in him will the Gentiles hope.” 13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

In the passage just before this Paul says, "Welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God." "One another" represents the entire church of God, Jews and Gentiles altogether. We are able to do so because of the sacrifice of Christ. It is hard for us to recognize the suffering that Jesus went through on the cross. His sacrifice started long before that! Jesus, as part of the Godhead, existed eternally with the Father and the Holy Spirit. Then, in the fullness of time, he came into the world as a human being. He left the glory of heaven for the gloom of earth. He left unlimited Godhood to become human and exist forever after as the MAN, Christ Jesus. He did this with a particular purpose in mind: to bring salvation to all those who would respond in faith among the Jews as well as the nations of the world.
In order to do this…
He became a servant of the Jews!
He came to his own people. Listen while I read, John 1:11, He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him.
The first "his own"refers to property ownership. Jesus, as creator of the universe, came to his own possessions. Not just the land of Israel but the entire world belonged to him. He had the right to claim his property and expel the human race from it! However, that wasn't the plan.
The second "his own" refers to people, not property. So it is correctly translated in the ESV. His own people, descended from Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, were not ready to receive him. In fact, they were looking for a Messiah but not one who came to serve and to save. They expected a Messiah who would lead them in victory over the Romans reestablishing David's earthly kingdom. However, that wasn't the plan!
From before the beginning of time God had a plan that involved all of the human race. God had the right, in the garden of Eden, to wipe out the human race before it began. As soon as Adam rebelled God had the right to end Adam's life, physical as well as spiritual. But he did not do that! Instead, in the fullness of time, he came to his own property knowing that his own people would reject him.
In line with that…
He limited his ministry. Listen to this story from Matthew 15:21-28, And Jesus went away from there and withdrew to the district of Tyre and Sidon. 22 And behold, a Canaanite woman from that region came out and was crying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely oppressed by a demon.” 23 But he did not answer her a word. And his disciples came and begged him, saying, “Send her away, for she is crying out after us.” 24 He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” 25 But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.” 26 And he answered, “It is not right to take the children's bread and throw it to the dogs.” 27 She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters' table.” 28 Then Jesus answered her, “O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed instantly.
This is a remarkable story! Picture the scene with me. Jesus and his disciples were walking along a road in the region of Tyre and Sidon. There obviously are many Jews there but the population must of been primarily Gentile, or Canaanite! As they were walking along a Canaanite woman came up to him, begging him to have mercy on her. Her daughter was oppressed by a demon. We're not told how this oppression was manifested in the daughter only that the woman described it as severe.
Jesus' answer seems rude in our culture. Instead of giving her help immediately he told her that he was only sent to the house of Israel and it would not be right to take the children's bread and throw it to the dogs! She was too concerned about her daughter to be offended. She immediately answered, in agreement with him, "Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master's table."
Jesus was so impressed with her great faith that he healed her daughter immediately. It was not her right to receive healing but it was a gift of grace based on her great faith.
He came to his own people…
In order to confirm the promises. Listen to what Paul wrote to the, Galatians 3:16, Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, “And to offsprings,” referring to many, but referring to one, “And to your offspring,” who is Christ.
The promises were made to Abraham and his offspring. Offspring is singular and was not referring to many people, as in the Jewish nation. God's plan from the beginning was to bless those who trusted in Christ. God never intended that salvation be limited to one race of people or to one tribe on earth. Hebrews, Chapter 11, makes it very clear that faith is the basis of human relationship to God and always has been. This was a mystery that was not always understood until Jesus came into the world as the Messiah of the Jews and the Savior of the world. Paul was given insight into the mystery and spoke of it in his writings about 20 times. One of those references is…
Ephesians 3:6 This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.
The mystery gives hope to the nations. It was not just that the Gentiles might be saved but also that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the same promise of the gospel of Jesus Christ. One of Paul's greatest battles was to convince the church that the Gentiles were equal to the Jews. As we have seen, earlier in Romans, the descendents of Abraham are not recognized in flesh but in faith. Abraham believed God and it was counted to him for righteousness. This belief occurred long before there was a Jewish nation and before Abraham did anything that can be considered a rule or a law to follow.
Over the centuries the concept of God having a relationship with anyone outside the Jewish nation was lost. By the time Jesus was born man had limited (or tried to limit) relationship with God to those who followed the law of Moses. In other words in order to know God one had to be, or become, a Jew. So Jesus limited himself, by and large, to a ministry to the Jews so that God's faithfulness could be understood. If God kept his promises to the descendents of Abraham he would keep his promises also to those who come to him by faith.
He did that in order…
That the Gentiles (Nations) might glorify God! He was to be…
A light for the nations. Listen to the prophecy of Isaiah, found in, Isaiah 60:1-3, Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you. 2 For behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the LORD will arise upon you, and his glory will be seen upon you. 3 And nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising.
About 700 years before the birth of Jesus, Isaiah, the Prince of Prophets, heard the word of the Lord concerning the thick darkness that would cover the earth blinding the eyes of people to the truth of the good news of God's love. Isaiah heard God speak and preserved his words for us. More completely than any other prophet Isaiah understood that God would send salvation in the form of a man who would be the light of the world. He could see that that light would shine drawing people from all nations. John's gospel tells us that Jesus came into the world as the Word, and as Life. Then he said that The Life was the light of men. The light will shine in the darkness repeating the imagery of Isaiah.
This was done…
In order for salvation to reach the nations. Again we turn to Isaiah 49:6, “It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to bring back the preserved of Israel; I will make you as a light for the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.”
We can see clearly in this passage that God always intended his salvation to reach out to all people. To Israel he says that it is "too light a thing" to bring back the preserved of Israel. Instead, Israel is to be a light for the nations. Remember this is about 700 years before Christ's birth. God's intention is not just to save a people but to make salvation available to the ends of the earth.
When Jesus was about to leave his disciples for the last time physically he told them that they would receive power from the Holy Spirit to be witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and to the end of the earth. God's plan is always been that the gospel go out to all nations.
This was the same message…
Preached by John the baptizer. Listen while I read, Luke 3:2-6, the word of God came to John the son of Zechariah in the wilderness. 3 And he went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 4 As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. 5 Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall become straight, and the rough places shall become level ways, 6 and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.’”
When John was questioned about his role in God's plan he stated that he was not the Messiah he was simply the voice of one crying in the wilderness. He was sent to prepare the way for Jesus. You may remember that after John was arrested he called his disciples to him and asked them to go to Jesus to ask if he was really the one they were waiting for. Jesus responded with, "Go and tell John what you have seen and heard; the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good news preached to them." Jesus came into the world to seek and to save that which is lost. Paul tells us that Christ became a servant to the Jews to prove God's truthfulness and faithfulness showing that the promises given to the fathers serve the purpose of bringing the Gentiles (Nations) to a place where they may glorify God and…
That we may be filled with joy and peace!
We have peace with rejoicing. Listen while I read from, Romans 5:1-2, Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
Paul does not say we should have peace with God he says that, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. We have obtained access by faith in this grace in which we stand. The God of all hope fills us with joy and peace. Since we have such a relationship with the God of all hope we are able to abound in hope…
By the power of the Holy Spirit. Listen to the next three verses Romans 5:3-5, More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us! As a result we are able to rejoice in our sufferings not just the good things in life. Along the way to a realized hope — suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character. And the hope that we realize from that process does not disappoint us instead it puts us in a position to choose cooperation with the spirit of God in our life. Once the Spirit moves in our hearts and lives we are brought to a place where we can respond to God…
By our choice. I want you to look at three passages of Scripture first: Galatians 5:22-24; But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
When a person is saved the Holy Spirit comes to live in them. The Holy Spirit produces his fruit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. For many of us it is a real struggle to get out of the Spirit's way and allow him to produce his strength in our lives. We need to choose to be filled with rejoicing and peace. The next best of Scripture is…
Colossians 3:14-15, And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.
Paul has just listed several qualities that we need to choose to have in our lives. But above all these are to put on love. Remember, faith, hope and love remain but the greatest of these is love. Love doesn't just happen we need to apply ourselves to "put love on". And then we must LET the peace of Christ rule in our hearts. Do you see, the Holy Spirit bearing his fruit of love in our life, with our cooperation, brings the peace of Christ to rule in our hearts. We must choose to cooperate if we're going to enjoy the work of the Spirit in our life.
The third passage of Scripture is, Philippians 4:4-7, Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. 5 Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
If we will but choose to cooperate with God awesome changes will come into our lives. Rejoice always! The Lord is at hand! We have nothing to fear or be anxious about. We simply need to bring our needs before God in prayer and trust him to do what really needs to be done. Then, and only then, will the peace of God that is beyond human understanding guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
The Lord Jesus came into this world to seek and to save that which was lost. In order to do this, he became a servant to his own people — the Jewish nation. He knew when he came that his own people would reject him. But he came anyway because he had a greater purpose in mind. That great purpose was salvation for all those who would believe. While on earth, Jesus limited his ministry, with few notable exceptions, to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. He did that to prove that God is faithful to his promises. But his greater promise was that all people who would believe might be saved. Have you accepted him as Lord and Savior? Will you turn to him now?

All scripture quotes from:The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Glorify God 130303

Romans 15:1-7, We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. For Christ did not please himself, but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me.” For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.
The Apostle pauses now to summarize what he has gone into detail with in the previous chapter. The strong are under obligation to bear with the failings of the weak. While it is quite natural to desire to please ourselves that is not what the Christian life is all about. We are to follow the example of the Lord Jesus Christ and to emphasize that point Paul quotes from Psalm 69. "The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me". He then reminds us that the Old Testament was written for our instruction. It is not always easy to understand parts of the Old Testament but through endurance and encouragement of the Scriptures we have hope.
You see, our God is a God of endurance and encouragement and he will enable us to live at peace with each other. He does that not for our good only but also for the primary purpose of everything in God's creation — the glory of God! That we may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. In fact, we are obligated to be patient while encouraging and to live in harmony to the glory of God.
We are obligated.
To be patient while encouraging. Look at what Paul said to the Thessalonians in 1 Thessalonians 5:14, And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all.
We do have a responsibility to admonish the idle. In fact, in the Apostle's second letter to the Thessalonians his "admonish the idle" becomes, "If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat." Now there is a powerful encouragement to not be idle but instead to be willing to work for your own benefit and that of society. Admonish, encourage, help, but most of all be patient! The key to patience is not just, "toughing it out", or ignoring the way other people are acting. It is knowing who is in charge and trusting him to make the difference in our lives and those we're helping. Patience is a powerful tool given to us by God to be used for his glory. We will be patient when we act in love. We are commanded by Jesus…
To love one another. And John expanded on it. Listen while I read, 1 John 3:11-14, For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. We should not be like Cain, who was of the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own deeds were evil and his brother's righteous. Do not be surprised, brothers, that the world hates you. We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death.
John tells us that this love command, which was heard from the beginning, is evidence that we have passed from death to life. Remember, love is not a feeling it is an act of the will. Love is how you act not how you feel. If we are going to have patience with others we are going to have to love them with God's kind of love and trust God to work in their life and in ours! If we trust God we are going to be able to patiently love one another. In fact, patience is worked out in love. We are taught that…
Love is patient. In Paul's great description of love he tells us, 1 Corinthians 13:1-7, If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Nothing in the way of sacrifice or giftedness has any meaning apart from love. There is nothing we can do that is more important than loving one another with patience and kindness. Love is not envious or arrogant. It is certainly not rude or self-centered. Love rejoices in the truth, bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things and endures all things. Yes we are to be patient with each other and as a result we are obligated to…
Live in harmony. And…
Rejoice in peace. Back to Romans 15, Paul says that we are to live in such harmony with each other that we will glorify God by the lives we live. In 2 Corinthians 13:11, we find these words Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.
Restoration, comfort, agreement and peace. The consequence of such a life will be a manifestation of the God of love and peace within us. Restoration implies the healing of broken relationships. This is a great need in the world as well is in the church. At one time or another, everyone has the need of comfort even when they don't outwardly show evidence of the need. Agree with one another does not mean that we give up our own personal beliefs it means that we find a way to reconcile differences without degrading or devaluing another person. Sometimes we just have to let God work out the differences while continuing to love one another. If we do that we can rejoice. Now, how do we rejoice? By aiming for those conditions that result in peace. Remember in 1st Corinthians 13, we see that love is not self-centered. Therefore we are to…
Avoid self-centeredness. Listen while I read from Philippians 2:1-4, So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.
The Christian church is to be represented by people who are not self-centered. One of the tragedies of the modern church is the self-centeredness of leaders from the local pastor to the denominational worker. We learn over the years, or should, that it is really "not about us"! The whole business of Christianity is to glorify God. We can do this if we will simply…
Follow good examples. Listen while I read from Paul's first letter to the Thessalonians, 1 Thessalonians 1:6-7, And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit, so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia.
Throughout the Bible men and women are held up as examples for us to follow. We need very much to pattern our lives after them. Hebrews Chapter 11 lists many of those names whose lives we should pattern ourselves after. We are obligated to live in harmony…
To the glory of God. You see…
Everything is to glorify God. Listen to what Peter had to say about it. 1 Peter 4:10-11, As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
Every gift given by God is for the purpose of service to the body of Christ. A lot of Christians believe they have gifts that build them up individually. I find no evidence in Scripture for such a thing. Every good gift and every perfect gift comes from the God of heaven and are designed to give glory to him. Look at what Peter says and how he says it. First, each one has received a gift. No one can say that they are not gifted by God. Second, each one's gift is designed to be used in the service of other people. We do not receive gifts to glorify us. We receive gifts as a stewardship. And when we use them, third, we are to use them as though they come from God himself — because they do! If your gifts involve speaking you are speaking from God. If your gifts involve serving they are to be done in God's strength. All of this is true because in everything God is to be glorified because to him belong glory and dominion forever and ever, AMEN!
Whatever we do should glorify God. Listen while I read, 1 Corinthians 10:31-33, So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God, just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved.
I think, for most of us, we have no trouble glorifying God when everything is going our way. Paul is saying here that "whatever we do" is to be for the glory of God. But what if everything isn't going our way? What if we were born healthy and whole only to have the incompetence of a doctor cause the loss of eyesight at the age of six weeks? Would we live out our life in bitter rejection? Or, would we see blindness as a gift from God and determine to bring glory to him even in that? Well, that's what happened to a little girl by the name of Fannie Crosby. She was born in Putnam County, NY, in 1820 and was blind soon afterwards. It may well be that she was the most prolific hymn writer in history. During her lifetime she wrote over 8000 hymns to the glory of God. About her blindness, she said: "It seemed intended by the blessed providence of God that I should be blind all my life, and I thank him for the dispensation. If perfect earthly sight were offered me tomorrow I would not accept it. I might not have sung hymns to the praise of God if I had been distracted by the beautiful and interesting things about me." At another point she said that she was glad to have been blind all her life because the first face she would see would be that of her Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.
In 1875 she penned these words: This is hymn number 31 in our hymn book.
To God be the glory, great things He hath done; so loved He the world that He gave us His Son, who yielded His life an atonement for sin, and opened the lifegate that all may go in.
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, let the earth hear His voice! Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, let the people rejoice! O come to the Father through Jesus the Son, and give Him the glory, great things He hath done.
O perfect redemption, the purchase of blood, to every believer the promise of God; the vilest offender who truly believes, that moment from Jesus a pardon receives.
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, let the earth hear His voice! Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, let the people rejoice! O come to the Father through Jesus the Son, and give Him the glory, great things He hath done.
Everything is to glorify God! Whatever we do, in word or action, is to glorify God in order that…
That others may know him. Listen to Paul's words a little earlier in 1st Corinthians as he talked about his desire for others to be saved. 1 Corinthians 9:22-23, To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings.
Jesus said he came into the world to seek and to save that which is lost! John 3:16 tells us that, For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
We are obligated to live in harmony to the glory of God that the world we live in may have hope of eternal life. Jesus loved the lost enough to come to earth, live among men, be despised and rejected and die on a cross that the world through him might be saved! Paul said that he had such a desire that his people be saved that he would give up his own salvation, if he could, to achieve their salvation. He was willing to become all things to all men that by all means he might win some.
We must remember that God called us out of darkness into light. He did not choose us because we were good in fact the Bible says that Christ died for the ungodly. Before we came to know Christ that's who we were. None were better than the other and none were worse than the other we all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. We all faced the penalty of sin — death and hell! So having been delivered from our sins and brought into the kingdom of God we have an obligation to live in harmony with one another for the glory of God. John Piper's take on the old confession says, "The chief end of man is to glorify God by enjoying him forever." We don't have the choice of glorifying God or enjoying him forever. We are to enjoy God and thereby bring glory to him. As we do this we will see others desire to come to know him.
All scripture quotes from:The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.