Monday, February 27, 2006
There was once a young boy who went to spend the week with his grandfather on the farm. While walking around he noticed the chickens, they were scratching and playing around. The little lad said, “They ain’t got it.” Next he saw a colt in the field playing and kicking up its heels to which he replied, “He ain’t got it.” After examining all of the animals on his grandfather’s farm and see that none of them had “it”, this boy finally found the old donkey in the barn. When he saw the donkey’s long, frowning face and the way that the donkey just stood there, he screamed for his grandfather to come quick. “I found it! I found it!” the boy kept yelling. When his grandfather asked what he had found he said, “Pawpaw, I found an animal that has the same kind of religion that you have.”
WE SHOULD BE IN JOY, AND WE SHOULD ENJOY JOY ALL OF THE TIME. THE WORDS JOY AND JOYFUL ARE USED 250 TIMES IN THE BIBLE. THE WORD REJOICE IS USED 200 TIMES IN THE BIBLE. SO OVER 450 TIMES WE ARE TOLD TO BE JOYFUL AND REJOICE.
WE SHOULD SO REJOICE THAT WE CAN REJOICE OVER OUR REJOICING. IF YOU GET AROUND GOD AT ALL, YOU’RE GOING TO BE FULL OF JOY, BECAUSE "IN HIS PRESENCE IS FULLNESS OF JOY." THE PSALMIST SAID: "BUT LET ALL THOSE REJOICE WHO PUT THEIR TRUST IN YOU; LET THEM EVER SHOUT FOR JOY, BECAUSE YOU DEFEND THEM; LET THOSE ALSO WHO LOVE YOUR NAME BE JOYFUL IN YOU." (PS. 5:11)
A JOYLESS CHRISTIAN IS A SLANDER AGAINST JESUS CHRIST. BILLY SUNDAY WISELY AND RIGHTLY SAID: "IF YOU HAVE NO JOY IN YOUR RELIGION, THERE IS A LEAK IN YOUR CHRISTIANITY."
DO YOU KNOW WHY JESUS SAID ALL THAT HE SAID, AND WHY JESUS TAUGHT ALL THAT HE TAUGHT? HE SAID IN JN.15:11, "THESE THINGS I HAVE SPOKEN TO YOU, THAT MY JOY MAY REMAIN IN YOU, AND THAT YOUR JOY MAY BE FULL." YOU SEE, WHEN YOU GET JESUS YOU GET JOY, JOY INEXPRESSIBLE AND FULL OF GLORY.
The attitude we have in church and in our daily lives has an effect on how people perceive us as Christians. If all they see is a long frowning face religion that does nothing what will they think of Christianity? I don’t see Jesus as some long faced; foot sliding, shoulder drooping, and slow talking depressed man. Why would crowed be attracted to that? I see Jesus as an enthusiastic, dynamic man full of joy and charisma. If the crowed were attracted to Jesus while He was here on this earth, then doesn’t it make sense that they would be attracted to a church that lifted Him up today?
The great newspaper publisher of the early 20th century, William Randolph Hearst, was a great patron of ART works, he spent a great deal of time and money collecting great works of art. One day he found a description of an artwork that he felt he must own so he sent agents around the world looking for it. After months of searching for this one piece overseas they returned empty-handed, but they discovered some amazing information. The art work was actually near-by, it was found in a warehouse owned by William Randolph Hearst!!! HE ALREADY OWNED IT BUT HAD FAILED YEARS EARLIER TO UNCRATE IT. HE HAD BEEN SEARCHING FOR A TREASURE HE ALREADY HAD BUT DIDN'T REALIZE HE HAD IT!
This is true of Christian JOY . we have it already in Christ; we just need to discover it and enjoy it! To find anything however, you must know what it is you're looking for. So, we are going to look at Christian joy ... something every saved person possesses in Christ!
I like the story about 3 prospectors who found a rich vein of gold in
Then they headed for town to file their claims & get the equipment necessary to mine the gold. True to their vows, they didn’t say a word to anybody. They filed their claim, bought the equipment, & headed back to their mine. But when they did, a crowd of people followed them.
And the reason was because the expression on their faces had given them away. Their faces were aglow in anticipation of the wealth that soon would be theirs. People knew that they must have found something very special. So a crowd followed them out of town.
Let's play "what if..." What if tomorrow everything you have was taken away? What if the government imprisoned your family, confiscated your possessions, tortured you to the point of death and then put you in solitary confinement? Would you be happy? No! Could you have joy? Yes! In fact this sort of thing has happened to God's people from the beginning. It is happening in many places in the world today, places like
In Philippians 4:4, Paul says, "Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!" Note again the word "always." Whether circumstances are favorable or unfavorable, whether we are abounding or suffering need, whether we are outwardly happy or sad, the growing Christian can still "rejoice in the Lord." I read this as though Paul anticipates the Philippians question. He says, "Rejoice in the Lord always," and someone says, "Yes, except when..." and then Paul responds, "Again I will say rejoice!" In spite of the circumstances, we are to rejoice!
1. Peace Under Pressure
1. Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: 2 By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
Here we have the root of the Christian's joy: peace with God through the Lord Jesus Christ. The Christian can come to God in prayer because we have access by faith into this grace. We're living in a pressure-packed age, where many are depressed, despondent, and suicidal. Is peace possible? Jesus said in John 14:27 Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. The peace of God has to be experienced to be experienced! The world cannot offer it. All of the world's distractions: TV, radio, books, movies, magazines, casinos, alcohol and drugs, cars, boats, sports events, and on and on, cannot give the peace that Christ gives. When you have the peace of God, then your joy has fertile ground in which to grow and increase.
THERE IS NO GREATER JOY THAN THE JOY OF BEING SAVED, KNOWING THAT YOU ARE SAVED, AND KNOWING WHAT YOU HAVE BECAUSE YOU HAVE BEEN SAVED. WE HAVE NOT BEEN GIVEN SALVATION TO ENDURE, WE’VE BEEN GIVEN SALVATION TO ENJOY. ISAIAH SAID: "THEREFORE WITH JOY YOU WILL DRAW WATER FROM THE WELLS OF SALVATION." (ISA. 12:3)
THERE ARE TWO WORDS IN THE BIBLE THAT ARE FIRST COUSINS—JOY AND GRACE. THE GREEK WORD FOR JOY IS CHARA. THE GREEK WORD FOR GRACE IS CHARIS. BOTH WORDS COME FROM THE SAME ROOT. FOR THE GRACE OF GOD ALWAYS PRODUCES THE JOY OF GOD. GRACE IS THE ROOT OF SALVATION. JOY IS THE FRUIT OF SALVATION.
THE GREAT COMPOSER, HAYDN, WAS ONCE ASKED ON ONE OCCASION WHY HIS SACRED COMPOSITIONS HAD SUCH A GLAD RING TO THEM. HE SAID: "I CANNOT COMPOSE ANYTHING WITHOUT IT. FOR I TRANSLATE INTO MUSIC THE STATE OF MY VERY HEART. WHEN I THINK OF THE GRACE OF GOD IN JESUS CHRIST, MY HEART IS SO FULL OF JOY THAT THE NOTES FAIRLY DANCE AND LEAP FROM MY PEN."
2.Purpose In Problems
3 And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; 4 And patience, experience; and experience, hope: 5 And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.
Anyone knows what it is to have problems. What do you do when you have problems? You can press for your rights and spit and stomp and swear. The wise Christian, however, can recognize that in this life there will be tribulations. Yet these tribulations can be turned to joy! The Bible says in Romans And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. From this verse in Romans chapter eight, as well as the earlier verses above in chapter five, we can conclude that as Christians we don't have to question God's love every time something unpleasant comes into our lives. Rather, we can recognize this as an opportunity to grow, an opportunity to increase our hope and faith, and we can have the quiet assurance that God is going to work it out for His good purposes. Christians can face problems with joy, because they know that through problems God is working in their lives. The unbeliever does not see the hand of God in the midst of problems. They simply resist God's work in their life, and there is no joy in that.
PAUL SAID IN II COR. 7:4, "I AM EXCEEDINGLY JOYFUL IN ALL OUR TRIBULATION." JAMES SAID, "MY BRETHREN, COUNT IT ALL JOY WHEN YOU FALL INTO VARIOUS TRIALS."
JOY CAN SWIM IN THE STORMY WAVES OF SUFFERING LONG AFTER HAPPINESS HAS DROWNED. YOU SEE, JOY CANNOT BE TAKEN FROM YOU BY WHAT HAPPENS TO YOU. BUT JOY CAN BE TAKEN FROM YOU BY HOW YOU RESPOND TO WHAT HAPPENS TO YOU.
DR. R. A. TORREY WAS ONE OF THE GREAT BIBLE TEACHERS OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY. HE AND MRS.TORREY WENT THROUGH A TIME OF GREAT HEARTACHE WHEN THEIR TWELVE-YEAR-OLD DAUGHTER WAS ACCIDENTALLY KILLED. THE FUNERAL WAS HELD ON A GLOOMY MISERABLE RAINY DAY. THEY STOOD AROUND THE GRAVE AND WATCHED AS THE BODY OF THEIR PRECIOUS LITTLE GIRL WAS LOWERED INTO THE GROUND. AS THEY TURNED AWAY, MRS. TORREY SAID: "I AM SO GLAD THAT
BUT EVEN KNOWING THIS WAS TRUE, THEIR HEARTS WERE BROKEN. DR. TORREY SAID THAT THE NEXT DAY HE JUST WENT OUT WALKING BY HIMSELF. THE GRIEF WAS JUST SO OVERWHELMING. HE SAID, AS HE WAS WALKING DOWN THE STREET, HIS HEART BROKE APART ALL OVER AGAIN AS HE THOUGHT ABOUT THE LONELINESS OF THE YEARS AHEAD WITHOUT THE PRESENCE OF HIS BEAUTIFUL PRECIOUS DAUGHTER; ABOUT THE HEARTBREAK OF AN EMPTY HOUSE, AND ALL OF THE OTHER PAINFUL MEMORIES HE HAD.
HE WAS SO BURDENED BY THIS THAT HE LOOKED UP INTO THE HEAVENS AND ASKED GOD TO HELP HIM. HE SAID: "JUST AT THAT MOMENT THIS FOUNTAIN, THE HOLY SPIRIT THAT I HAD IN MY HEART, BROKE FORTH WITH SUCH POWER AS I THINK I HAD NEVER EXPERIENCED BEFORE, AND IT WAS THE MOST JOYFUL MOMENT I HAD EVER KNOWN IN MY LIFE. OH HOW WONDERFUL IS THE JOY OF THE HOLY GHOST! IT IS AN UNSPEAKABLE GLORIOUS THING TO HAVE YOUR JOY, NOT IN THINGS ABOUT YOU, NOT EVEN IN YOUR MOST DEARLY LOVED FRIENDS, BUT TO HAVE WITHIN YOU A FOUNTAIN EVER SPRINGING UP, SPRINGING UP, SPRINGING UP, ALWAYS SPRINGING UP THREE HUNDRED AND SIXTY-FIVE DAYS IN EVERY YEAR SPRINGING UP UNDER ALL CIRCUMSTANCES UNTO EVERLASTING LIFE!"
-- Peter Marshall, Sr., "Who Can Take It?," When Handel wrote the "Hallelujah Chorus," his health and his fortunes had reached the lowest possible ebb. His right side had become paralyzed, and all his money was gone. He was heavily in debt and threatened with imprisonment. He was tempted to give up the fight. The odds seemed entirely too great. And it was then he composed his greatest work--Messiah. Could we not say of Handel that the Spirit entered into him and set him upon his feet.
3. Pardon from Penalty
6 For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. 8 But God commendeth [demonstrated] his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
I know God loves me; He demonstrated His love for me. He proved it. What are these three verses saying? Simply this: When all was lost for us (there was no hope, and when there is no hope there is no joy), Christ died for us. We didn't have to die ourselves. But consider this: For a good man some have given their lives (and only a precious few would do that), yet, while we were sinners not even seeking God, Christ died for us. Who else would do that? There are those who would want to reject the Pardon offered by God and pay the penalty for their sins themselves. Those persons, by their choice, reject the call of God and live self-seeking lives wrought with misery, unhappiness, disappointment, and uncertainty. Then they die and miss heaven, the greatest tragedy of them all. When you've been pardoned, there is reason for joy! When the prisoner is pardoned, there is joy, how much more when the high court of Heaven pronounces pardon upon us because the penalty for our sin against God has been paid!
4. Privilege That Is Personal
9 Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. 10 For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. 11 And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement. … reconciliation
ONE OF THE MOST JOYFUL CHRISTIANS, ACCORDING TO ALL ACCOUNTS, THAT HAS EVER LIVED, WAS THE FOUNDER OF THE SALVATION ARMY, WILLIAM BOOTH. SOMEONE ONCE SAID TO HIM: "DR. BOOTH, WOULD YOU PLEASE TELL US WHAT IS THE SECRET OF YOUR GREAT JOY?" WILLIAM BOOTH SAID: "IT IS VERY SIMPLE. I NEVER SAY ‘NO’ TO THE LORD."
HAVE THE RIGHT MIND SET:
In the book of Philippians Paul reveals to us the four fold mind set that we need to have in order to Have Joy.
A. THE SINGLE MIND. James 1:8 tells us that a double minded man is unstable in all his ways. Many Christians are robbed of their joy because they are not sold out to the Lord Jesus Christ. Many Christians are like thermometers. A thermometer registers the temperature, or it’s surrounding. The thermometer goes up or down depending on its surroundings. What we need are more Christians that are like thermostats. Thermostats change their surroundings. The thermostat’s job is to keep the temperature at a constant and consistent setting.
Christians that do not have a single-minded devotion to the Lord Jesus Christ are up and down. They are in and out. They are controlled by their problems, by people, by their possession and the pressure and worry of the world. Philippians 1: 21For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.
B. THE SUBMISSIVE MIND Philippians 2: 3 Don’t be jealous or proud, but be humble and consider others more important than yourselves. 4 Care about them as much as you care about yourselves 5 and think the same way that Christ Jesus thought: The Contemporary English One of the reason that we have problems with people at times is because we can’t have our own way. The Christian with the submissive mind is not looking for someone to serve them. They are looking for someone to serve. Submissive minded Christians considers the good of others to be more important than their on desires.
C. THE SPIRITUAL MIND. The spiritual mind wants to know Christ and become more like Christ. Paul points out in chapter that most people mind earthly things. I know that you have heard the saying about spiritual minded Christians. They are so heavenly minded that they are no earthly good. Well let me tell you about the earthly minded Christians. They are so earthly mind that they are no heavenly good. The bible instructs us to set our affections on things above and not below. Jesus said where your treasure is that’s where your heart will be. We need to be spiritual minded.
D. THE SECURE MIND. There are a few Christians who are insecure in their relationship with God. They live their lives in fear rather than enjoying the blessing of God. We need to learn to rest in the love of God for His children. We need to be secure in our relationship with God.
Saturday, February 25, 2006
1Timothy Keep On
1 Timothy 1:3-14, 18-20 STAYING POWER
Have you ever been required to do something that you knew was beyond your capabilities?
I remember when my cousin David and I took a little dinghy out into the water for a sail many years ago. I was just 12. He was 14. We knew there was a strong current, but that always makes for some excitement. We thought we could handle it. It wasn't until we were being pulled down the channel rapidly moving out towards the heads of the river at Nowra, quite out of control that we realised just how strong the current was. We struggled with the oars pulling hard against the current for more than half an hour, but we continued on our seaward course rapidly. Some fisher men in a passing speed boat got us pulling on the oars more strongly when they informed us they had seen a twelve foot shark just metres from our boat. We couldn’t afford to be tossed out of the boat, nor to try and swim to the shore.
Somehow we managed to get that boat on to the beach only twenty yards from the mouth of the river and the open ocean. But what if there's a whole bunch of people who's lives also depend on you doing what you have to do – but you can't do it? That was really the situation that Timothy found himself in. He was a young man, appointed by the apostle Paul to lead the church in
I. Stay True To The Faith
If there is anything our world needs today, it is for Christians to have "staying power," a commodity that has become rare in our transitory culture. A generation ago, it was quite common for a man to spend his whole lifetime with one company, beginning as an apprentice and retiring at age sixty-five with only one employer. But today, down-sizing and restructuring leave employees with no alternative but to change jobs with unsettling frequency. There is very little security in the job market or anywhere else. "Staying power" is hard to come by in jobs, marriages, or in relationships, and it is greatly needed in the Christian community of believers. Nor give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which cause disputes rather than godly edification which is in faith [verse 4].
Certain individuals had started to teach a different message from that which Paul had taught concerning Jesus Christ when he planted this church in
And Paul is urging Timothy to command these men to stop. He is urging Timothy to contend for the Gospel. Later in the letter he says: If anyone teaches false doctrines and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching he is conceited and understands nothing.
So Timothy is to command the false teacher to stop. He is told to contend for the truth, for the Gospel. Look at what Paul goes onto say at the end of verse four: These promote controversies rather than God's work which is by faith
You see, because this false teaching had no substance, because it was a complete misuse of the Old Testament it produced controversy which results in disunity. When people start propounding their own views, man-made ideas, controversy and disunity will always prevail.
Make sure, says Paul, that 'God's work' is promoted. God's work that Timothy is commanded to grow is the work of the Gospel. That's what Timothy is to be involved in. The Gospel means good news. What God has done for us in history. How he has worked to rescue a people from their rebellion against him. How he has accomplished this through the sending of his Son into this world to die for our rebellion and rise again. Of which the whole Old Testament clearly points and prepares for and the apostles of Jesus Christ clearly proclaimed. That is what Timothy and we are to trust in and promote - the glorious gospel.
We must guard against false teaching, speculation, that sets aside Gods word, and surmises for ourselves, 'The way that I see this is…' and the Bible is set aside, and we start speaking over it involving ourselves in pure speculation, that has no grounding in scripture.
Now the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith. Some have deviated from these and turned aside to fruitless discussion.
"swerved." The phrase, "turned aside," means "deflected." It's so easy to be deflected from a path of purpose. It's so easy to say, "Well, I've read through the Bible four or five times, I'll just read some good secular novel for a change, or some good biblical fiction, or some good books by Christian authors." Yes, there are good books out there, but if you are deflected from the Word of God and time spent reading lesser things takes precedence over Bible study, you'll end up with a head full of idle, empty talk. There's nothing more empty than a sermon without Scripture. We need to hear what God has to say, not what we think. 6: Some have wandered away from these and turned to meaningless talk. They want to be teachers of the law, but they do not know what they are talking about or what they so confidently affirm. We know false teachers by what they do - 'they wander away from these,' from the pure heart and good conscience and sincere faith that takes God at his word. They turn from the truth of the Bible and their lives portray the results. They live lives that are impure and that have what Paul calls later 'seared consciences'. So know the false teacher by what he does, know false teachers by what they are saying.
They want to be teachers of the law but they do not know what they are talking about or what they so confidently affirm. These men wanted to be teachers of the Old Testament, they wanted to teach it to others - but they knew nothing about it. For they had wandered away, and were basing what they said on myths and false doctrines. They were confident but clueless. They spoke with authority but without the word of God. What false teachers say will never add up to what the Bible says; and consequently neither will their lives - how can it? They have deviated from the Gospel. And their deviation will affect anyone they teach.
Colonel John Bales earned the Distinguished Flying Cross. It seems that as his plane took off and began to climb away form Tinker Air Force Base in
II. STAY TRUE TO THE FACTS
A. The Purpose Of The Old Testament Law We also know that the law is not made for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, for the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious; for those who kill fathers and mothers, for murderers, for adulterers and perverts, for slave traders and liars and perjurers - and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine that conforms to the glorious gospel of the blessed God Paul is reminding Timothy of the real purpose of the Old Testament.
First, it shows people up for what they are. It's not meant for the righteous we read, but for: … lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious… a summary of every human being that's every lived. We all fall in to that category; continue reading and see, all of us have turned from God's ways and rejected him. It had been a long case, and the man had served on the jury for several weeks. A friend said to him, "You must have heard so much law in the past few weeks that you're almost a lawyer." "You're not kidding," he answered. "I'm so full of the law that it's going to be hard for me to keep from cheating people when I get back to my business."
Secondly, it serves to restrain rebellion. That's what laws do, they set a standard which when broken requires punishment - it's there for 'lawbreakers'
Thirdly, the Old Testament gloriously points to Christ. It prepares us for Jesus who will completely and perfectly fulfil the law. Yet who will willingly and utterly take the punishment of all lawbreakers on himself by dying on the cross. That is the 'glorious gospel of the blessed God' and that is the purpose of the law, to make us see our need of Jesus Christ who died for us that we might become the righteousness of God. Paul models to Timothy and so to us the right use of the Old Testament and for us of the Bible. He reminds us that we discern false teachers by knowing the Gospel. A chaplain asked a dying soldier, "Can I do anything for you, son?" "I need someone who can undo," he answered. And Christ is that one. He can undo the tangles.
B. The Primacy Of The New Testament Gospel 11 "the glorious gospel of the blessed God."
CHS Headstone: Here lieth one believe it if you can, Who though an attorney, was an honest man!
The gates of heaven for him shall open wide. But will be shut against all the tribe beside.
John Berridge wrote: Run, John, and work, the law commands, Yet finds him neither feet nor hands;
But sweeter news the Gospel brings, It bids me fly and gives me wings.
"the glorious gospel of the blessed God." It freed a girl from a fortune-telling demon and raised her from despair to delight! It transformed a treacherous persecutor into a tremendous preacher! It took a woman who was a dirty tool for dirtier men and turned her into a winsome witness for our wonderful Lord! It rescued the maniac of Gadara from his conflict and quarreling and made him calm and quiet. It raises to hope those who are hopeless. It raises to purpose those who are purposeless. It raises to soundness those who are sick with sin. Without this glorious gospel - in death there's no life; without this glorious gospel - in temptation there's no triumph; without this glorious gospel - in sin there's no salvation; without this glorious gospel - in the life to come there's no heaven! But with this glorious gospel, through faith in the Christ of this gospel, you have victory over sin, the grave and eternal punishment.
Paul and every saved sinner exemplifies this gospel and demonstrates it to be glorious!
Its glorious because its about mercy. Verse 13: Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy… In other words, Jesus dealt with Paul's past. Paul's bank account with God was massively overdrawn. If God had called in the debt, then Paul would have been well and truly busted. But Jesus took over Paul's debt and paid it off himself.
Its glorious because it floods lives with grace. Verse 14: The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly,… In other words, in dealing with Paul's past, Jesus also gave him an eternal future, and all of it utterly undeserved. The picture is of overflowing generosity – more than Paul could even take in. A groom promises to his bride on their wedding day: "All that I am I give to you and all that I have I share with you…" And that's effectively what Jesus said to Paul, which is quite something when it's the Son of God speaking. Paul became an heir of all the eternal riches of heaven. And given that he was a Jesus-hater, that really is abundant grace.
Its glorious because its about the two gifts of faith and love. Verse 14 again: The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.
Faith in Christ is a gift. Paul would never have believed in Jesus unless Jesus had taken him by the scruff of the neck on the road to Damascus and shaken the unbelief out of him. And just as faith in Christ is a gift, so is love. Paul discovered a totally new experience of love: love for Christ, in place of hatred; love for his fellow believers, instead of a desire to destroy them; and in place of arrogant contempt, Paul found a love for the non-Jewish world that drove him to give his life to evangelism of the Gentiles.
Its glorious because it adds power. Verse 12: I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength… In other words, 'who has empowered me'. And what does that strength do? It enables Paul to be 'faithful' – to keep going. Paul was out of his depth being the apostle to the Gentiles. But he was able to persevere through the most vicious storms of persecution and pressure because of the strength of Jesus at work in him. How did Jesus transform Paul? He showed him mercy. He poured out his grace on him. He gave him faith. He gave him love. And he gave him strength. And as if that lot wasn't enough – one more thing. Did you hear that the tobacco giant Philip Morris has reported to the Czech government that it's much cheaper for them if they let their citizens die young of smoking related diseases? All those pensions they don't have to pay. If they rescue the Czech population from the perils of smoking, it's going to cost their government dear. Jesus made the same kind of calculation – but his conclusion was different. Should he let us die, or rescue us? The cost of rescue was incredibly high. But Jesus paid it.
Its glorious because it transforms sinners. He was the worst of sinners. Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners - of whom I am the worst. That's not false modesty on Paul's part. He's looked into his soul and seen how deep the rot goes. We only really begin to understand how serious our sin is after we've found forgiveness in Christ. That was certainly my experience. It was after I grasped the gospel for the first time as a teenager that the full horror of what I was really like began to dawn on me. It was not a pretty sight. It would have driven me to despair if Christ had not given me strength and shown mercy. The cross of Christ shows us with awful clarity how serious our sin and rebellion are. But, thank God, the cross simultaneously shows us the remedy. 'Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners…'
Its glorious because it demonstrates that no-one is beyond God’s reach. Verse 16: But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life. Do you think that you're beyond the reach of Jesus – too far gone, too sinful, too hard-bitten and cynical, too much filthy water under the bridge? Think again. Look what Jesus did with Paul. He'll do it with you if you ask him and mean it. There is no limit to the patience and mercy that Jesus will show to you if you'll just ask him.
"Jesus, my Savior, to Bethlehem came, laid in a manger to sorrow and shame;
Oh, it was wonderful, blest be His name, seeking for me, for me."
"Jesus, my Savior, in mercy and love, came from the mansions of heaven above;
Tenderly pleading for sinners like me, pleading for me, for me."
"Jesus, my Savior, the same as of old, while I did wander afar from the fold;
Gently and long He hath pled with my soul, calling for me, for me."
Luke 19:10 the Lord Jesus Himself said, "The Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost."
The facts? There is mercy for anyone. There is grace for anyone. There is love for anyone. There is power for anyone. There is transformation for anyone. There is pardon for anyone! And its all in Christ Jesus our Saviour and Lord.
There is a true story of a beach lifesaver who worked at Illoura beach, between North Cronulla Beach and Wanda. I was actually there that day with my dad. The beach was closed. There was a very heavy swell. The waves had to be 15 feet high. As we watched from the road at our car, a thirty five year old man, foolishly swimming in the storm swell was being swept out to sea in a dangerous current. The lifesaver donned the belt, and with the line attached swam out through the swell to wear the man, exhausted, was now lying face down in the water. I am not sure that he hadn’t been concussed after a huge wave crashed down upon him. He turned him face up in the water, gave a few short puffs and managed to yanked on the rope for the other lifeguard, (there was just one other lifesaver there that overcast stormy day) and he began hauling the two men to the beach. For just a couple of seconds, maybe half a minute, my dad and I, (I was about eight years old) lost sight of the two men in the whitewash. Eventually the lifsaver managed to get them back onto the beach. The swimmer revived quickly on the beach, but the lifesaver, ew learnt that evening on the news, held under the water by the weight of the seaweed through which the line had run, collapsed and died there on the beach. The swimmer simply got up and walked away without a word of thanks to the young man. We were shocked to hear on the news that he had counted the lifesavers life as no dear thing. Lack of appropriate gratitude and praise is a shocking thing. I cannot but think that so many hold the Saviour’s life so cheaply, when He was made sin for us. When He suffered and died in our place. I cannot understand the ingratitude of those who can walk blithely through their lives without tears over the sacrifice that the Saviour has made for them. This whole passage is wonderful kind of sandwich of praise. Verse 12: I thank Christ Jesus our Lord… And then verse 17: Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen. "Depth of mercy! Can there be mercy still reserved for me?
Can my God His wrath forbear- Me, the chief of sinners spare?"
"I have long withstood His grace, long provoked Him face to face.
Would not harken to His calls, grieved Him by a thousand falls."
"There for me my Savior stands, holding forth His wounded hands;
God is love! I know, I feel, Jesus weeps and loves me still."
III. STAY TRUE TO THE FIGHT There was even more that Paul wanted to bring to young Timothy's attention: "Remember the expectations concerning yourself and the disappointments concerning others."
1. Remember The Prophecies About You To Timothy he says, "You've been called by Christ and the Christians. Be true to your title and be true to your trust." What's his title? His name. And what does it mean? "Honor to God." He's simply saying, "My son, live up to your name." How? By bringing honor to God. And that's what the Lord says to you, "Live up to your title!" And what's your title? Christian. Are you bringing honor to God? When Josiah Wedgwood went the rounds of his pottery plant, he always carried a hammer in his hands. If his critical eyes detected the slightest defect in any of his products, he'd break it, saying, "Only the best is worthy of the name Wedgwood." Remember, only the best is worthy of the name of Christ. Be true to your title, and be true to your trust. And what is entrusted to you, as was entrusted to Timothy? The good news about Christ. That's the gospel.
2. Remember The Examples Of Shipwreck Before You [1 Timothy 1:18-20] While we are not clear about the identity of Alexander, we do know that Hymenaeus was a preacher of false doctrine. The two managed to make shipwreck of their lives because they got off track doctrinally. I could take twenty pages to write about fellow ministers I 've known over the last twenty years who have made shipwreck of their lives - morally, doctrinally, or financially. They no longer pastor churches, but make their living in some other way. Oswald Chambers said, The sense of the irreparable is one of the greatest agonies in human life. Adam and Eve had a sense of the irreparable when they were banished from the garden. Cain had a sense of the irreparable when he slew his brother, Abel. He said, My punishment is greater than I can bear! [Genesis 4:13]. Esau had a sense of the irreparable when he said that he had found no place for repentance after he sold his birthright for a bowl of stew. There is a real sense in which all of us have done things that can't be undone, and we experience that unbearable pain. But we can go on; we can change. We may not be able to alter the consequences of the mistake, but we can determine that we won't repeat it. Paul cited Alexander and Hymenaeus as a warning that none of us is exempt from error.
The new church plant in Jerusalem exploded in growth. It quickly grew from 3,000 new converts (Acts 2:41) to 5,000 men (Acts 4:4). That means there must have been more than 20,000 people in the Jerusalem church—counting women and children. Jesus commanded them to make disciples and that’s what they did.
But even though they were filled with the Holy Spirit and the number of disciples was increasing, the first church had its problems. Acts 6:1 says, "The Grecian Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food." Do you know what the word "complained" means in the Greek? It means complained! It’s the same word used to describe the murmuring of the Israelites against Moses in the wilderness. Even though "much grace was upon them all" (Acts 4:33), some church members were griping and complaining. No leader likes to hear that. That shouldn’t be in the family of God. So the apostles quickly organized to resolve the issue. The best of churches will have problems just as the best of families will have disputes. In Acts 5 Ananias and Sapphira lied about the amount they gave to the church. In Acts 6 there were complaints about favoritism in the distribution of food. In Acts 15 Paul and Barnabas had such a sharp disagreement that they parted company. In Acts 18 Apollos, a popular preacher, was teaching wrong doctrine. The church was filled with the Holy Spirit but it was still made up of imperfect people. Some Christians today are easily disillusioned and waste a lot of time complaining about the imperfections of their church. "The preacher isn’t deep enough." "The elders lack courage." "The Sunday school teacher is boring." "The youth minister is sloppy on appearance." "The worship leader doesn’t sing enough old hymns." "Half the congregation doesn’t show up for Bible study." On and on it goes.
You know what? Most of the complaints are probably true. The church is imperfect because it’s made up of sinful people. But somehow it never dawns on the complainers that their constant griping is contributing to the congregation’s problems. They imagine that there is some special church out there where everything is just as God intended it to be. Someone rightly pointed out that if you ever find a church that’s perfect, don’t join it because you’ll mess it up! One reason the church has problems is because many of us have a consumer mentality. Jesus said, "The greatest among you will be the servant of all." But instead of a service mentality we have a "serve us" mentality. We fail to grasp the fundamental principle that the church doesn’t exist solely for us; it exists to glorify God and serve others. Deitrich Bonhoeffer wrote, "True community begins with disillusionment." We must love people as they are, not as we wish they were. Let’s be realistic. There is no perfect church that will meet all your needs. But if you ask "Where can I help?" you’ll discover that for the most part your needs are met when you serve others.
John Ortberg asks, "Did you ever notice how the people who complain, ‘I’m not being fed here’ are often longtime Christians? I want to say, ‘Well, take off the bib and get out of the high chair and start feeding yourself!"
If we respond as Jesus who "loved the church and gave himself up for her," then maybe we’ll see the church as Christ sees it, "a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless" (Ephesians 5:25-17).
Friday, February 24, 2006
The Fruit of The Spirit - Joy
THERE IS SOMETHING THAT WE ALL DO, WHETHER WE ARE LITTLE BABIES OR SENIOR ADULTS, THAT DOCTORS SAY IS SUCH GOOD MEDICINE THAT IT RELIEFS STRESS, CAN CURE HEADACHES, FIGHT INFECTIONS, AND EVEN ALLEVIATE HYPERTENSION. IN FACT, WHEN WE ENGAGE IN THIS ACTIVITY, THERE ARE WELL DOCUMENTED PHYSICAL AFFECTS, MANY OF THEM AKIN TO MODERN EXERCISE. MUSCLES IN THE ABDOMEN, CHEST, SHOULDERS, AND ELSEWHERE CONTRACT; HEART RATE AND BLOOD PRESSURE INCREASE. IN ONE BURST OF THIS ACTIVITY THE PULSE CAN DOUBLE FROM 60 TO 120, AND SYSTOLIC BLOOD PRESSURE CAN SHOOT FROM A
THE REASON WE LAUGH, GENERALLY SPEAKING, IS BECAUSE SOMETHING MAKES US HAPPY, BUT WE DON'T ALWAYS LAUGH BECAUSE WE ARE NOT ALWAYS HAPPY. BUT THERE IS A DELIGHT, A GLADNESS OF HEART, A RAPTURE IN THE SOUL, THAT GOES BEYOND AND ABOVE HAPPINESS. IT IS CALLED JOY. NOW THERE IS A TREMENDOUS DIFFERENCE BETWEEN JOY AND HAPPINESS:YOU CANNOT BE HAPPY WITHOUT BEING JOYFUL. BUT YOU CAN BE JOYFUL WITHOUT BEING HAPPY.
1. YOUR JOY MUST BE INTERNAL NOT EXTERNAL
HAPPINESS IS EXTERNAL. JOY IS INTERNAL. HAPPINESS DEPENDS ON OUTWARD CIRCUMSTANCES. JOY DEPENDS ON INWARD CHARACTER.
HAPPINESS DEPENDS UPON WHAT HAPPENS TO YOU. JOY DEPENDS UPON WHO LIVES WITHIN YOU.
THE WORD "HAPPINESS" COMES FROM AN OLD ENGLISH WORD HAPP, WHICH LITERALLY MEANS "CHANCE." IT CORRESPONDS TO THE LATIN FORTUNA WHICH MEANS LUCK. YOU SEE, IF THINGS HAPPEN THE WAY WE WANT THEM TO HAPPEN, THEN WE ARE HAPPY. BUT IF THEY DON'T HAPPEN THE WAY WE WANT THEM TO HAPPY, WE ARE UNHAPPY. HAPPINESS IS TEMPORARY AND FICKLED. JOY IS PERMANENT AND SETTLED.
“Alexander the Great was not satisfied, even when he had completely subdued the nations. He wept because there were no more worlds to conquer, and he died at an early age in a state of debauchery. Hannibal, who filled three bushels with the gold rings taken from the knights he had slaughtered, committed suicide by swallowing poison. Few noted his passing, and he left this earth completely unmourned. Julius Caesar, ‘staining his garments in the blood of one million of his foes,’ conquered 800 cities, only to be stabbed by his best friends at the scene of his greatest triumph. Napoleon, the feared conqueror, after being the scourge of
ONE OF THE GREATEST AND MOST ATTRACTIVE QUALITIES BOTH A CHURCH AND A CHRISTIAN CAN HAVE, IS JOY. DR. VANCE HAVNER ONCE SAID: "THE MAN OF THE
WORLD IS NOT LAUGHING AT CHRISTIANS WHO 'GET HAPPY' OVER BEING SAVED, HALF SO MUCH AS HE IS DISGUSTED WITH US BIG-CHURCH FOLKS WHO ARE SHOWING NO EVIDENCE OF A DYNAMIC TRANSFORMING EXPERIENCE THAT MAKES US LOVE WHAT ONCE WE HATED, AND HATE WHAT ONCE WE LOVED."
UNFORTUNATELY, THE WORLD HAS CARICATURED CHRISTIANS AS BEING PRIMARILY PURVEYORS OF DOOM AND GLOOM, PROPHETS OF SADNESS AND SORROW.
Lew Smedes wrote: To miss out on joy is to miss out on the reason for your existence.
C.S. Lewis put it like this: Joy is the serious business of heaven.
Probably the single most famous statement from our heritage is this line: The chief end of human beings is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. Why? Because God is the happiest being in the universe. Paul put it like this: Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I say rejoice.
What is joy in God? It’s more than believing in him. It’s delighting in him above all the delights of the world. It’s being liberated from emotional bondage to the gifts of God, so that we feel in our hearts,
I’d rather have Jesus than silver or gold I’d rather be his than have riches untold
I’d rather have Jesus than houses or lands I’d rather be led by his nail-pierced hand
Than to be the king of a vast domain And be held in Sin’s dread sway;
I’d rather have Jesus than anything this world affords
2. YOUR JOY IS CHOSEN BY YOU AND PRODUCED BY GOD.
C. S. Lewis talks about how he tried – and failed – to produce that kind of joy in his own life. In his youth, he says, his daily prayers had become burdensome, and he had become so concerned that he wasn’t really thinking about what he was praying, that he just tried to pray harder and harder every single night. “Night after night,” he says, “dizzy with desire for sleep and often in a kind of despair, I endeavored to pump up my ‘realizations.’” He found his prayer life to be a “burden from which I longed with soul and body to escape.” He came to dread bedtime. he says, “My nightly task was to produce by sheer will power a phenomenon which will power could never produce.” He had fallen into the trap – as he later realized – of thinking that he could actually create joy in his own life.
But, you see, joy is not something that we can give ourselves. Joy – real joy – comes as a gift from God. G. K. Chesterton called joy “the gigantic secret of the Christian.” Joy isn’t just light-hearted happiness. Joy isn’t just enjoying the pleasures of life. Joy is something deep down in your heart. “I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart.” Joy is something that you can’t put in your heart. You can’t put it there yourself. The only one who can put joy in your heart – real joy – is God.
One of my favorite sports in summertime is what my favorite sport is all year round: eating. I am a grazer from birth. The nice thing about the seasons is they bring you new things. One wonderful thing about summertime is watermelon. How do you pick out a real nice watermelon at Coles? Well, I’ve seen Lorelle go in and thump on them-you take your middle finger and middle knuckle and go whap! on them-and if there's a nice resonant sound, that's a ripe watermelon. What on earth is a nice resonant sound with a watermelon? I don't know.
But I'll tell you this. For those of us who know Christ, there should be no difficulty in us picking out whether or not we are living a godly life. Because the commodities are objective and quantifiable. If you are living a truly godly life, you are a loving person, you are a joyful person, you are a peaceful person, you are a patient person, you are gentle and good, and the list goes on. It's quantifiable, measurable, and understandable. So if you say, "I am a very holy person. I go to choir. I go to church. I give money to God's work. I witness. I . . ." I just want to say, "Wait a minute. Could I just move by all that stuff and look at your life?" Because it's not really those externals. Holiness is really tested on the real road of existence in being loving, joyful, etc.
last Sunday night we looked at the quality of love. And in many ways love is something that overrules all the other fruit, it incorporates them all. But Paul has also listed for us these other fruit. You may misunderstand them. I mean, what is joy? It's a part of a quality life. You say, "Well, I just don't smile much." That's all right. You can have joy and not smile much. You say, "You know, I'm just not one of these people who laughs all the time." Well, I worry about people who laugh all the time. In fact, laughter really has nothing to do with joy. Our whole world is laughing itself silly and crying itself to sleep. You can laugh without joy.
And how would you know if you had a godly life? Well, you'd test the joy factor. And you'd have to say, "Well, what is biblical joy?" We've discussed this in some measure before, but just let me underscore it with you again. It's not a matter of a twenty- four-hour smile or laughing a lot. It's really something down deep inside, a very core kind of commodity. The Greek word chara, joy, which we have in this text, Galatians 5, is not unlike the Hebrew word for blessed. Psalm 1 says "Happy is the person." It's not unlike Matthew 5, the Beatitudes. "Blessed," happy, fulfilled is the person.
Phil 2:12,13 So then, my dear friends, just as you have always obeyed, not only in my presence, but now even more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. 13 For it is God who is working in you, [enabling you]both to will and to act for His good purpose.
But the fruit of the Spirit is ... joy." When we look in the New Testament, we see there that joy is also expected and commanded. The Apostle Paul says, "Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!" (Phil 4:4). The command to "rejoice" is given to all of God's people. In fact, joy is one of the characteristics of the true believer's life. In other words, those who belong to Jesus are marked with joy; it is one way to distinguish us from unbelievers; it is one of our trademarks. We, who "live by the Spirit" and who "keep in step with the Spirit" and do not "gratify the desires of the sinful nature" (Gal ,25) are to be filled with a deep and abiding joy.
"But the fruit of the Spirit is ... joy." The Apostle Paul also says we are to rejoice "always." The Apostle, of course, sets the believers a personal example here. When Paul, with Silas, first preached the Gospel in
The Apostle Paul rejoiced in the Lord at all times and under all circumstances. From this we learn again that no matter the time or the circumstances, God's people are to rejoice in the Lord.
It is said that as Benjamin Franklin concluded a stirring speech on the guarantees of the Constitution, a heckler shouted, "Aw, them words don't mean nothin' at all. Where is all the happiness you say it guarantees us?"
In the same way, we need to pursue joy. The fruit of the Spirit needs to be cultivated.
So what is joy? Joy is the song in the Christ-follower’s heart. Joy is the music God gives to His children.
Joy is found in a relationship with Jesus. Are all others, besides Jesus followers, miserable? Of course not. But there is a depth of joy that is unknowable apart from a relationship with our Creator. George Wade Robinson wrote the hymn, I Am His and He is Mine back in the 1800’s. The song says, Heaven above is softer blue; earth around is sweeter green; Something lives in every hue Christ-less eyes have never seen.
There is a richness to life that simply is not possible, I believe, without Jesus. So, real joy begins with being reconciled to God through faith in Jesus. But even then, we must be intentional about remaining closely related to Jesus. Hear the words of Jesus quoted in John 15:9-11: “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father's commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.”
We remain in him by obeying the promptings of His Spirit, by nurturing our relationship with Him through Bible study, worship, prayer, and true fellowship with His people.
And though no one ever gets so close to Jesus that they never experience pain…the deeper our relationship with Jesus, the deeper our joy.
I. Habits That Become Relationship Killjoys
Selfishness kills joy! “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God.” Jas. 4:1-2 “For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.” Jas. 3:16
Resentment kills joy! “Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.” Heb. 12:14, 15 “Get rid of all bitterness, rage, and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Eph. 4:31, 32
Fear kills joy! “An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up.” Pr. 12:25
3 Things Fear Does To Destroy Home Health:
§ Fear makes me defensive.
§ Fear makes me distant.
§ Fear makes me demanding.
II. Habits That Create Joy In Our Homes
Joy is a by-product of sacrificial, cause-based living
C. S. Lewis, in Surprised By Joy, suggested that joy is not found when it is sought, so much as a “byproduct whose very existence presupposes that you desire not it but something other and outer.”i Joy is the almost unexpected consequence of the pursuit of something besides our own feelings of delight.
Joy is found in giving ourselves for purposes that are greater than ourselves and that have eternal consequences. Getting so lost in an eternal cause that we forget to complain about how the world is not making us happy—that’s joy. And Jesus is our example here! Hebrews 12:2 says, “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” I believe this is talking about more than his assurance of his resurrection. Jesus found joy in giving his life! Jesus, under the pressure and physical pain and emotional hell of taking upon himself our sin, still found a deep joy, for he loved us and knew what this would mean for us! Joy at its deepest comes with the willingness to give our lives for that which C. S. Lewis called “other and outer”—a cause that is beyond ourselves—a cause that requires a costly investment, yet pays its dividends in joy.
As followers of Jesus we receive the gift of joy. Yet we still have to do joy. That's what we read in Philippians 4:4, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” In our English translations we read "rejoice." Literally, however, chairo, the verb tense of chara, means "do joy." Joy, then, is not something that we passively experience; it is something we do. Joy is something we choose when life would offer us something else. There are some things over which we have no control. But, barring some physical or chemical disorder, or some unusually deep scar, we can determine our response to our difficulties. Among my favorite passages in the Bible is Habakkuk 3:17 & 18, "Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice (I will do joy) in the Lord. I will be joyful in God my Savior." Some of us could take a lesson from Habakkuk. We can choose to be positive. We can choose our response to the bangs and bumps of life. For many however, it is not that simple. It is possible that there are people here who are hurting deeply. It would be naive of me to think that, if people are hurting, they can just flip a switch and "do joy." If you are hurting, hear the wonderful words of Psalm 30:5, “Weeping may last for the night, but joy comes in the morning.” The night might be dark and it might be long but morning's coming. Morning's coming when even those who are hurting can “do joy.”
1. Focus on giving rather than receiving. “In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus Himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” Acts
2. Focus on healing rather than hurting. “Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you
may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” 1 Jn. See also Rom. 3:1-5
3. Focus on God’s power rather than my problems! See Ph. 4:4-7
. Because God is with me! “The Lord is near.” Ph. 4:5b
. Because God has a plan for me! “… present your requests to God.” Ph. 4:6b
. Because God will help me! “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Ph. 4:7
“I have walked life’s path with an easy tread, Had followed where comfort and pleasure led;
And then by chance in a quiet place – I met my Master face to face.
With station and rank and wealth for goal, Much thought for body but none for soul,
I had entered to win this life’s mad race –When I met my Master face to face.
I had built my castles, reared them high, Till their towers had pierced the blue of the sky;
I had sworn to rule with an iron mace -When I met my Master face to face.
I met Him and Knew Him, and blushed to see That His eyes full of sorrow were fixed on me;
And I faltered, and fell at His feet that day While my castles vanished and melted away.
Melted and vanished; and in their place I saw naught else but my Master’s face;
And I cried aloud: ‘Oh, make me meet To follow the marks of Thy wounded feet.’
My thought is now for the souls of men; I have lost my life to find it again
Ever since alone in that holy place My master and I stood face to face.”
Wednesday, February 22, 2006
The Fruit of The Spirit - Love
Gal But the fruit of the Spirit is love
Some of us old-timers remember the advice of the Supremes when they told us to "Stop in the name of love." Well, what we really need to do is to remember the advice of God when He tells us to start in the name of love.
And we come now to really dealing with the specifics in terms of the fruit of the Spirit.
The Toughness Of Love
A couple of years ago, James Dobson wrote a best-selling book that was titled Tough Love. I think it's about time somebody wrote a book and entitled it Love Is Tough. Because biblical love applied is one of the toughest challenges that you and I have. I guess it wouldn't do a whole lot of good to tell you, but look. God commanded it. I know God commanded it, and I still struggle with how tough it is to really love biblically. I guess it probably wouldn't do us a whole lot of good if I reminded you that love is one of the penetrating priorities in God's agenda in both the Old Testament and the New Testament. When He looks at your life, He's looking to see whether or not you're loving. I know that. I find biblical love still to be a phenomenal challenge in my life.
Maybe it's such a struggle because we've become so confused about love. For some of us, we were born to this earth with parents, and it was just kind of normal to think they would love us, and after a few years of experience, we wondered, Is that really what love is? For some of us, it's a struggle because we've been so deeply injured. We find that we really love to hate. And there are some people in this world that we really hate to love. Maybe that's part of why it's so tough. For some of us, we start feeling a little guilty when we get loving because we really realize that down deep inside we're loving to be loved. We think, I know what I'll do; I'll just be loving to everybody, because I want so desperately to be loved by everybody. There's this haunting reality that maybe our motivations are just a little off base. Or maybe we love to be liked. I don't know that anybody's been born into this universe who doesn't want to be liked. Well, maybe I think we've met a couple people who act like they don't want to be liked. But maybe we love so that everybody will like us. Maybe we love to gain attention, and we don't feel really good about that.
In ancient Greek mythology Narcissus was the son of the river God Cephissus. Narcissus was exceptionally good looking. He was physically beautiful but incapable of love.
While he loved no one, someone loved him. She longed and yearned for him but found absolutely no response. He was incapable of responding. He was incapable of loving. She loved him so much that she slowly disappeared from the lack of response until all that was left of her was her voice. Her name was Echo.
Another mythical character named Nemesis decided to punish Narcissus for his coldness of heart and enticed him to drink at a certain fountain. When Narcissus bent over to drink he saw his own reflection and fell in love for the first time in his life. He was so enthralled with the sight of himself that he could never leave the reflection. So, the gods transformed him into a flower that to this day is called the Narcissus.
Narcissism is falling in love with yourself, but it really isn’t love at all. Some people are truly self-centered, self-absorbed and totally selfish but they are not lovers. They don’t love others and they really don’t love themselves either because that’s not what love does. Love is never like that.
Maybe we love because we want to look loving. When we love for reasons like that, we know that's not really biblical love.
So love is tough. Maybe love is tough because God has asked us to apply it in all the tough places. As a husband He says to me, "Love your wife as Christ loves the church." I find it's one of the most difficult things to apply any spiritual principles at home. Home is where I want to relax. Home is my kingdom. Home is where I want my children and my wife to serve me. And God says on my way home tonight, “Grosey, you give yourself to your wife." That's tough. That's tough application, to love those whom we are intimate with-unconditionally, as Christ loved us. Maybe that's why love is so tough, because He's asked us to apply it in tough places.
Maybe love is tough because He's asked us to apply it to our enemies. Matthew 5:43-45: He says, "You have heard that it was said, `Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you," the wonderful uniqueness of the kingdom, "I tell you: Love your enemies," bless those who curse you, "and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be [like] your Father [who is] in heaven." Maybe that's why it's so tough, because its application is so pointed to areas in which we struggle.
Maybe love is tough because He tells us to love our neighbours. Biblically that's anybody that comes across the turf of our existence. Love is tough because it's love that drives us to the lost. What did Paul say? The love of Christ compels me. From the homeless to
1. The Source Of Love
Soren Kierkegaard once said, "You say you don't need God? Try to love your enemies and believe me, you'll need God." Open your Bibles with me, if you would, please, and let's see if the Spirit can heal our dilemma. Galatians 5-we now make a transition out of the beginning instructions about our relationship to the Spirit, and then throw ourselves into the products of this relationship, a very familiar section called "fruit of the Spirit." Unfortunately, it is so familiar that we forget that it's tied intrinsically to the previous context. There is no hope of any of the fruit of the Spirit in my life unless I am living in verse 16. So verse 16 says, "Walk by [or in] the Spirit." Verse 18: be "led by the Spirit." Verse 25: "Walk by the Spirit."
We talked about making sure that the Spirit is the sphere and the source, and that we submit to the Spirit, and He becomes our singular influence in life. Now notice, if you will, please, that the text guarantees us that as we follow that process, this will be the product. Verse 22: But the fruit of that process, the product, is love, joy, etc. Note with me that the very first item on this list is love. One of the first things that I can expect from a Spirit-filled life is the sharing of God's love to the world around me. We have to remember, and though the text does not tell us why love is first, and I cannot guarantee you why Paul put love first . . . As I think about biblical theology, I think about the priority place that love has always played and held in Scripture.
2. The Significance Of Love
In Leviticus, "Love thy neighbor as you love yourself," one of the great hallmarks of the God of the Old Testament is that the God of the Old Testament is hesed, that He loyally loves His people. And then Jesus said to His disciples in John 13:34-35, "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, [conditional clause] if you have love for one another." Then 1 Corinthians 13, where it says if you want to have gifts and you want to serve the Lord with your gifts, they mean zero-all of my service to God is of no value and no worth-if it is not done in the context of genuine biblical love. Then in 1 John 4:20, if you do not love your brother, you cannot say that you love God. So I would just suspect, though Paul doesn't tell us, that he starts out with love because it is such a pressing priority for God's people.
I think all the way back in the very earliest days when God revealed to His people how they should relate to Him. In Deuteronomy 6 He said, "The Lord our God, the Lord is one. [And thou shalt] love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength" (vv. 4-5 niv). Then later He added that you should love your neighbor as yourself. Then when they asked Christ what was the greatest commandment, Christ said, "`You shall love the Lord your God,'" and "The second is like it, `You shall love your neighbor as yourself'" (Matthew 22:37-39 nasb). "Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another" (Romans 13:8 nasb).
There is a universal need to be loved, even for Madalyn Murray O’Hare. You may remember that she disappeared a few years ago along with her son and a granddaughter and she left behind several things. She left behind some allegations that she had stolen about six hundred thousand dollars from various organizations that she had helped to develop. She also left behind debts of a quarter million dollars. She left behind a diary. Madalyn Murray O’Hare, the original card-carrying atheist said, "Somebody, somewhere, please love me."
Ira Gillet, a missionary to
1Cor 13 :1 If I speak the languages of men and of angels, but do not have love, I am a sounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have [the gift of] prophecy, and understand all • mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so that I can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 And if I donate all my goods to feed the poor, and if I give my body to be burned, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
If I Don't Live a Life of Love…
1. Nothing I SAY will matter.
13:1: If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.
2. Nothing I KNOW will matter.
13:2a: If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge…
3. Nothing I BELIEVE will matter.
13:2b: …and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.
"I love you" are the three most powerful and potentially transforming words anyone can say or hear. Love gives meaning. Love gives hope. Love makes us feel good. Love changes everything. Love is God’s great gift to us all.
Sometimes our society diminishes love by saying it without meaning it.
¨ Love is sometimes counterfeited with sex. ¨ Love is hard for some to do because so many have never seen it done well. The truth is that if we can understand love, if we can experience love, and if we can express love all the rest of life can and will be supernaturally transformed for good. There is a sense that if we get love right then we can get everything right and if we don’t get love right then we can’t get anything right
4. Nothing I GIVE will matter.
13:3a: If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love…
George McGovern, one time presidential candidate, wrote a book about his daughter Terry who died of alcoholism. In 1994 she was found frozen to death in a snow bank where she'd fallen in a drunken stupor. After his daughter died McGovern poured over Terry's diaries and talked to all her friends trying to figure out what she was thinking and he discovered that he wasn't as good of a father as he thought he had been. While he was spending eighteen-hour days fighting for political causes his daughter Terry was at home writing in her diary that she missed her daddy but he probably didn't miss her because he probably didn't care about her. McGovern later wrote advice to parents: Show more love to your kids by spending more time with them especially during the adolescent years. No matter what it costs your career." And he writes this, "I'd give everything I have and I mean everything for one more afternoon with Terry, just to tell her how much I love her and have one more of those happy times that we used to have all too infrequently."
What is Love?
1. Love is a COMMAND .
2 John 6: As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love.
My children, I will be with you only a little longer. You will look for me, and just as I told the Jews, so I tell you now: Where I am going, you cannot come.
A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.
Beyond these words of Jesus, nine more times in the New Testament Christians are asked to love one another:
"Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another" (Romans 13:8)
"love one another deeply, from the heart." (I Peter )
"This is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another." (I John )
"And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us." (I John 3:23)
"Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God" (I John 4:7)
"Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us." (I John 4:11-12)
"I ask that we love one another." (II John 1:5)
There is no doubt that Jesus had high expectations for Christians to love each other, but how does it actually happen?
2. Love is a CHOICE .
1 Corinthians 14:1: Follow the way of love…
3. Love is a CONDUCT .
1 John 3:18: Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue, but with actions and in truth.
Hear what Jesus says to us: "Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another."
That’s what Jesus wants us to do. He wants us to love one another the way we’ve seen him do it. Jesus loved us when we hated him. Jesus sticks with us when we ignore him. Jesus is generous to us when we are greedy toward him. Jesus is kind to us when we don’t deserve it. Jesus forgives us when we repeatedly sin against him.
Hear what Jesus says to us: "Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another." Look at any other Christian you know—don’t ask how Jesus would love them; ask how Jesus has already loved you. Love one another as Jesus loves you! Don’t love like crazy—love like Jesus!
Listen to I John 3:16-17 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. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?
In other words, Christian love for other Christians is in doing something. Do whatever needs to be done. Do whatever they need. If it takes a gift of money, give the money. If it takes sacrifice of your life, sacrifice your life. Now, most of us will never come close to having to lay down our lives for each other the way Jesus laid down his life for us—but there are lots of things we can and will do for each other.
4. Love is a COMMITMENT .
1 John 4:19: We love because He first loved us.
"And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love."
I Corinthians 13:13
We all know too many stories of people who glibly say “I love you” but behave badly with lack of love, unkindness and abuse.
Whether in a family or a friendship, always measure love by actions more than words.
1 Corinthians is one of the most eloquent descriptions of love in all human literature although it never mentions saying, “I love you.” All the descriptions of love are actions.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Very early on Monday morning, July 29, 2002, nine coal miners were rescued from 240 feet under the earth where they were trapped for 77 hours (Somerset, PA). It was the first time in 30 years where there was such a successful rescue. During their three full days under ground they were in cramped quarters with cold rising water that sometimes was up to their noses. They shared one sandwich between them. They wrote goodbye notes to their families. They thought they were going to die—and they decided they would all die together so that their bodies was be found tied to each other. At one of the emotional low points in their ordeal, 43-year-old Randy Fogle started to shiver and experienced tightness in his chest. The other nine feared he was suffering from hypothermia. They all surrounded him and took turns hugging him. They hugged each other. Blaine Mayhugh, 31, said, “When we were cold we would snuggle.” I doubt that these
When I was a teenager too young to drive I bought an old car from a wrecker. The price was right! Free! Even if it had no brakes and had to be towed home. One day I was working on the engine and could not get it to start. The battery was charged. There was plenty of petrol. Nothing I tried worked. My father walked out of the house and offered to help. I knew that he knew nothing because he was in his 40s and really old. He looked under the hood and told me that the ground wire wasn’t connected to the coil. I had no idea what he was talking about and assumed he didn’t know what he was talking about. After he left I connected the loose ground wire and the car immediately started. He was smarter than I thought! Electrical systems need to be grounded to work. Electricity is invisible. Electricity is powerful. The circuit has to be complete. It’s the same way with love. God loves us and we love others—we are grounded and the system works. 1 John No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.