Keep Your Eyes On The Mission

God is awesome!
Photo by Davide Cantelli on Unsplash

Please turn with me in your Bibles to 1 Corinthians 13.

Every week as Riverview’s Pastor, I beg God our Father to give me a word from the Scripture for His people. And every week the Lord is faithful. Our God is faithful, by Whom we were called unto the fellowship of His Son Jesus Christ our Lord (1 Corinthians 1:9). I am often faithless, sadly, but Our God abideth faithful – He cannot deny Himself (2 Timothy 2:13). He entered into a covenant of Grace with me at the point I received the Lord Jesus Christ as my Savior. Our God is not a man that He should lie, neither the Son of man, that He should repent: hath He said, and shall He not do it? Or hath He spoken, and shall He not make it good? (Numbers 23:19).

Power & Authority Belong To God

As I was seeking God as to what I needed to say tonight, I opened the Baptist and Reflector for December 16, 2020. This is our Tennessee Baptist newspaper. On the inside cover – page 2 – there is an article by editor Lonnie Wilkey entitled “TBMB leader challenges ERLC over language in amicus brief”. Now, I’m a country preacher. As I read this article I suspect I read it like many of my fellow Baptists did. I understand what a “amicus brief” is, though I do not understand why we as Baptists got involved with it in the first place. I’m not going to go into detail over this article. You can hunt it up on the internet – just punch the title I gave you into a search engine.

In a nutshell the article is about

The ERLC (Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission), a Southern Baptist entity, filed a court document on behalf of the NAMB (North American Mission Board), a Southern Baptist entity. The verbiage in that legal document “included language namely the use of ‘hierarchy’, that misstates and misrepresents the historic non-connectionism, autonomous polity of Baptists, and incorrectly describes the hierarchical relationship between SBC entities and churches” (quote from Randy C. Davis). Randy goes on to write:

“We codify this structure in Article IV of the SBC Constitution to prevent a denominational hierarchy: ‘While independent and sovereign in its own sphere, the Convention does not claim and will never attempt to exercise any authority over any other Baptist body, whether church, auxiliary organization, associations or conventions’ (end quote)”.

If you are a Tennessee Baptist and read these articles, then you probably just glossed over it. It looks like a bunch of technical, doctoral language. Let me put it simply.

The local Church is led by Jesus Christ.
The Christian is led by God’s Word and God’s Spirit.
As Baptists, we do not chase after power.
We follow the power of God.
We promote the Kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ.

What has destroyed more churches and more people has been a desire for power and authority.

This is what caused the fall of humanity from a perfect paradise into a perfect mess. That old devil Lucifer, an Archangel of God, decided he needed more power than what God gave him. In Isaiah we are told of his fall:

Isaiah 14:12-15 How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! 13 For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: 14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. 15 Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.

The five I will statements that Lucifer made have been sadly reflected throughout human history. Lucifer incarnated in the Garden of Eden as a serpent (Revelation 12:9), where he encouraged Adam through Eve to rebel against God’s command. By one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned (Romans 5:12).

The devil that enticed our forefather Adam is the same devil that entices us all today.

It is a sign of genuine Christianity to reject the devil’s power grab, and to do that which God directs: to love God, and love others. We are not to be fighting for supremacy over one another. Power corrupts, and absolute power absolutely corrupts.

The United States of America was founded by our forefathers – many of whom were Christ followers – to be a place of liberty, not of power grabs. The man often called “The Father of our country”, George Washington, was not enamored of power. Once American independence was secured, General George Washington resigned his military commission at the State House in Annapolis, Maryland, December 23rd, 1783.

Today is the 237th anniversary of that resignation.

Resigning that commission, George returned to his home in Mount Vernon, Virginia, content to be a private citizen. He later participated in the 1787 Constitutional Convention (held in Philadelphia), and was unanimously elected to be the first President of the United States. George reluctantly accepted the position, and refused any position of kingship over our country. In 1797 George resigned as President, allowing others to take that place. A devout Christian, George knew the danger of power. He loved God, and loved his fellow man.

God does not want His people vying for power over one another. He wants us lovingly serving both God and others. Before going to the Cross our Lord Jesus washed His disciples feet, a job that servants would normally perform for their masters. Jesus said:

Matthew 20:25-26 … Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. 26 But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister;

He went on to say, “I came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give my life a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28). God’s people are not to be fighting for power and dominion over one another. We are to love God, and love others – as GOD defines love.

You Are Not Impressing God If You Are Not Loving

1 Corinthians 13:1-3 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. 2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. 3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.

Do not think that your education will impress God our Father. You can be well learned. You can speak several different languages. A few years ago, I pastored a Church that had been pastored by a highly educated man. Several members made a point of telling me that he spoke 5 different languages. That is impressive! I barely speak English. Beloved, God is not impressed at your vast education, if what you have is not being used to love God and love others. You may be very talented. Yet if your talents are used selfishly, without loving those around you, God says that your talent are just so much noise.

You may have fantastic spiritual gifts. Beloved, if you have a spiritual gift, it is because God gave that to you. If you have the ability to preach, to teach, to minister, it is not because you are particularly good in yourself. It is because God has given you that gift. The Scripture tells us:

1 Corinthians 12:7-11 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit {with all}. 8 For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; 9 to another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; 10 to another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues: 11 but all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.

If you can preach a great sermon, exposing many wonderful but hidden truths to your audience – but are not preaching from a love filled heart – You are NOTHING to God!

If you are a beautiful singer or song writer, a great musician, but that which is behind the music is self love and pride, it means nothing to the Creator. It is God’s command that we love.

Romans 13:10 … love is the fulfilling of the Law

The Apostle of Love, John, tells us that:

1 John 4:7, 12 Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. … 12 If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us.

You can be a generous person. The Apostle says:

1 Corinthians 13:3 … though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.

We will all stand before our Maker at a judgment day. The unbeliever will stand before a Great White Throne:

Revelation 20:12 … the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.

Those who stand before that terrible Great White Throne will go into the Lake of Fire, being tormented forever and ever (Revelation 20:15). Why will they go here? Because they did not love the Lord Jesus Christ, and would not receive Him as Lord and Savior. Jesus will say to them,

Matthew 7:23 … I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

If you do not know Jesus as Lord and Savior, then your name is not written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. The Bible says of Heaven:

Revelation 21:27 there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life.

What is the mark of the lost person? This person loves only themselves. The lost person only loves others when it suits them to love others. Oh, how horrible lovelessness is! The unbeliever – damned by their works – condemned by their lovelessness toward Christ – are cast into the Lake of Fire.

But Beloved, the Christian is judged as well. We are judged at the Judgment Seat of Christ. The Bible is quite clear:

2 Corinthians 5:9-10 Wherefore we labor, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.

We who are Christians labor for Jesus. We strive to please Him Who gave His life for us. We do this by loving others, by loving God. We honor Him in our works by doing what we do from loving hearts. We do not belong to the darkness. We are, dear Christians:

1 Peter 2:9-10 a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light: 10 which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.

We must love. We must love as God defines love.

Love Defined

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, 5 doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; 6 rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; 7 beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.

  • What does love look like? Love is patient – here called “longsuffering”. To be “longsuffering” is to tolerate hurts inflicted by others, without immediately gratifying yourself by “getting them back”. Longsuffering is a characteristic of God.

Exodus 34:6 the Lord passed by before {Moses}, and proclaimed, The Lord, The Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth,

Numbers 14:18 The Lord is longsuffering, and of great mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression, and by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation.

To be longsuffering does not mean to tolerate evil forever. God does not tolerate evil forever. But it does mean to “turn the other cheek”. Jesus said:

Matthew 5:38-41 Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: 39 but I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40 And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also. 41 And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.

Christians are not to go around with a chip on their shoulder. We are to be as God is with us. He saved us, knowing full well that we would fail Him. And yet He saved us, and loves us still.

  • Love is kind. Kindness is to put yourself in another person’s shoes. If you mess up, you want the person you messed up with to be kind. The Apostle said,

Romans 12:10 Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honor preferring one another;

  • Love does not envy. The word translated “ENVY” is the Greek ζηλόω zēlóō, {pronounced dzay-lo’-o}, which means “to covet or desire something that someone else has”. When we begin to covet what another person has, it is not long before we hurt ourselves or that other person in order to satisfy our desires. King David coveted Uriah’s wife Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11), and ended up having Uriah murdered. Though God forgave David, He told him:

2 Samuel 12:10-12 Now therefore the sword shall never depart from thine house; because thou hast despised me, and hast taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be thy wife. 11 Thus saith the Lord, Behold, I will raise up evil against thee out of thine own house, and I will take thy wives before thine eyes, and give them unto thy neighbor, and he shall lie with thy wives in the sight of this sun. 12 For thou didst it secretly: but I will do this thing before all Israel, and before the sun.

Covetousness – a violation of God’s Tenth Commandment (Exodus 20:17) – destroys the fabric of a family, a community, and a nation. God tells His children:

Hebrews 13:5-6 Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. 6 So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.

The Old Testament priests were given no land when Canaan was divided up. God told Aaron and his family:

Numbers 18:20 … Thou shalt have no inheritance in their land, neither shalt thou have any part among them: I am thy part and thine inheritance among the children of Israel.

We who are Christians are New Testament priests – God is our portion forever. “My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever” (Psalm 73:26).

1 Corinthians 13:5-6 … {love} doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; 6 rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;

  • Love doesn’t act like it is lost. Love acts like God acts. You could take our above text and take out the word “Love” and put in it’s place “Jesus”. “Jesus” did not come to this earth seeking His own. Jesus came to minister, not to be ministered to. “Jesus” was never easily provoked. “Jesus” never thought evil of others – He made it a point to love the unlovely. “Jesus” never rejoiced at the sight of evil. As Jesus neared the time of His crucifixion, knowing He would be betrayed and shamed, the Bible says:

Luke 19:41-44 {Jesus} beheld the city, and wept over it, 42 saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes. 43 For the days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side, 44 and shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation.

Love Remains Forever

1 Corinthians 13:8-10 Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. 9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. 10 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.

There will come a time, dear Christian, when we will be in eternity with Jesus. All the “stuff” that we thought was important will be long gone, cast into the landfill where all temporal things go. J. J. Heller sings a beautiful song called “Only Love Remains”. Part of the lyrics are:

Scenes of you come rushing through
You are breaking me down
So break me into pieces
That will grow in the ground
I know that I deserve to die
For the murder in my heart
So be gentle with me Jesus
As you tear me apart …
Teach me to be humble
Call me from the grave
Show me how to walk with you upon the waves
Breathe into my spirit
Breathe into my veins
Until only love remains

Vindictiveness will not win the world for Christ. Hatred will not bring in the Kingdom of God. We cannot fight fire with fire. We can only bring glory to God in this world by loving as Jesus loved. We do not rejoice in evil, nor do we justify it. We believe what God has said, and love Him first. We love others the way that God expects us to love. The Apostle ends with these words:

1 Corinthians 13:11-13 When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. 12 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. 13 And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.

Faith flies only when it’s wings are love. Put away anything that is not love. Love God with all that you have – and love others the way that God in Christ has loved you. May God the holy Spirit and His Word connect you to the Kingdom of God both now, and into eternity. Amen and Amen!

About bibleteacherorg

A searching Pastor, I am looking for a people who love the Lord and love one another. Daily I pray for the Church. Most of what the world sees today is not the Church, but clubs pretending to be the Church. God is calling to Himself a people willing to be righteous, not self righteous, serving not served. I am called to pastor God's people, those who want to change the world by willingly and willfully following Jesus Christ. Only God is able to change the world, and we must follow His Christ. He is able! Praise His Name! Come quickly Lord Jesus!
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