1 Corinthians 9:16-22
16 For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!
17 For if I do this thing willingly, I have a reward: but if against my will, a dispensation [of the gospel] is committed unto me.
18 What is my reward then? [Verily] that, when I preach the gospel, I may make the gospel of Christ without charge, that I abuse not my power in the gospel.
19 For though I be free from all [men], yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more.
20 And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law;
21 To them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law.
22 To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all [men], that I might by all means save some.
In the name of tolerance our society has totally given over to the pressures of carnality. We are seeing the cancel culture, which are the minority of Americans, making the decision for the majority. In their eyes we must conform to their ideology of worldly thinking and reasoning or you will be shamed and labeled a bigot or a racist. That mentality is painting with a broad brush. Just because I'm not willing to concede my convictions to your way of life doesn’t make me a bigot or a racist. My convictions are deeply rooted and were settled through God's Word. What differentiates me form the cancel culture is I am willing to step into your world with my convictions and offer hope… however, you refuse to give what you are demanding from others.
In the text, Paul doesn’t mind being a servant, he doesn’t mind to be thought of as weak… his concern is offering the gospel to all people. Paul never compromised his convictions yet he never missed an opportunity to present the gospel to all men. May God help us to be like-minded as Paul and seize the opportunity to share the gospel.
Relationships are vital parts of all our lives. More than we realized we need each other to be a part of our lives. It has been revealed during this time of social distancing just how much we rely on others to fulfill certain parts of our daily lives.
I miss my church… for me this is not part of my life but the church is my life. Its my calling as well as my job. Many have jobs in manufacturing, some in energy, and others in trades, but mine is in people. For the past 15 years I have been able to stand in front of a congregation of people, people that I have prayed for, people I have seen make it through struggles, people who have been ready to walk away and now have a renewed and greater faith…and we have seen sinners come to know Christ as their personal Savior... these very people are the ones who have prayed for me and my family on a daily basis. You see, over the years we have become part of each others life. We have been on each others mind. During this time of ‘shutdown’ we have wondered how those families are doing, maybe wondering how much their children have grown. I miss seeing the younger ones go by and hung Goo’s neck… I miss seeing teachers come in on Sunday morning ready and eager to open God’s Word… I miss standing in front of the choir and hearing them sing… I miss standing behind the pulpit and giving the people what the message God has given me… I miss standing at the door with Bro. Bradley and shaking hands while making small conversation… I miss hearing the funny stories that have happened in you life the past week. The simple little things - important things taking place in people lives we are missing out on. But I was encouraged this morning while reading.
In 1 Thessalonians chapter 1 Paul introduces himself in verse 1. Now Paul could've taken many verses to explain his life and circumstances yet 1 verse is all… then Paul quickly begins to get to the point of his letter - them.
Notice Paul in verse 2 tells us that he is giving thanks for them always and he also states he is in continual prayer (making mention of you in our prayers) for them. Paul lived being in and around the church but there were times he wasn't afforded the opportunity to be with the people face to face. Since Paul wasn't afforded the opportunity to be in their presence he did the only thing he knew to do - he prayed for them. You see, if you neglect a relationship it will grow weary and soon it will be a thing of the past but Paul loved these people too much just to forget them… he loved them and desired to be with them so he took time to think about them and pray for them.
Notice the scripture says that Paul was giving thanks for them… he was appreciative of those people. He knew how valuable they were to the ministry and to himself. The word ‘always’ simple means - forever or at all times. We know that the church at Thessalonica wasn't perfect and they had their faults but Paul doesn’t focus on the negative but is thankful for the investment they have made in his life.
Then in verse 3 Paul states that he ‘remembering without ceasing’ - this has the idea of no intermission. During a football game there is a break or halftime. A time when the action stops and the participants are allowed rest. But here Paul tells us there isn't a waking moment he isn't thinking of all they have accomplished for the Lord. We may never have the audience of others but one thing I know… there is a God in Heaven who has ask Tabernacle Baptist Church to undertake a monumental task of building a church and you, individually have by faith obeyed our Lord.
I thank God for each of you and your public exercise of faith. When others have questioned you… when some have scoffed at you… you have continued in you labor for the Lord.
Yes… I miss seeing you and I miss worshipping with you… we are not afforded that opportunity yet but I do pray for you and your family each day.
When we pray for each other we are nourishing our relationships… we are taking time to think about each others lives, cares, burdens, trials, hardships, struggles… we are taking time to enter into a battle with the power of prayer. When you take this time to pray for others you are investing into their life and the returns of that investment can not be tarnished… those returns are of eternal value.
Just my thoughts…
I'm beginning to hear more and more people saying I'm ready to get back to normal. We have been forced to change our daily lives because of an unforeseen event. This has been a trying time for all. A time that has caused many to question who they can trust. We hear a story from one outlet and it is a gleam outlook with no short end in sight. On the other hand, we get word from another outlet and we are told we have breached the pinnacle and we are on the downhill side of this. Truth is, I don't know who to trust.
So what are we to do… yes, we must be vigilant and wise in our decisions but ultimately this should be a time when we have turned to our Lord for comfort and assurance. We have allowed the current news cycle to dictate our feeling and forecast.
Paul writes in Philippians chapter 4:
Philippians 4:11 Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, [therewith] to be content.
We know Paul has experienced some very trying times in his life. He has spent many of his day locked up in a cell or dungeon. It would have been easy to become angry and bitter… yet Paul took the opportunity to learn about God’s grace and mercy. ]
Notice Paul writes ‘for I have learned’… learning is not simply knowledge imprinted to a person… learning comes at a cost. As it was in school learning came at the price of studying. Study was never fun for me but it was necessary in order to learn. Then there was the learning I received at the hands of experience. Times I stepped out in areas of the unknown and learned the, good or bad, by trails and errors.
But for Paul this was a time he was learning more than just experiences or gaining a intellectual knowledge. Paul is telling us through all his experiences he has learned to be content. We are anything but content with the current situation but if that is all we learn we have missed a great opportunity.
Note the word learned - ti increase ones knowledge, be informed, to learn by use and practice, to be in the habit of.
Here Paul states that it isn't the current situation or the social climate surrounding him that dictates his state of being. Paul writes that he has learned to live each and every day totally surrendered to his Lord. When Paul was locked up in prison he was content with Jesus. When he was being rejected and removed from towns, he was content with Jesus. No one desires to be locked away in a dungeon but when they locked Paul away he seized the opportunity to write to the churches, people, and to a couple of young preachers and my how form the small damp dark cell has Paul helped you and I on many occasions.
Paul says he has learned to be content. The word content has the meaning of ‘sufficient for one's self, strong enough or possessing enough to need no aid or support, independent of external circumstances, contented with one's lot’.
Here Paul is saying what he possess on the inside is far greater and superior than a pardon form the King. You see Paul wasn't focused on situations or the current news cycle but he was totally given to serving his Lord.
May we too develop a learning that Jesus is our all and all… learn to be content not on good news but learn that Jesus living inside of you is all that’s needed to be content with any situation we will face. He is sufficient.
In a day when we are all focused on a cure for the current virus we should make sure we don't get caught up in the frenzy and forsake our daily intimate time with God. We all want a cure, we all are praying for the day of normalcy, a day when we can return to days of unhindered travel and days without thoughts of social distancing and quarantining. But in the midst of current situation I would like to offer you a word of encouragement from God’s Word.
In the book of Hebrews chapter 11 verse 6 the Bible reads:
Hebrews 11:6 But without faith [it is] impossible to please [him]: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and [that] he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
Faith - a word we have all read and a word we have heard all our lives yet a word we sometimes find difficult to live out in our daily lives. In the scripture we are told that without faith it is impossible to please God. Now, I'm sure each and everyone wants God to be pleased with our lives including myself but let’s study the text and see what it reveals and how it can help our lives.
The word faith means a conviction of truth. So the text reveals that we can not please God without conviction of truth, His truth. Notice the phrase ‘it is impossible’. We live in a world that tells us anything is possible if you work hard enough for it. People have forsaken much in pursuit of personal happiness and material gain yet they find themselves in a tailspin of disappoint and empty promises. Our lives have meaning and purpose and when God saved us He gave to us a meaning; to live our new life for Him and He gave us purpose; to share the good news of the Gospel to a lost world. You see the only way is through Him. The phrase ‘it is impossible’ carries the idea without strength, impotent, powerless, weakly, disabled, unable to be done…
The word please is from the root word ‘euarestos’ (yü-ä’-re-stos) and means acceptable. Think about this… you and I can have a life that is acceptable to God when we live a life of faith, conviction of truth.
If you and I are waiting for the cure or a day of normalcy in order to experience happiness you will be disappointed because there will always be another virus, another tragedy to disrupt you life but with a life of faith your focus will be on things eternal, Heaven.
Now notice the end of this verse… it says ‘and [that] he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him’.
The word ‘rewarder’ means to give, to give something to someone, of one's own accord to give one something, to his advantage, to bestow a gift, to grant, give to one asking, let have, to supply, furnish, necessary things.
Here the text reveals that our God is a giver, one who bestows a gift to you. In a day where it’s all about taking here God is freely giving to you. This world will never understand the joy that settles in a persons heart when God speaks to you. When He covers in grace during the unsettling times, when He through strength gives victory in the face of defeat, and when He gives peace in the midst of a storm.
But notice to whom He gives to… ‘them that diligently seek him’. The word diligently means - to seek in order to find, to seek a thing, to seek [in order to find out] by thinking, meditating, reasoning, to enquire into, to seek after, seek for, aim at, strive after, to seek, require, demand, to crave, demand something from someone…
Here the text reveals not all will be a recipient but those who will seek, require, crave, demand His presence. This is the person whose life is absent of the carnal desires of this world… a person who will settle for nothing less than the truth of God’s Word and His touch on their lives… popularity will not do… wealth will not suffice… health will not do… noting - nothing at all will satisfy this person but an intimate relationship with their Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
When you truly seek truth and desire to have His blessing and touch on your life you will find He will ‘reward’ you with exactly what you want; Him.
Can anything better be said of someone than that he or she is faithful? Such faithfulness is a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). When the Spirit enables us to be faithful to our God, we please and glorify Him. Another fruit of binding in Christ is meekness, and the Greek word gives of the idea of power on a leash. It is the picture of a horse who has come under the control of his master and then can be ridden. Finally, we come to self-control. Only the Spirit can help us here... as Paul tells us in Romans 7
:19 - "For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do". Like all the fruits, self control is the results of the Holy Spirit's life within us. When we come to know Christ as our personal Savior, the Father sends the Holy Spirit not only to seal us, indwell us, and fill us, but also to produce fruit through us.
Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self-Control are fruits that are exhibited by a person who is well rooted and grounded in God's Word and who is obedient to His commands.
Questions to be answered
1. Am I Faithful to God's Word
2. Am I Meek
3. Do I have Self-Control
We must abide in Christ and come under His control if we are ever to be able to answer 'yes' to this questions.
Exodus 31:1 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
2 See, I have called by name Bezaleel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah:
3 And I have filled him with the spirit of God, in wisdom, and in understanding, and in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship,
4 To devise cunning works, to work in gold, and in silver, and in brass,
5 And in cutting of stones, to set them, and in carving of timber, to work in all manner of workmanship.
As we come to chapter 31 in the book of Exodus the Lord speaks to Moses. The Lord is assuring Moses, He is comforting Moses, and He is lifting a burden from Moses. It is evident from the life of Moses he wasn't a stone mason or was he a woodworker yet he knew stones would have to be cut and wood must be carved for the Tabernacle. This could've been a very troubling time for Moses seeing his inability and becoming overwhelmed with task at hand.
There are many today who feel the same way... they are examining the task at hand and have come to the conclusion that they simply do not possess the ability to accomplish what the Lord has ask of them. It is in these times we can become discouraged and disengaged for the work. I have experienced this in my own life. As the Lord task me to lead the people of Tabernacle Baptist Church into a building project it became very evident I was in way over my head. I had never been in a building project, I had never led a congregation through a project this extensive... yet I knew this is exactly what God had task me with. Needless to say I could never accomplish this alone so I begin to ask God for wisdom and to surround me with people who had the knowledge, skill, and the heart for His work. What began as an overwhelming and sometimes discouraging task has now become a confident joy. The Lord placed people at the right time and with the right skills.
God supplied Moses with the men he needed to complete the task. Notice in verse 2... I have filled him with the spirit of God, in wisdom, and in understanding, and in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship.
filled = with abundance or to consecrate (here the Lord has chosen a man specifically for this task)
wisdom = skill, shrewdness, prudence
understanding = intelligence, insight, skill
knowledge = perception or discernment
workmanship = occupation, religious, political, public
Moses needed help and God gave him people to help. God didn't send men to stand in the presence of Moses but God sent chosen men who were able and willing. Men who had had the skills to achieve and accomplish the task. We have not been ask to build the Tabernacle with all its accessories but when God gives me and you a work it is just as important as building the Tabernacle. When you are faced with overwhelming task instead of allowing the task to crush you under the weight of its enormity just ask God to give you the helpers. No one can make it alone.
19 The way of the wicked is as darkness: they know not at what they stumble. 20 My son, attend to my words; incline thine ear unto my sayings. 21 Let them not depart from thine eyes; keep them in the midst of thine heart. 22 For they are life unto those that find them, and health to all their flesh. 23 Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life. 24 Put away from thee a froward mouth, and perverse lips put far from thee.
Verse 19 reveals to us the truth of the wicked man’s way. The wicked man lives as if he is in total control of his life but the text pulls back the coverings of his life and shines a light on his reality.
stumble = to cause to stumble, bring injury or ruin to, overthrow 1c2) to make feeble, make weak
The wicked man is living a life of calamity and eventual destruction. They live in this world’s grasp without really knowing the true joy of Jesus.
Verses 20-22 implores us to retain, remember, or to never forget the words of wisdom. Just as the darkness brings destruction to the wicked man, wisdom brings life.
Attend = be attentive, hearken, pay attention
Incline = to stretch out, extend, spread out, pitch, turn, incline, bend, bow, to turn aside
These are words expressing the necessity for hearing and retaining wisdom…
Here in verse 23 we are instructed to fortify our lives with wisdom.
Keep = to guard, to blockade, preserve, garrison
Diligence = place of confinement, prison, guard, jail, guard post, watch, observance 1a) jail, prison, guard-house 1b) guard, guard post, act of guarding
We are instructed here to guard thy heart… this has a very practical meaning. when we hear wisdom we should then keep it, or guard it. In simple terms it means to do what ever necessary that so that wisdom can guide your life.
This will not be an uncontended task… the world will attempt to counterfeit and deceive you to think there is a better way or a new way. Younger generations are more easily persuaded in change. This is why it is so important to know your Bible… It is absolute truth.
Keep thy heart with all DILIGENCE… when you get truth and wisdom lock it away so the world can never dilute the truth you live by,
Vinegar straight out of the bottle can be very difficult to drink but when you add water and honey you can tolerate it… that is exactly what the world is attempting to do… add a little here and a litter there… to make you think God’s Word is impossible to live by unless you add a little of the world’s excitement to it.. or add a little of the world’s tolerance there… the world is attempting to dilute God’s Word..
The word diligence has the meaning of locking away or put in prison. When in prison a person has no influence from the outside world. That is the very idea… Don’t allow the world to have an influence in your life.
The Importance of knowing God’s Word
1 Corinthians 14:8
For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?
Don’t miss the importance of verse 8
Unless the soldier can identify the sound of the trumpet he is not aware of the impending danger.
6 He only [is] my rock and my salvation: [he is] my defence; I shall not be moved. 7 In God [is] my salvation and my glory: the rock of my strength, [and] my refuge, [is] in God. 8 Trust in him at all times; [ye] people, pour out your heart before him: God [is] a refuge for us. Selah.
Verse 6 Defense = security, stronghold... has the picture of a parent lifting a child above the ocean waves.
Verse 7 Refuge = shelter, safety, protection. Picture of a child running to hide behind the parent. The child is frightened till it has safely found refuge behind the parent.
Verse 8 Trust = confidence, feel safe, to be careless. The picture here is you don’t have to be on guard when you are trusting in the Lord. You can allow yourself to let down your guard knowing you are protected.
Verse 10 tells us that "if sinners entice thee, consent thou not."
The word Entice means "to be simple, deceive, persuade, be naive, or seduce. We are given a heads up on the tactics of the enemy. They will attempt to seduce or persuade you. Thats exactly what satan did in the garden when he spoke to Eve. He deceived her, he seduced her and caused her to act against God's Word.
But we do have weapons or tools to combat the enemies attack. Notice, this same verse tell us to "consent thou not."
The word consent means to be willing, to yield to, to accept, or to desire. Here God's Word gives us wisdom to defend ourselves. We are told not to accept, not to be willing, or not to desire the enticements offered by the world.
The old saying is misery loves company... Let's listen to God's wisdom and let misery be lonely.