Covenant Words
Covenant Words

Episode 600 · 6 months ago

God Works In You, Through You

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

1 Corinthians 16:10-19

Reaching of his word. Lord, you know how prone we are to wander. You know how our hearts go after such foolish things. Lord, we are so quick to despair, we are so quick to give up. We look to ourselves and our own strength and we see ourselves lacking and and then we give up. But why do we look to ourselves when you have called us to look to you? Lord, we ask that you would forgive us our sins and help us to see and to know the forgiveness of our sins, the strength that we have in you, the debt that has been paid, the glory that you have given to us through the Cross of Christ, so that we might die in him and live to the newness of life. Lord, we ask that you would draw close to us in your word and that, as we hear your voice, you would change us and mold us, that you would mortify the sinful passions of the flesh, the selfishness, the pride and all the rest, and that you would bring to life that fruit of the spirit and a body of Christ that is glorifying to you. We pray this in Jesus name. Amen, please remain standing if you're able, and let's turn to First Corinthians Chapter Sixteen and read the last portion of this book. First Corinthians Chapter Sixteen, Verse Ten, a through the end. Let's hear God's word. First Corinthians Sixteen, verse ten. When Timothy Comes, see that you put him at ease among you, for he is doing the work of the Lord, as I am. So let no one despise him. Help him on his way in peace that he may return to me, for I am expecting him with the brothers. Now, concerning our brother of Paulus, I strongly urged him to visit you with the other brothers, but it was not at all his will to come now. He will come when he has opportunity. Be Watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love. Now, I urge you, brothers. You know that the household of Stephanus were the first converts in a Chaa and that they have devoted themselves to the service of the saints. Be Subject to such as these and to every fellow worker and laborer. I rejoice at the coming of Stephanas and to Fortuna, Fortuna to us and a Caius CAIACHUS, because they have made up...

...for your absence, for they refreshed my spirit as well as yours. Give recognition to such people, the Churches of Asias and you greetings. Aquilla and PRISCA, together with the Church and their house, send you hearty greetings in the Lord, all the brothers and you greetings. Greet one another with a holy kiss. I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand. If anyone has no love for the Lord, let him be accursed. Oh Lord, come, the grace of the Lord Jesus be with you. My Love Be with you all in Christ Jesus. Then you may be seated. Was Paul gives instructions to the Corinthian church here, concluding instructions he's been giving throughout these sixteen chapters. I'm he helps us to once again understand what it is to live our life together as a church. He gives us commandments and instructions, some which are very specific to the Corinthian church. Received Trimothy, know this about a Paulas and etc. But instructions which apply to all of us and all the Churches of Christ in various situations and in various times and places. Throughout this whole book, Paul has been giving US instructions as a church in all kinds of difficult and challenging situations. You think back about instructions regarding the Lord's supper or marriage or meet sacrifice to idols, questions about conscience, questions about doctrine like the resurrection, all kinds of things and how these ought to influence our way of life together. And in these final instructions we see that theme to again, fee that theme again, we see how it is we ought to be living our life together, what it means to be not just individual Christians before the Lord, but individual people, to use a metaphor he's given in this book, who are like members of a body, a body that has been put together as the Lord Wills, to work in in accord with one another, to use our gifts for mutual upbuilding and edification. So what are some of the instructions that we have here? What are the some of the instructions that he gives us on how we ought to live together under the Lord? Well, the summary of it, I think, is all, is in verse fourteen. He says, let all that you do be done in love. Nothing we do can be done or should be...

...done apart from love. It's let what guides everything. This, of course, makes sense with Jesus Own Commandments. When he's asked what a summary of the entire laws, what does he say? Love? Love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, mind, soul and strength. Love your neighbor, is yourself. All of the commandments are summed up in this word. To love, to love God and to love man. We he gave us a whole chapter and chapter thirteen about love. He told us about how love is patient and kind, how love doesn't boast, how love covers up wrong and all kinds of other things. We've seen how love US often very practical. In the Book of First Corinthians we've talked about how love often means giving up our rights, things that brightfully belong to us, things that are our do and in some cases ought to be enjoyed and and fought for, but in other cases ought to be given up and let go for the sake of a brother, for the sake of our witness. Love is hard sometimes, because love often encounters people that aren't always going to love us back, that aren't always as lovely as we might like them to be. Love sometimes, as wonderful and beautiful, it is as Nice as as it is to experience, is sometimes so hard to give, so so difficult. It's not surprising, then, that it follows this sort of warrior image in verse thirteen. Like soldiers, be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love. These are not contrasting images. To do the work of love requires these things. It's not just a nice emotional feeling that we expressed when we feel like it. Love is often doing the right thing, even when it's really, really hard. Love is often being watchful for opportunities and looking for places to apply it, looking out for dangers which would seek to undermine it and would would dissolve a union of love between us and the Lord and us and one another, things which break apart our communion and union with one another. We have to be watchful, we have to be strong, we have to stand firm in the faith because, ultimately, and I'll talk about this more, that's where this all springs from. The command to love, the ability to love, to fulfill that command, these come only from Christ and abiding in his love for us. So what are some of the practical ways we...

...see that expressed? Here and in Paul's instructions, and what are some ways that we can apply that in our own lives? Well, first he gives this instruction regarding Timothy in verse ten. When Timothy Come, see that you put him at ease among you, for he's doing the work of the Lord, as I am. Let no one despise him, help him on his way in peace so that he may return to me, for I'm expecting him, with the brothers, Paul's going to send this fellow servant, this worker of the Gospel. We have a couple letters in the New Testament, first and second Timothy, which are written to Timothy and giving him instructions on on his work as a as a minister. Well, here Timothy and doing that work. He's going to come to the Corinthians. And what does Paul want? Paul wants them to put him at ease. I. He wants them to be proactive and think about what can they do when he arrives that will make things easy for him, comfortable for him, helpful to him. How can they support him? How can they help him? How can they support the work that he's doing, which ultimately will be a blessing to them and to others as well. We have an opportunity to think about this and then your future, when I go on vacation and some study leave. Right Pastor Kufus is going to come and and be here and we can be thinking in the same way, exactly the same way that Paul gives Timothy Instructions. How can we help pastor coufus and his wife as they come and and put them to ease, help them to know that they are welcome, that there is love for them here and a love that comes from Christ. There's all kinds of examples and things we can think about, but we we can start with just the basics, right. We can think about we can put ourselves in the shoes of other people. What would it feel like to be a stranger? What did it feel like to not know all the rules and how the community works? What would it feel like to not know where to go or what to do? And how can we be helpful in those things? How can we how can we make things easier and give that support in the Lord? How can we help on their way? So hospitality, strengthening and encouraging one another. This is a big part of life in the church. On there's all kinds of instructions, whether it's to strangers or fellow workers, a people who are coming and people who are going. Paul says in Romans that we are to be zealous and pursuing hospitality. The word pursue there you can think of like, you know, an animal. Maybe watched a nature show and you've watched one of these, you know, giant cats right chasing down...

...their prey, pursuing right till I achieve their end. We're not looking to kill anyone in hospitality, but that dogged pursuit, that being zealous in in looking out for another. People. Love the love that Christ gives to us. It is not a kind of like lackadays, a Goil, if I feel like it, kind of love. He goes after US right, he pursues US until he has us, and it's in that same sort of love and spirit that he calls us to give to others and to support others. He also gives us instructions in in these kinds of things to think about our life together as we are working together. He points to the household of Stefanis in Verse Fifteen, the First Converts in this whole region of a Chaa. He says, this is verse for Verse Fifteen, that they have devoted themselves to the servants of the saints. You imagine being the first convert in an whole area, being the first household that claims the name of Christ, and having the opportunity then to spread that word and then encourage others and support others and be devoted to the service of the saints. What a difficult thing that might be in some ways, but what a lovely and powerful thing it was in this case. He calls them to be subject to such as these and every fellow worker and laborer, and in some ways that means everyone right because when we think about we think back on Paul's instructions about the gifts of the Holy Spirit, we are reminded that the Holy Spirit has given to each and every Christian a measure of grace and a measure of gifts for the mutual upbuilding one another. We're all fellow workers in Christ. We're all supporters of the body and upbuilders of one another, supporting one another in our callings, blessing one another, encouraging one another along the way. Is is so important and it's what Paul calls us to do here. It's what he experiences himself. Notice how, in Verse Sixteen, he says of these people who came to him. Say he says they've refreshed my spirit as well as yours. You know what it means to be refreshed right it's we're coming in on summertime here. The heat gets upon us. You know what it is to be outside, whether you're running errands or doing yard work, and it's tiring. You...

...get exhausted and you come inside and what are you looking for? Refreshment. You're looking to get your energy backed, to not feel so tired, so down, to have some help. We need refreshments in our spirits as well, not just our bodies. We all get into places where we're tired, get kind of blaise a or maybe we feel sort of just confused about life. What am I supposed to be doing? What is going on? Why are things so hard? These kind of things, and it's so helpful to have other people come into our lives and encourage us, strengthen us, refresh us. Be that that, that cup of lemonade for us, or recliner to put your feet up in, to be a refreshment to our souls when we experience those things in the body of Christ. We ought to give recognition to such people. As Paul says, it's not against the Gospel of grace to say to someone thanks, brother, thanks sister, that was really, really helpful, or to tell someone else I you wouldn't believe. What's and so did for me this week was so kind, so thoughtful, so helpful. We can give recognition to those people while at the same time seeing that it's God's work in them, to give praise to God and give thanks to him for them and to ask his continuing work in the body of Christ. This happens on a large scale as well. Look at Verse Nineteen. It's not just individual to individual, but the body of Christ is larger than any one individual church. This is one reason we're presbyterians and we enjoy and support and believe in this connection that we have with other churches outside of our own local congregation. The Churches of Asia send you greetings. Even the particular church in Aquilla and PRISCA's house send their hearty greetings in the Lord. These are people who are eager to talk to one another, seek one another, encourage one another, even if it's just through distance and a greeting and writing. Paul sends his own greetings in Verse Twenty One. I send this greeting in my own hand. And then he says this very hard thing. In Verse Twenty Two. He says, if anyone has no love for the Lord, let him be a cursed but those are strong words. It basically means let him. Let the curse of God fall upon that person, let that person be damned to hell, let that person come under the wrath of God.

And these are strong, strong words. But when we consider the picture that he's been giving us, when we consider the work that God is doing, when we consider the love of Christ for us, this is not out of the blue, is it? It's the flip side of the coin that he's been talking about all along. This life that we have together, this life of love, this life of support and hospitality and upbuilding and peace and and nurturing and all of these things, it's lived out out of love that God has given to us and that we have for him. It's ultimately about our connection with him. It's ultimately about his love, which he loved us even before the world began. And to somebody who says I reject all of that I reject the Lord Jesus Christ, there is nothing outside of that, or there is nothing for them left except for curse. There is no alternative. In other words, when one rejects the love of the Lord, when one rejects the Lord Jesus Christ and this beautiful city he is building, this beautiful kingdom that he is giving to us, there's no plan be. There's no place to live, no alternate city, no kingdom that you can settle down into and say, well, I won't have Christ, but instead I'm going to have this other happy thing, because there's no happiness outside of him. There's no pleasure and no love, no joy, no satisfaction, no peace, nothing that's final anyway, nothing that's truly satisfying, nothing that's everlasting. The alternatives that we choose when we reject the Lord, when we refuse to love him and follow him and be a part of him and his people, the alternative is only cursing. It's to live and in a place that is cast out of his love, to live in a place that is outside of His grace. It is a dark place. Jesus describes it as a place of weeping and gnashing of teeth. Paul is not just presenting a really nice option that you can take or leave. And if you choose not to take it, well and you'll find something else. There will be some other way. There is no other way and it has to be that clear in our minds when we choose to follow the Lord, when we say yes, I will follow the Lord Jesus, no matter what and at any cost. We of course get to enjoy all of these things, in these blessings that he promises us, some now in a in for an a foretaste kind of form,...

...in this life, and one day completely when he returns. As Paul says, our Lord come right. There's a longing for the fulfillment and consummation of those things. That's what we receive. But if we reject that, if we reject the Lord, we reject life itself. Jesus says, he is the way and the truth and the life, and there's no way to the father, there's no way to glory, there's no way to abiding in the love of God except through him. So this is of course a warning to all who see this great grand loving project of the Lord, a project of Salvation, a community of love, and says it's not for me. Be warned, because there's no alternative place to go, nothing which will satisfy your heart. It will only bring curse and death. But to those who were do receive the Lord Jesus. We can look to him and his coming with strength and hope and life. Our Lord Come, Paul says in Verse Twenty Two. This ought to be always on our hearts, always looking forward to the future, having a hope that is strong, having a hope that is unfailing, because he is unfailing. This is, of course, difficult to do at times, because the church isn't always what we would want it to be. The church isn't always what God would want it to be, at least as he commands it to us in his as he exhorts us in our callings. The church often struggles. You get a little bit of a sense of this, I think, in in verse twelve, when Paul says now, concerning our brother Apoulos, I strongly urged him to visit you with the other brothers, but it was not at all his will to come now. He will come when he has opportunity. Why didn't Paul get what he wanted? I want to know why didn't apolos want to hear, listen to Paul, when Paul was not commanding him but strongly urging him. Can you imagine? And yet apolos has some reason for this, a reason which Paul submits to and says he will come when he has an opportunity. We're not always going to agree. We're not always going to be able to find an easy, in a smooth path to walk together. Sometimes we're going to bump...

...into each other a lot. Sometimes we're going to say things that we regret. Sometimes we're going to regret not saying things when we had an opportunity to do so. Sometimes we're going to do the wrong thing. We're going to be prideful, boastful, to trusting in ourselves, to despairing in ourselves. Sometimes we're not going to be there when we should have been, or sometimes will overstay our welcome. There's a lot of ways in which we can fall, in a lot of ways in which we do fall, and sometimes it can get quite bad. Sometimes are our sins become so overwhelming, in our divisions becomes so tangled up that you get a church like the Church and Corinth where Paul writes to them and it seems like he's banging his head against the wall. Sometimes this is why are you doing this? This doesn't make any sense. How can this be? How can that be? Sometimes things are very difficult. Sometimes we forget the fundamentals. Sometimes we get too attracted to the things and the powers of this world that we we lose sight of who we are, who were called to be. In life in the church can sometimes get very tangled, very messy and not at all kind of loving place that we desire it to be. Sometimes that's outward difficulties that we experience. Sometimes we're at the center of the problem. Usually it's a mix. We also have a situation in which we don't always know what's best for us. Sometimes it's hard to know what the right thing to do is and you feel like you're just sort of shooting in the dark, just trying to do the best you know how to do given the information you have. Sometimes it seems like there is no one right way or that there might be multiple right ways or multiple wrong ways. Sometimes we feel really limited, like we want to be somewhere, or maybe we even know what the right thing is to do, but we just can't do it. We feel like we can't be everywhere we need to be or do everything we need to do or know what we need to know. Sometimes the dynamics in church life are changing so fast. Sometimes it feels like we barely have control over this thing at all. And you know what, that's all really true. We don't have very much control, not over other people, not over the church, even over our own lives. We struggle to have control over many things. This makes it very difficult, is what I'm trying to point at. God calls us to this very high calling and it's a beautiful and wonderful thing when we experience that.

But it's not easy. The Devil's working against us, the less of the flesh are working against us, the world is working against us. So what do we do? Well, we need the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ to be with us. That's how Paul ends all of this in Verse Twenty Three. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you. My Love Be with you all in Christ Jesus on. Then, where does Paul's love come from? Despite Paul's UNAB inability to be everywhere and to know all things and to do all things, how does he continue to exercise love? How does he press forward, even when he's banging his head against the wall about these Corinthians, and he'll write to them yet another letter? He roots his love for them in Christ, Jesus. He's looks to the Lord Jesus, Christ and His grace, and he remembers, as we almost remember, that the church, though we are a part of it and though we have a part to play and we have gifts that have been given, ultimately it is called the body of Christ. It's his body and he's the head. The life that we have together is lived in the Holy Spirit, who is the one who regenerates us, who is the one who gifts us, is the one whose glory rests upon us and who knits us together in this beautiful mystical union. He is the one who is he is tying us together and working at our individual lives so that the hand doesn't try to be the foot and the foot doesn't try to be the eye and we're not just meeting ourselves up all the time. The only reason we aren't totally falling apart, the only reason that there is evidence of grace in us, evidence of fruit in us, is because the Holy Spirit is at work, because Christ is interceding for us and meeting, mediating for us because, as Paul said, he was crucified for us and he rose again, victorious over all the things that would threaten to undo us. It is the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, his loving grace, that holds us all together, and that's why it's ultimately to him and not to ourselves, that we have to look all the time. We will stand firm when we stand firm in the faith, in the faith we stand firm in Chris Fist, believing in Him, knowing him,...

...trusting him, accepting his love. Jesus is strong enough. Jesus is everywhere at all times. He does know all things, he can do all things, and he can take ungodly people, broken people, limited people, and pull them together in a body that shines his light forth into the world. He can do that and he does do that and he's been doing it for thousands of years and he will continue to do it, never failing, until he comes again, at which time is he's promised us in this very letter, we will raise from the dead, glorified in him and living as a body, as a people forever in that love that he has called us to. When we put our faith in him, that's where we get our strength from, that's where we get our love from, that's where we get our hope from, that's where we get our peace from, that's where we get our our our sanctification from, that's where we get our justification from the forgiveness of our sins, so that we can know when we stand in him, we spand strong. It's when we depart from him that we begin to fall. And that's why, Paul, throughout this letter, even as he has given us so much instruction, so much wisdom and indeed many things that we ought to go back and reflect on and think over and over and over again, he continues to call us to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. That's how it is that this whole body exists and it is how this whole body will one day be glorified in him. So, as we look to obey the commands of the Lord it to love, let's look to Christ. When we fail to obey his commands to love, let's look to Christ, and when we look forward to the future and his work that will finally be accomplished, let's look to him. Put our faith in him and stand firm in it, and let us always call out to the Lord Jesus to come, to come quickly, and to believe that he will. And as we do those things, that's how we live our life together as the body of Christ, as a people in him. Let's pray now and ask that God would do these things in us, even as he has begun to do. Lord...

Jesus Christ, that is because of your grace for us, and you are coming into this world that we can know that we belong to you and to one another. You have come into this world and taken on flesh and blood so that you could be a perfect sacrifice for our sins, so that we would no longer be enslaved and captured and held to our our selfishness and our pride and our worldliness, so that we could no longer look to the things of this world for our salvation in our life, but instead you have freed us. You have freed us to trust you, freed us to love you and freed us to belong to a community of Holy Ones, of saints, people, a great family that has been adopted in your name that we might live together and forever with you. Lord, we see this work even now, in this letter, in our the on our own lives. We see you at work, we see you changing lives. We you see you changing our own lives, maturing us, helping us to grow. You give us more and more unders standing of who we are and you more and more understanding of your commandments, more and more understanding of your gifts of love as they come into our lives, often through other people. Lord, we thank you for the brothers and sisters who are sitting around us this morning. We thank you for the fathers and mothers who have gone before us and and who've passed down this faith to us. We thank you that you have given us all, apart, to play in the body of Christ. You have given us all gifts that we might support one another and encourage one another. We've asked that you would help this love, that this love that you have given to us, to be on display and to be exercised and experienced in this church, help us to love one another, help us to know how to put each other at ease, especially visitors and guests and those who are new to our body. We asked, Lord, that you would help us to be a helpful people a serving people, to be watchful and looking for opportunities and all these things. Lord, help us not to rely on ourselves, to be prideful and think that our strength comes and comes from from our own resources and not yours, because when that happens, Lord, we always fall and we despair and we lose heart. So, Lord, instead, we asked that you would help us to trust in you, to stand firm in you...

...and to be strong. Let us not give up, let's not give in, despite no matter how things are, how difficult things are in our lives or in our world. Let us learn to look always to you. And in that, Lord, we do pray for some of the specific things in the life of our body. We pray for our worship services, we pray for our various service teams, we pray for our fellowship groups and the various opportunities that we have to get together and and and and be built up in your word. We asked that you would be with these different things in the life of our church and that you would bless them, that through them we would come to know you a better and better and that we would grow in your love. And when we fail, Lord, and when we struggle, we ask that, by your word and the power of your spirit, you would help us to grow, help us to learn how to forgive, how to lay down our lives, how to how to give to others what you have given first to us. Lord, we also pray for our brothers and sisters outside of this particular local church. We pray for our other other churches and our denomination throughout Arizona and our presbytery and and even around the world. We ask that this work, this work that you are doing, would go forth in that we would grow in our unity and love with one another. We also ask, Lord, that you would continue to bring in your people, that through the message of the Gospel and the work that you are doing, more and more would come to see how great and wonderful you are, that they might not be cursed and forever cast into darkness, but would instead be brought into the light that we might join together in following after you. We pray these things in Jesus name. Amend.

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