Covenant Words
Covenant Words

Episode 594 · 3 months ago

Instructions About Money

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1 Corinthians 16:1-4

Though we know that the flash wages war against the spirit in us, it is a losing war. You have conquered, you have won the victory you have promised us. You have promised us a sure salvation. You have also opened our ears and allowed us to hear things that we previously stuffed our ears against. You soften our hearts that we might receive your truth. You help us to see your work and to put our faith in it, faith that we might have eternal life and have it abundantly in you. We asked that you would do that again this morning as we come to your word and First Corinthians. Bless us, Lord, help us to hear, to hear rightly and to obey. We pray this in Jesus name. Amen. Sure remain able to remain standing, please do. Let's turn our attention to First Corinthians, Chapter Sixteen, versus one through four. First Corinthians Sixteen, as we continue reading and preaching through this book, versus one through four. Now, concerning the collection for the saints, as I directed the churches of Glacia, so you also are to do. On the first day of every week, each of you is to put something aside and store it up as he may prosper so that there will be no collecting when I come. When I arrive, I will send those whom you accredit by letter to carry your gift or do to Jerusalem. If it seems advisable that I should go also, they will accompany me. May God bless his word to us. You may be seated. So in this passage, Paul gives some instructions to the Corinthians on the collection of some money and how to collect that money from among themselves, that he might take that money or have other people take it to Jerusalem, unto the saints or that are there. That instruction that he's given to collect that money. He says he's also given to Glacia, and we know that he's given to other churches as well. I don't know exactly how this would have worked, but I imagine that it would have been quite a big deal to be in Jerusalem the day that all of this money with this great entourage...

...of people from these churches far outside of Jerusalem, from places that are known for Paganism and idolatry, and yet here are coming brothers and sisters in Christ bearing gifts from places like Corinth, the Roman colony glacian and elsewhere. You imagine being there on that day when, in your poverty, poverty and need, your brothers and sisters arrived with money, and potentially lots of money, because this was coming from a lot of churches going to care for a very large need. What a beautiful sight that would have been, how encouraging that would have been, both for those receiving and for those who were giving as can you imagine being a part of of that group? Maybe the Apostle Paul there with you, maybe others, maybe people you'd heard of, preachers you'd you'd been helped by people, you'd been discipled by people coming into Jerusalem, and here you are, a fulfillment of those promises to Abraham. You are the gentile nations coming in to Jerusalem, bringing these gifts, supplying needs, all in this great one, this great one body that the Lord Jesus is put together, no longer a dividing wall between Jew and gentile, but each calling each other brother an amazing, amazing thing, and that's in that context, in that hope, that Paul gives this command. It's about something much more than just collecting money. It's about the life of the Church it's about Christ, who is alive and is living in us. It's a command that's grounded in these values that I've been mentioning more and more lately. For faith, good order, generous love, firm faith. They had to trust that Jesus was the head of the Church and that these apostles instructions were true. They had to trust that the Kingdom of God wasn't about eating and drinking and storing up wealth, but it was about Christ and the victory he was bringing about, something beyond this world, even though it was being experienced in some ways already. It was a faith given that Christ, what Christ had already done in them, the love that he had shown them, could also be shown to others. It was faith that Jesus would take care of them and ups through them. This faith in a passage like Philippi nineteen and my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches, in glory, in Christ, Jesus. They were trusting Jesus and the unity that they had by...

...the spirit of God with each other. We also see good order here right. Clearly, Paul did not want them to be unprepared. He's very explicit about that. The work was important and they needed to be organized about it. It wasn't to be haphazard. Even though it was to come from the heart, willingly and cheerfully, it was still to be done with good order. Good order wasn't opposed to firm faith or generous love. It flowed out of faith and it provided a context for the other. They were able to be more generous by having a good order. They were able to show more and witness more to the love of Christ by doing things in this organized way. And so he says in verse two. As each of you are able and prospered, on the first day of each week, give some that there will be no collecting when I come. And, of course, this generous love all the the Paul wants them not just to give, not just to meet a need, but really he's wanting them to love one another. Notice how all are called to participate in this. It's not just the rich out of their wealth, it's not just the super spiritual, but everyone out of their love, because ultimately it's not just about getting a need met, maybe even more so, it's about meeting others in love, about seeing the work of Christ and the body experiencing that participating it and enjoying in it. But in order to make for this to make sense, it's important that you understand some things about the nature of the church, about the nature of Christ and his work among us, because in our world there are lies that are commonly told and often believed that undermine these things, that really get in our way. If we believe them, it causes us to doubt the goodness of Paul's command. It cause us to doubt our obligation to care for one another and the household of faith. So this morning what I'd like to do is we think about this command, we consider these lies and address them. There's three I want to address. The first is that the human body doesn't matter, the second is that you don't have any obligations to anyone else and the third lie is that this world is all there is. So first, the human body doesn't matter. Of course, in some ways we're kind of obsessed in our culture about the human body. We can turn it into idol and idol and often do. But there's another lie in our society that teaches the exact opposite. The world is contradictory. What can I say? And the opposite lie that it teaches is that the human body doesn't matter. There's all kinds...

...of ways, many, many ways in which this is manifested. Here are few in which the lie that the body doesn't matter comes across and is taught and has expressed. Denying the importance of biology or engender the murder of children not yet born, pornography and all other kinds of abuse, of sex, work aholism and minimizing the importance of rest, thoughtless use and trust and technology and technical solutions to solve all human problems, cold heartedness against the poor and failure to provide for them, whether it's the mentally ill or migrants or foster kids or elderly, all groups that are routinely neglected by people in a very wealthy country. Each of these, in some way or another, minimizes the value of human bodies. But we should know better, especially as Christians. Let's think about that for a moment. With regard to the nature of the church, some people will say that the church is a spiritual organism, and that is actually very, very true, but that doesn't mean it is an abstract organism or it doesn't have a physical component to it. We are born of the spirit of God. We are united by the spirit it. We produce the fruits of the spirit. In the same way that when you hear the word Christ, you call yourself a Christian, you'd be wise to call yourself spiritual and think of the spirit capitals. Spiritual very often means, and we should often think of it as meaning of the Holy Spirit, and that means something more than just not physical. Indeed, we have bodies and these bodies are a part of that spiritual reality. Remember just last week when we read in First Corinthians fifteen, or maybe it was two weeks ago, that the body is sown, a natural body and is raised a spiritual body. It's still a body, right, it's not not a body. It is a body, a true body, a human body, but a spiritual one, made, raised from the dead by the by the spirit of God, into that, into a life that he gives us and produces. And that spiritual life doesn't just come at the end in our glorification, because, as Paul tells us, and glaciers, the fruits of the spirit are being produced even now and they are manifested in very visible, physical, tangible ways. Patience is seen in the mother's relaxed face as she waits for her four year old to tie her shoes or not. All right, I'm kindness is felt...

...when someone who's new to church is offered a handshake, a smile and a warm welcome. It's felt, it's failed it, it's felt at seeing. Love is tasted when a meal gets dropped off, dropped off when life is just a little extra tough. The fruits of the spirit get expressed through and in our bodies. There's a reason that Paul speaks to us and he tells us don't use your bodies as instruments for unrighteousness, but as instruments for God. Now, our bodies in this life aren't any, aren't everything, but they are still important to God and his plan. This world will sometimes tell us that your bodies are just electrical impulses, they are meaningless shells, they are any part of who you are as a person. But that's not true. Just as much as Jesus's body was a part of him and his person, in his human nature, it is for US consider the humanity of Christ for a moment. Was that a throw away thing, a meaningless shell and empty, unimportant thing? Was Jesus Body just electrical impulses and that's all there was to him. That's why he became incarnate. Of course, not consider the ointment, the perfume that was poured on him as an act of worship that he recognized and blessed and called good. Consider his sweat that turned to blood in a moment of great trial and stressed before his body was crucified for our sins. Consider that Joseph of Arimathea, when he went to bury the Lord. The scriptures say that he was seeking the Kingdom of God. And of course it's Jesus who gave of himself and is healing power so frequently to other people, healing and restoring their bodies, even in this life, in all kinds of ways. So what I'm saying in pointing all this out about the body of Christ, his actual physical body, and our bodies as well as that, when we are united to Kim, I'm not saying that we become some sort of weird transformer human body monster right that roves the earth. That's not what I'm saying when I say that the church is a physical body. But I am saying is that the spiritual organism that is the church gets expressed in physical tangible ways through our actual bodies, and this is important when we think about the needs of others. They're hunger, their shelter, their clothing, when we think about the needs that they have, some very great, some small, we never want to look at these things and say,...

...well, that isn't spiritual, that isn't important, because it's important to the Lord he call, he cares for us in our physical bodies, even unto and and including the Resurrection, and he calls us to do that for others as well. Our bodies aren't meaningless. Our bodies aren't just a shell. Our bodies aren't just electrics, electric impulses or whatever. Our bodies are made to be in the image of God. They have value and importance both here and now and in the life to come, and it's in that, it's in the work of Christ and thinking about the resurrection, that Paul can then call these saints to think about others and their needs. The second lie I want to mention and point our attention to that we might recognize it and not follow it, is that is this you have no obligations to anyone else. This is a lie. In other places of scripture, Paul does tell us that we are supposed to work with our own hands to provide for ourselves and others. The scriptures say you don't work, you don't eat. Paul says that a man who doesn't take care of his own family is worse than an unbeliever. Listen to this from Ephesians for twenty eight. Let the thee no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands so that he may have something to share with anyone in need. So there is a call to responsibility as individuals. God had made work, and work is good, even though it's frustrated and made difficult, it's good and he uses it to provide for us. We ought to be good workers and faithful workers, but it's not all about just us and ourselves. Notice how he calls in Effesians for twenty eight. He calls us to Labor, doing honest work with our hands so that we may have something not only to provide for ourselves but to share with those in need. And right away you see this, this idea of community happening. We have individual responsibility, but part of our individual responsibility is for others as well, and there's a family of faith brought together in the Lord. We have obligations to take care of one another. Here Acts Twenty thirty five. In all things, I've shown you that by working hard in this way, we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said it is more blessed to give than to receive. Hebrews Thirteen sixteen. Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.

Glacian six to bear one another's burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ. Romans twelve thirteen contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. That words seek is even stronger. It's like pursue right, run after pursue hospitality. So this is one of the reasons Paul, this is one of the things that that Paul's command is grounded in. It's why we work together to take care of the physical needs of each other. It's why we pay our ministers, it's why we pay to have shelter wall we meet. It's why we give to those and we are aware in listening to those who are in need. Of course, each of us has a personal responsibility in our own lives. No one can, no one can take that away from us and no, and we can't give it to anyone else. But part of the personal responsibility that we have is to care for others. Think of it again terms of the body, the body of Christ that he is put together. A hand should not try to be afoot, right, but both the hand and the foot should do their own work. But how do they do it in service to others, for the common good? If a hand tries to be afoot or refuses to do its work as a hand, it hurts both itself and the body. When we look to Christ in his work, we see that because Christ has done he has made us members of a body, members of one another, a theme Paul's brought up over and over again throughout First Corinthians. Because of Jesus and his work for us on the Cross, we are united in him into a kingdom, a community, a family. Before he saved us, we served ourselves only sure we were a part of a family. We are part of a nation. We are part of a community in various ones, but broken ones, corrupt ones, falling apart ones. But now that we belong to Christ, something new has happened. We belong to a body that is eternal, a kingdom that cannot be shaken, a community that is formed in union with him who does not die and is full of healing and life. This is why Paul calls them, and us as well, to see beyond ourselves, beyond even our own church. Notice how here are, these Corinthians in this faraway place, are called to provide, along with other churches and other people, for somewhere else. That's an amazing, amazing picture. It's one reason we are presbyterians. We take care of ourselves and our families, but in those times when we are unable to, we know that the church is bigger than us and we know that we are part of something that is bigger than us, so that as we are able to provide for the needs of others, we do.

When we first started as a church plant here, other churches gave money to help pay for my salary, our rent, the various things that we needed in the life of the church. That was a huge blessing. We would not be here if it weren't for the generosity of others who said we will help a new church intucson and as we were able to establish and grow. Now, every year we are able to donate money to our Presbyterian General Assembly, who then use those funds to provide for other needy churches. Some of those churches are needy because they're small and just starting, like we were. Some of those churches are spiritually mature, great, strong churches, but in financially impoverished areas. Some of those churches are churches that have faced natural disasters or, as in the case of Ukraine, war. And in both the giving and the receiving that we ourselves have experienced here at covenant, we have found great blessing. We have also found God at work, taking care of his people in their material needs and their spiritual needs. In our hearts, he's been teaching us to love one another as he first loved us, and that is a very great thing, a very great gift. Lie that we are all in it for number one, just for ourselves, is not true. God has put us in both part of his body to belong to one another and to love one another, and in wonderful ways that we get to experience and ways that honor him and reveal his work in US and in the world. That brings me to my last point, the lie which will be disabused of, and that is that the world is all there is. There is this idea that some people have that if we just work hard enough, if we organize ourselves well enough, if we press people enough, that we can eliminate suffering and poverty and hatred and any other kind of brokenness that we experience in our world and even in our church. And, as a result, those who have this vision and believe this lie they get sometimes, we get sometimes very frustrated and angry when we are unable to achieve these ends, when we look at our church and when we look at our lives and we say there's still problems here. We're not generous enough, we're not loving enough, there are people who are hurting, there are people who are suffering and we're not doing every thing we can. No sure, if we're not doing...

...what we need to do, we probably should get a little angry about that and and work harder. But the point is that we can never believe that simply by working harder or organizing better or even loving more, that we will be able to accomplish this kind of utopia here and now. We cannot, in our own power and in our own strength, eliminate suffering and death and poverty and struggle. Partly God uses these things to sanctify us. It's one of the reasons we are here in this world now, is so that he might perfect us and grow us and purify us through these struggles and as we struggle and more and along side one another. But this lie persists and it's taught frequently in our society if we just do more, if we just try harder, that we will be able to achieve well, heaven, but this is not right. One easy way to prove this is the constant failure of humanity to achieve this. Thousands and thousands and thousands of years of people working and working and working to achieve this. Poems and songs and manifestos and Kingdoms and all kinds of things have been built and tried. Power Hour has been exercised, great armies have been raised to what end? To No end, to a vain end. And if the years and years of human life on this earth aren't enough to prove it, you can just look at your own life. How close are you to perfection by just trying harder and doing more? Are you just one step away from finally ridding all of yourself of sin if you just organized your calendar a little better or saved a little more money, or we're a little nicer to your neighbors. The problems deeper than that. It's much deeper than that. It's important to note this, not just because we're afraid of authoritarianism or something like that, although those are real concerns, but it's important because we don't want to fall under the judgment of the Authority, the king of Kings. You need examples of this. Look at the Tower of Babel, for example. Humanity working together, achieving, in its own strength, some sort of unified vision, all to come crumbling down under the hand of God. You can think of Psalm to the the the wicked getting together and murmuring, whispering one another about how they'll break apart the bonds between the Lord and his anointed. One scripture says he will smash them to pieces like with a rod hit the vessel. You can think of Nebuchadnezzar...

...standing on his his porte, looking out over his kingdom, amazed that all that he is accomplished, and a great kingdom it was, to find himself eating the grass, just a little bit later, humbled under the hand of all mighty God. You can think of the Roman Empire, you can, we could go on and on and on and see humanity in some ways coming to its to these pinnacles, to these moments where there is a measure of peace and strength and wealth and honor and these sorts of things that are proclaimed of the Lord and revelation five, but yes, barely so, all hanging on by a thread and ultimately easily crushed under the hand of God, the true King. These examples teach us that happiness, greatness, Utopia, heaven, these things can only be achieved in God alone, and they can't be achieved by our own obedience, because our obedience stinks, our lives don't work, we're full of brokenness and dissension, we lie and break and hurt each other all of the time. The only way that a kingdom that cannot be shaken can be established is by the hands of God. The only way that we can risk get a kingdom that is strong enough, that is perfect enough, that is glorious enough to match the Lord and all his promises, is to simply be given it as a gift. There's no way to earn it, there's no way to achieve it, and the lie that says this world is all there is. Just strive a little harder, hope a little more, you will be able to eliminate these things that cause us to suffer. It's very shortsighted and it always fails. The lives that we live, in caring for one another and in being good neighbors in our world are not lived in order to establish heaven on earth, because we've already received heaven through Christ, our Savior, as we read earlier. We are already citizens of it and we as we wait for Christ's return. We are not trying to build an unshakable kingdom. We have received a kingdom that is unshakable, as Hebrews says. The lives we live are not to create a heavenly society, although of course we want to better our neighbors, we want our churches to be strong, we want to grow in our own faith, but ultimately we do so through faith in our Lord, who is great and powerful and rich and and loving. This means that all of our false starts and sufferings and frustrations...

...that we feel in this life will one day come to an end, and that's good news. They will come to an end because this world is not all that there is, because this world is not all that there is, because God is giving to us something more, something greater, something glorious. We can have hope, and not just in the promise of those things, but in the guarantee of those things, which is Jesus's own blood shed on the cross, because of Jesus, is sacrifice for sins. Our sins are forgiven because of the pouring out of the Holy Spirit in our lives and his sanctifying work and, one day, his glorifying work. We know that these things that we so desperately want we will receive, but we receive them in him, not in this world and not through the means and the things of this world. In fact, the Lord Jesus turns all this on its head and teaches us that through suffering and suffering alongside one another and helping one another, this is how we learn not to trust in ourselves, but to trust in Christ alone, to trust in Christ working through us. Remember, at the beginning of Corinthians, he says not many of you are wise, not many of you are noble, not many powerful. The Lord Jesus didn't enter into Jerusalem on that donkey and then ride in and take over and then a point his apostles as great kings over all the lands who then appointed all the nobles and the great people of the world. That's not how the Kingdom of God came. The Kingdom of God came through the Cross. The Kingdom of God came through suffering and persecution and struggle and poverty and all kinds of difficulties. This doesn't mean that we shouldn't try to alleviate suffering, it doesn't mean that we shouldn't love our brothers and sisters and help them eat, as Paul calls us to do. But it does do. But, but it does mean that as we do so, we do so because of what Christ has done and trusting in him for what he is doing and what he promises to do, not because we think that we can just accomplish all these things on our own. In fact, we trust him that in the midst of our suffering, in the midst of our trials, he has not abandoned us, but he is working through them to sanctify us. So when we give, which we must do, as we are able to do, we fundaintily, do it out of a firm faith in Christ, in Christ alone, in his work, in his kingdom, in His grace. We do it in good order, because he has created a body that is orderly and he desires...

...for us to share that love in great ways that testify to his goodness to us. And we do it with a generous love, not being forced to or not scared that if we don't do it, everything will come falling apart, but we do it trusting in the Lord and out of generosity, knowing that he'll take care of us. Who owns the cattle on a thousand hills, knows every hair on our head numbered? Who close the lilies of the field better than Solomon? Our Father says, I got you, don't worry about it, I will take care of you, and it's from that play, says his children, adopted because of the work of Christ, that we can then give to others, generously and loving let's pray that God would bless us in these things as well, even as he blessed the Corinthians, the glacians and the people in Jerusalem. Our heavenly father, we thank you for your work among us, your generosity to us, your goodness to us. You, in all these things I have made yourself and your graciousness so manifest. We see your work in our brothers and sisters, we see your work in the church at this time, we see your work in Christ and in your spirit working through us. We ask, Lord, that, as you bring about in us a love for one another that flows from a love for you, that flows from faith in you and your love that first was given to us, that this love, and which we abide and live and enjoy as receivers and givers of it, would just be on display for the world to see, not so that we might be praised, so that you might be praised, so that the love of God, in Christ Jesus, Our Lord, that has been given to us in the Gospel, would be proclaimed and others would see it and come to you and give you all glory and honor and praise, and that they too would receive that kingdom that is unshakable. Lord, we ask for forgiveness for the love that we have failed to share, for our lack of generosity. Are Our hearts, which give sometimes, but give so with a sour face, sour heart, Lord, we confess that we are often selfish. We confess that we don't care for others is as we ought to. We confess trying to build our own kingdoms in replace of yours, of trusting in ourselves rather than our power rather than yours. We asked that you would forgive us these things and help us to set our minds more and more on Christ, that we might know him and receive...

...all that he has to offer, so that, instead of striving and struggling and fearing and dying, we might enjoy your presence among us, your provision for us, and even the suffering that we face and the trials that we face. We asked that we would even enjoy those, rejoicing knowing that you are at work among us. Lord. We ask these things knowing that, Ye, it is your desire to grant them. We ask them knowing that you have worked these things in US and will continue to do so. We ask, Lord, these things in faith, faith in you and in your promises to us. We praise you for your love and we pray this in Jesus name. Amen.

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