Category Archives: Sermon Notes

These are sermon notes of Pastor Hemen and you are welcome to read, use, and copy and paste them, however, please give credit where credit is due. Remember, these articles are copyrighted by Pastor Lee Hemen © 2008 and the property of Pastor Lee Hemen. You are welcome to copy it, email it, or use it but please if you copy it, email it, or use it you must do so in its entirety.

The way of love! – 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a

The way of love! – 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a
By Pastor Lee Hemen
February 18, 2018

What is love? It is a question that poets, prognosticators, and psychologists have tried to answer. Love’s theme fills hundreds of thousands of books, songs, and blogs. Tina Turner cynically sang, “Oh what’s love got to do, got to do with it? What’s love but a second hand emotion? What’s love got to do, got to do with it? Who needs a heart, when a heart can be broken?” Most contemporary songs in today’s society have reduced love to either feelings or lust, whichever fits the needs of the moment. It reflects the shallow and sometimes cynical view folks have for the meaning of love for their lives. However, if we are to understand Scripture we have to answer the question, “What is love?”

The Bible does define for us what love is. It begins with God himself when we learn “God is love.” (1 John 4:8 NIV) Love’s definition is furthered clarified when he showed what his love is all about in sending his Son. (John 3:16-18) This love of God transforms the individual from the inside out to the extent that they are changed forever in their personal relationship with him, their personal attitudes and their interactions with others. “For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died.” (2 Corinthians 5:14 NIV) and “No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.” (1 John 4:12 NIV) The problem is what does the rest of the world see when it looks at the life of a believer? Does it see the love of God revealed in us? With all the misunderstanding, negativism, and cynicism concerning love in our day and age, the question we need to answer this morning is, “What is love?” More specifically, what are love’s attributes? Let’s find out the way of love for ourselves…

READ: 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a

Since we are so close to Valentine’s Day and we are talking about love I made up the top ten things women may not want to hear on their first date:

10. I love the way the light shines on your nose…
9. I picked these up at the cemetery on the way here…
8. Don’t worry I tasted each piece of candy to make sure there were no nuts inside…
7. Your cooking is almost as good as my mother’s…
6. I take my mother’s ashes everywhere, why?
5. I have my own private apartment in the basement…
4. You’re way prettier than the last girl I dated…
3. Look, two tickets to the hog wrestling championships!
2. Momma always goes on my first date…
1. I am sure this ring won’t turn your finger green…

Love can be confusing but in these verses from Paul…

I. We discover what love is! (Vv. 13:4, 7-8a)

Love is patient, love is kind.… It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.

1. Mariah Carey once sang: “I wanna know what love is….. I want you to show me.” We discover that all Mariah had to do was open her Bible in order to find the perfect example of love! Paul writes exactly what this kind of love is all about. We discover that love is patient, or as some translations state, “long suffering.” Yet the idea is not one of patiently putting up with something or someone, but rather that of steadfast devotion. There is a serene tolerance involved whereby the believer, as Paul admonishes is to “Be completely humble and gentle; [by being] patient, bearing with one another in love.” (Ephesians 4:2 NIV) Love is also kind, again as in being “kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:32 NIV) Love always protects like a covering or a like a mama bird that shelters her young with her wing, and love always trusts in the one who gave us the example of love. However, we as believers are also to trust in one another as well because we are to be the embodiment of Jesus in the world! In other words, the love a Christians displays sees the best in a fellow believer. How in the world could love do that, are we to be like a Pollyanna and blindly see the good in everybody? Nope, we are to reflect Jesus’ love in that we are to always hope in him and what he can do with our lives: That we look to the bright side of life even in difficult circumstances. Love is able to do this because like Jesus it perseveres. It stays the course set out for it in life, it keeps on keeping on when others falter and persists when others only see failure. Love is all these wonderful things: kind, patient, protective, trusting, hopeful, and persistent! When it is, it never fails! This is what Godly love truly is!

EXAMPLE: In a morally corrupt world we see what the redefinition of love accomplishes. It focuses on self-gratification and reduces love to its basest instinct of emotional lust. Love becomes about selfish relationships and self-seeking, instead of the foundational truth it is supposed to be. Like the redefinition of marriage that ignores the familial outcome of emotional stability and the continuance of humanity. Contrary to the amoral selfish redefining of marriage, this is why God resoundingly condemns it. At its core godly love is sacrificial and is never based on what you get out of it, it is based on the change that has occurred in your sinful human nature that makes you love others in spite of yourself! This why the apostle John would bluntly write, “This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother. This is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another.” (1 John 3:10-11 NIV) This is what Godly love truly is!

For Paul, love was more than what you can gain it flows from what you have already obtained. We have found out what love is, we also have to learn what it is not. So, here in these verses…

II. We discover what love is not! (Vv. 13:4b-6)

It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.

1. The singer Jennifer Hudson sang: “If this isn’t love, tell me what it is!” Jennifer should know that love is more than losing weight in life! Paul related that God’s love “does not envy, it does not boast, and it is not proud.” Again, in other words, the love of Jesus does not stoop to petty jealousy or green-eyed behavior. Jealousy is just another word for insecurity and at its core it is selfish. God’s love does not care about what others have or obtained, but rather rejoices with another’s success in life, especially when it is obtained in a godly manner! Nor does the love of Jesus brag about itself to others, but rather it knows its place. God is to be glorified in all things. Therefore Jesus’ love does not puff itself up in the eyes of others, like a gangsta thug or short-term sports hero for its own gain. In a world where being crude and sarcastic has reached all time new lows, the love a Christian is to display is not to be rude or crass. Godly love therefore never seeks the lowest common denominator; it has the highest of standards. It does for others rather than for itself, never seeking its own desires first. In other words like Jesus it is sacrificial! Love keeps a lid on its anger and in so doing it does not keep track or a record of the wrongs others have done to it. And unlike the world, who knows “God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, [and] they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them”, (Romans 1:32 NIV) love “does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth” of God! Notice anything about the picture painted here by Paul of what love is not? The love of God as expressed in the lives of believers is to be nothing like what the world offers. That’s why the world does not understand it nor does it understand Christ or Christianity. In Christ we discover what love is not.

EXAMPLE: I always laugh when the world tries to define what Christianity is supposed to be. Recently there has been a desperate redefining of what the world thinks a Christian’s faith should be like. We are to swallow and accept the attitudes and actions of others and never ever say anything that they might take as “bigoted” concerning their personal perversion. Contrary to what the media would try to persuade you to believe, Christianity is not based on what we feel about Jesus, it is based on what Jesus taught and at its core is the fact that a person can only claim being a Christian after they have confessed their sinful condition and placed their faith and trust in Jesus Christ himself. Like societies redefinition of love, the Christian faith is not based on selfish emotionalism. And this morning, we have learned from Paul what love is not.

Conclusion:

We have discovered what love is and we discovered what love is not!

This article is copyrighted © 2018 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

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The expression of God’s love! – John 3:16-21

The expression of God’s love! – John 3:16-21
By Pastor Lee Hemen
February 4, 2018

How do you express your love? Since February is the month when we celebrate love because of Valentine’s Day I thought it would be good for us to pause and reflect on what love truly means for the believer. And being able to express, know, and understand what love is supposed to be is extremely important. Far too many carry false notions and understanding of what love is all about therefore it is important for Christians to be able to help others truly know the expression of God’s love.

When I first meant my wife she was my best friend’s kid-sister who took perverse joy in teasing us. Being the “mature” High School freshman I was I was not impressed by a 13 year old Junior Higher. Now for 42 years I am very impressed and interested in my best friend’s kid sister. Of course it took a lot of time, effort, and commitment for me to express just how much I care about her. It still does and I still do! God did the same thing for us and his plan took thousands of years to express fully. Let’s take a look at the expression of God’s love…

READ: John 3:16-21

Valentine’s Day originally was celebrated to honor one of several martyred “saints”. One for marrying Roman soldiers against the Emperor’s will and another who imprisoned for his faith wrote his final letter to his wife and signed it, “From your Valentine”. The oldest known valentine in existence is a poem written in 1415 by Charles, Duke of Orleans, to his wife while he was imprisoned in the Tower of London following his capture at the Battle of Agincourt. In this popular passage from John…

I. We see the expression of God’s love in how he gave us himself! (Vv. 16-18)

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.

1. The message contained within these verses is so profound and simple that it mystifies the spiritually blind and confounds the spiritually ignorant. Yet in a world that hungers for real love there is no greater expression of it than what we discover here in John’s Gospel. In the past the mythological creations of mankind were vain attempts to try to explain the angry world around us. We saw the wrath of gods in the weather, we experienced the inhumanity of mankind, and the march of death and tried to make sense of it all. It is only here in Scripture where we discover the profound truth that God does indeed exist, he created all things, has a plan in progress and that “God is love.” And here we discover that “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son”! He did not bring forth a child like himself, he came himself as a child, grew to be a man, was tempted in every way we are, remained pure, and willingly died for us for the simple reason “that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life”! This is the key to knowing and experiencing God’s love for one’s self – you must believe in him! If you do you will never “perish but have eternal life”. That’s a pretty special love gift! In fact we cannot be forced, coerced, or pushed into belief. The choice is ours because “God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” God’s final judgment will come later when he returns to gather his children to himself. Jesus, God in human flesh, related that “Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.” We condemn or free ourselves by the choice we make. What a marvelous thing to discover in this love message from God that we see the expression of God’s love in how he gave us himself!

EXAMPLE: “Never was so much owed by so many to so few” is a line from a wartime speech made by the British Prime Minister Winston Churchill on August 20, 1940. I have to laugh because when I hear this I am reminded of my friend Andy from 1st grade. He was in “love” with a little blond girl in our classroom. I thought he was bonkers and in a sense he was. I found him one day out on the playground in tears. When I asked him what happened he related that he had offered the girl his cookies from his lunch. He wasn’t sad because she refused them he was dismayed because she had actually taken and eaten them! Andy now understood what sacrifice meant. We see the expression of God’s love in how he gave us himself!

The only time I truly like total darkness is when I want to go to sleep or when I want to see the stars. Sadly it is tough to see the stars clearly because of all the ambient light that shines into the night sky. There are those who try to proclaim another truth than the one Jesus did and the only way to see the difference is by shinning the full truth of the gospel against its darkness. John related that…

II. We see the expression of God’s love by its illumination! (Vv. 19-21)

This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.

1. Recently I watched a diatribe by a young atheist on YouTube who vainly tried to refute the life of Jesus. She not only distorted historical facts but did not know the historicity and evidence of biblical facts. It was laughable. As we learned before, no one forces anyone to believe. That’s why it is called “faith”. However, Jesus taught that there are consequences both good and bad for making one’s own choice concerning God. “This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.” The sad but utter truth is that evil does not like exposure. Whether it is a political cause or a religious sect, neither wants folks to look to closely at the real truth hidden behind the veil of lies. Fanatical religions and myopic socialism has murdered hundreds of millions. Jesus’ teachings are the only truth that demands and asks one to take as close a personal look as possible. However be forewarned if you are trying to hide something, you will be exposed for what you are: “Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.” John later on in life would write, “We know that we live in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God. (1 John 4:13-15 NIV)” This is why atheists rail against Jesus and false religions try to hide the truth. Jesus taught “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. (John 8:31-32 NIV)” There is no fear of faith or of God for those who are willing to trust Jesus with their lives because “whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.” How wondrous to know that we see the expression of God’s love by its illumination!

EXAMPLE: I remember reading the Bible before I came to Christ; I barely understood any of it. After accepting him as my savior and Lord my ignorance changed and I could not read it enough. It made sense and it fit! Kind of like when I first began my relationship with my wife. I had dated several girls and when I dated her things began to change. But the change wasn’t complete until I married her. I no longer see her as my “girlfriend” but rather as my wife and believe me that is a whole lot deeper relationship emotionally, physically, and spiritually. The same is true when we come to Christ. Before it’s only head knowledge, shallow, and kind of boring but after experiencing the power and presence of the Holy Spirit we see the expression of God’s love by its illumination!

Conclusion:

We see the expression of God’s love in how he gave us himself! We see the expression of God’s love by its illumination!

This article is copyrighted © 2018 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

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Remain true! — 1 Timothy 6:1-10

Remain true! — 1 Timothy 6:1-10
By Pastor Lee Hemen
January 28, 2018

We truly have no idea what slavery is like unless we personally have been enslaved. We can theorize, emphasize, and philosophize about it but until we have experienced for ourselves we have no real clue what it means to be enslaved. It was and is one of the most horrendous things humans can do to one another. Christianity played a huge role in the abolition of slavery throughout the world. It still exists where the evil of mankind is allowed to go unchecked. Gangs, Islam, and socialist nations that rule through fear and intimidation we find enslavement still exists.

When Paul wrote about slaves he was in no way endorsing the ungodly practice; instead he knew that those who were masters and those who were slaves that had been changed by Jesus Christ needed to practice a new way of life that reflected their change. Paul’s desire was that no matter what a person’s circumstance in life that they would remain true to their faith in Jesus. Let’s see what he wrote Timothy…

READ: 1 Timothy 6:1-10

Paul understood Christians should act like Christians. What a concept, right? Jesus taught “no one pours new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the new wine will burst the skins, the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, new wine must be poured into new wineskins. And no one after drinking old wine wants the new, for he says, ‘The old is better.’” (Luke 5:37-39 NIV) Paul taught…

I. Christians remain true by respecting Jesus! (Vv. 1-2)

All who are under the yoke of slavery should consider their masters worthy of full respect, so that God’s name and our teaching may not be slandered. Those who have believing masters are not to show less respect for them because they are brothers. Instead, they are to serve them even better, because those who benefit from their service are believers, and dear to them. These are the things you are to teach and urge on them.

1. The “new wine” of the Holy Spirit living within the believer will spill out and splash all over others! Jesus taught “let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16 NIV) He did not say that it depended upon how we felt or the circumstance of our lives. So Paul writes those who were slaves in Timothy’s church that “All who are under the yoke of slavery should consider their masters worthy of full respect”! Why was this so important to Paul? Wasn’t slavery horrendous and weren’t all people seen as free before the Lord? Yes, but Paul knew that the focus should be on honoring God “so that God’s name and our teaching may not be slandered”; so much so that while we are all “one” in Christ “Those who have believing masters are not to show less respect for them because they are brothers.” Their position in life may not have changed but their relationship to the Lord had. Even though their masters were now “brothers” in the Lord they were still slaves, and as slaves they as believers were “to serve them even better, because those who benefit from their service are believers, and dear to them.” This holds true for the employee and employer of our day. A Christian’s position in life should honor Jesus. While in our day we can either quit a believing boss who is not living for the Lord or we can stay and show others how a true believer is to serve no matter what the boss does! Slaves of Paul’s day did not have the choice to simply quit; they would be tracked down, resold, imprisoned, or if lucky just flogged! Yet as a believer they were to first honor the Lord with their lives. “These are the things” Timothy “was to teach and urge” on his church! Christians remain true by respecting Jesus!

EXAMPLE: Can you imagine being a Christian slave to a Christian owner? How about being a Christian slave owner who owns a Christian slave that runs away? Paul wrote a personal letter to a man named Philemon regarding such an issue. He began his letter by reminding Philemon that he Paul was “a prisoner of Christ Jesus”. It reminded Philemon that he was in prison, thereby enslaved, because of his faith. Christians remain true by respecting Jesus! Paul appealed to Philemon’s faith to treat Onesimus, his runaway slave, with the love of Christ. Paul was sending Onesimus back to Philemon but “no longer as a slave, but better than a slave, as a dear brother” in Jesus. Paul was willing to pay the cost of Philemon looking for Onesimus but Philemon needed to remember that they were both now followers of Jesus and that Christians remain true by respecting Jesus!

The love of Jesus should change our lives. He sacrificed everything to set us free form our bondage and enslavement to personal sin! Paul therefore writes Timothy that he was to remain true to the gospel and that…

II. Christians remain true by following Jesus! (Vv. 3-5)

If anyone teaches false doctrines and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching, he is conceited and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions and constant friction between men of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain.

1. We have become so enamored with being liked by everyone and being accepting of everyone that we allow ungodly behavior to continue or we excuse it. While it is true we are to take care of the ungodly log in our eye before we try to remove the sinful splinter in a brother’s eye we can and are commanded to remain in Jesus! Jesus succinctly taught: “Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.” (John 15:4 NIV) Therefore Paul told Timothy “If anyone teaches false doctrines and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching, he is conceited and understands nothing.” Paul bluntly tells us that those who refuse to understand Jesus’ teaching are spiritually ignorant! Why, because Jesus’ teaching is not only “sound”, correct, and true it is “godly teaching!”! In fact those who continue to refute Jesus regurgitate ungodliness! They have an “unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result” in all kinds of ungodly behavior! Paul’s words are directed towards those who were Judaizers who wanted believers to follow Jesus plus Old Testament laws. Paul told them bluntly “that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified.” (Galatians 2:16 NIV) Their continued teaching of false doctrines within the church resulted in “envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions and constant friction” and not the unity and love of Jesus! Paul told Timothy that these were “men of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain”! These ungodly men had ulterior motives to enrich themselves! Paul knew that Christians remain true by following Jesus!

EXAMPLE: Several ungodly examples of this kind of thing are Jehovah’s Witnesses, Seventh Day Adventists, and Latter Day Saints. While wanting the world to think of them as “Christian” nothing could be further from the truth! However there also can be pastors who claim Christ but are blind guides that keep their congregation in the chains of spiritual slavery by telling them that only they teach the truth by corrupting the gospel or Scripture into their own twisted doctrines in order to aggrandize themselves. This is why it is so important for believers to know the Bible! Bible Study is important! Paul reminds us that Christians remain true by following Jesus!
Evidently there were those who claimed Jesus in Timothy’s church but were using their so-called faith as a means to enrich themselves! Kind of like many name-it-and-claim-it, blab-it-and-grab-it, Trinity Broadcasting Network types do nowadays. Paul reminds Timothy that…

III. Christians remain true by being satisfied! (Vv. 6-10)

But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

1. These are some of the best verses in the Bible and should be learned, remembered, and used by believers. We often forget that we live one life here on this earth and then we will either live eternally with God or separated from him. There are religions that teach you are to lose yourself and become nothing by becoming one with the whole in order to find bliss. Jesus teaches us that we are to remain who we are but to walk in him moment-by-moment. We are created individuals who are each special and unique to God but we live in a sin-tainted creation. When we come to Christ by faith we discover that “godliness with contentment is great gain”. We are to be content in him because “we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it”. All that we treasure so much now means nothing once we die. Believers are to treasure up for themselves the things of God. Jesus taught for a reason: “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:19-21 NIV)  Paul reminds us that “if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that”. Paul knew it depended up what your focus in life was and he did not want Timothy to fall into the trap of wanting “things”. Now having a good house, job, or income is not the problem – the problem is when we begin to focus our lives on the wrong things. Paul knew that people whose only focus was “to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction.” Money is neither good nor bad, it is simply a tool however “the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil” and in fact Paul relates that some “people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many [of the] griefs” in life they could have avoided by focusing on Jesus! Christians remain true by being satisfied!

EXAMPLE: In the old movie The Jerk with Steve Martin he is having an emotional fight with his wife and he claims he “doesn’t need anything” in life. Except as he leaves his house he begins to pick up an ashtray, a paddleball, a chair and other nonsensical items that he “needs”. We finally see him aimlessly wandering down the street still claiming that he doesn’t “need anything”! It is a perfect commentary on how many view their lives, including some believers. Paul understood that Christians remain true by being satisfied!

Conclusion:

Christians remain true by respecting Jesus! Christians remain true by following Jesus! Christians remain true by being satisfied!

This article is copyrighted © 2018 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

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Honoring God’s servants! — 1 Timothy 5:17-25

Honoring God’s servants! — 1 Timothy 5:17-25
By Pastor Lee Hemen
January 21, 2018

Recently the news has had several truly horrendous examples of pastors gone bad both of which either had or are pastoring mega churches. One had sexual relations with underage girls and the other deliberately misappropriated tens of thousands of dollars of church money and was caught smuggling hundreds of illegal pounds of marijuana in his car. These examples are by no means how the vast majority of pastors humbly serve in their ministries but these ungodly few leave a bad influence and taste with those inside and outside the church. Part of the problem is when too much power is given to an individual who is supposed to be a servant of the Lord and not a sovereign.

Paul understood that how a pastor follows through in his ministry reflects on the entire body of Christ. The same is true in how the body of Christ honors their pastors. While respect is earned, honor is to be given to those who serve. For whatever reason Timothy’s congregation needed a lesson in honoring God’s servants, let’s see what Paul told Timothy…
READ: 1 Timothy 5:17-25

Just as love begins at home, shouldn’t the love of God begin within the church? In fact, we learn from Paul that…

I. Honoring God’s servant begins at church! (Vv. 17-21)

The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching. For the Scripture says, “Do not muzzle the ox while it is treading out the grain,” and “The worker deserves his wages.” Do not entertain an accusation against an elder unless it is brought by two or three witnesses. Those who sin are to be rebuked publicly, so that the others may take warning.

1. The “elders” Paul mentions here are not just those who are older but rather those men who held specific positions within the local church itself. Many therefore believe that Paul is probably referring to pastors here. So he writes Timothy to remember that “The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching.” These men were actively involved with the oversight of the affairs of the congregation and they had to serve “well” – literally with honesty, morality, and integrity. Their work involved both “preaching and teaching” which is not just speaking the words of the Lord but also being able to handle correctly the instruction of his word as well. It is paramount that the pastor who is leading a church not only intimately know the word of God but be well trained himself in the ability to speak ans teach it! But part of the “double honor” Paul was referring to here is making sure these men were compensated well for their labor. Why? “For the Scripture says, ‘Do not muzzle the ox while it is treading out the grain,’ and ‘The worker deserves his wages.’” Paul had learned from the Old Testament about making sure a pastor was taken care of and he had written “In the same way, the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel. (1 Corinthians 9:14 NIV) and Paul got this from Jesus who related that “the worker deserves his wages”. (Luke 10:7 NIV) Paul also knew that the pastor could become an easy target for those who were disgruntled and he wanted them treated in the same way anyone would be: “Do not entertain an accusation against an elder unless it is brought by two or three witnesses.” Jesus had taught that if a brother in Christ sinned against the church then “take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses”, (Matthew 18:16 NIV) however those leaders, “who sin are to be rebuked publicly, so that the others may take warning.” Honoring God’s servant begins at church!

EXAMPLE: On Lifeway.com Michael D. Miller writes that “God asks the church today, ‘Where is My honor?’ Where is God’s honor in the conflicts over power in the church? Where is God’s honor when a church and its ministers cannot work together? Where is God’s honor when we don’t give Him our best? God asks, ‘Where is My honor?’ when there are broken relationships in the church. The church has forgotten what God called us to be Jesus prayed, ‘I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me’ (John 17:23). Jesus’ prayer for the church today is that it will demonstrate the glory of God by unity of purpose and spirit. Church conflicts don’t honor God. Individual disobedience in our Christian lives dishonors God. When we do not treat the ministers God has given the church with honor, how can we say we honor God? The giving of honor is practiced in the context of relationships. It is demonstrated through submission and obedience to those who are called to places of authority and responsibility. Honor for God is the basis of all honor. Obedience to God is coupled to the honor we give to God. When God asks the church, ‘Where is My honor?’ – what is your answer?” Honoring God’s servant begins at church!

Sadly people remember the bad thing that occurs rather than the good that happens most of the time. And if they have one bad experience at church or read about a bad acting pastor, this is the one example they remember concerning the church and its pastor. This is why Paul would teach that…

II. The servant of God needs to be worthy of honor! (Vv. 21-25)

I charge you, in the sight of God and Christ Jesus and the elect angels, to keep these instructions without partiality, and to do nothing out of favoritism. Do not be hasty in the laying on of hands, and do not share in the sins of others. Keep yourself pure. The sins of some men are obvious, reaching the place of judgment ahead of them; the sins of others trail behind them. In the same way, good deeds are obvious, and even those that are not cannot be hidden.

1. What Paul was writing Timothy was not to be dismissed because Paul viewed it as extremely essential. So he writes “I charge you, in the sight of God and Christ Jesus and the elect angels” — God and his messengers were witnesses! Paul knew that people could exert pressure on a new pastor especially someone they thought of as being too young and easily swayed to do what they wanted done instead of what God desired to do through him or the church. So Timothy was “to keep these instructions without partiality, and to do nothing out of favoritism.” I know in the past I have been saddened by how believers can sometimes be petty or childish. This should not occur and especially within the body of Christ. In fact Paul continued by telling Timothy two things: 1) “Do not be hasty in the laying on of hands,” and 2) “do not share in the sins of others.” Timothy was not to give honor to someone who did not deserve it nor was he to give them a position in the church they had not shown they were worthy of. Remember when the church sets someone aside to do the work of the Lord the church comes together to “lay hands” on them in recognition of their ability to serve Jesus. He wasn’t to be too quick in doing so. Also Timothy wasn’t to share in the sins of others but instead he was to “keep [himself] pure.” It is a second reminder by Paul. Paul would tell the leaders in the church in Asia as he said goodbye to them, “Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood.” (Acts 20:28 NIV) Paul reminded Timothy he was to keep watch of himself as well and that “The sins of some men are obvious; reaching the place of judgment ahead of them” and sadly “the sins of others trail behind them” leaving in their wake spiritual destruction. However, Paul continues by reminding Timothy that “In the same way, good deeds are obvious, and even those that are not cannot be hidden.” The servant of God needs to be worthy of honor!

EXAMPLE: One of the most honored men of God is Billy Graham. One of the many reasons is his integrity as a man of God. Throughout his entire life he has maintained his integrity by keeping himself pure. He rarely got involved in things he shouldn’t and only took stands on such things as politics when he saw it as absolutely necessary. He saw a greater need to reach the masses and knew he could not if he got too politically involved. In fact Graham would write that “Integrity is the glue that holds our way of life together. What our young people want to see in their elders is integrity, honesty, truthfulness, and faith. What they hate most of all is hypocrisy and phoniness. That is why it is important for us to go to church, to read the Bible, and to say grace at the table. Let them see us doing what we would like them to do.” The servant of God needs to be worthy of honor!

Conclusion:

Honoring God’s servant begins at church! The servant of God needs to be worthy of honor!

This article is copyrighted © 2018 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

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How to treat others! – 1 Timothy 5:1-16

How to treat others! – 1 Timothy 5:1-16
By Pastor Lee Hemen
January 14, 2018

One hurdle a nonbeliever has to jump over is when “Christians” do not live like it. Paul had just gotten through writing Timothy to “Watch your life and doctrine closely” because he knew that a true faith results in a changed life. Believers are to act like Jesus. Remember believers are to be “blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe”. (Philippians 2:14-15 NIV) How we treat others speaks volumes about our faith.

Although Timothy was not to dwell on his youthfulness, he was to be mindful that he was still a young man; especially in dealing with folks who are older than himself, and also in his bearing towards young women. Paul begins with the treatment of older men and returns to it again later on. Between these two passages about men he gives directions for Timothy’s guidance respecting the women in his church, especially respecting widows. In this Paul teaches us how to treat others, let’s see how…

READ: 1 Timothy 5:1-16

Remember the lyrics to the Ghostbusters song? “If there’s something strange in you neighborhood, who you gonna call? Ghostbusters! If there’s something weird and it don’t look good, who you gonna call? Ghostbusters!” Well if there is something strange in your local church, who you gonna call? Paul writes Timothy that…

I. The family of God is to take care of the family of God! (Vv. 1-6)

Do not rebuke an older man harshly, but exhort him as if he were your father. Treat younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity. Give proper recognition to those widows who are really in need. But if a widow has children or grandchildren, these should learn first of all to put their religion into practice by caring for their own family and so repaying their parents and grandparents, for this is pleasing to God. The widow who is really in need and left all alone puts her hope in God and continues night and day to pray and to ask God for help. But the widow who lives for pleasure is dead even while she lives.

1. One would think that with age comes wisdom but this is not necessarily true. We all have met older folks who have squandered their lives and made really ridiculous decisions and are suffering the consequences. Foolishness knows no age limit and this is why Timothy needed to act as to exemplify Jesus. Both those inside and outside of the church would be watching his life very closely. Paul tells him to “not rebuke an older man harshly, but exhort him as if he were your father” and he was to “treat younger men as brothers”. Timothy was part of the family of God and he was to treat other believers as family. So gentleness, kindness, and morality were to be his motives so that “younger women” were to be treated “as sisters, with absolute purity”. In a world that chewed up people and especially the weak, the orphaned, and the widowed Timothy as a believer was to “Give proper recognition to those widows who [were] really in need. But if a widow [had] children or grandchildren, these should learn first of all to put their religion into practice by caring for their own family and so repaying their parents and grandparents, for this is pleasing to God.” Family was to take care of family. Paul told Timothy, “The widow who is really in need and left all alone puts her hope in God and continues night and day to pray and to ask God for help. But the widow who lives for pleasure is dead even while she lives.” Paul is writing about a person’s focus in life. In that day widows had very few options; either they had family who could care for them, they begged, or if they were young enough they became prostitutes. Note Paul’s emphasis is on their spirituality. Someone who focuses on her spiritual growth is to be commended while the one who focuses on only her own pleasure is spiritually “dead” without even knowing it already. The family of God is to take care of the family of God!

EXAMPLE: Over the years I have counseled folks who had to leave their church for varying reasons and in each case they experienced loss. Some would confess that it was worse than leaving family behind! What they forgot is the fact that this is exactly what it was! This is why Paul writes that “Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.” (1 Corinthians 12:27 NIV) A close knit family loves and cares for one another and so does a close knit church family. Paul let Timothy know that the family of God is to take care of the family of God!

We can forget that our faith is not just about ourselves. Others are watching our actions, our lives, and the way we treat one another. This is why Paul would teach Timothy that…

II. The family of God is to have an impact on their family and community! (Vv. 7-10)

Give the people these instructions, too, so that no one may be open to blame. If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. No widow may be put on the list of widows unless she is over sixty, has been faithful to her husband, and is well known for her good deeds, such as bringing up children, showing hospitality, washing the feet of the saints, helping those in trouble and devoting herself to all kinds of good deeds.

1. Paul’s whole focus was on how Timothy could be a positive influence on his church and community. He didn’t need to worry about his age but instead about how he would be an example to his flock! Therefore he was to “Give the people these instructions, too, so that no one may be open to blame.” The world of Paul’s day was not family oriented in that it did not see the need to take care of widows and orphans. So when Paul wrote that “If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever”, he was espousing a whole new concept. If one was changed by the power and presence of God then it had better affect their family life as well! The same is true for all believers. We are to take care of family. Paul continued by giving some practical advice in that “No widow may be put on the list of widows unless she is over sixty, has been faithful to her husband, and is well known for her good deeds, such as bringing up children, showing hospitality, washing the feet of the saints, helping those in trouble and devoting herself to all kinds of good deeds.” Evidently the early church began to keep a list of widows in order to help them out during difficult times. Paul knew younger widows had a greater chance to find employment or the ability to get help and he wanted the entire church to realize the benefit of being “faithful” in marriage and in one’s life. His emphasis then was encouraging older widowed women to not be involved with the things of the world like gossip, idleness, or being meddlesome or nosy. Instead they were to focus on their families, their church, and their neighborhood! For Paul being a believer was more than what happened after death, it was about how one lived their life here and now. Paul was encouraging Timothy to lead his church to understand that the family of God is to have an impact on their family and community!

EXAMPLE: We had a mean old grumpy neighbor who would yell at us if we cut the corner of his yard. One day we all deliberately ran across his yard and laughed at him when he came out to yell at us. We thought it was funny; little did we know my Dad had seen us. He came outside later on and called me and my friends over. “Boys”, he said, “in life you will either be seen as good men or bad, which do you want to be seen as?” We all agreed that we wanted to be known as “good men”. “Then go and apologize to Mr. Anderson for cutting across his yard and laughing at him.” Then without another word, my Dad turned and went back in the house. We knew what we had to do. Paul told Timothy that the family of God is to have an impact on their family and community!

We live in a day and age where most focus on themselves. As believers in a church we are more than a “village” we are the family of God. It can be difficult at times but we must take responsibility for one another and Paul taught Timothy that…

III. The family of God is to focus on one another! (Vv. 11-16)

As for younger widows, do not put them on such a list. For when their sensual desires overcome their dedication to Christ, they want to marry. Thus they bring judgment on themselves, because they have broken their first pledge. Besides, they get into the habit of being idle and going about from house to house. And not only do they become idlers, but also gossips and busybodies, saying things they ought not to. So I counsel younger widows to marry, to have children, to manage their homes and to give the enemy no opportunity for slander. Some have in fact already turned away to follow Satan. If any woman who is a believer has widows in her family, she should help them and not let the church be burdened with them, so that the church can help those widows who are really in need.

1. For Paul again it was a matter of focus. A believer should focus on the Lord and allow him to be displayed in every area of life. So Paul gives Timothy some practical advice: “As for younger widows, do not put them on such a list.” They probably could find a way to provide for themselves or they had children who could help. Paul sympathized and understood that younger women “when their sensual desires overcome their dedication to Christ, they want to marry”. This was natural but these women needed to be aware of what they did after being widowed or they could “bring judgment on themselves, because they have broken their first pledge”. I do not think Paul was referring to the widow’s list but rather to her pledge to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” (Mark 12:30 NIV) “Besides,” Paul explains they might “get into the habit of being idle and going about from house to house” and if they did “not only do they become idlers, but also gossips and busy-bodies, saying things they ought not to”! Idle hands are the Devil’s workshop. Paul was aware that there had arisen some kind of problem in Timothy’s church where he needed help and evidently it was with younger women not conducting themselves properly. “So I counsel younger widows to marry”, Paul related, “to have children, to manage their homes and to give the enemy no opportunity for slander.” Paul not only wanted Timothy to spiritually succeed but he desired the entire church be successful as well but sadly “Some [had] in fact already turned away to follow Satan.” A lot of folks have misunderstood Paul’s words to Timothy thinking he was stating this was the only role for women but nothing could be further from the truth. Paul believed that both women and men who possessed the means were to take care of their families! This is why he finishes this section to Timothy by writing, “If any woman who is a believer has widows in her family, she should help them and not let the church be burdened with them, so that the church can help those widows who are really in need.” The family of God is to focus on one another!

EXAMPLE: I received a phone call one afternoon from a lady who was experiencing both verbal and psychological abuse from her husband. Her children were as well. She related her pastor and church had told her to stay with her husband. Needless to say she was beside herself. I told her to pack a few of her and her children’s things and get out of the house immediately. I told her that her husband had broken his vow to love, honor, and protect her. She needed to do whatever it took to protect not only herself but her children. A huge emotional and spiritual burden was lifted from her. Later she discovered her husband had begun to physically abuse her daughter. They came here for a time to be spiritually and emotionally healed. Now, years later, she is happily remarried, a grandmother, and her son is in Special Forces. Paul taught Timothy that the family of God is to focus on one another!

Conclusion:

The family of God is to take care of the family of God! The family of God is to have an impact on their family and community! The family of God is to focus on one another!

This article is copyrighted © 2018 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

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A good servant of Jesus! — 1 Timothy 4:8-16

A good servant of Jesus! — 1 Timothy 4:8-16
By Pastor Lee Hemen
January 7, 2018

People will spend money for gym memberships, take time to run every day, or make sure that they eat only certain things in specific amounts. What is interesting though is that these same folks who spend so much time and effort on some of these things do not spend the same amount of effort, time, or personal investment in their relationship with the Lord. Just as regular exercise for the body is good so is regular spiritual daily exercise with Jesus.

Paul knew that his mentorship with Timothy included his investment daily in spending time with the Lord. Paul had studied the Psalms and he knew the question David asked: “Who may ascend the hill of the LORD? Who may stand in his holy place?” and how David answered it: “He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to an idol or swear by what is false. He will receive blessing from the LORD and vindication from God his Savior.” (Psalms 24:3-5 NIV) What David could only know momentarily Paul had come to realize believers enjoyed permanently. However, in order to mature and grow in the Lord as a good servant one must also spend time with Jesus; so let’s discover what Paul writes Timothy concerning being a good servant of Jesus…

READ: 1 Timothy 4:8-16

When Jesus enters into someone’s life they are spiritually changed forever: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV) Do they still carry some of the old world’s habits? Yes, but that is why we are to walk daily with him who loved us, died for us, and rose again to prove he was able to change us! In fact total spirituality is not a momentary thing but takes a lifetime and this is why Paul told Timothy that…

I. A good servant of Jesus trains his entire life! (Vv. 8-10)

For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. This is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance (and for this we labor and strive), that we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, and especially of those who believe.

1. Paul understood that while “physical training is of some value… godliness has value for all things”. We live in an age whereby some people think that if they feel something then it makes it true for their lives and therefore valuable or worthy. This simply is not true. Worth does not come from how one feels but from the actual substantive effect it has. You cannot think about working out and experience the actual benefits of doing so. You have to actually do it! Saying you feel someone’s pain does not mean you actually are experiencing it. Training in godliness then has extreme value, “holding promise for both the present life and the life to come”! This is not a wishful thought or a hoping that it might come true, it is the actual result of living a godly life both here and now and in one’s eternal life to come! Above all Paul wanted Timothy to live well but even more to live his life for the Lord. Paul knew if Timothy did he would have an effective life and one worthy of God. Later on in this letter Paul would remind Timothy that “godliness with contentment is great gain”. (V. 6:6) In his life, Paul had come to realize that “in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose”. (Romans 8:28 NIV) So he writes Timothy that “This (then) is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance” in all believer’s lives. It was what Paul labored for and strove for his entire life! And it was the complete reason why Paul had “put [his] hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all men… and especially of those who believe”! Paul understood that a good servant of Jesus trains his entire life!

EXAMPLE: Interestingly some of the most closed minded individuals can either be believers or atheists. In both hubris can interfere with one’s willingness to share the love of Christ and hubris can also interfere with one’s willingness to hear biblical truth. The world sees humility as another’s acceptance of their ideals and never ever disagreeing with them. If a Christian does then they are being conceited and disagreeable. Whereas a believer can plug their ears to the sinner’s plight and not have a broken heart. This is why Timothy needed to learn that a good servant of Jesus trains his entire life!

I decided a long time ago not to take a backseat in explaining what I believe about Jesus, the world, or my own personal philosophy of life. I looked at the life of Paul and realized he never did and then I realized neither did Jesus. However, if you decide to be bold in what you believe be forewarned you will be branded as being conceited. However, we discover Paul bluntly teaching Timothy that…

II. A good servant of Jesus controls their life! (Vv. 11-13)

Command and teach these things. Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity. Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching.

1. In Paul’s day the individuals were considered “young” until you reached the age of wisdom which was around 30. This notion held true until about the 1960s. Interestingly research has shown that young adults often do not fully comprehend the consequences of their actions nor can they make logical decisions until they reach the age of 25! Insurance companies realize that this is why younger folks are more likely to be involved in more risky decisions than older adults. However, Paul wanted Timothy to not allow “anyone [to] look down on [him] because [he] was young”! Now least you think Timothy was an adolescent, he was not by today’s standard. He was probably in his late 20s to mid 30s. Yet his age was no excuse, as a Christian, he was to “set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith, and in purity”! Can you imagine asking, let alone demanding as Paul is actually doing here, today’s believer’s of any age to do the same thing? Notice Timothy was to “command and teach these things”! Timothy was not to feel good about his self; he was to live a life worthy of being called a believer! A life where he watched the words he used, the way he lived his life, his love life, his faith practice, and his ability to be above reproach! Paul would tell another young man, Titus, that a believer’s life “teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age.” (Titus 2:12 NIV) Yet there are those who claim they love the Lord but would rather make excuses as to why they should do the things the world does instead! Is it possible to live the life Paul wrote about? Certainly it is. Paul told Timothy that until he arrived he was to “devote” himself “to public reading of Scripture” and “to preaching and to teaching” the word of God. The idea is gathering with those of like mind and spending time together learning and speaking the words of Jesus! A good servant of Jesus controls their life!

EXAMPLE: Easy believism is easy to believe when one places more importance on a sinner’s prayer than on a changed heart. Saying a mystical phrase does not necessarily make a person a believer and nor does trying to earn God’s love through doing good works. There will be an inner change that is caused by the presence and power the Holy Spirit that will influence one’s outward actions. Christians are not to try to be “good for goodness sake” and in fact a belief in God is not necessary to be a good person. And good people do not necessarily know God! I’ve known lots of good people who did not know God at all and were sometimes even proud of the fact! However, true Godliness (holiness) in life boils up from the inner change that has occurred from knowing and walking with Jesus. This is why Paul taught Timothy that a good servant of Jesus controls their life!

There is no easy way to have a vibrant life in the Lord without devotion. Devotion to speaking daily with the Lord, devotion to reading and understanding the Bible, and devotion in living one’s life for Jesus as his disciple. Paul just made this plain to Timothy and continues by telling him that…

III. A good servant of Jesus must be willing to mature spiritually! (Vv. 14-16)

Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through a prophetic message when the body of elders laid their hands on you. Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.

1. The problem with why folks do not mature in Jesus has nothing to do with time management but rather it is more to do with the will-management. What I mean is one’s willingness to take the needed time involved! We are an instantaneous society that seeks gratification immediately. Why do you think Twitter, Snap-Chat, texting, and other things that take less than a nanosecond of thought are so popular in our culture? Yet there is no such thing as an “instant” faith walk with Jesus! Paul retorts, “Do not neglect your gift”. Now contrary to those who want to in some way to mysticize this — this is not what Paul meant. Those around Timothy had seen his ability to handle the word of God and the gift of his service; this is why they set him aside to be a pastor. His ability was “given [him] through a prophetic (inspired) message when the body of elders (from his local church by the way) laid their hands on” Timothy. It wasn’t the laying on of hands that gave Timothy his “gift”; rather the laying on of hands was the recognition of his ability to be a pastor. Timothy did not all of sudden “receive” the Holy Jolt as some would have you believe. Paul is reminding a self-conscious young man of why he was a pastor in the first place. Others saw God in Jesus at work in him and they willingly set him aside for that reason and he should not neglect it! Timothy was to stop worrying about what others thought about his youth and instead “Be diligent in these matters”. In fact Timothy is encouraged and commanded to “give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress”! He was to “watch [his] life and doctrine closely.” You mean doctrine is actually IMPORTANT? YES! Timothy was to “persevere in them, because” Paul knew if he did he would “save both [himself] and [his] hearers”! Save them from eternal separation from God, save them from hell, save them from a sin-filled life! A good servant of Jesus must be willing to mature spiritually!

EXAMPLE: Some of the most critical people towards those in the ministry are usually either nominal believers or nonbelievers. I believe it is because they do not fully understand the holy things of God or they are embarrassed by their own actions and spiritual immaturity. Jesus warned his followers to “not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs.” Why would Jesus say such a thing? He goes on to relate that “If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces.” (Matthew 7:6 NIV) This is why I very rarely take any criticism seriously from a nominal or nonbeliever. Yet believers are to let their “light shine before all men” and we are to “become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe”! (Matthew 5:6 & Philippians 2:15 NIV) Paul knew that a good servant of Jesus must be willing to mature spiritually!

Conclusion:

A good servant of Jesus trains his entire life! A good servant of Jesus controls their life! A good servant of Jesus must be willing to mature spiritually!

This article is copyrighted © 2018 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

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A new year begins with a new life! – 2 Corinthians 5:14-21

A new year begins with a new life! – 2 Corinthians 5:14-21
By Pastor Lee Hemen
December 31, 2017

Someone once joked that “Every time I find the meaning of life, they change it!” What motivates you in life? This is a good question to ask oneself when facing a new year because it helps us to perhaps rethink what our lives are about, where we are headed, or what we think of as important. For some it is financial gain, for others it is greater education, and still there are those who think that finding themselves is the most important thing in life. But what if none of these were as important as knowing the truth; the truth concerning yourself, the world, history, and what the meaning of life is truly about. Perhaps in this New Year your life needs to begin again.

There’s the old joke about a man who wanted to know the meaning of life so he journeys to India, climbs a high mountain, and meets with a guru sitting outside of his hut. He asks him, “What is the meaning of life?” The guru responds, “Mushrooms.” The man spends the next 20 years eating mushrooms, growing mushrooms, and even talking to mushrooms but he finds nothing. He goes back to India, climbs the same mountain and tells the same guru, “The meaning of life is NOT mushrooms!” The guru intently looks at the man and responds, “Well, then it must be turnips!” Paul knew that if you want meaning in life you had to have a new life and he teaches about what that means here in these verses. Let’s discover how a New Year begins with a new life…

READ: 2 Corinthians 5:14-21

This has been called the “me generation” but one writer states that it more accurately should be called the “Me, me, me generation”. The gospel message that Paul proclaimed is the antithesis of this selfishness and we learn that…

I. A new life begins when we no longer live for ourselves! (Vv. 14-16)

For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again. So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer.

1. Paul was a motivated man. He had lived his life motivated but he had not always lived his life for his Messiah. Something had happened to Paul that changed his life forever and made it brand new and now the life he led obligated him to tell others about the change that had occurred. There were those who thought that Paul was out of his mind, but if he was it was for a reason: He had lost everything for the sake of God (Philippians 5:14-15) and if he was in his right mind it was for them (v. 13) and so he tells his readers that “Christ’s love compels us”! Why does this truth compel Paul to share Jesus? It was God’s desire “who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth”! (1 Timothy 2:4 NIV) Paul now knew that it was Jesus “who gave himself as a ransom for all men”. (1 Timothy 2:6 NIV) He therefore continues by telling them that it is “because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died.” We either die in our sin or we die to ourselves “And he (Jesus) died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.” We are not our own, we were bought at a price and so we are to honor God with all that we are! (1 Corinthians 6:18b-19) So Paul bluntly writes that “from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer.” Paul had been one of them who did not know what life was about and thought of Jesus as just another man but he no longer did and this truth compelled him to tell them the truth! A new life begins when we no longer live for ourselves!

EXAMPLE: Christopher Hitchens, an avowed atheist, thinks “that faith causes people to be more mean, more selfish, and perhaps above all, more stupid”. However, on the contrary, when we look at the world at large we discover that it is things like socialism, communism, and liberalism that has made more people dependent, angry, and self-centered. And history proves Hitchens wrong. Care for the masses, the elderly, the disenfranchised, and the handicapped all began with Christianity. Why? Simply because of what Christianity is all about: We are called to love God completely and others as ourselves. Paul would write “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20 NIV) A new life begins when we no longer live for ourselves!

This is the season of returns. We take back those things that do not fit, we do not need, or that we do not want. Often we do not get back what was originally paid for the present we are returning. For whatever reason it no longer has any redeeming value; therefore isn’t it great to know that…

II. A new life begins when we are reconciled! (Vv. 17-19)

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.

1. For Paul the truth of his life was self-evident: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” that which mankind has hoped for, longed for, and sometimes even wished for has come true in Jesus Christ! No one was more able to testify to this wondrous transformation than the one who had once persecuted Christians. Paul would dramatically write the Galatians churches, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20 NIV) This is why Paul could write that “All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation”. It wasn’t Paul’s idea; it wasn’t the world’s intent or a governmental decree; and it did not come from a seminar. Christ, his Messiah, gave Paul this ministry. And the reason he did is because “God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them.” This word “reconcile” is a wonderful word. It means that God exchanged himself for us! He willingly paid the penalty for our sins. This is why “there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus”! (Romans 8:1 NIV) We know that “God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.” (Colossians 1:19-20 NIV) In fact “Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation”. (Colossians 1:21-22 NIV) Paul was “committed to… the message of reconciliation”! A new life begins when we are reconciled!

EXAMPLE: Recently I have been trying to get new life insurance. Believe me when I tell you it is like going through Dante’s levels of hell. People who say they will return your call do not and then there are the people who blandly remind you that it may take several weeks (months) to get a refund when it only took the company nanoseconds to charge your credit card — like I said “Dante’s levels of hell.” Then if you are over the age of 60 you’re toast as far as the insurance industry is concerned. I have therefore decided that I am going to focus on what God has done and will do instead. I have the best life insurer already. Isn’t it great to know that a new life begins when we are reconciled!

Has there ever been a time in your life that you wished you could have a “do over”? Replay a game, re-say some words, or redo a job you messed up. Perhaps there is a relationship you would want to reestablish? Making things right is what Jesus is all about. And Paul reminds us that…

III. A new life begins when we are made right with God! (Vv. 20-21)

We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

1. Paul’s life had changed. He had a new title and a new job description: “We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us.” Paul had experienced a redo in his life! God had given him a new life and a new task. He was now God’s own representative to the message of Jesus! In his life Paul would literally become “an ambassador in chains” for God. He would suffer persecution for his faith and for his tenacity to proclaim the truth of the gospel message. His new life compelled him to do so. And so with a heartfelt plea Paul writes to the Corinthians “We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.” Just as he had been reconciled and given a new life the Corinthians could experience it for their own selves as well. Nothing they had ever done in life could stand in the way of the cleansing power of Jesus to change them forever! Nothing could because Paul understood and was certain that “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” Stop for a moment and let these words sink into your very soul. When we place our faith and trust in Jesus we become the righteousness of God! How is this possible? Hebrews reminds us that Jesus “is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them” and it is only Jesus “who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens.” (Hebrews 7:25-26 NIV) WOW! Paul understood well that a new life begins when we are made right with God!

EXAMPLE: The youngster felt horrible. He had allowed a simple popup fly ball to go over his head and land behind him. It cost his team the game. He sat in the outfield with his head in his hands. Unbeknown to him his entire team quietly came out and sat around him. They placed their hands on him, lightly swatted his head with their hats, and begin to remind him of what a great friend and player he truly was. After all it was only a game and there would be others. In that moment those players showed the rest of us the very nature of God. They made their fellow teammate realize his worth to them. It did not matter that he had blown the play or the game because he was worth so much more than that. Just when we think we have blown it in life Jesus shows us just how much we are worth to him. Isn’t it good to know that a new life begins when we are made right with God!

Conclusion:

A new life begins when we no longer live for ourselves! A new life begins when we are reconciled! A new life begins when we are made right with God!

This article is copyrighted © 2017 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

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