God Wants Our Hearts More Than Our Hands

http://vimeo.com/25678733 - Click here to watch the sermon on video

These are the notes from my sermon at FBC Ada on June 26, 2011.

This section of the letter Paul wrote to the churches in Corinth is probably a very familiar passage to many of us. Very often it is referred to as the “Love Chapter.” Paul discusses love quite extensively, and we hear this quoted, or have quoted it ourselves, at weddings, Valentine’s Day, marriage celebrations, etc. While I am not delegitimizing any of these, Paul’s intent was not merely to talk about what love is or like. The context of the letter must be examined, and we must remember the writers of Scripture did not separate their books into chapters and verses. Paul, in chapter 12, has just finished discussing spiritual gifts from the Holy Spirit and their functions in the body of Christ. Immediately after that, he talks about how what we do is meaningless without love. Do we not have the same struggle as members of the church? We hear over and over again in worship, Sunday School, and revivals WHAT we are supposed to be doing as Christians, but sometimes we forget the WHY. As Paul describes in this chapter, God really wants our hearts more than He wants our hands.

1.     Service Without Love is Meaningless and Empty (vv.1-3) – Have you ever wondered what that gong or cymbal in the orchestra would sound like with everyone playing? Most times, they are not very pleasant. They are still doing what they are supposed to do, but there is something missing. Our service to the Lord is like that without love. We could do incredible things. We could build the biggest and brightest church. We could have the best budget. We could have the most members, but without love – it is all for nothing. What is the difference between having love and not?

(Illustration/skit – flowers for wife – 1. Obligation 2. Love)

What does my wife care more about, getting flowers or receiving my love and affection? Did you know God was the same way? In Isaiah 29:13-14, you can see what God says to the people of Israel, who were doing the right things, but God was tired of their worship:

13  And the Lord said:
”Because this people draw near with their mouth and honor me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me, and their fear of me is a commandment taught by men,
14  therefore, behold, I will again do wonderful things with this people, with wonder upon wonder; and the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the discernment of their discerning men shall be hidden.”

Jesus quotes from Isaiah when He is speaking to the Pharisees in Matthew 15:8-9, 8 “‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me;
9 in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’”

 

2.     Love Comes From Where We Focus (vv.4-7) – Paul first describes the absence of love from our lives, and then in verses four through seven he talks about the fullness of love. The question you may be asking is, “Okay, I get it, we need to love, but what does that mean?” Our love comes from where we focus. If we spend all of our time focusing on what we should be or are doing, then that is what we will fall in love with – the doing. If we really focus on love, then that is what we will fall in love with. Paul helps us to show us what love is by describing it very well, but what is he really describing? Or better yet, WHO is he really describing? Paul is describing Christ. When I read these words, I see how Jesus lived. What I also find very interesting is the response of Jesus when He is asked what the greatest commandment is in Mark 12:28-34,

28 And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?”29 Jesus answered, "The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’31 The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”32 And the scribe said to him, “You are right, Teacher. You have truly said that he is one, and there is no other besides him.33 And to love him with all the heart and with all the understanding and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is much more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.”34 And when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And after that no one dared to ask him any more questions.

When we put our focus on the Lord and loving Him with all we have and all we are, what we are supposed to do for Him will supernaturally happen. In fact, when we really love God, we will want to do more than we ever imagined. When you love someone, you WANT to make him or her happy, you WANT to see him or her smile.

 

3.     What is REALLY important (vv.8-13) – Do you remember when you were young making a gift or a card for your parents or someone like that? When someone is four, or if they are like me, his or her artistic abilities or penmanship is at a very low level. My mom or dad or grandparents never looked at what I gave them and said, “Are you kidding me? Is this best you can do?” They loved what I gave them because the gift was not as important as why I was giving it. Is it important for us to serve God with our gifts and be a part of ministry? Of course it is! The Holy Spirit is telling us through Paul’s writings that one day, all of our gifts and service will not be needed anymore. We will be with God. We will see Him! However, our love will still remain. All these things we do - all the things we spend time on – are they really important? It all comes back to our love for God and for others. That’s the greatest gift God has given us and that we can give others.

We are missionaries wherever we go…

…sometimes we just travel a little farther and stay a little longer.

I had a Gyro for Lunch, and an amazing conversation.

Today I had lunch with a man from my church whom I have always greatly respected. He and I have never spent much time together getting to talk, and I apologized to him for not doing so sooner.

We talked about many things, but we really talked long about Tradition in Church versus what the Bible really says. He pointed out several areas of Scripture that were misrepresented by traditions in churches today. It was really thought provoking and eye opening to why we do what we do.

I know that Medieval Catholicism is most often equated with Scripture versus Tradition, but I believe there are many of us Christians, all across the denominational board, who need to be careful to not end up the same way.

I’m not sharing these thoughts to get on to anyone. I am sharing these thoughts so that we can always remember to let the Word and the Holy Spirit teach us the truth, and the most important thing we teach is Christ crucified, resurrected, and His love for us.

What do we do with the time we are given? What do we think is really important?

Just yesterday I had a friend tell me about a cousin he lost in an automobile accident. My friend is older with a family, and he said this accident with his cousin really made him take a look at what is important.

I started to think that as well. With a brand new baby girl in our lives, and life just racing by day by day, the conversation with my friend really got me to thinking about what is really important to me as well.

Our time is short. Looking at my own life, I started wondering what things I spent time on that were important and what things were not. I thought of things that were fun but meaningless. Video games, hobbies, cell phones, social networks, and so on and so on. Who is going to care what I achieved on a video game in five years? Do I really need to know what my friends every move is on facebook?

When I look back at my life, what will I wish I had spent more time doing? Will I wish I could have had a couple more hours on that game, or will I wish I had more hours with my family?

What about them? What will THEY wish for? When I lost my grandpa, one of my dearest friends, three years ago, I really wished for just a little more time with him. Now that my parents are farther away, I wish the same thing with them as well.

Our relationship with God is the same way. When we look at our lives, do we spend time with Him? Do we spend time with things that are eternally important in His Kingdom? The work we do for the Lord is FOREVER!

King Solomon wrote these words in Ecclesiastes 12:1-8. Keep in mind; this was a man whom God blessed with the most wisdom of any man apart from Jesus. He had riches, wealth, and anything anyone could ask for. He lived his life trying and doing whatever he wanted – to see if anything could bring him happiness. His words are sobering, but they bring to light what is REALLY important.

1 Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come and the years draw near of which you will say, “I have no pleasure in them”;2 before the sun and the light and the moon and the stars are darkened and the clouds return after the rain,3 in the day when the keepers of the house tremble, and the strong men are bent, and the grinders cease because they are few, and those who look through the windows are dimmed,4 and the doors on the street are shut—when the sound of the grinding is low, and one rises up at the sound of a bird, and all the daughters of song are brought low—5 they are afraid also of what is high, and terrors are in the way; the almond tree blossoms, the grasshopper drags itself along, and desire fails, because man is going to his eternal home, and the mourners go about the streets—6 before the silver cord is snapped, or the golden bowl is broken, or the pitcher is shattered at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the cistern,7 and the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it.8 Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher; all is vanity.”

What is REALLY important to you? What are we doing with the time God has given us?

 

Oklahoma Skies

Oklahoma Skies

Oklahoma Skies

Oklahoma Skies

The Wind at My Back

Sometimes life is just hard. You know what I’m talking about? You feel like you just keep struggling and struggling and never really make any progress.

Today I was riding my bike around town and I had a few moments like that. Ada has many hills, and there was a strong wind from the south today. At one point in my ride I was facing a really steep, long hill – plus my legs were getting really tired. All of a sudden, the strong wind was at my back, and it almost felt like it was pushing me up the hill. I really felt the Holy Spirit speaking to me, saying, “Keep going, do not give up. You can make this. I am always with you.”

Life is just crazy right now for me, and maybe you can relate. Maybe life is not really getting to you right now, but it probably has or probably will. Today I really felt encouraged by the Lord. It made me think of these verses in Hebrews 13:5-6

5 Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”6 So we can confidently say, 
”The Lord is my helper;
I will not fear;
what can man do to me?”

May you know that the Lord never leaves you. His wind is pushing at our backs, helping us the trials and mountains of this life. Do you trust Him today to be there for you?

Just some thoughts from my day, hopefully to encourage yours.

Grace and peace,

Doug

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