Love or Selfishness

Blessed is the person who does not follow the advice of wicked people, take the path of sinners, or join the company of mockers.

Rather, he delights in the teachings of the Lord and reflects on his teachings day and night.

Psalms 1:1‭-‬2 GW

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.

Stubborn fools despise wisdom and discipline.

Proverbs 1:7 GW

“If you love me, you will obey my commandments. I will ask the Father, and he will give you another helper who will be with you forever. That helper is the Spirit of Truth. The world cannot accept him, because it doesn’t see or know him. You know him, because he lives with you and will be in you.

John 14:15‭-‬17 GW

I had a thought the other day.

God is all-powerful.

Therefore, only an insane person would rebel against the Lord.

Sin is disobedience.

Why do we sin?

Because of our selfish desires.

Some say that the only possible motives for any action are love or fear.

I disagree.

I say the only possible motives are love or selfishness.

Either you love God and His commandments or you love idolatry.

What is idolatry?

Worshipping something other than God.

It’s worshipping something that is created rather than the Creator.

Ultimately, life is worship.

You choose what you worship.

What do you spend all your time thinking about?

That’s what you worship in your thought life.

We have free will.

Make good decisions.

God loves us.

He doesn’t give us commandments to be a celestial killjoy.

On the contrary, His teachings give us life.

Sinners know that God hates sin, that’s why they resist and run from God.

That’s why we pray for them and share the Gospel.

Jesus died to set the sinners free.

Like you and me.

I was once lost and bound in my sin.

I was a slave to sin.

It was like some otherworldly power had control over me and I couldn’t help myself.

Then, at my lowest point, God stepped in.

Faith is a gift from God.

It’s obviously not a reward based on my works.

No, it seems that God likes to manifest His grace and mercy when we least deserve it just to prove how awesome and powerful His love is.

We serve an awesome God.

His love endures forever.

He commands us to love one another the way that He loved us.

Self-sacrificing love.

That’s the opposite of selfishness.

What are my motives?

We often are unaware of our own motivations because they act on a subconscious level.

What are my thoughts?

We can control our thoughts and emotions.

We must take every thought captive to the knowledge of Christ.

The Truth changes everything.

That’s why we’re commanded to first seek the Kingdom of God and all its righteousness.

Everything else will work out if we do that.

To be successful in this life, you need to have your priorities in order.

Success isn’t about material gain.

It’s about peace, love, joy and everything else that God’s Spirit freely gives us.

Success is free.

You simply have to choose it.

God already loves you.

You get to choose to love Him and everyone else.

If you love, you are successful.

If you are selfish, you are a failure.

A failure to obey the Word of the Lord.

May God in His infinite grace birth in you a new fire to love Him and His people and the lost.

And may love motivate everything that you do.

In the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Amen.

The Right Tool For The Job

Their purpose is to prepare God’s people to serve and to build up the body of Christ. This is to continue until all of us are united in our faith and in our knowledge about God’s Son, until we become mature, until we measure up to Christ, who is the standard.

Ephesians 4:12‭-‬13 GW

I became like a person who does not have Moses’ Teachings for those who don’t have those teachings. I did this to win them even though I have God’s teachings. I’m really subject to Christ’s teachings.

I became like a person weak in faith to win those who are weak in faith. I have become everything to everyone in order to save at least some of them.

I do all this for the sake of the Good News in order to share what it offers.

1 Corinthians 9:21‭-‬23 GW

Until I get there, concentrate on reading ⌊Scripture⌋ in worship, giving encouraging messages, and teaching people.

1 Timothy 4:13 GW

When you abandon your dreams and pick up the cross of Christ as your salvation, a funny thing happens.

God uses you to further His Kingdom.

It’s all for His glory.

I’m starting something that the Lord has put on my heart to do and confirmed through the prophetic words of others.

I’m starting a men’s discipleship group.

It will be 4 or 5 guys meeting together weekly to read the New Testament together and to pray for each other and our world.

Why read the Bible together?

Accountability.

Encouragement.

Equipping.

Knowing the Word of God equips us for every good work.

I want all of us to be on the same page.

Using the Bible as our guide for code of conduct prevents personality from dictating our values.

There’s no one size fits all approach to discipleship.

You have to tailor it to the individual needs of the members of your group.

That’s why smaller is better.

You can go deeper faster.

And the bonds you build will last a lifetime, and longer.

I see four main areas of focus for this endeavor.

Similar to the four, outer walls of a house.

Of course, the foundation is Jesus.

And the roof is God’s Holy Spirit which covers us.

Our focus is lateral interaction.

Deliverance.

Discipleship.

Encouraging.

Equipping.

That’s the purpose of our time together.

Using the Bible, and specifically the New Testament, as our only written source, we will mine the depths of Scripture for wisdom and knowledge on how to live a life of faith.

The teachings of Jesus and his disciples will be our bread and butter.

I imagine that once through, then we’ll all be equipped to repeat the process with others ourselves.

Repeat, repeat, repeat.

Only God knows the outcome.

Our job is to faithfully pursue Him.

Brothers are born for adversity.

And there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

To God be the glory forever and ever.

Amen.

Where Do We Go From Here?

We must also consider how to encourage each other to show love and to do good things.

We should not stop gathering together with other believers, as some of you are doing.

Instead, we must continue to encourage each other even more as we see the day of the Lord coming.

Hebrews 10:24‭-‬25 GW

Also, make it your goal to live quietly, do your work, and earn your own living, as we ordered you.

Then your way of life will win respect from those outside ⌊the church⌋, and you won’t have to depend on anyone else for what you need.

1 Thessalonians 4:11‭-‬12 GW

Nothing makes me happier than to hear that my children are living according to the truth.

Dear friend, you are showing your faith in whatever you do for other believers, especially when they’re your guests.

3 John 1:4‭-‬5 GW

As Christians, we are meant to be encouragers.

Not just in words, but also in deeds.

It certainly takes a lot of courage to live a life of faith.

How do you do that?

Trust in the Lord.

His one time sacrifice took the punishment for everyone’s sin.

Not just mine.

Not just yours.

Everyone’s.

Some people aren’t aware of that fact.

Some people are living as if they’ve forgotten that fact.

We need to remind them of the truth.

Jesus Christ died and rose again so that you could inherit eternal life and live your life freed from the power of sin and death.

That’s some Good News, my friend!

Today, I want to share some helpful tips that I’ve found useful in elevating the conversation when you’re gathering with other believers.

  1. Ask better questions
  2. Listen to understand
  3. Invite and offer prayer

They’re all pretty self explanatory, but let’s discuss further nonetheless.

The purpose of gathering with other believers is to strengthen and encourage one another.

The opposite would be to weaken one another’s faith and tear each other down.

Obviously, that’s not what we want to be doing.

So, ask better questions.

Bland, worldly questions are not better questions.

You need to lead with purpose in mind.

A couple of my favorite conversation starters are:

“What’s the Lord been showing you lately?”

“What’s the Lord been doing in your life this week?”

If they don’t have an answer, you might want to skip ahead to asking what they need prayer for.

Perhaps it’s a personal relationship with God.

A huge problem that we all seem to have is that we seem to think we know everything.

Or at least, we think our opinion is of prime importance.

Perhaps I’m the only one who struggles with that.

When having a conversation, we need to realize we’re not using “social media.”

We’re not just broadcasting our views and opinions and looking for likes and comments.

Social media is a disease on public discourse in my humble opinion.

To have a conversation, we must acknowledge one another as equal partners in the quest for a greater understanding of our Creator.

We’re not here to understand ourselves.

We already know we’re sinful creatures prone to wander.

No, we need a better understanding of God so that we can become more like Him.

Conversations aren’t opportunities to talk endlessly about ourselves.

If you want to do that, post on social media.

It’s a time to ask questions.

Esteem others as better than yourself.

At least, that’s what the Bible says.

And finally, don’t use gatherings as forums to complain, fault-find, and have pity parties.

That’s all negative garbage.

We’re supposed to be loving and hopeful.

Steer the conversation back to the Source.

At some point, it will become obvious that the next question should be: “Can I pray for you?”

We’re all called to minister.

We can all pray for each other.

This weekend, I encourage you to get together with other believers and live in the truth.

Fellowship around the mystery of the Gospel.

Pray for one another.

Get to know each other.

Serve one another in love.

May God be glorified in your words and deeds!

Amen.