Archive for May, 2009

Love Keeps No Record of Wrongs

May 30, 2009

Title: Love Keeps No Record of Wrongs

Text: 1 Corinthians 13:5

Time: June 3rd, 2007

The Middle East is a mess right now because of un-forgiveness. The Arab-Israeli conflict is mostly about un-forgiveness. Both the Arabs and the Israelis have a long list of grievances that they both recall whenever they want to prove that they’ve been unjustly treated. These grievances go back centuries and centuries, even millennia; they are now part of the cultural identity of both groups. Not until both sides are willing to settle those grievances and forgive one another will there be lasting peace in the Middle East. That’s easier said than done. We know it’s hard because we struggle with the same problem of settling our differences with people and forgiving; everybody does. Today, we continue in our study of the love chapter in 1 Corinthians 13 with verse five, which reads in part, “Love keeps no record of wrongs.” It’s not just a message the Middle East needs to learn, it’s a message we all need to learn and live in the here and now. We keep coming back to the fact that divorce happens in every other marriage; why is that? One of the reasons for the high divorce rate in our country is couples keep a record of wrongs and fail to forgive one another. What happens in the Middle East on a large scale happens on a smaller scale in marriage and families all across our nation. Couples refuse to forgive one another and conflict escalates leading to a divorce. I like to ask people who I am counseling and who are going through a personal conflict: “If we took your conflict with all the bad attitudes and activities you experience and multiply them to a global scale, what would be the state of the world?” The answer is usually something like World War III. But stop and think about that question: “If your attitudes and actions when you are involved in a personal conflict with someone else where multiplied on a national or regional conflict, what state would the world be in?” That’s a sobering reminder that should keep us motivated to learn how to resolve conflicts and forgive people. God calls us to love people, which is never easy, but requires that we learn to forgive. In the past few weeks we’ve been learning how to love by being patient, kind, not envious, not boastful, not proud, not rude, not self-seeking, and not easily angered. Today, we learn how to love by not keeping a record of wrongs done against us. What is this but learning how to forgive? When we do not forgive someone who has wronged us it means we keep a record of what they’ve done to us and update it frequently in order to keep the grievance alive. Or in other words, we do exactly what they do in the Arab-Israeli conflict in the Middle East, we do the same thing with our conflicts with others: we don’t forgive. But God calls us to forgive, so let’s find out how we can learn to forgive. I’ll say three things about forgiveness. (more…)

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Love is Not Easily Angered

May 30, 2009

Title: Love is Not Easily Angered

Text: 1 Corinthians 13:5

Time: May 27th, 2007

As I’m doing my daily prayer time in the summer I walk through the neighborhood on the sidewalks, and I’m shocked to hear so much anger coming from people who live in the homes here in Jamestown. Almost every time I go out for a walk I pass a house where someone is shouting or screaming or cursing out loud at somebody else. It’s almost an epidemic. I’ve seen people arguing loudly in their house so bad that it comes out through the windows so that you can still hear it a block away. I’ve seen people swearing a blue streak while storming out the front door of their house. I hear people on their cell phones sitting on their front porch just shouting at the other person on the line with anger. I’ve seen people face-to-face angry at each other. All of this, while I’m walking and praying in the neighborhood. There is a lot of anger and meanness in Jamestown; and I’m sure it’s that way all across this nation, and world for that matter. Now why am I talking about this today? Because we are learning about love from 1 Corinthians 13 and we come to the verse where Paul teaches, “Love is not easily-angered.” “Love is not easily-angered.” How does that apply to us today in our lives? One of the characteristics of love is not being easily angered. Do you have this characteristic working in your life? Or are you an easily angered person? Are you short-tempered? Do you fly off the handle easily? If so, you aren’t being very loving, according to the Bible, according to God and His Word. But isn’t that what God’s Word is for, to teach us how to be as opposed to how we are not supposed to be? If we never, ever had any trouble with anger, then God wouldn’t ever have to speak to us about it in His Word. But it must be that God knows that we all struggle with anger in our lives, so He includes teaching about it in the Bible. If you are someone who struggles with anger, you are typical. That’s no excuse, but it is to say that you are not alone in struggling with anger. But God is calling us to be loving people, not just the way we are presently. It’s not enough to say, “I’m just that way.” God wants to take us as we are and make us into what He wants us to be. Today, we’ll be looking at what it means to be a loving person by not being easily angered. There are some rare souls who don’t seem to have a problem with being easily angered. If that’s you, God bless you, although you probably struggle with some other aspect of love. But if you do have a problem with being easily angered, this lesson will help you overcome that problem. We really do owe it to God and we owe it to others to work on our weaknesses, like anger, so that we be a light for God in a increasingly dark world. Let me say three things about the teaching of 1 Corinthians 13:5, “Love is not easily angered.” (more…)

The Love Chapter, Reviewing II

May 30, 2009

Title: The Love Chapter, Review II

Text: 1 Corinthians 13:1-5

Time: May 20th, 2007

Today we continue in 1 Corinthians 13, the love chapter, written to the Christians in the Church of Corinth nearly two thousand years ago by the Apostle Paul. Why do we need to listen to this chapter when it gives us a definition of love? Because it was written under the inspiration of God so it isn’t corrupted by the foolishness of mankind, especially the foolish ways of the modern era in the 21st century. Today one-half of all marriages end in divorce because couples don’t know what love is all about — they think they do, but their understanding is so far off that when it comes to keeping a marriage together they can’t do it. Today, our culture’s definition of love is mostly selfish, it’s me-centered; it’s also mostly touchy-feely, about romantic emotions. In movies, popular songs, on television, in fiction novels, this false view of love is spread. But 1 Corinthians 13 gives us God’s definition of love, so we need to pay close attention to what it says in order to apply it to our lives. And that last part – applying it to our lives, is the tricky part. How do we actually start to live out what 1 Corinthians teaches us about love? It’s one thing to learn and know what love is, it’s different to live it out. How do we live it out? There is no easy answer. It takes learning about love, and then living it out little by little, while at the same time confessing our failures and encouraging our successes. But we’ve got to get the correct notion of love into our hearts and minds in order to have a standard upon which to measure ourselves, for better or for worse. We started the first Sunday of 2007 with the goal of being more loving people in the New Year; we started working through 1 Corinthians 13, verse 1. Now we are already into May. How are you doing at being a more loving person? Has this teaching influenced you, or are you still the same old person with the same old problems doing the same old things? I hope not. I hope that you are now thinking differently about what love is and that you are being challenged to change the things in your life that aren’t loving. We’ve learned about patience. Are you more patient? Am I? I hope so. We learned about kindness. Have you seen any improvement in that department? I hope so. We learned that love doesn’t envy, love doesn’t boast, love isn’t proud. Have you improved in these areas? We’ve learned that love isn’t rude; love isn’t selfish. Have you made any progress on these? We aren’t just trying to learn some new things; we are trying to live a new life. Love isn’t primarily knowledge, it’s primary a way of life. Are you living that life? There’s a song based on the teaching of Jesus in the Gospel of John that goes: “And they’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love, and they’ll know we are Christians by our love.” Do people know you are a Christian by your love? That’s our challenge in 2007, that people might know we are Christians by our love. Today, I’d like to try to answer a number of key questions about love the Apostle Paul seems to be giving us from 1 Corinthians 13. (more…)

Love is Not Self-Seeking, Part II

May 29, 2009

Title: The Love Chapter: Love is not self-seeking

Text: 1 Corinthians 13:5

Time: May 6th, 2007

Continuing 1 Corinthians 13, the love chapter by the Apostle Paul, we arrive at the seventh point in what love is and isn’t: love is not self-seeking. So far, Paul lists what love is and what love isn’t. He uses comparison and contrast to help Christians understand the love God wants us to live by. Just like the popular song says, “What the world needs now is love sweet love,” God wants us to live with a loving attitude in all we do. That’s hard to do because the world is anything but a loving place. If we try to draw love from the world and incorporate it into our lives we’ll fail, so we must draw forth love from God and bring it into the world in order to make it a better place. That is part of our responsibility as Christians, to shine forth the love of God in a cold and dark world. How can we ever be role models of love for the world? By hearing God’s Word of instruction to us about love, and then by applying God’s Word of instruction to our lives so that we actually live it out every day. A big challenge for us is actually knowing what love is in a very confusing and chaotic world. The world teaches a different kind of love than God teaches. The world teaches a type of self-centered love, which is really not love at all. Think about it. The popular teaching on love is that it is primarily a good feeling. Listen to the popular love songs on the radio and you’ll hear about love as a feeling. Watch how love is depicted on television and in the movies and again you’ll see love based on romantic feelings. Most of what our popular culture teaches about love is flat out wrong, exactly opposite true love, because it is actually centered on the self rather than on others. Consider this. In most movies, love songs and television shows, love is about how one person makes another person feel. In popular culture if someone makes me feel good I’m told this must be love, I must be in love. The benefit of love then is selfish because it’s based on how another person makes me feel. The search for love becomes the search to find another person who can make me feel good about myself. The popular understanding is that if a find a person who makes me feel good, I’m in love; I’ve found love. But this notion is self-centered; it’s all about me. But that’s not real love; that’s not what God teaches us about love. According to God, love isn’t self-centered; it’s other centered. If I love someone, if I show love towards someone, I care about them and there well-being, not because of what it does for me, but because I’m concerned about them, period. In the seventh description of love in 1 Corinthians 13, Paul reminds us again that “love isn’t self-seeking” — a great warning and correction to our selfish society and its definition of love. So let’s explore further what Paul might mean when he instructs us that love is not self-seeking. (more…)

The Love Chapter — Reviewing

May 29, 2009

Title: The Love Chapter — Reviewing

Text: 1 Corinthians 13:4-5

Time: April 29th, 2007

We’re back in 1 Corinthians 13 after a while away from it because of the Easter season and last week dealing with violence in our culture due to the shootings in Virginia. So we get back to the love chapter; but before I press on I’d like to take this week to review and remind us all where we’ve been, so we don’t forget. We’ve already covered six characteristics of love Paul describes for us in this chapter — there are more characteristics but so that we don’t forget the ones we’ve already learned, let’s review them. If you remember I started the 2007 New Year by challenging us all to be better Christians by being better at loving this year. The Bible teaches so much about love, and of course Jesus teaches us so much about love, but because there is so much teaching about love in the Bible it’s easy to get overwhelmed with it all and then just ignore it all by saying, “Oh well, I can never live up to all that teaching about love. I know I should be more loving, but it’s just so overwhelming, all the teachings about how I should love God and love my neighbor, that I get frustrated and forget the whole thing.” Have you ever felt that way before? I thought so! The truth is that there is a lot of teaching about love in the Bible, and the truth is also that nobody, I mean nobody, is able to fulfill all the teachings about love in their life. But just because it is impossible to perfectly love like Jesus doesn’t mean we should give up trying. We must try to be more loving, and when we fail we must confess our failures, repent or promise to do better, and then start trying to love better again. God will see our intentions and help us to actually do better at loving. Like I said, we’ve already covered six qualities of love as described by the Apostle Paul, and today I want to quickly go back over those six qualities before we move on to the other qualities of love in 1 Corinthians 13 (read). The six qualities are: love is patient, love is kind, love doesn’t envy, love doesn’t boast, love isn’t proud, and love isn’t rude. Now let me ask you this: have you been trying to live out what you’ve learned this year about love in church on Sunday? Have you been more aware of what is loving and what is not in your life? Have you been more sensitive when you fail to live up to God’s expectations of love in your life? Have you confessed more of your own sins of failing to love? Have you repented and recommitted your life to God again and again to being a more loving person than you were? Have you seen any progress in your life in being more loving? More importantly, have other people noticed that you are a more loving person lately? If so, these are signs that God’s Word is getting into your heart and workings itself out in our life. That’s good, that’s the goal. Just learning these teachings on love is not going to change you overnight; but hopefully it will give you an agenda to work on with the help of God over time for the rest of your life. So let’s review Paul’s teachings on love so far. (more…)

Love is Not Self-Seeking, Part I

May 29, 2009

Title: Love is Not Self-Seeking

Text: 1 Corinthians 13:5

Time: March 11th, 2007

Today we continue in the sermon series on love from 1 Corinthians 13; we come to the fifth verse, which includes, “Love is not self-seeking.” The Apostle Paul is teaching us what love is and what love isn’t. Today, again, we are learning what love isn’t; it isn’t self-seeking. The original Greek language uses two words, literally “self-seeking,” in this particular part of the passage. That’s why the New International Version translates it “self-seeking.” But other Bible translations translate in a similar way. For example, the King James says, “Love seeketh not her own;” Today’s English Bible says, “Love is not selfish;” Phillips Bible says, “Love does not pursue selfish advantage;” the Revised Standard Version says, “Love does not insist on its own way.” So we can get an idea what the Apostle Paul is trying to teach us about this characteristic of love. Again, Paul is contrasting what love is with what love isn’t, what love does with what love doesn’t do. This is something that love doesn’t do – selfishly seeks after itself. Today, our society almost teaches us from a very young age to seek after things for ourselves. The whole commercial advertisement industry teaches us — or you might say even trains us — through marketing to be consumers. A consumer is someone who spends their life consuming things. It could be consuming food, or consuming goods and services, using products, buying things, using them, and going back for more things. We are taught to try to satisfy every need we have by buying something. We are even told we need things we never even knew we needed, and commercial advertisements often try to brainwash us into thinking that we can’t live without their products. It must be working, because companies keep spending millions on advertisements, so someone is buying the message. But what is assumed in all the commercials is self-interest. It is assumed that the consumer is looking out for #1, that is, self. And so the message of society today is that being self-centered is ok. But the Bible teaches us that selfishness or being self-centered is not ok. It isn’t what love is. But that goes against the message we hear every day of our lives living in the modern world. But the message isn’t just found in advertisement, it’s found in nearly every area of life. Take typical counseling, for example. When a person visits a typical secular counselor, the goal is self-fulfillment, self-satisfaction. People visit a counselor because they want to feel better about themselves and the counseling session becomes all about them. It’s self-centered. What are the results of people taking on this self-centered philosophy and outlook? Consider just one area: marriage and divorce. If you have two self-seeking individuals trying to live out a self-serving marriage relationship is it any wonder that ½ of all marriages end in divorce? The Apostle’s message that love is not self-seeking is badly needed today in order to counter the selfish message society teaches. We need this teaching like never before. So let’s look at the truth: love is not self-seeking, and try to understand what it means, and try to apply it to our life. Let’s apply it to just three but very important areas of life. (more…)

Love is Not Rude

May 29, 2009

Title: Love is Not Rude

Text: 1 Corinthians 13:5

Time: March 4th, 2007

Today we continue in the sermon series on love from 1 Corinthians 13; we come to the fifth verse, which begins, “Love is not rude.” The Apostle Paul is teaching us what love is and what love isn’t. Today, again, we are learning what love isn’t; it isn’t rude. Does everyone know what it means to be rude? I’m sure we all have encountered rudeness at some point, maybe even recently. Can anyone give me a definition of rude? Here’s how Webster’s Dictionary defines rude: “offensive in manner or action, discourteous, coarse, vulgar, lacking in social refinement.” Now today we are going to learn about something that love is not, love is not rude. Sometimes in order to understand something we have to learn what it is not. Paul uses the ancient technique of comparing and contrasting in order to help us understand what love is all about. In the first few verse of the famous love chapter in 1 Corinthians 13 he gives us some characteristics of what love is and also some characteristics of what love is not. In this way he makes sure we really understand. But for us, it’s not just a matter of wanting to understand, we want to actually be more loving in the New Year 2007, not just understand love better. Are you more conscious of being more loving since we’ve started learning about love at the turn of the New Year 2007? I hope that you are not just studying these things as you would a class in school, but that you are really applying these things in your life during the week. I know I’ve been more conscious of how I speak and act since these teachings began because I honestly want to be more a more loving person starting this year. Now some of you, like all of us, are good in some of these love characteristics but lacking in some others of the love characteristics. What we want to accomplish during these weeks in 1 Corinthians 13 is to improve in those areas where we are weak and maintain strength in areas where we are strong when it comes to being a loving person. The goal of course is to become like Jesus who was able to live a perfect life of love. We won’t ever get to the level of Jesus but we should strive to improve every day. Our failures should drive us to prayer to ask for God’s help in living out these truths. What’s good about studying 1 Corinthians 13 is that these truths about love are put before our eyes, we call them to our attention so that we don’t neglect them, we put them up as standards or ideals to live up to; even if we can’t live up to them perfectly, at least we know what to aim for in life. I hope you’ve decided this New Year of 2007 to take love seriously in your life. It’s something that is at the heart and center of what God wants to teach us in the Bible, and especially in the life of Jesus. We can’t claim to be a Christian without wanting to love like Jesus loved. So let’s continue in 1 Corinthians 13: 5, “Love is not rude.” Let’s look at three things about rudeness. (more…)

Love is Not Prideful

May 28, 2009

Title: Love is Not Prideful

Text: 1 Corinthians 13:4

Time: February 25th, 2007

Today we continue in the sermon series on love from 1 Corinthians 13; we come to the third contrasting characteristic in the Apostle Paul’s list – Love isn’t prideful. Normally, Paul lists a positive characteristic of love, but starting in verse four he begins mixing both positive and negative characteristics. Or in other words, Paul contrasts what love is with what love isn’t, what love does with what love doesn’t do. Today, we’ll again be looking at what love doesn’t do, that is, love isn’t prideful. With pride we come to the worst sin of all, the greatest sin of all sins, the sin of Satan, the first and worst of all sins. Some people think that sexual immorality is the worst kind of sin, but it really isn’t, not even close. Some consider theft or lying or hate as the worst sin, but again, these sins, as bad as they are, are not the worst. According to the Bible the worst sin is the sin of pride. Webster’s Dictionary defines pride as “inordinate self-esteem;” it defines proud as “having or displaying excessive self-esteem, exultant, showing or feeling superiority towards others;” it lists some synonyms: arrogant, haughty, insolent, overbearing, disdainful. Other synonyms might be: conceited, puffed up, over inflated ego, pompous, vain. Pride is basically a superior attitude toward others, a feeling of resentment, disdain or contempt towards others based on my own feelings of superiority, a despising and looking down upon others. I was thinking of a good example of this, one we might all know, and what came to mind was the movie Titanic and the people who were passengers on board – the so-called upper class passengers. If you remember the movie, the upper class people looked down upon the other passengers as low class. Everything on the ship was divided to keep the upper crust of society from having to associate with the lower class. There was definitely class pride being displayed all throughout the movie, especially by one of the main character’s mother, who always had her nose up literally and always talked down to anyone she thought wasn’t her equal in class. But the whole movie was really about the consequences of the sin of pride, because the whole theme of the ship Titanic was that it was unsinkable, or as one prideful man put it, “Even God himself couldn’t sink the Titanic.” In the end, the pride of the Titanic and all her proud upper class passengers came to an end, as the Bible promises pride will: “Pride cometh before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall,” says Proverbs. Now those characters in the movie Titanic were probably exaggerated in order to make a point, but pride, the sin of pride, cannot be over-exaggerated. It is bad, real bad. There’s no excuse for it, especially because the Bible warns against it again and again. So Paul reminds us again in 1 Corinthians 13:4 against pride. If you’ve got it, get rid of it. If you don’t have it, don’t ever get it. Love is not proud and anyone who seeks to be a loving person must never fall into the sin of pride. Let’s look at three things we should avoid with pride. (more…)

Love Does Not Envy

May 28, 2009

Title: Love Does Not Envy

Text: 1 Corinthians 13:4

Time: February 11th, 2007

Today we continue in the sermon series on love from 1 Corinthians 13; we come to the first contrasting characteristic in the Apostle Paul’s list – Love does not envy. Normally, Paul lists a positive characteristic of love, but starting in verse four he begins mixing both positive and negative characteristics. Or in other words, Paul contrasts what love is with what love isn’t, what love does with what love doesn’t do. Today, we’ll be looking at what love doesn’t do, that is, love doesn’t envy. It’s funny that Paul should start listing opposite characteristics, contrasting characteristics to those of love, but if we think about it, what better way of making sure everyone understanding what love is than by also describing what love isn’t? We see God doing this when He gave the Ten Commandments to Moses on Mount Sinai. Here God mixes both positive and negative commands in order to make sure that His instructions are clearly understood. For example, in the Ten Commandments there is the commandment to “Honor your father and mother,” that’s a positive command. But then there is the command “You shall not murder,” that’s a negative command. God mixed both negative commands with positive commands in order to better communicate His will. In the same way, God inspired the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 13 to mix both positive descriptions of love with negative contrasting descriptions of what love is not. It’s a great way of communicating exactly what is the truth. So today, for the first time in Paul’s list of love characteristics we learn what it isn’t, or what it doesn’t do. Love doesn’t envy. Webster’s Dictionary defines envy as a “painful or resentful awareness of an advantage enjoyed by another joined with a desire to possess the same advantage.” Let me say that again: envy is a painful or resentful awareness of an advantage enjoyed by another joined with a desire to possess the same advantage.” Or in other words, when somebody has something you wish you had, you feel resentment towards them. To be envious is “begrudging another possession of something.” Or in other words, if you are envious of someone you carry a grudge towards them because of something they have that you don’t. According to Webster’s Dictionary: “Envious stresses a coveting of something (as riches or attainments) which belongs to another or of something (as success or good luck) which has come to another.” Or in other words, if you envy someone you are actually coveting what they have and feel negative towards them because they have what you don’t have. You want what they have and are mad because they have what you want but don’t have. Jealousy is related to envy but not exactly the same. Webster’s Dictionary says, “Jealousy is likely to stress intolerance of a rival for possession of what one regards as peculiarly one’s own possession or due.” So, today let’s talk about envy and how it is not something that we should do if we are trying to be a loving person. And that is our goal in the New Year 2007 – to be more loving. Let’s talk about a few situations we must guard against envy. (more…)

Love Does Not Boast

May 28, 2009

Title: Love Does Not Boast

Text: 1 Corinthians 13:4

Time: February 18th, 2007

Today we continue in the sermon series on love from 1 Corinthians 13; we come to the second contrasting characteristic in the Apostle Paul’s list – Love does not boast. Normally, Paul lists a positive characteristic of love, but starting in verse four he begins mixing both positive and negative characteristics. Or in other words, Paul contrasts what love is with what love isn’t, what love does with what love doesn’t do. Today, we’ll again be looking at what love doesn’t do, that is, love doesn’t boast. In the past few weeks we’ve looked at what love is – patient and kind. Then last week we looked at what love isn’t – envious. This week we’ll again look at what love isn’t – boastful. What does it mean to be boastful? According to Webster’s Dictionary, it means to “speak of or assert with excessive pride; to possess and often call attention to something that is a source of pride; to express pride in oneself or one’s accomplishments.” Some other words that are similar to boast are: brag, vaunt, crow. It says, “Boast often suggests exaggeration, but it may imply a claiming with proper and justifiable pride. Brag suggests crudity in glorifying oneself. Vaunt usually connotes more pomp than boast and less crudity than brag. Crow usually implies exultant boasting or bragging.” So we can see from these words and definitions the basic idea that Paul is trying to teach us not to do. Love does not boast. I think for me the best illustration of boasting is the image I’ll never forget of the prizefighter Mohammed Ali during the time when he was in his prime, looking into the television camera and saying, “I’m the greatest of all time!” Now that was part of his persona, his image, his acting job that he’d use to intimidate the other fighters, but there was no doubt a lot of it was his own boasting. We’ve seen athletes boast so much we’re almost used to it by now, and we’ve seen celebrities and famous personalities boast about themselves so much that we consider it part of the game of show business. For example, the radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh boasts on the airwaves that he is “talent on loan from God.” But we all know that it’s part of his show, entertainment. But what bothers us is when we see a regular person, or somebody not entertaining exalt themselves or boast about their possessions or accomplishments. We’ve all heard people brag about themselves. We’ve all heard people talk about themselves with pride and vanity. We all know what boasting is because when we hear someone boasting we automatically don’t like it. Something inside of us objects to someone else puffing themselves up to others. But what we have to ask ourselves is whether we do it ourselves at times, because if so, it’s not a loving thing to do. “Love does not boast,” says the Apostle Paul. So today, I’d like to take a few minutes and unpack Paul’s teaching. Remember, we are trying to be more loving people in the New Year 2007. So we must learn that love does not boast. Let’s look at three areas. (more…)