(1 Cor 13:13 NIV) And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
We have covered the 20 characteristics of God’s love found in 1 Corinthians 13.
- Paul closed out the 12th chapter with a statement that set the stage for the supremacy of God’s love.
- Paul, after going into such detail about spiritual gifts and the composition of the Body of Christ in chapter 12, closed out the chapter by saying, “But eagerly desire the greater gifts. And now I will show you the most excellent way.”
I felt led to point out this morning that Paul not only led us into this chapter by exalting love, but he closed the chapter the same way.
- Paul concluded that the major facets of Christianity can be summed up into faith, hope, and love.
- Furthermore, Paul made it clear that the greatest of the three is love.
The word greatest in the text means exactly what you think it means.
- Love is superior to any other quality of Christianity.
- Being an usher, singing in the choir, or wearing a clergy collar; means nothing to God if you do not operate in love.
- Feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, and having pity on the poor; means nothing to God if you are not doing it because of love.
- Preaching on Sunday morning, teaching on Wednesday night, and even knocking on doors on Saturday afternoons; means nothing to God if you are not compelled with love towards those that you are seeking to minister to.
God is love (1 John 4:8) and operating in His love is:
1. The greatest requirement
2. The highest goal
3. The ultimate achievement
1. Check your heart to ensure you are growing in God’s Love.
a. Who are you (really)?
b. Is who you really are close to who God is?
2. Check your motives to ensure that you are doing what you do out of Love.
a. Why do you do what you do?
b. Do you do it because you love God, or because you want to impress people?
Major points I want to make this week:
1. Love is the Rod that holds everything else in place.
2. Jesus simplified the message of the Bible down to this: Love God and Love others.
3. The Love of God is the foundation for Christian living.
Major points I want to make this week:
- Natural vs. Spiritual vs. Carnal
- Learning to be led of the Spirit
(1 Cor 2:9-14 KJV) But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? Even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
1. Before we come to God we are natural
a. Born with a sin nature.
b. Sin was natural to us.
2. The Natural cannot receive Spiritual things
a. The natural man attempts to make sense of everything, because he processes everything through his senses.
b. The Spiritual communicates with God Spirit-to-spirit.
c. God is Spiritual, not sensual.
3. Once you are Born-Again, if you live by your Old Nature you are referred to as “Carnal”
a. The Carnal man is a believer who is governed by the flesh.
b. You can be Born-Again and still dominated by your old nature.
4. To be Spiritual you must
a. Be Spirit-indwelled.
b. Be Soul-transformed.
5. The goal is to be to Spiritual (to be led of the Spirit)
a. When you are led of the Spirit you are a SON of God (Rom 8:14).
b. When you are led of the Spirit you will not fulfill the lusts of the flesh (Gal 5:16).
Two major points I want to make this week:
- You can’t do any of what we have taught this month if you don’t know who you are.
- You won’t know who you are until you know who Jesus is!
(Mat 16:13-19 KJV) When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
Simon discerned Jesus’ true identity:
- Jesus asked who others identified Him to be
- Other misidentified Jesus to be either: John the Baptist, Jeremiah, Isaiah, or one of the prophets
- He then wanted to know is His disciples could properly identify Him
- The question was posed to all 12
- Only one (Simon) received the answer
- The answer came by revelation (not flesh and blood)
By identifying Jesus’ true identity, Simon found his own (Peter):
- You ID’d me, so let me now ID you
- Simon, You are Peter
- When you find Jesus you are able to find yourself
- When you find yourself you will be able to discover your purpose
- You don’t come up with your purpose, you discover it
- When you discover your purpose you will receive incremental vision
- When you walk in accordance with God-given vision you will experience divine provision and favor
Two major points I want to make this week:
- All true vision will be tested for authenticity.
- Nothing happens until you announce it.
All true vision will be tested for authenticity:
- Life in Christ is not a cakewalk.
- Every person that was used mightily of God faced opposition.
- The devil only attacks those worth attacking!
- Paul went through challenge after challenge, but the devil was not after Paul, the devil wanted to stop Paul’s assignment!
- Paul was charged with taking the gospel the Gentiles.
- The greater the assignment, the greater the attack!
- After describing some of the challenges he faced, Paul said, “In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Tim 3:12).
Nothing really happens until you announce it:
- Paul was living well until he announced the fact that he had changed sides.
- After Paul’s public declaration of what God wanted to do in his life, the life went haywire.
- It’s one thing to receive from God in your prayer closet. But it’s something else when you have the faith to declare what God is going to do in your life, before it happens.
- Taking God public crosses the faith line.
- When you take God public – at the risk of looking foolish – the Father honors your faith.
- When you take God public you become a target of the enemy!
- If the vision came from God, the provision will come from God.
- If the vision came from God, the opposition will come from satan.
- Instead of getting discouraged by the opposition, get encouraged!
- Satanic opposition is proof that you are heading down the right road!
- What satan means to destroy you can actually help validate your assignment!
- The only way you can lose is if you quit!
- Purpose is predetermined and fixed, vision is incremental and progressive.
- Vision is sight, birthed from insight, with the benefit of hindsight (progressive).
Abraham’s Purpose was fixed:
- God visits a 75yr. old man and tells him his purpose.
- The Lord was going to start a family through Abraham and through this family; ALL the families of the earth would be blessed.
- Blessed TO BE a Blessing!
- From the time Abraham received his purpose, to the time he died, the purpose never changed and he was continually in pursuit of it.
Abraham needed vision (insight) in order to accomplish the purpose:
- When Abraham couldn’t SEE it, the Lord had him look up to the stars and look down to the dust. Just like the number of stars and the grains of dust cannot be counted, that’s how many children would be in his lineage.
- Abraham had to SEE IT before he could BE IT.
- The Lord needed Abraham to SEE IT on the inside.
Don’t be afraid of using your imagination:
- Vision is birthed from anointed imagination.
- Free yourself to allow God to show you your future.
- Walk around in your future, see the people you are going to impact, shake their hands, touch them, see the change, and then come back and get ready to go there.
- Abraham received it ON THE INSIDE well before he ever saw it ON THE OUTSIDE.
A few nuggets in closing:
- Purpose will give birth to vision.
- If you allow yourself to imagine, with God involved in the process, He can show you your future. Your job then is to come back to the present and make plans to get there.
- Your plans will not experience Godly success unless they line up with God’s purpose.
- When God gives you vision for your future He is also confirming what He has already implanted IN you – He will never tell you to do something you can’t do! The goal then is the outworking of the internal.
My prayer for you is that you:
1. FIND your purpose.
2. FOLLOW your purpose.
3. FINISH your purupose.
… before you die! That is the definition of success in my eyes.
God has a DREAM for your life. You role is to open your heart to it. I will use Joseph as an example:
1. Believe the dream: (Gen 37:5 NLT) One night Joseph had a dream
- God does not wait until you are ready before He reveals His dream for your life.
- The key is not dismissing the dream, just because you are not ready for it.
- Look for God to reveal to you your “to be” stage and believe it when He does.
2. Protect the Dream from Dream-Killers: (Gen 37:19,20 NASB) They said to one another, “Here comes this dreamer! “Now then, come and let us kill him and throw him into one of the pits; and we will say, ‘A wild beast devoured him.’ Then let us see what will become of his dreams!”
- Not everyone who is with you is for you.
- Learn to wait on God and only share precious information with precious people.
3. Submit to the Process:
- Greatness is not accomplished overnight.
- Joseph went through a lot in the space between the dream and the demonstration.
- Know that God is faithful to His promises.
- Submit to the process and know that every day is one step closer.
4. Never Give Up:
- Joseph had plenty of opportunities to give up on the dream, but he remained faithful to God through it all.
- Be faithful to God at every stage of vision development.
- If Joseph would have given up during Pit Phase, the Potiphar Phase, or the Prison Phase of his life, he would have never experienced the PALACE PHASE!
Watch and be blessed:
(Mark 9:22,23 NASB) “It has often thrown him both into the fire and into the water to destroy him. But if You can do anything, take pity on us and help us!” And Jesus said to him, ” ‘If You can?’ All things are possible to him who believes.”
1. There is LITERALLY Nothing God can’t do.
2. Any limit we perceive of our God is an artificial limit we have placed on Him!
3. As we grow in Christ our experiences should help us expand our capacity to believe.
4. The more you can believe; the more is POSSIBLE for you!