(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?
(1Co 13:8 AMP) Love never fails [never fades out or becomes obsolete or comes to an end]. As for prophecy (the gift of interpreting the divine will and purpose), it will be fulfilled and pass away; as for tongues, they will be destroyed and cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away [it will lose its value and be superseded by truth].
If something has been superseded it means that is has been set aside, displaced, replaced, or removed; all because the issue/item has become obsolete, inferior, or antiquated.
- This gives us a better understanding of out text.
- The text connotes that the gifts of prophecy and tongues have had and continue to have their role in the Kingdom of God, but there will come a time where they will become obsolete.
- When Jesus returns (ultimately) or when a believer dies (more directly) the role of prophecy and tongues ceases; but love will continue to operate, because God is love (1stJohn 4:8).
- Love is an eternal requirement so we might as well come to grips with it.
Love will never lose its relevancy, never become outdated, and never be replaced by some “higher” characteristic.
- Most importantly, love will never become inferior to anything else.
- Love is God’s highest calling.
- You can’t get around it, over it, or under it.
1. God requires us to operate in love today and forever.
2. There will be no hatred in heaven, so we might as well prepare ourselves now (in time) for eternity.
3. Create a checklist of these 20 characteristics of love and seek to perfect them in your life.
4. If you want to know if you are growing in Christ, then simply measure whether or not you are growing in love.
Major points I want to make this week:
- God’s love remains the same (always).
- God’s love is ONE-SIDED!
(1 Cor 13:4 AMP) Love endures long and is patient and kind; love never is envious nor boils over with jealousy, is not boastful or vainglorious, does not display itself haughtily.
Last week I told you that verses 4 through 8 of 1 Corinthians chapter 13 contain 20 characteristics of love; and we took a look at the first one: love endures long. We learned how the love of God lasts through the ups and downs of life. This week we look at the cousin of enduring long, in the characteristic of patience.
- A while back I taught on “Faith and Patience – the Power Twins!”
- Patience is the ability to remain the same or “the force of consistency.”
- While God’s love is enduring long, it’s must also remain the same while it’s enduring.
- If you complain every step of the way, that’s not the love of God!
God’s love (patient love) is ONE-SIDED!
- Paul said of God and His love, “We can understand someone dying for a person worth dying for, and we can understand how someone good and noble could inspire us to selfless sacrifice. But God put his love on the line for us by offering his Son in sacrificial death while we were of no use whatever to him” (Rom 5:7,8 MSG).
- Even while we ignored, disrespected, and dishonored God; He loved us enough to send His son to die for our sins.
- His love endured long and His love was patient. His love remained the same.
- His love was one-sided.
After coming to God, did God get rid of us when we missed the mark? Did God stop loving us when we failed to love Him? Did He retract His love? Did He change the way He dealt with us? Did He start treating us with a ‘ten foot pole?’ No! God’s love never changes, because His love is one-sided.
- God’s love does not require a tit for a tat.
- God’s love empowers you to love others, even when you do not like what they are doing.
- God’s love enables you to look beyond flaws and still love the flawed.
- God’s love equips you with His consistency, even while the object of your love is inconsistent.
- God’s love is one-sided! When you operate in one-sided love, you are able to consistently love others, even while they are living inconsistent lives!
Major points I want to make this week:
1. Jesus is ALIVE!
2. If the Resurrection is not true, we don’t have Christianity.
3. We can GO because He CAME!
4. We can OVERCOME because He OVERCAME!
1. Jesus is ALIVE!
(Mark 16:1-6 NIV) When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Solome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body. Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb and they asked each other, “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?” But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young many dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed. “Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him.
a. This is the truth that changes everything.
b. Jesus is the only historical religious figure who is still alive!
c. You can be a Muslim without ever meeting Muhammad, you can be a Buddhist without ever meeting Buddha, but if you are going to be a Christ, you have to meet Jesus the Christ for yourself!
2. If the Resurrection is not true, we don’t have Christianity
(1 Cor 15:12-14,20) But tell me this-since we preach that Christ rose from the dead, why are some of you saying there will be no resurrection of the dead? For if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, then all our preaching is useless, and your faith is useless… But in fact, Christ has been raised from the dead. He is the first of a great harvest of all who have died.
a. This is the most important event in History.
b. Jesus conquered death so that we could do the same.
c. We shall LIVE FOREVER!
3. We can GO because He CAME! (The Great Commission)
(Mat 28:18-20) And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
a. Jesus gained ALL POWER and based upon that, He told us to GO!
b. We don’t have to be afraid, but we MUST share the Gospel with the LOST!
4. We can OVERCOME because He OVERCAME!
a. Jesus overcame satan.
b. Jesus took the sting out of death.
c. Jesus now offers us everlasting and abundant life!
Points I want to highlight this week – PASSION WEEK:
1. Jesus endured the pain of the cross by faith.
2. Faith works by love (Gal 5:6).
3. If we live by faith and remain in love, then the same Power that Jesus operated in – and the same Power that raised Him from the dead – are available to us… and with that Power WE CAN CHANGE!
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.
Before you start planning for 2012, make sure you CLOSE OUT 2011 STRONG! Watch this, it will bless you:
(Hab 2:2-4 NLT) Then the LORD said to me, “Write my answer plainly on tablets, so that a runner can carry the correct message to others. This vision is for a future time. It describes the end, and it will be fulfilled. If it seems slow in coming, wait patiently, for it will surely take place. It will not be delayed. “Look at the proud! They trust in themselves, and their lives are crooked. But the righteous will live by their faithfulness to God.
- God can give you a vision.
- The vision will not happen overnight.
- If it seems slow in coming, wait patiently, God cannot lie!
- Live by faith and your faithfulness will take you towards the vision!
(Heb 10:35,36 NLT) So do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord. Remember the great reward it brings you! Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised.
- If you throw away your confidence you will be aborting the dream!
- Patient endurance is what you need to accomplish great things with God!
- If you keep pressing, you will receive all He has promised!
- Before you start laying out new things for 2012, go back to what God said you would do in 2011.
- Do what you can and believe God for what you can’t.
- The year is not over, don’t give up on those things you were believing God for!
FINISH 2011 STRONG!
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: