Wednesday, October 30, 2013

What is Love? Part 3

This week, we continued the “What is Love?” series. In this part we took an in-depth look at the issues of boastfulness and pride as discussed in 1 Corinthians 13:4.  The word boastful or vaunting in Greek is perperuomai and describes one who is full of self-talk, self-promotion, one who exaggerates his own virtues, is full of hot air/windbag and on the border of (and probably crossing the border of) lying – all in order to make others think more highly of them.  You may not think you do this – and maybe you don’t. But I bet you can think of someone (though you shouldn’t, since that is judging). This is because the nuisance of this type of person’s self-promotion is all too memorable.

 Have you ever “juiced up” your testimony because you felt it wasn’t radical enough? Then, what you did was boast (read: lie) to try and help God. He doesn’t need that sort of help. If He has placed someone in your path to share the Gospel with, then stick to the truth. He knows what He’s doing!   

Why do people feel the need to boast? It comes from insecurity and a need to be accepted by man. Sometimes it is rooted in having never felt accepted by a parent or other important figure in life. Regardless, it is something we need to get over because it is NOT love.  If we put too much value in the acceptance of man, we miss the mark in our acceptance before God. Now understand that, by grace, you already ARE accepted before God. You don’t need to work or do works to earn it. Sometimes I think we WANT to earn it. We want to think God must accept us a little more than others because of all the good things we do or bad things we don’t do but that is simply not the case.

 Instead, we should seek to be God pleasers as opposed to man pleasers. In John 12:42-43, Jesus talks about those in the Jewish community who, deep inside, did believe in Him, yet were afraid to admit it because they feared rejection by the Pharisees. Allowing man to give you your acceptance is a dangerous place to be. It’s tiring too.  If you are trying to please man, who is flesh, you will always end up having to do what flesh desires (sin) in order to please flesh. You will find yourself eventually having to check your morals at the door to keep someone happy.

Galatians 1:10 says that if we try to serve God while seeking the approval of man, we will always end up marred by compromise.  If we seek to please God, He will never lead us to sin.  Romans 8:8 echoes this and emphasizes that we are spirit and should be led by the Spirit.    Hebrews 11:6 tells us that without faith it is impossible to please God, and it also says that we must have faith in the fact that HE will reward those who diligently seek Him. We please God by placing more value in His opinion of our lives than the opinions of men. We must believe that, even when it is very hard to do it, if we avoid the temptation to please men, God WILL reward us.

Proverbs 3:3-4 tells us to make our lives about loving others. In doing so we will gain favor in the eyes of God AND man. Now, I understand there will always be haters. But, by and large, if you live a lifestyle of loving others which is what pleases God, you will also end up pleasing most men.

Then we must deal with pride. Pride, or being “puffed up” as the King James version puts it, by definition doesn’t sound much different than boasting. I would say the difference is this: Boasting is usually done out of insecurity. Pride actually believes one’s own boasting. It believes its own hype.  In 1 Corinthians 4 Paul addresses an issue with pride in the church of Corinth. The church leaders had become prideful about their knowledge of the Word. The problem was that in all their pride they seemed to be okay with blatant, unabashed sin in one of their brothers. Their spiritual pride had blinded them from truth.

In chapter 8 and verse 1 he brings the topic to a head by declaring that knowledge “puffs up” while love edifies. Knowledge itself is very good. We need it. But knowledge can also magnify pride – especially when our pride is in our knowledge. It is a trap many Christians fall into. Instead of true knowledge of the Word driving one to love more, it can cause one to instead judge harshly. Love builds others up, not tears them down.

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Wednesday, October 16, 2013

What is Love? Part 2

This week, we continued our series, “What is Love?” In this part we discussed the patience of love.  First, we examined the word agape. This is the Greek word for love that is used throughout 1 Corinthians 13. This particular word is only used in the Bible to describe God’s love and the love that flows from us to others. It gives the picture of a love that gives and gives and gives – even if it is never responded to or acknowledged. It is love that is a choice and not a response.

This is contrary to the way we tend to love. Our love is usually a response to being loved. In fact 1 John 4:19 tells us that we love because He first loved us. Love starts with Him. When we receive that love, we then are able to love much more like He does.  We are told to “have” love. But God “is” love.

Let’s look at patience. The word used for patience in 1 Corinthians 13:4 is makrothumia. It is a compound word made up of makros which means long, distant, remote, long duration and thumos which means swelling emotion or growing passion. The King James version uses the phrase “suffereth long.” God’s patience is one that actually continues to grow as we flounder about. It is a patience that goes for as long as needed. The longer the fight, the more committed to being patient that agape love becomes.  That is quite the opposite of what we do. We are looking for the list of things that can occur that allow us to stop being patient with one another. When do I not have to love anymore? So, how can we be expected to be truly patient with one another?

Romans 5:5 tells us that the love of God (agape) has been poured abundantly into our hearts. He has already given us HIS love as a resource because He knows ours isn’t enough.  The fruit of the spirit (Galatians 5:22) has been placed inside of us. We don’t have true love, goodness, self-control… patience. But it is inside of us waiting for us to allow it to flow from us to others.

 We studied the question from the disciples from Matthew 18:21 and the parable that follows.  We talked about how the use of 7’s means that we forgive until all is completed and we are with Jesus.  During the story of the debt owed, we discussed the difference between the debts.  The original debt was $15 million by today’s standards.  The debt he would not forgive was $15.  We talked about the punishment of being turned over to his jailers. When we don’t forgive, we are turned over to bitterness and its results, as opposed to living by love and its fruit.

2 Timothy 4:2 was what we left with this week as a final comment.


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Thursday, October 10, 2013

What is Love? Part 1

This week, we started a new series called “What is Love (Baby Don’t Hurt Me).” In this series, we will be examining the topic of love from God’s perspective. We are not capable of truly loving as God loves – except by the Spirit working through us. We will use the famous “love chapter” of 1 Corinthians 13 as our basis for this series.  In this first part, we looked at the very first verse. Paul states that we can be as spiritual as we want to be, but, unless we are doing so with love, we are just a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.

 First, keep in mind the context of this chapter. It sits between the 12th and 14th chapters, which spend a great deal of time discussing the gifts of the Spirit. Sandwiched between them is this admonition on love. You see, the world has seen plenty of believers walking in spiritual gifts and doing a good job of being religious – without love.  The fact that Paul describes this as sounding like a clanging cymbal made me think of a band. If our spiritual walk is a lot of religion without love, we are a band that is just one clanging cymbal. We’re missing the rest of the band. Love brings the guitar, piano, bass, singers and the rest of the drum kit. So, religion and spiritual gifts are good and PART of the band. But without love, they are just annoying and irritating.   Also, a cymbal is made of brass (bronze or copper, with Tin mixed in, so that the sound is hollow and not as clear as that made by bronze or copper).  The word resounding means echo or reverberate.  The two words resounding gong together originally in Greek mean “endless beating of metal that produces a hollow, annoying, irritating echo that seems to eternally reverberate.”

In Corinth, there was a major Pagan contingency. Part of their worship ritual included clanging cymbals incessantly. So, Paul’s choice of imagery is double-edged. Not only is loveless religion irritating and pointless, but it is actually worse than what the Pagans did. At least the Pagan cymbals didn’t turn people AWAY from Christ as loveless Christians do.  The clanging cymbal also paints the image of how the Jews would go into battle clashing cymbals. This instructs us then on both sides of the image. We should try not to be the resounding gong, but we should also fight the urge to be driven to battle by the resounding gongs in life.  We must learn to look at everyone as God does, through the eyes of grace.  The two words together “clanging cymbal, mean “constant loud crashing of cymbals.”

 We also covered a sort of top ten list of signs that you might be a resounding gong or clanging cymbal. Here it is in summary:

 10. You see yourself as “more spiritual” than others

9. You judge those who don’t hold all the same standards as you

8. You are quick to find fault with others – and point out those faults to anyone who will listen

7. You have an unhealthy interest in arguing doctrine

6. Your feeling are easily hurt and you are easily offended (especially by those who are not accepting your “corrections”)

5. You put a great deal of effort into presenting an image of yourself that is far better than your reality

4. You can never admit being wrong

3. You make others feel like they can never measure up

2. You like to draw attention to all the rules that you keep (that others are not keeping) and get defensive if anyone points out that there are other rules you seem to be ignoring

1. FINALLY…. You thought of or pictured people you know for numbers 10 through 2 (ouch!)

In Luke 18:9-14, Jesus tells a parable directed at the “clanging cymbals” (or those self-righteous). He uses as an example a Pharisee, an expert in the law, who comes to the temple to pray and thanks God that he is not like all those heathens who aren’t keeping all the rules.  He also uses a tax collector as a counterexample.  Tax collectors were hated by the Jews of Jesus’ day even more than they are today. The tax collectors of that day were Jews who were hired by Rome to collect Caesar’s taxes. It was an unwritten rule that they were free to collect whatever they wanted on top of Rome’s tax for themselves.  The tax collector was seen as a traitor and a turncoat – utterly despised. In Jesus’ parable, the tax collector came to God and sought mercy – acknowledging his own shortcomings while the Pharisee exalted himself. Jesus said the tax collector will have found favor before God and not the Pharisee.

 We must learn to walk in grace toward all. This does not mean we cannot judge the fruit in someone’s life as a gauge for how close they can come to me , my family and my ministry. I can make that call by looking at fruit without judging a person’s salvation or their eternity based on a set of legalist rules. Only God can do that and we are NOT Him.


In Matthew 7 we are told not to judge, lest we be judged and that we should not point out the speck in the eye of another while we have a plank in our own eye. What does that mean? It means we will be qualified to judge others when we are perfect – so, pretty much never.


Let’s put love first and then religion and see if we don’t begin seeing better results in our goals of reaching the world with the Gospel.




 To listen to the entire sermon go to  To learn more about Living Word Ahwatukee, visit

Thursday, October 3, 2013

West Side Story Part 4

This week, we wrapped up the "West Side Story" series with deeper study into the issues of greed that can be a trap in Promised Land living.  We looked at the passage in 1 Timothy 6 that discusses the "love of money." The first thing to notice is that it does not say (as is often misquoted) that money is the root of all evil. For one, it is the love of money that is the problem. Money is a tool or a resource. We are not to love the creation, we love the creator.  However, if we choose to hate money, we will always struggle to see our own needs met and never get to a place of helping meet the needs of others or to help expand the Kingdom. We should not shun money or fear its ability to corrupt us so much that we avoid it.


Instead, love God. You see, whatever you direct your love to, you will never get enough; you'll never be satisfied. Directing our lvoe toward money or power or anything other than God will always lead to an emptiness and unfulfilled desire. Instead, you should direct that love to God and be in a position of never being able to get enough of Him, and you will live a much more satisfied life.  The passage also did not say that the love of money is the root of ALL evil (it is A root of all kind of evil). Sure, it is a top three for sure, but there are many other ways evil is birthed in our lives. We can’t think that avoiding money is a way to avoid evil and become holy.


Jesus talked about this as well in Matthew 6 and Luke 11. If we get our priorities out of whack and spend our lives in constant desire for more money, we lose much more important things. He warns us not to lay up for ourselves treasure where moth and rust destroy, but in heaven.  Some have taken this to mean we can't have ANYTHING in this life, even to the extent of a savings account. Let's not get crazy here. We need to understand why He used the example of a moth and rust destroying.  Maybe you have a fine suit hanging in your closet. The only way the moths destroy it is if it stays hung in your closet. If it is being used, or is in motion, the moths can't touch it. A machine that sits unused will have its gears rust and cause it to be ruined, but if the machine stays in motion, rust cannot destroy it. What Jesus is warning us against is collecting "stuff" and having it just lie around and serve no purpose.


Is it a sin to have a nice boat (provided you can truly afford it)? No. If you use it to invest in your family by spending time together and building memories and relationships, it is an asset and is serving a noble purpose. If it sits next to your house for years on end and collects dust and rust, it is wasted resource. Let's avoid that!


Since we found at least three places that warned us to be sure to not use our godliness for personal financial gain, that must be a real problem. If godliness only led to poverty, there would be no need for these kinds of warnings. The fact that we must be warned so many times seems to indicate that leading a godly life CAN lead to wealth. Promised Land living can lead to blessing flowing in your life.  So, do not allow the stuff to become your focus. Remember where the stuff comes from. Remember that, even if you lost it all (or God asked you to give it all), you are still connected to the SOURCE of all good things. 


Now, let's keep on taking territory in our hearts and in our lives!



 To listen to the entire sermon go to  To learn more about Living Word Ahwatukee, visit