THE LIVING WORD TRANSCRIPT
Program Air Date - 1-3-10
LESSON TITLE: “THE NEW COVENANT…SPEAKS BETTER THINGS: BETTER TO DIE”
Today is January 3, 2010, can you believe it? We welcome you to our first Living Word Program of this exciting New Year. We thank you for choosing to be with us today for this time of offering and encouragement, as we participate in the things of God.
This program has always been committed to doing what God wants, in the way He wants. We accomplish this by collectively singing songs of praise to glorify His name. We also study from His Word, to learn what He wants of us. And we further, approach His throne in prayer, so that we may talk to our creator! So, at this time, let’s humbly bow our heads before our God.
How exciting it must have been for Israel to have seen the power of God in the Pillar of Cloud by day and the Pillar of Fire by night. Today we have a similar promise from God, that He is the Light of the World. Guess what, we are supposed to be that light as well! So, won’t you join in with the congregation at this time as we sing about the light of God? The name of the song, “Let The Lower Lights Be Burning.”
(SONG # 1)
Now that the crazy holiday rush is over, and News Years day has passed! I hope we have all taken a moment to sit down, take a deep breath and considered some of the new goals that we have committed to accomplish this New Year. I think that often we plan to fail - mostly, because we fail to plan. In other words, we can’t expect something good or great to come out from nothing. Obviously, it takes a lot of planning, patience, time, effort, and commitment to accomplish anything worthwhile in this life. As we all know there isn’t anything in this life worth having that comes completely free.
So, let’s take a few moments this morning and talk about our need to be better planners! Some have often misunderstood or taken out of context different passages in the Bible which deal with planning. In fact, many like to quote the verse found in Matthew 6:34. There Jesus said, “Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” In this verse is Jesus saying don’t plan or set goals in this life? Certainly not. What He is trying to say is that we don’t focus and worry so much about what will happen tomorrow that we forget to do the things which we need to today.
Another verse which might help us to understand what God truly wants is found in Luke 14:28-29. Here again, we have recorded the words of Christ, as He said, “For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it; lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him.” This verse helps us to see that Jesus knew it was necessary to consider tomorrow and the things concerning it - if we are to be good stewards of what He has asked us to do.
Now, in the same text, go back to verse 27 with me, where Jesus said, “And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.” So, Jesus was trying to say that part of bearing our cross and following Him is in finding out what He wants and planning to do it. You and I both know, that if we are going to be able to accomplish anything in any part of life - again, it requires good planning and execution of what we determine to be the goal.
So, consider today whether you have made the goals and plans necessary to accomplish great things for your Jesus. If not, then why not begin today taking the time to find out what Jesus wants. Then we can obey His Will and follow His Word, by executing those plans and goals which help us to accomplish it.
Today I will be speaking on the topic of “Better Things.” Our study of the morning will deal with the thought, “Better To Die!” This is our next lesson in the series we are studying which is called “The New Covenant… Speaks Better Things.” So, please continue with us this morning, and after our next song together I will return with this study from God’s Word. The name of the next selection is, “Living By Faith.”
(SONG # 2)
By Ray Sullins
We’re glad you’ve stayed with us this morning as we go to God’s Word and consider those things that certainly are according to His Will that might encourage us and challenge us in this New Year to be better servants of God and better workers in His kingdom.
You might already notice that we began this morning early in our comments to mention a verse found in Luke 14 about counting the cost. Certainly at the beginning of a new year it is important that we count the cost and see what is before us as servants of God. Are we going to be willing to do what is necessary to be pleasing in His sight? Within that text, you might recall that he actually mentions the fact that even a man who builds a building, there in verse 28, will sit down and count the cost as to whether he has the money to finish it or not. He talks also about an example of a king who goes to war and then he says, “Well that king first sits down and he determines whether his soldiers will be able to defeat the army that he is going up against?” And so counting the cost, making the plan.
That’s why as we read earlier, also in verse 27, when the verse says, “Whoever does not bear his cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.” You see, we are those who have to look at what our needs are before God, count the cost and then do what God has commanded.
In fact, in that same passage down in verse 33, he adds this: “So likewise whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be my disciple.”
If we are not willing to give all or anything that we have, despite the fact that God may not ask us to do that, if we are not at least willing to do that, we are not worthy of God.
Earlier in the same passage he talks about the fact that if we are not willing to give up even father or mother, even family for the sake of God, well what really is God to us if He does not come first in our lives?
In the same book, Luke, but in chapter 9, Jesus used this same point in relationship to talking to His disciples. There He adds this concept. “If anyone desires to come after Me, he must (do what?) deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me.” Then He adds the point that if we try to save ourselves then we will probably lose our life, but if we are willing to lose our lives for His sake, then we are actually saving our lives in a spiritual sense. Then He even asks the question in parallel passages such as in the book of Matthew or as well Mark and John who also quote what Jesus says similar to this text. He also has the idea: What will a man give in exchange for his own soul? What of this world will you allow to come before your God?
And so I hope you have begun already with me this morning to see the need that we have to count the cost and to be willing to serve God. And then the question is: How far for God are we willing to go? What type of a sacrifice? What type of a commitment? What type of time and energy and money are we willing to put in to our commitment and our service to God knowing that the promises that He offers us and the eternal rewards will surely be worth it all?
I wish now that you would go with me to a man who certainly understood these things as well. This man is Paul, Paul the apostle, a great man of tribulations and trials, as well as problems in his regular life. I would like you to notice with me in the book of 2 Corinthians beginning in chapter 6 and then we’ll also look at another passage in 2 Corinthians. We want to notice together that Paul is a man who endured many things, who really faced great trials and yet he stood firm for his God. There in chapter 6 of 2 Corinthians you might note with me in verse 4 that he states, “But in all things we are commending ourselves as (what?) ministers of God.” Well Paul, what type of things? Notice what he begins to mention. “In much patience, in tribulation, in distress, in stripes, in imprisonments…” You see he is mentioning many things and trials that he bore. In fact as you go through here we not only see the trials but also many of the blessings that he had as a child of God.
If you’ll drop down now to verse 8 he also says, “What about the times of honor and dishonor? What about the times of evil report and good report? What about the time before deceivers?” And on and on and on he goes talking about the trials that he faced. Do you think Paul ever had to sit down and count the cost and say, “Man, is this really worth it? Am I really going to give myself fully to God?” And do you think Paul ever asked the question, “How far will I go for my God?” Well I am sure that he asked that question, but guess what his examples continued to show. That he was willing to go as far as it took to put God first.
You know in the same book we find Paul also giving us another list of trials. What that shows me is that Paul dealt with so many things. He dealt with so many issues and that he was willing to overcome them. Notice this is within the same letter and then within the same span of time that he is confirming these issues.
Look there in chapter 11 of 2 Corinthians. Around verse 23 he begins to answer this. “Are they ministers of Christ?” He asked the question. “I speak as a fool. I am the more.” Now notice what he says. “In labor more abundant, in stripes above measure, in imprisonments frequently, in deaths often, from the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one.” He says, “I was beaten.” Verse 25, “I was shipwrecked.” He goes down in verse 26, “In perils of waters, perils of robbers, perils of countrymen, perils of gentiles,” on and on and on he goes, “perils of brethren.” But then he says, “Of all these things, what I still am focused on, what I still am concerned about is the church.” He says, “It is always on my heart because God is first in my life and if I have to endure and suffer, no matter what it is, for the sake of God, I have counted the cost and I am willing to endure it.” And so brethren, that as well is what we must do as children of God.
So what do you think that he was willing to do? Let’s see furthermore how far he was willing to go? Much farther probably than you or I would want to go? But also a very clear sign is given to us in 2 Timothy and chapter 2 there in verse 10. What was it that he was willing to do for God? Verse 10 says, “Therefore I endure all things, all things for the sake of the elect.” What was he willing to do for God? Not only to serve God and to sacrifice himself completely for God, but hear that verse again. He says, “Therefore I endure all things for the sake of the elect.” For my brethren! Why did you do that Paul? “That they also may obtain salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.” Do you mean to tell me Paul that you are willing to make sacrifices for your brethren, even things that are painful and hard for you to bear? Yes! That is what he said.
Then he actually goes on in the next verse to quote from a verse in the Old Testament and I want you to notice what he states here not only in relationship to not only what is found of old what many were willing to do who loved their God, but also what Paul was willing to do as he also stated there in Romans chapter 6. He says, “For if we die in Him, we shall also live in Him.” What was the desire? To even die for Christ! To even give himself fully for the sake of God! To do whatever it took to be faithful. Verse 13 says, “That he might remain faithful and therefore not deny God.” God is faithful; therefore what are we supposed to be? Faithful! God will not deny Himself or deny those things that are according to His Will, so why would we when we have committed ourselves to Him after counting the cost and saying, “God I am worthy and ready to accomplish that task.”
You know I suspect that maybe, perhaps that some aren’t the Christians they need to be because like that man who builds the building, they don’t first sit down and count the cost. Maybe they are not encouraged by those who teach them to say, “Hey, look at your life and find the problems and sins and realize what you have got to give up for God. Look at the time and effort and money you’re going to have to give to God.” Do we really make people think about that? Do we really encourage people them to sit down and say, “Are you willing to give up anything for your God?” Well, that’s exactly what we should strive to accomplish. That’s exactly what we should do because even Jesus said there in John 15 and verse 13, “Greater love has no man than to (do what?) lay down his life for a friend.”
How do we know that’s true? What did Jesus do? Well the book of Romans and of course many other places tell us as well, but Romans chapter 5 tells us that “Jesus was willing to die for us even while we were still sinners.” He came to this earth. He lived a life. He was beaten and endured many things for you and me that we might even while we were still sinners have the chance of salvation. You know if Jesus was willing to die for you and I, what do you think that tells us about what we should be willing to do for Him as our friend. No greater love than to die for whom? Your friend! If Jesus is not our friend, then who is? You see are we willing to give our lives for Christ?
But then notice how general that is. Jesus was willing to give His life for even you and I while yet sinners, so what is our attitude towards others? Well you know, you might say, “Well I could certainly understand where I might be willing to die for a loved one. I might be willing to die for a family member or a wife or children, and I can see where I would stand up for someone like that. But then we step outside of the family, and we say, what about somebody who is a part of the congregation or the church or a part of the spiritual family? Would you die for them? Well there are some I might die for, and you see the list gets shorter and shorter. Then we step outside of the religious realm and we say, “Well what about the people of the world?” Are we willing to die for them? Jesus was! Then what about our enemies? Matthew 5:44, We are to love them and even do good to them. And who was it that Jesus showed us was our true neighbor? Well in the story of the good Samaritan, anyone in need is our true neighbor. Our true friend. The true individual that we should turn, assist, and help.
Even Peter at one point in John 13 verse 37 told Jesus, “Lord I will die for You. Even if I have got to go to the end with You, I will die with You.” Of course this was the time when Jesus actually thereafter said, “Well before the rooster crows tonight you will have denied Me three times.” Well do you see the point was that Peter had counted the cost and at least in his heart and his mind, he felt he was ready? He learned he wasn’t. I believe he had to reconfirm his faith and repent and get reassured. I think later in life he certainly had the right faith to do so. At least initially his intentions were good. He understood the point that I must be willing to give myself fully for my God.
Now a text that we want to go to again is found in Corinthians, but now 1 Corinthians because this really ties our discussion of the morning into our series because there in chapter 9 and verse 15 we begin to see this concept of something that is better. In this context, Paul actually says, “Well I could have demanded that you support me or help me financially, although I did not.” Although that is something we are worthy of as workers of the gospel. In fact, even verse 14 says, “Even so the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should live by the gospel.” This is after he says, “You don’t muzzle an ox when he is treading the grain. You allow him to eat. You give a labor of that which is worthy of his hire.”
Then look at verse 15 with me. “But I have used none of these things nor have I written these things that it should be done so for me for it would be better for me to die than that anyone should make my boasting void, for if I preach the gospel I have nothing to boast of, for of necessity it is laid upon me, yes, woe is me if I do not preach the gospel.” God challenges me to preach the gospel, he says. Therefore, I am not given the incentive or owned by any man to preach something different. But notice what he said in verse 15. “But what I write to you, I write to you that you might know that it would be better if I died than to do something that would keep myself or you from heaven.” Brethren, that again shows me, friends, that really helps me to understand how far Paul was willing to go. He says, “Man, I would rather die, it would be better to die than to go against God, to go against my neighbor and friends, to mislead someone and to keep them from Christ, to give them any excuse not to obey the gospel unto eternal life, unto salvation.” Therefore, Paul says it would be better to die.
Is this not the idea that we actually find throughout other works of Paul? You might recall over in the book of Philippians and chapter 1 that he speaks about the fact that it is better to die. In fact, what does he state there? He states, “It would be better to die and to be with Christ than to live in this life any longer.” There in that text, you might note verse 21, “For me to live is Christ and to die is gain.” If you look at the whole context, he goes on to say, “I am hard-pressed between the two. I am really not sure which way I should go because I want to be with God, I am ready to die, but I also know that it is good for me to remain here (verse 24) that I might be able to help you.” You see Paul’s life was a life for God. Paul’s life was a life for Christ. Here he says, “I understand, I know that I am ready to die, that it is better to die for Jesus and for others in the name of God because when I do die knowing that I am right with God then surely I will receive the blessings and rewards of eternal life.” You see Paul had his mind in focus. He had his thoughts in accountable means and he understood as he told Timothy and Titus and so many others that he had fought the good fight and he had prepared himself and he had set things in order and he knew, he was assured that a crown of life was awaiting him.
And so I challenge us in this New Year to realize that it is better to live for God, better to live according to His Will, better to serve Christ and to do whatever it is that He commands through the Bible, but also it is better to have counted the cost and be ready to die, and if need be even die for our God so that we might prove to Him ultimately that He is our friend and that we love Him because when we love Him we keep His commandments.
Are you willing to serve your God as commanded? Are you ready for the blessings now and do you want the blessing of eternal life as well? Then serve your Creator.
(SONG # 3 - “More About Jesus!”)
Again, let me thank you for choosing to be with us this morning. I hope we all have been encouraged through our time spent together. Please remember, you are invited to join us every Sunday morning at 7:30, as we commit ourselves to this service of God.
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May we all realize the type of commitment it takes to be pleasing to God! Are we willing to pay the ultimate price for our Creator? He was willing to do so for us, so won’t you give yourself fully to God and to accomplishing His Perfect Will?