Count Your Blessings
I want to thank the church and the deacons for allowing me to go to Arkansas this past weekend. I love being able to say with complete honesty that every time I’m away I miss you all dearly. Worshipping with you all along with my wife and children is the highlight of my week. But I’m grateful that God always seems to speak so clearly while I’m away. And its always at the strangest times that the spirit just awakens my ears to His voice.
Saturday night after some long conversations with the guy who was leading worship at the retreat, he was singing a song that we’ve sang here, what a beautiful name. And there are two lines in that song that just spoke it a new, fresh way … after the day of conversation I had with Tori about ministry, about our church specifically, when we sang them together I blurted out, “Yes Lord!”
What a beautiful name it is, nothing compares to this
What a powerful name it is, nothing can stand against
Church, I’m telling you… as your pastor, I long for us to get that. I long for us to see that. To become convinced of the truth that nothing compares to knowing Jesus. To become convinced of the truth that nothing can overtake us because He’s our Keeper and Defender.
One of our biggest spiritual problems is that we forget too easily what we have in Him. I would say forgetfulness is maybe the most common, ordinary problem of the church.
And here is where the Devil just gets so crafty because he doesn’t necessarily go on a full-blown attack of your faith in Jesus as much as he does your love for and commitment to the church. He magnifies all of the church’s deficiencies so that you’ll be convinced of the lie that this isn’t important and all that matters is your love for Jesus. If this is you, I’m pleading with you—Don’t allow him to blind you to truth.
I talked to a wife this weekend whose husband no longer attends the Methodist church he grew up in because he got a letter in the mail that stated he isn’t giving enough based on what the church projected his income to be.
Now this person will grow further and further away from orthodoxy, this person’s flame for the glory of Jesus will grow dim, this man’s testimony to the life-changing work of Jesus will lose its power because you cannot separate Christianity from the Bride of Christ. It is interlocked.
C.S. Lewis’ book Screwtape Letters gives us an amazing illustration. Screwtape is writing to Wormwood about how upset he is because they lost their patient to Christianity. “But don’t despair, one of our great allies at present is the church itself… when his disappointments occur, then attack.”
The ability to focus on all the wrongs and shortcomings we see in the church leaves no room to remember all that we have in Jesus Christ.
And this is where we move into what I hope to be one of the most blessed journeys we’ve had together as a church. We are going to begin today walking through 1 Corinthians and together see a church that is blanketed with modern, contemporary problems, yet Paul does not abandon her but invests all the more.
The church in Corinth was not unaware of their issues. This letter is actually a response to a letter they had written Paul. So much junk was happening within. It was a young and vibrant church, and that in and of itself makes it more susceptible to cultural influence because there wasn’t much root there. But it was also planted in the middle culturally booming town. Favoritism, pride, pretentiousness, immorality, rebellion, false teachers, selfishness… all of the things that people say about modern day churches now was alive and active in this early church.
So, when they write to Paul asking about how to handle all of this, he didn’t give up on them and he didn’t excuse them to bow out of the faith family. He opens this letter with statement after statement in hopes to jog their memory of God’s blessing.
Every church is going to have their issues, but instead of growing disenchanted with congregation and forgetting the blessing of God is all this… we should all the more remember what God has done for us.
Paul, called by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus, and our brother Sosthenes,
2 To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours:
3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
4 I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus,
5 that in every way you were enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge— 6 even as the testimony about Christ was confirmed among you—
7 so that you are not lacking in any gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, 8 who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.
9 God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
This is a Call to Remember Your Blessings
The Corinthians church was famous for their faults. And Paul wasn’t ignoring them… He’ll spend significant time in this letter addressing these issues no matter how uncomfortable they may be. But the immediate need for the church then and then church now is to remember the work of God’s grace.
When you are feeling this need to unload all of your frustrations about life, pause and remember evidences of God’s movement.
1. Remember God’s Spoken to Us
The word of Paul to the Corinthians
The word of God to us
I think we easily forget the blessing of God’s Word. It’s so easy to look over because it’s so common to us. And it’s often looked over because of the imperatives made on our lives. But if we can just slow down and see this for what it is!
16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
Don’t look past this favor of what the world is teaching. I’ve made it known how I think of Pastors like Joel Osteen who have traded in God’s Word for the world’s views. He has done everything possible to appease the world and to be favored in their eyes… The Houston tragedy happens and there is some kind of miscommunication about him being willing to open the doors of their massive facility to shelter people and they rip him to shreds. Abandoning God’s Word is never going to work out in your favor.
Remember this gift that exposes God’s heart and equips His people.
2. Remember God’s Claim on Us
God has a special concern and care for His church. That’s us. Not this building, but this people. Where we get ourselves in trouble is we fall into the pit of thinking we have some ownership in all of this. NO! We are the ones owned. We are His creation and His concern.
Remember we are a part of a privileged community.
3. Remember God’s Work in us
Unity- Remember your not in this alone
Remember your not in this alone
Sanctification- Remember that a price has been for you! God, the Creator of the Universe loves you that much.
Remember that a price has been for you! God, the Creator of the Universe loves you that much.
Peace- Remember God’s promise that He will work all things together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.
One friend recorded that their last conversation, Gouge said, “In all of these things there is nothing of hell or God’s wrath. Soul, be silent and patient. He will turn it to good and someday end it all. None of which things can be expected in hell.”
Remember God’s promise that He will work all things together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.
Testimony- Remember that your mind, voice and actions have been redeemed to be used for His glory
Remember that your mind, voice and actions have been redeemed to be used for His glory
Expectation- Remember, He’s coming church