2021-01-24 – 1 Corinthians 16:13-24 – First Fruits of FBC Orion
2021-01-24 – 1 Corinthians 16:13-24 – First Fruits of FBC Orion
Good morning everyone. It is so nice to be able to spend some time with you all in fellowship with the Lord. Thank you and God bless you for being with us today.
Bearing Good Fruits ~ By Deborah Ann
Faith that is voiced, faith that is shared, is a faith that knows, good fruit it’s to bear. ~ Faith that is productive, faith that is fruitful, is a faith God makes, for His kingdom useful. ~
Faith that is spoken, faith that is conveyed, is a faith that God needs, so hearts can be swayed. ~ Faith that is ministering, faith that is life-saving, is a faith in Jesus, worthy of our embracing. ~ Faith that is hidden, faith that we don’t share, is a faith in God, leading others no where!
Speaking about ‘Bearing Good Fruits’, Last week you heard about the 2020 accomplishments of Orion First Baptist. It was my joy to present all the things we were able to achieve this past year despite the challenges we faced. God is surely orchestrating our steps. With you, we are Doing the Lord’s Work here, ‘Bearing Good Fruits’, and I praise His name as there is nothing we could do without the Holy Spirit leading us. Praise the Lord, indeed!
Please turn now to 1 Corinthians 16:13, page 1022 in your pew Bibles, which is the Inspired, Infallible and Living Word of God. Prayer..
In the last verses of last week’s sermon of this chapter 16, you can clearly see the concern and compassion Paul had for his fellow workers and also the new believers there in that church in Corinth. Paul cared for them like a father would care for his own children. He loved them, that is most evident. Now what follows is what in our bibles is entitled as Paul’s Final Exhortation. I am going to read through to the end of this chapter and letter-book, then we will pull out a few verses which God has laid upon my heart today to discuss. So starting at verse 13 Paul writes:
13 Be alert, stand firm in the faith, be courageous, be strong. 14 Do everything in love. 15 Brothers and sisters, you know the household of Stephanas: They are the first fruits of Achaia and have devoted themselves to serving the saints. I urge you 16 also to submit to such people, and to everyone who works and labors with them. 17 I am delighted to have Stephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaicus present, because these men have made up for your absence. 18 For they have refreshed my spirit and yours. Therefore recognize such people.
19 The churches of Asia send you greetings. Aquila and Priscilla send you greetings warmly in the Lord, along with the church that meets in their home.
20 All the brothers and sisters send you greetings. Greet one another with a holy kiss. 21 This greeting is in my own hand—Paul. 22 If anyone does not love the Lord, a curse be on him. Our Lord, come! 23 The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you. 24 My love be with all of you in Christ Jesus.
That is the ending of this letter of correction from Paul to the church plant he started in the city of Corinth. This is the longest of all the letters he wrote, followed by 2 Corinthians that we will start with next week. The bulk of our message today will be based upon the first two verses today, verse 13 and 14 of this chapter 16. In that Paul said: 13 Be alert, stand firm in the faith, be courageous, be strong. 14 Do everything in love. [SLIDE]
That is one small exhortation, one small statement, but with so much meat and content. It actually sounds a lot like something that I would tell my children as they are leaving the roost or hitting the road: “Be alert, stand firm in the faith, be courageous, be strong. Do everything in love”. Five appeals, if you will, to their good behavior, their good works, and their good defense even. I remember so vividly when I was young lad, my mom giving me the standard send-off comment as I was hitting the door. She would simply say “Be Good”. But in that, I knew very well that much was wrapped up in those two little words, “Be Good”. Those words both inspired me and challenged me, but also made be feel a little guilty as I knew sometimes that what I was up to was not very good at all.
Again, we have five things in these two “Be Good” verses that Paul gives us here to consider. Each of these you will notice is in the present tense. That means this is an ongoing thing, not a once and done proposition. The first one is:
Be Alert (or watch out) – Paul warns us like this over and over in his writings. For instance, he wrote in 1 Thes 5:6, “Therefore let us not sleep as others do; but let us watch out and be sober”. Jesus Himself also instructed us in this same manner, in Luke 12:37. He said, “Blessed are the servants that the master finds awake”. This also reminds me of when Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane where He took on all the sin of man. Jesus pleaded with His closest disciples to stay awake [Be Alert] and pray, but sadly they still could not. For they well demonstrated that so many times “the spirit is willing but the flesh is very weak” indeed. God wants us though as Christ followers to be vigilant and to not let our guard down, because the enemy Satan surely is on the prowl. That reminds me of when I was on guard duty in the Army. We had to stay alert, for the enemy was near. Similarly, in Paul’s last words he wrote in to his protégé in 2 Timothy 4:5 that he was to “Be watchful in all things”. So we might consider taking this as a Christian prescription if you will, we should endeavor to stay sharp and stand ready, to carry forward God’s will and purpose, amen? The next Paul wrote is:
Stand Firm in the Faith – Persevere in the Faith. Today, most everything this world has to offer generally goes against a healthy Christ centered faith walk. And prayer is an essential exercise to strengthen that faith muscle. In Jude 1:20, Jesus’s half-brother encourages us to “build yourselves up in your most holy faith [by] praying in the Holy Spirit” So prayer is the key to our faith. In scripture, the word Faith is closely associated with the word Fight. And in 1 Timothy 6:12 Paul tells us to “fight the good fight of faith”. This again infers that faith is a struggle and it involves action. We must do what Jesus instructs in Luke 9:23 where He said, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me”. But if you find yourself struggling in your faith, please know that you are in good company. In Luke 17:5, the apostles even pleaded with Jesus to “Increase our faith!” And what was Jesus’ response? He told them “If you had faith like a grain of mustard seed you could move mountains”. You see, when we stand firm in our faith, we then tap into God’s Amazing strength, and there is nothing that He cannot do, Amen? The next charge Paul gives is:
Be Courageous (or Be Brave) – Courage is what you need when you’re in the fight. We should recall what is written in Romans 8:31, where Paul wrote, “What then shall we say in response to these, If God be for us, who can be against us?”, Amen? Many of you know I have a monster dog at home named Scout. She is a young Golden Shepherd puppy. One thing I have noticed though about Scout is that when she sees something that is scary, like the Garbage truck or the UPS man, she runs toward the door not away from it. That is what courage does. It causes you go forward even though you are scared.
The same thing goes for our faith walk. Paul is encouraging us to be brave when we step out in faith. Be brave when we have the opportunity to present the Gospel. Be brave when the world is challenging our Christian principles. I have no doubt that the Corinth believers were needing this pep talk from Paul as they were attempting to live out their faith in a very secular and dangerous environment. They saw how Paul was criticized and persecuted, yet he never backed down. The Holy Spirit inspired Paul to be brave and courageous and He will inspire you as well. In Matthew 5:11-12 Jesus said, “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you”.
This is a great verse. The fact that Jesus knows what we are going through, and that God word says He will bless us as a result, should help us then to stand-up and even run into the battle that now lays before us. When you are scared, find your courage in Christ dear Christian. Then step forward, and show that uncommon faith and courage. You are not alone. In that, God will be pleased and you will be most assuredly blessed. The next charge we have is to:
Be Strong – not strong in muscle necessarily, but strong in our faith. King David said in Psalm 27:14, “Wait on the Lord; Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart”. I find this verse encouraging as it surely does take faith to wait on the Lord sometimes doesn’t it. Brothers and sisters, in regards to our faith, we are either growing in our strength or decreasing our strength. And there also is this thing also called Muscle atrophy. Muscle atrophy is when muscles literally waste away from nonuse. God’s desire for us is to have a Strong Faith.
I love Isaiah 40:31 where it says, “But those who wait on the Lord (through faith) Shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint”. Isn’t that a great verse?
I have come to realize that many times we don’t have a strong faith because we don’t want to wait on the Lord. We need to exercise our faith muscle to achieve a strong faith. In Ephesians 6:10 Paul wrote, “be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might”. Not by your power but by God’s power. We can do so much more if we just learn to tap into what God has to offer through faith. And He offers us everything. So be strong in Him, Amen?
Finally, Paul said that we are to Do Everything in Love. This is the ultimate goal of what God and Paul is encouraging us to do. Jesus gave us what He called the Greatest Commandment. That is to “love the Lord with all your heart, soul and mind and to love your neighbors as yourselves”. He didn’t say it was going to be easy, but we are to endeavor to that end anyway because that is the Fathers Will. Paul also wrote in 1 Timothy 1:5, that “the purpose of [that] commandment is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith”. However, I am sure you will attest along with me that that is a pretty high bar sometimes to meet these days. The word “purpose” Paul used here, is also the Greek word for goal. Thus, love should be the ultimate goal for the Christian.
So, with whatever is going on in your life right now, weather dealing with kind people or not, we must choose to love. We should always remember what is commonly referred to as the “golden rule”, “do onto other as you would want them to do onto you”. And that most assuredly can only happen sometimes because of your love for the Lord. For He ultimately is the one we are trying to please. And true sacrificial love gets the attention of our God. That sacrificial love is the only way we might reach some, and perhaps even have the opportunity to save their souls. Father God and Jesus demonstrated that type sacrificial love better than anyone else ever could. And as a result we are now saved. Therefore we should endeavor to reflect that same love onto the rest of the world. Are you with me?
Next, I call your attention to verse 15 where Paul recognizes the household of Stephanas. He wrote “15 Brothers and sisters, you know the household of Stephanas: They are the first fruits of Achaia and have devoted themselves to serving the saints.” That family obviously made a positive impact on both him and the new church there in Corinth. Notice he called them the “first fruits”, which infers they were perhaps the first positive outcomes of the church effort in Corinth. Likewise you all here today are the “first fruits” of this First Baptist Church of Orion. If I were to write a letter like Paul here, I know that I could confidently proclaim as well, that you too have devoted yourselves to “serving the saints”. I have been blessed to witness such wonderful growth in this church, both in number but more importantly in the faith that is exhibited though your works and fellowship. And that’s what makes this church very special indeed.
Paul closes out this epistle with a final salutation. [SLIDE] Verse 21 reads:
21 This greeting is in my own hand—Paul. 22 If anyone does not love the Lord, a curse be on him. Our Lord, come! 23 The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you. 24 My love be with all of you in Christ Jesus.
It grieves me greatly today to know that there are so many today all around us that chooses not to love the Lord. With everything that I have experienced in life and all the challenges and disparity in the world, I have come to realize that when somebody chooses not putting our faith in Jesus is truly an eternal curse indeed. But the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ is beyond measure. And He offers to all the opportunity to accept Him as the personal Lord and Savior. But our time is short. Paul exclaims here “Our Lord come! And in that is our hope and prayer as well. If you haven’t yet accepted Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, maybe that day is today. My love be with all of you. in Christ Jesus. Amen and Amen.
Please stand with me now and let us sing together, one verse of Amazing Grace.
Next week we are going to be starting the next epistle or letter-book from Paul in the Second Corinthians. You will find that this letter is much more uplifting but yet instructive. I pray you have enjoyed this journey through Paul’s writings as I have.
Thank you again for joining us today. May God be with you till we meet again.
And as my wonderful momma, Rosa Lee would say, I say to you now in parting.. “Be Good!” 😊