The narrow way leads us out of ourselves to Him. We come out into the large place of love. Let us pursue love. No weapon formed shall prosper against us. Isaiah 54:16-17; 1 Corinthians 14:1
Speaker(s): Pastor Thomas Schaller
Sermon # 11415
7:30 PM on 2/7/2018
1 Cor 14:1, We’ll do a brief word for what we are looking at tonight for our message. Follow after charity. Can you say that with me? What is another way of saying that? Pursue love. Go after love. Follow after love. What is love? We have a slide what love is and what love is not. What love is. Say this with me: suffers long, is kind, rejoices in truth, bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. What would be amazing is if in our meeting here tonight, the Holy Spirit would reveal love to us. Do you need it? I need it. I need love. I need those words. As your neighbor, the one sitting next you, say, what is love? Then go through that list for a minute, what love is. Love suffers long. What else? Is kind. Rejoices in what we are going to say tonight. Rejoices in what the Bible says. Rejoices in truth. Bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things that are written here in the Bible. Believes everything written here in the Bible. Hopes all things. Endures all things. Never fails. Now, the next one, what love is not. Go with me here: Envies not, vaunteth not itself. Turn to your neighbor and say, stop doing that! Is not puffed up. Does not behave in a strange way. Turn to your neighbor and make that point to them. Look at the next one. Seeks not her own. Is not seeking her own. Isn’t that loaded. I know we taught on this before, but this is a short review. Is not easily provoked. When God doesn’t answer me, I’m not easily provoked. He does not have to answer me right now. It’s his program, what he is doing. Not easily provoked. Not overly sensitive. Thinks no evil. That’s a big one. Rejoices not in iniquity. What a list.
Go back to 1 Cor 14:1. Do we have the ESV on the screen? Can we do a different version? Pursue love. That’s our subject tonight. Pursue love.
We were in Israel for three days. P. Ben who has lived there for 27 years as a missionary invited us and a very small group of Finnish pastors and their wives and few others to come for prayer and fellowship. We enjoyed our friendship and fellowship because we have known each other for 40 years. Love is what characterizes our lives. As here in our church and in our years of faith, we have found that love is the way. It doesn’t mean that there are not troubles, pain, confusion, loneliness, heartbreak, and broken relationships but we have found that love never fails. And we fellowshipped around that theme. P. Ben knows Hebrew and Aramaic and is a man of the word. Anywhere I ask him about any Bible verse or theme he has a commentary on it spontaneously with depth. One of the things he shared with us in the old city not far from the Wailing Wall where the Jews have their holy place – and by the way there was a big, big poster that said “Thank you, Donald Trump. Washington D.C. has blessed D.C., David’s City, Jerusalem. “Thank you, Vice President Pence” was another poster. They are so happy about the decision that our government has made regarding Jerusalem being the capital of Israel. By the way, in 1918 there was what’s called the Balfour Agreement after W.W. I. that declared in that agreement that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. What they are saying now is no different from what they decided 100 years ago. It’s just not politically correct to say it. I don’t care about the politics of it. I’m just trying to say that Israel exists. Israel is at the center of our Bible.
We are going to start a series on the end times this coming Sunday. There are many things to say. Don’t miss one. We will do the Antichrist, the rise of Russian, the movement of Iran, ISIS, Turkey and some of these elements from recent publications and readings.
Pursue love. What we could say to our government here as we see our house is divided, let us pursue love. Love is powerful. Love is awesome. God is love.
Isaiah 54 to read a difficult passage. I’d like to make it simple with a picture. I love to have the flow of the H.S. to give the words.
Isaiah 54:16-17. I asked P. Ben to explain how the Aramaic language has some benefit over the Hebrew. He said it does. When Jesus said I am the way, the truth, and the life, in Aramaic it says I AM that I AM the way, the truth, the life. I AM I the bread of life. I AM I the light of the world. What we hear in it is Jesus was saying what it said in the O.T. I AM that I AM the way, the truth, the life.
1 Cor 2:14 was repeating this in my heart the last couple days even though we know it over many years.
1 Cor. 2:14 Here’s a sketch. A box and put a man in the box and here he is in the box. The box is the natural life of the man. There are in life, in life there is loneliness, weariness, the bad things, good things. We have death. We have guilt. We have the life that the natural man lives. This is what he knows. The experience he has in the box is what he knows. His sin has produced for him a way of thinking. As he lives here in the natural, he cannot perceive or recognize the plan of God. He interprets God by his trouble. He may say there is so much pain in this world, there is no God or if there is God I don’t want to know him. He does not help me or hear me. I don’t know who God is. I have no interest in God.
What does that mean in vs. 14? He doesn’t receive the love of God. We will call this God and his love. What does he not perceive? Love. He doesn’t see the things of God, the Spirit of God, the way of God, the thought of God. What does he see? His natural world, his natural life. He says there are too many children dying every day from hunger. There is too much cancer. I have a cancer he could say. God doesn’t love me. This is how he processed his life. He doesn’t understand love, know it, feel it, see it or think it. It’s not in his life. This first box we will call the waster.
It’s in Isaiah 54:16. Waster meaning the rottenness, the corruption, to be rotted, to be marred, corrupted, injured. Means to spoil, ruin, pervert, corrupt. Man is living in a world and by nature as he lives here he feels the corruption and is underneath the waster. The waster has power over him. As he lives day by day, he realizes he is somehow losing his hair, maybe losing his mind, losing his words, losing his direction, losing his focus. He gets weary and tired. What we want to say is spiritual and very real and can help you and me and touch our heart and our spirit and lead us in the way.
vs. 14b. What we are going to say tonight doesn’t make sense to that man. He is too hurt, too confused, too disturbed, too guilty, too lost. He cannot find it. We say it is foolishness unto him. Neither can he know them because these word are spiritually discerned. It’s amazing, isn’t it?
vs. 15. That’s a loaded verse.
Is. 54:16, Israel is in the furnace. Israel is in trouble. The man in our diagram is in this world without God yet God is at work. God is at work in our trouble, our loneliness, when we have sinned, when we have fallen, when we feel bad about ourselves. God is at work and he has a plan. He has created the destroyer or waster.
vs. 16. The ruiner to ruin, the spoiler to spoil, the rotter to rot. I created it so you would have a pile of garbage. So to speak. I made it. I think of many ways we could illustrate this. Let’s put down a few words here. We get troubled with slander, when people slander you and speak evil of you. And the reaction. The insecurity. They are ruining my reputation. They are speaking badly of me. I think of how slander can be the waster. Here I am being wasted by the waster. I think also of marriage. A husband who is mistreating his wife or a wife not loyal to her husband or a job not working out well. The loneliness that happens with folks that live by themselves or getting older or maybe are a widow or widower. I have created the waster to destroy. Where is love if that is the case? Where is love? How do I find the way? How can I change that inner box? The answer is I cannot change the inner box. There’s another word. Death. That’s a waster. That box is there. It will be there as long as we live in this world. It will be there. When Jesus was here, he told us a secret. I feel the Spirit has something to say to us tonight that will help us.
Mt. 7:13-14, go to our diagram. Few there be that find it. Do you know what? Do you know what? In that inner box there is a little narrow way out of it. But few there be that find it. Do you know when you are lonely, the loneliness can be so strong and heavy. Loneliness is a very real thing. Christ said, I’m saying it in these words. There is a waster. God has created it by the curse that came on Adam and Eve. There is a fire, a furnace, a slander, the trouble, the disappointment but there is also a way because he said no weapon formed against you will prosper.
Go back to Is. 54:17. Look at our sketch one more time. Narrow way and when you find that way. When you find the way, where are you? You are in love. The narrow way that few people find is actually the way of love. Why can’t we find it? Because we can’t think with God. Why can’t we find it? Because we may not want to find it. We want to only have our life. We preserve our life here and as I preserve my life, I can’t find the answer in my pain and trouble because I can’t find God because I’m so much occupied with me. I seek my own. I vaunt myself. I puff up myself. I think evil. I am envious and jealous. I’m finding the waster. I’m finding the spoiled, rotten life. This is the hell that man lives in this world is simply the love he has for himself. Life is supposed to be right for me. It’s not supposed to be lonely or that someone stole all my money or losing a leg in an accident. I never planned that. That’s not my life. That could not happen to me. A bad marriage is not to be my life. A church that has trouble is not to be in my life. Oh, really? There is a way and few find it. It’s another mind. This is what we are laboring in. As you find it and I don’t mean just pastor/ congregation. I mean you and your Bible. When you find this and you have a personal revival in your heart you have found life. Huge life.
There is a famous Jewish man named ZVI in Hebrew and you can look it up and buy his biography. He is a holocaust survivor. He was ten years old in Poland when his parents dropped him off in an orphanage and his mother said I’ll come back and see you. He never saw his three brothers, his sister, his mother and father again. He lived like an animal for four or five years through the war in the Polish Warsaw ghetto. He lived in woods, in the farm, digging up potatoes, living in the sewer. Finally the war is over. He’s 15 after the war is over. He makes it to Israel. He’s in their war fighting against the Arabs in ’47 and ’48, ’49 and he gets saved in Jerusalem. His story is amazing. A little Bible study group like the ones we have and believers have around the world and they are meeting and singing and have this joy. He came in off the street and asked questions and thought about it. He became for 50 years evangelizing and as he worked as a worker in Israel, he was in the military disarming land mines. Out of 30 men that started the work, only three survived. He was one of the three that survived. He was patient with the land mine and prayerful all the time. He survived without getting blown up. It’s a beautiful story. You can pick it up and read it some time. His windows were broken. Children threw stones because he was a believer in Jesus. You are not a Jew. He said I am a Jew. I survived the Holocaust. I speak Hebrew and Yiddish. I’m a Jew. I work in the military for Israel. The persecution and then his love.
When you and I get beyond the waster and we have found the narrow way and love becomes part of our orientation, when you look back and you have love and you look at the waster, who is greater? You are. We are greater than the waster. We are greater than death, than the slander, than a troubled marriage, than being a persecuted people. We are greater than hatred, jealousy, fear. We have found love. Love never fails. We have found God. When we know God, it’s only through the narrow way we found God. The life of God becomes our ministry.
We walk around like this dear man did for 50 years. He was greater than the orthodox Jews who he met on the street. They were angry with him and he was wise like Stephen, wise like Jesus. They would speak sometimes for hours. By his kindness he would turn them. One story he married an Iranian, Jewish woman and they were in a small apartment in the Arab section of Jerusalem. His neighbor found out he was a Christian and he was cursing him. He told the children and they threw stones through the window. The neighbor did it. He talked to the neighbor and said please do not do this anymore. One day he came home and the neighbor had collapsed on the kitchen floor. He went in there and the neighbor said please help me. I am dying. The man said I have 600 pounds in my drawer. You can have the money. Just take me to the hospital. He visited him every day and loved him. He said nobody visited me but you. He said I don’t want the money. It’s yours. I’ll bring you back home. The man said I have done all this bad to you and why are you like this? The man said because Jesus loves you. Jesus Christ is the answer.
vs. 17. No weapon formed against you shall prosper. What a statement. The waster will prosper. God created the waster so we would seek him and we would find him. Now we have no weapon formed against us can prosper. No hatred can prosper against you. Jesus on the cross and he said forgive them. We have been talking about it since, that love. No weapon formed against you, whether it is Caiaphas or the Roman Empire or whatever it may be, or it might be some problem that you have in your personal life.
When you and I are pursuing love – let’s close with that thought. Pursue love. It’s like I don’t have it but I know what it is and I want it. Help me to forgive my enemy. Help me, Lord, to live beyond the waster. You made the waster so I realize if I live in my self-life, it will be rotten. If I can escape the waster by the narrow way, we find life. He said few there be that find it. They go in the broad way. The broad way is inside the box. You know what everyone is talking about today, diversity and your rights and be who you are and live as you want to and you have every right to do it. All that kind of message. Your self-life, your rights, and they are not talking about love, about unity, about sacrifice, giving, forgiving, about tolerance in the deepest meaning. God is the most tolerant person in the universe. He puts up with the presence of evil in his universe. He puts up with the independence of the fallen man. He puts up with all the cursing and complaining and all the selfishness which is rottenness in his mind.
vs. 17. No weapon that is formed against you shall prosper. Every tongue that shall rise against you in judgment you shall condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord and there righteousness is of me saith the Lord. Okay. There it is. Beautiful.
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