Summary: A sermon on the importance of prioritizing your life the way that God commands.
.Text: 1 Cor 16:5-12, Title: Planning Your Life, Date/Place: NRBC, 4.22.12, AM
Opening illustration: Time management principles
Background to passage: Paul is tying up loose ends as many of us would do in extended communication. Most of these things include travel plans and so forth. But from these plans we can deduce Paul’s priorities for planning and the love for certain things that motivates those plans.
Main thought: As we plan our lives (tomorrow, next week, month, summer, vacations, long-term, life goals), there are certain principles that can guide us to make proper decisions and plans.
Love for God’s Church / Prioritize the Church (v. 5-7)
Paul plans to visit the church when he travels that way. But he says that he doesn’t want to come now, because he would only be passing through. He wants to spend the winter, or at least stay a while. A short time with the church at Corinth would not do. He felt like he wanted and needed some time with them. There were a few reasons for this: 1) the weather – travel was perilous from Nov to Mar. 2) Needed to pick up the offering that he just spoke of. 3) Need for discipleship – lots of issues for Paul to help the church work through. Paul’s concern was not that he just drop the letter bomb, and consider the problems fixed. He felt that he needed to be with them as they worked on the solutions and the theology behind them. He wanted to see the church thriving, and was willing to expend time and effort to do it. 4) His affection for them as brothers and as spiritual children.
Illustration: our discussion about priorities related to youth sports and our children, and what we are teaching them, in Maine, and in Knoxville, they do rec sports on Sunday mornings; our time will be more assaulted by things, and our culture will be less accomodating to church activities, so you must prioritize now,
We should be concerned about the church. We should love the brethren. And these two truths should help us prioritize and plan our schedule. When we love someone or something it will receive our time and effort. Obviously this can be taken too far. When people are overly committed (doesn’t happen often) this can lead to burnout. But can you imagine Paul saying, “Man, I am just so tired today, think I will sleep in” or “My thorn in the flesh is hurting, so I stay home” or “I would rather be riding my motorcycle today.” Or could you imagine a husband choosing to go on a deer hunting trip for the weekend the same week that his first child is born? So, would you say that gathering with the church is a priority in your life? Do you plan other things around it? Are there many things than regularly supplant it? Sometimes churches need outside help. 2) Do you really love the brethren? Do you have a genuine affection for the people of New River? Do you think of them often? Do you overlook faults and imperfections? Do you forgive them when you feel like you have been wronged? Do you miss them when they are gone/out? If not, why? Get specific: easy to say you’re a follower if no specific commitments are in view.
Love for God’s Son / Prioritize the Gospel (v. 8)
Paul then explains that a door has been opened by God for him in Ephesus. The word is in the perfect tense and this shows that the door (or opportunity if you would rather) is still open. Paul was concerned about discipleship, but he was always looking for opportunities to share the gospel. And his plans were always subject to God’s direction. If God opened a door for him, he walked through it. This is simply the plan for the Spirit-filled life – moment by moment obedience to His promptings and to the gospel.
Illustration: Although twenty life-boats and rafts were launched-too few and only partly filled-most of the passengers ended up struggling in the icy seas while those in the boats waited a safe distance away.
Lifeboat No. 14 did row back to the scene after the unsinkable ship slipped from sight at 2:20 A.m. Alone, it chased cries in the darkness, seeking and saving a precious few. Incredibly, no other boat joined it.
Some were already overloaded, but in virtually every other boat, those already saved rowed their half-filled boats aimlessly in the night, listening to the cries of the lost. Each feared a crush of unknown swimmers would cling to their craft, eventually swamping it. Neimoller said he wasted 30 minutes arguing philosophy with Hitler. He never told him about the love of Jesus Christ.
Do you look for opportunities to share the gospel? We must remind sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s moving in our lives in order to see/hear when those opportunities present themselves. Do you know the spiritual states of your friends and acquaintances? Do you plan times to get to know unbelievers? Are your plans always subject to God’s? Do you question, or talk yourself out of what God is leading you to do? How many of us have felt the leading of God to go on a mission trip, and later bailed for no significant reason? Do you view “interruptions” as God’s providence leading you? This is another lordship/followership question. We have tracts, invite cards, books on evangelism. Others will take you. Determine today that you will share your faith. Evangelism class forced us to.