Faithlife Sermons


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I think that it would be good to review your life ever so often. The reason being, we want to live a life with "no regrets." What better way to have that than to take an inventory every couple of years.

2 Corinthians 7:1-11


This week Linda and I drove to Greenville Texas to have dinner with Jack and Dana Newton. Jack has preached at this church. On the way my wife asked me the most interesting question. "Looking back through our lives is there anything that you regret or would change?" I would have to say that this question caught me unaware and it took me several minutes of just pondering my life before I could give an answer. And as I thought back through my life I realized there were several areas of my life that I regretted. Number one on that list were the years that I was out of fellowship with God. I will not know how many people we did not reach for Jesus until I stand before Him.
I believe that we all have things we would change in our lives or regrets? Would you agree to that statement? Well would you be shocked to know that God had regrets about creating man? In the sixth chapter of the book of Genesis states exactly that: “And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.”
I remember when the JVC and Sony were battling for supremacy in the home video recording market. JVC brought out the VHS (Video Home System) and Sony introduced the Beta format. The VHS format eventually won over the market. How exciting it would be to be able to record a television program and then later watch it at your own leisure. You could record a football game that started at noon when the preacher went long then you could just watch it when he got home. Recent technology has brought us the “DVR” (digital video recorder). The DVR has taken video recording to a new level. You can record any program at anytime, watch one program while you're recording another, replay any recording, which is especially good when viewing sporting events. You can even delete certain programs or scenes.
When Linda asked me if I had any regrets, I thought, “Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have a DVR for our life?” Wouldn’t it would be great to sit down with a glass of tea and watch our lives again as they actually happened, and not the way we remember them? Imagine fast-forwarding over those scenes in our lives that we would just as soon forget? You wouldn’t necessarily have to watch those times that were too painful to watch again. You could even delete some events from your life like they didn’t even happen? You would create your “life”, the high-lights so to speak.
Let's pretend that just for a moment that we are here on January 1, 2012 and we are reviewing 2011 through our DVR. Would your life be seen in exactly the same scenes as the previous year? Will there be areas you would fast-forward through? We can’t answer that question because it hasn’t happened yet.
What do you hope to accomplish in this year, 2011? People come up with all sorts of “New Year’s Resolutions” but normally find that within months, and sometimes weeks the resolution is broken. So the question I pose to you on January 2, 2011 is what do you want to see on your “DVR” when you review it in one year?
As with all video’s that are taken of families and outings, there are some scenes that are beautiful and crystal clear. But other scenes are out of focus or the picture isn’t framed correctly as people’s heads are cut out of the video. I would suggest that there will be portions that you would want to cut out of the video (taking pictures of the ground when you thought you had the camera turned off, etc.).
To review 2011 with our DVR on January 1, 2012, you will have to watch the good and bad. Even if you fast-forward, the scenes are still there. What if you could not delete any portion of the video? What if the whole world was going to watch the life you lived in 2011? I am sure that in my life there would be events that I would want to fast-forward or delete so that others could not see. But what if you couldn’t fast forward or delete, but had to sit on the front row as others watched your life in 2011?
While we certainly can't project the events for 2011, we certainly can take the steps to make 2011 the best year of our lives. We can take steps today and every day they would ensure that on January 1, 2012 we will be very happy with the recording of our life that took place in 2011 and place the recording at the feet of Jesus as an offering.
Today's passage is taken from 2 Corinthians 7:1-11. 2 Corinthians is the second epistle, letter, of Paul writing to the church at Corinth. This letter was written around 55-50 A.D., from Macedonia, about a year after writing the first epistle to the church at Corinth.
Paul sent this letter to the church by Timothy but news had given a picture of problems in the church growing worse. We do not know what caused the church to have a rebellion. Paul sent Titus to Corinth to ensure that the church followed the teaching and orders Paul had given them.
Paul had promised the Corinthians that he would visit them (1 Cor. 16:3–7), but circumstances hampered his plans. Paul made his way to Macedonia. It was there that Titus and Paul were reunited. Titus gave Paul the news that the most of the congregation at Corinth would follow his teaching and obey his word. The emotion of this news, prompted Paul to write his second letter. This letter is full of emotion, passion and opens the reader to the “heart” of Paul.
This letter includes several important points:
Paul commends the church for disciplining the offender cited in 1 Corinthians 5. But he also wanted to encourage them to forgive and receive him (2 Corinthians 2:6–11).
Paul explains the reasons why his plans had changed and his visit was delayed (1 Corinthians 16:3–7, 2 Corinthians 1:15–22).
Paul also had to answer the charges that were laid upon his “apostolic authority” (2 Corinthians 10–12).
Besides the challenge to his authority, he also had to answer to those that accused him “of dishonesty, walking in craftiness, and handling the word of God deceitfully” (2 Corinthians 4:1-2).
Paul also wanted to encourage them to help, in the form of an offering, for the saints in Jerusalem (2 Corinthians 8–9).
And finally to prepare them for his planned visit (2 Corinthians 13).
The role of Paul is in sharp contrast in each of the two letters. In his first epistle, Paul’s role is the teacher and the administrator. The second letter is like you would be sitting in his pastoral office as he ministered to his flock as the role of the loving pastor.
I have given you the background into this second letter to the Church at Corinth so that you would understand Paul’s mind at its writing. While we will discover this book later, I want to focus on just a couple of verses today.
What causes a church that was in such disarray and contempt for Paul, to have an “earnest desire…mourning…fervent mind toward me; so that I rejoiced the more.” (2 Corinthians 7:5-7)? Repentance!
2 Corinthians 7:5-8 ¶ For, when we were come into Macedonia, our flesh had no rest, but we were troubled on every side; without were fightings, within were fears. 6 Nevertheless God, that comforteth those that are cast down, comforted us by the coming of Titus; 7 And not by his coming only, but by the consolation wherewith he was comforted in you, when he told us your earnest desire, your mourning, your fervent mind toward me; so that I rejoiced the more. 8 For though I made you sorry with a letter, I do not repent, though I did repent: for I perceive that the same epistle hath made you sorry, though it were but for a season.
Paul addresses that his letter made many readers sorrowful, and that he was sorry in writing it. Not being sorry for what he had to say, but that it hurt the hearers.
2 Corinthians 7:9 Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance: for ye were made sorry after a godly manner, that ye might receive damage by us in nothing.
Now we come to the main point of this message. Paul is rejoicing that the letter caused many to come to repentance.
I don’t know of anyone who fully and totally likes to be “put down” and told that what they are doing, or saying, is wrong. No one really takes criticism constructively, without first going through a period of guilt, shame, anger, frustration and sorrow. But in many cases that is exactly what we need.
In my role as the pastor of this church, there have been times, and even perhaps many times where you did not agree with me. It is only natural as I sit in the position of Elder of this church. There have been messages preached where perhaps I have stepped on your toes. Honestly, that should happen every time I preach. Not because I am telling you what to do or how to live your life, but instead that it is the Holy Spirit that is working on your soul. I have never preached a message yet that I didn’t feel inadequate as the message worked my heart and soul over first. I cannot preach a message and not hit the altar. I have a reflective mirror in front of me that shows me all my faults, failures and sins; that is the Word of God. Every time I open it my emotions are challenged. Joy, love, awe and heartache at every verse. I honestly don’t know how so many of you have never once been to the altar in the last five years! Are your hearts so cold?
That is the audience that Paul’s second letter was sent. And his joy is that they saw the truth and found repentance.
2 Corinthians 7:10 For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.
Can we today afford to continue in the same way we live our lives in 2011 as we did in 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007 and 2006?
2 Corinthians 7:11 For behold this selfsame thing, that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you, yea, what clearing of yourselves, yea, what indignation, yea, what fear, yea, what vehement desire, yea, what zeal, yea, what revenge! In all things ye have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter.
Herein is the result of true repentance. The church at Corinth corrected the man that was causing the internal problems in the church. At the same time they began correcting their own internal problems. This “clearing of yourselves” began a full work in their personal and church lives.
For behold this self-same thing” – “Godly sorrow worketh repentance” caused in their own case the happy effects of godly sorrow. This repentance produces a changed life. Each of them could see the results.
“What carefulness.” The word ‘carefulness’ means speed, haste; then diligence, and earnest effort. This means that they were diligent and with great care they took care of removing the evils in themselves. They did not sit down and bemoan the fact that they had sins, they took action among themselves to do the work to remove them. They did not wait for God to do the cleansing, they did not make excuses. They got to work. When Christians are convicted of sin, they will remove it with great haste. If God has convicted you of sin in your heart, and you have not diligently attacked the sin to remove it, you should be asking the question; “Why aren’t you?”
“What clearing of yourselves” is the same word that we use for ‘apology’. The root word means to make a plea or defense before a court. To make an apology before each other, to ‘clear the air’ if you will, was the will of the church. They ‘rooted’ out the sin by admitting to it. The Church at Corinth wanted to show Titus how they went about to set themselves and the church free of the past. Deep feelings usually accompany an apology, and the church rose to the occasion to address the problems and free them from the evil.
“Yea, what indignation” - ‘hatred’ against the sin. True repentance will cause people to ‘hate’ sin and its crippling affects.
“Yea, what fear” The fear spoken of is that the sins and acts would be repeated, or not removed. This definition causes me to dig within my heart. When I have been convicted of sin and asked for forgivness, did I have a fear that the “sin that so easily besets” me would return. Am I constantly weary and on the lookout for its return? Do I fear its return?
“Yea, what vehement desire” - . We don’t use the word ‘vehement’ much these days. I only use it when quoting verses, but it is the ‘passionate or intense’ desire. Their passionate desire to clear their name by the removal of sin and evil in their church.
“Yea, what zeal” They had great enthusiasm to the point of fanaticism to remove the sin. This was no time to sit around and have a committee meeting. This was a time of reformation in their church in a serious, solemn and intense way.
“Yea, what revenge!” This denotes that the church set about to clear the sin that they set about inflicting punishment on the offender as well as themselves. They took revenge on the one who was hurting the church. The Greek word ekdikhsin for revenge defines it as “maintenance of right, protection” which was carried out. No ‘namby-pamby’ Christianity here. These people meant business with the Lord and if “sin was in the camp” that was an affront to God, they were going to ‘eradicate’ it.
“In all things” Paul’s words encompass the total act of the church, “in all things.” Nothing was kept back. Nothing was hidden from Paul, therefore nothing was hidden from the Lord.
What will your DVR reveal about you on January 1, 2012?
What will the next year of action or inaction of this church say about us to this community?
Do we want to be full of apologies on that day or full of Joy that we have taken the steps to remove the offenders and our sins before God?
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