Mar 11, 2018
Bethany’s Love for God, Barnwell, and the Nations: Gaining a Paul Mentality: Part Three
A Paul Mentality III
“The Cost of Finishing”
Acts 20:17-27; 36-38
Not Just Anybody
I see in Paul what I would like to be but am not yet. He is a good model to follow in the Christian life and having a good model is a good start. I read this week, “I always wanted to be somebody, but now I realize I should have been more specific” (Lily Tomlin). The same author said “the road to success is always under construction”. I do not know the lady, but I feel both quotes are humorous and true. Our personal aim should be to go higher, and to do that we must have a higher mark. Don’t just be anybody; model your life after great men and women of the faith, the greatest model being Jesus.
The Name above all Names
The Apostle Paul changed his name, or at least used his second name primarily, for the gospel sake. It was one of many things that he counted as loss for the excellency of Jesus Christ. There is debate on why he dropped Saul and picked up Paul. As mentioned above some hold to the fact that it was his second name much like I have two names but go by one. Others link the name change to Acts 13:12 where a high-ranking Gentile is converted, whose name was Sergius Paulus. Either way the name selection shows early on that Paul was captured by God’s grace and Christ was his supreme prize. Something as personal as his own name would not stand in his way to do the will of God and finish the course set before him. Over Paul’s missionary journeys he would suffer loss of health, friends, freedom, comfort, and self-dependence. Paul’s life looked like a slow execution, which suited the preacher. These losses peeled Paul back layer by layer and revealed the glory and power of Christ in his earthen vessel.
 
This is the Paul-like mentality we have been preaching. Paul treasured Jesus above all things. The shiniest items in life looked grey and dull compared to the bright beauty of the risen Lord. Saul was a dull name compared to the “Name above all Names” so he gladly dropped it to promote a name greater than his. It is this mentality that I pray each of us endeavor to adopt. It is simple, but difficult. It is life changing for the good. It is painful and joyful all at the same time, and it is something that is obtainable. I truly believe every Christian can have the Paul-like mentality to do what it takes to love God, Barnwell, and the Nations by adopting the following convictions Paul had about God and the Gospel of Jesus Christ:
I. Focus on Finishing (V:24)
Great visionaries can look beyond a single point in time and embrace the goal to come. Paul was such a visionary. He looked at the elders of the church and beyond. He looked at the hardships of Jerusalem and beyond. He looked at his life and beyond. He was looking at and through each point in time focusing on the finish line. The traps of the present lay before each of us. We look at what is all around us and count it as surplus. The moment we are in beckons us to stay and many settle with the present missing the blessings of the future. A Paul-like mentality is developed enjoying but not being trapped by the present. Where a person gazes determines their direction. Paul’s focus was on finishing and that is where he was heading!
Enduring to the End “So that I may FINISH my course”- The Christian life is a finished race (2nd Timothy 4:7). It is finished with endurance (Matthew 24:13) and a strong degree of difficulty, so Paul calls it a “fight”. He told Timothy to endure hardness “as a good solider of Jesus Christ” (2nd Timothy 2:3), because the Christians race has many difficult obstacles on the track. Paul spoke of himself as a runner “pressing toward” the finish line with all he had (Philippians 3:14). The Christian life is full hardships, but it is also overrunning with grace that helps us finish our race. Paul ran for God as an athlete in a crowded race. He ran to win! A church with a Paul like mentality looks to Jesus, paces themselves, and sweats into glory. Walk, jog, sprint, crawl, but whatever you do set your mind on finishing. There are many who have shown us how to run the race of faith. The writer of Hebrews tells us we are surrounded by a “great cloud of witnesses” that teach us to throw off excess baggage that keeps us from winning. The greatest witness is Jesus who pressed toward the cross every day of His life. He embraced the call of God and never turned back.
 
Jesus taught that once you begin do not look back, for those that look back are not fit for the kingdom of God (Luke 9:62). The writer of Hebrews tells us that if we are mindful from where we came, we will return to that place (Hebrews 11:15). Genesis tells of Sodom and Gomorrah’s destruction. While Lot and his family fled from the rain of fire, Lot’s wife “looked back” and was destroyed (Genesis 19:26). Jesus teaches His disciples to “remember Lot’s wife” and do not value your life or it will be lost. All these New Testament teachings express the importance of starting the Christian life with the end in mind and never looking back. Count the cost of the building and war ahead that awaits Christian living and make provision or you will not succeed (Luke 14:28-33). Enduring to the end is important for it reveals the grace of God that a person claims to have. Paul knew the scriptures and this knowledge empowered him to endure for the glory of God and sake of man. What is Bethany Baptist doing with the biblical knowledge we have? Are we running and enduring? Or are we watching from the couch of life? Couch potatoes cannot win the race.
Ready to Lose “neither count I my life dear”- Last week I stated that Paul got his mentality from the life and teachings of Jesus. Matthew 16:25 struck at and stuck to the heart of Paul “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.” Paul wrote in Philippians 3:8 that he lost all things and counted them as rubbish that he might win Christ. He said his sufferings were not to be compared with the glory that will be revealed in him (Romans 8:18). Paul desired to finish his course to the point he would lose any and all things to finish. The mindset to lose is necessary in order to win as a Christian. I would like each of us to examine the good gifts of God. Family, friends, money, houses, cars, vacations, and all the other things in life that are precious to us. Which of these things are you not prepared to lose for Jesus? Now I ask you to prepare your heart to pray with me and tell Jesus that we are not ready to lose. Let’s confess together that we are not to that point, but let’s not stop there. Together prepare to pray with me that we will gain the “ready to lose” mindset for the glory of God so none of these things will have the power to hinder us from the race that we are to run.
Question: Where is your heart’s focus?
II. Have Faith Beyond Faces (V:25;36-38)
Good-byes are extremely hard especially in the case of not seeing another person in this life. Good-byes are even harder when one of the parties involved can change the outcome if they chose to stay. I once heard divorce described “a greater pain than death”, because the other party had a say in leaving. Paul could have stayed with his friends. He had accomplished more in one life time than anyone else could have done in ten. Timothy could have taken over and Paul could have settled in to some retirement at a local church, instead he decided to leave those he discipled. It was admirable, but heartbreaking. Each face that beheld Paul had to have Christian faith beyond the face of Paul, and Paul had to do the same.
Faces cannot be the foundation of Faith- I look at my wife, children, and the faces of each of you and love fills my heart. I like seeing you every Sunday, and I love seeing the faces of Tara, Isaiah, Elijah, Malachi, and Nehemiah each day. I am surrounded by beauty on every side, but this beauty is temporal and faces will fade. Paul knew this truth and built his life and ministry of Jesus Christ. Faces fade, as I am speaking we are all fading. I ask you today to get the Paul mentality and allow Jesus to command your life and not the faces in your life. Jesus taught in Matthew 10:37 against faces being the foundation of faith. It is impossible to love the face of the smiling person beside you more than Jesus and be a disciple of Jesus. Paul knew this truth and kept it close to his heart. He loved the faces about him, but not more than Jesus. More faces were ahead of him, more lives to touch, and a death to die. We can not be sure whose face Paul saw last before he was executed, but what we know is the person that look at his face last saw the face of a man who loved Jesus more than his own life.
Anne Askew, the daughter of a wealthy landowner in the time of Henry the VII, was burned to death for her faith on July 16, 1546 when she was 26 years old. Before her death she was tortured to the point her main joints were pulled out of socket. She did not let the consideration of wealth or missed faces hinder her from giving her all to Jesus. Before being dragged to the stake to be burned to death she was given one last chance to recant, to which she replied “I am not come hither to deny my Lord and Master.”
 
Question: What is your faith founded upon?
WatchNotesDownloadDateTitle
  • Mar 11, 2018Bethany’s Love for God, Barnwell, and the Nations: Gaining a Paul Mentality: Part Three
    Mar 11, 2018
    Bethany’s Love for God, Barnwell, and the Nations: Gaining a Paul Mentality: Part Three
    A Paul Mentality III
    “The Cost of Finishing”
    Acts 20:17-27; 36-38
    Not Just Anybody
    I see in Paul what I would like to be but am not yet. He is a good model to follow in the Christian life and having a good model is a good start. I read this week, “I always wanted to be somebody, but now I realize I should have been more specific” (Lily Tomlin). The same author said “the road to success is always under construction”. I do not know the lady, but I feel both quotes are humorous and true. Our personal aim should be to go higher, and to do that we must have a higher mark. Don’t just be anybody; model your life after great men and women of the faith, the greatest model being Jesus.
    The Name above all Names
    The Apostle Paul changed his name, or at least used his second name primarily, for the gospel sake. It was one of many things that he counted as loss for the excellency of Jesus Christ. There is debate on why he dropped Saul and picked up Paul. As mentioned above some hold to the fact that it was his second name much like I have two names but go by one. Others link the name change to Acts 13:12 where a high-ranking Gentile is converted, whose name was Sergius Paulus. Either way the name selection shows early on that Paul was captured by God’s grace and Christ was his supreme prize. Something as personal as his own name would not stand in his way to do the will of God and finish the course set before him. Over Paul’s missionary journeys he would suffer loss of health, friends, freedom, comfort, and self-dependence. Paul’s life looked like a slow execution, which suited the preacher. These losses peeled Paul back layer by layer and revealed the glory and power of Christ in his earthen vessel.
     
    This is the Paul-like mentality we have been preaching. Paul treasured Jesus above all things. The shiniest items in life looked grey and dull compared to the bright beauty of the risen Lord. Saul was a dull name compared to the “Name above all Names” so he gladly dropped it to promote a name greater than his. It is this mentality that I pray each of us endeavor to adopt. It is simple, but difficult. It is life changing for the good. It is painful and joyful all at the same time, and it is something that is obtainable. I truly believe every Christian can have the Paul-like mentality to do what it takes to love God, Barnwell, and the Nations by adopting the following convictions Paul had about God and the Gospel of Jesus Christ:
    I. Focus on Finishing (V:24)
    Great visionaries can look beyond a single point in time and embrace the goal to come. Paul was such a visionary. He looked at the elders of the church and beyond. He looked at the hardships of Jerusalem and beyond. He looked at his life and beyond. He was looking at and through each point in time focusing on the finish line. The traps of the present lay before each of us. We look at what is all around us and count it as surplus. The moment we are in beckons us to stay and many settle with the present missing the blessings of the future. A Paul-like mentality is developed enjoying but not being trapped by the present. Where a person gazes determines their direction. Paul’s focus was on finishing and that is where he was heading!
    Enduring to the End “So that I may FINISH my course”- The Christian life is a finished race (2nd Timothy 4:7). It is finished with endurance (Matthew 24:13) and a strong degree of difficulty, so Paul calls it a “fight”. He told Timothy to endure hardness “as a good solider of Jesus Christ” (2nd Timothy 2:3), because the Christians race has many difficult obstacles on the track. Paul spoke of himself as a runner “pressing toward” the finish line with all he had (Philippians 3:14). The Christian life is full hardships, but it is also overrunning with grace that helps us finish our race. Paul ran for God as an athlete in a crowded race. He ran to win! A church with a Paul like mentality looks to Jesus, paces themselves, and sweats into glory. Walk, jog, sprint, crawl, but whatever you do set your mind on finishing. There are many who have shown us how to run the race of faith. The writer of Hebrews tells us we are surrounded by a “great cloud of witnesses” that teach us to throw off excess baggage that keeps us from winning. The greatest witness is Jesus who pressed toward the cross every day of His life. He embraced the call of God and never turned back.
     
    Jesus taught that once you begin do not look back, for those that look back are not fit for the kingdom of God (Luke 9:62). The writer of Hebrews tells us that if we are mindful from where we came, we will return to that place (Hebrews 11:15). Genesis tells of Sodom and Gomorrah’s destruction. While Lot and his family fled from the rain of fire, Lot’s wife “looked back” and was destroyed (Genesis 19:26). Jesus teaches His disciples to “remember Lot’s wife” and do not value your life or it will be lost. All these New Testament teachings express the importance of starting the Christian life with the end in mind and never looking back. Count the cost of the building and war ahead that awaits Christian living and make provision or you will not succeed (Luke 14:28-33). Enduring to the end is important for it reveals the grace of God that a person claims to have. Paul knew the scriptures and this knowledge empowered him to endure for the glory of God and sake of man. What is Bethany Baptist doing with the biblical knowledge we have? Are we running and enduring? Or are we watching from the couch of life? Couch potatoes cannot win the race.
    Ready to Lose “neither count I my life dear”- Last week I stated that Paul got his mentality from the life and teachings of Jesus. Matthew 16:25 struck at and stuck to the heart of Paul “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.” Paul wrote in Philippians 3:8 that he lost all things and counted them as rubbish that he might win Christ. He said his sufferings were not to be compared with the glory that will be revealed in him (Romans 8:18). Paul desired to finish his course to the point he would lose any and all things to finish. The mindset to lose is necessary in order to win as a Christian. I would like each of us to examine the good gifts of God. Family, friends, money, houses, cars, vacations, and all the other things in life that are precious to us. Which of these things are you not prepared to lose for Jesus? Now I ask you to prepare your heart to pray with me and tell Jesus that we are not ready to lose. Let’s confess together that we are not to that point, but let’s not stop there. Together prepare to pray with me that we will gain the “ready to lose” mindset for the glory of God so none of these things will have the power to hinder us from the race that we are to run.
    Question: Where is your heart’s focus?
    II. Have Faith Beyond Faces (V:25;36-38)
    Good-byes are extremely hard especially in the case of not seeing another person in this life. Good-byes are even harder when one of the parties involved can change the outcome if they chose to stay. I once heard divorce described “a greater pain than death”, because the other party had a say in leaving. Paul could have stayed with his friends. He had accomplished more in one life time than anyone else could have done in ten. Timothy could have taken over and Paul could have settled in to some retirement at a local church, instead he decided to leave those he discipled. It was admirable, but heartbreaking. Each face that beheld Paul had to have Christian faith beyond the face of Paul, and Paul had to do the same.
    Faces cannot be the foundation of Faith- I look at my wife, children, and the faces of each of you and love fills my heart. I like seeing you every Sunday, and I love seeing the faces of Tara, Isaiah, Elijah, Malachi, and Nehemiah each day. I am surrounded by beauty on every side, but this beauty is temporal and faces will fade. Paul knew this truth and built his life and ministry of Jesus Christ. Faces fade, as I am speaking we are all fading. I ask you today to get the Paul mentality and allow Jesus to command your life and not the faces in your life. Jesus taught in Matthew 10:37 against faces being the foundation of faith. It is impossible to love the face of the smiling person beside you more than Jesus and be a disciple of Jesus. Paul knew this truth and kept it close to his heart. He loved the faces about him, but not more than Jesus. More faces were ahead of him, more lives to touch, and a death to die. We can not be sure whose face Paul saw last before he was executed, but what we know is the person that look at his face last saw the face of a man who loved Jesus more than his own life.
    Anne Askew, the daughter of a wealthy landowner in the time of Henry the VII, was burned to death for her faith on July 16, 1546 when she was 26 years old. Before her death she was tortured to the point her main joints were pulled out of socket. She did not let the consideration of wealth or missed faces hinder her from giving her all to Jesus. Before being dragged to the stake to be burned to death she was given one last chance to recant, to which she replied “I am not come hither to deny my Lord and Master.”
     
    Question: What is your faith founded upon?
  • Mar 4, 2018Bethany’s Love for God, Barnwell, and the Nations: Gaining a Paul Mentality: Part Two
    Mar 4, 2018
    Bethany’s Love for God, Barnwell, and the Nations: Gaining a Paul Mentality: Part Two
    Bethany’s Love for God, Barnwell and the Nations
    Embracing the Unknown Week 2
    Acts 20:17-25
     
    Last week we started preaching about developing the Paul mentality. That is, we know that Paul loved Jesus and people and nothing stopped him from showing that love, and we want that mindset. I want that mindset personally and I want us to have that mindset corporately. Bethany Baptist Church wants to show the love of God to Barnwell and all the nations. We exist to Love God, Love others, and Serve both and we do the best job of being who we are destined to be when we have a Paul like mentality.
    Why Paul’s Mentality?
    The reason we are after having Paul’s mentality is that he was very successful in following Christ. He worshiped God and served man unto death. He planted churches and affected countless lives. He reached out to people not like him and spent all he had for the glory of God and sake of man. Can we get that mentality? Can we operate like Paul? I believe we can.
    Proposition: We can have the Paul like mentality to do what it takes to Love God, Barnwell, and the Nations.
    Transition: By adopting the following convictions Paul had about God and the Gospel:
     
    I. Embrace the Unknown (v:22-23)
     
    How do you picture the Christian life? Is it a well-planned, well managed, well equipped life? Or is it more of an adventure that you plan for, but are never prepared for? What I have discovered is trying to live the “well maintained” Christian life is a struggle. Trying to stay away from adventures and hardships are draining and unfulfilling. I believe Paul was on to something when he decided to embrace the unknown. I think this mentality of Paul’s helped him survive and thrive as a Christian leader. I will go a step further and say I truly believe it is a biblical teaching to embrace the unknown if we are to follow Jesus to the fullest. To verify this giant claim let us look at the teachings of Jesus, James, and Paul
    A. Jesus- Matthew 6:25-33
    Fearing the unknown cripples Christians. If I do “a” then “b” may happen. We begin to think of the negatives of following Jesus or being saved. “If I follow Jesus my family and friends will look at me differently, I may not care about my own pleasures any more, I may miss my old hang outs, habits, hopes. If I follow Jesus everything I hold dear will fade”. The fears of what the future may hold keeps us captive more than we want to admit. Volunteering may interfere with something you like. Giving may interfere with something you want to buy. Traveling to spread the gospel may put you in situations you do not like. Jesus taught to take “no thought” or do not let thoughts of temporary things hinder you from eternal reward.
    Why Did Jesus Teach This? Natural desire for food, drink, and comfort is very powerful. It is so powerful that it can hinder true life. These things can consume us while disguising themselves as good. Jesus taught that life is “more” than food, drink, and comfort. These things are not to be the determining factor in what we do in life.
    What more is there to life? If I told a group of people like you that the highest pleasure and good in life is to do the will of God only the Christians of the group would give me audience. It sounds ludicrous to the natural man that wealth, health, a beautiful woman, and seeing the world was not the height of all heights. We are told that the working from 20-60 is all about getting the American dream, so that when we are older we can “live it up”. Yet Jesus lived and taught that the will of God is supreme and the high mark of our existence. Jesus placed a supreme price on doing the will of God. Many Christians refuse the will because food, drink, and comfort may be or will be compromised. If food, drink, and comfort come before God then they are idols and God is not supreme.
    What is the main theme in Jesus’s teaching? God is supreme above food, drink, pleasure, comfort, and anything or anyone else. Jesus lived a life and died a death that witnessed to the fact God is supreme. When our thought life is saturated with bare necessities and comforts of life following Jesus is brought to a halt. Jesus desires that His followers get the bigger picture of life. Paul’s mentality came from Jesus’ teachings? Where do you get your mentality?
    Question: Is God supreme in your thought life?
    B. James- James 4:13-14
    You do not know what will happen so trust in Jesus and bind yourself to His will. James had a “work now trust God attitude”. The business of tomorrow should not affect the work of today.
    What Occupies Your Day? To what you give your mind and time you give your life. James knowing the temptation and weight of worldly plans and gain, encouraged believers to measure life as a water vapor. Serve God today, worship Him as supreme today, plan tomorrow in the light of eternity because your life may not make it till tomorrow, but it will make it to eternity. Spend your money wisely, conduct business wisely, plan wisely, but do so in view of eternity for you are nearer eternity than tomorrow. Paul occupied his mind with eternal things. These eternal things were pleasant to Paul and I believe he described them as the “whatsoever things” listed in Philippians 4:8 which were a direct result of his decision to go to Jerusalem.
    Why Does Worldly Gain Mean so Much? Gain means security. It means we can eat, drink, and have the comfort we desire. We can afford vacations, doctors, insurance, educations, gym memberships, food, and many other things that give us security. James did not see these things as ultimate security. He saw them as hindrances to do the will of God. He saw them as smoke and mirrors. James saw real life as vanishing away no matter the plots and planning of man. James knew God as the real gain in life and nothing was to distract from that truth. Paul looked at his worldly gains and counted them as loss for the excellency of Christ. The Paul mentality places value you on eternity not temporal gains.
    Question: Do you live today with eternity in view?
    C.Paul- Paul’s ministry was marked by adventure. He planned mission trips and went into cities with gospel plans, but every time he turned around he was being beat, imprisoned, thrown out of cities, and ridiculed. He did not retreat, rather he embraced the unknown of the mission.
    Bound in the Spirit- Paul was a driven man. He had been captured by the glory of Christ years ago on Damascus road. What and Who he saw changed him forever. It is debated what Paul meant when he stated he was “bound in the spirit”. Some say it was his own desire to go, and others say he was bound to the Spirit of God. Either way he was compelled by an impulse that was greater than him. He was united with a desire that moved him beyond fear and brought him to embrace the unknown.
    Going to Jerusalem-Paul loved the city and the people. He wanted to be there more than anywhere else. Dangerous and unknown what would happen Paul moved in the direction of the city.
    Not Knowing- The embrace of the unknown is a hard thing, but it is a necessary thing. Faith is not knowing, but going for God anyway. Abraham did not know where he was going when God called him from his home. David did not know what was to befall him when he was anointed king. When a couple is married they do not know what lies ahead of them, but they walk the path anyway, bound by promise when love seems to fade, they walk on. Not knowing is not to equal not going.
    What Paul Knew-The Holy Spirit told Paul, repeatedly, he would be chained and afflicted if he went to Jerusalem. I for one would have believed God didn’t want me to go. It would seem God was warning me to keep my health and freedom, but Paul saw it as knowing Christ “and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death” (Philippians 3:10). The unknown nor the known changed Paul’s mind. A Paul mentality is a mentality that says, I will go forward into the dense for of life for the glory of God and sake of man.
    Why Paul Went- Paul was heading to Jerusalem to share the message of God’s grace and the forgiveness of sins. Paul states in Romans 9:3 “For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh”. Paul, if possible, would have taken hell for his people to gain Christ. He could not take hell for them, but he could take chains and afflictions to reach all that he could.
    Question: What drives you to serve Jesus?
  • Feb 25, 2018Bethany’s Love for God, Barnwell, and the Nations: Gaining a Paul Mentality: Part One
    Feb 25, 2018
    Bethany’s Love for God, Barnwell, and the Nations: Gaining a Paul Mentality: Part One
    Bethany’s Love for God, Barnwell, and the Nation
    Acts 20:12-24
    This is my 10th year of pastoring Bethany Baptist Church. The past decade for me has been filled with God’s glory. I have personally witnessed the power of His Word, His People, and His grace. I am not the only one who has witnessed these things. There are many in this congregation that have been a vital part of the ministry of Bethany. We have watched God work while we work. We have walked through buildings projects, baptisms, missions, fire, fundraising, and glorious worship services. We have experienced marriages, births, deaths, salvations, sickness, healing, blessings of hard work, unity, and a move that proved we were not a congregation built by location or buildings but a people founded on the gospel of Jesus Christ.
     
    We are an imperfect people that have failed, are failing, and will fail and yet in Christ we succeed. His grace has proven sufficient in our many weaknesses and God has not let us go. Today I can proclaim Bethany Loves God, Barnwell, and the Nations and we will continue to do these things walking together toward the future until one day our children and grandchildren will pick up the torch we lit and march on. Some of them may march on from here and plant other churches, reach other towns, influence other cultures, write songs, feed the hungry, or they may stay here in Barnwell and continue to do great work in this rural community.
     
    We will teach them to Love God, Barnwell, and the Nations. Hopefully they will look back on us, the planters of this church, and see what we cannot see today. Soldiers of the cross, strong men and women that stood for biblical truth without wavering, people that bore the burden in the heat of the day, those that prayed, cried, gave, and served through hurt, pain, and exhaustion but by the grace of God moved forward to show the Love of Jesus to Barnwell and the nations.
     
    A Hard Task
    Experience and God’s Word has taught me that the task to Love God, Barnwell, and the Nations is a large task. The call is a costly one. And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. (Luke 9:23). If we read the text like it is there is no denying that following Jesus is a great call meant for the fully determined who do not count their life dear! Do we expect fatigue, pain, stress, sorrow, and execution of ourselves? If we get this we have gotten the cross and all the glorious suffering of it. Loving God is a costly affair!
     
    What makes the Great task of following possible?
    Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:2). The writer of Hebrews says “joy” is the fuel. Joy that God is Supreme, Jesus is Savior, and the Spirit is Comforter. It is “joy” that will cause each person here and the church as a whole to Love God, Barnwell, and the Nations through the carrying of the cross. Does the joy you have in Jesus fuel you today?
     
    Loving God, Barnwell, and the Nations to Death.
    What caused a handful of people to start Bethany Baptist Church? What caused men and women, some which have given to financial hurt, physical fatigue, and moaning’s of the soul to continue? What causes people to invite friends and neighbors weekly? What caused Bro. Al and Ms. Debbie to relocate to Barnwell? Why did Ruth and Scott move their family to Barnwell? I would say it was the joyous drive to love, honor, and serve God. Why are we encouraging people to adopt a neighborhood for Easter, attend mission week, serve at VBS, and help fund a 10-year revival celebration during this year? Because we love God, Barnwell, and the Nations. And the more we prize God the farther we will carry our cross, the more I love for God and our community will show. Who wants to blaze a glory trail through the county?
     
    E/C can have the Paul like mentality to do what it takes to Love God, Barnwell, and the Nations
    By adopting the following convictions Paul had about God and the Gospel
     
    I. Hold Nothing Back (V:20)
     
    Paul claimed “I am debtor both to the Greeks, and to the Barbarians; both to the wise, and to the unwise.” (Romans 1:14) He, by the gospel of Jesus, was obligated to preach the gospel to all people. Paul pens his all out holding nothing back mentality like this: And I will very gladly spend and be spent for you; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved.” (2nd Corinthians 12:15). We can conclude that:
     
    Paul gladly spent- There was no “woe is me” in Paul’s spending of self and substance. He did not have a limit where he hated preaching and serving Jesus. Paul had a pleasantness about him in his successes and sorrows in ministry. Paul’s teachings to the Corinthians concerning giving had a similar ring: Corinthians 9:7 “Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.” Our spending physically and financially should have a cheerful overtone. Notice the text says what a man has decided in his heart. The gift has been mentally and spiritually calculated occurring to the gospel and the release of the sacrificial gift is done with joy. Have you ever given charitably to the cause of Christ knowing that was your out to eat money? Did you go home smiling that you were eating food cooked out the can that day instead of a steak? Have you ever served another knowing those you served would like you the less or care less? Paul had the “I will give you respect rather you give it or not” mentality. This great weapon of cheer, gladness, and joy in the gospel empowered Paul to be Paul!
     
    The Question for Bethany Baptist is: Do we pray cheerfully for others, invite others to Christ cheerfully, worship cheerfully, give cheerfully, serve cheerfully? Do we have that Paul mentality? As we move toward Easter and beyond in 2018 will we spend gladly? Will we hold nothing back?
     
    Paul Measured Gladness differently- He spent everything gave up his very life and was “loved” less and less. People’s appreciation did not affect Paul’s desire to spend. If you applauded Paul he loved and preached; if you booed he loved and preached. His pleasantness in loving, though he was not loved, was based of the joy of the supremacy of Jesus Christ. I do not preach to hear how could I did, or if I connected with this generation, or to be labeled a toe-stomping preacher. I preach because of Jesus. If the seats are filled I preach if they are empty I preach. If volunteers show up I preach if they lay out I preach. If the money bags are full I preach and if they are empty I preach. Jesus must be the motivation to spend and be spent or your spending is in vain. As a church and personally we need to be reminded early and often our prize for giving is not new things, our inviting is not to fill seats, our praying is not for show, our serving is not for acceptance or appreciation, but it is all to please God! All the others things can be added to us, but our sole goal is to please God for He is supreme!
     
    Assuming the role of happiness (Acts 26:2)- Later in the book of Acts Paul is standing before King Agrippa awaiting trial. He told the king his position was a “blessed”, “happy”, “fortunate” position that others should “envy”. The Greek word he used for “happy” carries with it those ideas. Paul stepped up to speak as a prisoner, examined his surroundings, his audience, and declared it a position to be envied! Do we do that? Do I get out of bed, get a feel of the day, and say “this is a GREAT PLACE TO BE”? Do we come to worship and look around and declare “I am fortunate”? Do we look at God, Barnwell, and the Nations and say “what a privilege to spend and be spent here”? Let’s change the way we measure the great opportunities to pray, serve, sing, give, and suffer for the cause of Christ!
     
    Everything gave Him the “nothing” attitude- (1st Corinthians 3:21) Paul knew that Christians were given all things. Salvation through Jesus Christ, The Spirit of God to indwell them, and a Father who made them heirs of all things with Jesus. The sure promises of God made Paul say “nothing”, even his own life, held him back for all is his in Jesus Christ! Wouldn’t that be a motto to have “nothing”? Nothing can separate us from the love of Christ and nothing can stop us from growing and spreading the love of God to Barnwell and the nations.
     
    Much Gain Lost (Philippians 3:7)- Paul looked at all he gained, his surplus in life, he examined his name, breed, education, money, and life and decided not to get his value there. It is basic Christianity to deny yourself, forsake all, and follow Christ. Paul had a lot to forsake and he was able to do it. Where you get your value determines your power. Paul wanted to draw his strength from God who is all powerful and everlasting.
     
    How did Paul forsake gain? He looked at the infinite glory of Jesus Christ and decided nothing he had could compare with the glory that was to be revealed. Loving God, Barnwell, and the Nations with a Paul like mentality will take an evaluation of all that you hold dear and pleasing a big minus mark beside it. When you stack all you have dear together you may have a well put together idol, but does it compare to the thrice holy God? Is what you have or what you do greater than God? Is there anything you can compare to the majesty of our King? This morning let’s look at everything we have and measure it to the eternally vast worth of God. Let us ask what can we do, give, how can we pray, live, and serve God, Barnwell, and the Nations the rest of the year.
    Application: What in life holds you back from showing others the Love you have for God, Barnwell, and the Nations?