Bethany’s Love for God, Barnwell, and the Nations: Gaining a Paul Mentality: Part One


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Sermon Notes

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?