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Paulís New Yearís Resolution

Pastor Gary Buchman
Emmitsburg Community Bible Church

(1/11) Every year at this time, I go back and re-read 2 Cor. 5. I preached this one year and was mocked for it. I also wrote about this for this monthís ENJ. Paul was a very educated man and a deep thinker. Some of the stuff he wrote in the New Testament is deep stuff and requires that the reader stop and meditate on what he is saying. Peter understood this. Peter was a waterman. A Fisherman. He never went to college, not even community college. But he did spend 3 years with Jesus. One day Peter and John were arrested and brought before the high priest. They proceeded to tell the priests about Jesus and this is what Luke records for us, "Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus." (Acts 4:13) But when Peter wrote his 2 second letter this is what he says about Paulís writings. "and consider that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvationóas also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, 16 as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures," (2 Pet. 3:15-16). Romans 1-11 is an excellent example of how hard some of Paulís writings are to understand.

But 2 Corinthians is a very personal letter in which Paul shares his heart with a church that doesnít share his heart. In fact, some thought Paul was over the edge. By the way, if you truly have been born again and start to trust and obey Jesus, people will say, "You are over the edge, you have lost it, you are crazy, you are beside yourself. You have become a fanatic." Paul wasnít living for fame or fortune. He no longer was looking for a promotion. In fact, he was willing to walk away from fame and fortune, and suffer horribly, so people wouldnít have to suffer eternally. In Acts 26, Paul is telling King Agrippa about Jesusís life, death, and resurrection and Governor Festus who was beside Agrippa says this, "Now as he thus made his defense, Festus said with a loud voice, "Paul, you are beside yourself! Much learning is driving you mad!" But Paul was in good company as Jesusí own family said the same thing about Him. Mark tells us this, "Then the multitude came together again, so that they could not so much as eat bread. 21 But when His own people heard about this, they went out to lay hold of Him, for they said, "He is out of His mind," (3:20-21). Has anyone told you that you are out of your mind? Gone mad? A little nutsy cuckoo? I have!

Well, I digress, Paulís resolution for his life is in verse 9, and "I want to be well pleasing to God in everything I do." I want to honor Him in all I do. I want Him to be proud of me. I want to do what I do for His honor. I want my whole life to be a living, "thank you." In his first letter to this church he said this in 10:31, "Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God."

III. Paulís Reasoning for His Resolve (2 Cor. 5:10-17)

There are several reasons why Paul had this resolve. Write these down!

A. Paul knew what he had been rescued from. He knew what his life was about and where he was headed apart from Godís grace. Listen to what he writes to his young protťgť Timothy, "And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord who has enabled me, because He counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry, 13 although I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man; but I obtained mercy because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. 14 And the grace of our Lord was exceedingly abundant, with faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. 15 This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief. 16 However, for this reason I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show all longsuffering, as a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him for everlasting life." He saved me, a wretch, a worm, a sinner of the worse degree.

B. Paul had a desire for bad sinners to know grace. If Go can save me he can save anyone. Often people who have discovered grace want to share grace with those who struggled with the same sins they did before Jesus. They want to minister to drug addicts, alcoholics, in mates, single moms, etc.

C. Paul knew that every believer has a day of reckoning, because like it or not, we are accountable for what we do with the gift of grace (2 Cor. 5:10). Do I hide it or invest it?

D. Paul knew that the lost also have a day of reckoning (v. 11). They will receive just punishment for the things they have done contrary to Godís will. It is called the great white throne judgment. God is a holy God and His holiness demands a reckoning from saved and sinner alike. The difference being that the saved will receive or lose rewards. The sinner will receive eternal punishment for their sins.

E. Paul was haunted by the love of God (v. 14). It wasnít Marleyís ghost, but it was the love of God that would become as one of us, and touch the untouchables like tax collectors, prostitutes, and lepers, and would die for his enemies. The word, Ďcompels,í or Ďconstrains,í means to be caught in an irresistible flow. It is pressure that controls. It is like being on a crowded escalator, or on a boat in white water, or in the center lane of a traffic jam. You have to go with the flow. "What wondrous love is this o my soul, what wondrous love is this o my soul." "I stand amazed in the presence of Jesus the Nazarene, and wonder how he could me, a sinner condemned unclean." Amazing love how can it be, that thou my God shouldst die for me." He could not escape it or get over it. Listen to Romans 5:6-9, "For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.

F. He understood that the Holy Spirit of God had moved into his life. Christ lived in Him. Because Christ wants to minister to the world through him and through you and me. Buddy Greene who co-wrote- Mary Did You Know, wrote and recorded a song that says this, "Now the hope of the Gospel is Christ in me, so full of His love that I will be, a shining light for all to see, that Iím in Christ and Heís in me." Paul wrote in Galatians 2:19-20; "For I through the law died to the law that I might live to God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me." Friends listen the purpose for the Holy Spirit living in us is so that we can love and live and minister as Jesus Christ in this world. God wants to reach people through you and me. Do you really get this?

G. Paul believed he owed his life to God and he would live his life accordingly. Thatís why he would write in 1 Cor. 6 and 7, that we are not our own, we have been redeemed, or purchased out of the slave market, bought with a price. Peter reminds us that the payment was not with money but with the precious blood of Jesus. Our lives and liberty belong to our redeemer, (5:14-15). If I could, I would ask you to spend the day thinking about these 7 things and if you agree with Paul, write your resolve.

IV. Peopleís Reaction to Paulís Resolve (2 Cor. 5:13)

We spoke of this earlier, people thought Paul had lost his mind. And people including your closest family will think that you have lost yours. Sometimes you will even think you have lost yours. There will be no logical or earthly reason for your sacrifices or pursuits, but your Father will be honored.

V. My Response To Paulís Resolve (2 Cor. 5:14-15)

I would like to spend the next few moments challenging you to respond to Paulís resolve. In doing so, I want to give you not 3 but just one suggestion. If you will follow this one suggestion we can change the world. Itís that profound. As preachers, I know we overwhelm you sometimes with the staggering numbers like 259 million Americans that have never heard a clear gospel presentation, or the billions that have never heard the name of Jesus, or the billions of lost people in the world. And we think what can I do? Hereís what you can do.

Resolved. I will touch one life every day for God. You may not be able to change the world or reach masses of people like Billy Graham. But you can touch on life every day. You can make a difference and change the world one life at a time. Every day, ask God to show you one person that you can touch today for Him.

Listen, on occasions, Jesus preached to masses of people, but he never started a church, he never tried to grow a church. He spent the majority of His time touching lives - one at a time. His life was about touching lives for the Father.

Debbie challenged me with this several months ago and then recently I heard another pastor say the same thing. Here is what He said, "Pastor Andy Stanley taught us years ago to "Do for one what you canít do for all." I love hearing leaders around our church say this to each other. This one thought completely changed the way we do missions, benevolence, evangelism, and a whole host of ministries around our community. It also freed me up personally. I love striking up conversations with strangers, but now I donít feel the pressure to engage every stranger I meet. My goal is to talk to somebody new every day and engage them in deep conversation." Here are some suggestions:

ē Think of someone to call or text or face book and encourage them. Send a card with a hand-written note in it. Even if your note simply says, Hallmark wrote this but it perfectly says what I want to say. Remind them of Godís love and your appreciation for them.

ē Take dinner to a shut in or the sick, or a needy person, OR, someone who is extremely busy for whatever reason. We love to tell how a lady did that for us when Debbie directed VBS. She just showed up every every evening that week with a pic a nic basket.

ē Take a person or a couple, who may not be able to go on their own, out to dinner at a nice restaurant in Jesus name (Luke 14:12-14) or invite them to your house.

ē Make your pastor some oatmeal raisin, chocolate chip, or oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. (How did this one get in here?) Just because!

ē Think of someone and take a flower, send a card, a cup of coffee and put a smile of awe on their face (Like Stacy Doss). You did this for no particular reason. Or maybe do it for an adversary. When we left Taneytown, the worship leader had in my opinion poorly chosen to side with the opposition to our ministry. But recently, that church also let him go with no warning. My wife said, "I am going to get a fruit basket and go have prayer with them. And she did. By the way, I just learned that Josie has breast cancer. To what degree I donít know. But this is what Paul said in Romans 12:20 says, "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head."

ē Send a financial gift to a missionary, just to spend on themselves, go on a date, or buy groceries, however they need it.

ē Mentor a young person or couple. Can we meet for coffee, once a week and just talk about life and what God has taught me about life?

ē Call an old teacher or preacher that touched your life and tell them how much they influenced you and what you have found in Jesus.

ē Adopt a nursing home patient. Go to your local nursing home and ask, "Who is alone or received little or no visitors?" Treat him or her like family and visit each week.

ē Take part of your tithe and put in your wallet. $50 letís say, and when you meet someone, a stranger or a missionary, a neighbor or friend who is struggling, give them Godís money. It is then a no brainer. Itís Godís money. Give it away and then take another $50 from your tithe and put it in your wallet until you find another need. Is that awesome? And give it away in Jesusí name.

ē Rake a yard, wash a car, shovel your neighborís or a shut inís walk or driveway in the name of Jesus.

ē Be ready for divine appointments. Friday, Debbie and I visited Sallye Crane. Sallye was a 91 year old lady from TBC that was dying with cancer. She is the one I told you that would park far from a store so she could walk and would do 10 push-ups and 10 sit ups every day until the cancer took over. While we were there, and knowing that the end was close, Debbie sang Jesus Loves Me with her, and a dear little black lady in the next bed started singing along, so Debbie went over and took her hand and sang it again with her and was able to encourage her with the hope of the gospel. BTW Ms. Sallye died less than an hour after we left her.

The possibilities are endless. Just use your imagination and ask our Lord for someone today, then wait quietly as God brings a person or ideas to your consciousness. Debbie often says, that we need to quit talking about it and just do it. Whose life can you touch today? Make your resolve to touch one person today and every day for God and we will change the world. Take this challenge for one week. Just seven days at first.

Remember Paulís 7 reasons for giving his life to God. Ask God who you can touch in a tangible way today and tomorrow, and next week I will let you share what God did through you.

Who will accept the challenge? Would you stand? For the next seven days I resolve to touch someone in Jesus name each day.

Letís commit it to God in Prayer.

Read other thoughtful writings by Pastor Gary Buchman