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How To Keep God By Our Side

If you were a Pastor of a Church and you were going to leave that Church and never be able to return to it, what would you tell the members of that Church? Well, you would probably suggest ways for the members to depend upon God. Such was the problem facing Paul as he left the Church at Corinth for the last time. What could he tell them that would assure them that God would always be there to help? What should they do to assure God's help?

This is not unlike the Church of God today. The original, corporate Church of God for our era, the WCG, has fragmented into over two hundred corporate churches, some large, some small. But these newer corporate churches are not static either. Each is seeing adherents come and go, some to other groups, but many to study and worship by themselves. In addition, and unfortunately, some die along the way.

Do Paul's words of encouragement to the Corinthian church apply to those of us in the Church of God today too? Again, what do Paul's words tell us that assures us that God is always by our side to help? What can we do to assure God's help?

Today, I want to show you that God has promised He can always be there for you, then give you four objectives, four personal goals, which, if we will strive for them, will assure that God will bless us by always being by our side.

In Heb 13:5, Paul writes:

(Heb 13:5 NKJV) Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you."

Paul was quoting from Joshua 1:5, but his words apply directly to the importance of materialism in our lives today.

We need not depend upon worldly possessions because God promises here that He will never leave us. That is a difficult lesson for us to learn because, in our world, materialism equals security.

(2 Chr 15:1-2 NKJV) Now the Spirit of God came upon Azariah the son of Oded. {2} And he went out to meet Asa, and said to him: "Hear me, Asa, and all Judah and Benjamin. The LORD is with you while you are with Him. If you seek Him, He will be found by you; but if you forsake Him, He will forsake you.

God can be reached if we seek Him. God will let us go if we don't seek Him.

Let's continue on in verse 3:

"For a long time Israel has been without the true God, without a teaching priest, and without law; {4} "but when in their trouble they turned to the LORD God of Israel, and sought Him, He was found by them. {5} "And in those times there was no peace to the one who went out, nor to the one who came in, but great turmoil was on all the inhabitants of the lands. {6} "So nation was destroyed by nation, and city by city, for God troubled them with every adversity. {7} "But you, be strong and do not let your hands be weak, for your work shall be rewarded!" {8} And when Asa heard these words and the prophecy of Oded the prophet, he took courage, and removed the abominable idols from all the land of Judah and Benjamin and from the cities which he had taken in the mountains of Ephraim; and he restored the altar of the LORD that was before the vestibule of the LORD. {9} Then he gathered all Judah and Benjamin, and those who dwelt with them [the KJV calls them strangers] from Ephraim, Manasseh, and Simeon, for they came over to him in great numbers from Israel when they saw that the LORD his God was with him. {10} So they gathered together at Jerusalem in the third month [Pentecost], in the fifteenth year of the reign of Asa. {11} And they offered to the LORD at that time seven hundred bulls and seven thousand sheep from the spoil they had brought. {12} Then they entered into a covenant to seek the LORD God of their fathers with all their heart and with all their soul; {13} and whoever would not seek the LORD God of Israel was to be put to death, whether small or great, whether man or woman. {14} Then they took an oath before the LORD with a loud voice, with shouting and trumpets and rams' horns. {15} And all Judah rejoiced at the oath, for they had sworn with all their heart and sought Him with all their soul; and He was found by them, and the LORD gave them rest all around. {16} Also he removed Maachah, the mother of Asa the king, from being queen mother, because she had made an obscene image of Asherah; and Asa cut down her obscene image, then crushed and burned it by the Brook Kidron. {17} But the high places were not removed from Israel. Nevertheless the heart of Asa was loyal all his days. {18} He also brought into the house of God the things that his father had dedicated and that he himself had dedicated: silver and gold and utensils.

Verse 19 shows us his reward:

There was no more war until the thirty-fifth year of Asa's reign.

Oh, that Israel and the United States would be blessed with peace by being fully committed to God.

God rewarded Asa with peace.

As I asked before, What can we do, in our lives, to assure that God will always be by our side? Let me offer four ways. The story of Asa should give us a clue.

Point #1. We must become or continually strive to become perfect. We must be fully committed to the Eternal every day of our lives.

Let's look at some scriptures that say that:

(Gen 17:1 NKJV) When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to Abram and said to him, "I am Almighty God; walk before Me and be blameless. [The KJV says "be thou perfect".]
(Deu 18:13 NKJV) "You shall be blameless [the word is perfect in the KJV] before the LORD your God.
Josh 23:6 [NIV] "Be very strong; be careful to obey all that is written in the Book of the Law of Moses, without turning aside to the right or to the left. [Maybe I should add: Especially the left!]
1 Ki 8:61 [NIV] But your hearts must be fully committed to the LORD our God, to live by his decrees and obey his commands, as at this time."
Mat 5:48 [NIV] Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Are we looking at ourselves to become perfect when we gossip, bicker, or find more enjoyment in worldly pursuits than with pleasing God? "Perfect" means complete or mature. It comes from the Greek word Tel'-i-os, G5046.

1 Cor 9:24 [NIV] Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.

We need to strive to win in our race to qualify for the kingdom. We must work like athletes preparing for their events. We need to run to win. We must not let our crown slip away through complacency.

Philippians 2:14 [NIV] Do all things without murmurings and disputings: {15} so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe

Brethren, we know that we live in a crooked and depraved generation, but do we shine as stars in the universe? How do we react to adversity? Do people say of us, "now there goes a real Christian"? Look at your lifestyle and answer that about yourself. And don't become self-righteous about it.

Philippians 3:8-14 [NIV] What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ {9} and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ--the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. {10} I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, {11} and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. {12} Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. {13} Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, {14} I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Yes, Paul pressed for the goal of the Kingdom of God, knowing he was not yet perfect.

(Heb 13:20-21 NKJV) Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, {21} make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever.
(Eph 4:11-13 KJV) And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; {12} For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: {13} Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ:

God gave us church leaders to help us gain perfection but these church leaders can only help us. They can not make us perfect. Achieving perfection is up to us individually.

Point #2. Be of Good Comfort to Each Other.

We are talking about compassion.

Mat 5:7 [NKJV] Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.

We must be merciful to others. This is love. But from a selfish standpoint, we need to obtain mercy for ourselves, as well. We are not pure and white. We must depend upon God to be merciful to us as well. From the model prayer Jesus left us in Luke 11:4 (CJB), "Forgive us our sins, for we too forgive everyone who has wronged us."

Mark 1:40-41 [NIV] A man with leprosy came to him and begged him on his knees, "If you are willing, you can make me clean." {41} Filled with compassion, Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. "I am willing," he said. "Be clean!"

The leper begged Jesus to heal him and He could not refuse. Jesus had compassion. Do we have compassion for those with problems they seem unable to solve? Or do we shrug our shoulders and say, "They brought their problems on themselves"?

(Mat 9:36-38 NKJV) But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd. {37} Then He said to His disciples, "The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. {38} "Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest."

We must want Christ to save humanity. We must be sensitive to other's needs. Husbands must be sensitive to wives' needs and wives must be sensitive to husbands' needs. Same thing toward children. We all need to comfort each other. We all need to pray for more people who are willing to help the needy and unwashed. There's much work to do for others.

Gal 5:22-23 [NIV] But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, {23} gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

Notice that the fruits of God's Spirit include patience, kindness and goodness. Empathy, sensitivity, and compassion are certainly included. Do we have these traits in abundance?

Gal 6:2 [NIV] Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.

How concerned are we of others' problems - even those they seemingly bring on themselves? In the example we just read about in Mark, Jesus didn't ask the man what he did which might have caused him to catch leprosy. We need to pray for each other and be willing to help each other.

1 Th 4:16-18 [NIV] For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command [a shout like a trumpet], with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. {17} After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. {18} Therefore encourage [comfort in KJV] each other with these words.

We should use the promise of sonship to be given at Christ's return to encourage each other to hang on and not give up. Do we care enough about others to know when to encourage them? Do we care enough about our own salvation to motivate ourselves to help others?

2 Cor 1:3-4 [NIV] Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, {4} who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.

What comment could one add to that? Let's read verses 3 and 4 again.

Eph 4:17-25 [NIV] So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. {18} They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. {19} Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more. {20} You, however, did not come to know Christ that way. {21} Surely you heard of him and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. {22} You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; {23} to be made new in the attitude of your minds; {24} and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. {25} Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body.

Paul was writing about the people of Asia minor but his description applies to us today as well.

The world around us is giving itself over to sensuality with a continual desire for more. I'm not talking about just sexual sensuality. I'm talking about anything that is satisfying yet harmful to us....drugs, alcohol, some types of music, the emphasis on pleasure, violent movies and TV, all kinds of things. We must put off these things and put on a new self.

We need to get to know others better and show that we care. We must not continue in anger. We need to put out malice. Malice and mercy are not compatible.

(James 1:27 NKJV) Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.

We need to visit widows and divorcees and ask them over. We need to go out of our way to be sure they are not in need of friendship, care or understanding. Again, the ways of this pleasure seeking world must not be allowed to permeate our thoughts and actions.

Our reward for keeping ourselves free of the ways of the world is given in Revelation 7.

Rev 7:14-17 [NIV]......... "These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. {15} Therefore, "they are before the throne of God and serve him day and night in his temple; and he who sits on the throne will spread his tent over them. {16} Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst. The sun will not beat upon them, nor any scorching heat. {17} For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; he will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes."

We must put on compassion.

Point #3. We Must Be of One Mind.

What does this mean? Must we be automatons?

1 Cor 2:16 [NIV] "For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct him?" But we have the mind of Christ.

Brethren, Christ is not divided. There are not multiple Christs, one for every opinion of every person. We must all have the same mind as Christ.

1 Cor 1:10 [NIV] I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought.

How seriously do we consider the opinions of others? Do we allow that they could be right or do we insist on our own opinion? Do we prove all things or simply reject others' opinions out of hand? There are many who meet alone these days because they disagree with others over some minor point of doctrine. Perhaps they can not see the forest for the trees.

Philippians 2:1-5 [NIV] If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, {2} then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit [there's only one Spirit too] and purpose. {3} Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. {4} Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. {5} Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: [The KJV says "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:]

We must be harmonious, brethren, and of one mind. We can all be of the same mind with each other if we all have the mind of Christ. There's only one Christ so we should have only one mind. Let's elevate our thoughts to that of Christ.

Rom 15:6 [NIV] - [breaking into the middle of the verse:] so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Philippians 1:27 [NIV] Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in one spirit, contending as one man for the faith of the gospel
1 Pet 3:8 [NIV] Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble.

The New King James records this verse thus:

(1 Pet 3:8 NKJV) Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous;

Point #4. Live in Peace.

Mat 5:9 [NIV] Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.

Isn't that our goal? How important is it to be a peacemaker? There are many troublemakers who think they will be sons of God.

Rom 12:18 [NIV] If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.
Rom 14:19 [NIV] Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.

Even when others are antagonistic, we should try to return a peaceful response if we can. That doesn't mean we have to knuckle under or yield from our principles.

Eph 2:17-22 [NIV] He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. {18} For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit. {19} Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God's people and members of God's household, {20} built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. {21} In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. {22} And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.

Real Christians have the same Spirit. We may have minor differences but we still have the same Spirit. We can't squabble with each other if we all have the same Spirit. We should discuss but should not squabble. Real Christians should therefore be able to live peaceably.

Col 3:12-25 [NIV] Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. {13} Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. {14} And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. {15} Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. {16} Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. {17} And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. {18} Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. {19} Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them. {20} Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. {21} Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged. {22} Slaves, [employees in our day] obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to win their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. {23} Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, {24} since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. {25} Anyone who does wrong will be repaid for his wrong, and there is no favoritism.
Heb 12:14 [NIV] Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without which no one will see the Lord.
James 3:17-18 [NIV] But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. {18} Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness.

That's a really encouraging promise for those of us living in these Last Days.

1 Pet 3:10-11 [NIV] For, "Whoever would love life and see good days must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from deceitful speech. {11} He must turn from evil and do good; he must seek peace and pursue it.

We must dedicate ourselves against what the Jews call "lashon hara", the evil tongue.

Paul concludes and I conclude with:

(2 Cor 13:11 NKJV) Finally, brethren, farewell. Become complete [perfect]. Be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.

Paul is bidding a fond farewell to the Corinthian church. He leaves them with the four points we have covered today:

  1. Aim for perfection.
  2. Be compassionate to one another.
  3. Be of one mind.
  4. Live in peace.

If we do these things, God will always be there with us when we need Him.

Sermon given by Wayne Bedwell
6 April 2013
Copyright 2013, Wayne Bedwell

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