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3-minute Sermon
 
Official Service Sermon > Official Service
Official Service
Title
   What I Am - College, Canaan Mission Devotional    
Speaker
   Rev. Jaerock Lee
Bible
   1 Corinthians 15: 10
Date
   2008-07-13



Passage

1 Corinthians 15: 10
"But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me did not prove vain; but I labored even more than all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me."

Introduction

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
Let us give all thanks and glory to God the Father who has let us have this 2008 College and Canaan Mission devotional service. I give thanks to all the devotees who have prepared for this service with all your heart, mind, and efforts.

Dear devotees, today's passage is the confession of the apostle Paul. Paul had many things to boast about.

He was born with the citizenship of Roman Empire, which was the strongest nation of the time. When he grew up he studied under Gamaliel, the most respected teacher of the Jews at that time.

Simply put, he was born into an upper class family and educated at the best school.

Also, he clearly heard the voice of the Holy Spirit and had such deep spiritual communication with God that most of the New Testament was recorded through him.

He performed many amazing things; he even revived a dead person. He also faithfully fulfilled his duty in the midst of many trials and sufferings.

Paul was more than sufficient in every aspect to be respected as the best of the apostles. But he said that it was all by God's grace. He said, "But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me did not prove vain; but I labored even more than all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me."

I hope you College and Canaan Mission members who are offering this devotional service will be able to offer up to God the same kind of confession throughout your lives.

Not only with words, but I hope God's grace will truly fall on all the areas of your life.

Then, you will be able to confess as follows as you go through the Pearl Gate of the New Jerusalem.

"I am what I am, and I have only been able to enter into New Jerusalem by the grace of the Father." I pray in the name of the Lord that you will be able to be in the bosom of the Father God with this confession.

Body

Dear devotees, those who confess that "I am what I am by the grace of God," first of all must not forget that grace.

As mentioned, the apostle Paul was truly a man of many accomplishments.

But why did he still confess, "I am what I am by the grace of God?"


Above all, he was a sinner who was destined only for death had God not saved him. Even though he had so many things, he was destined to fall into hell without the grace of God who had given His only begotten Son.

Also, despite everything that he had devotedly accomplished, it is only God who let him harvest the fruit.

He was able to overcome so many trials and persecutions because of the grace he had received from God.

It's the same with you and me. All our lives, from our births up until this day, are by the grace of God.

It is not because we were born to good parents, grew up in a good environment, or because we studied hard and tried so earnestly that we have become who we are.

It is not that we have been saved because we are good, and it's not that we realized the truth because we wanted to.

We cannot even say we chose this church and were led to your shepherd. John 6:44 says, "No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day."

As spoken, without the guidance of God, you would not be sitting in this place here today.

You can also long for sanctification and pray and fast to achieve it because God has given grace to you.

Dear devotees, when you are full of God's grace and spirit, you feel the love of the Father even in the wind and pouring rain.

Then, what kind of confession do you make in deep inspiration of the fullness of the Spirit? You probably confess something like, "I am nothing, but God has made my life worthy like it is. I will repay this grace with all my strength, effort, wisdom, wealth, and even my life."?

But then, if you lose that fullness of spirit, your confession also changes.

If you get into rather difficult situations, you may even forget about the grace of God. You might even speak out words of complaint and resentment. Or you may even turn your eyes back towards the worldly things in a desire to have them again.

For example, no matter how hard you seem to try, your shortcomings or faults are still revealed to you, or you may not bear enough fruit in your duty.

Those who remember the grace of God can still give thanks even in these situations. They will rely on the Father with a more humble mind and try to change themselves as best they can.

But what if you lose the grace of God? You may think in a negative way like, "My heart is not really good. I am capable of only this much. What should I do? I am not confident I can do better."

"How am I going to be able to enter into New Jerusalem? I would be happy to just to go into paradise, at least that way I can get a little rest." And thinking like this you get disappointed.

Then, you stop fulfilling your God-given duties or just hide from other people.

Before, you used to confess, "I may lack the ability, but everything is possible by the grace of God."

But now you say, "I cannot do it because I am not capable enough." This proves that you think that it is you who is doing the work.


Isaiah 49:15 says, "Can a woman forget her nursing child and have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, but I will not forget you."

Regardless of the reality and the situation, God does not take away His grace. Neither is it that God has suddenly lost His power to give you grace.

It's just that you use your fleshly thoughts and you distance yourself from Him, and you do not remember the grace of God.

None of you should ever let this happen. Please hold on to and remember the grace of God. This will be your strength to lead you all the way to New Jerusalem.

You should believe that the God who created you and who has guided you until now is still watching you and guiding you.

Even though there are momentary difficulties, you should be able to believe and confess that these difficulties are an opportunity for you to come forth as pure gold. As you remember and consider the grace of God, more of God's grace will descend upon you.

Then, your faith can grow up more quickly and you can go into deeper levels of sprit.

Dear devotees, those who confess that "I am what I am by the grace of God" should have the faith to commit everything into the hands of God.

It does not mean that you just do what you can do and leave something you cannot do into God's hands.

For example, when you first receive a duty in the church, and you are not very familiar with it, you pray earnestly and ask for God's power.

You try to please God the Father more and leave everything to God with a humble mind.
But as you gain some know-how and experience and feel comfortable about your duty, you may change. You do not rely on God as earnestly as before, but just do it with your own strength.

For example, when you visit a new member, if that person does not open his heart very well and if you feel that it is a little difficult to talk with him, how do you react?

You pray to understand what kind of message you should give him and you earnestly ask for the grace of God to guide you.

But if you go to meet with somebody whom you know very well, you may just think, "Oh, I can just give this message," and do it with your own strength.

God wants us to rely on Him in everything.

Whether something small or big, in matters of sanctification, your future, marriage, fulfilling your duties, and your family's evangelization, you should commit everything to God.

Of course, to rely on God does not mean you just say, "I believe," only with lips. In every moment that passes, those who rely on God in everything pray to God about all things and do the best in the things they are supposed to do.

Suppose somebody is praying for sanctification. "Father God, I believe you are guiding me to be sanctified. Let me realize the things that I have to change, and let me find out even the forms of evil hidden deep inside and cast it away."

Suppose the person prays this kind of prayer for three to four hours a day, and also offers fasting frequently.

Then, can the untruth be discovered, automatically cast off, and result in being sanctified? No.


Along with the prayer, there must be deeds that follow. She has to constantly contemplate how to get closer to achieving sanctification and how to follow the teachings of her shepherd. Then she must try to achieve it.

For example, suppose somebody cannot keep his mouth and he tends to spread others' faults or frequently utter complaints. If this kind of a person really wants to become sanctified and prays for it, even while the words of untruth are being spoken, it will be realized.

"Oh, I am complaining." Or "I am spreading others' faults!" When it is realized the person has to stop immediately and repent.

Then, next time, he won't have to repent after speaking out the words because even before words of untruth are spoken, the Holy Spirit will let him realize it.

"These words are not good, so I shouldn't speak it." He will be able to control himself this way.

When we try this way and actually practices the truth, God gives us more grace.

We will be able to find out the forms of untruths that we were not able to find before, and He gives us the strength to cast them off, too.

It's the same when students plan for the future.

They should not just pray, "Give me a good job so I can glorify You." To achieve their dream, if knowledge is needed, they should gain knowledge, if skills are needed, they should get those skills. If language skills are needed, they should diligently pursue gaining the needed skills.

As they are laying the foundation this way, they should pray and try to find the way that God is opening for them.

If you truly believe and pray, you will certainly receive the answer. But God is also the God of Justice and He respects the order of this physical world, too.
If a child is praying to become the president of the country, God will first let him gain the qualifications. When Joseph became the prime minister of Egypt, it did not happen overnight.

He went through many trials and difficult situations to gain the knowledge, experience, and all the necessary qualifications.

And even under such trials, Joseph believed in God and cultivated faithfulness.

As he took care of each of his duties, he became increasingly more competent. You should not neglect either of these two attributes: to do what you are supposed to do; and to pray committing everything into the hands of God.

Dear devotees, just as David asked God in each moment for next action, it would be great if we could communicate with God like that. But what if we are not yet able to hear the voice and receive the inspiration of the Holy Spirit clearly?

Relying on God in everything does not mean we cannot do anything without asking God what to do for each and every thing.

It rather refers to our attitude of heart to rely on God with our whole life. We should humble ourselves in everything before God, and seek the will of God and practice it.

To do this, we should always try to act properly in the truth and to act with more goodness. Isaiah 50:10 says, "Who is among you that fears the LORD, that obeys the voice of His servant, that walks in darkness and has no light? Let him trust in the name of the LORD and rely on his God." As said, we should first try to act in the truth and seek the will of God.


When you do that, God will guide each of the steps in your life.

To achieve what we pray for, He guides each of our steps so that we can understand what to do next and after that step.

As these steps are accumulated, you will be able to offer up to God deeper confession saying, "I am what I am by the grace of the Father."

Dear devotees, those who confess, "I am what I am by the grace of God," should look at everything in goodness.

Those who have their own righteousness and personal frameworks have many things that they don't understand. 'According to your opinion', 'at your level and standard', and 'with your capabilities', to do a certain work to a certain degree is something obvious. But for other people, they cannot really do it.

You may think, "He has faith, and he also prays, and why can't he do any more than that?" Then, you cannot accept him.

Especially, you have some knowledge and you listened to the word of truth to some extent, so it is easy for you to apply high standards for other people.

You may think, "The church members should not be forced to do anything and they should not be given hard times, so why is that person saying such hurtful words?"

"All of us, especially workers, should keep their promises all the time, so why does that person change his mind so often?"

"Senior pastor doesn't do that, so why does he do that?" As you look at the faults of others, your feelings are also hurt.

But those who confess, "I am what I am by the grace of God" truly can confess the same for other people, too. Even though we have shortcomings, God worked for the good of everything and has guided us until now.

In the same way, we can believe God will guide other people, too, so we can also bear with them and be patient.

Then, we will not think having uncomfortable feelings like, "Why is he only able to do that much?" but, you will try to understand the reason from his point of view.

Once we put ourselves in their shoes and understand them, we can treat them with compassion and love, and we would want to do something for them.

Also, when we do the work of God, we should also think in goodness about your leaders and other workers. You may think, "In my opinion and experience, that way will not bring us any fruit. And why do the guidance pastor and the chairman lead that way?"

"When that person does things like that, it really isn't very good, and why does the leader follow that person's opinion?" Likewise, if you think with your viewpoint only, you will have thoughts that are not good.

This means that you are trying to work with your own strength, although you may say that you are seeking God's grace. You feel comfortable only when the things go as you see fit.

If the situation doesn't go as you want, you may complain and break peace, too.

You may even go to a person who is higher than the one who is actually doing the work to persuade him to stop that work.

Or in some other cases, you do not break peace on the outside, but do not gather your heart, being just spectators.

But those who think in goodness will try to gather their heart according to the opinion of the majority, and work with the leaders in the group.

Philippians 2:2 says, "make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose."

What is decided may not be the best solution. But you should not feel uncomfortable about it but be settled in your heart with that decision.


It's because you believe that God will guide it all the way through once everybody follows peace and goodness.

Then, even if you don't understand the other person, you will just think and pray in goodness.

Then you will think, "When the leader made the decision, he must have had a reason. I wonder what it was and I wonder how can I be more cooperative and supporting?"

It is not something you should do only in the church. In your family, with your relatives, in your workplace and when you interact with your neighbors, you should think in goodness.

If you think in goodness, no matter what kind of persons you are dealing with, you can understand them and their heart. Then, you will have compassion on them and consider them with love.

Then, you will be able to serve even those who give you problems or those who have characters and opinions different from what is comfortable to you.

If you have this kind of heart, you can shine your light in all walks of your life.

Then, your confession, "I am what I am by the grace of God" will have deeper feelings in it.

Conclusion

Dear devotees and church members, Romans 13:11 says, "Do this, knowing the time, that it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep; for now salvation is nearer to us than when we believed."

Those who have been listening to the messages and feel the flow should know what kind of moment this is.

The flow of time will go faster and faster, and spirit will flow into more spirit and flesh will flow into more flesh. But some think that they still have time because the Canaan Sanctuary has not been built yet and the Grand Sanctuary has not been started yet.

But if you are not awake right now to pray, and if you do not ride on the flow of spirit now, you cannot guarantee the result of next year and the year after that.

You have to receive God's grace while He may be found and while He is near. To repent, you need the grace of God, and to passionately run your race of faith, you need the grace of God.

You should not miss this chance of grace so that you will be able to dwell in the honor of New Jerusalem.

To do this, first of all, you should not forget the grace of God.

Secondly, you should have faith to rely on God in everything, whether something small or big. Thirdly, you should look at everything in goodness. I hope you will hold on to these words and achieve them during the remainder of this year.

When you keep this word in your mind and try to accomplish it, God will give you realizations, change you, and lead you to sanctification step by step.

How good it will be if each of your faces shines with spiritual light when God looks at you! God will say, "Here is a spiritual warrior, here is another spiritual worker who is a great strength to the church!" and He will be so happy and comforted.

I hope you will be one of these people. I also urge you to be filled with the grace of God in each moment of your life, and be able to do great things to fulfill the providence of God for this church.

I pray in the name of the Lord that you will pass through the Gates of Pearl and in deep emotion you will praise the grace of God while walking on the Golden Road.

[Amen]

 
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