The Greatest of These

Posted on 11/29/2015 by Rev. Benjamin R. Faust D.D.

AUDIO: dialup - broadband - podcast

TRANSCRIPT: (does not contain everything found in the audio above)

*** listen to the audio for introduction and prayer ***


Public Prayer Requests:


Continue to pray for Joey & Rory Feek. Joey's cancer is spreading, drs have given up. Short of a miracle, her time is short. She would like to be healed but barring that, she would like one more Christmas with her little girls. Also for peace for Rory and their family & friends.
-StacyAnne

For Rachel. She's trying very hard to turn her life around and doing a decent job. But a lot people are harassing her over some bad choices she made. It's getting her down. She also needs to accept Jesus.
-AprilLynne

For StacyAnne, finances are at a critical level. She's now seriously behind on land fees and is locked out of SL.
-AprilLynne

I PRAY FOR FINACIAL BLESSINGS AND GOOD HEALTH AND BLESSINGS UPON MY THREE SONS!
-Reginald


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Please click one of the offering plates in Second Life or at http://almcyberchurch.org, and give as the Lord leads.

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I LOVE TO BE IN YOUR PRESENCE

I love to be in Your presence
with Your people singing praises
I love to stand and rejoice
lift my hands and raise my voice

You set my feet to dancing
You fill my heart with song
You give me reason to rejoice!


AMAZING LOVE

Amazing love, how can it be?
That You, my King would die for me?
Amazing love, I know it's true.
It's my joy to honor You,
In all I do,
I honor You.

You are my King, Jesus
You are my King

If the Son has set you free,
you are free indeed!


I LOVE YOU LORD

I love you, Lord
and I lift my voice
To worship You
oh, my soul rejoice!
Take joy my King
in what You hear
Let it be a sweet, sweet sound
in Your ear


*** Choose your connection speed and listen to the audio to hear the introduction. ***


Over the past few months,
we've read what's called
"The Love Chapter"
several times.

The chapter ends with
the well-known words,

"And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love."

And that is the title
of today's short message,

"The Greatest of These."


A few weeks ago,
a friend and
brother in Christ
reminded us
of the words
penned in the
New Testament,

"Knowledge puffs up, but
Love builds up."

Let's read that in
1 Corinthians 8:1b-3 (NKJV)

1b We know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffs up, but love edifies.
2 And if anyone thinks that he knows anything, he knows nothing yet as he ought to know.
3 But if anyone loves God, this one is known by Him.


Verse 2 is interesting:

"If anyone thinks he knows anything,
he knows nothing as he ought to know."

Now,
to feel as though
we are in line
with this passage,
some of us might
take the position,

"I know nothing."

But do you REALLY
believe that?

Or do you still
feel as though
you know something,
something which,
when it comes up,
you will defend?

"If anyone thinks he knows anything,
he knows nothing as he ought to know."

That is the
fleshly mind,
which worships
knowledge
and facts
and positions
and beliefs.

And THAT knowledge
"puffs up."

It generates pride.

Now,
knowledge in itself
is no more evil
than money.

Most of us
"know" how to
drive a car.

We "know"
how to read,
how to count,
how to tie
our shoe laces.

"We know that we all have knowledge."

In context,
Paul was talking about
eating food that had been
sacrificed to idols.

There were various
opinions about that.

People would cite
the knowledge they had
about the subject,
and the "indisputable"
conclusions they made
about the issue.

And, of course,
EVERYONE thought
that THEY were right,
and the OTHERS
were WRONG.


"Knowledge puffs up."

Or we could say,
"Belief in knowledge
puffs up,"

or,

"Identifying with knowledge
puffs up,"

or,

"Taking your knowledge
and your conclusions
about that knowledge
so seriously
puffs up."


"Knowledge puffs up, but love edifies.
"And if anyone thinks he knows anything, he knows nothing as he ought to know."

How should we
"ought to know?"

Well,
let's read the next verse:

2 And if anyone thinks that he knows anything, he knows nothing yet as he ought to know.
3 But if anyone loves God, this one is known by Him.

And here's the thing:

Loving God
is a two-way street.

If you are known by God,
you know God.

And not in the sense of
the knowledge
that puffs up.

THAT kind of knowledge
is what most of us
have.

We can quote
all sorts of facts
ABOUT God.

Well,
God is holy.
God is just.
God is merciful.
God is perfect.
God is all-powerful.
God is all-knowing.
God is ever present.
God is Love.

But all those
revelations
about God
came from
encounters
with Him.

If you only know
ABOUT God,
you do not
truly know Him
at all.

And one way
you can know
if you know God,
is by learning
1st Corinthians 13.

Love is patient.
Love is kind.

And so on...

Yes,
we could mimick
the traits listed,
and that is
a good thing to do.

But if you need
to congure up
the acts of Love,
then something
is missing.

And that something
is a right-now walk
with God,
with Love.

It is not
the kind of knowledge
that puffs up,

the kind that can be
argued and preached,

the kind that can
start wars and factions,

the kind that divides us
and unites cliques
and denominations;

Rather,
we are talking about
experiencial knowledge.

And I don't mean
facts gained from
experience;

Rather, I mean
the type of knowledge
that cannot be
adequately put
into words.

It cannot be
passed on
in a sermon
or a book.

Instead,
it can only be
pointed to,
and shared only
by direct
personal
experience.

This is the
kind of knowing
that can fully come
only when you
let go of
all you think you know,
and you
fully surrender.

And by "surrender,"
I don't mean
"resignation."

It's the type
of surrender
of which Jesus spoke.

"Observe the birds."

They fully trust God
to meet their needs.
They search for food,
they build nests,
they fight predators;

but the do not
worry about tomorrow,
or dwell in yesterday.

They dwell, instead,
in Love.

In this way,
the birds know God
much better
than the most
religiously astute
among us.

And Jesus told us
to learn from them.

Learn from the flowers.

Not the learning of facts,
but the learning
how to BE
with God;
with Love.


Most of us
have a backdrop
of very subtle fear.

We don't even
know it's there.

But,
we sometimes
pray or
go to church
because,
in the background,
there is a fear
that NOT doing so
will have
negative consequences.

We do this or that,
or DON'T do
this or that,
because there is
a fear,
no matter how
big or how tiny.

But we know that
"Perfect Love
casts out fear."

1 John 4:18 (NKJV)

18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.

We fear the IRS.

We fear the government.

We fear the "wrong" people
will get elected.

We fear rejection.

We fear loss.

We fear lack.

We fear abandonment.

We fear
so many things,
BECAUSE
we are not
fully dwelling
in Love.

And whatever ideas
you have about
what Love means,

THAT IS NOT IT.

When you
TRULY know Love,
there is no need
to define it.

It does not need to be,
and cannot be,
put into words.

You can only
point people to it,
and know that
they will not
and can not
know that to which
you are pointing,
until they
experientially know it
first hand.

And so today,
I pray for that
personal encounter
with Love.

I pray that
you will discover

how to fully surrender,

how to release
all your attachments
to what you
think you know,

how to step out of
the fear that would
keep you from
that surrender and
that release.

And today,
I pray that
you enter into
the eternity
that dwells
inside of you
right now,

that perfect Presence
of God,
of Love,

and that,
despite what you know,
you step into
that realm of
perfect peace and
blissful joy
that can only be found
when you completely
let go of everything,
and dwell completely
in the always-present,
all-pervasive,
heavenly realm
of Love.