26th February 2014

Investing in Eternity 

“If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries…but do not have love, I am nothing.”
1 Corinthians 13:2 (NIV) 

I remember the daunting question well: “would you like to give a sermon?” An idea popped to mind to consider thanksgiving, based on Corrie Ten Boom’s book “The Hiding Place”. So, I accepted the challenge of my very first sermon and thankfully(!) all seemed to go well. 

Over the years, I’ve found that I enjoy giving sermons. I don’t always find it easy to prepare a sermon, for quite often I feel like I’m wrestling with the subject—and losing the battle! Yet, somewhere in that battle I always learn more about God and his grace. 

Sometimes the sermon doesn’t go to plan. The analogy I’ve slaved over doesn’t connect with the congregation. At other times, my words get mixed up so I have to try again! I try to grow in the art of sermon crafting where a number of books have proved helpful, but I suspect the greatest influence has been the other experienced speakers I’ve listened to over the years. 

In a way, my Christian experience has become closely associated with the giving of sermons. I regularly speak and I’m aware that congregations look upon the sermon as an important part of worship. But there is something in the letters of Paul that makes me pause and reflect: “But where there are prophecies, they will cease” (1 Corinthians 13:8).

Often “prophecy” is used by people to refer to foretelling the future. But Paul tells us that prophecy “edifies the church” (1 Corinthians 14:4), and that it brings “strengthening, encouraging and comfort” (verse 3). To me this sounds more like a modern day sermon than the utterances of some mystical fortune teller. Even so, Paul tells us that one day, all sermons will stop: “Where there is knowledge, it will pass away” (1 Corinthians 13:8). Sermons will no longer be needed. I can’t take them with me into the resurrected life. So, as important as sermons are now, I need to keep the right perspective. There are some things far more important. 

So what will remain with me throughout eternity? Read 1 Corinthians 13:13, “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love.” For my Christian experience to ring true, I need to be closely associated with these three qualities. If I want to invest for tomorrow, for the time of the resurrection, I cannot go wrong with love, hope and faith. And that is true for all of us. We may or may not have the gift of speaking, but we all can grow in the fruit of love. And love will stay with us for all eternity. 

Prayer
Father, the world distracts us with the promise of wealth, fame and power. Give us the strength to participate in your Son’s life today and grow in those qualities—faith, hope and love—which will be with us forever.
Amen
 

Study by Ian Woodley

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ianwoodleyAbout the Author:
Ian Woodley pastors the Nottingham Grace Communion Church, that meets at 2pm Saturday, as below.  Ian also facilitates a monthly Bible Study in Lincoln, which generally meets on a Saturday at 1:30pm.  They welcome visitors to join them—for more details contact Ian Woodley as below.

Local Congregation: 
Nottingham Grace Communion
Lucy Brown Hall
Attenborough Lane
Beeston
NOTTINGHAM
NG9 5HZ

Meeting Time:
Saturday 2pm

Local Congregational Contact:
Ian Woodley
Email:  icgwoodley@gmail.com

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