Sun, Dec 08, 2013

Unity!: Amos 3:3

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Ministry of Pastor Joe Guglielmo teachings through the Bible, verse by verse for a better understanding of Gods Word.
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UNITY!

AMOS 3:3

Please turn in your Bibles to Amos chapter 3. In this chapter we see God explain why Israel is being punished, that they are deserving of it. Now before we get into our text this morning, listen to this excerpt from a book by Paul Brand and Philip Yancey:

Using the analogy of the human body, there are some diseases that can spread infection throughout the body of Christ. The mind can become swollen with pride. The heart can grow cold and indifferent because of sin. The digestive system can get clogged by sterile theory and unapplied theology, so the body can’t digest what needs to be turned into energy or eliminate what needs to be released. When that occurs we start to fight among ourselves or we lose our equilibrium and find ourselves unable to stay balanced...

Sometimes a dreaded thing occurs in the body - a mutiny - resulting in a tumor...

A tumor is called benign if its effect is fairly localized and it stays within membrane boundaries. But the most traumatizing condition in the body occurs when disloyal cells defy inhibition. They multiply without any checks on growth, spreading rapidly throughout the body, chocking out normal cells. White cells, armed against foreign invaders, will not attack the body’s own mutinous cells. Physicians fear no other malfunction more deeply: it is called cancer. For still mysterious reasons, these cells - and they may be cells from the brain, liver, kidney, bone, blood, skin, or other tissues - grow wild, out of control. Each is a healthy, functioning cell, but disloyal, no longer acting in regard for the rest of the body.

Even the white cells, the dependable palace guard, can destroy the body through rebellion. Sometimes they recklessly reproduce, clogging the blood stream, overloading the lymph system, strangling the body’s normal functions - such is leukemia.

Because I am a surgeon and not a prophet, I tremble to make the analogy between cancer in the physical body and mutiny in the spiritual body of Christ. But I must. In His warnings to the church, Jesus showed no concern about the shocks and bruises His body would meet from external forces. "The gates of Hell shall not prevail against My church," He said flatly (Matthew 16:18). He moved easily, unthreatened, among sinners and criminals. But He cried out against the kind of disloyalty that comes from within.

- Paul Brand and Philip Yancey, Fearfully And Wonderfully Made

That is the focus of our study this morning, unity in the body of Christ and how that unity is accomplished. On the other hand there is disunity in the body of Christ, and we will see why that happens, and you may be surprised at the reason. With that said, let’s look at our text this morning in Amos 3:3, and see what the Lord has for us.

AMOS 3:3

Now many of you have heard sermons regarding this verse relating to the unity in the body of Christ, that unless two are in agreement on where they are going, they can’t walk together because each of them would be moving in different directions. And that is a correct way to look at this verse but I think it goes much deeper than that!

You see, look at the verses which precede this and you will see what I am talking about. In Amos 3:1-2 we read "Hear this word that the LORD has spoken against you, O childrenof Israel, against the whole family which I brought up from the land of Egypt, saying:‘You only have I known of all the families of the earth; therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities."

The main issue here is they were not walking with God, they were doing there own thing, moving in their own direction because they were not in agreement with God in where they should be going. Let me say this, if God is saying this is the path you are to be traveling on and you feel that God is wrong, you should be allowed, you want to be moving in that direction, you want to go down that path, you are wrong!

In Proverbs 19:21 we are told "There are many plans in a man's heart, nevertheless the LORD'S counsel-- that will stand." You see, man has many plans for himself. Man thinks he knows what is best for his life. But the reality is God’s ways will stand because God’s ways are perfect. They are what is best for our life!

Now the problem with Israel is they forgot that God is God! Sounds strange but it is true. They replaced the true and living God with the god’s of prosperity, the god’s of pleasure, and the god’s of position. John put it this way when he said in I John 2:16, "For all that is in theworld-- the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life-- is not of the Fatherbut is of the world."

Israel was living in a time of prosperity, they had all they needed and there was no room for God. They had winter homes, summer homes, the 2-door chariot with a sun roof, and-so-on. What about you? There is nothing wrong with these things unless they become the focus of your life, a god to you, taking you away from the worship of the true and living God.

Israel was living a life of satisfying the flesh, living for the god of pleasure instead of the true and living God. They took advantage of the poor to increase their wealth. They were into all kinds of immoral lifestyles. They were worshiping the god of pleasure. Again, what about you? Are you more excited about watching or worshiping a sporting event then worshiping the true and living God? Again, there is nothing wrong with some of these things, unless they are taking you away from the worship of God. Of course, some of the activities of Israel were wrong, and you can examine your own life and see what needs to be changed.

Israel loved their positions of power, they were prideful and looked down upon the common people, those who did not have a high position in society. And, in a sense, they had elevated themselves, lifted themselves up instead of humbling themselves before the Lord and letting the Lord lift them up. What about you? Is pride a problem in your life. Do you see yourself as so important that you don’t know what God is going to do if you stop working? That the ministry you are over will end without you? It won’t. And if you don’t humble yourself before the Lord, He will bring you down and raise someone else up for that ministry! In Isaiah 42:8 we are told "I am the LORD, that is My name; and My glory I will not give to another,nor My praise to graven images." Don’t mess with God’s glory, for He will bring you down!

You see, there definitely is an "I" problem here! And the only solution to that is to recognize who God is. We are told in Deuteronomy chapter 4, "To you it was shown, that you might know that the LORD Himself is God; there is none other besides Him...Therefore know this day, and consider it in your heart, that the LORD Himself is God in heaven above and on the earth beneath; there is no other. You shall therefore keep His statutes and His commandments which I command you today, that it may go well with you and with your children after you, and that you may prolong your days in the land which the LORDyour God is giving you for all time.Deuteronomy 4:35, 39-40.

First, put God first, recognize that He is God and then follow what He has said because it is what is best for your life. Notice what Psalm 25:14-15 tells us, "The secret of the LORD iswith those who fear Him, and He will show them His covenant. My eyes are ever towardthe LORD, for He shall pluck my feet out of the net.God is not hiding His will from you. He is not playing games with you. He makes His will known to us through His Word, through others, through the Holy Spirit speaking to our heart. Then it is up to us to either obey His voice or to disobey it. The consequences of obeying is He will keep you from harm, He will protect you. If you disobey, the consequences could cost you your life!

Now the reason why there is such disunity in the body of Christ is because people are not walking with the Lord, they are doing their own thing, they have to be right, and yet, Paul tells us in Romans 12:3-5 "For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith. For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another."

You see, you will never walk with your brothers and sisters in Christ, nor with anyone, if you are not walking with God. First you must get your relationship with God right and then your relationship with man will be on track. You see, when we are not walking with God we tend to be self-centered instead of others-centered.

You know what I mean. As the song goes, "I did it my way!" and that is the problem! We tend to think, "Hey, I’m in charge, if they don’t like it, tough!" Can you imagine Jesus saying something like that? Of course not! As we are told in Mark 10:45, "For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many." And that is what God desires of us, to follow His example.

In fact, prior to Jesus saying those words in Mark, He said "But Jesus called them toHimself and said to them, ‘You know that those who are considered rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant. And whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all." Mark 10:42-44. We are not to lord over people, but to serve people. We are not to be looking out only for our own needs, but for the needs of others. But the key of course is allowing God to have all of you, to be the master control center of your life, you might say. Paul, in Colossians 1:18 said "And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence."

Now there are those today who refuse this unity in the body of Christ, not on doctrinal issues, but on likes and dislikes. For instance, the color the church should be painted, the way the offering is received, the styles of music, the way people dress, and the list can go on-and-on, and frankly, I don’t believe God is honored by these divisions within the body. These are not foundational issues, but likes and dislikes, like I have said.

In fact, John MacArthur, pastor of Grace Community Church in California, doesn’t believe in the gifts of the Spirit, he does not believe they are for today. Now he might not agree the way I do on this subject, but I look at his ministry, his teaching of the Word of God, and I can see that he is being used by God, and just because we might not use the same terminology, I can see the Holy Spirit working in his life and his ministry. I highly respect this pastor and the work he is doing, and for me, I am not going to divide the body of Christ over a issue that has nothing to do with salvation. That doesn’t mean I am going to change my view to agree with his, but we can work together for the betterment of the body. And I have seen this in his life as he has stepped out and taught at Calvary Chapel in Costa Mesa for Pastor Chuck.

On the other hand, as Jude points out "Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you tocontend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints." Jude 3. I too will earnestly contend for the faith. I will fight to the death over foundational issues, foundational truths of God that deal with salvation, eternal life. I will not compromise, nor do I believe God wants us to, for if we do not believe the same gospel, then we are encouraging people to go to Hell! You see, outside of Christ there is no salvation.

Think of it this way. My right arm, say I am not happy with it. This arm is not dressed right, it doesn’t keep beat to the music, it puts the offering in the collection bag rather than the box, or whatever silly thing. And it does seem silly doesn’t it! So I decide to cut it off, divide the body. Is that smart? Is that wise? Is that the appropriate thing to do? Will it help my body function better? No, no, no and no! We would put a person who attempted something like that in a mental institution, and yet that goes on in churches across America and it should not be so!

But, lets say my arm had cancer, and to let it remain would only destroy my entire body. So I would have my arm removed to save my life. Is that smart? Is that wise? Is that the appropriate thing to do? Will it help my body function better? Yes, yes, yes and yes! You would be a fool not to remove the cancerous arm. And yet, again in churches across America you have pastors, leaders negating the deity of Jesus, His atoning death and resurrection, the free gift of life that He has given to us, and that should not be so! You see, unless that is cut out, it will lead to spiritual death!

One person put it this way, and I strongly agree with what he had to say. He said "In essentials, unity. In nonessentials, liberty. In all things charity." That is perfect, isn’t it? You see, in the essential foundational doctrines, we must be in unity. With the nonessentials, like clothes, hair, the color a church is painted or the color someone’s hair is painted , how the offering is received, music and-so-on, liberty. We are free in Christ! You may not agree with everything, and that is fine, but show some liberty in the way you respond, these are not foundational issues. And in all things, charity!

The word "charity" speaks of good will or love towards man. In the New Testament the word "charity" is very interesting. First, before I tell you what it is, I want you to listen to what Paul says in I Corinthians 13:4-8a, and I am reading from the King James version. We read"Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is notpuffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked,thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things,believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Charity never faileth..."

That word "charity" is the Greek word AGAPE and it speaks of unconditional love. Can you love your brothers and sisters in Christ even though you may not agree with them on every issue? I hope so. The Psalmist said "Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!" Psalm 133:1. Do you know what that unity is all about? I think you will be surprised. It is Jesus Christ! He has brought us togther, we are a family, as Paul said in Galatians 3:26-28, "For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus." You not only need to understand that, you need to apply that to your life!

And the thing is, if we, as the body of Christ, can’t get along with each other, how are we going to reach out in love to the lost? The world looks at us, the body of Christ, as we are shooting ourselves in the feet, and they don’t want anything to do with us, and can you blame them? Of course not, I wouldn’t want that!

As Jesus was speaking of His death, His departure, He gave His men these words of instruction to follow in John 13:34-35. He said "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another." How will they know we are Christians? By our bumper stickers? By our Christian tee-shirts? By our 40 pound Bibles we carry around with us? By the Scriptures we quote? By the way we dress? By how short our hair is or how long it is? No, no, no, no, no and no! And that list can go on-and-on, but that is not how people will know we are Christians.

And we don’t have to guess, Jesus makes it very simple for us, He makes it very clear. He wants us to know. He says that He has loved us with a unconditional love, a sacrificial love and thus, we are to love others with that same kind of love. That is the key characteristic of a Christian, that AGAPE love he has for people! And as people see that love in us and that love we extend to people, they will know we are different, they will know we are Christians. Otherwise, without that love all we are doing is making a lot of noise, banging drums, clanging cymbals, but not making any real music. Our talk is empty. But love never fails! That is what we should be manifesting in our life, not the love of the world, but the fruit of the Spirit love, a love that can only come from God!

In John chapter 17 we see Jesus in prayer, first for Himself, then for His disciples, and then for you and me. And I want you to listen to what Jesus was praying for beginning in verse 20 of John 17. We read "I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You;that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And theglory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me." John 17:20-23.

What was Jesus praying for? UNITY! He was praying that our unity would be like the unity Jesus has with the Father. Is that what the Godhead sees as They look down upon us? Not really, but that is what they desire of us. Why? That the world may believe! You see, love is a powerful tool if used properly. It could draw people to Christ, or if used like the world uses love, it will push people away from Christ because the worlds love is self-satisfying and not others-centered!

If you are struggling with this in your own life, I would ask you to give it to God and ask Him to change your heart to conform to His heart. That the love He has shown you, you can turn around and show others. It is God’s desire, it brings glory to Him and it points people to Jesus.

As I close this morning, listen to these words from Charles R. Swindoll. He said:

Union has an affiliation with others but no common bond that makes them one in heart.Uniformity has everyone looking and thinking alike. Unanimity is complete agreement across the board. Unity, however, refers to a oneness of heart, a similarity of purpose, and an agreement on major points of doctrine.

- Charles R. Swindoll, Hope Again

You may not agree with everything someone says or does, but you don’t agree with everything your spouse does and you love your spouse. And if you can’t agree on anything but one thing, Jesus Christ and the building up of His kingdom, what more do you need? Think about that for a minute. That is what it is all about, the worship of God and the sharing of the truths of God so that God’s Word would take root in peoples lives and they would come to know Him as Lord and Savior.

Paul had a correct perspective of things, even though people were coming against His ministry, they were still pointing people to Jesus, and that was his main concern. He said in Philippians 1:15-18, "Some indeed preach Christ even from envy and strife, and some also from good will: The former preach Christ from selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my chains; but the latter out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel. What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is preached; and in this I rejoice, yes, and will rejoice." May we have the same perspective!

Remember our text this morning from Amos 3:3, it says "Can two walk together, unlessthey are agreed?" To walk in unity with others, you must first walk in unity with God, not your will, but His be done in your life! It is God’s desire for your life, won’t you follow? Why? Because the enemy knows he can win if he divides, but think of the work that can be done for the kingdom of God if we work together in unity, in Christ! Let’s tear down the gates of Hell and see people saved from their sin as we work together for His glory! Remember, they will know we are Christians by our love! And as we walk together in unity, they will see the love we have for each other! And as we extend that same AGAPE love to them, they may come to know the Lord as their Savior! Don’t push people away by your behavior, draw them to Christ through your love!

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