Here's what's fascinating to me about Paul. He never seemed to sit still.
He's always on the move, always thinking of different projects and things and ideas and he's a man of vision and he communicated that vision and he made plans and he's making plans here. Somebody, one author said Paul never saw a ship that he didn't want to board, he never saw a mountain range that he didn't want to climb over to get the gospel to people on the other side and to encourage Christians who might live in that region. The apostle Paul lived wholeheartedly for Jesus. Nothing could stop him from sharing the good news of salvation in Christ. Today on Connect with Skip Heintze, Skip shares insight from Paul's life to encourage you to keep devoting your life to Jesus and the gospel. Before we begin, we want to let you know about a resource that will nourish your soul with God's amazing truths. Our lives rotate around crucial moments and decisions where everything changes.
We call them pivot points. Here's Skip Heintze. In this you greatly rejoice though now for a little while if need be you have been grieved by various trials. Do you think Peter is actually saying that there are times when God knows you need a trial? Is that what he's saying? Uh-huh.
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Please call 800-922-1888 or give online securely at connectwithskip.com. Thank you for partnering with us. Okay, let's dive into today's teaching. We'll be in 1 Corinthians chapter 16 as Skip Heitzig begins the study. I get asked this question a lot. What about tithing? What does the Bible say about tithing? How much should I give in my tithe?
I get that question a lot. You know that Paul never once mentioned tithing. He never used the word tithing.
You want to know why? Tithing is not a New Testament concept. It's an Old Testament concept. Tithe means a tenth and in the Old Testament, you know, a lot of Christians don't understand the tithe. They think, well, they gave a tenth in the Old Testament. Actually, if you tally it all up in the law, they gave 30 percent, not 10 percent, 30 percent to the Lord.
And so when people say, Skip, you ought to teach on tithing, I'm thinking, you really don't want me to teach on tithing, do you? Because they gave 10 percent and then throughout the year more for different things, so it was a total of 30 percent to the Lord. I mentioned tithing is an Old Testament concept. It actually predates the law when Abraham gave a tithe to Melchizedek in the book of Genesis. It's fleshed out in the law. It's part of the covenant for the nation of Israel.
When it comes to the New Testament, it's different. You might start at a 10 percent base. That's what I do with my family.
I start there. But then there are special gifts and special offerings for special needs that we see and we want to be a part of. But the New Testament regulation is every man should give as he purposes in his heart, 2 Corinthians 9, not grudgingly nor of necessity, not because you have to, not because you're cajoled into it. For God loves, he said, a cheerful giver. That's how you give. You give cheerfully. You give as you purpose in your heart. So when somebody says, How much should I give? I say, How much do you want to give? I don't want to give anything.
Then don't give anything. Because actually, if you think about it, if you don't want to give it, it's really better that you keep it because God loves a cheerful giver. And it is, Jesus said, it is more blessed to give than receive. But if you can't get your head around that, your heart around that concept and give cheerfully, hang on to it.
God loves a cheerful giver. Now he does tell us how to do it, though. He said on the first day of the week, first day of the week, why? Because the church met on the first day of the week. The Saturday Sabbath was over in terms of the church practicing that, especially in Gentile areas. People say, Well, the Bible says we had to keep the Sabbath. You're right, the Bible says that to the Jewish nation.
I'm not part of the Jewish nation. That's a covenant for the Jewish nation, as circumcision was for the males. And so was the Saturday Sabbath. But the early church started meeting on Sundays pretty early on. Acts chapter 20 says, They gathered for worship on the first day of the week. So they were doing that way back in the book of Acts. And that is probably because of something happened before the church was even started.
You know what event I'm talking about? The resurrection. Jesus rose on not the seventh day of the week, but the first day of the week. Very early in the morning on the first day of the week, Jesus conquered death. And so the church began meeting on the first day of the week to celebrate the week, to celebrate the resurrection. But also Jesus rose on the first day of the week.
And then the Bible tells us in the Gospels that eight days later, Jesus appeared to his disciples when Thomas was present. Eight days later would be the first day of the week. So Jesus appeared on the first day of the week, sanctified that.
So the early church began meeting on the first day of the week. So the idea of a Saturday Sabbath and keeping the Sabbath is not a New Testament obligation. Paul never said to do it. Jesus never said to do it. When the early church wrote a letter in Acts chapter 15 to the non-Jewish Christians up in Antioch, and they gave them rules and regulations. Remember what they said? Abstain from things sacrificed to idol. Abstain from blood. They gave a few little regulations. Never once did they say, oh, make sure that you keep the Sabbath day.
Didn't do it. They said, we can't lay that on them. So when Paul writes Romans, he said, one man esteems one day of the week above all the rest. One man esteems all the days alike. Let each one be persuaded in his own mind.
There you have it. If you say, I got to worship on Saturday, then by all means worship on Saturday. We have a Saturday evening service.
Oh, no, no, I'm not in the law anymore. I think we had to worship Sunday, the first day of the week. Great. We have a couple Sunday morning services. A couple Sunday morning services. Or maybe you're like me. Paul was writing about me when he gave the second part of that verse, and he said, one man esteems all the days alike.
That's me. I think Jesus should be worshiped Saturday and Sunday and Monday. Oh, and Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.
Every single day of the day of the week. They're all alike to me. I say, well, I don't agree. That's fine. Let each one be persuaded in his own mind. I'm persuaded in my own mind.
You're not going to change that. If I'm not going to change your keeping of the Saturday Sabbath, have at it. Have fun. But can we all agree that whether it's Saturday or Sunday or Monday or Friday or Thursday at 2 a.m., that God and the Lord Jesus, they are worthy to be worshiped? So let's worship Him and not get hung up about what day you worship Him, but that you worship Him.
So I better move on so I can finish this chapter. So first day of the week, and then notice also in verse 2, it was to be done by everyone in the church, not just a few. Let each one of you lay something aside. So the rich and the poor, the slave and the free, everyone should participate in financial giving. And then they should give in proportion to what they have as far as amount, storing up as he may prosper. And then I like this last part, so there's no collections when I come.
He just didn't want the heartache of having to make it a big deal. He just wanted to write the leadership, get it all done in advance, to not make a big deal of it, have it all done by the time he got there. And when I come, whomever you approve by your letters, I will send to bear your gift to Jerusalem. But if it is fitting that I go also, they will go with me. Notice the care in handling money. Paul didn't say, and just make sure that you put it in a sealed envelope and give it to me. No, he said, you know what?
I'm not going to even handle it. You get people that you designate as responsible, and they can take it. They can go. And if it's fitting that I go, I'll go as well, which Paul ended up doing. He went to Jerusalem.
He'll be arrested in Jerusalem, but he did end up going to Jerusalem. So Paul is not shy about talking about finances. Paul is not shy about taking an offering.
But here's the difference. He never solicited money for himself. He never said, you know, our ministry is really suffering this month. And if you could just see fit before God to give us your seed, faith, offering, just write to me, Paul the Apostle.
Main Street Ephesus, that's all the address you need. But he didn't do that. He never solicited money for himself. But he did have no problem soliciting money for others, for other needs. When he writes to the Philippians, he's going to say, I'm really grateful that you guys are stepping up to the plate and sending your resources for me. Not that I speak in terms of want, but I want fruit to abound to your account. But I'm grateful that you are doing it.
But he never pushed that issue for himself. But if it's fitting, verse four, that I go, they will go with me. Now, he said, I will come to you when I pass through Macedonia, for I am passing through Macedonia.
But it may be that I will remain or even spend the winter with you, that you may send me on my journey wherever I go. I can't wait to meet Paul. He's a fascinating fellow. He died at a relatively young age.
He only made it to 58. And he was then beheaded. He would have kept going if he could have. But here's what's fascinating to me about Paul. He never seemed to sit still. He's always on the move, always thinking of different projects and things and ideas. And he's a man of vision. And he communicated that vision. And he made plans.
And he's making plans here. One author said, Paul never saw a ship that he didn't want to board. He never saw a mountain range that he didn't want to climb over to get the gospel to people on the other side and to encourage Christians who might live in that region. Always on the move, packed full of vision, and always going to places no one else wanted to go to. I think of Paul. I'm going to call him a Star Trek missionary.
How's that? That's my term. He's a Star Trek missionary.
You know I call him that? Right, because he wanted to go where no man would boldly go before. He wanted to boldly go where no man would go before. He wanted to go where no man would go has gone before. He just went into these regions where the gospel hadn't been preached, but believed in the transforming power of the Word of God. And he went for it. So he said, I'm going to come to Macedonia for I am passing through Macedonia. Although he didn't end up going through Macedonia to Corinth, he ended up going to Corinth and then through eventually he'll do that, but it'll be in reverse, not quite as he planned. So with that in mind, watch this. With you that you may send me on my journey wherever I go, verse 7, for I do not wish to see you now on the way, which he will end up doing, but I hope to stay a while with you if the Lord permits. So look at the balance here. Paul was very practical.
Paul didn't have any problem making plans in the will of God. I'm just looking. I'm coming, you know. I am going to pass through Macedonia.
I'm going to come and visit you. So he was very practical, but he was also very flexible. If you're that kind of a person who likes to check all the boxes and get everything planned, good. It's good, but blessed are the flexible.
They shall not be broken. Paul was very practical, but Paul was also very flexible, and he realized I may make plans. I may have an agenda. I may see this and believe this to be the will of God, but you know what? It may or may not work out, and I'm good with that because Paul believed I'm going to write the script, but God has editing rights over my script.
He may have a whole different scene that he has written that he wants to drop into my script that I didn't plan for. So be it. So I'm going to give the Lord that permission. So he would say, I'm going to do this. I'm going to do that if the Lord permits. That's how we ought to live. We ought to live with the caveat if the Lord permits, if the Lord wills. Remember what James said in chapter 4? He said, come now you who say today or tomorrow we're going to go into such and such a city and spend a year there and buy and sell and make a profit, whereas you don't know what's going to happen tomorrow. For what is your life?
It is even a vapor that appears for a short time then vanishes away. Rather, he said, you ought to say if the Lord wills we shall live and do this or that. I don't even know if the Lord wants me to live tomorrow, let alone do this or that, but if it's the Lord's will, great. But you know what?
Some of you might not be alive tomorrow on earth, but if that's the case you'll be alive in heaven. So make your plans, but please give God elbow room because he's going to take it anyway. So be flexible. Be practical. Be flexible. I remember I was at a pastor's conference and in the Q&A, the question and answer, somebody asked me about my week and my preparation, and the question was, how do you keep yourself from distractions?
And I said, well, that's a good question, but it's not always possible. And there are some distractions that are from the Lord, and you don't want to ever keep yourself from those. So you can make your plans and set your time aside and sequester your study time and prayer time and prep time, but know that the Lord might distract you with something, and he has the right to do that.
So I'm going to do this. I hope to stay a while if the Lord permits, but I will tarry, verse 8, in Ephesus until Pentecost. Paul did end up spending a total of three years in Ephesus, it was very fruitful, it was very effective.
He went into the synagogue, they kicked him out of the synagogue. Eventually he rented a public building called the School of Tyrannus, and for two years he had meetings there, and it was so powerful. It says that all of Asia, both great and small, heard the word of the Lord, so it spread from Ephesus. It became headquarters to him for those three years, and I've been mentioning on Sunday that two people from nearby Colossae, Epaphras and Philemon, went to Ephesus. They heard Paul preaching in Ephesus, they were converted, they went back and started a church in Colossae. So he says, I'm going to hang out here, I'm going to stay in Ephesus until Pentecost.
There are certain things that just get my attention, this is one of them. He mentions Pentecost, which is a Jewish feast. He's not writing to Jews, he's writing to Gentiles and Corinth, largely. They don't keep Pentecost. But Paul was Jewish, and his calendar, his reference for time, his iPad and iPhone were all adjusted to a Jewish calendar.
That's how he kept time. So they probably had heard of Pentecost, but he didn't seem to care if they had or hadn't. He's going by the calendar he grew up with, and Pentecost happens at the beginning of June, the end of May, so his plan is to hang out in Ephesus until then.
And here's why he's going to stay in Ephesus before he comes their way. He says, in Ephesus before he comes their way, he says, 4 verse 9, 4, a great and effective door has been opened to me. God has given me great opportunity here. That's what that means, a great and effective door. Door is always a metaphor for an opportunity, has been opened to me. We even use that terminology, well, the Lord opened the door, that's where we get it. So that door of opportunity has opened. I've gone through that door. I'm hanging out in this room of opportunity known as Ephesus. It's a great and effective door has been opened to me. Notice this, too.
It's interesting that he combines it, and there are many adversaries. Okay, so let's talk first of all about the opportunity. The opportunity for Paul began on his second missionary journey. On the second missionary journey, he went to Ephesus. He had not done that on his first. He goes to Ephesus and he thinks, oh goodness, this is fertile ground.
This is ripe soil. So he makes it, as I mentioned, his headquarters for a while and then longer and a total, as I mentioned, of three years he stays in Ephesus. So it was great opportunity. The word of the Lord spread throughout the Roman province of Asia Minor. Great opportunity, but also great opposition.
I touched on it last week. There was a guy named Demetrius, a silversmith. The organized religious system of the worship of Diana had its headquarters in Ephesus. An uproar happened in Ephesus. The enemies came out of the woodwork, hated Paul, hated his message, created this huge demonstration in a 24,000 seat theater in Ephesus. I've stood in that theater, and the people that gathered for two hours shouted out against Paul, great is Diana of the Ephesians, great is Diana of the Ephesians. You know, it was like the Ephesian cheerleaders squad was out in full and they opposed Paul. Headed by Demetrius and somebody else named Alexander who was Jewish, they came against Paul. So Paul said, hey, I'm going to hang out here because there's great opportunity and because there's great opposition. It's interesting that Paul didn't see opposition as a deterrent to the opportunity. Most people would.
They'd go, man, things are getting heated up here. Must not be God's will for me to be here. Why do you think that? Well, because if it's God's will, it's going to be easy. Where did you get that idea? Not from the Bible, certainly not from Paul's ministry. To Paul, it was like, you know what, things are heating up here.
I pushed one of Satan's hot buttons. I'm going to hang around a while. It's getting fun. Listen, young pastor, if you're looking for a place to start a church, look for a place that has opposition, not for a place that is, oh, I feel led to go to Hawaii or Colorado. How about Albuquerque?
How about wherever you might get blowback or opposition? Buckle your seatbelt, but it's going to be fun. The ride's fun. And when Satan's minions get all upset, it's kind of fun to watch.
I'll be honest with you. I enjoy it. So a great and effective door has been opened to me, and there are many adversaries. That's Skip Hyten with a message from the series Expound First Corinthians. Now, here's Skip to tell you about how you can keep encouraging messages like this coming your way as you help connect others to God's truths. The apostle Paul boldly proclaimed the gospel everywhere he had the opportunity, and it's our mission to do the same. That's why it's our mission to do the same.
That's why we make these Bible teachings available on the air and online. And you can join in this vital work to connect many more people around the world with the good news of Jesus. Here's how you can give a gift today to do just that, and keep these messages that you love coming to you and others. You can give online at connectwithskip.com slash donate. That's connectwithskip.com slash donate. Or call 800-922-1888.
800-922-1888. Thank you. Tomorrow, Skip Hysek shares how you can treasure all your brothers and sisters in the body of Christ. Here's one of the dangers of a large church is that sometimes shy people come to large churches because they believe they're going to blend into the woodwork and not be noticed. That's a danger. Notice them. See them. Look for them. Don't let them get away. Connect with Skip Hysek is a presentation of Connection Communications, connecting you to God's never changing truth in ever-changing times.
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