What a special day we had at Liberty on Sunday! We had the opportunity to look back on all that God has done throughout our 119-year history, and to talk about some exciting doors that He’s opened for the future. “Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to Your name be the glory!” (Ps. 115:1). And, as we continued through our study in 1 Corinthians, we were reminded that the principles Paul gives in chapter 16 are timeless. They have guided us for 119 years and they will carry us into the future.
Paul was constantly planning ahead. After three years in Ephesus, he was making plans to go to Macedonia and Corinth (v. 5-6). Paul had a spirit of expectancy and vision. After writing the book of Romans, Paul was planning to go to Spain. What city and country are we going to next? Liberty started as part of Bethel Baptist in York County. In 1900, 38 members found it difficult to travel from Hampton especially in the flood season. They started Little Bethel in Hampton (later the name was changed to Liberty). The vision to reach people and to make the church more accessible continues today. We are here for those not yet here.
One of my favorite lines is, “Blessed are the flexible for they shall not get bent out of shape.” In verses 7-8, Paul says what he hopes to do, but follows by saying, “if the Lord permits.” Think of all the changes that have taken place in our church in 119 years. And by God’s grace and His work alone, Liberty continues to reach people. 94% of all churches in America are losing ground. Liberty has always done whatever it takes to reach the next generation. God never changes, but our willingness to change with the times allows us to communicate the timeless truths of God’s word. Our methods may change, but the message and mission are the same.
Paul continues in verse 9 saying, “For a great and effective door has opened to me….” I shared some exciting opportunities on Sunday that God is giving us. If you missed the sermon, you can watch it here. The only opportunity you can be sure of is the one you have today. Please join us in praying for each of these areas and pray about what your place in each might be. What door is God opening for you?
The second half of verse 9 says, “…and there were many adversaries.” Everything that moves ahead faces friction. With opportunity comes opposition. Not everyone is going to like the new doors of opportunity. Not everyone wants to go on the journey. In 2 Timothy Paul talked about those who deserted him, those who refreshed him, and those who helped him. Guard against the attack from within and without. There will be spiritual warfare.
Accomplishing the work God has called us to as a church takes team spirit. The Great Commission involves others. Paul gives instructions in verses 10-11 about treating Timothy well. They were co-laborers. We are a team. Don’t let anyone or anything divide us.
We are not all at the same place on the journey. We have to be sensitive and meet people where they are. Paul said that Apollos wasn’t willing to come at this time, but he was confident that he would eventually (v. 12). We have to believe the best in people and help them take their next step. Guard against getting cynical, jaded, suspicious, skeptical, etc.
In verses 13-16, Paul encourages them to do everything with love and to devote themselves to ministry. What you do is just as much ministry as what I do! God has put people around you that I may never know. The first 38 members of Liberty did what they did out of love and they left a legacy for us to follow. Now is our part in the story. Now is our time to be found faithful in our generation. Just like God has a vision for our church, God has a vision for your life. Are you all in?