Re:Verse reading–1 Corinthians 12:4-31 (day seven)
The gifts and roles that God assigns to us are unique. They are unique to our situation, they are unique to our church, they are unique to this present age, yet at the same time, they are the gifts that God has handed down through the Holy Spirit in the church for two millennia. The way those gifts come together in our church through our life together is what makes the whole thing unique.
But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired.
-1 Corinthians 12:18
Each one of us has a gifting that completes the perfectly unique work of FBCSA. Our gifts may change, they may add up, they may be different from what we desire, but even still, God calls us to be obedient and live out the calling that he has placed on us as individuals to edify the church.
Re:Verse reading–1 Corinthians 12:4-31 (day six)
But earnestly desire the higher gifts. 1 Corinthians 12:31
We rarely get to the details of the nature of the Spirit’s gifting, mostly because we find the Spirit a bit challenging to wrap our minds around; He is like the wind after all. But here Paul urges us to desire or seek the higher gifts. When is the last time you sought after a spiritual gift or gifts? Probably not recently; I certainly can’t remember the last time I asked the Spirit for a particular gift.
Some quick implications to consider when thinking about Paul’s words:
- It would seem you can have more than one gift at a time.
- Or multiple gifts at different times, in other words your gifting could change.
- We should ask God for spiritual gifts; asking God is the natural outcome of desire.
We tend to desire knowledge (more Bible study), maybe we should desire the Spirit’s gifts, or both. Perhaps, if we desired the higher gifts (those that bring more immediate benefit to the church) we would better understand how God uses them in the body; perhaps we’d experience greater common good and growth.
Gift it a try. Starting asking God for the higher gifts. He might just answer your prayer.
Re:Verse reading–1 Corinthians 12:4-31 (day five) “But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.“ As believers, all of us/each of us house the remarkable presence and power of the Living God in us. Want evidence? Need convincing? Proof is found as the Spirit is visibly working through gifts God has assigned. On display, is nothing less than the character of God. His generosity (He gives gifts). His vast power (He gives gifts to all believers). His wisdom and personal nature (He gives different gifts individually and uniquely). His kindness (Good comes from His actions). We have the opportunity to make visible the invisible. We get to be involved in the very activity of God making Him known and seen in the world. Isn’t that amazing??!!
Re:Verse reading–1 Corinthians 12:4-31 (day four)
God called Israel out of bondage to be with Him. He called them to be set apart from the world, so others would know that He was God. Obedience mattered to God. If Israel would obey God, the world would see Him and know Him.
In New Testament times, Jesus called us to be His people. Not just for our benefit so we can go to heaven, but when we live a life that is holy…set apart for Him…that people would see God and be drawn to Him. In order to give an accurate picture of the character of God, He gave us the spiritual gifts of the Holy Spirit. When the world sees these gifts at work in our lives…in the life of His church…they see the true nature of God and are drawn to Him.
What picture of God do people see in your life? Israel did not fulfill God’s plan to show the world who He was. Are you exercising the gifts given to you for His glory?
Re:Verse reading–1 Corinthians 12:4-31 (day three)
And now I will show you the most excellent way.
He means love, of course. Paul was ramping up to the resplendent summation of love’s life-bringing strength and power in what we now call chapter 13. As he did so, he reframed the Corinthian congregation’s understanding of the gifts of spiritual ability. Prophecy exists because there is someone who has lost his way and needs a light to follow. Wisdom makes its way through a congregation because foolishness has not ceased to plague the church. Healing comes because we are sick and weak. Interpretation of tongues rises up because accuracy and accountability escape us so easily. The abilities come amidst our weakness. We handle them poorly. And yet in love’s excellent way, we give them to one another. This is another reason we call them gifts.
Re:Verse reading–1 Corinthians 12:4-31 (day two)
Now you are Christ’s body, and individually members of it. vs. 27
As a conductor I have always loved reading this scripture and relating it to a musical ensemble; especially an orchestra. When you consider an offertory the our Orchestra at First may present think about how unique each instrument is. They are oddly shaped ones, brass ones, wooden ones, percussive ones. They each make different sounds, have different ranges, and play different roles. If you are to take one of those instruments out of the ensemble, the work of art is less than it could be. Less than it was created to be. Even those instruments that predominantly play the melody will be diminished by not being accompanied by the whole group. A composer knows this when writing for an orchestra. Every part is critical to the whole.
God knows this too. There are no small parts (pardon the mixed metaphor), all contribute. Revel in the beauty of his diverse church. Help those around to play their part to the fullest so that we may all offer our sweet smelling sacrifice of praise.
Re:Verse reading–1 Corinthians 12:4-31 (day one)
“On the contrary, it is much truer that the members of the body which seem weaker are NECESSARY. . .on these we bestow abundant honor.”– v 22-23.
It was a familiar analogy in the ancient world. Even among secular writers. Human societies are like the body. Different assignments but one common life and destiny.
“The figure was ordinarily used to urge members of the subordinate classes to stay in their places in the social order and not upset the equilibrium by rebelling against their superiors.” (Richard B. Hays)
Paul uses the image in a very different way! Rather than attempt to keep subordinates in their place, he urges privileged members to respect and value the contributions of every member. In spiritual dignity and potency we are all equals! Diversity, responsibility, respect. . . core values of an amazing new family!
And one of the ways that God teaches these revolutionary ideas is through the church.
Re:Verse reading–1 Corinthians 8 and 1 Corinthians 10:22-33 (day seven)
Two quotes stuck out in my study this week:
1 Corinthians 8:6 is a stunning theological innovation…one of the greatest pioneering moments in the entire history of Christology.
-N.T. Wright 1992
The modern church seeks to inconvenience the believer as little as possible.
The first quote elevates the grand reality of Jesus Christ, our Lord, our Savior, and our example, while the second quote acknowledges the grand laxity of the church. At some point we must realize that Christ has called us to follow him into a service that will cost us dearly. Our self will be wildly inconvenienced when Jesus Christ is Lord of our lives. If we are going to experience the abundance of God’s holy kingdom the fleshly self must die however painful that might be.
Yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom are all things and we exist for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we exist through Him.
1 Corinthians 8:6
Re:Verse reading–1 Corinthians 8 and 1 Corinthians 10:22-33 (day five)
“Therefore, if food causes my brother to stumble, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause my brother to stumble.” 8: 13
At the heart of Paul’s teaching/writing in chapter eight are significant questions he proposes to the church in Corinth. “Am I causing others to stumble?” “Am I communicating love with actions and attitudes?”
Let me suggest some other good questions to help with discernment:
Which is more important, my knowledge of God, or His knowledge of me?
Does my behavior bring others closer to God?
Do my attitudes and actions strengthen the faith of Christians?
Are people glad to have met me?
Is my knowledge of God balanced with love for others?
“When a Christian’s knowledge is radiated and released by love, he is clearly demonstrating that he knows God and that God knows him, i.e. that there is a deepening personal relationship between the two.”- David Prior
Re:Verse reading–1 Corinthians 8 and 1 Corinthians 10:22-33 (day four)
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord. (Isaiah 55:8)
Have you noticed that the principles we have in the Bible are always the exact opposite of the ways the world teaches us? The Bible says love your enemies, the world says crush your enemies. God says it is better to give than to receive, the world says get all you can get. God says the truth will set you free, the world says tell them what they want to hear.
In our passage this week, God says seek the good of others, the world says do whatever you want to do…be happy. Paul is instructing the Corinthians to always choose to follow the Lord’s ways. If we compromise the truth of Scripture, we may lead another person astray…we may keep them from seeing an accurate picture of God. Our witness to His truth is more important than doing what we consider to be in our own interest.