“Let love be your highest goal! But you should also desire the special abilities the Spirit gives—especially the ability to prophesy. For if you have the ability to speak in tongues, you will be talking only to God, since people won’t be able to understand you. You will be speaking by the power of the Spirit, but it will all be mysterious. But one who prophesies strengthens others, encourages them, and comforts them.” 1 Corinthians 14:1-3 NLT
There are three categories we must consider concerning the various things God has placed within the body of Christ.
1. Natural Talent - the ability to sing, play instruments, various skills, etc. We all have individual talents but we all don't share the same talents.
2. Fruit of the Spirit - the attributes of the Holy Spirit (these are listed in Galatians 5:22-23: love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance). These attributes should be evident in every believers life. If we truly know Jesus, we will have these characteristics. We can't identify ourselves as followers of Jesus when we are hateful and cantankerous. There are times we all get in a moment of fleshly failure. We all have potential to act sinful. The child of God, however, must not allow this king of action without a recognition and repentance. If we are children of God, we must display the character of our Father.
3. Gifts of the Holy Spirit - Divine impartations from God. These are listed in various passages in the New Testament. The manifestation gifts are listed in 1 Corinthians 12:1-11. In this area there is controversy in church denominations. Some still believe in them and practice them. Others deny them. We are not God and we are not to tell the Holy Spirit what He can and can't do. As the body of Christ, we must allow the Holy Spirit to be the church Administrator. Truth be told, we need Him to return to our churches. Only when the church yields to the power of the Holy Spirit can we experience the power of God at work.
Prayer for today: Father, in Jesus name, remove me from front and center. Take center stage in my life and church. Holy Spirit, you are welcome in my life and church to do as you please.
“Prophecy and speaking in unknown languages and special knowledge will become useless. But love will last forever! Now our knowledge is partial and incomplete, and even the gift of prophecy reveals only part of the whole picture! But when the time of perfection comes, these partial things will become useless. When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things. Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely. Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:8-13 NLT
All of the current ways of life are temporary. We hear of the Lord through preaching. We feel the power of God through the Holy Spirit. We receive moments of refreshing in the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Until we depart from the temporary into the eternal, we can only experience the kingdom of God in a limited fashion. One day Christ Jesus will make all things new and we will live in His perfect presence. (See Revelation 21). We will be face to face with Him. (See Revelation 22:4) God's character is unchanging. (See Malachi 3:6; Hebrews 13:8). Because He is eternal, so is His love. In His love, God created us. In His love, He died for us and resurrected. In His love, He saves those who call upon Him by faith in His Son Jesus. In His love, He is preparing an eternal place for us to live. That is the day for which my heart truly longs. Until then let us love with His love, even in a hateful world.
Prayer for today: Father, in Jesus name, I thank You for Your unfailing love. Because of Your love I can live in the here and now as well as in eternity.
“Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.”
1 Corinthians 13:4-7 NLT
Prayer for today: Father, in Jesus name, help me love like this.
“If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.”
1 Corinthians 13:1-3 NLT
Life without love is death. Everything we do is meaningless if we do not have love as the motive. 1 John 4:7-8 makes this emphatic statement “Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love.”
Listen to these words from 1 John 3: “This is the message you have heard from the beginning: We should love one another. We must not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and killed his brother. And why did he kill him? Because Cain had been doing what was evil, and his brother had been doing what was righteous. So don’t be surprised, dear brothers and sisters, if the world hates you. If we love our brothers and sisters who are believers, it proves that we have passed from death to life. But a person who has no love is still dead. Anyone who hates another brother or sister is really a murderer at heart. And you know that murderers don’t have eternal life within them.”
1 John 3:11-15 NLT
God is serious about the love we should have for others. Loving others doesn't mean that you agree with their sin or accept it. Simply put, it means acting like Jesus not the the devil!
Prayer for today: Father, in Jesus name, help me love others like you love me!
“Here are some of the parts God has appointed for the church: first are apostles, second are prophets, third are teachers, then those who do miracles, those who have the gift of healing, those who can help others, those who have the gift of leadership, those who speak in unknown languages. Are we all apostles? Are we all prophets? Are we all teachers? Do we all have the power to do miracles? Do we all have the gift of healing? Do we all have the ability to speak in unknown languages? Do we all have the ability to interpret unknown languages? Of course not! So you should earnestly desire the most helpful gifts. But now let me show you a way of life that is best of all.” 1 Corinthians 12:28-31 NLT
There are multiple parts to the body of Christ and there are also multiple gifts distributed by the Holy Spirit. Each of us are a part and have been given gifts to operate in. As we all contribute these, the body receives benefit. Regardless of what part we are, or the gifting, we must always remain in the love of God. Our actions are meaningless without the motive being righteous.
Prayer for today: Father, in the name of Jesus, help me discover the part you have made me for. May I submit to the power of the Holy Spirit so I may be able to operate in the gift(s) You give me. I am willing and available. Use me for your body's sake.
“How strange a body would be if it had only one part! Yes, there are many parts, but only one body. The eye can never say to the hand, “I don’t need you.” The head can’t say to the feet, “I don’t need you.” In fact, some parts of the body that seem weakest and least important are actually the most necessary. And the parts we regard as less honorable are those we clothe with the greatest care. So we carefully protect those parts that should not be seen, while the more honorable parts do not require this special care. So God has put the body together such that extra honor and care are given to those parts that have less dignity. This makes for harmony among the members, so that all the members care for each other. If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts are glad.” 1 Corinthians 12:19-26 NLT
When we understand the proper function of the church as a body, we will work together. We must all participate in the well being of the church. When we don't consider how our role affects the whole, we cause injury to the church. We must protect it.
The brain communicates to the rest of the body what it needs to do to help perform any task. We must submit to the Lord Jesus as our brain. He is the Head of the church (Ephesians 1:22; 4:15; 5:23; Colossians 1:18; 2:19). When we listen to the commands of Christ, we preserve and promote the well being of His body, the church. When we don't, we disable it.
Brethren, let us come together to make the body of Christ strong and healthy. Let us not think of ourselves, but the whole.
Prayer for today: Father, in Jesus name, help me to realize that I am a part of Your body, the church. Help me promote its health and function. Help me serve You and not think about my self interest but, rather, what is best for the whole body.
“Yes, the body has many different parts, not just one part. If the foot says, “I am not a part of the body because I am not a hand,” that does not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear says, “I am not part of the body because I am not an eye,” would that make it any less a part of the body? If the whole body were an eye, how would you hear? Or if your whole body were an ear, how would you smell anything? But our bodies have many parts, and God has put each part just where he wants it.” 1 Corinthians 12:14-18 NLT
When we consider the simple, yet profound, analogy of the human body being the example of how the body of Christ (the church) is supposed to function, we can implement this practical truth into reality. We are multiple parts functioning as one unit. There is no place for self centered behavior. Our objective is to contribute to the success of the whole.
When we think about ourselves, we seek only the things that benefit us. Let me share an example: Many people attend church each week with the mentality of "what am I getting out of this?" rather than "what can I contribute to this?".
The mystery here is this: when we contribute to the whole, we receive, from the whole, the vital lifeblood that makes us alive and well. A hand cannot survive if it is severed from the body. The body can survive without the hand but it is left with a disability. The body can adjust to living without the hand but, when the hand is intact and the body operates in its full, healthy potential, everyone is benefited.
Imagine church with everyone knowing their function and remaining faithful to the task.
There is so much more that we can accomplish together. We never will see what God can do in His church if we settle for being disabled. Jesus, the Great Physician, can heal us and help us to be healthy and whole. May the church rise up in healthy display for the world to see. When we do, it will change the world!!
Prayer for today: Father, in Jesus name, help me to find my place of service to your body, the church, and help me faithfully execute my role. Heal us, O Lord, and make us whole. Let us demonstrate to the world Your glory!!!
“The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ. Some of us are Jews, some are Gentiles, some are slaves, and some are free. But we have all been baptized into one body by one Spirit, and we all share the same Spirit.” 1 Corinthians 12:12-13 NLT
Although we are all unique in our own God designed way, we are all interconnected and interdependent. None of us can accomplish the work of the body of Christ on our own. We must recognize our absolute dependency upon one another for the complete function of the body. Each of us brings a very special and important contribution to the work of the church. When we all get a biblical perspective on our role, and its affect on everyone else, only then, can we fully understand the significance of our personal conduct and character. Others are depending on us.
Sure, we may know Jesus as Savior, but we must also submit to His Lordship over our life. He has a purpose for us. Surrendering ourselves to Him, and willingly obeying, will have tremendous impact on the body of Christ.
As I read at a local fast food restaurant "None of us is as good as all of us." Are you participating as part of the whole? If not, you are in disobedience. The church needs you. We are better with you than without you.
Prayer for today:
Father, in Jesus name, help me understand where I belong in your body and help me function to my peak potential so we can bring You glory! Amen!
“A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other. To one person the Spirit gives the ability to give wise advice; to another the same Spirit gives a message of special knowledge. The same Spirit gives great faith to another, and to someone else the one Spirit gives the gift of healing. He gives one person the power to perform miracles, and another the ability to prophesy. He gives someone else the ability to discern whether a message is from the Spirit of God or from another spirit. Still another person is given the ability to speak in unknown languages, while another is given the ability to interpret what is being said. It is the one and only Spirit who distributes all these gifts. He alone decides which gift each person should have.” ~ 1 Corinthians 12:7-11 NLT
The gifts of the Spirit are given to us to help the body of Christ operate at full potential. When each of us contribute our Holy Spirit given gifts, we edify the church. These gifts are not for individual gloating or to compare ourselves to others. They are given to us by God for the betterment of His church. We must seek to advance the whole, not the part.
A wheel on a car doesn't brag about its ability to make the car roll down the road, it simply does it's designed function. All the parts of a car work together to make the vehicle function to its peak potential. If the battery goes dead, the car is rendered powerless. In the same way, we should all be striving to operate at peak potential with the gifts and calling that God has placed on each of us. The church is comprised of each and every born again believer. When we got saved, we immediately became a member of God's church. As a member, we have a place and part to fill. It is much more than attending a church service and going home. We need to get involved in the advancement of the body. Others are depending upon our active, healthy function for the overall performance and success of the whole. Then, and only then, can the church rise up as the powerhouse it is intended to be.
Prayer for today: Father, in Jesus name, fill me with the Holy Spirit and allow me the distinct honor of serving your body, the church.
“Brothers and sisters, I don’t want there to be any misunderstanding concerning spiritual gifts. You know that when you were unbelievers, every time you were led to worship false gods you were worshiping gods who couldn’t even speak. So I want you to know that no one speaking by God’s Spirit says, “Jesus is cursed.” No one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit. There are different spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit gives them. There are different ways of serving, and yet the same Lord is served. There are different types of work to do, but the same God produces every gift in every person.”
1 Corinthians 12:1-6 GW
Corinth was about 600,000 in population. The city was located on a narrow strip of land about four miles wide - between two bodies of sea. It was economically bulging. However, the culture was pagan. In fact, there was a temple built to the goddess Aphrodite. In Greek mythology she was the daughter of Zeus and the goddess of love (desire). Prostitutes were available at this "place of worship". Perversion was rampant. It was one of the largest cities in the world at the time; Multicultural, economically prosperous, and yet caught up in heathenism.
In the midst of all of this chaos, there was a Christian church. The church was in desperate need of apostolic instruction for character and conduct.
In today's reading, Paul is giving instructions about the various gifts God gives His church and how they are meant to compliment each other, not compete.
We are all unique and individual but we are made to contribute to the function of the whole.
Prayer for today: Father, in the name of Jesus, help me understand that life isn't about me. Help me learn what you have gifted me to do in your body, the church, and help me be found serving there.
Rev. Curtis Norris