I Corinthians 12 Part 2–The BODY of Christ

As a church, Paul likened the family of God as parts of a body.  This was an especially keen example for the people of Corinth because, as a port city, it was a fashion hub. The Corinthians were all about how they looked and what the had.  They all wanted to keep up with the best and the elite.  So, when Paul was explaining spiritual gifts, it probably resonated that like a body, not every part could be attractive.  But, there was so much more. In reality, the attractive parts of the body, hair, height, eye color are not what keeps the body alive. It is the pancreas, the liver, the colon. It is teeth, kidneys, and feet. So many of our unattractive parts are vital to the survival of the body.  
 
Paul wanted the people to grasp the idea that it takes all the parts to make the body function properly. What is more, if parts are not healthy, the entire body suffers. One need only have a toothache or ear infection to realize how it affects the entire body. It makes as little sense to minimize the different roles within the church, as it does to minimize the importance of the different parts of the body. 
 
In our day, we are so much more aware of the critical nature of the ugly parts of the body. Hopefully, we are also aware of the critical nature of the different working parts of the church body. In my various roles within churches, I have seen the invaluable work of those not on stage or in elected leadership. The childcare folks, the trustees, the deacons and AV folks. those that mow lawns or help those in need.  All the people behind the scenes are what help a church body to remain alive and healthy. When those people are not functioning, the rest of the church body suffers greatly.  I can tell you that I am forever devoted to a guy that fixes electrical problems, builds shelves, teaches kids and makes coffee. Week in and week out people all over the church benefit from his quiet and humble devotion to the family, to Christ and to walking humbly with our Lord. He is a critical part of the church and if he is gone or ill, it is like an organ failure–life-threatening. 
 
We must be willing to realize the vital help those behind the scenes give and be willing to fill the less attractive roles knowing that it is those roles that keep a church alive.  Lord, help me to fulfill the role you have for me in the body–even if I am to serve in a role no one ever notices–Make me a liver for You, Lord!!!
 
God Bless You
 

 Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by[c] one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 14 Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.

15 Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body.17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body.

21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, 24 while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, 25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it

I Corinthians 12 Part 1–The Distribution of Spiritual Gifts

Next, Paul addressed the issue of spiritual gifts.  The first thing that Paul wanted the people to understand was that the Holy Spirit distributed the gifts, and, as he did, it was never done to become an issue for the church.  The Spirit of God did not operate as a tool for division, nor did the Spirit ever do things that would take glory from God or tear God’s family apart.  So, Paul wanted the people to understand that the distribution of spiritual gifts was never done to divide the church or to make one person a spiritual superstar.  The gifts of encouragement, teaching, prophecy, speaking in tongues, discerning spirits were all distributed to the people for the purpose of making the church stronger.  They were not given out to divide the church or highlight any one person.  So, Paul wanted the people to stop acting as if one gift was more spiritual than another. What Paul hoped to see was that the group used their unique gifts and talents to honor and glorify God!
 
God still distributes the spiritual gifts to his people. The gifts each possess are given to support and build the entire body of Christ. Christians cannot begin to wear their spiritual gifting as some sort of badge or trophy to glorify themselves.  The church should remain submitted to God and humble.  They should use their gifts to help glorify God and build up the entire church. One’s gifts should never point to themselves, but, should always point back to God. As that remains the case, the Church becomes strong and makes an impact on lives and communities. There is no place for division among the Church, and the Spirit would never do anything that would cause such division. Simply put, God gladly distributes the gifts for the edification of all of us in God’s family. If the use of our gifts does anything else–we need to take a look at our hearts and motives.
 
God Bless You

Now about the gifts of the Spirit, brothers, and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed. You know that when you were pagans, somehow or other you were influenced and led astray to mute idols. Therefore I want you to know that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus be cursed,” and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.

There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.

Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, 10 to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues,[a] and to still another the interpretation of tongues.[b] 11 All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.

I Corinthians 11 Part 2–Church is More Than Simply Gathering

The Corinthians never had a problem getting together, in fact, that was one of Paul’s major concerns.  The people were coming to argue and to party.  The regular meeting to take communion had become a combination tailgate party and runway to show the haves vs have nots.  Some people would come to the fellowship and not have anything while others would come and get drunk and eat bread until they were sick. Paul was furious.
First, communion is for remembering the sacrifice Christ, it was not about us. So, when folks came in and used it as a buffet and bar, clearly Christ was neither the focus nor purpose for the communion. 
In addition, If folks were coming to communion underfed and hungry, the church should have been meeting those needs in another forum–not communion.  The church body should not have had a “have’s” and “have not’s” division. It is unthinkable to have such issues in a prosperous and growing church.
 
As believers, we need to keep our focus on Christ, His sacrifice and His leadership.  Communion is an opportunity to stop, take stock and refocus upon Him.  When we come together as believers, we are blessed to share that experience of remembering His sacrifice and love for us. We must never use that time to focus on our needs or our accomplishments.
As a body, Christians must focus on how to serve Christ and the others in His church. We must be proactive in our service and humble in our demeanor–if we will, then the Church will be a family, not a meeting place. Our gathering will be a joyful time and not a time of jealousy, pride, and infighting. Help us, Lord, to gather with the desire of honoring you and not focusing on ourselves.
 
God Bless You

 In the following directives, I have no praise for you, for your meetings do more harm than good. 18 In the first place, I hear that when you come together as a church, there are divisions among you, and to some extent, I believe it. 19 No doubt there have to be differences among you to show which of you have God’s approval. 20 So then, when you come together, it is not the Lord’s Supper you eat, 21 for when you are eating, some of you go ahead with your own private suppers. As a result, one person remains hungry and another gets drunk. 22 Don’t you have homes to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God by humiliating those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you? Certainly not in this matter!

23 For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

I Corinthians 9 Part 1–Giving to Ministry Opportunities

In a world of bi-vocational ministry, Paul speaks out and calls the Corinthians to task.  It was important to Paul not to let anything take away from the message. He did not mind working as a tentmaker to support himself if that meant the word would be spread.  But, Paul made it clear–Ministry is a job, a career a life pursuit.  Those that go after that life pursuit, should be compensated.  It is not wrong as a pastor to expect the folks that you pastor to support the ministry. It was not wrong then and it is not wrong now.
 
In modern ministry, there are so many places to serve. Churches, missions, para-church organizations, foundations and a host of ways to serve. People are bombarded with requests to give and to serve and people become weary and skeptical about giving to causes.  The truth is, however, God calls these men and women to serve and to minister.  In 1st Thessalonians 5:24 it says, “He who calls you is faithful and He will do it!” Those in ministry cling to the hope and truth of that verse. We who are not in professional ministry have to be ready to accept God’s call to give and allow God to use what we give to advance the Gospel. Do not allow the enemy to rob you of the blessing of giving by making you skeptical of the ministry.  Be sensitive to God’s lead and allow Him to bless your gift and you as the giver.
 
God Bless You

Am I not free? Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen Jesus our Lord? Are you not the result of my work in the Lord? Even though I may not be an apostle to others, surely I am to you! For you are the seal of my apostleship in the Lord.

This is my defense to those who sit in judgment on me. Don’t we have the right to food and drink? Don’t we have the right to take a believing wife along with us, as do the other apostles and the Lord’s brothers and Cephas[a]Or is it only I and Barnabas who lack the right to not work for a living?

Who serves as a soldier at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard and does not eat its grapes? Who tends a flock and does not drink the milk? Do I say this merely on human authority? Doesn’t the Law say the same thing? For it is written in the Law of Moses: “Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain.”[b] Is it about oxen that God is concerned?10 Surely he says this for us, doesn’t he? Yes, this was written for us, because whoever plows and threshes should be able to do so in the hope of sharing in the harvest. 11 If we have sown spiritual seed among you, is it too much if we reap a material harvest from you? 12 If others have this right of support from you, shouldn’t we have it all the more?

But we did not use this right. On the contrary, we put up with anything rather than hinder the gospel of Christ.

I Corinthians 7 Part 1–Fidelity and Intimacy

The Corinthians were passionate people. The issues around sexual relations were significant. Paul taught that if it were possible, celibacy was an amazing way to focus on spiritual things.  But, as that was not feasible for most, he made clear that sex was a part of marriage and husbands and wives needed to honor the commitment to intimacy by being faithful and not using sexual relations as a tool or weapon.  Couples need intimacy. So Paul made clear to couples that except for times of spiritual fasting–be intimate.  Do not cheat. 
 
In modern times, the opportunity to escape intimacy is easy. Busy lives, pornography rampant, fidelity considered passe. The ideas of both marriage and family have been reduced to a chaotic former version of what the Lord intended.  Still, in our lives, we need to hold sacred the principles of marriage especially intimacy and faithfulness. They are the cornerstone of a healthy family and society.  The church must pray and preach fidelity and family to the world so that those most critical pieces of society are not crumbled into a chaotic mess. 
 
God Bless You

Now for the matters, you wrote about: “It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.” But since sexual immorality is occurring, each man should have sexual relations with his own wife, and each woman with her own husband. The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband. In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife. Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. I say this as a concession, not as a command. I wish that all of you were as I am. But each of you has your own gift from God; one has this gift, another has that.

Now to the unmarried[a] and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I do.But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.

10 To the married I give this command (not I, but the Lord): A wife must not separate from her husband. 11 But if she does, she must remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband. And a husband must not divorce his wife.

I Corinthians 4 Part 1–The Meaning of Serving Christ

Paul is trying to help the Corinthians to understand the true value of following Christ.  They were in the midst of a full-on church division. The basis of the division was which apostle they considered their leader…Was it to be Paul, Peter, Apollos or someone else altogether? Paul simply put it into perspective.  The apostles were not some sort of rock stars to be followed by groupies. They were instead servants of the Lord that were being persecuted, rejected, martyred and destroyed. Meanwhile, these people were simply living their lives and paying lip service to follow God and some apostle.
 
Paul wanted the Corinthians to focus upon Christ. He was the reason for the apostles’ persecution. Their lives were singly focused on teaching the truth in love.  They simply wanted to spread the gospel of Christ across the world. They were not seeking fame nor were they building a fan club.  Their sole intent was to provide the message that would truly change lives and change the world.  
 
In our lives, we follow Christ for the same reason. We have no desire to use our faith as a marketing tool.  We are not seeking facebook friends or twitter followers.  We are striving to become like Christ and to share His good news with anyone that will listen. That has never been and will never be a way to build one’s personal popularity.  It is, however, the way to live a truly meaningful and purposeful life. It will provide peace and a true legacy.  That is why we should honor our Lord’s great commission, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
 
God Bless You

This, then, is how you ought to regard us: as servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the mysteries God has revealed. Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful. I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself. My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait until the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of the heart. At that time each will receive their praise from God.

Now, brothers and sisters, I have applied these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, so that you may learn from us the meaning of the saying, “Do not go beyond what is written.”Then you will not be puffed up in being a follower of one of us over against the other. For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?

Already you have all you want! Already you have become rich! You have begun to reign—and that without us! How I wish that you really had begun to reign so that we also might reign with you! For it seems to me that God has put us apostles on display at the end of the procession, like those condemned to die in the arena. We have been made a spectacle to the whole universe, to angels as well as to human beings. 10 We are fools for Christ, but you are so wise in Christ! We are weak, but you are strong! You are honored, we are dishonored! 11 To this very hour, we go hungry and thirsty, we are in rags, we are brutally treated, we are homeless. 12 We work hard with our own hands. When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it; 13 when we are slandered, we answer kindly. We have become the scum of the earth, the garbage of the world—right up to this moment.

I Corinthians 2 Part 1–The Spirit’s Power

It is often the greatest challenge of faith to rely upon God’s spirit for direction. When Christ died, He bore our sins–a huge burden. But when He rose from the dead, the Lord not only gave us the opportunity to live again, spiritually, he also made way for the Holy Spirit of God to indwell and direct our lives. Prior to Christ’s resurrection, the Spirit was given to prophets, priests, and kings. When they were anointed by God, His Spirit would come upon them and they would be guided and directed by God’s hand. After the resurrection, The Holy Spirit became available to all that truly believed and followed the Lord.
 
We, God’s chosen,  are given the Holy Spirit to lead, comfort, guide and direct our journey.  It is an amazing thing to sense God’s direction in our lives. What is more, God desires nothing more than to reveal himself to us.  His word, fellowship, and prayer all help to reveal the Spirit’s leading in our lives. Our relationship with God is a personal one, and His Spirit works individually in each of our lives to transform us into God’s image and prepare us for an eternity with Him.  We can never underestimate the power of God as He reveals Himself to us in our daily journey with Him. We need to be sensitive to God’s leading and ask humbly for daily direction as we follow the Lord.
 
The walk with God is a spiritual one, so we must always rely upon His Holy Spirit to make it complete. Thank You, Lord, for sending your Spirit to guide and direct us. 
 
God Bless You

And so it was with me, brothers and sisters. When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God.[a] For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.

6 We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. 7 No, we declare God’s wisdom, a mystery that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. 8 None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. 9 However, as it is written:

“What no eye has seen,
what no ear has heard,
and what no human mind has conceived”[b]
the things God has prepared for those who love him—

10 these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit.