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. 2 You know that when you were pagans, somehow or other you were influenced and led astray to mute idols. 3 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.
4 There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. 5 There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. 6 There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.
7 Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. 8 To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, 9 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.
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.
Paul wanted the Corinthians to understand–God set standards and kept his people accountable. Israel literally followed God for 40 years prior to taking the promised land. Each day they followed the cloud, each night they saw the pillar of fire. In the midst of the journey they saw seas parted, manna provided water shooting out of rocks…Still, they grumbled, they sinned and they worshipped idols–WITH GOD RIGHT THERE!!! As a result, God made the people accountable, they died, they wandered in the desert they never experienced the blessing God intended for them. Still, He loved them and wanted for them to have all they were promised. Paul summed it up this way–There is nothing that they or you face–that is not common to everyone. God will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you can handle. Also, all temptation is a choice, and with it comes a way out to not fall into sin.
Nothing has changed. We are a blessed nation. God has provided us freedoms and opportunities few have ever seen. With that comes the temptation to worship idols, to selfishly take without giving back to be prideful and haughty and to forget that it is God that provides and be grateful for what we have rather than being bitter for what we lack. We have opportunities each day to trust and follow God–in both good times and bad. We can never forget that we do not have to choose to sin, to be ungrateful or to forget that HE is Lord and I am not. The struggle is real–every force in the world draws us away from God. We do have the glory of God displayed throughout creation to remind us of God’s supremacy and presence–much like the pillar of cloud and the pillar of fire Israel followed. We must continue to trust God–even when it seems impossible. We must remain faithful to the end, just as HE has!!!
God Bless You
For I do not want you to be ignorant of the fact, brothers and sisters, that our ancestors were all under the cloud and that they all passed through the sea. 2 They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. 3 They all ate the same spiritual food 4 and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ. 5 Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them; their bodies were scattered in the wilderness.
6 Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did. 7 Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written: “The people sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in revelry.”[a] 8 We should not commit sexual immorality, as some of them did—and in one day twenty-three thousand of them died. 9 We should not test Christ,[b] as some of them did—and were killed by snakes. 10 And do not grumble, as some of them did—and were killed by the destroying angel.
11 These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the culmination of the ages has come. 12 So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! 13 No temptation[c] has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted[d] beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted,[e] he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.
Paul was dealing with an issue that really had little bearing on salvation. Dietary laws. Many Corinthians were purchasing and eating meat after it had been sacrificed to an idol. It was kind of the Aldi’s of Corinth. For Paul, it was no big deal, but to some it was idolatry. They brought their concern to Paul and h made it clear–Meat is meat and idols mean nothing…EXCEPT, if ones partaking of such meat causes another to fall away from the Lord. That was significant–that changed the conversation from the meat to an attitude of selflessness. If they participated in the practice knowing it was hurting others, then they were not honoring God and His grace; they were simply being selfish. Paul drew the line at that point.
In our culture, we face these type questions daily. What movies are acceptable, what music is acceptable, how do couples behave during courtship. Smoking, drinking, gambling, dancing, and fashion all have their places in church discourse and division. Like the meat, Most of these issues are issues of preference. Christians should not judge. When, however, the preference causes another to stumble or reject the gospel; then it is no longer about the preference, it is about the attitude of selflessness. There is no meal or movie that is more important than the eternal destiny of a friend. We need to have Christ’s attitude of selflessness and sacrifice as it relates to our treatment of preference. If we will, God will honor it and bless us for following his lead. Help me, Lord to seek you first and foremost and allow my preferences to honor you.
God Bless You
Now about food sacrificed to idols: We know that “We all possess knowledge.” But knowledge puffs up while love builds up. 2 Those who think they know something do not yet know as they ought to know. 3 But whoever loves God is known by God.[a]
4 So then, about eating food sacrificed to idols: We know that “An idol is nothing at all in the world” and that “There is no God but one.” 5 For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords”), 6 yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live.
7 But not everyone possesses this knowledge. Some people are still so accustomed to idols that when they eat sacrificial food they think of it as having been sacrificed to a god, and since their conscience is weak, it is defiled. 8 But food does not bring us near to God; we are no worse if we do not eat, and no better if we do.
9 Be careful, however, that the exercise of your rights does not become a stumbling block to the weak. 10 For if someone with a weak conscience sees you, with all your knowledge, eating in an idol’s temple, won’t that person be emboldened to eat what is sacrificed to idols? 11 So this weak brother or sister, for whom Christ died, is destroyed by your knowledge. 12 When you sin against them in this way and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ.13 Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother or sister to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause them to fall.
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. 2 Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful. 3 I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself. 4 My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me. 5 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.
6 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. 7 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?
8 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! 9 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.
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] 2 For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 3 I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling. 4 My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, 5 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.
Throughout the generations, men have attempted time and again to show how foolish it is to trust the Lord and honor Him with our lives. Men have tried to prove that God does not exist and that God should have no part in the daily affairs of men’s lives. They have persecuted, martyred and attempted to wipe God’s name from any and everything the public may see. Still, thousands of years and dozens of fallen kingdoms and empires later–God is still standing. His word is still the basis of the legal system we enjoy. He is still named on every coin, and history is divided by the coming of the Savior.
The reality is that men will always try to replace God with their own version of supremacy. Science, art, philosophy, wealth, entertainment or just plain old chaos–men always think that their ways are better than God’s. They see spiritual truth as foolishness. They see followers of our Lord as simpletons and crazy people. Still, God remains large and in charge. His ways are still the best and walking with Him still is the only true source of peace and purpose. The world unnerved by our confidence and faith–because they simply can’t understand. Truth is, that is not our problem. We speak the truth and hope that they come to know Christ. We are selfless and God-seekers! We know the truth and as the verse plainly states, “You will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” John 8:32
God Bless You
For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved, it is the power of God. 19 For it is written:
“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise;
the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.”[c]
20 Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since in the wisdom of God, the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. 22 Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom,23 but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24 but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.
26 Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28 God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, 29 so that no one may boast before him. 30 It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness, and redemption. 31 Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord