1 Corinthians 15 Part 1–The Gospel

One of the most simple but amazing messages ever penned. Paul laid the gospel out for the Corinthians in an orderly and relative manner. Christ died, He was buried, he rose and appeared to many people over a period of time that can be verified. Paul was helping all to remember this was so much more than a religion.  It was a relationship with a living God and a living Savior.  That relationship changed the lives of the Apostles–none were anything extraordinary–but then, upon his resurrection–these guys changed the world. Especially Paul!
 
Paul went from religious zealot to humble and grateful servant; bringing this gospel across the gentile world. It cost him his fortune, his freedom, and ultimately his life. Paul wanted the Corinthians to understand why it was worth it. This was no religious ritual, it was a life-changing relationship; put in place through the death of God’s son. Same is still true. We are blessed beyond measure, simply because of the very same gospel. He died and rose for us! we owe God everything–but all He seeks is our faith, belief, and submission to His plan. 
 
Thanks, Lord, for Your Gospel–Your gift, for Your sacrifice, and for Your desire to remain in relationship with us!
 
God Bless You

Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.

For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance[a]: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas,[b] and then to the Twelve.After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.

For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me. 11 Whether, then, it is I or they, this is what we preach, and this is what you believed.

I Corinthians 14 Part 1–About Spiritual Gifts

Paul continues to discuss the way of love and focuses upon the gifts of the spirit.  Paul was not discouraging the desire to have the ability to speak in tongues, prophecy, interprets tongues, or heals the sick.  Paul instead was reminding the people that those things are an outpouring of the relationship we have with the Lord and their use should be for the growth of that relationship and the edification of others. From Paul’s perspective, God continues to look at what is coming from our heart and as He blesses His children with the spiritual gifts–it is the Father’s desire that they are used as tools for personal and community development of the body of Christ.
 
The same remains true today. When we follow the Lord, He will grant us spiritual gifts to assist us in our personal walks with Him and to develop the body of Christ. We should not fear the gifts, judge folks for which gifts they manifest nor use God’s gifts to honor ourselves.  Instead, we should seek Him and His Kingdom first. as we do, we can then allow the Father to transform us into His image and lead us toward Him.  If we are to be prophets, speakers of tongues, interpreters, healers or which other gifts he chooses to grant–then as we operate in those gifts, we should do so humbly and with the intent of glorifying God and not ourselves. It was never God’s intent to cause division through equipping His saints–but, you can rest assured the enemy will use anything to neutralize and minimize the church’s impact on the world–division is one of Satan’s best tools!
 
God Bless You

Follow the way of love and eagerly desire gifts of the Spirit, especially prophecy. For anyone who speaks in a tongue[a] does not speak to people but to God. Indeed, no one understands them; they utter mysteries by the Spirit. But the one who prophesies speaks to people for their strengthening, encouraging and comfort. Anyone who speaks in a tongue edifies themselves, but the one who prophesies edifies the church. I would like every one of you to speak in tongues,[b] but I would rather have you prophesy. The one who prophesies is greater than the one who speaks in tongues,[c] unless someone interprets, so that the church may be edified.

Now, brothers and sisters, if I come to you and speak in tongues, what good will I be to you, unless I bring you some revelation or knowledge or prophecy or word of instruction? Even in the case of lifeless things that make sounds, such as the pipe or harp, how will anyone know what tune is being played unless there is a distinction in the notes? Again, if the trumpet does not sound a clear call, who will get ready for battle? So it is with you. Unless you speak intelligible words with your tongue, how will anyone know what you are saying? You will just be speaking into the air. 10 Undoubtedly there are all sorts of languages in the world, yet none of them is without meaning. 11 If then I do not grasp the meaning of what someone is saying, I am a foreigner to the speaker, and the speaker is a foreigner to me. 12 So it is with you. Since you are eager for gifts of the Spirit, try to excel in those that build up the church.

I Corinthians 13 Part 2–The Greatest Gifts

Love never fails, or ends! Paul continued his discussion about spiritual gifts, He wanted to shift the focus from the manifestation of the gifts, and return the discussion to the true gift.  Love is God’s greatest gift to us and for us.  Without Love, life loses all its luster and purpose.  God designed people to be in relationship with him and with each other.  The common theme in that design is the gift os Love.  So Paul encouraged the Corinthians to see the word from the perspective of God’s chosen and not focus on tongues, prophecy leadership or one of the other spiritual gifts but to instead focus upon Love. When God’s people can focus upon him and his love, then the outpouring of the gifts are abundant.  Christians use the gifts to serve God and His people.  They were never supposed to be the prize, they were to be the tools to lead the world to God, the real prize.

In our lives, God has shown us that it is the same.  In the midst of a chaotic culture, those who are faithful, hopeful and loving are the ones that truly experience peace and purpose.  Whether or not they are doing miraculous things or simply laying their lives down for Christ and the family of God, God gets the glory and we enjoy his grace and power.  We cannot fully understand God’s plan for our lives.  It is so much bigger than we conceptualize. But if we trust him,(Faith), remain hopeful (Hope) and love Him (love); then he will pour out his blessings in our lives and prepare us to be a light and a guide to others.  Let’s cling to the great gifts–Faith, Hope, and Love and allow him to reveal other gifts in His timing!

God Bless You

Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.12 For now, we see in a mirror dimly but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.

13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

I Corinthians 13–The Impact Love Has on our Faith and Our Ministry

Paul came to what many would call the climax of his letter to the Corinthians. It was the discussion to end all questions about Life, sacrifice and talent.  It reframed the entire discussion of faith into one single word. Love. Paul starts the discussion with what love is not–1. Love is not saying the right words or teaching the right doctrines–because to do so without love is both noisy and annoying.  2. Speaking the truth and foretelling the mystery of life is not love; to do so without love is worth nothing. 3. Personal sacrifice in deed or death is not love, because making a sacrifice without love gains one nothing.
 
Paul then addresses what love is–it is patient, it is kind, it is humble, selfless, graceful. It does not act brash, rude, boastful nor does it snicker at the sins and crimes of others. Love rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, endures all things, it is always hopeful and always positive about others.  Love is quite simply what we are all about.  
 
When operating out of love the “religious activities” naturally occur.  Amazingly, they are more beautiful, helpful and meaningful when they come from the love we have for God and for one another. As in everything else in Christianity God looks at our hearts, not our deeds.  If our heart is right, the deeds happen. But using the deeds as a way to gain approval, when done without love is a distorted mess. That is the heart of love and that is the heart of ministry.
 
God Bless You

 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned,[a] but have not love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;[b] it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never ends.

I Corinthians 12 Part 3–Unity in our Diversity

Continuing the thoughts from  Church Families, It is important not only to realize that different people have different gifts and one should not be considered more or less important; it is equally important to utilize and hold accountable the body to do its part.  In Corinth, everybody wanted to be showy roles. I want to be on stage, I want to get the handshakes and pats on the back. Paul wanted the Corinthians and Church in general to realize two things. If you are a hand, pick things up. If you are an eye, look at things if you are a foot, then step lightly. Whatever God has gifted one to do, He did for a purpose and that purpose is grand. 
 
Second, The Church need not focus on the gifts, jobs or elected positions given to its members…they need to focus on Christ. If a church focuses on the gifts, then people, not Christ, get the glory. That always leads to division, destruction of the family, inevitable favoritism, and disenfranchising. Churches lose valuable members doing amazing work simply out of neglect and selfishness. If the body would focus on the Savior, them its members would do all they could to use their giftings to support and build up the rest of the members. Then, like a well-trained athlete, the body would work together to achieve awesome results. 
 
In our day, the goal is the same. Let us use the gifts the Lord has given us and do so for His glory, not caring about praise for ourselves. If we will, then we will see the church at its best and we will be a major part!
 
God Bless You
 

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.

27 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. 28 And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30 Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues[d]? Do all interpret? 31 Now eagerly desire the greater gifts.

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.