Monday’s Blog: Paul Series “1 Corinthians 12”

We continue our study of Paul’s letters this week with 1 Corinthians 12.

Paul begins talking about the different Spiritual gifts God bestows upon His children.

Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware. You know that when you were pagans, you were led astray to the mute idols, however you were led. Therefore I make known to you that no one speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus is accursed”; and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.

Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord. There are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons. But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, and to another the word of knowledge according to the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit, and to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, and to another the effecting of miracles, and to another prophecy, and to another the distinguishing of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, and to another the interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills.

v. 1-11 (NASB)

God has given us different gifts by the same Spirit to accomplish His will. We have been entrusted with a special treasure that is not to be hidden, as Jesus explained in Matthew 25 with the parable of the talents:

“Again, the Kingdom of Heaven can be illustrated by the story of a man going on a long trip. He called together his servants and entrusted his money to them while he was gone. He gave five bags of silver to one, two bags of silver to another, and one bag of silver to the last—dividing it in proportion to their abilities. He then left on his trip.

“The servant who received the five bags of silver began to invest the money and earned five more. The servant with two bags of silver also went to work and earned two more. But the servant who received the one bag of silver dug a hole in the ground and hid the master’s money.

 “After a long time their master returned from his trip and called them to give an account of how they had used his money.

…“Then the servant with the one bag of silver came and said, ‘Master, I knew you were a harsh man, harvesting crops you didn’t plant and gathering crops you didn’t cultivate.

I was afraid I would lose your money, so I hid it in the earth. Look, here is your money back.’

…Then he ordered, ‘Take the money from this servant, and give it to the one with the ten bags of silver. To those who use well what they are given, even more will be given, and they will have an abundance. But from those who do nothing, even what little they have will be taken away.

Matthew 25:14-19; 24-25; 28-29 (NLT)

God is helping me use the gifts He’s given me, but I often question if the gifts are making a difference. Do you feel the same? Do you often feel like your gifts are not really needed? Paul encourages us with the answer in the following verses:

For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.

For the body is not one member, but many. If the foot says, “Because I am not a hand, I am not a part of the body,” it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body. And if the ear says, “Because I am not an eye, I am not a part of the body,” it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired. If they were all one member, where would the body be? But now there are many members, but one body. And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; or again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” On the contrary, it is much truer that the members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary; and those members of the body which we deem less honorable, on these we bestow more abundant honor, and our less presentable members become much more presentable, whereas our more presentable members have no need of it. But God has so composed the body, giving more abundant honor to that member which lacked, so that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.

Now you are Christ’s body, and individually members of it.

v. 12-27 (NASB)

Every gift is needed, and every believer is valuable to the body as a whole. Those who are regarded as less honorable are given more honor to remind us that we need one another and we need to walk in unity.

Paul closes explaining the order of authority God’s set in place and encourages us to desire the greater gifts.

And God has appointed in the church, first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, various kinds of tongues. All are not apostles, are they? All are not prophets, are they? All are not teachers, are they? All are not workers of miracles, are they? All do not have gifts of healings, do they? All do not speak with tongues, do they? All do not interpret, do they? But earnestly desire the greater gifts.

And I show you a still more excellent way.

v. 28-31 (NASB)

The Greek word translated “gifts” is “charisma” which means: “a gift of grace, a free gift.” We are to earnestly desire God’s grace to be greater in us as a testimony to lead others to salvation. God testifies of His salvation through His grace displayed in us.

We must pay the most careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away. For since the message spoken through angels was binding, and every violation and disobedience received its just punishment, how shall we escape if we ignore so great a salvation? This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him. God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.

Hebrews 2:1-4 (NIV)

 

Heavenly Father,

We praise You that we are each precious and valuable to You. Every gift You’ve given us is important and needed to accomplish Your will. Help us to walk in unity by remembering that we are all part of the same body and we need one another. We pray that Your grace would be multiplied unto us through the knowledge of You and Jesus our Lord (2 Peter 1:2).

In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen!

 

 

*This series will continue next week as we study 1 Corinthians 13.


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Monday’s Blog: Paul Series “Romans 5”

Before we continue our series on Paul’s letters in Romans to Philemon, I want to announce that all my books are free today through Friday (10/21-10/25) on Amazon (ebook only) to celebrate my three year blogging anniversary. You can click on the links below to download the free ebooks.


Last week, we studied Romans 4 how Abraham was justified by faith. Through his example we learn that we are also justified by faith. This week, in Romans 5, Paul explains some of the benefits of being justified by faith.

One of the benefits is that we have peace with God.

“having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ”

v. 1 (NASB)

Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:27, NIV).

No matter how unworthy we think we are, we should never be afraid to draw near to God. He will not turn us away.

Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.

Hebrews 10:19-22 (NIV)

 

Another benefit of being justified by faith is God’s unmerited favor.

“through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand”

v. 2 (NASB)

Through faith in Jesus, we have been introduced to the grace of God. We not only have confidence to approach God, but we also have confidence to receive the same favor He bestowed upon Christ.

But the free gift is not like the transgression. For if by the transgression of the one the many died, much more did the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abound to the many.

v. 15 (NASB)

 

Other benefits we receive through faith are joy and hope.

“and we exult in hope of the glory of God. And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance;  and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

v. 2-5 (NASB)

With the hope God has given us, we can have joy even in our trials and tribulations because we know He will use them and work them out for our benefit.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

James 1:2-4 (NIV)

 

Lastly, a wonderful benefit of being justified through faith in Christ is righteousness.

For if by the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.

v. 17 (NASB)

We often forget that the faith we had when we received Christ is the same faith we need to continue trusting Him to work in our lives.

I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish? After beginning by means of the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by means of the flesh?

Galatians 3:2-3 (NIV)

One of Strong’s definitions for righteousness is: integrity, virtue, purity of life, rightness, correctness of thinking, feeling, and acting. As we walk with Christ by faith, the Holy Spirit can work His righteousness in us and transform us from the inside out.

Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness?

Romans 6:16 (NASB)

Heavenly Father,

We praise You for loving us as You love Jesus. Your Word says those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. And the Spirit we have received does not make us slaves, so that we live in fear again; rather, the Spirit we received brought about our adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory (Romans 8:14-17). We receive by faith all that You have given us, all the benefits of being justified through Christ, Your Son.

In Jesus’ faithful name, we pray. Amen!

 

How did God speak to you through Romans 5? Is there anything He revealed that you would like to share with others? 

 

*Come back next Monday as we study Romans 6. Use the share tabs below to invite others to join us in this study of Romans to Philemon. You can also subscribe below to receive email reminders of new posts. Have a blessed week receiving all the benefits of being justified by faith in Christ!


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Monday’s Blog: God’s Unmerited Favor

I am taking a few weeks off blogging (will return in June) to finish up my kids’ schooling, along with some writing and home projects I’m working on. Before I take off, I want to share one of my favorite messages God’s led me to write. It’s a message He often reminds me of when I am facing difficulties and feeling worn down by my trials. If you’re feeling weary today, I pray this message encourages you too!

 

God’s Unmerited Favor

I heard a heartbreaking story on the radio the other day. A woman called into the station. She was hurting deeply and didn’t know how to get out of the pit she was in. As she shared her story she cried out, “I’m tired! I don’t want to fight anymore!”

Have you ever felt like you couldn’t take another day and face another mountain?

I was hit by something once. I didn’t know why it happened or how it was going to work out. As I was sharing it with my friend, she expressed, “Maybe God is trying to teach you about grace.”

After talking to her, I opened my Amplified Bible and started reading Zechariah chapter four. I came across verse seven, which read: “For who are you, O great mountain [of human obstacles]? Before Zerubbabel [who with Joshua had led the return of the exiles from Babylon and was undertaking the rebuilding of the temple, before him] you shall become a plain [a mere molehill]! And he shall bring forth the finishing gable stone [of the new temple] with loud shoutings of the people, crying, Grace, grace to it!”

I looked up grace in my Amplified Bible and saw it defined as “God’s unmerited favor, spiritual blessing, and mercy.” I knew God was telling me to shout to my mountain, “Grace, grace to it!” God wanted me to see that my mountain was only a mere molehill compared to His grace.

My obstacle was not going to crush me. It was not going to harm me. It was not going to destroy me. God’s favor was surrounding me.

You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me.

Psalm 139:5

God’s favor doesn’t mean our trials will go away and everything will work out the way we expect them to. God’s favor means that we will rise and soar above our mountains and they will not overtake us.

Have you ever flown in an airplane? Everything that seems so big on land looks so small when you’re soaring high above them. God wants to lift us high above our mountains so we can see that He is so much bigger.

The Apostle Paul experienced more trials than most of us, yet he expressed, “Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:8-10).

Paul “delighted” in his weaknesses. He “delighted” in insults, hardships, persecutions, and difficulties. He knew his trials strengthened his faith and drew him closer to the Lord. He knew God’s grace was all he needed. He knew God’s favor was resting on him. He knew God wouldn’t allow anything that He couldn’t work out for Paul’s benefit and to further the gospel.

Paul soared above his mountains with joy knowing they weren’t bigger than His God. If Paul allowed his trials to keep him down, I don’t believe we would know about him today. His life was a true example of God’s unmerited favor.

I read a wonderful quote in the book “Make Me a Legend” by pastor and author, Chuck Balsamo. Chuck expressed, “Whatever fails to kill us makes us better and stronger! Adversity isn’t supposed to be the end of us; it is merely the backdrop of our defining moments. When we face challenges, our smoldering greatness has a chance to flash out for all to see. So guess what, my friend? Those excruciating challenges you’ve been protesting all this time are not going to kill you! In fact, they have been sent to showcase your greatness! Just hold on and you’ll see. Everything is really working out to your advantage, and after God gets finished turning the current hellish trial into your next big win, the devil will wish he had never laid eyes on you. If he had only known how you would come through this fiery furnace with a hefty promotion, he would have never thrown you down into the flames!”

So if you’re in a pit today, wondering if you’ll ever see the light of day, know God’s unmerited favor is resting upon you. Speak His grace over your situation. Watch and see the Lord lift you out of the pit and turn that great mountain of human obstacle into a mere molehill!

He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters. He rescued me from my powerful enemy, from my foes, who were too strong for me. They confronted me in the day of my disaster, but the LORD was my support. He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me.

Psalm 18:16-19

Heavenly Father,

We praise You that You don’t leave us to sink in the pits we fall, dive, or are thrown into. You always grasp our hands in support and uphold us (Psalm 37:24). Remind us to speak to our mountains and receive Your favor over every obstacle we face in life. We praise You for Your unmerited love and grace.

In Jesus’ precious name, Amen!

 

NOW SPEAK TO YOUR MOUNTAIN:

For who are you, O great mountain of (your obstacle)? Before (your name) you shall become a plain, mere molehill. I speak grace, grace to (your obstacle)! My God’s favor is greater than you!!

Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them.”

Mark 11:23

 

 

 

 

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