Paul told the Corinthians (2 Cor. 1) about a hard situation he had experienced in Asia. He was burdened beyond measure, and without strength, so much that he despaired of life itself. This situation was beyond anything Paul could handle, and he thought it would kill him. But, as he looked back at the experience, Paul realized God’s purpose in the suffering was that he would give it to Jesus and learn to trust in Him instead. Sometimes God will put us in situations that we cannot handle, just to remind us to trust in the Lord Jesus Christ, and not in ourselves.
Paul shared his plans with the church at Corinth, but then added “If the Lord permits” (1 Cor.16). Jesus taught us at Gethsemane & many other places, that we should always pray for the Lord’s Will to be done in our lives & not out own will (Lk.22:42/Jn.4:34 /Jas 4:15). We should always make that a prerequisite of any plans we make since we are now Christians, and Jesus is Lord and Master of our lives. As the Bride of Christ we need to stay flexible, and make our plans always subject to change. We don’t want to make our plans so rigid that God has to break us in order to change our direction. He will do that if it is necessary, but it is always better to stay flexible. I always say, “Blessed are the flexible for they shall not be broken.” Pastor Chuck Smith
Our physical bodies are both temporary & disposable. Our physical bodies are like seeds that must die in order to become a new creation. And all that the new creation needs is contained in the DNA of the seed. But what an amazing difference there is between the rose seed and the rose flower. 1 Corinthians 15 tells us there are “celestial (spiritual) bodies & terrestrial (physical) bodies.” The seed that is our terrestrial body will become our celestial body when we die, and “death is swallowed up in Victory”. The cells that make up my physical body are being destroyed & replaced every 7 years. But my spirit is constant & that’s what makes me who I am. So God will give Christians new spiritual bodies when we get to heaven. We will enjoy eternity in these new celestial bodies forever; they will never grow old or die.
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The Gifts of God’s Holy Spirit will be here for the Christian church until ‘that which is perfect has come’ (1 Cor.13). There are some people today who deny the use of some of the spiritual gifts because they think “that which is perfect” refers to the completed Bible. And they say not all, but some of the gifts ceased in the first century, and are not for the church today. However, when we read the Scripture in context, it is clear that the “perfect” refers to the person of Jesus Christ, the Messiah. In 1 Cor.13:12 the Word says then we will see “face to face” – not book to face. Also in Joel 2:28-33, Joel prophesied the pouring out of His gifts on His people until the Judgment Day. In these last days the Bride of Christ (the Church) needs all the gifts until our perfect Lord returns for us. After Jesus returns they won’t be necessary.
The Church at Corinth was gifted. They experienced and exercised the spiritual gifts, and yet they were divided and carnal. They had neglected Love. Paul tried to teach the church that the gifts mean nothing without Love. He wrote; “earnestly desire the best gifts. And yet I show you a more excellent way” (1 Cor.12:31). God’s Agape’ Love is the more excellent way. (1 Corinthians 13) The ability to exercise any of the spiritual gifts mean nothing if it is done without God’s Love. Love is the key. If Christians miss that, everything else we do is a waste of time and effort. John wrote; “He who does not Love does not know God, for God is Love” (1 John 4:8). That is what it all comes down to, and Love is the Fruit of the Holy Spirit (Gal.5:22).
Our Father gives the gifts of the Holy Spirit to each Christian as He wills, and as we need them. We don’t decide for ourselves what we will receive; that decision comes from the Father to His children (1 Cor.12). Christ gives each of us different gifts, and He works in us and through us in different ways. We make a big mistake if we try to make God go with our plan or system. Jesus doesn’t operate in our lives by a formula or a program. I will probably experience the gifts of the Spirit and the Baptism of the Holy Spirit in a different way than you will. Don’t try to duplicate someone else’s experience in your life. There is One Holy Spirit but differing gifts, ministries, activities and manifestations of God the Spirit. Our Father does what He wants, when He wants. It is a great blessing when He uses us, and gives us the gifts that are needed. (Isaiah 53:5)
Whenever we partake of Communion is a good time for us to come before Jesus and ask, as David did; “Search me O God and know my heart, try me and know my thoughts: and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Ps.139:23,24). It is interesting how good we humans are at examining others, but how blind we can be to our own sins. It is almost impossible to examine yourself, because the human heart is deceitful and wicked (Jer.17:9,10). Before we partake of the communion bread and cup is the perfect time for us to ask Christ to examine our hearts; while we hold in our hands the symbols of the price Jesus Christ paid on the cross to forgive us of our sins (1 Cor.11).
Beware of becoming overly confident in your own abilities. “Let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.” All temptations are “common to all of mankind” (1 Cor.10). We are all human. You are not the exception. You are not the Lone Ranger. You are not better or worse than anyone else. We all face failure at every turn. But Christ, our Rock is faithful. He will always give us a way of escape if we will listen to Him and His Word. That doesn’t mean necessarily that we will always take the way of escape, but Christ always offers it. If I fail, it is because of my unfaithfulness, not His. – Pastor Chuck Smith 1927–2013
The Apostle Paul was well acquainted with sports, although he was raised as an Orthodox Jew, he was also born a Roman citizen living in Tarsus, and influenced by Greek culture, and the Olympic games (1 Cor.9). He saw the Christian life as a race for an eternal crown. He compared the Christian to an athlete who wanted to finish what he started, and to finish strong. As Christians, we all have our own race to run, and God has given to each of us certain gifts & callings. Hebrews 12 tells us to “run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus for inspiration”. When we do, there will be a crown of righteousness waiting for us in heaven.
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