For The Common Good

1 Corinthians 12: Coming Together For the Common GoodIMG_3419[1]

“But to each one is given

the manifestation of the Spirit

for the common good.”

Corinthians 12:7, NASB*

“No, it’s not going to rain. What are you guys talking about?” As the words came out of my mouth a rain drop, or something worse, fell on my shoulder. “The Lord knows what we need. I don’t understand why you don’t get on the roof,” I teased. A few more raindrops fell. A sly smile covered one young man’s face. It wasn’t long the work outside stopped and the rain poured.

In the U. S. we celebrated Labor Day. Our youth camp team had planned a Labor of Love weekend to work on several projects at the camp. Fellowship, another word for visiting with one another, worship, and work filled our time Friday evening through Monday afternoon. We, young, middle age, and not-so-middle-aged, came together for the common good—getting our campgrounds in good shape and doing some repairs. We worked as a picture of 1 Corinthians 12:18-21.

“But now God has placed the members,

each one of them in His body, just as He desired.

And 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.”

The Lord blessed us with the rain and directed our tasks, giving us the right people for the right You wouldn’t have wanted to see the storage rooms if I was the one building them. One team worked on the girl’s shower house giving it a makeover inside. My team worked on clearing the old flower bed out before the rain fell too hard. Then we cleaned and reorganized the pantry and the tool closet. Others trimmed tree branches, before, during, and after the rain. Others weed-eated. We had two half days with no rain. During those times, indoor projects were finished and outdoor projects of painting, power washing buildings, and the wonderful job of cleaning out the trees around our sewage lagoon got well under way. One woman tackled the chapel cleaning, including learning how to replace the guts of one of the toilets. Others cooked, washed dishes, and cleaned up at the end.

rock gardenI was especially thankful for those who turned my idea for the old flower bed into a reality. Their gifts will bring it to completion. One young man is going to make the sign to hang on the wooden frame. Next spring we will plant a couple yucca plants around the base and add a few large, flat, creek-rocks.

We ended the day worn out but blessed beyond measure. There is more to the story than I can tell here, but Paul expresses all the Lord did for us in Ephesians 3:20-21.

“Now to Him who is able to do

exceeding abundantly beyond

all that we ask or think,

according to the power that works within us,

to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus

to all generations forever and ever. Amen.”

No, the new roof didn’t get put on this weekend. Only the Lord knows why. But I wonder if it’s not so others can come and participate in the blessing.

For Thought: When have you been blessed by the body of Christ coming together as one, and you knew it was Him that put it all together?

Today’s Scripture Reading: 1 Corinthians 12: 27-31. If you had been with us, which task would have fit your gifting? What do you see as your place in the body of Christ?

Our Prayer: Father, how you have blessed us with one another to supply every need we have in the ministries you have called us to. May all we do be for the building up of your kingdom by encouraging one another in love and good works. As you have blessed us, may we use the gifts you give us to bless you by blessing others.

 *all scripture references are from NASB unless otherwise stated

Coming Together With One Message

Chapter 2 of 1 Corinthians reveals the one message that binds followers of Christ together. IMG_0621

“And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God.

For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.

And I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling.

And my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power,

that your faith should not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.” 1 Corinthians 2:1-5, NASB

The young inexperienced, untrained, preacher wanted to run and hide. His calling was from God. He hadn’t sought this task. To speak in front of others gave him lock jaw. What would he say to the familiar faces staring back at him expecting some profound word from the Lord? How or where would he begin? He ran to the senior pastor before services began.

“I don’t know what to say. God’s not given me a message.”

The wizened older man laid his hand on the young preacher’s bible. “You have a whole Bible.” The older minister patted the bible. “Preach it.”

There was no place to run.

The young preacher stood in good company. The second chapter of Corinthians opens telling us Paul experienced trembling fear when he went to the Corinthian church. He didn’t consider himself an eloquent speaker. He feared, though he knew the power of God went before him. The bottom line – he still went and God used him in his weakness so the Corinthians’ “faith should not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.”

Not all of us are called to be preachers, evangelists, or pastors. But all of us are called to be witnesses of the gospel of Christ, beginning with what we know.

“For I determined to know nothing among you

except Jesus Christ,

and Him crucified.” 2:2

Later in the fifteenth chapter Paul gives us a crash course on the gospel of Christ.

“Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you,

  • which also you received,
  • in which also you stand,
  • by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain.

For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received,

  • that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,
  • and that He was buried,
  • and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,” (1-4)

Some find sharing Christ with others the same terrifying experience the young preacher felt. Some will wait until the opportunity arises and walk timidly. Others’ first words begin with, “Do you know Jesus loves you?” Sharing the gospel isn’t about our different personalities. It is about the wisdom and power of God in us to enable us to complete the task He has called us to. In the book of Acts, Luke shares Jesus’ words to his followers –

“but you shall receive power

when the Holy Spirit has come upon you,

and you shall be My witnesses …” 1:8

The young preacher did what the older minister advised. If I remember correctly, he began at the beginning – Genesis 1:1, proceeded to John 1:1, and ended with a verse in Revelation. I’m guessing it was 22:20 in hope it would be fulfilled before he had to stand before the congregation. It says –

“He who testifies to these things says,

‘Yes, I am coming quickly.’

Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.”

It took the young man about seven minutes to complete. Over the forty-five years he has been preaching, you would never guess he stood trembling in fear that day. He has learned God is faithful, and it’s only by His power and wisdom the word accomplishes what He sends it to do. His messages have more content, but the theme remains the same. He, like Paul, determined a long time ago,

“to know nothing among you

except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.”

For Thought: Someone told you about Jesus. Who will you tell?

Today’s Reading: 1Corinthians 2:9-16, with attention given to 9,10,16. The gospel of Christ laid veiled in the Old Testament until revealed by his first coming. What do 1 Corinthians 2:1-4 and 15:1-4 reveal about the gospel? How might this knowledge encourage you as you witness to others?

A Prayer for You: Father, You have revealed your plan for all in the gospel of Jesus Christ. Give us understanding, wisdom, and knowledge to share it in your power and wisdom, that others will see truth and be saved. As come together with one message, may we go out in your power to share it in word and deed.