VIDEO Gifted to Serve

But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased. 1 Corinthians 12:18

The ancient Egyptians, due to their practice of embalming their dead, knew both the internal and the external body parts. Jews, however, didn’t embalm their dead. Therefore, when Paul used the human body as a metaphor for the Body of Christ, he referred only to the external body parts (1 Corinthians 12:14-21). Think how rich his metaphor might have been with a modern understanding of human physiology!

Paul’s point is that just as every part of the human body is important, so is every member of the Body of Christ. Every Christian has a contribution to make for the health of the Church. Commitment of the people to their calling from God was true even in the Old Testament. When the Jews returned from Babylon to Jerusalem, divisions of responsibility were established (Nehemiah 11). Some people were designated to live in Jerusalem, some in the outlying towns. Levites were to reestablish the temple functions, and the choirs were to lead in worship. Landowners grew crops to support the Levites—everyone had a contribution to make.

What are you contributing to the health and strength of your local church? God has gifted you to serve in an important way.

The church does not need brilliant personalities but faithful servants of Jesus and the brethren. Dietrich Bonhoeffer


1 Corinthians 12 (Pt 1) Spiritual Gifts – Introduction

Brave Your Storm

[Fix your] eyes on Jesus, . . . so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Hebrews 12:2–3

It was the evening of April 3, 1968, and a fierce thunderstorm was lashing through Memphis, Tennessee. Weary and feeling ill, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. hadn’t intended to give his planned speech in support of the striking sanitation workers at a church hall. But he was surprised by an urgent phone call saying a large crowd had braved the weather to hear him. So he went to the hall and spoke for forty minutes, delivering what some say was his greatest speech, “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop.”

The next day, King was killed by an assassin’s bullet, but his speech still inspires oppressed people with the hope of “the promised land.” Likewise, early followers of Jesus were uplifted by a stirring message. The book of Hebrews, written to encourage Jewish believers facing threats for their faith in Christ, offers firm spiritual encouragement to not lose hope. As it urges, “strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees” (12:12). As Jews, they would recognize that appeal as originally coming from the prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 35:3).

But now, as Christ’s disciples, we’re called to “run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith” (Hebrews 12:1–2). When we do so, we “will not grow weary and lose heart” (v. 3).

Certainly, squalls and storms await us in this life. But in Jesus, we outlast life’s tempests by standing in Him.

By:  Patricia Raybon

Reflect & Pray

How do you respond to life’s spiritual storms? As you look to Jesus and His promises, how does He encourage you?

Jesus, You calm every spiritual storm. When tempests rage, speak peace to my soul as I put my hope in You.

Lay Aside Old Ways

The reason some Christians don’t feel the Lord’s peace and joy is that they are still living in their old worldly ways.

Ephesians 4:17-24

It seems that in a world of prosperity and abundance, there would be great contentment, yet the opposite is true. Why are so many people unhappy, anxious, and unsettled?

The main reason is that most of the world doesn’t know Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, so they can’t have His peace and joy. But there are also Christians who are discontent because they’re wearing old “clothes” from their past. These garments might be emotions and attitudes left over from childhood, or it may be that these believers are trying to hold on to behaviors from their life before Christ. 

The solution is to change into the new clothes that Jesus secured for us (Isa. 61:10). We are to lay aside old habits and thought patterns the way we would a filthy garment. This means we’re no longer to remind ourselves about the wrongs done to us by others. Nor are we to cherish sinful habits, continue worldly practices, or think the way we formerly did. 

As new creations in Christ, we have no business wearing the dirty clothes of the flesh. Instead, we are to exercise our renewed mind and put on the new garments given to us by God. We will be satisfied only when we let go of the old and put on the new.

Eliezer’s Faithful Service

“And Abraham said unto his eldest servant of his house, that ruled over all that he had…go unto my country, and to my kindred, and take a wife unto my son Isaac.” (Genesis 24:2, 4)

Abraham required a most sacred vow from Eliezer (Genesis 15:2) to secure a bride for Isaac from the line of Shem rather than from the Canaanites (Genesis 24:3-4, 9). Eliezer had Abraham’s complete trust, with access and permission to all of his wealth (Genesis 24:10).

The Bible notes how Eliezer prepared for the success of the mission with adequate resources (employees, wealth, etc.), and went straight to his destination with no wasted time en route. Along the way he must have anticipated how to discern a proper wife and asked God for verification that He approved of the selection.

Eliezer’s request indicated he had in mind a lady who must be strong, healthy, and industrious, with no delusions of a life of ease. She must also be gracious, sensitive, and compassionate. Eliezer’s prayer did not presume. He knew the assignment and was asking for guidance on how to “see” the character of the potential wife (Genesis 24:12-14).

Eliezer was further aware of his being “in the way” (Genesis 24:27). That is, he was clearly aware that he was acting under godly authority and was seeking the leading of the Lord Himself. “The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD” (Psalm 37:23), and our paths are directed when we “acknowledge him” (Proverbs 3:6).

After Eliezer completed defining his task, he insisted that an immediate decision be made so that he could finish his assignment. Once the family and Rebecca agreed, Eliezer made sure that the mission was completed by bringing the new bride home to Isaac (Genesis 24:32-67). Would to God that all of us were as faithful (1 Corinthians 4:2). HMM III

Dirge of Depression to Descant of Delight

Lord, how long will You continually forget me? How long will You hide Your face from me? How long will I store up anxious concerns within me, agony in my mind every day? How long will my enemy dominate me? But I have trusted in Your faithful love; my heart will rejoice in Your deliverance. I will sing to the Lord because He has treated me generously ( Psalm 13 vv. 1-2, 5-6).

How long? Repeated four times, this question indicates that David was distressed with God, with himself, and with his enemy. Much good can come from tension. For example, the music from stringed instruments is a result of tension. For me there is nothing like a glorious resolution of the rising tension produced in a Beethoven symphony.

David was restless. His mind was in turmoil, and he felt dejected. His enemy seemed to be ascending, threatening his kingship, and causing personal humiliation. God seemed distant. The friendship between David and his Lord has clouded over.

Things are not always as they seem. Part of David’s genius was his ability to transcend such difficulties. Without tension there can be no resolution. The tension in David’s life came from his difficulties with the enemy and his devotion to God. This conflict led to personal maturity, which he attained because he maintained intimacy with God.

His dirge of depression became a descant of delight. Like an eagle, David soared to new heights. His life took flight when he pledged himself to God’s unfailing love, when he chose to praise and thank God, when he realized that God had a higher purpose, “His ways are not our ways, and his thoughts are not our thoughts” (Isa. 55:8 NIV). A spiritual metamorphosis took place when David wrapped himself in God’s love instead of in his besetting circumstances. He reached the loftiest height of all when he started to sing of God’s goodness.

Personal Prayer

Lord, I want to trust in your unfailing love, rejoice in your salvation, and sing of your goodness today.

The Language of Music

Descant

A soaring counter melody, usually sung by several sopranos.

Used as a decorative addition to a hymn, the descant is a very effective musical device which can leave listeners feeling exhilarated.

An Island Within

I rise before dawn and cry out for help; I put my hope in Your word.—Psalm 119:147

Some Bible teachers say: “If you are filled with the Spirit, then you can draw from God’s resources, not just at the beginning of the day, but every hour of the day. Better a fountain in the heart than a fountain by the way.” This confuses two quite separate issues. It is perfectly true that by reason of the Spirit’s indwelling, we can draw upon His resources moment by moment, but that does not do away with the need for a daily quiet time. One writer puts it like this: “Those who say they can live in a state of prayer without stated times for prayer will probably find themselves without both. It is as futile as thinking that you can live in a state of physical nourishment without stated times for nourishment.” I believe with all my heart that the divine Shepherd seeks daily to lead His sheep to the “still waters” of His Word, and how sad it is that so many Christians prefer to drink from the polluted pools of the world. The poet says:

What a frail soul He gave me, and a heart

Lame and unlikely for the large events.

I wonder if, more often, we haven’t given ourselves “a heart lame and unlikely for the large events.” God has given us infinite resources through prayer and the reading of the Scriptures. They are ours for the asking and the taking. The quiet time creates an island of quiet within us, and that becomes the atmosphere of the day.

Prayer

O Father, help me come to the quiet time with quiet expectancy—expectancy that here my weakness shall become strength, my doubt become faith, my fears become courage, and my sin become redemption. I ask this for Your own dear name’s sake. Amen.

Further Study

Jr 15:1-16; Dt 8:3; Jb 23:12; Ps 119:103

What was Jeremiah’s experience?

What did the children of Israel have to learn?

Holiness As the Will of God

Titus 2:14

We are told over and over again that God wants His people to be pure and that purity in their hearts is the very central idea and end and purpose of the gospel of Jesus Christ. If it is not so, I am utterly deceived.

In justification of this I have selected summing-up texts. “The will of God is your sanctification” (1 Thess. 4:3 KJV). There is, however, a sense, and an important sense, in which sanctification must be the will of man. It must be my will too, and if it is not my will, the divine will can never be accomplished in me. I must will to be sanctified, as God is willing that I should be sanctified.

“He gave Himself for us that He might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto Himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works” (Titus 2:14 KJV). And again, “Every man that has this hope in him purifies himself, even as He is pure” (1 John 3:3 KJV). Now, I say these are summing-up texts, and there are numbers of others to the same effect to show that the whole end and purpose of redemption is this: that He will restore us to purity; that he will bring us back to righteousness; that He will purge our consciences from dead works to serve the living God.

Now, I say, if this be not the central idea of Christianity, I do not understand it. This is not a sitting down and sentimentalizing and thinking of Christ in the heavens. It brings Him down, to all intents and purpose, into our hearts and lives here. These epistles represent a real, practical transformation to be accomplished in you.

I tell you, without it, you will not be able to die in peace. You will want to be cleansed before you can venture into the presence of the King of kings. You will want a sense of beautiful, moral rectitude and righteousness spreading over your whole nature, which will enable you to look up into the face of God, and say,

“Yes, I love You, I know You, and You know me, and love me, and we are one. I love the things You love, and desire the things You desire.”

You will want that, and nothing less, to die with. And why not have it? Why not let God work it in us? He can do it, and He promises to do it. Will you say,

“Be it unto me according to Your Word?” (Luke 1:38 KJV).

Catherine Booth, Godliness