|GIFTS of the HOLY SPIRIT - LOVE IS CENTRAL|
GIFTS of the HOLY SPIRIT -
How they should operate in the assembly of believers
1st Corinthians chapters 12, 13 and 14
GOD'S LOVE is CENTRAL
"Taste and see that the LORD is good!"
Going to a sandwich shop, we stand across the counter deciding which goodies we want to fill our lunch today.
"Hmmmm, do I want the sweet pepper, the banana pepper or the jalapeno today? I have an appointment in an hour, so leave out the onion . . ."
You have a favorite bread, so that's a 'given'. But it is the flavors and textures of the vegetables, meat, and cheese inside the sandwich that concerns you now.
Comparing this common experience in American culture to a passage in the Apostle Paul's writings to the church which he founded at Corinth, Greece -
It is not too far a stretch to think of GOD'S LOVE as being the central - the most important part of our lives.
God's perfect love does not play favorites . . . God's love which He offers to everyone, no matter what their parentage, or their personal history. We see this amazing and forever-liberating Love of God in the Person of Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son, the Lamb of God Who takes away the sins of the world!
What Father God requires is that we humble ourselves to admit that we have sinned and that we need Him! His Son, Yeshua was obedient to his mission, and died a horrible death on a Roman cross, taking your place and my place. WE deserved the cross because of our sin. Yeshua/Jesus was there in our place. He alone was qualified to be the perfect sacrifice for the sin of mankind.
" . . . all things are cleansed with blood, and without shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness." Hebrews 9:22 NASB
This then is the reason that it's our personal responsibility to forgive those who have hurt us and our loved ones. It is probable that from God's viewpoint, the greatest sin of those who claim to be born-again, even 'spirit-filled' Christians, is the sin of unforgiveness.
When we look at 2nd Chronicles 7:14 -
"If my people which are called by My Name, shall humble themselves and pray, and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land."
Humbling myself can mean getting on my knees, or on my face on the floor. Humbling myself means putting the good of others ahead of myself. Humbling myself can mean going without a meal or two, or more.
In her earlier days, the writer met two men - each of whom had fasted from food (only drinking water) for forty days.
This was the length of the fast that Jesus did in the wilderness when the devil tempted Him, and He overcame by the Word of God, and obedience to His Father.
In the Sermon on the Mount when speaking of fasting, Jesus said, "Whenever you fast, do not put on a gloomy face as the hypocrites do, for they neglect their appearance so that they will be noticed by men when they are fasting. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But you, WHEN YOU FAST , anoint your head and wash your face so that your fasting will not be noticed by men, but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you." Matthew 6:16-18
Our Lord, Jesus Christ did not say, IF you fast. He said WHEN you fast.
Could it be the unforgiveness and self-righteousness of the people who claim to belong to Christ Jesus, and are looking for the 'rapture' to whisk them up and away from tribulation, that is empowering the devil's destructive works on the earth? Let us honestly ask ourselves and pray for Father to reveal the truth to us.
Do I want God to forgive my sins? Of course I do. Then I must forgive others.
Do I want God's mercy for myself? Of course I do. Then I must grant mercy to others.
Now, with this new awareness, let us read the 13th chapter of 1st Corinthians . . .
Let us "Taste and see that the LORD is good". Then, let us live it out in our daily lives.
"If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.
And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.
Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth;
Bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy they will be done away; if there are tongues they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away.
For we know in part and we prophesy in part; but when the perfect comes the partial will be done away.
When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things.
For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known.
But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love."
Let us then explore the Apostle Paul's description of the work of the Holy Spirit and His gifts to the body of believers, in 1st Corinthians, chapters 12 and 14.
[to be continued.]