Category Archives: Bible Study

The Precipice

The Precipice - When Everything you know Changes

Having known TC Avey via Social Media (@TCAvey1 on Twitter) for several years now, reading her blog and interacting with her socially, I was very excited to find out she was writing a book.  I was gifted a copy of The Precipice: When Everything We Know Ends in exchange for an honest review.

I read the book in ONE sitting. Easy to keep up with,expertly written and I have to say, each scenario is completely possible in this day and age.

While this book is a work of fiction, TC has done her homework with these three short stories and honestly the things in her book could become reality for many.

These stories easily get your attention as specific freedoms are challenged. 

I would suggest using the Reality Check section at the end of each story in this book in a Bible study settings to prompt discussions about the events she covers as well as family time discussions.

As you read her book, search your own heart and think of what you would do should everything as you know it….change.

Here is an interview TC has graciously given me.  

1.  What prompted you to write this book? 

I’ve always been passionate about Current Events, History, and the Word of God. A few years ago God began tying these together so that each news story or history lesson I read, I saw God at work.

I was troubled when I began to see the path America, and the world, is on.

I found comfort in 2 Chronicles 7:14 but I felt compelled to do more.

But what was I to do?

After church one day, God gave me this message. It took months of prayer, research, and seeking God before this book became a reality. More than once I tried tabling this book and saying it wasn’t the “right time”, but I had no peace when I did this.

Continually God brought me back to Jeremiah 20:8-9. I can’t keep this message inside. It must be spoken. How it is received isn’t up to me. I must do my part and trust God to finish what He began. God is speaking to His people…are we listening?

2.  Each person has gifts given to them by God to aide in their calling. How did you know you were called to write?

I’m not sure. Some people hear a voice from God. Some people know from a young age. There are countless books/resources out there to help you discover your gifts. Each Member in the Body of Christ has gifts and those gifts are meant to bring glory to God.

For me, I can’t NOT write. I love writing. I love reading. I love learning. Those are things God placed inside me. But I’ve not always used them for His glory.

I wrote for years, but it’s only been since 2011 that I’ve been courageous enough to share my writings with the world through my blog, Wisdom of a Fool.

I guess my answer to those seeking to know their gifts and calling is ask yourself, what passions has He placed inside me? What do I enjoy doing?

When I began my blog, I had no idea God would lead me to write this book. But this book takes all my passions (reading, writing, research, God) and brings them together, hopefully all for His glory and not my own.

3.  Explain how your book encourages people to be more active in their faith. 

When we accept Christ as our Savior we are a New Creation. That New Creation longs to please God, to do good works, to bring Him glory.

We can never earn our Salvation, but when we begin to grasp all that God has done for us, we can’t help but share that Good News with the world.

Our flesh wars with our spirits and this world does a wonderful job of distracting us from the Great Commission we are each given.

It’s my prayer that people will read my book and be inspired to KNOW God more. To follow Him. To dedicate their lives, energies, talents, time and so on to the One who gave Himself for us (John 3:16-17).

Truth is, our lives aren’t about us. They are about the One who purchased us, who redeemed us from our fleshly desires.

It’s time we wake up and stop living our lives for ourselves and begin being a City on a Hill.

I hope my book helps people analyze where they place their trust. Anything other than the solid foundation of Christ won’t stand.

4.  If people take one thing away from your book, what do you hope it is? 

Not to fear the trials and pains of this world, but cling to the Word of God. For God’s Word to be ALIVE in them. Jesus says that in this world we will have tribulation, but we can have hope and joy because He has overcome the world (John 16:33).

This type of hope and joy can only be found in a RELATIONSHIP with Christ, not a religion. 

5.  How can people maintain their joy when there are so many troubling things in the world? 

By NOT focusing on what is transpiring in the world. Focus on the Word of God.

This seems contrary to much of my book highlighting Modern Events.

However, it’s true. God’s Word must be our source and foundation. That being said, I think it’s imperative people also know what is going on in the world.

How can we know how to pray? How can we see the signs described to us in Matt 24, if we don’t pay attention to the birth pangs transpiring around us?

How can we encourage others, if we don’t know what it is they are burdened with?

God’s Word must permeate our minds and souls, but we can’t neglect to stay informed if only so we can help others who are burdened down with the cares of this world.

Also, one must never operate their lives from a position of fear. Fear is satans tool to immobilize us. But God, who is perfect love, casts out fear. Cling to that Love. Stay in the Vine.

BIO-

TC Avey is a Christian devoted to God, family and friends. She is passionate about encouraging Christians to live a life dedicated to Christ as well as helping them understand the importance of preserving our national freedoms through knowledge and love. She blogs at Wisdom of a Fool (tcavey.blogspot.com). You can also follow her on Twitter (TCAvey1). Her book, The Precipice: When Everything We Know Ends, is available on Amazon.  You can also check out her book on GoodReads.

 

I highly recommend this book. I hope you’ll read it, spend some time in thought with regards to the events listed in the book and then share it.

Thanks TC for this opportunity to share The Precipice: When Everything We Know Ends.

*No compensation was received in exchange for this review.  All opinions expressed are my own.  I was not required to give a positive review. 

 You can purchase a copy via Amazon here. 

What will you do when your basic Christian Freedoms are challenged? Get the book, think about it.

God Fashioned

Created-For-More-Front-Cover-FINAL-682x1024

 

God Fashioned by Author and Biblical Life Coach Bridget Haymond 

Is a remarkable daily devotional divided into 10 weeks that covers various topics to help you clearly see that you were fashioned by God for more than you could have ever imagined.

In this crazy world we live in you are easily reminded of your faults, your issues, your troubles but THIS devotional has been written to help you see the best in yourself so that you can focus your energy on what God wants you to be and His desires for your life.

I’ve said it a million times and I’ll keep saying it, the negative is so easy to see! Author Bridget Haymond has written this devotional in such a way that each day you’ll be able to see beyond the negative as you look deeper into what God truly created you for.

She has crafted daily devotions that are easy to read with thought provoking questions at the end that are for men, women and even teens.  Your pre-teen looking for their purpose, for direction? Get this book for them and take time daily to read and discuss it with them.

She has laid it out with topics that flow from day to day in such a thoughtful way so that you are not overcome, yet you are looking into the positive, the talents and good that God has created you for.

I love that she ends each week with a weekly reflection.  This is awesome for the group discussions, or parent/teen discussion that you can have.

Your youth group will benefit from it, your Sunday school, small group or even your personal daily devotional time.

This study can easily be broken down into a 4 week study by reading 2 pages a day. Many feel that they cannot maintain a long 10 week study, but this book will not leave you feeling that way.  You can easily modify this to fit your study group’s need.

What are your needs? Do you feel that you are looking for more from God? Do you feel that He has fashioned you for more and you just don’t know what it is? Then you should get this book and dig in! 

I’ve know Bridget for years and have had the privilege of sharing many cups of coffee, laughs and the warmest hugs with her! Her coaching skills are amazing, her love for helping people to draw closer to the Lord makes my heart smile and I KNOW that you and your group will love her devotional!

YOU Were Created for more! God Fashioned you for such a time as this!

You will want to Get your copy today from Amazon here. Paperback copy or Kindle Version 

I’m giving away a copy of her book! All you have to do to be entered to win is leave a comment. Winner will be drawn August 24th 2015. That’s right…nothing to fill out, nothing to click, nothing to extra other than say hello in the comments below. I just love easy! Brings me great JOY.

 

Some of my favorite quotes: 

  • Rather than merely seeking gifts from the Lord, make it your goal to enjoy a vibrant relationship with Him first and foremost.
  • God offers us real life with the added benefit of friendship with Him.
  • Ultimately, choices reflect heart attitudes and values.
  • Daily renewing your mind with the word of God will help you recognize those things that aren’t His best for your life
  • obedience to Him is not an imposition, but a joyful expression of your love, trust and respect for Him
  • Your life is intended to be a light that points the way to Jesus
  • While growing up in Christ requires self-control, faith and endurance, it also involves learning to rest in His grace.
  • When you make room for God to work in and through your life, He can give you unique strategies and the strength to overcome obstacles and bring good out of bad situations

Here are some ways to get to Know Bridget Better, and honestly, I hope you do.  You’ll be glad you did. 

Website: http://bridgethaymond.com/

Twitter: @Bridgethaymond

Facebook: Bridget Haymond Christian Life Coach

 

lighthouse

 

 

 

Week 5 Bible in 90 Days

bible 90 days week 5

 

We’ve come a long way through our Bible! I’ve enjoyed getting to know old characters again, being reminded that even though many failed and failed BIG that they were still mightly used by the Lord because they were willing to be used.  I’ve enjoyed hearing many, many times – do not be afraid, do not be discouraged.  I hope that you are enjoying the journey so far as well!

This Weeks Schedule:

  • Day 29 1 Chronicles 1:1 – 1 Chronicles 9:44
  • Day 30 1 Chronicles 10:1 – 1 Chronicles 23:32
  • Day 31 1 Chronicles 24:1 – 2 Chronicles 7:10
  • Day 32 2 Chronicles 7:11 – 2 Chronicles 23:15
  • Day 33 2 Chronicles 23:16 – 2 Chronicles 35:15
  • Day 34 2 Chronicles 35:16 – Ezra 10:44
  • Day 35 Nehemiah 1:1 – Nehemiah 13:14

Books we’ll encounter this week:

1 Chronicles Overview:  Covers much of the same ground as 2 Samuel. This book was written after Judah returns from exile and is intended as an encouragement to the returnees. Its emphasis in on the more positive events/aspects of the reigns covered.

2 Chronicles Overview:  Covers much of the same ground as 1 & 2 Kings.  Like Chronicles, it was written after Judah returns from exile and is intended to encourage.

Ezra Overview:  When Cyrus became king of Persia, the Lord led him to free teh exiles to return to Jerusalem. Ezra, a teacher “well versed in the Law of Moses” arrives several decades later to discover that many from Judah have been intermarrying with the neighboring peoples.

Nehemiah Overview:  Whereas Ezra is a teacher and scribe, Nehemiah is a leader. The book of Nehemiah celebrates the rebuilding of Jerusalem’s walls against significant odds. The behavior of the residents when Nehemiah is in residence and when he is not harkens back to the era of the Judges.

Consider:

1.  How does the Lord use the prophet Nathan in 2 Samuel 12?

2.  Does David immediately realize the significance of Nathan’s story about the rich man?

3.  What does David’s response in 2 Samuel 12:13 say about his relationship with God?

4.  What were the consequences of David’s sin?

5.  Has there been an “aha” triggered by your reading this week that you have been able to immediately apply to your life?

Do you know that we are going to be halfway through the Old Testament? *Clapping* GOOD for YOU!!  If you have fallen behind, don’t give up!! Keep reading. Keep at it! You’ll be glad you did!

Click here to Listen to the Bible as you read it.

This Weeks Study Guide. There is good stuff here, don’t pass this by!

When you finish this week you are 1/3 through this lesson! The best way to maintain an awesome relationship with the Lord is to stay close to Him by staying in His Word!

 

 

Week 4 Bible in 90 Days

b90day week 4

 

As we near completing our first month of Bible reading, I’m excited that this goal is actually possible.  I’m still a little behind, but working diligently to catch up.   I hope that you are still on track and are enjoying your journey.  If you are behind, still work on it.  Think about it…how bad its it to have read through your bible in 100 days? hmmm?

You can do this.  I have faith in you.

Bible Reading Schedule for this week:

  • Day 22 1 Samuel 28:20 – 2 Samuel 12:10
  • Day 23 2 Samuel 12:11 – 2 Samuel 22:18
  • Day 24 2 Samuel 22:19 – 1 Kings 7:37
  • Day 25 1 Kings 7:38 – 1 Kings 16:20
  • Day 26 1 Kings 16:21 – 2 Kings 4:37
  • Day 27 2 Kings 4:38 – 2 Kings 15:26
  • Day 28 2 Kings  15:27 – 2 Kings 25:30

In the early 1990’s H. Jackson Brown wrote Life’s Little Instruction Book. His son was going to college and he watned to share some gems of wisdom that he had gleaned over the years. He collected 511 gems of wisdom that were to guide his son’s life.  For instance – learn to make great chili, never buy a house without a fireplace, overtip breakfast waitresses, be brave – even if you’re not, pretend to be – no one can tell the difference etc etc.

His son responded enthusiastically and the document made its way to a publisher and became a best seller. It’s hard to know whether anyone was transformed by this  – but the Bible…that’s a different story.  Billions of people have been changed by its message of hope and salvation.

Books you’ll Encounter This Week:

1 Kings – The book opens with the region of Solomon, a time when Israel enjoys a great deal of influence, wealth and worldwide recognition.  Yet, even as the world’s wisest man, Solomon is corrupted by worldly matters and the faiths of his wives and concubines. At his death the kingdom becomes divided.

2 Kings – Continues the account of the kings and the divided kingdom through the fall of Jerusalem

Reading Tips:

Many new people and names are introduced that can be hard to distinguish from one another.  Some events are described more than one and the kings of Israel and Judah are handled in rapid-fire succession.  To minimize confusion, slow down, read attentively.  Notice the patterns of behavior by the various kings.

Discussion:

1. Why do you think there is such a disconnect between modern Christians and the Bible?

2.  How is your perception of the Bible changing as you read each day?

3.  What questions evolved from your readings this week?

4.  Our reading shows us many instances when Israel only partially follows God’s commands. What are some examples and the results?

5.  Based on our reading to date, talk about what God tends to do whan a society turns to him for help.

6. List the tragedies and unfortunate events that befall Naomi and Ruth in the Book of Ruth. Does any good come from all of this?

7.  What are some examples of tragedy or hardship from which good has emerged?

8.  Do you have any “life instructions” you’d like to share?

Click here to Listen to the Bible as you read it.

This Weeks Study Guide. There is good stuff here, don’t pass this by!

 

Please print out the Lesson! It will help you so much as you journey through the Bible!

What are your thoughts so far?

How are you doing?

Week 1 Bible in 90 Days

bible study

 

Thank you for joining me on this journey through the Bible in 90 days.  I hope that you are excited and as we near the end, that you’ll be thrilled to have made your way through the Bible from cover to cover.   I’m so excited! I have a lot of resources for you to get started with, so let’s dive right in!

Here is a pdf version of the schedule that you can print off and use to track your reading.

Here is a free study guide for this week.

Reading Schedule for the Week:  tip: Bible Gateway has Audio. Listen to some of the chapters.

  • Day 1 = Genesis 1:1 – Genesis 16:15
  • Day 2 = Genesis 17:1 – Genesis 28:19
  • Day 3 = Genesis 28:20 – Genesis 40:11
  • Day 4 = Genesis 40:12 – Genesis 50:26
  • Day 5 = Exodus 1:1 – Exodus 15:18
  • Day 6 = Exodus 15:19 – Exodus 28: to end
  • Day 7 = Exodus 29:1 – Exodus 40: to end

 

Please download the Free pdf lessons.  Listening to some of the chapters will help you stay on track each day.  This weekend, I’ll come back here and answer the discussion questions and share with you.  Feel free to add in any suggestions, comments and things that have helped you with your study this week.

Would love to hear any blessings or encouragements that helped you as well!

Story:

A deeply religious man lived in a house by the river, but one day the banks burst and the house was flooded. As the water level rose alarmingly, the man climbed onto the roof of the house. A Boat came by. “Climb aboard.” called the captain.  “No, I shall stay here,” said the man. “God will take care of me.”  Twenty minutes later, the waters sill rising, the man climbed onto the chimney. Another boat came past. “Jump aboard,” said the captain.  “No, I shall stay here,” said the man. “God will take care of me.”  With the water up to the man’s waist, a helicopter suddenly swooped down.  “Quick!” shouted the pilot. “Climb aboard!”

“No, I shall stay here,” said the man. “God will take care of me.” The water level continued to rise,  soon the man was swept away from the chimney and drowned.  Up in heaven, he sought out God. “I thought you said you would take care of me,” he complained. God said, “I sent you two boats and a helicopter. What more do you want?”

Do you have any questions for me? If so, please ask away.

Group discussion questions: 

1. Have you tried to read the Bible in its entirety?  Did you make it? How long did it take?

2.  What challenges did you face? If you didn’t get all the way through, how far did you get?

3.  What is the biggest challenge you are facing in this study (if any)?

4.  What have you found rewarding so far in your attempts to read the Bible regularly?

5.  If you’ve started to read through the entire Bible but have never finished it, what has kept you from finishing your goal?

6.  What excites you most about the prospect of reading the entire Bible in 90 days?

7.  Why do you believe it is important to read the entire Bible? What do you expect to discover in terms of practical living, spiritual growth, knowledge of history or other areas?

Reading Tips:

  • You’ll be reading the Bible on your own. Set your schedule and plan to read each day. In 90 days, you’ll have accomplished your goal.
  • We’ll meet here on the blog post and discuss anything you need to cover.  I don’t claim to have all the answers, but we will find them together if need be. I’m hoping that as others chime in and discuss what they read, that any questions will be answered that way.
  • Try to read at different times to see what works best for you. Most of all, do not give up – even if you fall behind.

Understand what you can while reading, but remember – different things will “jump out” at you at different times.

Books you’ll encounter this week:

Genesis – The adventure begins. Creation of the universe and all things in it.

Exodus – Slavery and the deliverance from Egypt.

If it’s helpful to do so, print out this page, put it in your Bible and check off the schedule as you go along. Jot down some notes highlighting what you’ve read. Any knowledge gained, verses that spoke to you or just favorite passages.

Leave any comments, questions and items you’d like to discuss below. Also, please do take time to answer the discussion questions.  You never know how you’ll encourage someone to keep going after their goal!

If you are replying to someone, please include their name.  If you are on twitter, please leave your twitter name, so others can follow you.  I love getting to know others this way!

Let’s do this!

 

 

Gifts of the Spirit

Gifts of the Spirit

by Dr. J. Vernon McGee
Published and distributed by

Thru the Bible Radio Network
P.O. Box 7100
Pasadena, California 91109-7100
(800) 65-BIBLE
www.ttb.org

Scripture references are from the New King James Version Bible.
(This message is also included in the hardback book, Through His Spirit,
Copyright 2003 by Thru the Bible Radio.) 2

How wonderful it is to know that every believer has a gift from the Holy Spirit. I can’t think of anything more thrilling than to know that God has given you and me a gift to function in this world, and that we are to be partners with Jesus Christ in the tremendous enterprise of making Him known!

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

God is the one who sovereignly gives the gifts, and He gives them as it pleases Him. He is the one to be pleased, you see, and these gifts are in the body so that the body can function.

A man in one of my congregations had an unusual gift. He was not an usher, but he would stand in the back of the church, and if there was any kind of disruption or commotion in the service, he would take care of it. He just had a way of handling people. As I told him, he had a rare gift and one that is needed in the church. You may be surprised that something like that is a gift. Of course it is a gift, and so is cooking or sewing.

My friends, the Spirit of God is sovereign in all this. He is the one who determines what is important and what is not important. If God has called you to bake a cake or to sew a dress, then do it. That is a gift. The Holy Spirit wants us to use our gifts and to bring them under the lordship of Jesus Christ.

Gifts Unify

There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all.
(1 Corinthians 12:4-6)

The Trinity is actually involved in this matter of bringing about the unity. The Holy Spirit is mentioned first: “There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.” The Holy Spirit distributes the gifts. “There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord” – that is the Lord Jesus Christ. The Spirit of God is the one who bestows the gifts, but the Lord Jesus Christ is the one who administers the gifts.

Then notice the work of God the Father: “And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all.” The word translated “activities” is in the Greek energema, energy. He energizes or gives power for the exercise of the gift. And God never gives a gift but that He also gives the power to exercise that gift, by the way.

So here we have something quite interesting: the same Spirit, the same Lord, and the same God the Father, but there are “diversities” and “differences.” The purpose of the Trinity is to bring about the unity in the church, but it is unity in diversity. The Trinity is attempting to attain this unity in your church today.

Now we come to a very important verse in this matter of the unity of the Spirit:

But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all.
(1 Corinthians 12:7)

We have three things here. First, the definition of a gift. What is a gift? Notice this: “But the manifestation of the Spirit.” A gift is the manifestation of the Spirit. Therefore, if I may give you my own simple definition: a gift is the Holy Spirit using the believer to do something through him. Anything that Vernon McGee does in the flesh is useless to God, and God doesn’t want it. Only what the Spirit of God does through us is of value.

This is my reason for warning many folk who have natural gifts – a natural gift of speaking, a natural gift of singing – that they should be dead sure the Holy Spirit is using that gift. Be very sure that you are not just exercising a fleshly gift, but that the Spirit of God is using you. The reason why so many church services fall flat is that we have a demonstration of a natural gift rather than the Spirit of God doing something through an individual.

Secondly, every believer has a gift. Notice that “the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one.” Every believer has a gift. You, if you are a child of God, have a gift. The Spirit of God has given you a gift and you are to exercise it.

Thirdly, notice the purpose of the gift. It is “given to each one for the profit of all.” Every believer has a gift and is placed in the body of Christ to function. The gift is operational. What is the purpose? Well, the purpose is to profit the body of believers. A gift is to be used in the church to build it up, to help the church. It is never given to help you in your personal spiritual life.

For this reason, I disagree with folk who tell me (and quite a few have told me this), “Dr. McGee, we agree with you – we don’t think we ought to speak in tongues in the church. We do it in our own private devotions.” But, friend, that is not the purpose of a gift. It is “given to each one for the profit of all.” “Profit” is the Greek sumphero, meaning “to bear together.” No gift was ever given to be used for selfish purposes. Every gift is to be used to build up the body of believers.

Paul developed this point with an illustration of the function of members of the human body. For instance, my eye has no business running off and operating on its own. It has to operate for the benefit of the rest of the body. And that is the only way in the world a gift is to be exercised. Different gifts are given to believers to be exercised for the good of the church; for the profit, for the wealth of, for the building up of the church – “for the profit of all.”

Gifts Vary

Then Paul made a contrast between the ordinary and the spectacular.

For to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues.
(1 Corinthians 12:8–10)

He mentioned first the word of wisdom, the word of knowledge, and faith; miracles, prophecy, and tongues came later. There is a contrast here between the less exciting gifts and the more exciting gifts. In fact, back in verse 4 where he said, “There are diversities of gifts,” the Greek word for “gifts” is charisma. Yet the charismatic movement has been confined to just one gift, tongues.

But, you see, Paul purposely made a contrast between certain gifts that are spectacular and certain gifts that are ordinary, less glamorous. The gifts of wisdom and knowledge and faith are not spectacular. Wisdom, for instance, is virtually unrecognized. Paul made a contrast by saying that it doesn’t make any difference whether it is quiet wisdom or ecstatic utterances – all are needed. And he would make the comparison to the different members of the body, as we shall see.

As we move along in this chapter, notice something else concerning this matter of unity:

But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills.
(1 Corinthians 12:11)

Again we are told that every believer has a gift. God gives to each one a gift that is his “individually” – the Greek word is idios, meaning “one’s own.” Each one is given his own peculiar gift. Dorcas, for instance, was so valuable to the early church that Peter restored her to life (see Acts 9:36-43). You may ask, “Do you mean that a woman’s ability as a seamstress is a gift from the Holy Spirit of God?” It was for Dorcas. Her gift of the Holy Spirit was that she could sew.

There are many gifts today, just as there are many members of the body – and there are hundreds of members of the body. I think one of the tragedies of the hour in the modern church is that so many believers feel as if they have no gift at all. If you are a believer, you have been put into the body of Christ and you have been placed there to function in a very definite capacity. Every believer in the church should be doing his or her own “thing.” God has called you to do something.

I tell these young people who run around speaking in tongues, “Look, it’s thrilling to find out what God wants you as a believer to do. Then do that. And you can do it in the power of the Holy Spirit. No one needs drugs when you can get ‘high’ like that. You can really get ‘turned on’ to that sort of thing!”

Gifts are Given (Not Chosen)

Let me repeat verse 11:

But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills.

“As He wills” means that the gifts are given sovereignly by the Holy Spirit. Paul enforced this point in verse 18 of the same chapter:

But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased.

We do not choose the gifts. The Holy Spirit gives the gifts, and He is sovereign in this because, you see, the gifts are for the unity of the church. This matter of gifts is not a spiritual smorgasbord where you go to the table and say, “Oh, I don’t want that gift of faith or that gift of wisdom. They’re not romantic. I want this gift of prophecy or this gift of tongues.” It’s not “I want this” or “I want that.” No, that?s not the way it is done. Why not? Because everyone would want the same gifts. It’s sort of like the barber who, while he was shaving a customer, said to him, “I’m sure glad everybody’s not alike. If they were like me, they?d all want my wife.” And the customer said (although he should not have), “It is a good thing we’re not all alike, because if everybody were like me, nobody would have her!”

Fortunately, the gifts of the Spirit are not by our choice. The Spirit of God, in order to achieve unity, makes the choice for us. And I believe that in every local church, if every person were doing that which the Spirit of God wants, we would have every function that is necessary for the ongoing of the church. I think we have too many people wanting to do the same thing – when they have no gift for it. They want to do something that is showy, something that is spectacular, something that has charisma to it. This is the reason why speaking in tongues is so popular.

Isn’t it interesting that nobody goes into orbit on these other gifts of wisdom, faith, or helps? Always, it’s on tongues. You see, tongues has a certain charisma about it, and they like that type of thing. But the Holy Spirit is sovereign in this matter; He divides the gifts to us as He wills.

Gifts Illustrated by Members of the Body

Then Paul illustrated these gifts by a comparison to the human body.

For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ.
(1 Corinthians 12:12)

Many members. For what purpose? One body. Although there are many members, you?ll come up with only one body. And that is the way the church is to function. Many members; one body.

How do we get into the body of believers? This is very important to see and is the reason, I believe, that Dr. Luke, when he recorded the happenings on the Day of Pentecost, dared not mention the fact that they were “baptized” with the Holy Spirit. I think they were baptized, but the record says they were filled. Why? Because there was a service they performed: they all exercised a gift, speaking in different languages (and there was not an unknown tongue there that day; all were understood), and it was the filling of the Spirit that equipped them for that service.

Baptism does what? Notice especially the “one … all” in this verse:

For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body.
(1 Corinthians 12:13)

What does the Holy Spirit do? The Spirit of God, the moment you trust the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior, regenerates you. We hear that emphasized a great deal. But He also indwells the believer, seals the believer, and baptizes the believer – whether the believer knows it or not. Not one of these three is an experience. But the important thing is that the Spirit of God baptizes you into the body, which means He identifies you into the body.

Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism [identification] into [His] death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory [power] of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
(Romans 6:4)

We are identified with Christ in His death. He died for us, but we died in Him. If this were not true, then the ordinance of water baptism would have no meaning.

This is one of the reasons I’m convinced that immersion is the proper mode for water baptism, because the believer has been buried with Christ and raised with Christ. And I think that water baptism best sets forth the Spirit baptism. When Christ died all those years ago, not only did He die, but I died. I died to sin in the person of Jesus Christ when He died for me on a cross outside the walls of Jerusalem. This is the reason I will not come up for judgment. I’ve already been judged – Christ’s judgment on the cross was my judgment. But I have been raised with Him, and I’m joined to a living Christ. Christ is the Head of the body of believers.

But He doesn’t put you into the body as only a button on a garment. He puts you in the body as a member to function in the body. This is very important to see. Therefore, as I?ve said, this matter of getting gifts is not a spiritual smorgasbord. I’m afraid it is treated that way in our churches. Do you need a teacher for a Sunday school class? Well, pray that God will send in the teacher whom the Spirit of God wants to teach that class.

When I was a teenager, a preacher did a very foolish thing. It almost caused me to leave the church. He said to me, a sixteen-year-old boy, “Vernon, you lead the song service.” I got up there – and that’s when I found out I did not have the gift of music. I want to tell you, friends, it’s dangerous in the Lord’s work to try to do something that the Spirit of God does not want you to do.

In the following verses, Paul used some ridiculous illustrations to show that in the body there must be many members, and they all must function in order to have unity – one body.

For in fact the body is not one member but many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body?
(1 Corinthians 12:14, 15)

The foot is very important, although it is way down there on the floor covered with a shoe. A doctor in Atlanta, Georgia, once asked me, “When you are delivering a message, do you know what is the most important part of your body?” I said, “Well, I suppose it’s my tongue.” He said, “No, it’s not. The most important part of your body is your big toe. You couldn’t stand up there if it were not for your big toe.”

Now suppose my big toe should say, “Look, I’ve been going with you for years, and when you get up there and talk, people see you but they never see me, and the two of us down here are carrying the load.” Well, the folk I talk to wouldn?t care about seeing my big toe. It’s not pretty. But it is important. We sometimes don’t appreciate the different members of our body.

Too many people misunderstand what the important gifts in the church are today. Many a preacher knows that in his congregation there are certain members who are keeping that church going. You won?t see them on the platform or read their names in the bulletin, but they are the feet that are carrying it along.

Now notice Paul’s next illustration:

And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body?
(1 Corinthians 12:16)

Suppose my ear should say, “Look, I’d like to get around there in front. People see your eyes, but they don’t see your ears.” Now the eyes are very important, but the body can’t be all eye. If my body were all eye, I’d be just a great big overgrown basketball. The eye is a wonderful thing. It is a 3-D camera; it takes pictures and develops them instantly. There is nothing quite like the eye – but the body can’t be all eye, my friend. There must be other members of the body, and this is what Paul was saying here:

If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where would be the smelling? But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased. (1 Corinthians 12:17, 18)

Then he made this personal:

Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually.
(1 Corinthians 12:27)

This is something that every one of us should remember. I?m in the body of Christ, but I’m a member individually. I am to do my “own thing” in the body of believers.

Covet the Best Gifts

Paul concluded this chapter with an arresting statement:

But earnestly desire the best gifts. And yet I show you a more excellent way.
(1 Corinthians 12:31)

We?ll find the “more excellent way” in 1 Corinthians 13, but notice he said to “earnestly desire the best gifts.” “Desire” can mean something good, although it generally means something evil. The point here is that the Corinthians wanted the showy gifts, those which they considered to be best; therefore, Paul rebuked them, “You?re desiring the showy gifts, and those are not the gifts you should be coveting. Desire the greater gifts!”

Which are the greater gifts? They are not those that make the most show, that are dramatic and exciting, but rather those that do the most good. We are to desire that which will do the most good for the body of believers. What can I do to help the church? This, my friend, is the approach that should be made, because I do believe a Christian can desire the best gifts.

The Gifts and Love

What is this excellent way spoken of in 1 Corinthians 12:31? Well, this excellent way is the fruit of the Spirit. Now, we?ve already examined the fruit of the Spirit and learned that actually there is only one fruit: love. From it come all the others – joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. That wonderful bunch of delicious fruit is produced by the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer; none of these qualities can you and I produce by human effort.

The interesting thing to note here is that a gift without love is nothing, regardless of what the gift is.

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal.
(1 Corinthians 13:1) 8

I might have the gift of tongues in such a way that I could speak like the angel Gabriel, but without love, I am just a little jangling bell. The gift of speaking is to be exercised in love. This is something the “tongues folk” ought to consider very carefully. I don’t care if you talk in tongues, but how do you talk in tongues? Are you doing it in love? If your gift of speaking is without love, it has no more value than the sound of a gong or a tinkling bell. For this reason we ought to be careful what we say.

Paul went on to mention other gifts:

And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.
(1 Corinthians 13:2)

I believe prophecy here means “to preach,” and I consider it to be one of the glamour gifts, by the way. “Understand all mysteries and all knowledge” are the gifts of wisdom and knowledge.

Then we come to this: “And though I have all faith” – faith is a wonderful gift. I’m part Scot and part German, and I am told that it is impossible to get more pessimism inside one skin than comes with these two nationalities. I’m a natural-born pessimist. But the Lord has always been good to me in every church I have served by putting in my congregations folk who have the gift of faith. A problem would arise in the church – my, it all looked black to me – but some brother would come up, put his arm around me, and say, “Pastor, don?t you worry about this. The Lord has already shown me that this thing is going to work out.” And it always did. It?s a marvelous, wonderful gift. Though it?s a wonderful gift, it?s not a glamour gift, like speaking in tongues. It’s a very quiet gift, and folk who have it are largely unknown.

Not only did Paul mention faith, but it’s “faith, so that I could remove mountains.” That, my friend, is a gift we could use in California, but I haven?t seen many mountains moved out here, I can assure you. That’s a gift very few are using today.

Then notice that Paul did a problem in arithmetic. By saying, “But have not love, I am nothing,” he put a zero on the board. That?s what any gift is – 000000. Those half-dozen zeros are not any more than one zero. But once you put a number in front of them, then you have something. You see, a gift with love is something; without love it is nothing. No gift is worth anything, regardless of what it is, unless it?s exercised in love. This is the reason why we ought to see the manifestation of love in the church today.

Exercise of the Gifts

Like our Lord, Paul was a master teacher. As you know, the mark of a good teacher is the ability to take people from where they are and move them up to where they ought to be. I think that is the business of a preacher also, by the way. Paul began with the Corinthians where they were. He attempted to bring those baby Christians from their immature level up to where they should be.

Pursue love, and desire spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy.
(1 Corinthians 14:1)

In other words, “Desire spiritualities, but the important thing is that you might prophesy.” 9

Remember that to prophesy means to preach. In our day, preaching is being discounted. Many churches are even getting rid of preaching, so it?s interesting that Paul put it first. I consider preaching and teaching the Word of God to be the all-important business of the church. Getting out the Word of God is the business of the church, and, my friend, if a church is not in that business, it would be better if the door were nailed shut. Giving out the gospel, the Word that reveals Jesus Christ, the Word that builds up believers, should be the big business of the church.

For he who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God, for no one understands him; however, in the spirit he speaks mysteries. But he who prophesies speaks edification and exhortation and comfort to men.
(1 Corinthians 14:2, 3)

This is the purpose of the Word of God today, and every gift given by the Spirit and used in the church should move toward that. God does not give the gift of preaching to everybody, but there are a hundred different ways in which you could help your preacher so that he could give more time to the Word of God. Everything should move to the one end of getting out the gospel. If the church is functioning like a body, whatever gift you’ve got will move toward the accomplishment of three things: to edify, to exhort, and to comfort.

A Word on Tongues

He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the church.
(1 Corinthians 14:4)

Tongues were used for a very definite purpose, which we will see in a moment. But first, Paul presented three arguments showing the reasons why they should not speak in tongues in Corinth. The three arguments are these:

I wish you all spoke with tongues, but even more that you prophesied; for he who prophesies is greater than he who speaks with tongues, unless he interprets, that the church may receive edification.
(1 Corinthians 14:5)

Even if tongues were in the church, there must be an interpretation in order that there might be edifying of the church.

But now, brethren, if I come to you speaking with tongues, what shall I profit you unless I speak to you either by revelation, by knowledge, by prophesying [preaching], or by teaching?
(1 Corinthians 14:6)

Paul was using himself for an example. He was saying, “I’m an apostle, and I’m not going around speaking in tongues. I speak by revelation, knowledge, prophesying, and teaching.”

Then he used an illustration: 10

Even things without life, whether flute or harp, when they make a sound, unless they make a distinction in the sounds, how will it be known what is piped or played?
(1 Corinthians 14:7)

It would make just as much sense for me to speak in tongues as to go to a piano and bang on it – and that’s all I could do. It would help no one to hear me banging on a piano, but let an accomplished pianist sit down there, and we would have music. Just as you have to make sense with music, you also must make sense with your tongue.

Now I want you to notice how the tongues were used in the early church.

In the law it is written: “With men of other tongues and other lips I will speak to this people; and yet, for all that, they will not hear Me,” says the Lord.
(1 Corinthians 14:21)

Who are “this people”? It’s Israel. Here is a quotation from Isaiah, written about seven hundred years before Christ came to earth. God said, concerning His people Israel, that He had sent them prophets, He had given them the Word of God, He had chastised them, He had tried to speak to them in every way possible to bring them back to Himself, but they would not hear Him. Then He said He would give them at some future time a sign:

For with stammering lips and another tongue He will speak to this people, to whom He said, “This is the rest with which you may cause the weary to rest,” and, “This is the refreshing”; yet they would not hear.
(Isaiah 28:11, 12)

In other words, God told them that there was a day coming when He would speak to them with other tongues – not unknown tongues, but other tongues. More than seven hundred years later, in Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost, the apostles of our Lord spoke in many different tongues. All the people who heard them were Israelites and had come to Jerusalem from various parts of the Roman Empire. There wasn?t a Gentile in the crowd that day. And these instructed Jews were reminded of Isaiah?s prophecy.

A number of years later Paul was in Corinth and began his ministry at the great synagogue (as recorded in Acts 18). That is where he preached the gospel until the unbelieving Jews finally put him out. Those who believed formed a little church made up of both Jews and Gentiles, largely Gentiles. And these new believers spoke in tongues (see 1 Corinthians 14). What did it mean? It meant this: these proud unbelieving Jews were walking around saying, “That little crowd of Gentiles over there say they are God?s chosen people. Don’t they know we are God’s people? We are the chosen people. We’re it.” Then they heard that little group speak in tongues, and the instructed Israelites said, “Wait a minute. Is God giving us His final word? Is this His final message to us? He said in Isaiah that He would try every means to speak to us, and we would not hear.” And some of the Jews turned to Christ. Most of them did not. But it was God?s final word to the nation.

In Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, he reminded them of the purpose of tongues:

Therefore tongues are for a sign, not to those who believe but to unbelievers; but prophesying is not for unbelievers but for those who believe.
(1 Corinthians 14:22) 11

To those unbelieving Jews, it was a sign.

Now as far as I know, there is not a group in existence today using tongues as God intended them to be used. If they are using them to speak to the nation Israel, I’ll buy it. Tongues were meant to be a sign to the nation Israel. That is the reason why thousands turned to Christ on the Day of Pentecost and during the days that followed. It was God sending out His last call to His people.

Therefore if the whole church comes together in one place, and all speak with tongues, and there come in those who are uninformed or unbelievers, will they not say that you are out of your mind? But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or an uninformed person comes in, he is convinced by all, he is convicted by all.
(1 Corinthians 14:23, 24)

We do not want a stranger to step into the church and think he has entered into a group of people who have gone mad. If there is one thing we need today, it is the logical, meaningful presentation of the Word of God. People in this world are intelligent, they are scientific, they are sophisticated. They want a logical message that can be understood. The Word of God needs to be presented so it can be understood.

Therefore, brethren, desire earnestly to prophesy.
(1 Corinthians 14:39)

As I have said, prophecy is a gift we should want in order to get the Word of God out. To me, the most thrilling thing in the world is to see people who want to hear the Word of God. Oh, that God would give His church a desire to get the Word of God out today!

How can it be done? Believers in the church have gifts – gifts of administration, of giving, all kinds of gifts – that God uses to get out the Word. What is your gift? You can do something to get the Word of God out in these days.

Let’s each apply this to our own lives. If you are a believer, a Christian, it is because you have trusted Christ. And when you trusted Christ, the Holy Spirit not only regenerated you, He also baptized you, which means He put you in the body of believers. Now the body is made up of many members, and He gave you and each member of the body a gift and a place to function. My question is: are you exercising your gift? Are you doing your “thing” in the church? Are you building up the body of believers? This should be the purpose and desire of every Christian today.

 

The Narrow Road

Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.
2 Peter 1:2
Use the links on this page to access booklets we hope will provide you with a deeper understanding of God’s Word. The more time we spend in studying His word, the greater our intimacy with Him, thereby the greater the grace and peace that fill our walk on the narrow road! Be blessed!