The astonishing power we have in mind and spirit… and ignore

This week in our Multiply Discipleship we are exploring the Local Church.

For this week’s general reading (and daily Scripture reading) GO HERE.

The Scripture for today is 1 Corinthians 1. I extended it for my own reading into chapter 2 since the thought process continues past the end of Chapter 1.

When I read these verses from Paul, I am always astonished at the power we have in the Spirit… and equally astonished at how I personally leave that power untapped. My challenge this week is not to talk about WHY we don’t use that power as the Church… but to simply start walking in that power.

No more excuses.

1 Cor. 2:10 is bold: The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. The invitation is simple and powerful… search the deep things of God. We have the Spirit. The Spirit searches all this out…

Go on an adventure!

Here is my challenge: move beyond the shallow questions. Those are the questions that deal with ME… I have to learn the universe doesn’t revolve around ME… so my challenge is to move into the mind of God himself. The deep things of God. Search out the deep things of God.

Paul leaves us with this incredible thought: “But we have the mind of Christ” (1 Cor. 2:16)

We have this astonishing power, along with an astonishing invitation. The challenge this week is to refuse ignoring that invitation and just plunge in.

The Spirit teaches. Let’s listen.

Let us be willing to die for something different

I want to know the feeling of “dying” for something different. By that I mean having a desperation for something that is just more. A place where I get beyond the internet fascinations of whatever is being discussed in the moment… and the tirades… to the possible. Not the possible of what can be done in human terms, but what is possible in the Kingdom of God.

These words from Paul to the Corinthians are soaking into my heart right now:

What we say is wisdom to people who are mature. It isn’t a wisdom that comes from the present day or from today’s leaders who are being reduced to nothing. We talk about God’s wisdom, which has been hidden as a secret. God determined this wisdom in advance, before time began, for our glory. It is a wisdom that none of the present-day rulers have understood, because if they did understand it, they would never have crucified the Lord of glory! But this is precisely what is written: God has prepared things for those who love him that no eye has seen, or ear has heard, or that haven’t crossed the mind of any human being. 10 God has revealed these things to us through the Spirit. The Spirit searches everything, including the depths of God. (1 Cor. 2:6-10)

And this thought:

But we have the mind of Christ.

I am dying for something different. To serve the margins of society regardless of what the “left” or the “right” say about it. To do something wonderful to BLESS my community and my schools, rather than slinging verbal grenades at what is “wrong” with my community or schools. To work with and in another nation where I can contribute something to them… and they to me. To see radical, wonderful things happen to and for my Muslim friends as I pray for them during this Ramadan.

I am dying for something different. Beyond the vapid rhetoric slinging around in front of me. To hear the mind of Christ… to know the mind of Christ.

I am dying for something different!

Walking in the Spirit

Some of the lessons I am learning from 1 Corinthians 12:

1. Spiritual gifts and the moving of the Spirit should be an expectation in the life of the Church. 

It doesn’t have to be in some huge scene. It doesn’t need to be “spectacular” or “epic” or distracting or annoying. Life in the Spirit should be something normal. At times it may be spectacular and we should be blown away. A healing can be spectacular. It should blow us away.

Over the past 6-7 weeks we have held up our missionary friend Steve in prayer. He has gone from a coma to a road of full recovery. He was riding his bike last week and preached his first sermon last Sunday. THAT is spectacular.

Life in the Spirit isn’t all about the physical manifestations that get attention. It is the quiet words of knowledge someone may get in helping someone else. It is a word of wisdom spoken in due season. It is an act of service.

We should expect the Spirit to use us in a variety of ways as we walk with him. There are gifts more suited to our passions and personality, but the Spirit may need someone who is introverted to step up and bring healing to another person on a particular moment. That is completely possible if we can simply be open to what the Spirit wants to do.

2. Spiritual arrogance today may come in two forms. 

The first form is the Corinthian form. It’s the idea that some gifts are more “mature” or “special” and if you have those you are superior to others.

The second form is a false humility. That is more common today. It is a sense of saying something like, “I’m so unique I just don’t ‘fit’ in normal ‘Church’.”

The first form still exists. We like the spectacular gifts and if someone lays hands on someone else and they are healed, we’re ready to rent out the local arena and start a healing crusade. We push the spectacular too far. We add spiritual maturity to someone who has been used in healing… and that just does not correlate in the Kingdom of God.

The second form exists because there are so many social anxieties and we think something we observe as “normal” is not like us, so we must be “abnormal.” At first, it’s uncomfortable. Then, as society urges us, we push our uniqueness out there and brag on it. Then, we want others praising us in our uniqueness and then we want to demand we retain our uniqueness.

Let’s get this straight right away: Church is not normal. The Kingdom of God is not normal. 

We have “normalcy” in some churches because as humans we just want to find a way to get along with each other for a time period and too many people flashing their uniqueness all at once is simply chaos.

But compared to any culture, and especially this culture, the Kingdom of God is simply not normal. And, quite frankly, it will be treated as a very risky abnormality in this culture over time. So, if you want to be “unique” you do indeed belong in the Kingdom of God.

It’s when we use our uniqueness as an excuse not to fit in with the Body that we run the risk of spiritual pride. Paul gives the illustration in the last half of 1 Corinthians 12 to highlight this point. When we say, “I’m just too unique for the Church” we are really, honestly saying, “I don’t need the rest of the Body. I’m happy being the pinky toe and the pinky toe will just go wee, wee, wee all the way home.”

We’re all unique. Some wear it inside. Some wear it outside. But it takes maturity in the Body to realize we all fit together in some way. Paul calls for maturity, and that has nothing to do with the spiritual gift residing in each one of us. We simply need to learn to grow together.

This is the importance of 1 Corinthians 13. We have to learn to set aside our particular pride issues and learn to LOVE one another. And that means not waiting for someone else to love you first. It means YOU step out and decide to bring Kingdom rightness into someone else’s life.

The power of the Spirit is ready to be poured out on the Church. We need to recognize the availability of the Spirit in our lives today. We need to lay down our spiritual pride and join up with what Christ is doing today. This world so desperately needs it.

 

Understanding the LAVISHNESS of his grace

Pause, if you will, for just a few minutes to read Paul’s opening in 1 Corinthians and somehow take in this thought: “ALL I need is provided. ALL is mine in Christ Jesus. I do not lack.” 

5 For in him you have been enriched in every way—with all kinds of speech and with all knowledge— 6 God thus confirming our testimony about Christ among you. 7 Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed. 8 He will also keep you firm to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 God is faithful, who has called you into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. (1 Cor. 1:5-9)

Clueless Christianity

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The verse is 1 Cor. 2:10 — “The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.” Then later in v. 16 — “But we have the mind of Christ.”

I wrote in the margin of my Bible: “I have no clue as to how deep I can go!”

There are days… and as it relates to my spiritual life: YEARS… when I realize I don’t even have a ticket to get on the clue bus.

 

 

Run in a Way to WIN

Paul’s passion for the ministry, his passion for souls, is amazing. He wanted Christ glorified so much he was willing to give up so much in his life to make sure the way was clear to Christ. It was not about his rights. It was about others being able to see Christ as clearly as possible.

The metaphor of “winning” was not for him as individual. It was for the glory of Christ. If others are coming to Christ, and they aren’t stumbling over him… he wins. Run to win.

24 Don’t you know that all the runners in the stadium run, but only one gets the prize? So run to win. 25 Everyone who competes practices self-discipline in everything. The runners do this to get a crown of leaves that shrivel up and die, but we do it to receive a crown that never dies. 26 So now this is how I run—not without a clear goal in sight. I fight like a boxer in the ring, not like someone who is shadowboxing. 27 Rather I’m landing punches on my own body and subduing it like a slave. I do this to be sure that I myself won’t be disqualified after preaching to others. (1 Cor. 9:24-27, CEB)