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PURSUE LOVE AND DESIRE SPIRITUAL GIFTS

1 Corinthians 14:1 – Pursue love, yet desire earnestly spiritual gifts.

Paul clearly taught in 1 Corinthians 13 that a significant work of the Spirit is to help us be established in love. Certainly, at times we all fall short of the biblical mandate in this area. Paul builds a bridge between the 12th and 14th chapters with the admonition to “pursue love,” but he also says to “desire earnestly spiritual gifts.” There are some in the faith who persist on setting love against spiritual gifts, but this is a total misrepresentation of what Paul is teaching the church. It is important to understand, the Holy Spirit gives gifts because they are intended to be the vehicle by which love is conveyed to all those in need of receiving God’s grace. Unfortunately, the Corinthian believers were using the Gifts of the Spirit in a selfish way. Paul did not say to stop using the gifts, but rather change your mind about how you are viewing these gifts that the Spirit is so willing to bestow.

Before we can fully grasp what Paul is teaching in the chapters about the gifts, we must become rooted in love. I like the NASB translation that tells us to “pursue love.” Love does not just materialize; it must be pursued in order for us to experience its development in our lives. A close walk with the Holy Spirit is required for this attribute of God to become evidenced in an increased way in our lives. As we devote ourselves to thinking about the gifts of the Holy Spirit, let us begin by requesting His help in pursuing the love of God. I am personally convicted of how far short I fall from allowing His nature to be revealed through me. My flesh is weak but with the Holy Spirit’s help, my spirit is willing to become a greater lover towards all.

Father, help me to be enlarged in my capacity to activate Your love in serving others. Make me more of a vehicle of Your love towards others through an increased operation of Your gifts in and through my life. Let me be used to benefit others in their need, and to help them come to know You by the gifts You choose to give and release through me.

DRINKING FROM THE SPIRITUAL ROCK

1 Corinthians 10:4 – All drank the same spiritual drink, for they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and that rock was Christ.

It is vitally important to understand how God has chosen to reveal Himself to His triune creation man. His choice was to reveal “Divine Community”: Father, Son, and Spirit living as perfect unity, the One and True God. The Son existed as the pre-incarnate Christ in the Old Testament. God’s purpose was that the Son would take on human form. He was the Messiah before the incarnation through the virgin birth, God’s appointed King.

God has always been the King. He intended to be Israel’s King as revealed in 1 Samuel 8:8. As He led Israel out of Egypt, He proved Himself to be their sustainer. In the wilderness, when they needed water, He supplied water out of the rock. It was not just a natural drink, but a spiritual one as well. Paul taught that it was “a spiritual rock that followed them and that rock was Christ.” The Lord Jesus Christ made it possible for us to drink of that spiritual drink as well.

Consider what Jesus said in John 7:37-39. “Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, ‘If any man is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, from his innermost being shall flow rivers of living water.’  But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.”

Water is necessary in order for life to be sustained. Throughout the Old Testament, Christ is seen as the life-giving water that God has provided. The spiritual rock is pointing to this very moment of which Jesus was speaking. The same Holy Spirit that caused water to flow from the rock and supplied Israel’s need has now come to cause rivers of living water to flow from your innermost being. Today, you can drink deeply from the Rock, Christ Jesus, by receiving the Holy Spirit’s power in your life.

Go ahead and drink! Just say, Holy Spirit, come and fill me with Christ. Say to Him, Cause Your living water to flow from my innermost being. Begin to worship Him, yield your tongue to His control, and let the spiritual water flow! Do not be surprised if the Holy Spirit gives you a new language to help you in your worship of God.

WE ARE ONE SPIRIT WITH HIM

1 Corinthians 2:11-12 – Who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man, which is in him? Even so, the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God.

According to scientists, billions of thoughts go through our brain daily. We process an amazing amount of simultaneous information. Think of it! Your brain assimilates all the colors and objects you see. It takes in the temperature around you, the pressure of your feet against the floor, the sounds around you, and even the dryness of your mouth.  Your brain holds and processes all your emotions, thoughts, and memories. Most of your thoughts are undetected by the conscious mind. There are signals that control all your bodily functions.

Paul tells us in these Scripture verses, that it is our spirit man that knows our thoughts. In the same way, the Holy Spirit knows all the thoughts of God. It is extremely important for us to develop a daily relationship with the Holy Spirit, because He is the only One who can help us know God in a deepening way. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of the Father and of the Son. This is why Paul prayed, “that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Christ” (Ephesians 1:17).

The Father’s desire is that our spirit be united with His Spirit, making it possible to grow in our knowledge of God. In Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, he taught that we have been joined with the Lord. Paul spoke about being led by the Spirit in his letter to the Romans. Paul wrote of the fruit of the Spirit in his letter to the Galatians. As we fellowship with the Holy Spirit, He will reveal more and more of Christ to us and we will become increasingly aware of the Holy Spirit’s abiding presence. As we increase in our knowledge of Christ Jesus, we will also increase in our knowledge of the Father. Through this working of the Spirit, we are able to fulfill God’s desires and experience God’s rest. We will also be able to share God’s will with others, which has been revealed in Christ Jesus.

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal God’s plans to you on a daily basis. He is always much more willing to share than we are willing to receive. This is usually because we are so caught up with our own agenda, hindering us from hearing His voice. Father, today I call upon You to take greater control of my life. I pray to increase in the wisdom and knowledge of Your Son. Help me share with others what You have shown to me.

THE SPIRIT SEARCHES ALL THINGS

1 Corinthians 2:9-10 – “Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard, and which have not entered the heart of man, all that God has prepared for those who love Him.” For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God.

When 1 Corinthians 2:9 is quoted alone, the full thought that Paul is communicating does not come through. Paul is quoting from a passage in Isaiah 64:4. 1 Corinthians 2:10 is the key to understanding what the Spirit wants communicated. “For to us, God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God.” The Isaiah passage finds its ultimate fulfillment in Christ, who gave us the Holy Spirit as promised by the Father (Luke 24:45-49). We can know the thoughts of God through our relationship with the Holy Spirit. He reveals God’s intent through the Scriptures as well as God’s will in our personal lives.

The Holy Spirit desires to bring each of us a personal great awakening. Paul expressed it this way, “All things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light. For this reason it says, Awake, sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you” (Ephesians 5:13-14). The Holy Spirit always works to keep us awake and give us light. As God’s light enters into our lives, we are able to discern what is transpiring around us. News reports are not sufficient to keep us informed; instead, our source is the Holy Spirit. He searches the depths of God and brings to the people of God revelation.

The Holy Spirit has raised the level of prayer in the Lord’s church, which is a “clue” that in our day, God is getting ready to do some extraordinary things. Many are sensing that God is currently preparing His church for revival. I prefer to call it a Great Awakening.  As we hear reports of many challenges throughout the world, it would be easy to become discouraged and apathetic. For those that are seeking God, it is a time of great expectation. The Spirit of the Lord envisions numerous believers preparing for His presence to break in and give opportunity for multitudes to turn to Christ.  “God acts in behalf of one who waits for Him” (Isaiah 64:5b).

Ask the Holy Spirit to awaken you to what He desires to share with you today. He loves for us to press into Him, and learn of God’s will in our lives. Father, I pray for a great awakening to take place in me. I desire to know Your thoughts and to be aligned with Your will.

HAVING THE SAME SPIRIT OF FAITH

2 Corinthians 4:13 – But having the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, “I believed, therefore I spoke,” we also believe, therefore we also speak.

Paul used the word “spirit” with a small “s” because it is referring to the “spirit of faith”. One could say it is the spirit of “belief.” True faith is given to an individual by the Spirit of God. The same Holy Spirit that caused the prophet to believe and speak also caused the apostles to believe and speak. The same Holy Spirit is at work in believers today. It is the spirit of faith within me that produces a need to speak. My speaking stems from the faith that is within me given by the One behind my faith.

When a person is filled with the Spirit of God, they will be led to speak about the Lord. This should be the experience of every believer in Christ Jesus who is being led by the Spirit. The Spirit has come to speak of Christ. “When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, that is the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, He will bear witness of Me” (John 15:26). The King James Version says, “He will speak of Me.” Every believer is called to speak or testify of Christ. This is not simply the preacher’s assignment, but of every child of God. Testifying to others of Christ is a vital part of our Christian development.  Many of God’s people are stunted in their growth because they keep their faith to themselves rather than sharing what Christ has done for them.

Paul stated in Romans 1:16, “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ.” This was not limited to the apostles, but was meant to be a model for believers in Rome. It should be an example for every believer in the 21st century. Why? The Gospel remains the power of God unto salvation. The good news tells of Jesus the Christ, who was put to death for our sins, whom God raised up by the power of His Holy Spirit and seated at His own right hand in Heaven.  The Gospel is the only answer to the human condition. The world is looking for salvation, most of the time in the wrong places. This is why we must declare by the Spirit of God “The faith which was once for all handed down to the saints” (Jude 3). As you trust the Spirit of God, you will be astonished at how the Lord will use you for His glory.

Father, help me to speak from the faith I have received of Jesus. Holy Spirit, fill me with boldness to speak to others about my faith in Christ Jesus, concerning what He has done for me.

WE HAVE THIS TREASURE IN EARTHEN VESSELS

2 Corinthians 4:7 – We have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves.

At the beginning of this chapter, Paul is defending his apostolic ministry. He declared the gospel, which the true apostles preach. In verse 7, he wrote that the treasure we have as believers is in earthen vessels, in other words, our human body. Although the Holy Spirit is not mentioned in this verse, it is clear Paul wrote concerning the treasure of the Spirit of God. The Holy Spirit is the power of God who gives us salvation. We can never claim the power originates with us. This surpassing greatness of the power originates in God.

An earthen vessel can easily be broken. The enemy tries to defeat us on many fronts. Our earthen vessels give Him great advantage. As humans, our fleshly appetites easily control our thinking. In the beginning, this is how the enemy of our souls got an upper hand. In the Garden, he attacked a weakness in Eve. Through Eve, he went after a weakness in Adam. In the wilderness, as recorded in Matthew 4 and Luke 4, the devil tried to use the same tactics when he tempted Jesus. Jesus did not cave to the appetites of the flesh, but rather relied completely on the Holy Spirit by using the Word of God to overcome the tricks of the enemy.

In every area of His life, Jesus sought to glorify His Father. He chose the Father’s desire over the appetites of His earthen vessel. Even on the cross, as He drew close to the final moments in His fully human body, He cried out to His father and said, “Into Your hands I commit My spirit.” He then gave up His spirit which returned to the Father. Paul wrote, “To those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God” (1 Corinthians 1:24). It is clear that the apostle understood the truth regarding the power of God. Jesus became weak by taking on human form. He totally relied upon God to supply the power. There is nothing weaker than our flesh, but God has chosen to indwell these human vessels so that all the praise and all the glory might belong to Him.

Ask the Holy Spirit to be free in you to reveal His surpassing greatness so that the power might be of God and not of you. Relinquish control once again to Him in all things. Father, into Your hands I commit my life to be used as You see fit.