Building Up The Church

Greetings In the Name of the Lord:

1 Corinthians 14:2-4 (NLT)
2 For if you have the ability to speak in tongues, you will be talking only to God, since people won’t be able to understand you. You will be speaking by the power of the Spirit, but it will all be mysterious. 3 But one who prophesies strengthens others, encourages them, and comforts them.
4 A person who speaks in tongues is strengthened personally, but one who speaks a word of prophecy strengthens the entire church.

Paul’s has previously expressed that love should be our prime objective, but that we should also seek after and long for spiritual gifts. Now he wants us to understand what our priority should be, and that is to strengthen and encourage others. His point here is that tongues edifies the individual, but prophesy edifies the body of Christ, the entire church. He clearly tells us that tongues are useful to the individual because it edifies, strengthen and encourages them. Some would have us believe that in doing so he belittling or making light of the gift of tongues, and nothing could be farther from the truth. He is in no way saying that speaking in tongues is self-centered and should be avoided. On the contrary, he is saying that they have their place, but that they are most useful in private prayer and praise. Anyone who thinks that he is speaking against the use of tongues needs to read the rest of the chapter (Fee, God’s Empowering Presence, 219). However, what Paul is saying is that tongues is more beneficial for the entire church because it edifies and encourages everyone present and not just the speaker. In fact, Paul uses three words to express the usefulness of prophecy: strengthen, encourage, and comfort. All three words talk about the effect that they have on others. In a time of great discouragement in our society these are all things that are desperately needed. Who doesn’t need to be strengthened, encouraged, and comforted? Yet so little of it is seen in church these days. Why? We need it more than ever, but see it happening less and less. Part of the reason maybe that it has been discouraged because we have bought into the notion that this scares people away from the church. Really? Know anybody that doesn’t need an encouraging word from God? Another reason maybe that some say it is no longer available to the church. Well, we have already talked about that one, and until Jesus comes we will need strength, encouragement, and comfort. Another reason maybe that people are simple afraid to step out in faith and deliver a message in front of others. Yet, what a privilege it is to be used by God to help someone else. Let’s begin to pray, seek God, and say “here I am Lord, use me!”

In Christ,

Pastor Mark

 

Oh Very Young One

 

Greetings In the Name of the Lord:

Jeremiah 1:6-9 (NLT)
6 “O Sovereign LORD,” I said, “I can’t speak for you! I’m too young!” 7 The LORD replied, “Don’t say, ‘I’m too young,’ for you must go wherever I send you and say whatever I tell you. 8 And don’t be afraid of the people, for I will be with you and will protect you. I, the LORD, have spoken!” 9 Then the LORD reached out and touched my mouth and said, “Look, I have put my words in your mouth!

This Sunday at New Life we are blessed to be ministered to by the young people from Xtend Youth Ministries. They are an incredible group of young disciples and I am incredibly proud to be their Pastor. They are some of the most faithful and committed group of people that I have ever worked with. Today they will perform all aspects of the service; from leading worship to preaching and praying for people at the altar. I am fully confident in their ability to carry out all of the aspects of our service. We must remember two things. First, they are not the future of our church; they are the present of our church. Many of them are directly involved in many aspects of our church right now, and we are blessed to have them among us. Second, just because they are young does not mean that they are not capable ministers. Just as the Lord told Jeremiah, “Don’t say I am too young,” for God can and will use anyone that is willing. Age and ability are insignificant when it comes to being used by God for He can make something out of nothing, and give power to weak. I was reminded this week of how young I was when God began to use me. It was the summer of 1982 when I traveled half way across the world to the country of Holland. At that point in my life I had barely been out of the State of Ohio, let alone out of the country. At the time I was only 20 years old, and to say the least, I was still wet behind the ears! However, God took me and a group of young people to minister to those who were hurting and in need of God’s love. You see God is able to use whomever is willing and open to fulfilling His will for their life. God is able to, and will do, amazing things through these young people; we are blessed today to be ministered to by them.

In Christ,

Pastor Mark

 

Getting Gifts

Greetings In the Name of the Lord:

1 Corinthians 14:1 (NLT)
Let love be your highest goal! But you should also desire the special abilities the Spirit gives—especially the ability to prophesy.

Paul had just finished talking about the supremacy of love in the life of the Christian. Here, however, he expresses that while love is the ultimate thing, it is not the only thing. He tells us that we should desire spiritual gifts. The word desire here is a very strong word that means to “desire eagerly; to desire earnestly; to be zealous and ambitious for; to show a great interest in” (Practical Word Studies in The New Testament). Spiritual gifts are to be desired. We are to pursue love first, but this does not mean we are not to seek the spiritual gifts of God. On the contrary, the more we love God and men, the more we covet the gifts of God so that we can minister to the world of men more effectively. All too often people read this verse this section of Paul’s letter and come to the false conclusion that Paul is saying, “all you need is love.” Nothing could be more contrary to what Paul is trying to communicate. Long time Bible scholar and teacher Stanley Horton said of this verse, “All believers are to pursue the way of love, strive to act in love. But this does not mean we can then afford to despise or neglect spiritual gifts. Both love and the gifts are from the same Spirit (Horton, I & II Corinthians). Judging by what it is happening in the church at large today this message has been largely forgotten. There is a major lack of the exercise of the gifts in church services today, and judging by the importance that Paul put on spiritual gifts it is no wonder that the church is struggling. If the gifts of the spirit are there to help and empower the church, and we are struggling to accomplish our mission, doesn’t it make sense that we should be tapping into this power source? Shouldn’t we be following the advice of Paul and be zealous for, ambitious for, and show great interest in the gifts of the spirit? Holy Spirit renew and empower the Church of Jesus so that we can do His work more effectively.

In Christ,

Pastor Mark