Friday, May 22, 2015, 6:24 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “He Keeps Me Singing.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read 1 Corinthians 12 (NASB). The Gifts (vv. 4-11) Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord. There are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons. But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, and to another the word of knowledge according to the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit, and to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, and to another the effecting of miracles, and to another prophecy, and to another the distinguishing of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, and to another the interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills. When we are born into this world, we are born with sin natures, separate from God and destined to spend eternity in eternal torment (damnation). This happened because the first man Adam sinned against God, so since that time all humankind has been born into sin. Yet God, in his great love and mercy, did not leave us without remedy or without hope. He sent his Son Jesus Christ to the earth to die for our sins so that we could be forgiven and could be set free both from the penalty of sin and from the control of sin over our lives, and so we could now be free to walk in Christ’s righteousness and holiness, and no longer according to the flesh. Yet, not everyone has this salvation from sin. We must receive it by faith in Jesus Christ. This faith turns from sin, is transformed in heart and mind of the Spirit of God, and turns to God to walk with Christ in his holiness, yet not in our own strength, but in the power and working of the Holy Spirit who now dwells within us (See: Ro. 6-8; Gal. 2:20). The job (role) of the Holy Spirit in our lives, though, is not just to transform (regenerate) us, i.e. to give us new birth – new lives in Christ Jesus, “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (See: Eph. 4:17-24). When Jesus Christ was crucified, buried, resurrected and then ascended back to the Father, he sent the Holy Spirit to indwell his followers, and to comfort, encourage, strengthen, counsel, teach, instruct, train, guide, direct, convict, gift, sustain, purify, and empower us to live godly lives and to do the work of the ministry. Having the Holy Spirit living within us is much like having Jesus Christ with us all the time, only better, because he now lives within us, and he lives his life out through us. We are, thus, Jesus’ hands, feet, and mouth in continuing the work he began while he walked the face of this earth. We are his representatives (ambassadors) to the world around us. And so he gifts us and he also uses us as his ministers to his body, the church. The Body (vv. 12-13) For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit. When we accept God’s invitation to his great salvation, by faith, the Holy Spirit indwells us individually. We then become the temple of God, his body, in which the Spirit of God dwells. Yet, all born again believers in Jesus Christ collectively are indwelt with the Holy Spirit, and together we form one (his) body, his church. Yet, the church is not a building. It is not an organization of human origin. It is not a corporation (business) of human-making. So, if you attend an organization called “church,” it may or may not be the true church of Jesus Christ. It may just be a human-based business loosely based in scripture but run just like any other business of human origin. Religion is big business here in America, but it is not to be mistaken for the body of Christ. True followers of Christ may exist within these organizations, but the organizations themselves are not Christ’s body, his true church. Much of what is passed off as “church” here in America these days is just big business based more in man-made religion and human marketing schemes than based on Christ and his Word. Many Parts (vv. 14-26) For the body is not one member, but many. If the foot says, “Because I am not a hand, I am not a part of the body,” it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body. And if the ear says, “Because I am not an eye, I am not a part of the body,” it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired. If they were all one member, where would the body be? But now there are many members, but one body. And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; or again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” On the contrary, it is much truer that the members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary; and those members of the body which we deem less honorable, on these we bestow more abundant honor, and our less presentable members become much more presentable, whereas our more presentable members have no need of it. But God has so composed the body, giving more abundant honor to that member which lacked, so that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it. As well, the gifts, workings, and assignments of the Spirit in our lives are also not to be confused with assignments given us by human beings, though they could possibly overlap each other, in some cases. For instance, if your gift is helps, the Lord Jesus may open up a ministry within the church fellowship you attend for you to serve in some capacity in which you would be helping other people in ways which would be honoring to God and would be for the purpose of building his kingdom, not helping to build man-made kingdoms called “church.” Yet, your gift may be prophecy, which is one of the greater gifts, and one which Paul said he would rather the church excel in, as such gifts are for the edification (strengthening, encouragement and comfort) of the body (See: 1 Co. 14). Yet, “prophecy” is not usually a function within the institution of church in today’s modern world, though in some gatherings of the church, it is, yet in some of those cases it is abused, as well. Today’s modern church is run more like a business, rather than like the body of Christ, with Christ as the head, and with the people of God using their spiritual gifts for the edification of the body. Because of this, many of the gifts of the Spirit and the assignments of the Spirit within the body, i.e. the body parts, have been discarded because they “don’t fit” with the marketing schemes and business plans of those in leadership within the “church.” Church leaders are giving much more attention and adherence to humans, their philosophies and their marketing schemes for how to build big businesses, called church, and thus the Lord is not being honored as the true head of the church, and many church leaders are not allowing the Holy Spirit to lead at all, but humans are calling all the shots. So, the body is all lopsided within many of these congregations, because so many of the body parts are either being rejected and cast aside, and are thus missing entirely, or are being convinced that they have no value within the body, as a whole, according to their gifts. This should not be! The problem here stems from the fact that so many church leaders and their constituents are following humans instead of God or else they have placed God as second-in-command instead of as head of his church. Thus, they have forgotten that God has arranged the parts in the body just as HE wanted them to be. They have forgotten that the various gifts of the Spirit are all the work of one and the same Spirit, and that the Spirit gives gifts as HE determines, not as humans determine. They also forget that, unlike in the business world, the church is not to target particular demographics within a community, but the church is the body of Christ, which is EVERYONE who is born of the Spirit of God, regardless of their demographics. Thus, church leadership should not be telling any follower of Christ to go someplace else where they would be a “better fit,” but they do this. I have heard them do this from the pulpit, and have been told this personally, as well. I have had more than one church leader tell me, in essence, “We don’t have need of you.” This should not be! Yet, the encouragement for me, and for all of us, is that God does not operate that way. We don’t cease to be part of the body just because humans cast us aside as though we are leftovers they don’t need or want. God values us even if humans don’t. He wants us, and he still has gifted us, and he still has an assignment for us within the body of Christ, even if human leaders cast us aside. God is not done with us when man is! Amen! God is greater than man. And, none of this has taken him by surprise. He had a plan for us all along. And, he will show us the way if we will listen and will do what he says. He gives greater honor to the body parts which are lacking in honor, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. Man can shut no door which God has opened, and man can open no door which God has shut. So, if you have been told “I have no need of you,” or “Go someplace else where you will be a better fit,” then know God wants you and he has a place for you. And, he will use you just as he intended all along. Just trust him, and let him lead, and he will show you the way. He cares! He Keeps Me Singing / Luther B. Bridgers There's within my heart a melody Jesus whispers sweet and low: Fear not, I am with thee, peace, be still, In all of life's ebb and flow. All my life was wrecked by sin and strife, Discord filled my heart with pain; Jesus swept across the broken strings, Stirred the slumbering chords again. Though sometimes he leads through waters deep, Trials fall across the way, Though sometimes the path seems rough and steep, See his footprints all the way. Soon he's coming back to welcome me Far beyond the starry sky; I shall wing my flight to worlds unknown; I shall reign with him on high. Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, Sweetest name I know, Fills my every longing, Keeps me singing as I go.