1 I will sing of the Lord’s great love forever; with my mouth I will make your faithfulness known through all generations.
2 I will declare that your love stands firm forever, that you established your faithfulness in heaven itself.
3 You said, “I have made a covenant with my chosen one, I have sworn to David my servant, 4 I will establish your line forever and make your throne firm through all generations.”
5 The heavens praise your wonders, O Lord, your faithfulness too, in the assembly of the holy ones.
6 For who in the skies above can compare with the Lord? Who is like the Lord among the heavenly beings?
7 In the council of the holy ones God is greatly feared; He is more awesome than all who surround Him.
8 O Lord God Almighty, who is like you? You are mighty, O Lord, and your faithfulness surrounds you.
1 Corinthians 1:1-9
1 Paul, called to be an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and our brother Sosthenes, 2 to the church of God in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be holy, together with all those everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ - their Lord and ours: 3 Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
4 I always thank God for you because of His grace given you in Christ Jesus. 5 For in Him you have been enriched in every way - in all your speaking and in all your knowledge - 6 because our testimony about Christ was confirmed in 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 keep you strong to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 God, who has called you into fellowship with His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful.
In those 9 verses of 1 Corinthians 1, the name Jesus Christ appears 9 times, and this is no coincidence. As Paul begins his letter to the Church in Corinth, it is clear that he wanted their focus to be on Jesus above all things.
And the same principle applies to us today. We are to keep our focus on Jesus Christ. With Him as our reason and purpose for living, we will enjoy all the benefits of being children of God. Listen again to verses 4-9: “I always thank God for you because of His grace given you in Christ Jesus. For in Him you have been enriched in every way - in all your speaking and in all your knowledge - because our testimony about Christ was confirmed in you. Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed. He will keep you strong to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God, who has called you into fellowship with His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful.”
Can Christians, in this volatile and uncertain world live their lives with confidence in the promises of God? Absolutely!
But in order to do so, we need to understand how God equips us to live these victorious lives.
We can live a life of confidence as long as we are living under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and the Scriptures. Obedient Christians walk in the grace of God, enjoy the gifts of His Holy Spirit, enjoy the call of God on their lives and they know the faithfulness of God.
The worldly principle of getting out of life what you put into it does not apply in this case. Rather, it is a matter of us getting out of life what God has put into it through Jesus.
Understanding what these resources are and how we have access to them starts with understanding the grace that was given to us in Jesus, and it’s interesting that Paul begins his letter addressing this point, rather than on the issues in the Corinthian Church.
This was a congregation with serious issues. There was a lot of spiritual immaturity, the gifts of the Holy Spirit were being abused and there was division in the Church leadership over who followed who. This was a troubled Church, yet Paul begins by thanking God for blessing them by showing them grace in and through Jesus.
The Church is made up of people who have been sanctified - set apart by and for God – and He has made them holy simply because they have accepted Jesus’ sacrificial death for them. I won’t ask for a show of hands, but are you a Christian who is troubled in at least one way? Well, I have good news for you. You have been set apart, you have been sanctified by God for His purposes and He has blessed you through Jesus Christ.
How different would our lives be if we viewed life’s challenges with that truth in the forefront of our minds?
The Church would be transformed if as believers we lived out that truth – we are called to join together to exercise gifts given by the Holy Spirit for the edification, the building up, of the Body of Christ. Make no mistake – because we are sinners we are not perfect, so by it’s very definition, neither is the Church perfect, but we have at our disposal every spiritual gift and blessing we need to carry out the tasks God has given us.
It’s important to note that Paul’s thankfulness was because of God’s faithfulness to call a people out of this sin-darkened world. Jesus said in John 6:44, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him.”
What this means is that if you know Jesus Christ as your personal Saviour and Lord, it is because God sent His Holy Spirit to reveal to you your need for Jesus, and it is He who enabled you to accept Jesus into your heart and life.
If you are not a born again Christian, but you have felt a stirring in your heart to find out more about just who Jesus is, that too is God drawing you to Jesus by the Holy Spirit.
Because of God’s faithfulness He is always extending the grace of forgiveness to a lost and dying world. Each of us though, needs to decide for ourselves what we will do with that offer. I can hold out a gift to you, but until you actually reach out and take it, it is not yours. A gift has to be accepted before it is owned.
So what will you do with Jesus?
In John chapter 8 is the wonderful story of the woman caught in adultery, and once Jesus deals with the hypocrisy of the crowd by inviting those without sin to throw the first stone, He turns to the woman and says, “Go now and leave your life of sin.”
What we need to be clear about in our minds is that Jesus didn’t just dismiss her and send her on her way to continue her battle against sin, something she had clearly failed at already. She now began to walk in the grace of God. His faithfulness enables Christians to walk in His grace, and it is in His grace that we find the will and the means to deal with the temptations we face each day.
It is also the faithfulness of God that enables a sinner to come to Jesus for the forgiveness of sin, and His faithfulness to us continues as we walk in His grace. As Paul wrote in verse 5, “In Him you have been enriched in every way - in all your speaking and in all your knowledge.”
God gave the Corinthian believers the ability to learn about the things of God and speak of eternal truths. Remember, they certainly had their issues, and so do we, and they like us needed His faithfulness to work in their lives.
As Christians allow the Lord to cleanse the sin out of their lives, He replaces it with knowledge of divine truth, and He gives us the ability to teach Biblical truth to others and He gives us the ability to live those things out. When we are obedient to God’s call on our lives we find that we are able to live the abundant life that Jesus promised us, even in the midst of turmoil in the world and in our own lives.
Christians will have all their needs met and at the same time will be changed more and more into the image of Christ.
One of the greatest things we can do for God is to have a heart that pursues Him – a heart that desires His righteousness as we surrender more and more to His will in our lives.
The flesh, the world and the devil want your heart, but in and through the grace of God you can give your heart to God instead. Those of you doing the Truth Project will be familiar with this term: We’re involved in a cosmic battle between truth and lies, and we have to be aware of this battle as the things that are not of God compete for our hearts and our allegiance.
But again, it’s the faithfulness of God that equips us for the battle. On our own and in our own strength we wouldn’t stand a chance, but as 1 John 4:4 says, “the One who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.”
God’s faithfulness also helps us to discern His will for our lives.
James 1:5 says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.” The Christian who lives a life of true faith allows God to lead and direct his life.
Jesus spoke about the endless faithfulness of God, and how He would send another “Counsellor” to guide us in His wisdom and in all truth. He taught in John 14, “If you love me, you will obey what I command. And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Counsellor to be with you forever - the Spirit of truth. The Counsellor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” In His endless faithfulness God Himself came in human form to reveal Himself to us. Now that Jesus has returned to Heaven, we are not alone, because His Spirit dwells within each of us, prompting us and guiding us “into all truth.”
The Spirit’s ongoing work in the lives of Christians today is to bring us into a deeper knowledge of the Bible, to give us divine strength to deal with all the battles we face, and He fully and completely equips us to fulfill our role as we carry out the Great Commission. We have a golden opportunity this week to do something amazing for the work of the Kingdom through the Love Howick initiative. The most exciting thing is that God is the one who will use and equip us as we seek to make a difference in this little corner of His great vineyard.
In the book of Acts we have some wonderful stories of how the Holy Spirit worked powerfully in and through the Church of Jesus Christ whenever it was obedient to Him. In Acts 13:2-4 we read, “While they were worshipping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, ‘Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.’ So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off. The two of them were sent on their way by the Holy Spirit.”
The missionary journeys that God sent the Apostle Paul on showed an extraordinary sensitivity to the guidance of the Holy Spirit. The Book of Acts records the time when Paul had things he wanted to do, yet God had to place His plan in Paul’s heart.
Paul wanted to preach in Asia, but Acts 16:6 tells us God’s plan. “Paul and his companions travelled throughout Phrygia and Galatia, having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the Word in the province of Asia.” When Paul tried to enter Bithynia, we’re told in the next verse, “The Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to.” Paul did great things for God because he was obedient to the Holy Spirit. Paul had his own ideas about what he wanted to do, but he was so open and sensitive to the prompting of the Spirit, that he knew exactly what God was calling him to do instead. The Spirit is given to us to guide us to accomplish the will of God. Does this mean that Paul and others like him are pawns in some cosmic game? Not at all. God has a will and a purpose, and He desires nothing more than for us to be co-workers in accomplishing His will.
God’s faithfulness, through His Spirit leads Christians each day wherever He wants us to represent Him. When decisions whether big or small need to be made, the Holy Spirit can open the truth of the Bible to us as He guides us by His will.
Romans 8:14 says, “those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.” Are you allowing God to enrich your life by diligently reading His Word and seeking the guidance of the Spirit in your life?
If your answer is yes, you will be amazed at how practical some of His answers to you are at times. It is because He is faithful to you that He can and does open your eyes to see the great needs all around you. Again, you have a wonderful opportunity to serve God during this week, but you must be willing to be used by Him. However small or seemingly insignificant you might think it is, do just one thing for Him during this Love Howick week. You have no idea of the eternal impact that one thing might have on the life of someone else…
Remember, He will equip you. Verse 7 says “You do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ.” Remember also that these words were written to a Church in trouble, but God still gave them everything they needed to do what He’d called them to do.
As the gifts of the Spirit are used powerfully by the Church we soon realise that we can do anything for the cause of Christ that He calls us to.
If you’ve ever read 1 Corinthians you’ll know that it was a scathing letter in which Paul took them to task on many issues. It was a Church in a real mess, and Paul didn’t pull any punches as he addressed their many issues, but what a way to open his letter! He began on such a positive note, and his reminder to them of God’s faithfulness is just as valid to us today. I would hope and pray that we are not in the same state as the Corinthian Church was. We’re certainly not perfect, but God is just as faithful to us as He was to them.
These spiritual gifts are essentially an act of God’s Spirit manifesting Himself through born again Christians as He chooses. Christians exercising their spiritual gift under the guidance of sacrificial love are the sign of spiritual good health. It’s an expression of God’s grace, through the Holy Spirit as we seek to remain faithful to His call on the Church.
Just before He ascended to Heaven Jesus said to His disciples, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
How do we discover the gifts we have been given, and how do we discern the will of God for us as a Church and as individuals?
It starts by becoming Biblically informed about Holy Spirit given gifts and how those gifts are to be used for the good of the Body of Christ, rather than for ourselves. We also need to be willing to yield to His will rather than our own.
One thing we must always remember is that God is faithful. If we hear Him clearly calling us to do something or go somewhere, His faithfulness will go with us. In other words, He is already waiting in the future for us.
1 Corinthians 1:9 holds an amazing promise for us. “God, who has called you into fellowship with His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful.”
The God who called the Corinthian Church, countless other Churches throughout the ages and each one of us here today into fellowship with Christ, is faithful.
A key word in this passage is fellowship, meaning partnership that involves participation from God in all we do. When God calls Christians to do something He will open doors, provide the means and the strength, and get the results that He desires. God can be trusted. Everyone who puts their trust in God and comes to Him will not be disappointed.
There is work to do. Ephesians 2:10 says, “We are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” He has the work ready and waiting for us, and He has also promised to equip us to do the things He has called us to do. How do we know that? Simple – because He is faithful, and our God does not break His word.
Our task, your task is to step up and say, “Lord, here I am. Send me.”
And when you go wherever He is sending you, you’ll understand just what Thomas Chisolm meant when he wrote, “Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father. There is no shadow of turning with Thee; Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not. As Thou hast been Thou forever wilt be. All I have needed Thy hand hath provided. Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!”
Homegroup Study Notes
Read 1 Corinthians 1:1-9
Paul’s letter which we know as 1st Corinthians was actually a stern reprimand to a Church that had deep issues, yet he begins his letter on such a positive note by reminding them of their many blessings.
What can we learn from Paul’s opening comments?
Discuss some of the many differences between the faithfulness of human beings and the faithfulness of God.
How have you personally experienced God’s faithfulness?
Read 1 Corinthians 1:5 again.
Many Christians feel inadequate or ill-equipped to carry out the Great Commission (see the end of Matthew 28) and other ministries in the Church, yet the Bible is clear that we have all we need in order to do what God has called us to.
Why do so many struggle with this?
How have you felt God calling you to step out of your comfort zone, and how did He use you to accomplish His purposes?
In which ways do you believe our congregation and other congregations in Howick can make a difference during the Love Howick week?
Close by praying specifically for the Love Howick mission, as we seek to bring glory to God as the combined Churches in our town.