In Spirit & In Words

Good morning! Yesterday, I was meeting with a group of people. We were planning strategies and we were excited about the final outcome, but the tasks to get us there appeared to be a bit daunting. Within our conversation, things got a little exciting and one person began to speak in their native language. I was taken back by how quickly the language changed. While each person understood what was being said, I was surprised that we didn’t miss a beat and we went back to speaking the English language just as quickly as we had transitioned from it. I can’t help but wonder what life would be like if the world only spoke one language. The beauty of language helps us to understand culture, explore new ways of thinking and unites others as we learn the language. Paul’s message to the Corinthian church guides us on the use of spiritual gifts. Yesterday, we finished with verse 13 – “So anyone who speaks in tongues should pray also for the ability to interpret what has been said.” Today, we will continue our reading in 1 Corinthians 14:14-19.

14 For if I pray in tongues, my spirit is praying, but I don’t understand what I am saying.

15 Well then, what shall I do? I will pray in the spirit,[e] and I will also pray in words I understand. I will sing in the spirit, and I will also sing in words I understand. 16 For if you praise God only in the spirit, how can those who don’t understand you praise God along with you? How can they join you in giving thanks when they don’t understand what you are saying? 17 You will be giving thanks very well, but it won’t strengthen the people who hear you.

18 I thank God that I speak in tongues more than any of you. 19 But in a church meeting I would rather speak five understandable words to help others than ten thousand words in an unknown language.” – 1 Corinthians 14:14-19 NLT

Paul is breaking down what seemed to be a barrier in the Corinthian church. There were many people speaking in tongues, but there was a lack of interpretation. The lack of interpretation left many people out of the loop and unable to value or appreciate the gift of tongues. Therefore, Paul explained, he could speak in tongues but what good would that be if a nonbeliever is present and does not understand. What good would it be if only the gifted receive the gift and understand the gift? Again, Paul is not discrediting speaking in tongues, he is mindful of the needs of the church to reach believers and nonbelievers.

Sisters and brothers, we often get so religious or so spiritual that we forget the great commission in Matthew 28:18-20 – 18 Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. 19 Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations,[b] baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. 20 Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” God has given us gifts to edify one another, build up the church and equip us to go to all nations. If we are to teach, we should be prepared to speak in languages/tongues that nonbelievers can understand. In Acts 2:1-13, the Holy Spirit came and the people of God began speaking in tongues in all languages which people understood. In the remainder of Acts chapter 2, Peter began to interpret and preach. It was a powerful message that established the church, scattered the church and eventually set the trajectory for Saul to be transformed Paul.

Sisters and brothers, God can use anyone at anytime and in any place to make his presence known, to fulfill his purpose and to bring him glory. Use your gifts with discernment and to bring glory to the living God who knows us best.

Who will you reach today?_____

Father God, thank you for today. Thank you for your mercy and grace. Thank you for loving us unconditionally. Lord, forgive us for the times when we set out to fulfill our own purpose and we used our talents and gifts to bring glory to ourselves. Lord, we want to be used by you. Lord, speak to us and direct our steps to bring glory to your name. Lord, for those with the gift of tongues, we ask that you give them the gift of interpretation. Lord, for those without the gift of tongues, give us the gift of interpretation so that we may understand what is being said. Father, help us to ensure community within the church by tapping into all the spiritual gifts that you make available to us. Lord, lead us in the way we should go. Equip us with wisdom and understanding. Lord, may your words be constantly on our lips, in our hearts and flow out of our lives. In Jesus name, amen.

Keep praying! Keep Trusting! Keep believing!

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