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  • You receive Spiritual Gifts to Serve

    If you desire a gift of the Holy Spirit, seek after the gift of charity, which is love in action. With it, you will receive the gift of prophecy.

    Those who receive the gift of tongues are speaking to God and not to man. We can't understand what is being said unless it is interpreted by another.

    But he who receives the gift of prophecy speaks the words of God to us so we can be encouraged, strengthened, and confident in our God.

    Speaking in an unknown tongue draws attention to the speaker, but prophecy is a gift to the entire congregation.

    It would be wonderful if you received the gift of tongues, but better if you all received the gifts of prophecy, for prophets give guidance to us all and glorify God and His church.

    If I suddenly stood before you speaking in an unknown tongue, how would that benefit you unless the Holy Spirit reveals my words to you, or you have some knowledge of the tongue I am speaking, or another in the congregation interprets, or perhaps I am reciting a doctrine you might recognize.

    There are lots of things in the world that make noises, like trumpets or flutes, but if they do not follow a tune, how do we know what they are saying? If the bugler sounds an unfamiliar call, will the troops know to gird themselves for battle?

    It's the same with unknown tongues. If I have no idea of what your words mean, you might as well be banging a cymbal. Unless someone is interpreting, the sounds you are making mean nothing. You are shouting at the air.

    I'm sure the tongues mean something, but unless I can understand what is being said, it makes no sense to me at all.

    Now if I pray in the spirit, I will pray with understanding. If I sing in the spirit, I will sing with understanding.

    If I bless you in an unknown tongue, how will the unlearned who are searching for God know to say Amen, and how will the know the truth? They do not understand nor know the spirit. You may be giving glory to God, but they will simply be lost.

    God has given me the gift of tongues on many occasions, more than you. But I would rather speak five words of prophecy to you that are clearly understood than a thousand words in an unknown tongue.

    Brothers and sisters, don't act like children, using unknown tongues to chide and tease one another. Grow up. In the scriptures it does say that God will speak with men of other tongues, but many who hear will not listen. Tongues are a sign to unbelievers, so they will hear as the apostles proclaimed at Pentecost, so the crowds would hear, each in their own language. Prophecy serves the believers and edifies the church and God.

    If the entire church came together and they were all speaking in unknown tongues, what would the unbelievers think if they heard it? They would think you insane.

    But if you are filled with the Holy Spirit and giving prophecy, the unbelievers will hear, the ignorant will learn and be humbled, and Holy Spirit may move their hearts to accept the truth of their sins. They may fall on their face in repentance, allowing the Holy Spirit to convict them, allowing Christ to fill their hearts and redeem their souls, adding a brother or sister to the church.

    So in your worship, in your words, and in your every action, let everything you do glorify God.

    If someone speaks in an unknown tongue, let it be with an interpreter who translates aloud for all to hear. But if no one can interpret, let the speaker pray to God and not shout out what cannot be understood.

    Those who give prophecy, let them speak in small groups, one at a time, and let the entire congregation hear and listen so they can determine the source of the prophecy. Remember, the Spirit will give prophecy, but those prophecies will never fall outside the word of God. God does not send prophecy to confuse us, but to enrich, edify, and sometimes to correct us.

    Now according to the laws of Moses, women are to remain silent in the church. To show their obedience to God, they should not speak in the congregation, but make their comments to the husbands at home. While we are no longer under that law, we might do well to respect this tradition.

    You may not like what I am saying, but tell me, did you receive the word of God directly? Did He give you the laws for the people? Were you on the mountain with Moses?

    Now if there is one among you who thinks he is a prophet, then ask him if what I am saying is true. For I write nothing that is not in accordance with the commandments. But if you wish to remain ignorant of the truth, it is on you.

    Seek to be prophets, brethren, but do not forbid the speaking of tongues in their proper place.

    Do everything in decency and with a profound and earnest respect for the commandments.

    We don't do rain dances, we don't do magic shows.

    Okay, I'm not going to pick on any particular denomination here, but Paul is attempting to get these folks to realize that faith, real faith, is not about what you say, but what you do. So speaking in unknown tongues, falling to the floor and going into a seizure while spouting words no one can understand, or even magically waving your hands and transforming one substance to another may be all well and good, but it isn't necessarily something from the Spirit.

    Prophets, on the other hand, are those chosen to tell the congregation one of two basic ideas : A) Keep up the good work, or B) Repent! You're off track. More often than not, according to the Old Testament, its B.

    Pagan religions, like the ones in Corinth, operated on the basis of entertainment, as we have read in previous chapters. Their feasts turned into orgies, their priests were magicians imbued by their “gods” with mystical powers, and they caused the people who worshiped their “gods” to speak unknown tongues and be possessed by them. Food offered to “gods” were blessed by that god, and by partaking of it, you were accepting the power of that “god” over you.

    But Faith wasn't a big requirement, only fear. Those pagan “gods” were rumored to be able to do some nasty stuff to anyone who didn't toe the line. Sort of like voodoo priest, or Santeria. If you bought into the hype, you allowed yourself to be controlled by it.

    Paul is saying we don't do rain dances, we don't make zombies, and we don't try to use our faith as a lever against other Christians. We as Christians are to live lives of witness, demonstrating the love of Jesus to others in our deeds, not our words.

    Believe it or not, there are a few of us out there who want to live a Christ – centered life. It isn't easy to do. Surrendering to the Spirit is a daily task, one that requires you to set aside your personal prejudices, preferences, and experiences to allow the Holy Spirit control of your life. The best way I've found is to begin each day with prayer. And you begin every prayer with thanksgiving, praising God for the gifts He has given you.

    When you do this, when you begin your day with the Spirit, you will find you can Love without Condition, Forgive without Limitation, and especially to Judge No One.

    Once you can do those, the possibilities for your life are endless.

    I hope you will all have a Blessed and Happy New Year.

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