1 Corinthians 12:28-31
28 And in the church God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, also those having gifts of healing, those able to help others, those with gifts of administration, and those speaking in different kinds of tongues.
29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles?
30 Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret?
31 But eagerly desire the greater gifts. And now I will show you the most excellent way.
1 Cor 13 goes on to describe the greater gifts of faith, hope and love. These are the gifts we are to go after. These are essential for the ministry. Invitations, food and logistics don't make for an effective Bible Talk. That's not the gift. We have to beware of numbers and paperwork. They can numb our hearts. Dealing with problems all day damages our faith. We can be guided by policy, not principle. What we need is faith, hope and love.
We can even falsely believe that because we work hard, God accepts us. It requires faith. Let us ask yourself if our personal ministry goals require any faith. Do we feel stretched? Are the good old days in the past? Do we have any dreams that scare anybody? Are we willing to accept an OK ministry, a comfortable, controlled situation? Do we push forward and desire new things, or do we pull back and desire status quo? Do we put ourselves in a situation that requires faith? Are we willing to move somewhere else?
Are we known for our faith? Does our ministry call us for faith? This is a great indicator. If we're not full of faith, our ministry won't desire our friendship. Are we known not by the words we say, but by the ministries we lead? Are we having an impact on people? Is it plainly evident to everyone?
a. What is Faith?
Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.
b. Where Faith comes from?
Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.
c. When faith is faith?
9 "Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me.
10 At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other,
11 and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people.
12 Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold,
13 but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.
[James 1:3 testing of faith develops perseverance, I Pet.1:1-8, faith is precious than gold] When you go through trials, your faith is tested.
d. How much faith is faith?
He replied, "Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you." Sometimes we struggle to have this mustard seed faith.
e. Why faith is so important?
And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.
We can keep on talking about different attributes, ingredients, stories, examples, victories, prayers of faith from the Bible. Today do we have faith to continue to live as Christians / Disciples? Do we have faith to carry those marks of disciples (Prayer, Bible study, loving one another, denying self ) which we learnt while becoming a disciple?
a. Suffering produces hope
3 Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance;
4 perseverance, character; and character, hope.
5 And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.
b. Hope in the resurrection of the dead.
Then Paul, knowing that some of them were Sadducees and the others Pharisees, called out in the Sanhedrin, "My brothers, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee. I stand on trial because of my hope in the resurrection of the dead."
And I have the same hope in God as these men, that there will be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked.
1 Timothy 4:9,10
9 This is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance
10 (and for this we labor and strive), that we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, and especially of those who believe.
c. Hope of eternal life.
1 Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ for the faith of God's elect and the knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness--
2 a faith and knowledge resting on the hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of time,
3 and at his appointed season he brought his word to light through the preaching entrusted to me by the command of God our Savior,
1 Corinthians 15:19
If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men.
1 Timothy 6:17
Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.
1 Peter 1:13
Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed.
a. Love God
1 John 5:1-4
1 Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves the father loves his child as well.
2 This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands.
3 This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome,
4 for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.
b. Love one another
34 "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.
35 By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."
How do you know you have love? If we possess the following qualities.
1 Corinthians 13:4-8
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
5 It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.
1 Corinthians 13:13
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
Do we eagerly desire to have it? Are we known for growing in these three? Let us decide to love God and love one another more than ever before.