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. 1 Corinthians 12:4-7

Today’s thoughts from today’s verses:

“A member of a certain church, who previously had been attending services regularly, stopped going. After a few weeks, the pastor decided to visit him. It was a chilly evening. The pastor found the man at home alone, sitting before a blazing fire. Guessing the reason for his pastor’s visit, the man welcomed him, led him to a big chair near the fireplace and waited. The pastor made himself comfortable but said nothing. In the grave silence, he contemplated the play of the flames around the burning logs. After some minutes, the pastor took the fire tongs, carefully picked up a brightly burning ember and placed it to one side of the hearth all alone. Then he sat back in his chair, still silent. 

The host watched all this in quiet fascination. As the one lone ember’s flame diminished, there was a momentary glow and then its fire was no more. Soon it was cold and ‘dead as a doornail.’ Not a word had been spoken since the initial greeting. Just before the pastor was ready to leave, he picked up the cold, dead ember and placed it back in the middle of the fire. Immediately it began to glow once more with the light and warmth of the burning coals around it. As the pastor reached the door to leave, his host said, ‘Thank you so much for your visit and especially for the fiery sermon. I shall be back in church next Sunday.’”

Glowing embers do not come about just because embers are in close proximity to each other. It is the fire and the fire alone that makes each ember glow. God is the fire in our lives and his life in us needs to be active and full in order for our lives to “glow” so to speak. Our natural tendency is to slip away from being close to God and having his life be active and full in us. God uses the influence of his people on each other to keep this from happening. Here’s how it works: when we see the reality of the life of God in another person glowing brightly, it encourages and challenges us to stay or get close to God so that his life in us is active and full. Conversely, when others see the reality of God in us glowing brightly, it similarly inspires them in their pursuit of the life of God.

So, you need to surround yourself with those whose lives are glowing because the life of God is active and full within them. Without this you will become like the ember alone on the side of the hearth. With this you will have the encouragement and challenge you need from the Body of Christ (the church) to help you to live fully for God in the ways we have been talking about. You will then have a life that encourages and challenges others similarly. Today’s Scripture tells us that it is God who is at work in each of us. God works in and through us by means of the Holy Spirit. Our passage says, “To each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.” 

Ministering to each other in ways that support and encourage the life of God in each of us is the main way that the Spirit manifests himself. But as our passage shows us, the Holy Spirit bestows gifts, ministries, and effects that are especially suited to each of us. When our lives glow brightly, because we are able to stay close to God and have his life be active and full in us, God will use us in some other very special ways. We can be confident that however the Spirit manifests himself in us, it will be for the common good of the Body of Christ and that it will have an awful lot to do with the amazing blessing of seeing the life of God alive and well in each other’s lives as we live fully for him day after day after day. 

Today’s prayer response from today’s thoughts:

Lord, thank you for the provision of your presence in my life and in other believers that helps me glow for you. I pray that you will fan the flame of your Spirit in me and fellow believers around me, so that we glow and grow more than ever before. I pray that your kingdom will be served abundantly as your Spirit enables us to experience the “common good” like never before. May a watching and waiting world be drawn to you because of it. Amen!