1From Paul, called by God’s will to be an apostle of Jesus Christ, and from Sosthenes our brother.
2 To God’s church that is in Corinth:
To those who have been made holy to God in Christ Jesus, who are called to be God’s people.
Together with all those who call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ in every place—he’s their Lord and ours!
3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
4 I thank my God always for you, because of God’s grace that was given to you in Christ Jesus. 5 That is, you were made rich through him in everything: in all your communication and every kind of knowledge, 6 in the same way that the testimony about Christ was confirmed with you. 7 The result is that you aren’t missing any spiritual gift while you wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed. 8 He will also confirm your testimony about Christ until the end so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 God is faithful, and you were called by him to partnership with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
The Apostle Paul is believed to have arrived in the city of Corinth 20 years after Jesus’ crucifixion and 17 years after his own call to become an apostle. Paul stayed in Corinth preaching with apparent power and nurturing the new church for a year and a half. He then traveled by sea, a distance of 180 miles, to the city of Ephesus on the west coast of Turkey. Between 2 and 3 years after arriving in Ephesus Paul wrote the letter to the Corinthians of which our scripture is the beginning.
The words “To those who have been made holy to God in Christ Jesus,” in verse 2 could be written “to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints .…” Every believer in Jesus is “sanctified” set apart to God and released from the power of sin—and can therefore be called a “saint”—a holy member of God’s family, “zealous for good works” (Titus 2:14).
Rev. Gary Henderson, United Methodist Communications has described Sanctifying Grace as “Helping us to know that we are getting better. We are on a journey as people of faith. We are reminded that we are under construction. It helps us to love God, to love neighbor, to love the other, but importantly also to love ourselves. The image I have is being selected to a new leadership position that we had not even imagined. What’s that position? It’s a position where we grow deeper in our relationship to God. We grow deeper in our relationship to others. In Bible language, we become the new creation. It enables us to see the world as God sees the world. John Wesley knew the world as his parish. As sanctified believers who experience sanctifying grace, the world is also our parish. We believe it. We’re excited about it. And we step up into a new leadership role for Christ’s sake.”
When I read verses 4 – 9 of Paul’s letter I first think of the fact that those words are in scripture and meant to apply to you and to me. Paul is marveling at what Jesus has given to us. We have been given all of the spiritual gifts we need and thus should have great confidence. We are reminded that God is faithful, and we are called to partner with Jesus in this life.
by Clarence Beverage
For Pondering & Prayer
Advent is a time of hope. God isn’t calling us to make lofty commitments, grand gestures or give away everything we own. What is a sustainable rhythm for you during this time? Can you commit a few minutes each weekday to read a devotional and then offer a prayer of thanks? Remember that God wants your heart more than anything, your imperfect efforts matter. Jesus wants more for you.
How can we encourage each other to find a sense of awe and gratitude for the immeasurable love of God in our lives?
Prayer: Lord, prepare our hearts not only for the celebration to come, but also for sharing the Good News with friends, family and others as opportunities arise. Grant us courage and a willingness to talk about the love that came down to earth and walked among us. Amen.