THE KINGDOM OF GOD
"But He said, 'Leave the children alone, and do not forbid them from coming to Me; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.'" Matthew 19:14
"You are not far from the kingdom of God."
28 "Then one of the scribes [an expert in Mosaic Law] came up and listened to them arguing [with one another], and noticing that Jesus answered them well, asked Him, 'Which commandment is first and most important of all?'
29 Jesus answered, 'The first and most important one is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord;
30 and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul (life), and with all your mind (thought, understanding), and with all your strength.’
31 This is the second: ‘You shall [unselfishly] love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.'
32 The scribe said to Him, 'Admirably answered, Teacher; You truthfully stated that He is One, and there is no other but Him;
33 and to love Him with all the heart and with all the understanding and with all the strength, and to [unselfishly] love one’s neighbor as oneself, is much more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.'
34 When Jesus saw that he answered thoughtfully and intelligently, He said to him, 'You are not far from the kingdom of God.' And after that, no one would dare to ask Him any more questions."
Jesus said, when you love Him and love your neighbor as yourself, an unselfish love, 'you are not far from the kingdom of God.'
Heavenly Father, let it be so, in Jesus' Name! Hallelujah. Praise God. Thank you, Jesus. Amen.
THE GREATEST GIFT OF ALL
"But earnestly desire and strive for the greater gifts [if acquiring them is going to be your goal].
And yet I will show you a still more excellent way [one of the choicest graces and the highest of them all: unselfish love]." 1 Corinthians 12:31
"Love never fails [it never fades nor ends]. But as for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for the gift of special knowledge, it will pass away." 1 Corinthians 13:8
Love never fails, never fades away, nor ends.
"And now there remain: faith [abiding trust in God and His promises], hope [confident expectation of eternal salvation], love [unselfish love for others growing out of God’s love for me], these three [the choicest graces]; but the greatest of these is love."
1 Corinthians 13:13
'THE CHOICEST GRACES':
'The greatest of these is love.'
1 Corinthians 12
The Use of Spiritual Gifts
1 "Now about the spiritual gifts [the special endowments given by the Holy Spirit], brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed.
2 You know that when you were pagans, you were led off after speechless idols; however you were led off [whether by impulse or habit].
3 Therefore I want you to know that no one speaking by the [power and influence of the] Spirit of God can say, “Jesus be cursed,” and no one can say, “Jesus is [my] Lord,” except by [the power and influence of] the Holy Spirit.
4 Now there are [distinctive] varieties of spiritual gifts [special abilities given by the grace and extraordinary power of the Holy Spirit operating in believers], but it is the same Spirit [who grants them and empowers believers].
5 And there are [distinctive] varieties of ministries and service, but it is the same Lord [who is served].
6 And there are [distinctive] ways of working [to accomplish things], but it is the same God who produces all things in all believers [inspiring, energizing, and empowering them].
7 But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit [the spiritual illumination and the enabling of the Holy Spirit] for the common good.
8 To one is given through the [Holy] Spirit [the power to speak] the message of wisdom, and to another [the power to express] the word of knowledge and understanding according to the same Spirit;
9 to another [wonder-working] faith [is given] by the same [Holy] Spirit, and to another the [extraordinary] gifts of healings by the one Spirit;
10 and to another the working of miracles, and to another prophecy [foretelling the future, speaking a new message from God to the people], and to another discernment of spirits [the ability to distinguish sound, godly doctrine from the deceptive doctrine of man-made religions and cults], to another various kinds of [unknown] tongues, and to another interpretation of tongues.
11 All these things [the gifts, the achievements, the abilities, the empowering] are brought about by one and the same [Holy] Spirit, distributing to each one individually just as He chooses.
12 For just as the body is one and yet has many parts, and all the parts, though many, form [only] one body, so it is with Christ.
13 For by one [Holy] Spirit we were all baptized into one body, [spiritually transformed—united together] whether Jews or Greeks (Gentiles), slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one [Holy] Spirit [since the same Holy Spirit fills each life].
14 For the [human] body does not consist of one part, but of many [limbs and organs].
15 If the foot says, “Because I am not a hand, I am not a part of the body,” is it not on the contrary still a part of the body?
16 If the ear says, “Because I am not an eye, I am not a part of the body,” is it not on the contrary still a part of the body?
17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole [body] were an ear, where would the sense of smell be?
18 But now [as things really are], God has placed and arranged the parts in the body, each one of them, just as He willed and saw fit [with the best balance of function].
19 If they all were a single organ, where would [the rest of] the body be?
20 But now [as things really are] there are many parts [different limbs and organs], but a single body.
21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.”
22 But quite the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are [absolutely] necessary;
23 and as for those parts of the body which we consider less honorable, these we treat with greater honor; and our less presentable parts are treated with greater modesty,
24 while our more presentable parts do not require it. But God has combined the [whole] body, giving greater honor to that part which lacks it,
25 so that there would be no division or discord in the body [that is, lack of adaptation of the parts to each other], but that the parts may have the same concern for one another.
26 And if one member suffers, all the parts share the suffering; if one member is honored, all rejoice with it.
27 Now you [collectively] are Christ’s body, and individually [you are] members of it [each with his own special purpose and function].
28 So God has appointed and placed in the church [for His own use]: first apostles [chosen by Christ], second prophets [those who foretell the future, those who speak a new message from God to the people], third teachers, then those who work miracles, then those with the gifts of healings, the helpers, the administrators, and speakers in various kinds of [unknown] tongues.
29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles?
30 Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret?
31 But earnestly desire and strive for the greater gifts [if acquiring them is going to be your goal].
And yet I will show you a still more excellent way [one of the choicest graces and the highest of them all: unselfish love]."
Or, as the King James version tells us at 1 Corinthians 12:31, "But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way," which is followed immediately in 1 Corinthians 13, describing the 'excellence of love.'
Unselfish love is a gift from God, God's choicest grace (favor) for man, and one for which we should earnestly desire and strive.
Hallelujah. Praise God. Thank you, Jesus. Amen.
Faithful and humble servant of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
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