I remember being at the Urbana Mission Conference in 1996. I have so many great memories of God working powerfully including one memory that was shocking for a kid from EFCC. After the last session, one night, myself and my roommate were with about 10 other college-age guys worshiping, sharing, and hanging out. One of the guys asked for prayer, so we came together and everyone put a hand on his shoulder or back. As we took turns praying, three of the guys started speaking in languages that I did not recognize and were getting louder and louder as they talked over each other. I wasn’t sure what to do, but my friend and I both gave each other a look to see if we were both hearing this. Here is my point, tongues in that context was not a big deal, it was confusing to the rest of us though.

I think this is what Paul was getting at in 1 Corinthians 14. The gift of tongues is really special but also needs some guidance, especially in the context of a worship gathering. We come to worship so God can work in our hearts and the collective heart of the church, but if we elevate ourselves too highly we can miss the work of the Spirit in the gathering.

A couple of points from this chapter are important for us to understand: 1) Speaking in tongues is one way to communicate with God (not always to other people, v. 2: 2). Tongues is mostly an individual edifying gift (v. 4: 3). Tongues need an interpretation or message to benefit the body of believers (v 4: 6). Paul spoke in tongues and understood the benefit well (v. 18), he also cared more about the unity and edification of the whole group (v. 19). Why is this important? Because connecting with God individually and collectively is vital for the church today.

How do you communicate with God? Do you just say whatever comes to your mind? Do you thoughtfully unpack all the thoughts and emotions of the day and give God a summary or list? Do you sometimes groan and let God work things out without words? Do you desire to communicate with God in a way you actually understand what he is doing? Understanding and communicating with God, so he can hold the right place in our life, needs to be our overwhelming desire.. Regardless of how you view this gift, can you spend a little time with the Lord talking to Him, asking him to reveal his love for you, asking him to help you understand what is in front of you, or even asking him for a gift if you need it? Thanks for listening, praying for you all.

If you would like an interesting perspective from Max Lucado, here you go…

Jeremy Johnson
Family Ministries Pastor

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