Thanksgiving Among Challenges

Thanksgiving Among Challenges

1 Corinthians 1:1-9 (ESV)
1 Paul, called by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus, and our brother Sosthenes,
To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus, 5 that in every way you were enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge—  6 even as the testimony about Christ was confirmed among you— 7 so that you are not lacking in any gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

When Paul opens up his first epistle to the Corinthians, he understands that there is a division within the church. He understands that there is some conflict. But, he opens by stating his credentials as an apostle. But he states that he is 'called' by the will of God. He wasn't called by the will of man.
This is also true for us. God is calling each and every one of us according to His will. Are we patient and still enough to recognize His calling for us?
Then, Paul recognizes that the church of Corinth is 'sanctified'. Sanctified means to be 'made holy'. When he refers to the 'church' of Corinth, it isn't referring to the building they are meeting in. He is referring to the congregation of believers in Christ. How awesome is it that Paul understood that there was an assembly of believers who were made holy because they are set apart in Christ? It is through Christ that they are sanctified.
Paul understands that the church of Corinth can have tendencies to be self-centered, so he is reminding them that because they are sanctified through Christ, they should live a life that reflects His Holiness. Challenges will arise in our lives, but we have the knowledge and comfort that God has set us apart and that we are not alone. We have a congregation of believers who are willing to step up and help when the need arises, whether that is through prayer, conversation, a simple hug, or any other way.
Paul expresses 'grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ'. This is a typical opening of Paul's. Grace is always first because it is through the grace of God that we find our peace.
Before Paul gets into the 'why' of his initial letter, he encourages the believers by expressing his thankfulness for how God has richly blessed them. He recognizes and is thankful for the gifts that God has bestowed upon them. It was through the grace of God that they were enriched with these gifts. Again, he knows that the pride in these gifts has led to some divisiveness in the church. His thankfulness demonstrates that the problem is not in the gifts themselves but in the pride and the way the gifts were used.
How often do we use the gifts bestowed upon us in ways that aren't glorifying God? We are all sinners and can be prideful at times. God has richly blessed all of us through His grace, through Jesus Christ.
We may not have the spiritual gifts that the Corinthians did, nor may we be facing the same problems that they did. Paul was thankful for those gifts from God that were bestowed upon the Corinthians. They have had problems and division, and Paul spends most of the letter rebuking and correcting their errors, but Paul was confident that through some encouragement they would find their way back because God is so faithful.  Paul doesn't want them, or us, to lose sight of why we are here...why we have a congregation of believers...why we meet at church each is because we are called into the fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ.
Yes, we will face our challenges and struggle. But, let us be encouraged that God is faithful to the end. God will use the Holy Spirit to reign us in when we are straying off course. He has richly blessed each of us with gifts so that we may use them to glorify Him. And in the end, we can be found blameless, because of Jesus Christ. As Paul knew there was division and carnality within the church. However, he remained encouraged and thankful, knowing that God is faithful. Paul trusted that God still had a plan for this church to do great things. So we also can be thankful in times of challenge within our church, which our family, within ourselves... Because God still has an ultimate plan for us, as long as we listen to the guidance of the Holy Spirit. We are sanctified and set apart for God through Jesus Christ. Let us use those gifts that God has blessed us with so that we may glorify Him through their use.