Generous God, who gave all for me, all I have is Yours. Use it as You would.
Read: 1 CORINTHIANS 16:1-24
 Now about the collection for the Lord’s people: Do what I told the Galatian churches to do.  On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with your income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made.  Then, when I arrive, I will give letters of introduction to the men you approve and send them with your gift to Jerusalem.  If it seems advisable for me to go also, they will accompany me.  After I go through Macedonia, I will come to you-for I will be going through Macedonia.  Perhaps I will stay with you for a while, or even spend the winter, so that you can help me on my journey, wherever I go.  For I do not want to see you now and make only a passing visit; I hope to spend some time with you, if the Lord permits.  But I will stay on at Ephesus until Pentecost,  because a great door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many who oppose me.  When Timothy comes, see to it that he has nothing to fear while he is with you, for he is carrying on the work of the Lord, just as I am.  No one, then, should treat him with contempt. Send him on his way in peace so that he may return to me. I am expecting him along with the brothers.  Now about our brother Apollos: I strongly urged him to go to you with the brothers. He was quite unwilling to go now, but he will go when he has the opportunity.  Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. Do everything in love.  You know that the household of Stephanas were the first converts in Achaia, and they have devoted themselves to the service of the Lord’s people. I urge you, brothers and sisters,  to submit to such people and to everyone who joins in the work and labors at it.  I was glad when Stephanas, Fortunatus and Achaicus arrived, because they have supplied what was lacking from you.  For they refreshed my spirit and yours also. Such men deserve recognition. The churches in the province of Asia send you greetings. Aquila and Priscilla greet you warmly in the Lord, and so does the church that meets at their house. All the brothers and sisters here send you greetings. Greet one another with a holy kiss.  I, Paul, write this greeting in my own hand.  If anyone does not love the Lord, let that person be cursed! Come, Lord!  The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you.  My love to all of you in Christ Jesus. Amen.
Reflect: Are you giving freely and generously?
I love the fragments of biographical detail at the end of Paul’s letters, about ordinary people living in a different era and culture, yet, like us, seeking to follow Christ. The Christians in Jerusalem faced chronic economic hardship, so Paul rallies the mainly Gentile churches in Asia to support them (1-4; see also 2 Cor. 8,9; Rom. 15:25-32). As ever, in planning his visit to Corinth, Paul shows the special place the Corinthians have in his heart.
He writes of individuals he cares for. Timothy (10) has already been to Corinth (4:17). When he returns they must care for him, allowing him to exercise his ministry. Apollos (already mentioned in 1:12; 3:4-6,22; 4:6) will return, but not yet. We don’t know why. Stephanas, originally from Corinth, has gone to be with Paul, taking Fortunatus and Achaicus, who may have been in his household. These men should be trusted and respected. The final greetings resonate with the warm appreciation that exists between Christians in different places.
Paul certainly knows that churches are messy, yet his commitment to nurture faith in Christ is profound and lasting. May such warmth be apparent in your church!
Consider those whom God has put you into relationship with. Pray specifically for them.
Spirit of God, work in me so that I may see the unseen as the real and live for what matters.
Syndicated via Scripture Union