Summary: All of us are different yet when we work together it blends well.
Beef Stew: One With Many
Scripture: 1 Corinthians 12:4-30
Last week I spoke to you about the divisions that exist within Christianity. I shared with you that I believe only the power of love will enable us to build bridges to close those divisions. I talked about the “Failure To Thrive” syndrome found in some babies that is proof that within us is a need for love, to receive it as well as to give it. At the conclusion of that message I asked each of you to make the decision to allow God’s love to heal your hurts and strengthen you. But my main request of you was to allow God’s love to flow through you. For you to turn on the faucet so His love could flow through you like water. I hope that you have had time to meditate on that message and begun the process of allowing God’s love to envelop you.
Last week’s message focused on you receiving, but this morning I want to focus on you giving. This is the last Sunday of 2004, next Sunday we will be in 2005 if God allows us to see it. We will have the opportunity to do things differently than we did in 2004, but it will take each of us making a decision to start letting the love of God flow through us. One of the ways in which we do that is by getting involved in His work and doing whatever we can on a daily basis to ensure that His work goes forward. Last week we witnessed a move of God in the Christmas program with the kids demonstrating their gifts and later in the service with the adult choir. All it took was a willing heart and people willing to say “I will”. In 2005 I pray that all of us, for whatever area we would like to serve, will truly say “I will” and then begin to do that. Everyone who is willing to serve is needed. There is something that you can give that will be unique to you that will be a blessing in this ministry or whatever ministry you are a part of. For those of you who are on our emailing list, wherever you are, I pray that you too will choose to get involved in the ministries of your home Church.
This past Monday night I had a dream about being in ministry. When I woke from the dream at 3:00 a.m. in the morning, I went downstairs and wrote it down so that I would not forget. In the dream I had to deliver a brief message to the people of the Church I was visiting. In the dream the message was that although we are the same, we are unique. To help you gain the understanding of this statement, I want to use a food analogy to help you visualize what I am going to share with you. The food I want you to think about is beef stew. For some reason as I lay in bed after having this dream, I thought of beef stew as a means of making the dream clear. Maybe I woke up hungry with beef stew on my mind, but hopefully it will make this clear for you. I will also take us to the words of Paul which will also clarify this for us. But first the beef stew.
I. Beef Stew – Different Ingredients to Make One Dish
I love beef stew, especially the way Nikki makes it. The chunks of tender beef, carrots, potatoes, onions and everything else that goes into it makes for a wonderful meal. To enjoy such a meal, you have to prepare the ingredients, put it all together, let it cook for a while and then, once it is ready, you can eat it. Now although the dish has several ingredients in it, it is known as beef stew. Now a stew is a meal that is cooked by boiling slowly (simmering) and usually has meat and vegetables. The point I want you to understand is that the stew is not know by the individual ingredients, but either by the primary ingredient (beef) or a summary of the main ingredients (vegetable). But I want you to think of beef stew.
There are several ingredients that you can use in beef stew such as beef, flour, salt, pepper, oil, beef bouillon, onions, celery, bay leaf, water, mushrooms, potatoes, and carrots. Now each ingredient serves a different purpose and must be used in the right amount in order to get it just right. When making the stew, the first thing you should do is prepare the meat by mixing it with the salt, flour and pepper and then browning it in a skillet. If you do not do this, the meat will not be ready when you need it and you will not have the meat broth for the vegetables. Now once the meat is brown, you add the bouillon, celery, bay leaf and water and simmer for 1-2 hours. When you have completed this, you remove the bay leaf; add the mushrooms, potatoes and carrots. (For the non-cooks out there, you do not eat bay leafs.) Continue to cook for 45 minutes until the vegetables are soft then add remaining flour and water. Cook until it thickens. Now if you do not follow this process, this recipe will not work.