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Summary: We are tools in the Hands of God. We do nothing good in the eyes of God unless He is in it.

Throughout this series, we have looked at where God interjects, or otherwise interferes with the course of human events. Because if left up to our own ways and devices, we would flounder and fail.

But God knows our hearts, and despite the wickedness of our hearts, God gave us Jesus, “while we were yet sinners” to take the penalty of our sins. God is in control of events around us and for us who know Jesus as Lord, these events, even what we would deem to bad, God can and does work it all for our good.

The point is, it is all about what God does and it is all for His glory. Today as we continue to look at the Paul’s first letter to the church in Corinth, we will see that church in Corinth had a problem. Their problem was simple, they were inwardly focused and not on what God has done or is doing. It was all about themselves and they had become divided. They were divided over who they should follow, Paul or Apollos. Their focus was off God and on themselves and others.

1 Corinthians 3:5–8

Some years ago, a study was done by an agricultural school in Iowa. It reported that production of a hundred bushels of corn from one acre of land required

4,000,000 lbs. of water,

6,800 lbs. of oxygen,

5,200 lbs. of carbon,

160 lbs. of nitrogen,

125 lbs. of potassium,

75 lbs. of yellow Sulphur,

and other elements too numerous to list.

In addition to these ingredients are required rain and sunshine at the right times. Although many hours of the farmer’s labor are also needed, it was estimated that only 5 percent of the produce of a farm can be attributed to the efforts of man. [1]

And so it can be said of our spiritual lives. Little depends on us, it is all about what God has done for us.

To the Jew, everything from the earth came from God. It is part of their theology of creation:

“Israelite farmers routinely confessed the same, not least in prayers like Psalm 65:9–11 when they came to offer the firstfruits in fulfillment of their “vows”

Psalm 65:9–11 (NKJV) 9 You visit the earth and water it, You greatly enrich it; The river of God is full of water; You provide their grain, For so You have prepared it. 10 You water its ridges abundantly, You settle its furrows; You make it soft with showers, You bless its growth. 11 You crown the year with Your goodness, And Your paths drip with abundance.

“It is not that the farmers had not toiled over the preparation and harvest of the crop, but they did so profoundly aware of the fact that their labors would be in vain if the Lord did not “bless its growth.” The ancient (and still traditional) Jewish mealtime blessing reflects the same theology of creation: “Blessed are you, O Lord, our God, King of the Universe, who brings forth bread from the earth’ ” [2]

All things come from God. Paul uses this analogy in today’s passage. The Corinthians were arguing who they were following:

1 Corinthians 3:4 (NKJV) For when one says, “I am of Paul,” and another, “I am of Apollos,” are you not carnal?

Carnal meaning they were thinking using their worldly minds and not with their spiritual discernments. So Paul explains:

1 Corinthians 3:5 (NKJV) Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers through whom you believed, as the Lord gave to each one?

Who or what was Paul? Who are what was Apollos? They were “ministers.” Most other translations have “servants.” The Greek word used here is “diakonoi” which we get our word deacon. It’s basic meaning is that of a manual labor servant. In the Greek culture of that day, a servant who did manual labor was despised, and considered the lowest of the lowly. To the Greek, it did not carry the status, as the Jew would see, as Moses, who was given a the high status as “the servant of the Lord” (see Joshua 1:1).

But in the early church, Paul promoted a humble view of Church leadership, they were servants who operated under direction, authority and empowerment of the Master. We do not celebrate the servants for the servants have no ability, authority, or power of their own.

“Through whom you believed” they were the means by which the Corinthians believed, not the cause.

“as the Lord gave to each one.” Paul and Apollos was given by the Lord, job and they were doing as they were told and God did a marvelous work through their efforts. This begs the question, what has God given you and me to do? And are we doing it?

So what was it that God gave Paul and Apollos to do?

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