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Summary: In chapter 9, we explore having the Lord as your avocation – finding the best fit for you, fitting in with others, and becoming fit to excel in His service.

Do you have an avocation? I don’t mean a hobby you play at – or a job you work at – but something that really interests you – something you’ll spend hours and hours working on, even when you don’t have to?

For some people its fishing – they not only have specific flies to catch specific fish in specific streams – but they actually make them themselves and go to places where people talk about nothing but how to make better flies. For you it might be sewing, or decorating, or even exercise. When I was a kid my interest was in two things – model trains and spaceflight.

An avocation is something you feel compelled to do – that you enjoy doing just for the sheer joy of the activity – and probably something that you spend more on than you bring in from!

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to have the Lord as your avocation? That might seem silly to think about at first – but in many ways that was the Apostle Paul’s avocation. It was something he committed to, and expended his own resources to do, something where he was always surrounding himself with others whom he could relate the gospel to – and something he was always trying to excel in.

So today in chapter 9, we’re going to explore having the Lord as your avocation – finding the best fit for you, fitting in with others, and becoming fit to excel in His service.

This is a continuation of Paul’s argument from chapter 8 – that even though we have rights and freedom in Christ, we don’t always exercise them if it means we can avoid hurting, and help build one another up.

1 Am I not free? Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen Jesus our Lord? Are you not the result of my work in the Lord? 2 Even though I may not be an apostle to others, surely I am to you! For you are the seal of my apostleship in the Lord.

Paul was an apostle – he could say that because he fulfilled the requirements of an apostle – having seen the Lord face to face after His resurrection, commissioned specifically by Jesus, and with miracles attesting to the apostleship.

Not everyone thought of Paul as an apostle – but the fruit of what Paul did in Corinth is one of the proofs of that position.

Some people claim today that they are apostles. There was even a movie out called “The Apostle.”

Ephesians 4:10-11 says “It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers”

Unlikely that anyone today can make that claim. However, if you think of an apostle as a church planter – with a small “a” then you’ll be all right.

The Corinthians claimed that Paul wasn’t an apostle partly because he was not a full-time vocational minister.

3 This is my defense to those who sit in judgment on me. 4 Don’t we have the right to food and drink? 5 Don’t we have the right to take a believing wife along with us, as do the other apostles and the Lord’s brothers and Cephas? 6 Or is it only I and Barnabas who must work for a living?

Paul says – I have a right to be paid – just because I choose to work making tents and not charge you for my services doesn’t make what I do invalid. Bi-vocational ministry is certainly valid – I do it, and so do many others in the body of Christ. Paul says I could be paid, but I choose not to. But that also doesn’t negate vocational ministry either:

7 Who serves as a soldier at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard and does not eat of its grapes? Who tends a flock and does not drink of the milk? 8 Do I say this merely from a human point of view? Doesn’t the Law say the same thing? 9 For it is written in the Law of Moses: "Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain." Is it about oxen that God is concerned? 10 Surely he says this for us, doesn’t he? Yes, this was written for us, because when the plowman plows and the thresher threshes, they ought to do so in the hope of sharing in the harvest. 11 If we have sown spiritual seed among you, is it too much if we reap a material harvest from you? 12 If others have this right of support from you, shouldn’t we have it all the more? But we did not use this right. On the contrary, we put up with anything rather than hinder the gospel of Christ. 13 Don’t you know that those who work in the temple get their food from the temple, and those who serve at the altar share in what is offered on the altar? 14 In the same way, the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel.

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