Burning Questions

So, let me ask you a question: What is a Spiritual Gift? I mean obviously being quick-witted is great but that really isn’t a spiritual gift. Nor is gossip, just because people like to share things and you like to pass them on that really isn’t a spiritual gift, or else good Old Ma Bell would still be in business today. And while you may enjoy the ability to zing all who draw near to your wonderful presence, that really is not a Spiritual Gift, is it? No, at least not according to the Bible. When we open the cover and seek out its wisdom concerning Spiritual Gifts we discover the foundational information about Spiritual Gifts is found in 1 Corinthians 12:1-11. 

Now Spiritual Gifts are so-named because they are gifts given to us by the Holy Spirit. 1 Corinthians 12:4~There are diversities of gifts (χάρισμα charisma), but the same Spirit. (NKJ) The word diversities or varieties means these gifts are many and differ in function. However, since the Holy Spirit is the Source of all Spiritual Gifts, there is unity in the diversity. Many Gifts, One Spirit. (χάρισμα charisma) means gifts, or endowments, of grace. Hence them being called grace-filled gifts.

Thus, when we think of Spiritual Gifts in terms of being the grace-gifts, it adds to our perspective an understanding like that of salvation. For our salvation is an undeserved gift, therefore, Spiritual Gifts come from God and are for His purpose, just like salvation. I love what Thomas Schreiner writes: Knowing our Spiritual Gifts can be helpful but they are best discerned in the context and service of the church. Thus, a spiritual gift can be defined as a divine ability given by grace through the Holy Spirit to make each believer and the church more like the Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 12:11~But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills. (NKJ)

This brings up an often-asked question: What is the difference between a talent and a spiritual gift? Well, a talent is something that we possess and it performs, while a spiritual gift is something that is empowered by God and not us, and it ministers. See a talent glorifies the person (though it can be utilized to give God glory also), however, a spiritual gift glorifies God who has empowered us to minister on His behalf. Thus, Spiritual Gifts make us ministers and not performers. 

Ask yourself, what Spiritual Gift have I noticed the Lord working through my life? Remember you are not the source of power these are grace-filled Gifts that require the work of the Holy Spirit. Take time to pray and ask the Lord to cleanse you and prepare you for the work of ministry today. Ask Him to do Psalm 24:2~The one who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not trust in an idol or swear by a false god. Say, Lord, I need you to cleanse me and empower me today through your Holy Spirit. Use me for Your glory and help me make Jesus the center of all I do.



Many Gifts, One Spirit

If you’ve got questions, I want you to know that the Bible has answers. Today, we embark on a new study looking at the Many Gifts, and only One Holy Spirit, as we focus on Spiritual Gifts. Just the mention of the words Spiritual Gifts in tandem can cause many in the faith to pause, and contemplate them. The Bible teaches that all followers of Christ are given supernatural abilities by God to serve Him better, known as Spiritual Gifts. 2/3 of Americans (68% as low as 55%) that say they are Christian noted they have heard of Spiritual Gifts, according to a national survey by The Barna Group. That represents a small decline from past surveys, which found 72% awareness in 2000, 71% in 1995.

Now awareness of Spiritual Gifts is varied within the self-described Christian population. For instance, 99% of evangelicals have heard of Spiritual Gifts, far more than the 74% among non-evangelical born again Christians and 58% among notional Christians, and the Protestants (75%) over the Catholics (54%) in awareness. Yet, with 68% awareness in a mainline denomination, what are Spiritual Gifts?

Some say they possess a Spiritual Gift of complaining, ever met one? For others, it is being a know-it-all. Perhaps you feel your Spiritual Gift is being Captain of the USS Obvious, or even the spoon that stirs up every little thing. However, these are not Spiritual Gifts. Today, we look at four questions that help us understand how God’s most thoughtful, exciting, and enjoyable gifts with His people. Gifts so special they were wrapped in the unique you. Grasp the expense of these gifts, the trouble laid on Jesus as who purchased them at Calvary’s Cross. Listen to what Paul writes concerning Spiritual Gifts. 1 Corinthians 12:1~Now concerning Spiritual Gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be uninformed. (ESV) 

Today, just like in Paul’s day, many believers are uninformed, about Spiritual Gifts. Many in the faith know the words, but lack discernment or are just plain uncertain of what they are and so they either ignore or abuse them. Understanding the Spiritual Gifts that God has given us through the baptism of the Holy Spirit and the purpose these gifts have both in our lives and in our community of faith requires some Biblical knowledge. So, as as we begin a lengthy discussion for this week, I want you to begin by praying. Ask God to open up your heart for the work of the Holy Spirit. Ask the Lord to cleanse you and remove anything that would hinder the work of the Holy Spirit and to help you learn to yield to the leading of the Holy Spirit in your life. Let the Lord work on, in, and through you today and every day.



After Worship

So, what do we do after Worship (5:5-7) Well, worship is not just a moment, or an event, on a scheduled day and time, it is to be a lifestyle for believers. Thus we’re always preparing to worship, in worship, engaged after worship. Each phase has some steps that the scripture offers, less formulaic in nature and more tuning of our heart. When ~Robert Robinson~ penned the words: Come Thou fount of every blessing, Tune my heart to sing Thy grace, Streams of mercy never ceasing, Call for songs of loudest praise, he was reminding us that our hearts, like all instruments, needs to be kept in tune and on time.

To keep us in tune we need some help to adjust the way we think and live our lives in a worshipful way unto God. Ecclesiastes 5:5~It is better that you should not vow than that you should vow and not pay. (ESV) In our day when words are no longer our bound, promises are often empty, and shallow commitments abound, we need to heed this verse. Psalm 66:14~yes, the sacred vows that I made when I was in deep trouble. (NLT) Ever been in a pinch and made a promise? Yes /No. Sometimes vows, or promises, are made to the Lord in an attempt to manipulate Him into making serious problems go away. Then, when the problems are gone, so are the vows made to the Lord. If there is something we have promised God, we need not delay, in fulfilling it!

Ecclesiastes 5:6~Let not your mouth lead you into sin, and do not say before the messenger that it was a mistake. Why should God be angry at your voice and destroy the work of your hands? (ESV) Let’s paraphrase this for a little better understanding. Don’t try to weasel out of your vows to God. Know that it is just a sin too, and God will get you. Deuteronomy 23:21b~If you make a vow to the LORD your God, do not be slow to pay it, for the LORD your God will certainly demand it of you and you will be guilty of sin. (NIV) 

Some might think, Well, the best thing is not to make commitments to God. No! If we never make new commitments to the Lord, we will stop growing spiritually, we will become stagnant, and our life will begin to stink. Psalm 76:11~Make vows to the LORD your God and fulfill them; let all the neighboring lands bring gifts to the One to be feared. (NIV) Instead of being one who does not fulfill what is owed by the example of one who takes their relationship and vow with the Lord seriously. This will help us grow spiritually but be careful as we see an increase and grow, vanity will tempt us. Ecclesiastes 5:7~For when dreams increase and words grow many, there is vanity; but God is the one you must fear. (ESV) 

This means we must be realistic in response to God as we live out what we know is God’s will for our lives, else we will suffer the plight of a lot of meaningless words. When says Soly it is complete submission, reverence, and awe of who God is. There are two kinds of fear; a good kind and a bad kind (like cholesterol). Bad fear is when the Evil One plants thoughts of fear that keep us from doing God’s will. Good fear is what causes us to live in the way God commands. 

Today, as you prepare to head out into the wide world about yourself, live a life of worship. This means everything we do is aligned and in step with God. Then we will possess a healthy fear and lack nothing. Psalm 34:9~Fear the LORD, you his holy people, for those who fear him lack nothing. (NIV) Know that God, through His word teaches us how to live. Offering us help to stay in step. So, first, align yourself with God. Then ask for His help as you walk with Him today and each day, living a worshipful and pleasing life. You have got this, and are going to be great.