Using Spiritual Gifts, part 6

Spiritual Gifts

Let all things be done

Let all things be done decently and in order.
–1 Corinthians 14:40 KJV

We are concerned that our church services be conducted “decently and in order.” But we can be so concerned about what we think is proper that we quench the Spirit.

Yes, we want decency and order, but above all, “let all things be DONE!”

1 Thessalonians 5:20 forbids us from despising manifestations of Holy Spirit.
In the parable of the talents, Jesus presses the point that we’re to use the gifts of grace He’s given us to build His kingdom until He returns. Those who obey in faith will be rewarded.

But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.
–Hebrews 5:14 NIV

Concerning operating in the gifts of Holy Spirit, spiritually mature saints will learn to distinguish good from evil, what’s of God and what’s not—not by standing back and refusing to participate. Instead, they will train THEMSELVES through constant USE and PRACTICE.

“As John Wimber put it, spiritual gifts are tools. They are not toys. You need to practice using them, and you will not be an expert on your first try.” (James W. Goll, Releasing Spiritual Gifts Today, p. 20.)

Therefore, we must earnestly desire to be used in the gifts of the Spirit, step out in faith to manifest them, and consistently practice them to edify the Body of Christ. This is how we prepare ourselves and the Church for Christ’s return.

Using Spiritual Gifts, part 5

Spiritual Gifts

Use them or lose them

In Matthew 25:14–30, Jesus tells a parable about a master who entrusted sums of money to three servants to put to work while he was gone away. One who was given five talents earned five more. Another given two earned two more. The servant given one buried it in the ground.

The master returned and rewarded the faithful servants but scolded the lazy servant.

The context of this passage is the return of Christ. Jesus has gone away, but entrusted to us His Holy Spirit and His gifts. What will we do with them? Will we—of our own desire and sense of responsibility and stewardship—use them to build His kingdom? Or will we bury them deep within our earthen vessel?

Those who took the risk and, in faith, developed what they had, not only increased their abilities, but were rewarded with more by the Master.

But the one who neglected his gift and did not “lively and intensely set himself on fire” (2 Tim. 1:6) to use what he’d been given, was called “wicked and lazy.” What he was given was taken away from him and given to someone who would actually do something with it.

Romans 11:29 says “God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable” (NIV). Potentially, we always have the ability to move in the gifts. But if we don’t seek, develop, practice, and use them, we will lose the practical ability to manifest them when the Spirit moves on us.

God is serious about us taking the responsibility to use the gifts He’s given to us through Holy Spirit. We must “use ’em or lose ’em.” If we really want to please God, then we must learn how to move in the Spirit and manifest the gifts. It’s OUR responsibility.

Next time, we’ll conclude our study with a final exhortation.

Using Spiritual Gifts, part 4

Spiritual Gifts

We must stir ourselves up

Some believers have waited years for God to move on them to manifest a spiritual gift. But God says it’s our responsibility to first desire and believe and step out in faith to manifest the Spirit.

Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through a prophetic message when the body of elders laid their hands on you.
–1 Timothy 4:14 NKJV

Paul reminded Timothy that a spiritual gift had been imparted to him when some elders had laid their hands on him and prophesied. The prophetic message revealed God’s intent to impart a particular spiritual gift to Timothy, and it was transferred by the power of Holy Spirit through the laying on of hands.

In Romans 1:11, Paul wrote, “I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong.”

Spiritual gifts may be imparted by the laying on of hands at the direction of Holy Spirit. The word impart means “to share or give over.” Impartation must be directed by God.

Paul reminded Timothy, then, not to be careless of, make light of, neglect, be negligent to use, or disregard this spiritual gift. It was Timothy’s responsibility to use his gifts.

We can have gifts that are lying dormant and unused if we neglect to do what it takes to use them.

Therefore I remind YOU to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands.
–2 Timothy 1:6 NKJV

Again, Paul reminded Timothy, “YOU must stir yourself up to use your spiritual gifts.” It was not God’s responsibility to rekindle his zeal for manifesting the Holy Spirit, it was Timothy’s.

Stir is the word anazopureo, meaning “to rekindle or stir up.” It comes from a combination of three words: one meaning “intensely,” one meaning “a live thing such as an animal or beast,” and another, meaning “fiery, fire, or lightning.” This is not a calm word!

Paul was insisting that Timothy “lively and intensely set yourself on fire to use your spiritual gifts!” I get the image of kids vigorously scrubbing their feet across the carpet to build up an electrical charge so they can really shock someone.

God said, “YOU do it!” We’re responsible to step out in faith, accept some risk, and use what God has given us.

How do you stir yourself up?

Paul wrote, “Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be ignorant” (1 Cor. 12:1 NKJV). You must not only understand spiritual gifts, but you must also be convinced it’s God’s will for you to move in them. This should be clear by now.

Besides tongues for personal edification, God may impart to you any of the nine gifts of the Spirit from 1 Corinthians 12:7–10. (God could give you any of them at any time to use in a ministry setting.)

We must also realize that we’re not perfect. We will make mistakes. But God doesn’t condemn us for trying to learn.

However, God will not accept us burying our gifts because we’re afraid we might make a mistake. So we remain humble, and give grace to others who make mistakes with the gifts.

And since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let each exercise them accordingly: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith.
–Romans 12:6 NASB

Remember: gifts are given by God’s grace. We didn’t earn them. Whatever gifts we have, we are commanded to exercise them, to use them. How? By faith. The more we use them, the better we’ll get, and our faith will grow to use them even more.

You can also stir up the gifts by speaking in tongues. LOUDLY!

20 But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit.
21 Keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.
–Jude 20–21 NIV

You build your faith by praying in tongues. Note in verse 21 that praying in the Spirit is also a way to keep yourself “in God’s love.” How are we to use the gifts? In love (see 1 Cor. 13).

Note also this verse has to do with expecting the Lord’s return. Jesus gave the Holy Spirit and His gifts to build up the Church to prepare it for His return.

Next time, we’ll learn that gifts are ours to use or lose.

Using Spiritual Gifts, part 3

Spiritual Gifts

We must earnestly desire spiritual gifts

A pious pastor once told me, “Seek the Giver, not the gifts.” There’s truth in that, but what does the Bible say?

But earnestly desire the best gifts. …
–1 Corinthians 12:31a NKJV

What are the “best gifts”? Those that build up the Church—individually and corporately.

Follow the way of love and eagerly desire spiritual gifts, especially the gift of prophecy.
–1 Corinthians 14:1 NIV

Therefore, my brethren, desire earnestly to prophesy, and do not forbid to speak in tongues.
–1 Corinthians 14:39 NASB

Why is prophecy so important? Because it’s immediately understood. Paul said, “in the church I would rather speak five intelligible words to instruct others than ten thousand words in a tongue.”

Paul was not criticizing messages in tongues, rather messages in tongues with no interpretation.

What good is the manifestation of a spiritual gift if no one understands what God is saying? Because prophecy is immediately understood since it’s in your native language, it will edify. Tongues with interpretation is the equivalent of prophecy.

In all these verses, the King James versions says, “covet earnestly.” That word covet in Greek is zeloo, meaning “to have warmth of feeling for, covet earnestly, desire, envy, be jealous over, be zealous for.”

God’s Word commands us to be zealous and envious to move in the gifts of the Spirit. Jesus said,

“Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.”
–Mark 11:24 KJV

Jesus said that whatever we desire, crave for, beg for… to not only ask God for it, but to believe and trust Him to the point that you can reach right out and take it. Then, He said, you’ll have it—it will come to pass.

That’s what we’re to do about spiritual gifts. We have what we need—the Holy Spirit—but we must covet the ability to step out and use that which He’s freely
given us.

Next installment, we’ll learn how to stir ourselves up.

Using Spiritual Gifts, part 2

Spiritual Gifts

All divine gifts in context

3 Therefore I make known to you that no one speaking by the Spirit of God calls Jesus accursed, and no one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit.
4 There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.
5 There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord.
6 And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all.
–1 Corinthians 12:3–6 NKJV

What are we to look for when we consider spiritual gifts? Verse 3 tells us we’re to expect the exaltation of Jesus Christ as Lord.

In verses 4–6, each member of the Trinity is mentioned:

Holy Spirit Giftscharisma Manifestations
Lord Jesus Christ Ministriesdiakonia Administrations
God the Father Activitiesenergema Operations

There are three categories of gifts:

  • Some gifts are credited to Holy Spirit.
  • Some ministries are attributed to Jesus.
  • Some operations are credited to the Father.

There are three lists of gifts in the Bible—each attributed to one person of the Trinity.

Gifts of the Father

3 For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.
4 For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function,
5 so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.
6 We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith;
7 if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach;
8 if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.
–Romans 12:3–8 NIV

These are the natural gifts—the motivational or working gifts.

God as Creator has graced every human made in God’s image with a capacity to serve humankind. These gifts are given to everyone, whether Christians or not, although they are sanctified through union with Christ. You could also consider them natural personality types:

  • Prophecy—visionary pioneers
  • Serving others practically
  • Teachers, educators
  • Encouraging, exhorting
  • Giving, philanthropy
  • Leading, organizing, administration
  • Mercy and compassion

Gifts of Christ Jesus

7 But each of us was given grace according to the measure of Christ’s gift.
8 Therefore it is said,
“When he ascended on high he made captivity itself a captive;
he gave gifts to his people.” …
11 The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers,
12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ,
13 until all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ.
–Ephesians 4:7–8,11–13 NRSV

Christ Jesus gave gifts to the Church in the form of ministries:

Ministry Gift Function
Apostles Establish new territory for Christ
Prophets Hear and see what God is doing and where He’s leading
Evangelists Reach out to the lost to present Christ crucified
Pastors Care for the sheep of God’s pasture
Teachers Ground us in the Scriptures and doctrine of God

We have these ministry gifts until the Church attains unity and maturity. Since we have not attained the full stature of Christ, we still need all of these ministers.

  • These are gifts of Christ—the Head building the Body.
  • Fivefold ministers equip the saints for the work of the ministry. They have a training capacity, a call to reproduce themselves and their ministries in believers.

Gifts of Holy Spirit

1 Corinthians 12:7–11 list the nine manifestations of the Holy Spirit:

  • Word of wisdom
  • Word of knowledge
  • Faith
  • Gifts of healings
  • Working of miracles
  • Prophecy
  • Discerning of spirits
  • Gift of tongues
  • Interpretation of tongues

In this series, we will focus on using these manifestations of the Holy Spirit in corporate worship meetings.

Three Types of Gifts

Churches can be built on the Father’s natural gifts, but these organizations will be primarily social institutions.

We need Jesus’ ministry gifts to turn the institution into a body.

We need to be filled with Holy Spirit and manifest the Spirit’s gifts to build up that Body to maturity.

The Father’s gifts are irrevocable—they are intrinsic to who you are.

Jesus’ gifts are also irrevocable, but they are given to only a few. These individuals can grow in them and add more as they prove faithful. Paul was a prophet or teacher in Acts 13:1, but later in his letters he said he was “called to be an apostle.”

The Holy Spirit’s gifts are manifestations distributed to anyone when the Spirit wills. The Spirit can give or withhold them. Yet, if you are faithful in exercising a gift that the Holy Spirit manifests through you, you can develop a gift into a ministry.

Next issue, we’ll learn about God’s command concerning spiritual gifts.

Using Spiritual Gifts, part 1

Spiritual Gifts

If you’re born anew and baptized in Holy Spirit, you have what you need to move in the gifts.

But ministering spiritual gifts is not optional. God commands us to “earnestly desire” spiritual gifts and to stir ourselves up to use them. That’s what this series is about.

Follow the way of love and eagerly desire spiritual gifts
–1 Corinthians 14:1 NIV

You can be equipped

1 While Apollos was at Corinth, Paul took the road through the interior and arrived at Ephesus. There he found some disciples
2 and asked them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” They answered, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” …
6 When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied.
–Acts 19:1–2,6 NIV

As soon as the Ephesians received the Holy Spirit, they could speak in tongues for personal edification and prophesy. They demonstrated vocal evidence.

You also have received this ability, whether or not you have released it or know how to release it.

2 To the church of God in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be holy, together with ALL those EVERYWHERE who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ—their Lord and ours: …
5 For in [Christ] you have been enriched in every way—in all your speaking and in all your knowledge— …
7 Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed.
–1 Corinthians 1:2,5,7 NIV

The Corinthian believers lacked no spiritual gifts. This goes for you too—”all those everywhere.”

If you’ve been saved and baptized in Holy Spirit, you have what you need to move in the gifts.

Next time, we’ll look at all the divine gifts in their biblical context.

Hearing God’s Voice, part 5

Hearing God's Voice

How do we know it’s God speaking?

First of all, by faith. Jesus said, “My sheep listen to My voice.” That means He will speak to us.

Here is a test to measure what you hear:

  1. Does it honor the lordship of Jesus in your life?

    Does it bring glory to Jesus? (Or does it not dishonor Jesus?) John 16:14.

  2. Does it align with the Scriptures?

    Is it Scripture (quoted exactly or paraphrased)? Does it agree with scriptural principles?

  3. Does it promote the fruit of the Spirit? Gal. 5:22-23.

    Is it characterized by love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control? Does it encourage you to be more like Jesus?

  4. Is it encouraging and comforting? 1 Cor. 14:3

How often should we listen for God’s voice?

A convenient time to listen and journal what you hear God speaking is during your prayer time or quiet time.

But [Jesus] answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’ ”
–Matthew 4:4 NKJV

That’s the spoken word.

Matthew 6:11 NKJV: “Give us this day our daily bread.”

Job 23:12b NIV: “…I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my daily bread.”

Hebrews 4:7b NKJV: “… ‘Today, if you will hear His voice’…”

What do we do with what we hear?

“This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: ‘Write in a book all the words I have spoken to you.’ ”
–Jeremiah 30:2 NIV

Get a notebook. Write the date, the time, and any circumstances surrounding your listening time. Then listen and write what the Lord says.

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.
–James 1:22 NIV

Do not be hasty and run ahead of the Lord. But be willing to obey and be changed by what He tells you.

Don’t expect everyone else to fall in line because you heard God. God confirms His will through the mouths of many witnesses. His word is primarily for you.

What are the benefits of hearing and heeding God’s voice?

Proverbs 8:34 NIV: “Blessed is the man who listens to me, watching daily at my doors, waiting at my doorway.”

John 3:29 NIV: “‘The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom’s voice. …’ ”

Proverbs 1:33 NKJV: “‘But whoever listens to me will dwell safely, And will be secure, without fear of evil.’ ”

Psalm 81:13–14 NIV: 13 “If my people would but listen to me, if Israel would follow my ways, 14 how quickly would I subdue their enemies and turn my hand against their foes!”

I pray that you’ve been blessed by this series and that you cultivate and continue to hear the voice of the Lord for yourself. God bless you.

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