Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Gifts of the Spirit

I can remember Christmas as a little boy. The excitement and the anticipation of what you were going to get in the way of presents. Sometimes there were a few and sometimes there were many. I suppose the best presents I received were the ones that I would use throughout the upcoming year. Some of them I used on a daily basis. These are the presents that served a utilitarian function of some sort and it became natural to use them.

Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching; Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness.
(Romans 12:6-8)

For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues:
(1 Corinthians 12:8-10)

The Holy Spirit will give gifts to the Christian so they will be empowered for service. You do know that as a Christian...you are in ministry...don’t you? It is my belief all Christians have at least one of the gifts. I believe many have more than one gift. I never have met anyone I believed had all of the gifts. You will see these gifts show themselves as you minister for the Lord in one way or another. You will sometimes work with another Christian who has a different gift from the one you have. They will work seamlessly with one another because we all of one body. (1 Corinthians 12:12) These are service gifts to be used in what you are called to do. All of these gifts have their place and I believe all of them are still in existence today despite what several of my Christian friends may think. I have even seen gifts which were not mentioned in the lists above. He gives you what you are best suited for. Gifts of the Spirit will flow naturally from the believer. They will never contradict scripture and they will always give glory to God.

When I think of the gifts of the Spirit and the help he gives us, I remember what Jesus said:

Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.
(John 14:12)

Think of what Jesus did while He was on earth. He not only has entrusted us with His ministry...He has equipped us with the help of the Holy Spirit to do the same things. The greatest miracle to me is to see someone receive Christ into their heart. This is just one facet of the work of the Holy Spirit and a testament of how much you are loved of God. Use your gift and allow God to show His love to someone else through you.

Father, I thank you for what you entrust to me. Guide and direct me in the way you would have me use what you have given me. I thank you for all who read this today and ask your blessing upon them. Help us work for you in a way which is well pleasing in your sight. I ask this in the name of Jesus. Amen.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Fruit of Life

For a long time what I am about to share were just words on a page for me. I understood them but had trouble getting them from my head to my heart. It was more of a problem with my faith and how merciful our God truly is. Over time I have seen how faithful God is and how much He really cares for those who have trusted Christ. This strengthens my beliefs and convictions. Assurance is available for all who follow Christ. The assurance that we are saved from sin and wrath help us to walk forward unfettered. The assurance God is always with us gives us courage to go on in some of the most terrible of circumstances. To know...that you know...that you know... is something which comes to us directly from the Spirit of God who bears witness to our hearts. It stems from His fruit.

Let me first go into what Christ has saved you from when you received Him as Savior.

Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
(Galatians 5:19-21)

When you received Christ as Savior you were set free from this. You were set free from having to follow the lusts of the flesh. It isn’t that you are unable to do it  but you choose not to do it anymore. Before you had no choice. Christ has set you free but you have to walk according to the Spirit of God or the flesh will try to creep in like an invasive weed. It is up to you to choose to walk daily according to what God’s will is for you that day. You have a choice...you have freedom.

The Holy Spirit will help you and direct you. He will give you instruction to the amount you will let Him work in your life. He will not force you. He will allow you to make the final decision on a matter but you need to choose wisely. Just because you are saved doesn’t mean you are some sort of mindless drone. God will take care of what you allow Him to take care of. It is up to your faith in Him as to what you will release to Him.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
(Galatians 5:22-24)

This is what God gives you after you receive Christ. These are not fruits but rather fruit. It is singular and not plural. You have it all or you don’t have it at all. This is what God gave you and made you a new creature inside. (2 Corinthians 5:17) This is what enables you to walk the walk of a Christian. You can only do it through God. It is your equipment for the journey. Again, how evident this is in the life in the Christian is according to how much they allow God to work in their lives. You still have a choice. Once again, this choice hinges on your faith in Him. When you trust Him with all of your heart in all things you will see this fruit grow in much fuller measure. You will put away the things of the flesh more as time passes. Your life will be more rewarding to you and the lives of those you come in contact with will be blessed as well. You will grow and be blessed as you are doing so.

To someone who has not received Christ as Savior this is all gibberish. I would say to them that God wants you to have this fruit and made a way by which it can be obtained. To those Christians who do not see the measure of fruit they would like to see I would say simply trust God. Use the faith God has given you and start taking Him at His word. His word is true and faithful. Study your scripture to grow your faith. (Romans 10:17) To know...that you know...that you know...is more valuable than anything you will ever gain on this earth.

Father, I thank you for the freedom I have in Christ. I thank you for the help of the Holy Spirit in all of the aspects of my life. If there be any reading this that are like I was and have trouble understanding this, I ask that you would guide them and help them. Strengthen their faith and give them and unquenchable desire for your word. Bless all who read this in great abundance of blessings. May your name be praised and glorified in the name of Christ Jesus. Amen.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

God of all Comfort

Some topics are easier to convey than others. It is frustrating to have something you want to share only to be stopped by a limited ability to share it. However, that has never stopped me in the past and it is a topic too important to not share.  I have been doing word studies on the Holy Spirit and His ministry to us as believers. The more I study...the more I find. I have decided on dividing this into topics to help maintain a train of thought. So there will be more than one post on this subject. Today I want to share some of my word study as well as what scripture has to say about Him.

And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;
(John 14:16)

The word “Comforter” here refers to the Holy Spirit. In Greek the word is “parakletos” which means helper, advocate, counsellor and comforter all of which pertain to the ministry of the Holy Spirit for us as believers in Christ. This would usually be enough for me but the study went further. The word “comfort” is from the Greek as well. It is a compound word. The prefix “com” means “with” or “with you.” The suffix “fort” means “strength.” So the true meaning of the word is “One who is with you in strength.” You could also take it as “One who is with you to give you strength.” I would think both definitions are accurate. This really changed the way I thought of the word “comfort.” I always viewed this as a reactive action rather than a proactive one. A place we would run to for solace or to recover when we felt defeated. It is more like a fortress we go to and prepare for battle. A refuge to plan what we must do next.

Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you.
(John 16:13-14)

The Holy Spirit does not come to speak of Himself. He points to what God has done and what Jesus has done. He often points to the cross of Christ. He will never contradict scripture but will point you to it and give you recall of it when you need it. He reminds us when we should speak and in my case, when to shut up. He never forces anything on you as a believer but awaits your response to His direction. He is always willing to teach and always ready to go before you. He lays out your path before you even when you are unaware of it as a Christian. He can keep you from making some really bad mistakes if you will allow Him to do so.

Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.
(Rom 8:26-27)

He prays for us when we don’t know how to pray for something. Other than the sacrifice Christ made on the cross this is one of the greatest acts of love God does for us. Many times we don’t even recognize it or acknowledge it. It humbles me to know that God Himself prays for me. I have not even mentioned or given reference to the gifts He gives us or the fruit He allows us to bear as believers. It is impossible to think of my life in Christ without Him. He gives us instruction, guidance, help and of course...comfort.

Father, I thank you for sending the Holy Spirit to us. I thank you for His help and guidance. I thank you for His prayers. I thank you for taking such good care of us as believers in Christ. I ask you would bless each and every one who reads this and give them a fresh touch from the Spirit of God. Let our hearts and minds dwell on you according to your will. In the name of Jesus I pray, Amen.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Chew Barbwire

Today is a special day because I have a guest writer. The following post was written by my wife. I wanted to share it with you all.

I could think of lots of titles for this note but since I've been posting things my Daddy used to say as my Facebook status this week I thought I would use one of his sayings as my title.

There's one in every crowd. A thorn in your side, a pebble in your shoe, an itch where you cannot scratch...a problem person. Many people like to act as if once you become a Christian ALL of your problems are solved in life. I do not know where this bald-faced lie comes from but it seems to show up over and over again. Some evil spin doctor somewhere said, "Once you're a Christian, you're on Easy Street. Clear sailing from there!"

Have you been reading your Bible? Did Paul and Silas practice their music in a country club...or in prison? Did Stephen get gifts or stones? Did Jesus have a place to lay his head or was He always on the move? Did He ride in a gold chariot or on a donkey? In case you don't get my drift here please read 2 Timothy 2:3.

It is more than just a perverse sense of humor that kept God from including a "whack a mole" feature in our lives. It's very low-key but He is in personnel development. He guides us into the places where we will learn what we need and He manages to use it to help others if we cooperate with Him.

Back to the pebble in your shoe, er problem person. You would think God would honor your prayer to take him out. Maybe not out of existence but at least out of your vicinity BUT No! What does He do? Pay attention now. This is a shocker.

Matthew 5:43 "You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' 44 But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. (NIV)
Oh whoa, baby, we are on the "No Pain, No Gain" plan! Seriously, Lord, this is not really what I wanted to do to...um, for, this person. Pray for them! You have got to be joking! I was thinking more like sending them a computer virus or something. Putting something discreetly in their path to trip them...you get it?

The more I get to know the character of God the more certain I am of one thing. His MO (method of operation) is different from what you expect it to be. Whenever you think things could definitely not add up the way they are going and the way He says they should go, they do. Surprise! His way or the highway! I'm telling you, it is amazing.

And what do we gain from praying for those who use and abuse us? He improves us. He reminds us that He loved us when we were snotty-nosed little brats who did nasty things. He did not give up on us. He kept knocking at our door and speaking to our heart. He made it so simple we could understand it. He was merciful and loved us through it all. Humbling, isn't it?

Lord, I ask you to be with those who are struggling today with the situations they are in. Comfort them. Strengthen them. Encourage them. Lift their heads. Help them to see the situation and the problem person the way You see them. Help them to become the person You would have them be. Glorify Your name in their life. Help us to reflect You in everything we do. I ask this in the precious and holy name of Jesus, who is my King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Amen.

P.S. What do you think Daddy meant by "Chew Barbwire?"