The Holy Spirit gives us Gifts

“Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.” 1 Corinthians 12: 4-11

Have you ever looked at someone and admired them so much you wish you could do the things they do? I know I have! Boy, I can let that old ugly green eyed monster creep into my head at the drop of a hat. I actually used to be a lot worse about it than I am now. Not saying I have attained some level where I never do that, but I’m not as bad as I used to be. The fact is, we are all gifted by the Holy Spirit with attributes and characteristics that just seem almost to come naturally to us. 

Let’s think about and look at our church. I know that at my church we have different people who seem to fulfill different roles. I am sure that’s the same for your church as well. I know I have been guilty before of being a little jealous of someone else’s role. But the truth is, the Holy Spirit has gifted each and every one of us for our callings and when put together and working in harmony it is a beautiful thing for our churches. I love the way Paul breaks it down here. He says there are varieties of gifts, there are varieties of service, there are varieties of activities but they all come from the same God. And when they work together they are working for the common good, the common good for the kingdom, the common good for the church, (little c, the overall church), the common good for our Church (our own fellowship), the common good for our families and our own communities too. 

Paul also breaks down some of the gifts that we see. He says some have the gift of faith, some the gift of wisdom, some will have the gift of healing and some the working of miracles or prophecy, or discernment. Paul says that all are empowered by the same Spirit and that it is the Spirit who decides who gets what gift. 

I think too, (and this is completely my thoughts), that our giftings can come and go. They can be for different seasons in life. I know that I have times that I felt one gift was stronger than at another time. For instance my faith, while it is strong most of the time, there are times that I feel I waiver. I feel I have a gift of words that come only from Him. If I am being totally honest most of the time that I set my computer in my lap to write these devotions, I have no clue what I am going to say. And as I write I truly feel that the Holy Spirit is giving me the words AS I write. If you had asked me 10 minutes before I wouldn’t have a clue what I was going to say. I know that I have had times where I felt I had a gifting for service in my church in a certain direction and then suddenly I will feel I am being pulled into another direction to serve. In my younger years of my faith journey I would often question those times and wonder if I had heard God correctly. I have learned to let myself follow where He is gifting me to serve and to realize that just because he may be gifting me for one area of service today that does not mean that will be my area of service forever. He may have another plan for me next month, or next year. I have also learned that when I cling to the gifting, I may be robbing someone else of their gifting. 

What gift has the Holy Spirit given you? Are you being gifted for a teaching role, or a leadership role? Whatever gifts He has given you or lain on your heart, you can be assured He is doing so to lead you into some service to Him. And the ways we serve Him are to serve His people and His church. If you aren’t sure, what gifts you’ve been given, spend some time in prayer today to ask Him. Ask Him what your gifts are and then ask Him how He wants you to serve Him with your gifts. Where can you serve, and what activities would He have you to be involved in? He gives us our gifts so that we can give our gifts away. 

The Holy Spirit Prompts us to do His Will

We talked about the Holy Spirit last week. He was promised to us by Jesus. We talked about how He sanctifies us and how He transforms us. This week I want to study the ways He helps us to be who we are called to be. 

Have you ever felt that prompting in your heart to do something, maybe for someone, or to go do something specific and you just didn’t know why? There is a little story about an evangelist named Philip tucked away in the book of Acts that gives us some insight into how the Holy Spirit can work to direct our steps. 

“Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, ‘Rise and go toward the south to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.’ This is a desert place. And he rose and went. And there was an Ethiopian, a eunuch, a court official of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was in charge of all her treasure. He had come to Jerusalem to worship and was returning, seated in his chariot and he was reading the prophet Isaiah. And the Spirit said to Philip, ‘Go over and join this chariot.’ So Philip ran to him and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet and asked. ‘Do you understand what you are reading?’ And he said, ‘How can I, unless someone guides me?’ And he invited Philip to come up and Sith with him.” Acts 8:26-31

Philip was so in tune with the Holy Spirit that he heard the Holy Spirit say to him to rise and go toward the south, and to what road and then he saw the Ethiopian studying and he felt the Holy Spirit tell him to go join this man’s chariot and eventually he was teaching the Ethiopian about Jesus. Now I know there are probably a lot of people who would say well that was in Bible times and would think this an outlandish story that may not happen today. Well I don’t have an exact story but I do have a story of someone who did something for me who was following the Holy Spirit’s prompting. 

Several years ago I was going through a particularly hard time, and I had a friend who was going through an even harder time. Our worlds had been rocked a bit. We had been stay at home moms together and had forged a friendship and she had had to return to work because of some circumstances in her world and I was keeping her children for her. One day after I had put all the children, hers and mine, down for a nap, I went to my sofa and I prayed for encouragement and strength. I was glad I could be doing this for my friend, but selfishly, I missed my friend too. I missed our old life where we would hang out while our children had play dates. Now our children were having their play dates all the time, but I was lonely for the friendship she and I had enjoyed. And, well, I was just tired. Well, I remember sitting on my sofa and having a little pity party and asking the Lord to help me. An hour or two later, there was a knock on my front door and as I opened the door, there was another friend there. She looked at me and she held up one paper bag and she said “I brought dinner for …” (our mutual friend, the one whose children I was keeping) and she held up the other hand which had another paper bag and she said and “I brought dinner for you too”. I think I started crying at that moment, and I told her how I had just an our or two earlier sat down and asked the Lord for some strength and some encouragement. This friend at my doorstep told me that just a couple of hours earlier she had a thought all of a sudden that she wanted to do something not only for our friend who was going through the tough time but that she wanted to do something for me too. I can still remember her smile and her saying to me. “I’m so glad I listened.” 

I am sure I have had times that I have listened and I have had times that I missed it. I pray that I will spend enough time with Him that I will know His voice when He is prompting me to do for someone else. Much like Philip did and my friend at the doorstep. Because she listened, the Lord answered my prayer for encouragement, through a dinner in a paper bag. And you know what, I can still remember her sweet smile as I told her about my prayer that said to me that she received a blessing from being the blessing too. Oh may we always listen. 

The Holy Spirit Transforms Us!

“And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another.” 2 Corinthians 3:18

Paul is making a reference here to when Moses would meet with God face to face, his face shone so brightly that it would frighten the Israelites so Moses would actually put a veil over his face.  You will find the story in Exodus 34:29-35. Moses went up on Mount Sinai to meet with God, this was when Moses wrote the ten commandments that God had given him on the tablets. He had met with God and been alone with God for forty days and forty nights. He came down the mountain with the tablets and he didn’t know that his face shone because he had been with God. The Israelites were afraid to come near him because of how his face shone so brightly. So when Moses finished telling them what God had told him, he put a veil over his face (v. 33). After that, whenever he went in to speak with the Lord and to meet with him, he would remove the veil until he came out again. When he came out he would tell the Israelites what God had said and he would replace the veil. 

What Paul is saying here is the that we don’t need the veil anymore. You see Moses had to have the veil, because God’s glory shone all over him after meeting with God and the Israelites couldn’t handle it. Remember, not everyone had the opportunity to have the Spirit of God living inside of them. So it was huge that the Israelites could see God’s glory on Moses but it scared them too. We, on the other hand, have the Holy Spirit living inside of us so that we can meet with him in our prayer closets, prayer chairs, on our way to work, in our sitting down, in our going about our day. The veil has been removed for us. We get to gaze on God’s glory quite like Moses did in his day. And as we behold his glory, we are transformed into the likeness of Christ. 

Yesterday we studied the process of being sanctified. This goes hand in hand, I think. The Sanctification process increases our desire, our “want to” if you will, to spend time with Jesus. We are much the same way as Moses. Oh our faces may not literally shine with the glory of the Lord, but when you spend time with Him daily you will shine your light for Him in such a way that people will see God’s glory on you. And friends that is where and when we are transformed into the likeness of Christ. 

I think the key word here is time. It is the time we spend with Him that will transform us. It is the time spent with him, that will make us more into the image of Christ. And it is the time spent with Him that will cause us to shine for Him.