Wednesday August 27th, 2014
Gifted by the Spirit
Note from Jesus
As a child of the Father, you received the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:9-10) when you turned your heart and life to follow Me, called on Me in faith to be your Savior, confessed Me as your Lord, and shared with Me in My death, burial, and resurrection through baptism (Romans 10:9-13; Acts 2:21; Acts 2:36-41; Acts 16:25-34; Galatians 3:26-29). I poured out the Holy Spirit upon you as you were born into a new life with Me — a life filled and led by the Spirit (Titus 3:3-7). As a beloved child of your Father in heaven, you are gifted! The Holy Spirit is alive in you and We — Father, Son, and Spirit — have given you spiritual gifts to use to bless your group of believers, to touch the lost and needy, and to bring glory to Us.
A number of passages in your New Testament talk about your having received these gifts. Each has a little bit different emphasis:
- Each of you is given gifts to use as part of My body, so use them without arrogance and with gracious commitment (Romans 12:3-8)
- Each of you has at least one spiritual gift, but don't use your gift pridefully. Instead, recognize that each gift is important to the function of My body, the church; so use your gift in love to build up the church and to bless others. If your gift is to be used in your worship assemblies, use it in an orderly way to build and bless others (1 Corinthians 12:1-30; 1 Corinthians 14:1-40).
- I gave gifts to help the church function as My bodily presence, so use your gifts — use equipping gifts to help others minister and serving gifts to bring My grace to others. When you each use your gifts appropriately, then My church is matured into My likeness to bring My grace to those around you (Ephesians 4:7-16).
- There are speaking gifts and serving gifts. Use your speaking gifts to speak My message and use your serving gifts to bless others as I would bless them using the strength to serve that I supply (1 Peter 4:10-11).
Today, your verses come from 1 Corinthians where Paul talks to the Corinthians about their gifts. So I wanted to share several insights with you about spiritual gifts and what the New Testament teaches you about these gifts.
Doctor Luke, Paul's companion, wrote two books in your New Testament, Luke and Acts. Luke emphasized how the Holy Spirit was at work in My earthly ministry so that you can see the connection between My ministry and your ministry — both are empowered by the Holy Spirit. Before I ascended into clouds and returned to the Father, I made this promise:
...you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere — in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.Throughout the book of Acts, Luke emphasized how the Holy Spirit helped My disciples take My good news to all the world, beginning from Jerusalem, going to all Judea, reaching out to Samaria, and then reaching to the ends of the earth.
(Acts 1:8 NLT)
Not only did the Holy Spirit empower My disciples to share My story, but the Spirit also confirmed that different groups had been accepted into My family and should be included in the fellowship of My disciples. This happened first with Jews at Pentecost when the Spirit came to the apostles in a very demonstrable way to show that I was alive from the dead and had authorized what occurred that day —that forgiveness and the gift of the Holy Spirit were available to everyone who answered My call (Acts 2:32-41).
My disciples were a little slow to realize that when I commissioned them to go to all nations (Luke 24:44-48), I meant it. At first, they were taking My message just to Jewish people. So I sent a disciple named Philip to Samaria to go to people that Jews didn't appreciate: Samaritans (Acts 8:4-8). Yet when these precious Samaritans were baptized, they didn't receive the Spirit until a group of apostles came from Jerusalem and laid hands on them. Then, I sent the Holy Spirit in a clearly recognizable way to these Samaritan believers to show My apostles, along with the rest of My Jewish disciples, that Samaritans must be included in My family of grace — that the Jewish disciples must accept them as brothers and sisters (Acts 8:14-17; Acts 8:25).
Still most of the world, especially the non-Jewish world, had not heard My message and had not been included in My family. To help My apostles and the Jewish people in Jerusalem realize that all people should be included in My Family, I sent a vision to the apostle Peter to show him that he should share My grace with Gentiles (Acts 10:1-43). To show Peter that these Gentiles should be included in My family by faith and that he must baptize them, I sent the Holy Spirit to the household of Cornelius in a way that Peter recognized — Cornelius and his household received the Spirit like MY disciples had at Pentecost (Acts 10:44-48). This coming of the Holy Spirit to Cornelius and his whole household became the defining moment for the early church in recognizing that My gospel was for all people (Acts 11:15-18). Just as I had told My apostles before My ascension, the power of the Holy Spirit would come to them and help them take My message to Jerusalem and all Judea (Jews), to Samaria (Samaritans), and to the whole world (Gentiles) (Acts 1:8). And that is exactly what the Spirit did!
I poured out this same Holy Spirit on you when you became My follower and were born "of water and Spirit" (Titus 3:3-7; John 3:3-7 NLT). The Holy Spirit came to live inside you as the Father's child, making your body a temple of the Holy Spirit, a place where We live (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). The Spirit gives you at least one spiritual gift that enables you to bless the body, reach the lost, and glorify Me. Paul taught this to new Christians, but sometimes they acted selfishly and distorted the reason they were given their spiritual gifts and became filled with pride — and this was a key problem among the Corinthian believers.
Today's verses are from Paul's letter to the Corinthians. The Corinthians were focused on the more spectacular and demonstrable gifts of the Spirit, saying everyone must have these gifts or they weren't truly spiritual. However, Paul makes clear that gifts of the Spirit are...
- Given to each Christian (1 Corinthians 12:7).
- Given by Our — Father, Son, and Spirit's — sovereign choice. We decide who gets which gifts (1 Corinthians 12:4-6; 1 Corinthians 12:11).
- Given to each believer to bless the whole body, not to exalt the individual believer because he or she has some unique gift (1 Corinthians 12:7).
- Given to each believer, but no one has all the gifts and there is not one spiritual gift that all must have to be considered My disciple (1 Corinthians 12:27-31).
- Given to each believer, so rather than desiring and focusing on the more extravagant appearing gifts — like speaking in tongues, which is the one the Corinthians were focused upon — they were to use the gifts We had given them to build up the body (1 Corinthians 14:12-25).
- Given to each believer, but much more important than the gifts you have received — which don't last for eternity — is this truth: your gift must be used in love or it means nothing — because love does last for eternity (1 Corinthians 13:1-13).
Verses to Live
Each believer has received a gift that manifests the Spirit's power and presence. That gift is given for the good of the whole community. The Spirit gives one person a word of wisdom, but to the next person the same Spirit gives a word of knowledge. Another will receive the gift of faith by the same Spirit, and still another gifts of healing—all from the one Spirit. One person is enabled by the Spirit to perform miracles, another to prophesy, while another is enabled to distinguish those prophetic spirits. The next one speaks in various kinds of unknown languages, while another is able to interpret those languages. One Spirit works all these things in each of them individually as He sees fit.
(1 Corinthians 12:7-11)
God has appointed gifts in the assembly: first emissaries, second prophets, third teachers, then miracle workers, healers, helpers, administrators, and then those who speak with various unknown languages. Are all members gifted as emissaries? Are all gifted with prophetic utterance? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Or are all gifted in healing arts? Do all speak or interpret unknown languages? Of course not. Pursue the greater gifts, and let me tell you of a more excellent way — love.
(1 Corinthians 12:28-31)