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Posts tagged ‘Spiritual gift’

{ Day 295 }.


But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills. 1 Corinthians 12:11, NKJV

The word used in the New Testament for spiritual gifts is charisma or, literally, “gifts of grace.” In other words, these gifts are given freely and are not earned. It was Simon the sorcerer who misunderstood the gifts and power of the Holy Spirit, thinking they could be purchased (Acts 8:18-24). What a terrible thing, we think. No doubt Simon had a wrong equation, and Peter severely rebuked him because of the wickedness in his heart that would allow him even to consider buying the power of God. But there’s not much difference between earning gifts and buying them. Money is only a function of effort and labor. Contrary to some commonly held equations, the gifts and power of God are distributed at the will of the Holy Spirit. They are not given as a token or a badge of God’s approval of a person’s level of spiritual maturity. Neither are they earned by our consecration. They are grace gifts.

{ PRAYER STARTER }

Father, teach me that spiritual gifts are gifts freely given because of Your great grace. I cannot earn these gifts, and nothing I can offer to You will purchase them. You bestow these gifts freely as the gift of grace.

Spiritual gifts are given freely and are not earned.

By MIKE BICKLE.

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Why Christians Are Broke.


girl in poverty
(© humonia iStockPhoto)

The Bible says we are to be witnesses in all the earth. It’s very important that we not only tell people about Jesus but also live in a way that testifies of His goodness.

No one witnessed to me about Jesus when I was in the world. My mentality was so far from God that if a person wanted to minister to me, he could not approach me from a religious standpoint.

Most of the people I knew who claimed to be saved painted an undesirable picture of salvation. I will never forget Mrs. Christina, a woman who lived five houses down from me when I was in the military at Fort Stewart, Ga.

She was a Christian who always told me that she had Jesus but never told me how I could get Him. Her living conditions were not the best, and she was always in desperate need of the simple necessities for herself and her children.

At the time, my goals in life were to have money and be famous. My exposure to the athletic world led me to believe I would find a husband who would sweep me off my feet and move me to Hollywood. Instead, the man I met swept me off my feet and moved me to a mental institution.

When Mrs. Christina sat at my kitchen counter telling me about her hard times, I was at a low place in my life. I felt as if I could not fight anymore. I was coming to the realization that I needed something, but I did not know what it was.

I remember that she would pause every now and then in the midst of her bad luck stories and shout, “Hallelujah,” “Praise God,” or “Thank You, Jesus!” I could not tell which one of us was in a worse condition.

I was a heathen and far from knowing Jesus. But Mrs. Christina knew Him only from a religious standpoint. She had no concept of Jesus as her deliverer and provider.

My natural instincts told me that if she served a God who was so powerful and loved her so much, He would not allow her family to starve every night. Mrs. Christina would quote the few Scriptures she had memorized, but something on the inside of me knew she had no idea what she was saying.

My compassion for her was great because I could not imagine my babies being continually hungry. At least once a week, I cleaned out my refrigerator and gave her family all the food I could spare.

They lived in a house built by the government, so their mortgage was little or nothing. Still, their lights were often turned off, and their furniture had an odor that I’d smelled on her clothing. I am convinced that scent is related to the spirit of poverty.

Demons are referred to in the Bible as foul, unclean spirits. The definition of foul is “to be putrid, offensive and impure.”

Today, I can detect the same odor that was in Mrs. Christina’s house in many homes. My husband and I share the belief that there is a distinct odor that accompanies poverty and lack.

Poverty Complacency

The spirit of poverty has elements that a person does not need a spiritual gift to detect. For example, in the neighborhoods where I grew up, it is common to live with roaches. Christians do not have to call down fire or speak in tongues to get rid of them; just call an exterminator!

Some have been offended when I’ve ministered in this area. However, I know from experience that the devil will trick a person’s mind to make him or her think living in a roach-infested house is normal.

My ministry has been very effective in what we call the “guttermost,” but sometimes my messages have to get down and dirty. I remember hearing the Holy Ghost say one day, “There are demons in the dirt!”

When I started preaching on spiritually and physically cleaning house, a few people felt as if I was picking on them about something they could not help. I understood where they were coming from because I had been there and done that, too. But as an apostle of God, it was my responsibility to let them know they did not have to stay where they were.

Many people who have lived in ghetto environments and survived welfare were never taught basic principles of living. This is the mentoring aspect of evangelism. Sometimes we have to get involved in the private lives of people.

There is a spirit that will make you settle for less. I know the signs, and they all add up to what I call “poverty complacency.” People get used to empty refrigerators, having milk once a week or having to get gas money from the people they are picking up for church.

These things should be dealt with immediately. They are unacceptable spiritual assignments that will keep people from fulfilling God’s vision for their lives.

Staying on top of everyday issues, such as maintaining a good driving record, having auto insurance and changing the oil in their cars is not common in the lives of many of the people I deal with. No one ever took the time to teach them that these are priorities in life.

They are used to hustling. And when people conform to what they have always been exposed to, their potential for transformation is destroyed. Without transformation of the mind, there will be no transition to the next level.

Numbers 14:24 says that Caleb and Joshua had “another spirit,” one that was different from that of the others who were wandering in the wilderness. The word spirit in this passage is ruwach. One of the meanings of this Hebrew word is “mind.”

Joshua and Caleb did not focus on what they were up against in life. They said, “Not only are we able, but we are well able!” (See Numbers 13:30, KJV.) They went forward to possess what God had promised them.

The other folk in the wilderness had no hope of transition. Just like Mrs. Christina, they came out of darkness (Egypt), but they never entered the marvelous light (the land of milk and honey). After God delivers us from whatever our Egypt was, we must get a new attitude in order to enter into the fullness of salvation.

The word salvation means more than going to church every week. It is soteria in the Greek, and it means “welfare, safety, deliverance and health.”

I understand that people will have challenges in life, but we must consider the vicious cycle of the python spirit of poverty. It is so called because it slowly squeezes the provision out of a person’s life. It will allow much to go out and nothing to come in.

Financial Curses in the Word

A sure sign of the poverty spirit is a lot of bills with no provision to pay them. These financial curses found in the Scriptures must be recognized and then renounced:

The curse of Cain. Because of Cain’s actions—withholding his best offering from God and killing his brother in a jealous rage—he was banished from the presence of the Lord and cursed in his ability to produce a harvest.

Cain was also subject to wander in the land of Nod, east of the Garden of Eden. When we try to hold back on God, we end up with nothing. But Proverbs 3:9 says if we honor the Lord with all our substance and the firstfruits of all our increase, God will fill our barns with plenty.

The curse of Malachi. Malachi 3:10-11 tells us to bring all the tithes into the storehouse. When we obey this principle, God promises to open the windows of heaven over our heads and rebuke the hand of the devourer on our behalf.

Many are plagued with curses because they do not honor God in their tithes and offerings. These are holy unto God.

Some make the mistake of not releasing their tithes in their minds. Mentally, they follow the money to the offering room, the bank and even the board meeting, worrying about how it is spent.

The word holy means “separated unto God.” Our tithing is not pleasing unto the Lord until we have the right attitude about it.

The curse of Haggai. The people’s disobedience to God produced bad fruit and brought poverty into their lives in several ways:

  • They expected much, but little came in. The little they brought in, God blew away (Hag. 1:9).
  • Heaven withheld its dew, and their crops failed (v. 10).
  • God decreed a drought on the ground and on the work of men’s hands (v. 11).

God was angry because His house was wasted. The people said that it was not time for the Lord’s house to be rebuilt; instead, they took care of the needs of their own houses (vv. 2-3).

The generational curse of poverty. Exodus 20:5 explains that the iniquities of the fathers can affect as many as four generations.

If the fathers do not hearken to the voice of the Lord to do His commandments, poverty is one of the curses that shall be a sign upon their seed. Deuteronomy 28:46 says, “And they shall be upon thee for a sign and for a wonder, and upon thy seed for ever.”

The curse of Ananias and Sapphira. In a time of great revival, the people were laying their offerings at the feet of the apostles (Acts 5:34-37). But Ananias and Sapphira withheld from the church a portion of the profits from the sale of their property and lied about it to the Holy Ghost. Both of them received the same punishment—death—when Peter exposed their sin.

Through God’s power, all these financial curses can be broken. I have seen people with tragic situations miraculously set free. But I get the greatest joy out of seeing a poverty-stricken person transition into the financial promises of God.

Liberty From Lack

The keys to freedom from poverty are available to every one of us who is willing to do what God tells us in His Word. If you will start being faithful in your tithes and offerings; if you will honor God’s house and seek to pass on a godly inheritance to the next generation, then you can begin to reverse the curses mentioned and, with God’s help, break their power over your life.

As a preacher and an apostle to the nations, I feel that my ministry is not fulfilling the vision of Christ unless the lives of the people around me are changed for the better. I believe it is a sin to live below the standard that God has given us.

Jesus died so that we would not have to suffer from poverty and lack. When He came to set the captives free, He took the chains off our bank accounts and unlocked our minds, too. Selah! (Pause and think on that.)

The church doesn’t need any more Mrs. Christinas making Jesus appear unconcerned about a person’s physical condition. You can walk in victory over the spirit of poverty and lack and give others a reason to hope for their own deliverance.

Allow God to bring the transformation in your life that will take you to the next level. Then His blessings will become a reality that everyone can witness.

Source: CHARISMA MAGAZINE/ SPIRITLED WOMAN.

Kimberly Daniels is the author of From aMess to a Miracle, published by Creation House Press, from which this article is adapted.

Using a Personal Journal for Spiritual Growth.


by Brad Hambrick

Too often the use of a journal has been dismissed as feminine, “something you do when you need counseling,” or too time consuming. But with a bit of reflection (which is all journaling is) we might come to a different conclusion. Many of the great figures in church history have kept a journal, and the church has benefited greatly from this window into their daily life (not as a voyeur, but to understand what spiritual greatness looks like in the mundane-ness of daily life). And while not a theologian, the great Socrates famously said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.”

If you are interested in starting the exercise of journaling let me offer the following suggestions. Journal during the time when you do your daily Bible study. Do not feel compelled to write something every day. Do not write for an audience; write for your benefit and as it comes naturally for you.

When you begin with your journal consider the following subjects and review them annually in your journal.

  • What are the top 5 values by which I want to operate my life?
  • What do I believe are my spiritual gifts and talents? What are my characteristic weaknesses?
  • What are the key relationships in my life? What are my goals for each of these relationships?
  • How would I ideally spend the 168 hours I get each week (7/24 hour days)?

As for the journal entries that you write after these core reflections are in place, consider the following subjects.

  • Self-examination based upon one of your top 5 values.
  • A point of conviction regarding sin or a spiritual practice.
  • Reflection on a day’s event in light of your “life story.” These are great for sharing later with spouse, children, or grandchildren as a discipling moment or family heirloom.
  • A personal goal for change and steps of implementation. This is a particularly good subject to record after an insightful Bible study or sermon.
  • A prayer in the form of a letter regarding a key life concern.
  • An answer to prayer.
  • A narrative of a key life event from younger days and the impact you see that it has had upon you.
  • Insight from your daily Bible study.
  • A humorous event.
  • Sermon notes with your reflections.

I encourage you to consider this practice. Many have found it as an immensely profitable way to (1) maintain a focus on your purpose in life, (2) increase the level of intentionality with which they live; (3) enhance the depth of their relationships, especially marriage and family; (4) measure progress and gain encouragement in their walk with God; and (5) remember God’s faithfulness during times that are difficult.

Association of Biblical Counselors

Simple words…


By Pastor Fred Gillett

“No man should light a lamp and put it under a bushel so that it cannot be seen but should place it on a stand that all can see.” –Luke 11:33

There are many ways to be a witness for Christ without standing on a soapbox or in a pulpit. You do not need to have the spiritual gift of evangelism to share your faith either. Simple words like “Thank you” and “The Lord be with you” or “God bless you for what you are doing” are openers, ticklers, seeds.

All you have to do is recognize the openings and drop in the seeds. Maybe you will be the one to water a previously planted seed, help someone remove weeds or stones preventing growth, or maybe you will witness the Holy Spirit bringing someone to the fullness of Christ. Whatever the opportunity, be prepared.

One of the great ways to be prepared to turn a conversation to faith is by recognizing a need in another’s life and then letting them know you will pray about it. You will be surprised how easily this will transition you into a conversation about their faith and God‘s abiding love.

Prayer: Father, thank you for another day of opportunity to serve you. I pray that I will recognize the opportunities of my personal witness for you and meet those opportunities with courage. Amen.

Reflection: How have you witnessed Christ to others through acts of care and kindness?

So, You Want to Marry a Man in the Ministry …


young couple
(http://www.stockfreeimages.com)
I have a theory about why many Christian women who married a “godly man” they met at Super Big Megachurch or Joe Christian College wake up one day actually married to a man with classic unhealthy, socially destructive self-absorption. Exciting churches and colleges are a draw to men with the seeds of such issues already growing in their hearts. (We all have those seeds based on our fallen nature, but based on their upbringing or other factors, some people are primed for full-blown issues in the future.)
At my Christian college, we called them the Big Men on Campus. They were the clear leaders on campus—groomed by older faculty, involved in most everything, people surrounding them and following them, with many young Christian women longing to be their wives.
Throughout my years in ministry, I have noted regularly that some Christians have a poor ability to distinguish between spiritual gifts and talents. Someone may be a motivating public speaker or incredible musician, and we think they are therefore especially gifted by the Holy Spirit for a great public ministry. No, those are talents. And they do not correspond one-to-one with true gifts of the Spirit for long-term, fruitful ministry.
Furthermore, the gifts of the Spirit work in conjunction with the fruits of the Spirit. Perhaps someone has the gift of prophecy or teaching, which is generally a publicly used gift. Uncoupled with the fruits of the Spirit listed in Galatians 5:22-23 (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control), they easily become egomaniacs set up for public destruction of others who get in their way.
Some men are gifted by the Spirit and then mistake the results of their giftedness (such as big numbers in their ministry) as fruit of the Spirit. But that’s not how the Bible talks about spiritual fruit at all. The fruit of a gifted man who leans into the Holy Spirit is growth—not in numbers in his ministry, but in his love for others, his peace when things go wrong, his patience with those who disagree with him, his kindness to all and his gentleness (or strength under control) when he is tempted to be harsh.
It would be very bad on my part if I didn’t say I know a number of those former Big Men on Campus who went on to humbly minister in churches in the middle of nowhere, and some that went on to minister in very public ministries without feeding their self-absorption in unhealthy ways. Often I note that God brought a serious trial into their lives to change their direction. Cancer. Personal failure in their family. Death of a loved one. Humiliating conflict in ministry. Loss of a child.
Suffering has an amazing way of destroying our naive notions of ministry and, more importantly, our naive notions of how we are going to do ministry right. They failed. They suffered. And then they emerged as humble servant leaders dependent on the Holy Spirit, ready to truly love and shepherd those God has called them to love and shepherd.
My advice to any woman who wants to marry a godly man is this:
You may be naturally attracted to the showman in your church or college. And he may be a great guy. But the things that will indicate his best character traits are his humility and ability to serve. Is he kind when no one is looking? Is he patient with those smaller or weaker than him? Would he rather die than work behind the scenes in the nursery? Have you ever known him to clean the bathroom at church when no one is looking? Is he gentle with you?
Furthermore, I strongly encourage you to consider and value the men with the gifts of serving, giving or mercy. Few notice these men. Some with an improper understanding of spiritual gifts, talents and fruits may dismiss such men as being poor Christians for only serving in the background. But those behind-the-scenes places in a church or school can hold the deepest treasures, in terms of men who will love and serve their wife and family faithfully.
I thank God regularly for all the men at my Christian college He kept me from for whom I had misguided desires. Then, one day, a quiet kid fixed my computer, and I fell in love. As Garth Brooks says, thank God for unanswered prayers.
Source: CHARISMA MAGAZINE/ Spiritled Woman.
Adapted from Wendy Alsup’s blog, theologyforwomen.org. Wendy has authored three books, includingThe Gospel-Centered Woman. She is also a wife, mom and college math teacher who loves ministering to women. 

The Definition of Spiritual Gifts (5 of 18).


THE HOLY SPIRIT AND HIS GIFTS
I Corinthians 12:1-13
Dr. Stan Coffey

Now, tonight we’re talking about spiritual gifts so let’s turn once again to I Corinthians 12, the 12th chapter of I Corinthians. We’re going to be going from I Corinthians to Romans 12 again and again as we look at the matter of spiritual gifts. There are different lists of spiritual gifts in the Word of God and we’re going to be looking at all the gifts that are listed. Last Wednesday night we talked about the desirability of spiritual gifts and why we ought to study spiritual gifts and why it’s important to know what our individual gifts are. It will do many things. It will deepen your appreciation of God’s love for you. It will broaden your concern. It will intensify your zeal. It will increase your appreciation of other members of the body of Christ. There are many reasons why you ought to know what your spiritual gift is. The study of spiritual gifts is very, very important.

So, as we look at I Corinthians 12 we’re going to be reading several of these verses in the message tonight and I want to share with you tonight the definition of spiritual gifts. What are spiritual gifts. We talked about why study spiritual gifts. Now we want to talk specifically about what spiritual gifts are. Now, Wednesday night we’re going to talk about the distinction of gifts and talk about the different gifts. We’re going to begin to talk about the gifts that are listed in the Bible and tell you what they are and they characteristics of those gifts. You’ll need to be here Wednesday night to get in on that study as we talk about the list of gifts and the individual gifts that are given. The Bible talks about the gift of prophecy and the gift of teaching and the gift of mercy and the gift of healing and gift of wisdom and gift of knowledge and gift of tongues and all the other gifts that are mentioned in the Bible we’re going to be talking about them. Wednesday night I’m going to begin to describe those gifts and tell you what the characteristics of those gifts are. So I hope you’ll be here Wednesday night.

Tonight I want to give you five or six things about what spiritual gifts are, as we define spiritual gifts. Now beginning in verse 1, “Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant.” There are three things about which Paul says he does not want the church to be ignorant. He does not want them to be ignorant about the devices of the devil. I preached about that this morning. By the way, Satan wasn’t happy with that message. I want to tell you, he fought us this morning on every turn, on every hand. The Bible says we’re not to be ignorant about the devices of the devil. Number two, Paul says we’re not to be ignorant about the second coming of Christ. Yet, in the average church today the message of the second coming is never proclaimed, never preached, never emphasized. It’s an amaz …

Twenty Reasons Why Your Church May Not Be Growing.


Dr. James Emery White

I have a conviction.  Disagree with it if you want, but I believe it to the core of my being.  God wants churches to grow.  Healthy churches, their veins coursing with the power of the Holy Spirit, are meant to grow!  Maybe not all at the same pace, or amount, or regimen, but grow they will.

Which leads to a simple question:  you don’t have to ask yourself how to grow your church.  You have to ask yourself what is keeping your church from growing.

Here are twenty ideas.

I am not going to elaborate, or define, any of these.  I believe they are self-explanatory, and if you feel they apply to you, much of the benefit is seeking to work out what you think it might mean for your church.

But read through the list; if your church isn’t growing, I believe there is a reason.

Maybe one of these is why:

You aren’t praying for growth.

Your location is counter-productive.

You have unresolved divisions, tensions and discord within the staff and/or congregation.

Your lead communicator does not have the spiritual gift of communication.

You are methodologically, stylistically and strategically out of date.

Your leader(ship) does not have the spiritual gift of leadership.

You are watering down the message of the gospel.

Your church structure stifles leadership, innovation and front-line decision-making.

You have not taught, challenged or led the church to provide adequate financial resources.

Your atmosphere is one of condemnation, exclusion, awkwardness or rejection instead of understanding, sensitivity, acceptance and grace.

You are not attempting to connect with the next generation.

Your mentality is oriented toward the already convinced and those “in-house,” not turned outward toward the skeptic and the unchurched.

You do not pay attention to, sufficiently fund or appropriately staff your children’s ministry.

Your “front-door” services and events are designed in such a way that people intuitively do not invite their unchurched friends to attend.

You haven’t effectively strategized as to how to break through your next growth barrier, which tends to exist at around 70, 200, 500, 800, 1200 and 1800.

Your mindset is that you have to do everything, be at the center of every “Yea, God!” story, and micro-manage – so your leadership becomes a bottle-neck.

You are an “8” on a scale of 1-10.  But instead of hiring “9’s” and “10’s”, your insecurity leads you to hire “6’s” and “7’s”.

Your shoe is telling your foot how big it gets; meaning land, parking and seats.

You do not make it easy to connect with others and get plugged-in.

Your vision has not exceeded your reality.

Okay, there you have it.  A shopping list compiled from nearly thirty years of experience in the trenches.

But again, remember the question; it’s not how to grow your church, but what is keeping it from growing.

James Emery White

Sources

You will find additional discussion on some of these dynamics in James Emery White, What They Didn’t Teach You In Seminary (Baker).

Editor’s Note

James Emery White is the founding and senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, NC, and the ranked adjunctive professor of theology and culture at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, which he also served as their fourth president. His newly released book isThe Church in an Age of Crisis: 25 New Realities Facing Christianity (Baker Press). To enjoy a free subscription to the Church and Culture blog, log-on to www.churchandculture.org, where you can post your comments on this blog, view past blogs in our archive and read the latest church and culture news from around the world. Follow Dr. White on twitter @JamesEmeryWhite.

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