The Kingdom and You (and Me)

The congregation is the body of Christ on earth. The kingdom was ushered in with Christ, and it continues through the work of His church. He is the head, and we are the members. As I discussed in a previous post, as part of the congregation, we get to participate in the means of grace — hearing the Word preached, baptism and Holy Communion. Who wouldn’t want to be part of that?

We also have responsibilities. Every one of us in the body has been given a spiritual gift.

“Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, gifts of healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues.” 1 Corinthians 12:27

When we use our gifts, we are helping to build up God’s kingdom.

“To each is given a manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.” 1 Corinthians 12:8

When we fail to use our gifts, are failing to love God and one another. We may be believers, but we are not growing, and in fact, we are dying. As James tells us,

“So also, faith by itself, if it does not have works is dead.” James 2:17

A living congregation is full of believers who are using their gifts to serve others. Each one respects the work of the others, and all work together to edify others, to bring the Good News to the world. Are you doing your part? A good question to ponder.

For more posts about spiritual gifts see:

Spiritual Gifts from the Holy Spirit

What are the Spiritual Gifts?

Let Your Spiritual Gifts S–T–R–E–T–C–H You

The Spiritual Gift of Wisdom

WISDOM

Literal Meaning: To apply truth practically

Description: The gift of wisdom is the special ability that God gives to certain members of the Body of Christ to know the mind of the Holy Spirit in such a way as to receive insight into how given knowledge may best be applied to specific needs arising in the Body of Christ.

Distinctives:

  • Focus on the unseen consequences in determining the next steps to take
  • Receive an understanding of what is necessary to meet the needs of the Body of Christ
  • Provide divinely given solutions in the midst of conflict and confusion
  • Hear the Spirit provide direction for God’s best in a given situation
  • Apply spiritual truth in specific and practical ways

    

Traits:Cautions:
 Sensible Could fail to share the wisdom that God
 Insightful has given them
 Practical Need to avoid having others develop a dependence
 Wise upon them, which may weaken their faith in God
 Fair Need to be patient with others who do not have this gift
 Experienced  
 Common sense  
For more personal study see:

References: Acts 6:3, 10; I Corinthians 12:8; James 1:5,6; II Peter 3:15

For more about spiritual gifts see these posts:

Spiritual Gifts from the Holy Spirit

Let Your Spiritual Gifts S–T–R–E–T–C–H You

Gifts + Passion = Ministry

The Spiritual Gift of Teaching

Teaching is one of the spiritual gifts listed in the Bible. I am sharing a definition and some information about this gift that our congregation received as part of the Fanning the Flame program we did a few years ago. As you read through this post, think about whether this might be one of your gifts.

Literal Meaning: To instruct

Description: The gift of teaching is the special ability that God gives to certain members of the Body of Christ to communicate information relevant to the health and ministry of the Body and its members in such a way that others will learn.

.Distinctives:

  • Communicate biblical truth that inspires greater obedience to the Word
  • Challenge listeners simply and practically with the truths of Scripture
  • Present the whole counsel of God for maximum life-change
  • Give attention to detail and accuracy
  • Prepare through extended times of study and reflection
Traits:Cautions:
 Disciplined Should avoid pride that may result from their
 Perceptive “superior” biblical knowledge and understanding
 Teachable Could become too detailed when teaching
 Authoritative and fail to make life application
 Practical Should remember that their spirituality is not 
 Analytical measured by how much they know
 Articulate  

References: Acts 13:1, 18:24-28; Romans 12:7, I Corinthians 12:28; Ephesians 4:11

Using a good concordance, do your own study regarding what God’s Word says about this gift — its application within the various circumstances you find it in Scripture.

For more about spiritual gifts see these posts:

The Spiritual Gift of Service

The Spiritual Gift of Leadership

The Gift of Shepherding

A Quote about a Favorite Topic — Spiritual Gifts

“We ask to know the will of God without guessing that His will is written into our very beings. We perceive that will when we discern our gifts. Our obedience and surrender to God are in a large part our obedience and surrender to our gifts. This is the message wrapped up in the parable of the talents. Our gifts are all on loan. We are responsible for expending them in the world, and we will be held accountable.” Elizabeth O’Connor in Eighth Day of Creation

When our congregation went through the Fanning the Flame process (How it Works — the Fanning the Flame Process, part 1) a few years ago, my job was Spiritual Gifts Coordinator, and it involved asking our members to complete a spiritual gift assessment, and then meeting individually with each person to help them understand the results. Some were reluctant to do this, and I have a hard time understanding why. A few people said they were leery of being “pigeon-holed.” But being aware of our natural gifts certainly doesn’t mean we can’t try something new. It may actually help us to see how our particular abilities fit into a new project. I suspect some members saw the assessment as a “test” and therefore something they could fail. This is a misconception as well. We will have high scores in some areas, and low scores in others. The point is to discover what you are best at, and everyone is good at something. I can’t help but wonder if gift assessment is avoided because once we know our gifts, we may be asked to use them, and many would rather just sit on the sidelines. We know from the parable referenced in the quote that God expects more than this. He wants our involvement and engagement in His plan to evangelize the world.

So if you have an opportunity to learn more about your spiritual gifts, please do it! You may be surprised, you may be affirmed, and you will be better able to serve God and your neighbor.

For more about spiritual gifts see:

Let Your Spiritual Gifts S–T–R–E–T–C–H You

What are the Spiritual Gifts?

The Purpose of Spiritual Gifts

After the Weekend part 3

In addition to prayer, study can help us the direction our Christian action should take. Have you ever noticed that we’re not all good at the same things? From Romans, chapter 12:

“We have different gifts according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is in serving, let him serve. If it is teaching, let him teach. If it is encouraging, let him encourage. If it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously. If it is leadership, let him govern diligently. If it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.”

There are many books available about discovering your spiritual gifts. There are also personality tests such as the Meyers Briggs test, or seminars about personality types which are often available through your workplace. Take note of the things people praise you for, or tell you you do well. Ask your Pastor or your church friends to give you their opinion and advice. All of these things are study– studying yourself so that you can be a good steward of your unique God-given abilities.

Of course, unless you have physical limitations, there are many things that need to be done around the church that almost any of us can do–things like cleaning, making coffee, being an usher or folding bulletins. We should all be willing to do our share of those chores. Being gifted to teach, for example, should not be used as an excuse to avoid every doing anything else. So make an effort to fit some of them into your schedule. Your fellow members will be VERY grateful.

One more section to come ….

For more about spiritual gifts see:

What are the Spiritual Gifts?

Let Your Spiritual Gifts S–T–R–E–T–C–H You

The Purpose of Spiritual Gifts

Growing Up, Part 4

Since those early days I’ve been in many different kinds of Bible study groups. There was the two year “Crossways” study Terry and I attended when our children were small. In that class, for the first time, I began to get the chronology of all those Sunday School stories straight. I made some good friends, too. I could still list for you every person who took that class with me.

Another study that had a big impact on my life was one that our pastor taught on spiritual gifts. I hadn’t really thought about my gifts before. Of course, I knew there were things I liked to do and things I didn’t. But when it came to doing things at church, I was pretty haphazard. I did things because somebody asked me to help, or because something needed to be done, or because I was interested. Sometimes this approach worked out– I was fine at many things like teaching the children, serving on the altar guild, and editing the newsletter–but I also made mistakes. There was the time I agreed to bake a lamb cake for Vacation Bible School. I baked three cakes and the final one still wouldn’t stand up the way it was supposed to! I can laugh now, but at the time it was a frustrating and unpleasant experience and one I certainly wouldn’t want to repeat.

In the gifts class, I learned there was a better way to go about serving. By evaluating my God-given talents I began to sort jobs around the church into three categories– things I was especially good at that included writing, studying and leadership; things I certainly could do like making coffee, cleaning, helping at the yard sale or visiting someone in the hospital; and things I really shouldn’t do– in my case that’s anything involving arts and craft or a high degree of organizational skill.

I’m not finished yet, so come back tomorrow for installment #5!

For more posts about spiritual gifts see:

Spiritual Gifts from the Holy Spirit

What are the Spiritual Gifts?

Let Your Spiritual Gifts S–T–R–E–T–C–H You

When God Made You by Matthew Paul Turner

This book is just delightful! The illustrations by David Catrow are a beautiful blend of bright pastel colors and whimsical characters that will captivate the fancy of both young children and their parents. Bouncy, simple rhymes teach the important lesson that every one of us is a special and unique creation of God. Your child will be encouraged to dream big about discovering their gifts and talents(readers, you know I am all about spiritual gifts!) and also develop the important qualities we can all share–love, peace, kindness and generosity.

When God Made You

Some of the words would be difficult for beginning readers, so it would be best suited to reading to young children. It would be a wonderful way to open up discussions about what it means to be created in the image of God.

VERDICT: 5 STARS. I loved it and would definitely purchase it for my grandchildren!

For more Christian books for children see these posts

Win or Lose I Love You! by Lysa Terkeurst

When I Hold You by Ashley Huffstutler–Book Review

The Great Farmapalooza by Jill Roman Lord — Book Review

The Gift That I Can Give For Little Ones by Kathie Lee Gifford–Book Review

If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you’ll know that I am very interested in spiritual gifts, and this sturdy board book would be a great way to introduce young children to that concept. In it Ms. Gifford explains that each person is uniquely created by God. When He made us, He also gave each of us a gift. That gift might be a talent, like music; it might be a quality like kindness; it could be the ability to help others in a variety of ways.

The Gift That I Can Give

The narrative highlights the fact that whatever our gift is, it is meant to be given away. We are to use it to benefit the people around us. Of course, the greatest gift, the gift that all others spring from is love. This is the gift we all receive from God, and the gift we can pass on to others.

The illustrations by Julia Seal are bright and attractive. The message is clear and will be easy for youngsters to understand. The examples given are appropriate to the age level. I would highly recommend it.

VERDICT: 5 STARS. I loved it!

For more about spiritual gifts see:

What are the Spiritual Gifts?

Let Your Spiritual Gifts S–T–R–E–T–C–H You

The Purpose of Spiritual Gifts

For more Christian books for children see:

Where is Wisdom by Scott James — Book Review

Great and Small Prayers for Babies — Book Review

GraceFull by Dorena Williamson — Book Review

Are You a Spiritual Person?

What makes a person spiritual?  Too often these days “spirituality” is associated with New Age or Eastern beliefs, and some even insist that “I am spiritual, but not religious.”  For Christians the true meaning of spirituality is inexorably linked to the Holy Spirit, who indwells all believers.  In our most recent class on the Holy Spirit we learned how the Spirit works in the lives of individual Christians.  The Spirit convicts us of our sin, brings us into fellowship with God and others, and works through our sanctification to make us more Christlike.

According to the Bible, there are three types of people:

  1. The natural person — this is how we are born
  2. “People of the flesh”– people who know Christ, but are still living as spiritual infants
  3. Spiritual people– those who are led by the Spirit (1 Cor. 2:11-12); who are spiritually minded

Every believer receives spiritual gifts for the building up of the church (1 Peter  4:10-11) as well as spiritual blessings (Ephesians 1:3).  Believers are meant to be spiritual stones, built into a spiritual house where they dedicate their lives fully to God. (1 Peter 2:5).

Herbert Lockyer, (1886–1984) a minister and best-selling author of more than 50 books, lists these characteristics that identify a truly spiritual person:

  • They are misunderstood by most people
  • They show signs of development in their faith life (spiritual growth)
  • They accept the truth of Scripture
  • They are discerning, able to correctly understand spiritual truth
  • They are compassionate, putting their faith into action
  • They live a life that is confident in the knowledge of victory in Christ

Take a close look and evaluate yourself.  Are you a spiritual person?

For more about spirituality see these posts:

Streams of Living Water by Richard J. Foster–Book Review

Developing Spiritual Habits

What Damages our Spiritual Life? (according to Hannah Whitall Smith)

 

 

 

Discernment = Clarity

If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you probably know that I am big on discovering and using our spiritual gifts.  I am the spiritual gifts coordinator of our congregation.  There is one gift that stands out when it comes to seeking clarity — the gift of discernment.  Here is the definition:

DISCERNMENT: The gift of discernment is the special ability that God gives to certain members of the

Body of Christ to know with assurance whether certain behavior purported to be of God is in reality divine, human or Satanic. Contributes: Clarity

Literal Meaning: To separate or make a distinction, differentiate

If you think you may be gifted in this way, take a look at these distinctive characteristics.  Are you someone who can:

  • Distinguish truth from error, right from wrong, pure motives from impure
  • Identify deception in others with accuracy and appropriateness
  • Determine whether a word attributed to God is authentic
  • Recognize inconsistencies in a teaching, prophetic message, or interpretation
  • Are able to sense the presence of evil

A person with this gift is usually perceptive, insightful, sensitive, intuitive, decisive, challenging and truthful.  People with this gift my sometimes struggle with how to express their feelings and insights.  They need to be careful to avoid being harsh and should always confirm their perceptions before speaking.  The truth should always be spoken in love, not judgement.

For further information refer to:

 Acts 16:16-18; I Corinthians 12:10; I John 4:1-6

You may also use your concordance to do a word search for other verses.