Greetings to you all from the Brittain household. What a lovely time to be alive and well on planet earth. To know and trust our own Lord Jesus for “life and godliness through the knowledge of Him that hath called us to glory and virtue.”(2 Peter 1:3) The spring is finally among us if on a yo-yo basis—hot today cold tomorrow, but then that’s what spring does. It has been lovely to be out and about seeing God’s beautiful creation come into bloom again and I thought we’d take this week and maybe a couple more to look at our blooming for Jesus, particularly Spiritual Gifts. I think this season of new growth would be an excellent time to evaluate or re-evaluate how we are using our blessed gifts that God has given to us.
I would like to share the passages that deal with spiritual gifts and help us look at them and how they are manifest in our lives. Since it would be too lengthy to list all the scriptures each week, I’ll spend this first week just mentioning all four of the main passages that deal with the gifts, and then go on to investigate each one to see how they apply to us individually as well as corporately (as the church-in general, the body of Christ and more specifically the local churches, I’ll explain this as we go along). The four main passages are 1 Peter 4:10-11; Ephesians 4:7-16; Romans 12:3-8(+9-13 for clarity); and 1 Corinthians 12:4-14 (chapters 12-14 for clarity). We will begin with the general teachings and then go to the specifics. Not an exhaustive study of the gifts but a deep look at the gifts, what they are, how they are to be used and by whom, as well as the priority of gifts and hopefully the identification of our own gifts.
We will begin with 1 Peter 4:10-11 “As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. 11 If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.” Peter gives us here a general description of the gifts of the Spirit, as well as their source and purpose. These are very important, as oft-times God’s gifts are misused and abused for the benefit of other than GOD! Let’s just follow the text here—Who receives the gift/gifts? Every believer receives a gift from God when they are saved (we will see later in 1 Cor. 12 that they are received as the manifestation of the indwelling Holy Spirit, but for now we’ll just look at Peter’s declaration.) It is also noteworthy that the gifts are received not self-imposed. They are to be used to minister to one another (the body of Christ), not for self-glory or self-gratification. Peter also classifies the gifts here into two general groups—speaking gifts and serving gifts. This makes understanding the gifts more simple, especially when we look later at the individual and specific gifts that are given.
Just as significantly here, we see the all-important purpose of the gifts in our lives, as well as the general method in which they are to be used. Peter shows us here that we are simply “stewards” of the gifts that we have received—they are not ours to use as we please, but God’s gifts to us for a Holy purpose. We also need to note that they are received by God’s GRACE—not according to human merit or ability. God doesn’t ‘call the equipped, He equips the called’!! Continuing, we see that if our gift is a speaking gift we are to use it to speak “GOD’S” words not our own—oh doesn’t that sting for some of us some of the time!! It sure does me! We are to diligently strive to have “clean” lips (as Isaiah indicated in Isaiah 6—he was of a people of unclean lips and God changed that for him). Oh, if we could just learn to let the Spirit guide our hearts and guard our tongues. James 3:2 “…… If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body.” How many hurts could be avoided if we would but pause and check to see if the words about to come out of our mouth are from God? Remember we talked about Philippians 4:8 in that regard—check those thoughts at the door of our minds “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” I am so grateful for God’s grace, forgiveness and cleansing!! But we need to work on that “preventive” end more than the “repentant” end and with the Spirit’s help we can.
Next we see that if our gifts are service/ministry gifts we have the same obligation as those with speaking gifts. We are to serve as of the “ability which God giveth”, knowing as Jesus himself reminded us in John 15:5, “I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.” It is imperative that we remember where our gifts originate and why we were given them; so that “God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.” It is vital to our Christian walk and ministry, whether speaking or serving, that we keep our eyes “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith;……” Hebrews 12:2. And Paul also aptly states in Romans 11:33-36 “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! 34 For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counselor? 35 Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again? 36 For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen.” It’s all of Him–through Him–to Him…..may we remember from whence we have come and where we are going. As Jesus said in John 14, “let not your hearts be troubled……if I go…..I will come again….and receive you unto myself…….that where I AM…. you may be also…..” Let’s walk in the confidence of Jesus, submit and yield to His Spirit and bear fruit as He works in and through us. May these thoughts encourage you to seek His face and find your gifting and fulfill it—God is constantly at work around us, let’s join HIM!! Have a blessed and glorious week of communion with the Savior and we’ll continue next week. And it’s ok to study ahead….