Sunday, April 26, 2009

Spiritual Gifts: not wanting you to be ignorant

1 Corinthians 12:8 – 10 To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues.
Wisdom 知恵
Knowledge 知識
Faith 信仰

Before Easter, we started to look at the Spiritual Gifts. From a number of verse in the Bible, we can find a list that could take us well into the next summer, but I want to cover as many as possible before I return to the US. I believe that when we can see and understand our gifts that the Lord has given to His Church, the better we are to work for His Glory and for the health of the Body because we are working and living in our Giftedness.

So far, we have looked at Wisdom and Knowledge. If you want to look at them again, please go to ICCS’s web page and read over the two weeks of introduction and one week of instruction on these first gifts.

First, a quiz: 8 questions on Gifts,

The more important the Spiritual gift the more mature and spiritual the person. T/F

The major evidence of the Holy Spirit is a person’s life is his/her ability to speak in tongues. T/F

We must ask God for the Spiritual Gift we want. T/F

A person “under the influence” of the Spirit can’t help shouting out. T/F

Some Christians have little to contribute to the Church. T/F

In Church meetings, only the pastor should teach, because he’s usually the only one with seminary training. T/F

There is no real test for ‘spirituality.’ T/F

Some people are more important than others in the church as in every other situation. T/F
(In case you want to know...all the answers are False...)

Again, it is important that we are not ignorant, as Paul put it, concerning Spiritual Gifts. When we look at this next GIFT, the gift of Faith, as a Spiritual gift, I find that it is way different than I first thought.

A man fell off a cliff, but managed to grab a tree limb on the way down. The following conversation ensued:
"Is anyone up there?"
"I am here. I am the Lord. Do you believe Me?"
"Yes, Lord, I believe. I really believe, but I can't hang on much longer."
"That's all right, if you really believe you have nothing to worry about. I will save you. Just let go of the branch."
A pause, then: "Is anyone else up there?"

There are many verses that deal with faith...
... Without Faith it is impossible to please God.
... Add to your faith…
... Lord, increase my faith…
... Unless you have works and faith…
... Faith alone!

The Bible recognizes no faith that does not lead to obedience, nor does it recognize any obedience that does not spring from faith. The two are opposite sides of the same coin. ~ A.W. Tozer.

All these verses deal with an overall giftedness of Faith. God gives Faith to His People. (All gifts are from His hand anyway…) It is one of the gifts that is given to each of us—each who have come to believe in Him as Lord and Master. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. Therefore, FAITH, as it is, is ours—all of ours—to use, to add to and to grow in.

The issue of a special gift called the Gift of Faith goes much further. And one who has this special gift is really set apart from the others in the Body because of the depth of the gift. ... It doesn’t make them more mature, just gifted.

How it is used and how it develops is key. The main reason Paul brings this up to this church and in other places in his writings is to remind us that we are united in our ministries to the one Body: the Church. God’s Holy Spirit hands out or bestows these gifts “as He wills” (1 Cor 12:11) not as we will or want. None of us should complain about the gift they have nor should any believer boost about them either. One Body; One God.

The gift of Faith. This has to do with believing God for what He wants to do or accomplish in the Church’s ministry … and all for His Glory … that He will lead and provide for us along the way.

The problem is, we who have a Faith in God and a relationship with Him ALREADY have Faith. This gift was given so that we COULD believe. Apart from Him giving that to us, we would still be in darkness and in our sin. Forgiveness is one of the end products of Faith. It is impossible to please God without Faith. So is this something else? Something bigger?

How strong does an ability have to be before we call it a Spiritual Gift? How much teaching ability needs to happen before it is called a spiritual gift of teaching? Or with evangelism before it is recognized as a gift of evangelism? How many times would a person have to pray for healing and the person gets healed before it is considered a gift of healing?

The Bible does not answer that question. Paul does, however, speak of the gifts as being useful for the building up of the Church. [1Cor 14:12]

God does not expect us to submit our faith to Him without reason, but the very limits of our reason make faith a necessity. ~Augustine.

You can’t go through Life without it; Never leave home without it!

A person with this Gift is fast to believe God for things they may never see or experience. They would tend to be an optimist and have the trait of being strong on perseverance. They, as well, have a tendency to be future and change-oriented.

You would be great in new ministries or ones that are developing because you see those significant obstacles are not a problem for you. You are keenly aware of the Spiritual warfare around you yet you are not afraid. You tend to prosper on opportunities for prayer. You also might be fed up with the status quo and might be bored without a challenge before you.

ILL: Faith honors God and God honors faith!
A story from the life of missionaries Robert and Mary Moffat illustrates this truth. For 10 years this couple labored faithfully in Bechuanaland (now called Botswana) without one ray of encouragement to brighten their way. They could not report a single convert. Finally the directors of their mission board began to question the wisdom of continuing the work. The thought of leaving their post, however, brought great grief to this devoted couple, for they felt sure that God was in their labors, and that they would see people turn to Christ in due season. They stayed; and for a year or two longer, darkness reigned. Then one day a friend in England sent word to the Moffats that she wanted to mail them a gift and asked what they would like. Trusting that in time the Lord would bless their work, Mrs. Moffat replied, "Send us a communion set; I am sure it will soon be needed." God honored that dear woman's faith. The Holy Spirit moved upon the hearts of the villagers, and soon a little group of six converts was united to form the first Christian church in that land. The communion set from England was delayed in the mail; but on the very day before the first commemoration of the Lord's super in Botswana, the set arrived. They stayed in Africa for 50 years. They had 10 children. One daughter, Mary, married David Livingstone.

It would be very important for you to understand the difference between intuition (insight-without actual evidence) and presumption (conjecture- based on incomplete information or experience). Faith in God is the belief in or devotion to or trust in the One Who made us!

Like Noah's faith-with the flood, Jacob's faith-blessing Joseph’s sons, Moses' faith-leading Israel out of Egypt, Caleb's faith-seeking out the Promise Land, Rahab's faith- hiding the spies, the faith of Abraham-offering his only son, David's faith-going after the giant, the faith of Daniel-in the lions' den, Ezra's faith-Build the wall, Joseph had great faith to marry Mary, who was with a child, and Peter's faith-so that he could walk on the water…

Hebrews 11:1 (NIV) says: 1 Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.
The Message:
1-2 The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It's our handle on what we can't see. The act of faith is what distinguished our ancestors, set them above the crowd.

The following are statements that fit with a person who has the Gift of Faith: Things they would feel and say.
“I find it natural and easy to trust God to answer my prayers.”
“I have confidence in God’s continuing provision and help, even in difficult times.”
“I believe that God will help me to accomplish great things.”
“I trust God in circumstances where success cannot be guaranteed by human effort alone.”

... Faith does not operate in the realm of the possible. There is no glory for God in that which is humanly possible. Faith begins where man's power ends. ~ George Muller.

“I am convinced of God’s daily presence and action in my life.”
“I am regularly challenging others to trust in God.”
“I can move forward in spite of opposition or lack of support when I sense God’s blessing on an undertaking.”

Now, there might be some of you that could answer some of these questions to the positive but you really don’t see, in the practical life how that faith could be your gift. Join the club. We all have a gift. We all do not have the same gift. There are times we ‘might’ be stronger in one area at a certain time of your Walk of Faith. It might mean, for example, that you are expressing a gifting of Faith but not the gift of Faith.

However, if these statements ring true for you, you would instill great confidence in the Fellowship when you exercise this gift. When you are no longer ignorant of your spiritual gift. When you understand how to use this gift in the Body, all glory will go to the One who granted you the gift. As Paul encourages young Timothy in 1 Tim 4:14-Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through a prophetic message when the body of elders laid their hands on you.

Who has this Gift of Faith?

Faith in God makes great optimists.

Over in Burma, in the 1800’s, Adoniram Judson was lying in a foul jail with 32 lbs. of chains on his ankles, his feet bound to a bamboo pole. A fellow prisoner said, "Dr. Judson, what about the prospect of the conversion of the heathen?" with a sneer on his face. His instant reply was, "The prospects are just as bright as the promises of God." ~ The Presbyterian Advance.

Faith's duty: Romans 1:17--live by it. God's way of putting people right shows up in the acts of faith, confirming what Scripture has said all along: . "The person in right standing before God by trusting Him really lives."

"The righteous will live by faith."

Next week, we will remember the Lord's promise to us who believe..."I will return!" We will conduct a Communion service during the regular worship time.