Gifts and Risks

“There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.”

“Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a 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. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.” 1 Corinthians 12:4-11

These are the gifts of the Spirit. Now in this context it can absolutely sound strange. After all, how often do you see someone speaking in tongues? Or how frequently do you see a person with the gift of wisdom? Wisdom is rather scant these days it seems.

You may have fleeting images going through your mind of perhaps a church of black Christians dancing and singing, speaking gibberish and shaking their bodies like Heaven is coming down on them. Such churches exist, of course, and some Christians may find that culture of worship uncomfortable, but that is irrelevant. Everyone worships and praises God in unique ways. Now, that gibberish bit? That’s speaking in tongues and it is not mindless babbling.

“For anyone who speaks in a tongue does not speak to people but to God. Indeed, no one understands them; they utter mysteries by the Spirit.” 1 Corinthians 14:2

However, Paul admitted that speaking in tongues is not always helpful.

“I would like every one of you to speak in tongues, but I would rather have you prophesy. The one who prophesies is greater than the one who speaks in tongues, unless someone interprets, so that the church may be edified.” 1 Corinthians 14:5

I myself spoke in tongues one time in my life. It happened when I had two friends over for a sleepover. They were lying on the floor of my bedroom, talking, as I drifted off to sleep. Suddenly I leaned upright, looked at my friend who had been bemoaning her problems, and I started speaking in tongues. In my mind, I understood exactly what I was saying, but when I tried to say it, it came out in a different language. I had been telling my friend to turn to God for help. How he could comfort her and bring her out of any trouble if she would only turn to him and stop ignoring her problems. After my rant, my friend started saying my name over and over. She asked me a direct question. I looked at her and replied, “No.” Then my body rested back on my bed and I came back into consciousness.

Both my friends were freaked out, obviously, and told me I’d been speaking another language. I just stared at them with tired eyes and replied, “What?” I remembered some of what I said, but my body seemed numb. Now that I’m remembering this, I am deeply grieved. God had been trying to speak to my unbelieving friend. If only she could have heard him. Ah well, not my place to consider such things and what they mean.

Let’s continue.

True Christians can be identified by having gifts of the Spirit, their actions and also whether or not they listen to God.

“We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood.” 1 John 4:6

Please do not be fooled, dear friends, because there are false Christians in the world. Jesus warned his disciples (and also us) that all kinds of trouble will come before the End Days. Natural disaster including earthquakes, wars and rumors of wars, famine, persecution, hatred from all the nations, false prophets and then the Son of Man will return (Matthew 24). Do you know which of these things is the most dangerous? False Christians, they are the most lethal option given in that line up.

“Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” Matthew 10:28

The only thing to fear is Satan because he is the One who can do this. And he can accomplish this through false Christians because they lead many astray.

Gifts of the Spirit can look like normal talents in a person. You could be a good speaker, passionate and hardly ever losing your train of thought or stuttering. You could be a wonderful teacher, able to bring many to understanding with little effort. You could be wise, offering council to others and encouraging them to make healthy decisions. You could have a beautiful voice, one that would make Sinatra envious. You could have a kind heart, easy to forgive and abundant in love.

These are all from God although you might only think it’s your personality or perhaps it’s a random, unimportant selection of traits. Never believe anything is random. If you are a Christian, then you must know that God works out everything according to his will. There are no mistakes or accidents when you face a given situation in your life.

“For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.” Ephesians 1:4-6

If God chose you that early on then you can trust that the gifts of the Spirit that he has given you, your personality and makeup were all planned out. You were fearfully and wonderfully made, you know (Psalm 139:14).

“Lord, you are my God; I will exalt you and praise your name, for in perfect faithfulness you have done wonderful things, things planned long ago.” Isaiah 25:1

This is the point I wish to make: Christians have talents that they need to be consistently sharpening and refining. Belonging to God means you are applicable to an extraordinary life. Those wild, incredible, unbelievable dreams in your head could really happen if you gave them to God and sealed them for his majesty.

“In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for special purposes and some for common use. Those who cleanse themselves from the latter will be instruments for special purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.” 2 Timothy 2:20-21

So dream big, dear brothers and sisters. Offer God the very best of your efforts, the first fruits of your labor. If you are gifted with athletic ability, then train and be well rested. If you are gifted with musical ability, then practice until your playing is seamless. If you are gifted in writing, devote plenty of time to the blank page. Whatever you are, work for the glory of God in your life and the lives of others.

The more you are willing to trust God and rely on him the more goodness he will bear in your life.

“Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you property of your own? No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” Luke 16:10-13

It is shown over and over again in the Bible. Those who take risks and trust in God to deliver are never disappointed. Never. Imagine if you stopped pacing for once and set your eyes on him?

Your life would never be the same.

“As Scripture says, ‘Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.’ For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, ‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’” Romans 10:11-13, quoting Isaiah 28:16 and then Joel 2:32, respectively.

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