…or put another way, have you ever done a spiritual gift test?
‘For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.’ 2 Timothy 1v6-7
As a minister, I often meet mature christians who only have a vague idea of what their spiritual gifts are and how they should use them. Delving deeper as to why this is, the reasons I often hear are things like:
- I never really thought about it
- I don’t bother with that sort of thing
- You either know or you don’t
- we have all the spiritual gifts (which is kind of true but not much help)
- I just make the tea and coffee
- We don’t receive much teaching on that sort of thing in our church.
Today, I’ll consider the first of these: I never really thought about it. Actually, this is not as lame as it sounds because there is a dearth of teaching on the basic spiritual gifts in the majority of churches – by that I mean, many people attend on Sunday with little idea of the gifts that build up the church (Romans 12v6-8 etc) and how God has equipped them for the role they should be fulfilling within it.
Often, this may be because ministers themselves have little or no understanding about primary spiritual gifts and will opt for the safer option of teaching about supernatural gifts. Important as these are, they exist to compliment and enhance the backbone of the church which are gifts such as teacher, pastor, evangelist, server etc.
Now, if you do not know your primary gift, you should be making it a priority to find out what it is . Don’t wait for your minister to do a series or take you aside. It’s your responsibility! Be bold.
ps those who are interested can take the no cost primary gift test by clicking here on primary gift.
As mentioned at the start of these posts on the work of the Holy Spirit, the term ‘spirit’ is interchangeable in that it can mean one of many things in the Old Testament. So far we have encountered it as relating to human disposition – that is,
- the psyche by which a person’s sense of wellbeing is described by him or her as being happy, morose, jubilant etc.
- the spirit is referred to in a communal way in which one person’s affinity with another makes them kindred just as with Jonathan was one in spirit with David. (That said, CS Lewis would probably more accurately define this as Philia – love of friends as in detailed in his book The Four Loves).
- and lastly, the move of the Spirit that enables a person to do God’s work. As when the Holy Spirit falls upon a person and they prophesise or are renewed with super human strength or knowledge or wisdom. Though the point to note here is that in the Old Testament this is always a temporary infilling as the Spirit rests upon the person for the duration of time needed to bring about the outcome. (Though this changes after Jesus’ death and resurrection once the Counsellor is sent and the Holy Spirit finds a permanent recepticle in everyone who believes in Christ – the measure and capacity of this being determined by the person’s willingness to be obedient to God).
So- with these three definitions explained, a task for you. Which one of the three definitions best describes the opening verses in which ‘King Xerxes was in high spirits from wine?’
‘So the Lord said to Moses, “Take Joshua son of Nun, a man in whom is the spirit of leadership, and lay your hand on him.’ (Numbers 27v18)
In this passage, we are introduced to man of faith Joshua who was one of twelve sent out to spy on Canaan ready for an attack. However, on their return, while ten of the spies gave negative reports about how Israel would be overwhelmed and destroyed by the giants inhabiting the land, Joshua and another were the only ones to remind the people that God was with them and he would achieve it. (Perhaps he held in his mind how God had delivered them from the Pharoah and Egypt?)
The spirit of leadership observed in Joshua is a ‘primary spiritual gift’ which stands out from the many other gifts the believer possesses. While these other basic gifts also result in blessing and formational growth, our primary spiritual gift is unique in that when this gift is put into into action: :
- the person is energised (in a way they are not when operating in other gifts)
- other people are blessed by this ministry
- the person has a greater sense of calling and spiritual fulfillment.
This was certainly Joshua’s experience who after Moses went on to lead the people as they entered Canaan.
‘I will come down and speak with you there, and I will take some of the power of the Spirit that is on you and put it on them. They will share the burden of the people with you so that you will not have to carry it alone.’ Numbers 11v17
The context for today’s scripture is Moses and the Israelites have escaped Egypt and are now on their journey to the Promised Land. Sustained by the less than savoury rations of manna, the people soon get fed up with their daily meal of seed and water and complain (now remembering fondly the food they had in Egypt even though they ate it as slaves). Add to this issue, a fire in the outskirts of the camp and its clear Moses is struggling to single handedly address all the issues and problems coming his way.
And so God intervenes, gathering leaders and sharing the same Spirit that was on Moses with all of the others so that they too might help the community during this testing time. Interestingly, a foretaste of what will come later as God’s Holy Spirit will be shared through tongues of fire at Pentecost but this time residing in the people and not resting on them in a temporary measure for the task at hand.
…’and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills— Exodus 31v3
This verse is about Bezalel -the son of Uri- who has been given wisdom, ability and expertise in all sorts of crafts. Nowadays, we might consider him more like a skilled person but the belief that his ability was God-given relates directly to the idea of a God who equips via spiritual means – something we would all do well to remember and give thanks for when people compliment us on our mental, physical and emotional abilities!
Today, we begin a new series on the works of the Holy Spirit in human history and how the Divine has operated in our world over the centuries.
The first way that God operates relates to the Old Testament where the Holy Spirit came upon an individual to temporarily equip and compel them to fulfil a God-given task (or tasks).
The second way God operates – most commonly seen in the New Testament – is where the Holy Spirit comes upon the person to permanently fill them with His Presence like a fluid” remaining within them throughout their lives unless curtailed by decisions that thwart His activity within them.
So, to be clear…
…when David implores God: ‘Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me,’ his understanding is that the Holy Spirit is resting upon him and not a permanent indwelling. After all, David fears God’s Spirit will be taken away.
Converesely, in Luke 14v26 where it is recorded that ‘the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and…remind you of everything I have said,’ this is understood as a permanent infilling because the Spirit is thereafter continually active in the person in as much as He is allowed.
Got it? Then we’re ready to explore the Old Testament and the works of God’s Holy Spirit…
‘But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.’ (Galatians 5v16-23) Continue reading Fruit of the Spirit – self control
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.’ (Galatians 5v16-23)For many Christians, the call to faithfulness is obvious. The trouble is that while God’s Holy Spirit lives within each believer, our ability to make good decisions depends on the way we choose to orientate our freewill – either towards God or away from Him. That’s why Paul writes:
‘Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.’
Faithfulness to God requires that just like real fruit, spiritual fruit is cultivated through the discipline and desire to nurture it to its full potential. A process that means setting aside our own agenda and taking up God’s plan as we allow this to permeate our daily lives. Yes, there will be times when we take a wrong turn and follow a different drum but the call of God is always to faithfulness.
‘But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.’ (Galatians 5v16-23)For some reason, the term ‘goodness’ always reminds me of Jesus’ response to the man who addresses him as ‘good teacher.'”Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.” (Mark 10v18)
I love this exchange between Jesus and the man. Was Jesus hoping the penny would drop and the man would realise Jesus was God? The man doesn’t ask how people might one day be considered good. Likewise, Jesus doesn’t explain the process by which God’s Holy Spirit will enter into believers but he does state that no-one can be considered good by any goodness of their own but only as the goodness of God resides within them.