- It is immediate! No sooner has the Spirit come upon Ezekiel then he is ready, willing and waiting.
- Ezekiel – like all prophets – is a conduit that God can use to speak to the leaders. (note that when receiving a word or revelation, prophets are often burdened until they reveal it to others. Sometimes, verbal; other times as some sort of living metaphor [Hosea 1])
- The spirit discerns the heart and actions. That’s why God (and Ezekiel by extension) is aware of how God’s words to Israel’s leaders is fallingl short when it comes to eliciting their action because he knows they are conflicted to do what God tells them.
In the New Living Translation, verses 1 and 2 of Ezekiel 2 are phrased in this way:
‘”Stand up, son on man” said the voice. “I want to talk with you,” The Spirit came into me as he spoke, and he set me on my feet (as) I listened carefully to his words.’
In these verses, it is clearly God’s voice that calls and commissions Ezekiel. Indeed, no sooner does Ezeliel hear the voice then he is aware of God’s Spirit enlivening him to rise to his feet. Actually, what I love about this particular translation is the intimacy between God and Ezekiel in His words “Stand up, son on man. I want to talk with you.”
Surely this is a verse we should all hold on to in the midst of our fraught lives and busy days? God knows our weariness: He is aware of our mistakes: those things that haunt us; the ways we have failed him now and will continue to fail him in the future; and our lack of strength to even rise before our Maker. And yet, God is always ready to meet and recommission us to do his bidding in the world. Such is the personal and active God we worship and His gentle way with those who believe and are receptive to God!
Twenty years ago I started an Arts Cafe at the church. My minister asked how much I would charge? When I suggested a small amount he told me to double it because when things are cheap, people don’t come because they imagine it to be worthless. It’s the same with things that are offered ‘free ‘ on the Internet.
Now, until recently, my spiritual gift test was on sale as an app. However, with the rise of 5G technology it has become necessary to remove it from sale for a number of reasons. Now, while the spiritual gift test that you and your friends can download on this website is FREEit is also PRICELESS as it has the potential to help people understand and discover their primary and formational spiritual gifts so they can grow God’s Kingdom!
Please do pass on this email to any who you think might benefit by taking this test and discovering their spiritual gifts and calling. Blessings, Bob
Continuing our odyssey through the Old Testament in which we have been considering the different ways ways that the term ‘Spirit’ is used and understood, we come across this scripture from Proverbs – one of 4 wisdom books.
Clearly, the context of the verses relates to human interaction as it offers guidance to the listener as to what is wise and unwise behaviour. Indeed, the two verses before it give us the context of what is being taught/advised here.
‘The highway of the upright avoids evil; those who guard their ways preserve their lives. Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall. Better to be lowly in spirit along with the oppressed than to share plunder with the proud.’ (v 17-19)
In this context, the writer is not referencing God’s Holy Spirit within the person – indeed, that won’t happen until after Pentecost when Christ has been crucified, resurrected and replaced by his Holy Spirit who comes to fill and indwell his followers.
No, in this passage the writer of Proverbs is referencing the human heart and the destruction it brings to each of us when our speech, pride, attitude, action (and inaction) goes unchecked.
Hence, the writer’s final warning as to why such an error is a serious concern as spiritual life and well-being lies at the heart of the instruction:
‘Better to be lowly in spirit along with the oppressed than to share plunder with the proud.’ (v 17-19)
Following on from last week’s post about finding leaders in the church among those who serve tea and stack chairs, we turn our attention today to an excuse people sometimes use to to explain why they don’t engage with their spiritual gifts.
‘We don’t receive much teaching on that sort of thing in our church.’
Now, while there is definitely a dearth of teaching on spiritual gifts in many churches which can relate to factors How do I know this? Well, meeting with christians I simply ask them ‘What’s your primary spiritual gift?’ Sometimes I have to explain what I mean but the response I most normally hear are the six excuses we have just looked at. Seldom do they say – I’m a pastor with a passion for….Or I’m a server engaged in …(lists ministries).
While there are many reasons why teaching on spiritual gifts in churches might not occur – everything for ther minister’s predeliction to the perceived response of the community of believers’ it does seem to me that Spirit gives birth to spirit. All of which means that although the church minister should take responsibility for what is and isn’t taught in church and why, when it does not occur then the onus of learning and response to spiritual gift discernment and growth, rests with each of us as we are inspired and motivated by God.
So let us each (as individuals) respond to the challenge of identifying our primary spiritual gift and ensure that we utilise and maximise the time spent using our primary gift – in doing so, God’s Kingdom will advance and we will marvel at how energising, fulfilling and satisfactory it is to do the thing we have been called to do. Find out more at primary gift.
Having considered in last week’s post how we each have the potential to operate across a range of spiritual gifts with one of them – our primary gift – being uniquely tailored to building God’s Kingdom here on earth, we come to a fallacy that can affect spiritual growth – namely:
‘I just make the tea and coffee.’
While it is great that some provide tea and coffee each week in church, there is something wrong when this is the only activity they engage in. Why? Because the remit of one’s primary spiritual gift as ‘server’ should be so much more than that. To be servant-hearted is to allow oneself to be moulded and directed by God to support other people in their ministries, providing a witness to Christ through sacrificial giving.
Years ago, a minister was quoted as saying that if he wanted to find the next set of leaders within the church, he would look to see those people who remained behind at the end of a service to stack chairs and wash dishes. True, making the tea and washing dishes are useful acts of service but those who are diligent in these aspect would do well to expect other opportunities to follow that may (or may not) result in them taking on greater responsibility in the church.
Summarising, if a person makes the tea and coffee in church, this is the first of many acts of service that they may be called upon to do as they fulfil their calling to model Christ to those people around them. If you are that person, understand that God is pleased but he has so much more in store for you!
Find out more at primary gift.