HAPPY AUGUST BIRTHDAYS!

birthday cardbirthday gifts

I am taking a little break in the study of “The Gifts of the Holy Spirit” to wish my fellow August-Birthday-Buddies a VERY JOYOUS and BLESSED AUGUST BIRTHDAY! Yay! August is finally here! I have already told you, in a previous post, that I celebrate my whole BIRTH-MONTH. In so doing, I have more time to do all the special things that are on my “Birthday Wish List” (Now that I’m getting older, it takes more time to accomplish things – even fun things.). And, less you think that I’m thinking only of myself, celebrating the whole month of August takes the pressure off my friends and family. They do not have to remember the exact date of my birthday and they have more time to send me cards and shower me with gifts and plan “ROAD TRIPS”. Celebrating the “Birth-Month” makes more sense to me.

glasses on Bible

Where did the tradition of celebrating one’s birthday come from? As with most traditions and holidays, birthday celebrations have pagan roots. Birthdays were celebrated as far back as biblical times. Some may think the giving of birthday gifts started with the Magi giving gifts to the baby Jesus, found in Matthew 2:1-12. Actually, Jesus was about two years old when the Magi came to His house and there is no mention of it being Jesus’ birthday. The two birthday “parties” mentioned in the Bible are Pharaoh’s birthday, in Genesis 40:20-23, and Herod’s birthday, in Matthew 14:6-12 (Also Mark 6:21-29). Both birthday celebrations had anything but “happy” endings:

“Now the third day was Pharaoh’s birthday, and he gave a feast for all his officials. He lifted up the heads of the chief cupbearer and the chief baker in the presence of his officials: He restored the chief cupbearer to his position, so that he once again put the cup into Pharaoh’s hand, but he hanged the chief baker, just as Joseph had said to them in his interpretation. The chief cupbearer, however, did not remember Joseph; he forgot him” (Genesis 40:20-23). [Instead of Joseph being freed from prison, he remained there for awhile longer.]

“On Herod’s birthday the daughter of Herodias danced for them and pleased Herod so much that he promised with an oath to give her whatever she asked. Prompted by her mother, she said, ‘Give me here on a platter the head of John the Baptist.’ The king was distressed, but because of his oaths and his dinner guests, he ordered that her request be granted and had John beheaded in prison. His head was brought on a platter and given to the girl, who carried it to her mother. John’s disciples came and took his body and buried it. Then they went and told Jesus” (Matthew 14:21-29).

towel and basinChristian heelping another

These two examples are what NOT to do on one’s birthday. I may not kill anyone on my birth-month, but I may use it as an excuse to be self-centered and insensitive to others: “It’s my birth-month, so everyone has to cater to me and I have the right to take a vacation from serving others” NOT! The Psalmist writes, “Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12). The anniversary of the day God gave me life is a reminder of why He gave me life and do what Jesus taught me in His Word: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind…[and] Love your neighbor as yourself” (See Matthew 22:37-40, Mark 12:30-31 and Luke 10:27). Jesus also teaches me: “…You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:42b-45) [See Matthew 20:25-28 and Luke 22:25-27]. My birth-month is not a time forget about everything God has taught me through the many years of sitting at His feet, but a time to do all that He taught me and continues to teach me in His Word.

Like other pagan holidays, Christianity influenced the tradition of birthdays. The early Christian Church introduced the Calendar of Saints, which associated each day with a saint or martyr. Roman Catholics began the tradition of taking the name of a saint for one’s self on his/her baptismal or conformation and celebrating that day as one’s “name day” rather than celebrate one’s actual “birth day” (www.giveagift.net).

WORSHIPbread

The celebration of birthdays in Europe began to ward off “evil spirits” on one’s date of birth by the giving of gifts, well wishes and gathering together with the “birthday” person to keep him/her safe. Our modern day, less ominous, birthday parties came from this European tradition (www.giveagift.net). The birthday party reminds me of what Christian Fellowship should be like: “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer…Everyday they continued to meet…They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved (See Acts 2:42-47). Did you ever think of a church service or a Bible study as a party? They are parties given for the Lord Jesus, but Jesus is the One bearing gifts for us, found in His [NEW BIRTH CARD] Word, with blessings which fill us with the JOY of knowing Him. He is our Shepherd Who will not let any evil harm us. “Thanks be to God for His Indescribable Gift!” (II Corinthians 9:15). Jesus gives us the Gift of His abundant and everlasting life: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. I am the Good Shepherd…” (John 10:10-lla).

birthday cake and candlesChrist trusting

Birthday cakes, candles and songs are birthday traditions which started in the United States and many other countries adopted these traditions (www.giveagift.net). To my August-Birth-Month Buddies: My prayer is, as we see more and more candles on our birthday cakes, may God’s Word become sweeter to us and His light grow brighter in us/ In addition to the traditional “HAPPY BIRTHDAY” song [written by Patty and Mildred Hill in 1893 and is now sung in at least 18 languages – Wikipedia], we also have a NEW song to sing to the Lord, placed in our hearts by the Holy Spirit of God. Let it grow louder and louder as the years go by!

“How sweet are Your Words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! I gain understanding from Your precepts; therefore I hate every wrong path. Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Psalm 119:103-105).

“Sing to the LORD a new song; sing to the LORD, praise His Name; proclaim His Salvation day after day. Declare His glory among the nations, His marvelous deeds among all peoples. For great is the LORD and most worthy to be praised” (Psalm 96:1-4a).

sunshine

Other countries have their own unique birthday traditions. Many countries in South America include dancing the waltz into their birthday celebrations (www.giveagift.net). My prayer is that we will be able to dance to the Lord with thanksgiving in our hearts for all He has done for us through the years and continues to do.

“You turned my wailing into dancing; You removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing to You and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give you thanks forever” (Psalm 30:11-12).

birthday pinata 2birthday pinata

In Mexico, Cuba, and Panama piñatas are big at birthday celebrations (www.giveagift.net). My prayer is for the Lord to help us persevere in our faith.

“Blessed is the man [woman] who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him” (James 1:12).

“For this reason, make every effort to add to your faith, goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, PERSEVERANCE; and to PERSEVERANCE, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” (II Peter 1:5-7).

birthday spanking

Finally [the best for last], many parts of the world have the traditions of giving the birthday person claps, slaps, spankings, or ear pullings – one for each year of life and an additional one for good luck [or “a pinch to grow an inch”] (www.giveagift.net). My prayer is for all of us to respond quickly in repentance and learn much from the Lord’s discipline.

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“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight… My son [daughter], do not despise the LORD’s discipline and do not resent His rebuke, because the LORD disciplines those He loves, as a father the son [daughter] he delights in” (Proverbs 3:5-6 and 11-12).

cardinals

“‘Come now, let us reason together,’ says the LORD. ‘Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool’” (Isaiah 1:18).

No matter how old I get, I will always need my Father to guide me and show me the way.

HAPPY AUGUST BIRTHDAYS!

image0imagesCAL8J6TR

Lydia

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The Gifts of the Holy Spirit (Part VII)

 

HS on men and women

Besides putting a heavy emphasis on Mark 16:9-20 and on personal experiences and feelings, my Charismatic/Pentecostal Christian brothers and sisters place a heavy emphasis on the Book of Acts. For example, “the Baptism of the Holy Spirit” and the “speaking in tongues” comes from the day of Pentecost, the birth of the Christian Church, recorded in Acts 2: “Suddenly, a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came on them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them” (vv. 2-4). A little while later, the Apostle Peter addressed a large crowd, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the Gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38).

Ethiopian eunuch

In another place in Acts (8:26-40), the Apostle Philip was told by an angel to go meet up with an Ethiopian who had gone to worship God in Jerusalem. He was reading the prophet Isaiah, in his chariot on his way home, when Philip caught up with him: “The Holy Spirit told Philip, ‘Go to that chariot and stay near it’” (v. 29.). Then the Ethiopian saw Philip and invited him into his chariot to explain what he was reading in Isaiah (53:7-8). The Holy Spirit opened the Ethiopian’s heart to the Gospel through Philip’s explanation and he wanted to be baptized: “As they traveled along the road, they came to some water and the eunuch [Ethiopian] said, ‘Look, here is water. Why shouldn’t I be baptized?’ And he gave orders to stop the chariot. Then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptized him. When they came out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord suddenly took Philip away, and the eunuch did not see him again, but went on his way rejoicing” (vv. 36-39).

gifts of the hs 2

In still another place in Acts (10:1-48), a man named Cornelius, a centurion in the Italian Regiment, who was a God-fearing man, had a dream from God that the Apostle Peter was coming to his house. Meanwhile, Peter had a dream from God which showed him that all foods were clean for him to eat and the Holy Spirit said to him, “Simon [Peter], three men are looking for you. So get up and go downstairs. Do not hesitate to go with them, for I have sent them” (v.20). The three men came and the next day Peter and the three men set out for Cornelius’ house. At Cornelius’ house, “…Peter began to speak: ‘I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts men from every nation who fear Him and do what is right. You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, telling the Good News of peace through Jesus Christ, Who is Lord of all…’ While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message. The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles. For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God” (vv. 34b-36, 44-46).

baptism of Christ

Finally, in still another place in Acts (19:1-7), the Apostle Paul arrived in Ephesus: “There he found some disciples and asked them, ‘Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?’ They answered, ‘No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.’ So Paul asked, ‘Then what baptism did you receive?’ ‘John’s baptism,’ they replied. Paul said, ‘John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus.’ On hearing this, they were baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus. When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied” (vv. 1b-6). These disciples were disciples of John and, I believe, they did not hear about Jesus, let alone the Holy Spirit.

Acts of the Holy Spirit

The Book of Acts is a history book about the 1st Century Christian Church. It is known as the Acts of the Apostles. More accurately, it is about the Acts of the Holy Spirit. It is not a doctrinal book as are the Book of Romans and the other Epistles. The Book of Acts is about how the Holy Spirit worked in the 1st Century Church to establish the body of Christ on earth. The Holy Spirit used “Sign Gifts”, especially the Gift of Tongues, to demonstrate to everyone listening and watching that the GOOD NEWS of Christ was not only for the Jews, but also for every tribe and nation and people group all over the world. The Gift of Tongues (the ability to speak in a foreign language “off the top of your head”) [Sorry, I couldn’t resist the pun!] was given to spread the GOOD NEWS of Christ in the languages of all the people groups who came to Jerusalem. In the Book of Acts, people were baptized as an act of obedience (See Matthew 28:18-20), not as a prerequisite to becoming Christians or to being filled with the Holy Spirit. It was done as a demonstration of a person’s faith in Christ. A believer in Jesus Christ symbolically dies to the sinful nature when s/he is dunked under the water and s/he is raised up out of the water and symbolically identifies with Christ’s Resurrection and is now living for Jesus as a His New Creation (See II Corinthians 5:17)! Jesus and the Holy Spirit is a “One-Package Deal!” When we look at the examples of the baptisms in the Book of Acts, some were accompanied by the speaking of tongues and some were not. If speaking in tongues was so crucial to salvation, why didn’t Philip wait around to make sure the Ethiopian eunuch spoke in tongues? In Peter’s Pentecost preaching, why didn’t he say, “Repent and be baptized and speak in tongues”? At Cornelius’ house, the Holy Spirit gave the Gentiles the gift of tongues, so that the Jews present would see and hear that God truly is without favoritism. The Gentiles were just as much believers in Christ as they were.

body of Christ

With all this said, it is important not to judge our brothers or sisters in Christ. In I Corinthians 12:29-31, Paul asks rhetorical questions, including, “Do all speak in tongues?” (v. 30b), to emphasize the fact that every Christian does not have all the Gifts of the Holy Spirit, including the Gift of Tongues. A Christian who has the Gift of Tongues should not think s/he is more spiritual than the Christian who does not have that Spiritual Gift. At the same time, I should not judge a brother or sister who has the Gift of Tongues as being phony, as long as the gift is used to glorify Jesus Christ, as it did in the Book of Acts. God does work in mysterious ways. In I Corinthians 12, after talking about the Gifts of the Holy Spirit, the Apostle Paul ends the chapter with these words: “But eagerly desire the greater gifts. And now I will show you the most excellent way” (v. 31). We will pick up on this topic in two weeks..

blogging2Father, Son and Holy Spirit

Lydia

The Gifts of the Holy Spirit (Part VI)

baptism of holy spirit

Is it necessary for a person to “experience” the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, after s/he has accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior, in order for that person to be a “real” Christian? Does a Christian have to speak in tongues in order to be “filled with the Holy Spirit”? If a Christian has “enough” faith, can s/he be healed of his/her sickness? Can 21st Century Christians “perform” healings and miracles, just as the 1st Century Christians did? My Charismatic/Pentecostal brothers and sisters answer all these questions with a “YES!” These “Sign Gifts” prove that a person truly has had a “Conversion Experience”. Christians like me, who are not Charismatic/Pentecostal will say, “No, not necessarily.” All you have to do to be ‘saved’ and be “filled with the Holy Spirit” is to believe [trust] in Jesus Christ” (See Acts 16:31). Romans 10:8-13 says this:

gospelsJesua, heart, sand

“But what do you say? ‘The Word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,’ that is, the Word of Faith we are proclaiming: That if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. As the Scripture says, ‘Anyone who trusts 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.’”

With Romans 10:8-13 in mind, why do Charismatic/Pentecostal Christians believe in the “Baptism of the Holy Spirit” as evidence that one is truly “filled with the Spirit” and why do they elevate the “Sign Gifts” (speaking in tongues, the interpretation of tongues, prophecy, miracles, and healings) as more important than all of rest of the Gifts of the Holy Spirit?

butt claws

Charismatic/Pentecostal Christians place a heavy emphasis on Mark 16:9-20, especially on verses 16-18: “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will accompany those who believe: In My Name [Jesus] they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.” My New International Version of the Bible has in brackets, above Mark 16:9-20, this qualifier: “The earliest manuscripts and some other ancient witnesses do not have Mark 16:9-20.” So, what does this mean? Why have it in the Bible at all? I believe, as do my other Non-Charismatic/Non-Pentecostal brothers and sisters, that this portion of Mark should be taken from a historical point of view and not from a doctrinal point of view. That is, someone, other than Mark, was describing the unique Gifts of the Holy Spirit given to the 1st century Apostles to authenticate that God was doing a New Thing: – the creation of the body of Christ called the Christian Church. Once the Christian Church was established by the 1st century Apostles, these “Sign Gifts” became less and less the norm. That is not to say that God has stopped performing sings and wonders and healings and miracles. It is to say God is not limited to certain people doing these signs and wonders and healings and miracles.

church buildings

Wikipedia gives this definition of “Baptism with the Holy Spirit”: “(alternatively ‘Baptism in the Holy Spirit’ or ’Holy Ghost’) in Christian theology is a term describing baptism (washing or immersion) in or with the Spirit of God and is frequently associated with the bestowal of spiritual gifts and empowerment for Christian ministry. While the phrase ‘baptism with the Holy Spirit’ is found in the New Testament and all Christian traditions accept it as a theological concept, each has interpreted it in a way consistent with their own ecclesiology and Christian initiation. One view holds that the term refers only to Pentecost, the ‘once-for-all’ event for the whole Church described in the second chapter of the Book of Acts. Another view holds that the term also refers to an experience of the individual believer distinct from salvation and initiation into the Church. Before the emergence of the holiness movement in the mid-19th century and Pentecostalism in the early 20th century, most denominations believed that Christians received the baptism with the Holy Spirit either upon conversion and regeneration or through rites of Christian initiation. Since the growth and spread of the Pentecostal and Charismatic churches, however, the belief that baptism with the Holy Spirit is an experience distinct from regeneration has come into increasing prominence.”

Father, Son and Holy Spirit 2

I believe that the very instant a person gives his/her life to Christ s/he also receives the Holy Spirit. Titus 3:4-7 states, “But when the kindness of God our Savior appeared, He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, Whom He poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by His grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.” God our Savior, God the Holy Spirit, God our Savior Jesus Christ is one God in three persons. When we receive Christ as our Savior we receive the Triune God Who comes to live in us. This is not to say we don’t have to discover what our spiritual gifts are and grow and learn how to use them for “the glory of God and for the good of all the Church”. But, we need to know and understand that we are not alone in our learning and growing. The Holy Spirit indwells us and helps us learn more about our gifts and teaches and enables us to use them for His kingdom.

breath of life

“His divine power has given us all we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness. Through these He has given us His very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires” (II Peter 1:3-4).

It is important to know and understand that even in the times we don’t “feel” or “experience” the Holy Spirit in our lives, He is always with us and He is always working in us for our good: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose“(Romans 8:28)..

JOHN THE BAPTISTJesus' Baptism

It is also important to know that Jesus was both fully human and fully God when He came to save us. Some Christians look at Jesus’ baptism as the time when He was filled with the Holy Spirit, but I believe Jesus was always filled with the Holy Spirit:

“Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. But John tried to deter Him, saying, ‘I need to be baptized by You, and do You come to me?’ Jesus replied, ‘Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.’ Then John consented. As soon as Jesus was baptized, He went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on Him. And a voice from heaven said, ‘This is My Son, Whom I love; with Him I am well pleased’” (Matthew 3:13-17) [Also in Mark 1:9-11 and Luke 3:21-22].

casting crowns 1

Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist not because Jesus needed His sins forgiven. Jesus had no sin. Jesus submitted Himself to baptism to identify Himself with sinners, Whom He came to save (See Mark 2:17 and Luke 5:32). Jesus was baptized by John not because John was greater than Jesus (See John 1:26-27). Jesus submitted to John’s baptism, so that John could recognize Him as the Christ, the One for Whom he called everyone to “Make straight the way for the Lord” (See John1:23b and Isaiah 40:3). Jesus was not baptized in order to receive the Holy Spirit. Most importantly, Jesus was baptized so that all who were there could hear and see the Triune God. Jesus did not need to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Jesus was the One Who had the “fullness of His [Fther’s] grace [which] we have all received one blessing after another” (See John 1:16). I believe it is inaccurate to say Jesus received the power of the Holy Spirit at His baptism because that would make Jesus dependent on the Holy Spirit and that would make the Holy Spirit more important than Jesus, which the Holy Spirit would never want to promote (See John 15:26-27). Jesus’ baptism was an appropriate time to mark the beginning of His public ministry.

Besides putting a heavy emphasis on Mark 16:9-20 and on personal experiences and feelings, Charismatic/Pentecostal Christians place a heavy emphasis on the Book of Acts. More on this next time.

blogging2Christ's hope

 

lLydia

 

The Gifts of the Holy Spirit (Part V)

beef

Before we go looking for the “beef“, let’s look at Ephesians 4:11-13, 16 and make note of its listing of Spiritual Gifts and their definitions:

glasses on Bible

“It was He [Jesus] when gave some to be APOSTLES, some to be PROPHETS, some to be EVANGELISTS, and some to be PASTORS and TEACHERS, to prepare God’s people for WORKS OF SERVICE, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ…From Him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in LOVE, as each part does its work” (Ephesians 4:11-13, 16).

APOSTLESHIP: The Apostles were limited to those Jesus chose to begin His Church (Galatians. 1:1). They were the ones who witnessed the Resurrected Christ and were given assignments by Jesus, including writing Scriptures and performing miracles to establish His Church (John 14:26, II Peter 3:15-16, II Corinthians 12:12). Examples of present-day Apostles are missionaries, church planters and Christian scholars who are able to reach across cultures and establish churches where there is very little to no Christian influence.

Billy GrahamELDERS PRAYING FOR THE SICK

EVANGELIST: The ability and desire to boldly and clearly communicate the Gospel of Jesus Christ so that non-Christians can come to Christ (theresurgence.com/2009/06/15/spiritual-gifts-evangelism).

SERVICE (HELPS): See “The Gifts of the Holy Spirit (Part I).

Christ the Shepherd

PASTOR (The Greek word “POIMEN” means “Shepherd” or “Overseer”): The ability to care for the spiritual needs of the church community. The person is a servant/leader who uses the complementary Gifts of preaching and teaching God’s Word to humbly, yet with authority, guide his/her congregation to live their lives worthy of the Gospel of Christ. Sometimes, the person with the gift of Pastor also has the Gift of
Evangelism (SpiritualGiftsTest.com).

bible preacher-teacher

TEACHER: The ability to communicate and clarify the details and truths of God’s Word for others to learn (SpiritualGiftsTest.com).

common good

So far, we have looked at the following Gifts of the Spirit: PROPHECY, SERVING (HELPS), TEACHING, EXHORTATION/ENCOURAGEMENT, GIVING, LEADERSHIP, MERCY (Romans:12:3-13); WISDOM, KNOWLEDGE, FAITH, HEALING, MIRACLES, DISTINGUISHING BETWEEN SPIRITS (DISCERNMENT), TONGUES, INTERPRETATION OF TONGUES, APOSTLESHIP, ADMINISTRATION, HELPS (SERVICE) (I Corinthians 12:7-11 and 27-31), EVANGELISM, PASTOR, PREACHING-TEACHING (Ephesians 4:11-13).

blogging2IMG_1887

Out of all the Gifts of the Holy Spirit, using my own discernment and what other brothers and sisters have observed in me, I believe I have the Spiritual Gifts of Helps, Preaching-Teaching (in my writing), Discernment, Administration, Leadership, and (the heart of a) Pastor-Shepherd. I list my Spiritual Gifts with great humility because I know they do not come from me, but they come from the Indwelling Holy Spirit. Even so, the Spiritual Gifts the Holy Spirit has bestowed on me are useful gifts to have for God’s kingdom work. However, some Charismatic/Pentecostal Christian brothers and sisters may say that I am not yet “filled with the Spirit” because I do not exhibit the “Sign Gifts”: Tongues, Interpretation of Tongues, Prophecy, Miracles and Healing. They say, in order to be truly “filled with the Spirit“, I not only need to be “born again” (trust Jesus for my salvation and turn my life over to Him), I also need a second experience – the “Baptized of the Holy Spirit”- and I need to speak in tongues and have any or all of the other “Sign Gifts”. Here is where we not only find “the beef”, but we also find “the rub“.

a meat rubThe Lyd

A few months ago, I went to talk with my pastor about something I felt strongly about, concerning the spiritual growth and witness of our church. He was new to the church and I had never talked with him at any great length before. We had a very fruitful discussion and at the end of it, we both prayed. Later on, I emailed him and wrote, “I just want you to know, I don’t have the Gift of Tongues.” I was making a joke about my cerebral-palsied slurred speech. He replied back, “And I thought I was given the Gift of Interpretation. Oh well.” Sometimes, humor helps us not to take ourselves too seriously.

baptism of holy spirit

Is it true that, in order to be filled with the Holy Spirit, we need to speak in tongues, interpret tongues, prophesy, and have the ability to heal and perform miracles? The answer to this question, from my study of God’s Word, with the help of the Holy Spirit, is coming. Wait for it…

me writingcHRISTIAN BLOGGER WOMAN

Lydia

 

The Gifts of the Holy Spirit (Part IV)

birthday gifts

There are about ten more shopping days left before my birth-month. Of course, you all have the whole month of August to decide on cards and gifts and other goodies [ROAD TRIPS] to shower me with, since I celebrate my whole birth-month,. So do not despair. There is plenty of time left.

church buildingsbread

 

Unlike worldly gifts, the Gifts of the Holy Spirit are given to the Church, the body of Christ, made up of believing followers of Jesus Christ, to be used for the good of those who make up the Church and our neighbors outside the Church for the glory of God. That’s not to say temporal gifts and natural talents cannot be used in the same way. However, the Gifts of the Spirit are spiritual gifts given by God to His children for the building up of the body of Christ. When we correctly use our spiritual gifts, we take our eyes off of ourselves and our own pleasures and use the Gifts of the Spirit for the good of others and for the praise and glory of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Christian heelping anotherimagesCA1A2FRPChrist's Lovesunshine

 

Using our spiritual gifts often, if not always, involves self-sacrifice and putting God and the needs of others first. Self–aggrandizement has no place in the use of our spiritual gifts. That’s not to say that using our spiritual gifts does not give us joy. That cannot be further from the truth. Using our spiritual gifts brings us great joy, blessings and a sense of fulfillment we cannot find anywhere else. The Gifts of the Spirit are all about glorifying Jesus Christ in our service to others, in Jesus’ Name. To take part in God’s “kingdom work” is totally awesome and totally humbling. The Gifts of the Holy Spirit and how they are to be used are listed in the Epistles of Romans (12:3-13), I Corinthians (12:4-11 and 27-31), Ephesians (4:11-13) and I Peter (4:7-11). We have already looked at the Spiritual Gifts noted in Romans 12:3-13. Next, let’s look at I Corinthians 12:4-11 and 27-31:

body of Christ

“There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men. Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. 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 TONGUES, and to still another the INTERPRETATION OF TONGUES. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and He gives them to each one, just as He determines…Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. And in the Church [Universal] God has appointed first of all APOSTLES, second PROPHETS, third TEACHERS, then WORKERS OF MIRACLES, also those having gifts of HEALING, those able to HELP others, those with gifts of ADMINSTRATION, and those SPEAKING IN DIFFERENT KNIDS OF TONGUES. Are all APOSTLES? Are all PROPHETS? Are all TEACHERS? Do all have gifts of HEALING? Do all SPEAK IN TONGUES? Do all INTERPRET? But eagerly desire the greater gifts.”

banana split with whip creamDOUGHNUT POLISH

 

This is when the topic of the Gifts of the Holy Spirit becomes a bit “sticky“. The Charismatic and Pentecostal Christian Denominations believe that the “Sign Gifts” – the spiritual gifts of TONGUES, PROPHECY, MIRACLES and HEALING are still going on in the Church today. Most other Christian Denominations believe they were only used to establish the first-century Church and were discontinued after the death of the first Apostles (persons who were eye-witnesses to the Resurrected Christ). Instead of deciding who is right and who is wrong about the “sign gifts”, let’s look at the definition of each gift found in I Corinthians 12:4-11 and 27-31.

gifts of the hs 1

(These definitions are from a Google-Search – Gifts of the Spirit – along with my own thoughts Sorry, I can’t locate the exact webpage. The color ink on my printout is faded and I can‘t find it again on the web.)

Anna and Simeon with Baby JesusOT SCROOLS

WISDOM: The ability to make decisions and give guidance that is according to God’s will.

KNOWLEDGE: The ability to have an in-depth understanding of a spiritual issue or situation.

FAITH: The ability to trust God and encourage others to trust God, no matter the circumstances. A visionary or a missionary who has given up all of his/her worldly possessions to follow God’s call are examples of those who have the Gift of Faith.

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HEALING (Sign Gift): The miraculous ability to use God’s healing power to restore a person who is sick, injured or suffering.

HELPS (SERVICE): See “The Gifts of the Holy Spirit (Par I).

ADMINISTRATION: The ability to keep things organized and in accordance with God’s principles: “For God is not a God of disorder but of peace” (I Corinthians 14:33).

MIRACLES (Sign Gift): The supernatural ability to perform wonders that give authenticity to God’s Word and the Gospel message.

Billy Graham

PROPHECY (Sign Gift): The ability to proclaim a message from God. See “The Gifts of the Holy Spirit (Parts I, II and Part III)”.

TEACHING/PREACHING: See “The Gifts of the Holy Spirit (Part I)”.

DISCERNING SPIRITS: The ability to determine whether or not a message, person, or event is truly from God (What I call, “A God-Thing“).

HS on men and women

TONGUES (Sign Gift): The ability to speak in a foreign language that you do not have knowledge of, in order to communicate with someone who speaks that language (or it may be a heavenly language, as Charismatic and Pentecostal Denominations believe).

INTERPRETATION OF TONGUES (Sign Gift): The ability to translate the tongues being spoken and to communicate it back to others who do not know the language being spoken.

beef

“Where’s the BEEF?” Good question. We will find out next time. (We know the “Where’s the beef?” question from an old WENDY’S TV commercial, but some historians believe it originated in the late 1800s when soldiers complained about the quality and quantity of their meat rations.) Until next time…

The Peace of Christ be with you. Amen

blogging2cHRISTIAN BLOGGER WOMAN

 

Lydia

The Gifts of the Spirit (Part III)

end times

What is an example of the misuse of the Gift of Prophecy? It is easy to spot if we listen to the Holy Spirit and believe in God’s Word as our measure of Truth. A self-proclaimed modern-day prophet may predict the future; specifically, the exact date of the “End Times” and what everyone should do to prepare for them? Jesus and the Apostle Paul warn us about these FALSE prophets.

“No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father” (Matthew 24:36).

“He [Jesus] said to them, ‘It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by His own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be witnesses in Jerusalem, and all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth’” (Acts 1:7-8).

“Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to Him, we ask you, brothers, not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by some prophecy, report or letter supposed to have come from us, saying that the day of the Lord has already come. Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way…” (II Thessalonians 2:1-3a).

church offerings

Another example of a FALSE prophet is one who says something like, “If you all have the faith to give this ministry a love-offering of $1,000, God has told me that he will heal all your sicknesses, mend all your marriages, meet all your financial needs and take all your burdens away. I heard Him say this to me as clear as a bell. Will you trust Jesus enough to give generously to His mighty work? Do I hear an Amen?” These False prophets also like to use and distort the Scriptures: “If you give to this mighty work of God, He says, ‘…see if I will not through open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it’” (See Malachi 3:10). Another quote FALSE prophets/teachers like to use is, “It is more blessed to give than to receive”, but they never quote the whole Scripture in context: “In everything I (Paul) did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus said Himself: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive’” (Acts 20:35). If those two quotes don’t do the “trick” they also like to use, “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you” (Luke 6:38). Again, these FALSE prophets/teachers never quote the verse before: “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven” (Luke 6:37). It seems to me that FALSE prophets do a lot of judging and condemning and couldn’t care less for the people who are in real need. I do not see the Fruit of the Spirit demonstrated in the lives of these FALSE prophets/teachers. Jesus and His brother James have warnings for both us and them:

false prophet

“Watch out for FALSE prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their FRUIT you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes or figs from thistles? Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit…Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their FRUIT you will recognize them…Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not PROPHESY in Your Name, and in Your Name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from Me, you evil-doers!’” (Matthew 7:15-17, 19-20, 22-23).

“Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly” (James 3:1).

bunkerbunker tp

bunker waterbunker spam

As Christians, ambassadors of Jesus Christ (See II Corinthians 5:20), our mission is not to become “Prophets of Doom” or to even listen to these “Doom‘s Day” FALSE prophets. Our mission, as believers in Christ, is not to build bunkers and stock up on toilet paper, bottled water and Spam. Our responsibility is not to make rich preachers richer and become a people who “suit their own desires [and] gather around [us] a great number of teachers to say what [our] itching ears want to hear” (See II Timothy 4:3).

Billy Grahamimages

Rather, our mission is to use our Spiritual Gifts “to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ [the Christian Church] may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:12-13), to practice the “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless…:to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world” (James 1:27) and to spread the GOOD NEWS of the Gospel of Jesus Christ: “For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. He died for us so that we may live together with Him. Therefore, ENCOURAGE one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing” (I Thessalonians 5:9-11).

Peter Saved by JesusChristian heelping another

The TRUE Prophet of God named Micah tells us what God wants from us: “He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly before your God” (6:8). FALSE prophets are everything that is the opposite of justice, mercy and humility. Spirit-filled Christians who have the true Gift of Prophecy (telling forth God’s Truth) may not be famous. A Christian with the Gift of Prophecy walks closely in step with the Holy Spirit and senses what the Holy Spirit senses and obeys His call.. For example, s/he may see a brother or sister who has confessed and turned away from sin and has been forgiven by God, yet is having trouble forgiving him-/herself. The person with the Gift of prophecy will go and encourages that brother or sister in the Lord to accept God’s forgiveness and reassures him/her of the saving grace of Jesus, which will never be taken away.

Finally, the writer of the Book of Hebrews says this:

Angels at God's Thronejesus as high priest

“In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days He has spoken to us by His Son, Whom He appointed Heir of all things, and through Whom He made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His Being, sustaining all things by His powerful Word. After He provided purification for sins, He sat down at the Right Hand of the Majesty in heaven. So He became as much superior to the angels as the Name He has inherited is superior to theirs. For to which of the angels did God ever say, ’You My Son; today I have become Your Father…Let all God’s angels worship Him…He makes His angels winds, His servants flames of fire’” (Hebrews 1:1-5a, 6b, 7b).

WORSHIPfairest Jesus

Let us join the angels and worship Jesus alone and let Him take us to where He wants us to go. Let us be on fire for Him and listen to His Voice alone! Amen.

But Wait! More Gifts are coming!

The LydcHRISTIAN BLOGGER WOMAN

 

Lydia

 

The Gifts of the Holy Spirit (Part II)

gifts of the hs 2

Sometimes, I read the Bible and assume that I know what it is talking about because I know all the definitions of the words being used in the passage. I know what the list of words used to name the Spiritual Gifts in Romans 12:3-13 mean in the English language, but what do they mean from a biblical point of view? Good question.

Motivational Gifts of the Holy Spirit:

PROPHECY: The ability to proclaim a message from God or “tell forth” God’s Truth found in the Scriptures. (We read about Peter prophesying from the Book of Joel, on Pentecost, in Acts 2:16-21.)

Helper Holy Spirit

SERVICE or HELPS: the ability and desire to help others and to do whatever it takes to accomplish the task given by God to do for those in need.

comforter hs

TEACHING or PREACHING: The ability to understand and clearly communicate the Scriptures and make their meaning known to others and give them practical ways to apply God’s Word to their lives.

ENCOURAGEMENT or EXHORTATION: The ability to help others grow in their Christian Faith with words of praise or warning, always expressed in a loving, caring and godly way.

earthly treasure

GIVING: The ability to give generously of one’s money, possessions, time and whatever one has, joyfully, wisely, generously and sacrificially to others in need, with the assurance and faith that God will provide for one’s own needs.

LEADERSHIP: The ability to shepherd and care for people and help them to focus on goals and objectives and reach and accomplish these goals and objectives for the kingdom of God, while modeling Christ‘s servant-leader example.

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MERCY: The ability to recognize the physical, financial, emotional and spiritual needs of others and having the compassion and desire to help others who have any kind of need. It is also the ability to forgive others, no matter the transgression or cost. It is having the Heart of Jesus for those in need of His healing touch.

fruit of the spirit

The Apostle Paul encourages all who have the above Gifts of the Spirit to practice them with the Holy Spirit’s Fruit of Love, Joy, Patience and Faithfulness (See Romans 12:12).

So far, so good. Most Christians agree with the Spiritual Gifts found in Romans 12:3-13 and the above definitions. There are only a few radical Pentecostal/Charismatic Christian Denominations who believe that (non-apostolic) prophecies, outside of the Biblical Canon, are still being given by self-proclaimed prophets. Most Christian Denominations believe the Gift of Prophecy is the ability to “tell forth” and clearly explain what is already written in the Christian Bible. With the death last Apostle, John, the canon of the Bible closed, and so did prophecy dealing with future events.

Peter at Pentecosta spirit of truth

The Gift of Prophecy is closely linked to the Gifts of Teaching/Preaching and Evangelism. As long as the prophecy agrees with the Scriptures and is not something radically different from the Bible’s teachings and “off the deep end”, the mainstream Christian Church agrees that there are modern-day prophets who are able to preach and explain the Holy Scriptures in a powerful way. I believe Billy Graham is an example of a modern-day prophet. Along with the Gift of Teaching/Preaching and Evangelism, Dr. Graham has been able to “tell forth” the Truth of the Gospel of Salvation in a powerful way. Thousands upon thousands of people have given their lives to Christ through his ministry of preaching and writing.

clocks

What is an example of a modern-day FALSE prophet who predicts the future; specifically, the exact date of the “End Times” or someone who predicts your future; specially, “If you give money to such-and-such ministry, you will be healed or become rich or God will answer your long-time prayer”? Jesus and the Apostle Paul warn us about these FALSE prophets. This is the topic for next time.

The Love of the Father and the Peace of the Lord Jesus and the Power of the Holy Spirit Be with Us All!

The Lyd Lydia