Sunday, 8 June 2014

Spiritual Gifts II - 1 Cor 12:27 - 31 and 14:1 - 5

Acts 19 gives a story of some earnestly seeking believers who somehow seem to be missing something. They had John's baptism but not the overwhelming experience of receiving Jesus and the Holy Spirit. Receiving prayer they start speaking in tongues and speaking the words of God.

How many Christians live an earnest life yet seem to be missing something?

Any tradesman who comes to do a job will turn up with their toolbox - proper tools for the job. Recall from last week that to each one is given the Spirit for the common good. Some are given the ability to supernaturally know, others to speak God-directed words, others incredible Spirit-given faith, others see God work miraculously. These are like tools in the toolbox - why go out and try to serve with an empty toolbox?

I suspect the reason we often don't receive is that we are British - we like to be in full control. To receive and operate in the spiritual gifts means letting the Spirit work through us, i.e. surrender, allowing, risk and letting God be God. Yet the Spirit longs to empower us, each differently as He determines. Hence the key question and challenge:

Key Qn: [IN] What is God placing in you to play your part?
Key Challenge: Eagerly desire the spiritual gifts, especially prophecy → have someone pray with you

We hope to take God given life across the city, where people are broken and hurting. For this we need the Spirit to be empowering us with tools for the task.

A sensible suggestion for starters is to seek God regarding the gift of tongues - it can be viewed as an entry level gift, just as it signified the Spirit's first outpouring in Acts 2, initiating the Gentile church in Acts 10, and the Acts 19 story. It gives Christians a tangible experience of the supernatural. It is also uniquely a gift that individuals can use at their will.

The most common objection I hear is that people don't see the point. Yet that is because they are British - they want to be in control.The real point is to let the Spirit be in control, and pray through us. When I'm in a tight-spot I need God-prayers, not my own inadequate words!

Beyond tongues Paul clearly stresses prophesy, because it goes beyond the individual to benefiting the whole group by revealing the mind of God. For believers and even un-believers it can become very apparent that God is among you when the Spirit enables people to speak God's thoughts into the situation!

Whether you experience the Spirit in a whacky experience, an over-whelming sensation, or just a gentle breeze doesn't matter. Paul repeatedly says 'eagerly desire' ... so go on, take the challenge, step up and be open to receive.

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