These Gifts are Meant for You
The Bible tells us that God has prepared good works in advance for us to do during our life. (Ephesians 2:10) And along with our work assignments, God has also promised to leave us gifts or “power tools” to use in our work. Our work is to help build the Church, – to build up God’s people. And also God promises to be with us and strengthen us for the job. He is giving us part of the action and empowering us with power to accomplish it.
We discussed two of the gifts, the gift of wisdom and the gift of knowledge, in last week’s blog. And we will try to cover the rest of the gifts here in this week’s blog. These gifts as described in 1 Corinthians 12:8-10 are: the gift of wisdom, the gift of knowledge, faith, healing, miracles, prophecy, discerning of spirits, tongues and the interpretation of tongues.
Sometimes the gifts seem frightening and messy and we try to do our work of building the Church without them. But the New Testament describes these gifts as all important in building up the Church. We should take and use all that God has provided for us.
First the gift of faith is often given to certain persons for specific occasions such as a dangerous situation or a challenging problem. When this gift is operating the person can easily believe God for something that others might see as impossible. Scripture tells us that every person is given a certain amount of faith. But this special gift of faith makes a person very bold and very confident that God will answer their prayer.
Years ago my friend, Arlene, took her atheist friend to a weekend retreat being held at our church. Arlene felt the Lord speak to her and tell her to pray that her atheist friend would believe and accept Christ that weekend. Arlene prayed constantly for her friend’s salvation all weekend, strongly believing that God would answer her prayers. Before the retreat was over Arlene’s friend accepted Christ and went on to become a vibrant Christian. Was Arlene given the gift of faith to believe and pray for her friend’s salvation?
All believers are told to pray for the sick, and their prayers are answered, (Mark 16:17-18) even though God gives the “gift of healing” to some persons for a special healing ministry. Joyce Meyer writes: “When someone is healed, their healing may not manifest immediately. Healing can be a process that works somewhat like medicine.” (“Knowing God Intimately”, Joyce Meyer, p.267) Some healings happen instantly. But many take time for the healing prayer to be answered, just as it takes time for good medicine to promote healing. And some folks are not healed until they reach heaven. Since we don’t understand the reasons, we will need to trust God with the answers to why some are healed and some aren’t. We walk by faith and not by sight.
Another gift is the working of miracles. We can all believe God for miracles in our lives, but according to Scripture, some people are especially given the gift of working miracles. There are different types of miracles: deliverance miracles, healing miracles, miracles of provision, etc. Jesus performed many miracles. The feeding of the five thousand was a miracle of provision where the bread and fish multiplied as they were being passed around to feed the hungry people.
I have known Christians who had little money, but their few dollars seemed to stretch and grow to cover the feeding and care of many needy people. Others have been given extra super strength to perform demanding and herculean jobs just when there was a desperate need. And at other times funds happen to arrive from unexpected places just in time to take care of pressing problems. How many miracles have come into your life that you have overlooked?
Then there is the gift of prophecy. Prophecy can come as a message or a sermon or it can come by divine revelation. But prophecy is God speaking through the person who has the gift of prophecy with a message to the Church. The prophetic Word can bring correction or comfort or a teaching.
My husband and I were members of a church once that encouraged its members to grow in the spiritual gifts. During a church service we would sing praises and worship for twenty minutes or more and we could feel the presence of the Holy Spirit in our midst! It was wonderful! Then a church member with the gift of prophecy might stand up and speak God’s words of comfort and encouragement to the group. And after that another person might speak out in a tongue. And we would wait for another person to give the interpretation of that tongue. I had never been in a service like that and it was a great blessing!
The gift of prophecy has been abused by people who want to make money or a big name for themselves. There are false prophets who attack our faith and that is probably why many churches have not wanted to encourage the gift of prophecy. We live in a sinful world and for every real gift from God there can be a counterfeit one from Satan. Scripture says we can know what is from God and what is not by whether the gift produces good or evil. Scripture says: “Beware of false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing but they are ferocious wolves. By their fruits (what they do) you shall know them. Every good tree bears good fruit and every bad tree bears bad fruit….” (Matthew 7:15-, 16, 17, 20)
The gift of discerning of spirits is the next gift on the list and it is a valuable gift in a sinful world. Some people say that the discerning of spirits gives people supernatural insight into the spirit realm when God allows it. There are many deceptive people in this world and many “wolves in sheep’s clothing” who act like they want to be our friend but really they want to destroy us. Some enjoy breaking up marriages, turning people against one another, or destroying another person’s faith. We should perhaps all pray for this valuable gift!
Last but not least are the gift of tongues and the gift of interpretation of tongues. Tongues is a spiritual language, one the Holy Spirit speaks through you, but one you do not know. Saint Paul said, “I am glad I speak in tongues more than any of you.” It says in Scripture that speaking in tongues edifies us and builds us up spiritually. The one hundred and twenty followers of Christ all spoke in tongues on the Day of Pentecost. The believers in the early churches spoke in tongues. Many Christians do today. Why shouldn’t we?
Every believer can speak in tongues and it can be his or her private prayer language. But the “gift of tongues” is believed to be a gift to be used to bless other believers. In a charismatic meeting a member who has the gift of tongues may be moved by the Spirit to speak out a message in tongues. And then the group waits for an interpretation to that message. Joyce Meyer writes that she often receives interpretations of messages given in tongues. She says that they come to her as an impression or a knowing in her spirit of what God is trying to say to the group. Then the person with the gift of interpretations speaks out the knowing of what they are to speak. Both the person who speaks in tongues in the worship service and the person with the interpretation must operate in faith, because their minds are not involved. It all comes from the Holy Spirit that lives within their spirits.
Our lives are spiritual and we need these spiritual gifts because our heavenly Father has planned for us to use them. Ignoring the gifts may protect us from some problems and keep our lives more organized (boring) and predictable, but turning our backs on the gifts closes the door to many blessings that people badly need in their lives. Let’s pray to receive any gift that God has for us and submit and allow God to use us in any way He wants.