Gifted to Bless Others

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            When we recognize Jesus as our Savior that salvation comes with more than just the gift of eternal life in Heaven. We are also given the Holy Spirit to dwell within us leading us to the unimaginable truths that the infinite God shares with us. He gives to each of us the portion designed for us and the gifts of His Spirit that allow us to show those truth s to the rest of the world as we become a part of His chosen. These gifts are all smaller parts of God’s complete work. Not only do the gifts differ but the way they are expressed through our life experience differ as well. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them… (Romans 12:6) Two individuals with the gift of teaching will have the ability to reach the people where the Lord has placed them. Two people with the gift of knowledge will have unique backdrops that develops a perspective of God that touches those hearts. Although the gifts of God help us to prosper they are also meant to prosper those around us as we share those gifts. The Bible tells us to share our gifts and the provisions of God with those around us. We are told to share our strength with the weak and in turn someone can share their strength where we are lacking. That is what the church is meant to be. Heart intertwined in love and fueled by God to show all of His amazing attributes to a world in need of His love and in need of a Savior in Jesus. We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. For Christ did not please himself, but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me.” (Romans 15:1-3)

            We are not only called to share our gifts but to bear the burdens of our fellow believers so that God can represent Himself in their struggle through us. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. (Galatians 6:2-3) We must remember that in order to truly represent God to those He puts on our path we must show His attributes. Those attributes are love, selflessness, gentleness, and all of the other Fruits of the Spirit. We have to put the well-being of others above our comfort and let the Holy Spirit guide and support us in places that the Spirit can truly draw hearts closer to God. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.  Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. (Philippians 2:3-4)

            The true reward found in knowing God is in doing His work on earth. The joy that comes from God comes from being a conduit for His Spirit and showing His light to the world. God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them. (Hebrews 6:10) Let the gifts of God prosper you as you use those gifts to prosper others. Allow God to move through you as a conduit to those He places in your influence. The more you are faithful with your gifts the more abundance you will see as the Fruits of His Spirit are reflected in your obedience. One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much (Luke 16:10).

If The Jesus Fits

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                I sat in church on Palm Sunday and I imagined the scene of Jesus on a colt, riding triumphantly into Jerusalem. I imagine the people yelling “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” I imagine seeing all of the people praising the Savior and also remembered that there were many plotting to arrest Him. There were many who did not believe He was the foretold Messiah. I couldn’t imagine how people who knew about His miracles, about all of the prophecies He fulfilled, and still could not accept Him. I see things have not changed even today.

                I wonder why people don’t believe in God. I can’t understand how they can think all of the things of this world are here by luck and chance. Then there are people that do believe in God, but look for any way to get to Him other than Jesus. I see all of these world religions that seek to please and earn their god(s) through deeds. They follow gods who show human emotions and react in accordance with those emotions. They cannot comprehend a god that is beyond their comprehension. They cannot worship a god that they cannot fit into a box they understand and can then manipulate.

                Christians follow a God who is too large to understand with a human mind, too almighty to react emotionally toward His people, too great to change with the times, and loving enough to seek His children through the sacrifice of His only son. These concepts are difficult to a heart that isn’t enlightened with the Holy Spirit. Just like the people who denied Christ as He entered into Jerusalem to give His life so that we might be reunited with the Father, people still deny Him for similar reasons.

                The people that rejected Jesus during His life expected a warrior king who would defeat their enemies through battle. They could not comprehend a king that would defeat human depravity and sinfulness through the ways of God in Heaven. They wanted a king that fit into their human minded box, that did exactly what they expected, and matched their brokenness. People expected a strong king and rejected a powerful king. No person who isn’t full of the Holy Spirit can understand overcoming strength with weakness, pride with humility, anger with kindness, heartlessness with compassion and hatred with love. In the same way, people today reject Jesus because it requires selflessness, faith, humility, and other ideas that don’t allow them to serve their own purposes. They want to have a manipulatable God that allows them to do what they want with Him in their personal box. They settle for what’s good and miss what is best. This concept falls in line with entitled and easily offended culture we live in.

                Live a life that reaches out to the lost as an example of the God we follow. Let your life reflect the light of Christ and show the power that our King has over this dark world. Show them the power of a God that cannot be put into a box, the love of a God that is unconditional, and the heart of a God that would come to earth and die to pay for our salvation. Imitate our King as the world around is rejects the one that thankfully is beyond comprehension of this world’s darkness.

Forgiveness

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There are attributes in many believers that seem unnatural to the people around them. Some people have a joy that shines out of them, some the patience that lasts forever. While all seem unnatural in this dark world, they are beautiful when they show their light to the darkness. One of the blessings given to me is my ability to forgive. I took an introspective moment to consider how to explain something so unnatural to those around me. I would like to credit the Holy Spirit. The part of me that thought of vengeance or vindication has become so quiet, its whisper has disappeared.

         Like many of the gifts the Spirit gives to believers, the beauty of them can’t be fully described to people who don’t walk in them. We all know that the Word of God calls us to forgive. For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. (Matthew 6:14-15) This passage means so much more to a forgiving heart. I see Jesus giving an instruction for us to do unto others as our Father has done for us in providing His Son. Even more, I see an amazing Father teaching His children to do something that is good for them even though it isn’t pleasant by nature. Like a parent telling a child to bathe regularly; the child can’t appreciate the lessons in hygiene given to them until they are older and matured. Similarly we begin to appreciate the Word of God as our faith grows and our spirit matures.

               When we refuse to forgive those who offend or harm us we change who we are. We affect the way we see others in terms of trust and kindness. The hurt we hold onto in being unforgiving causes damage and inevitably reveals itself in a way we don’t recognize, in a completely unrelated situation. I think of people who hurt others as fallen and sinful, which applies to us all. In that way we are all consistently falling short of the Glory of God. The nature of people is like gravity. We are always sinful just as gravity always pulls. When we fall do we lash out against gravity or accept what it is?

         Lacking forgiveness is like refusing to accept the nature of sin and man. Refusing to work within God’s design just makes us uncomfortable as the world continues to dwell in darkness. Forgiveness is a light to a world content with its fallenness. Show this world forgiveness with a humility that humbles a hardened heart.

         Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, (Luke 17:3) We are told here to pay attention to ourselves. That makes sense seeing that forgiveness is for our well-being over the well-being of the offender. I feel that forgiveness given, even when there has been no repentance, calms the heart of the offended and warms the heart of our Father. Christ was crucified so that we would have the choice to be forgiven. He died for those who have shown no repentance so that the option of salvation is theirs. Forgive unconditionally, break the cycle of pride so that the love of Christ can be felt through you.

But with you there is forgiveness, so that we can, with reverence, serve you. (Psalm 130:4)

Blessed is the one whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. (Psalm 32:1)

The Seeds Are Your Job

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                When a believer finds the joy and abundance of a life filled with the Holy Spirit, they can’t help but share that with everyone. They have good hearts but that doesn’t always mean the best method. Their passion is beautiful but pushes them beyond what they are called by God to do. I wanted to share a small metaphor to help those filled with the wonderful joy and passion that fills us to overflowing so that we might share, in the right way.

                Although each situation varies and should be led by the Holy Spirit acting through the believer, I want to share a thought that requires patience and faith, both of which the Lord gives to any who ask. We must recognize that we are meant to plant the seeds of the Lord. All too many time we try and give a lost soul or a new believer fruit from our orchard. We want them to see the blessings and abundance of God, but they won’t understand. In fact they may be put off by an idea that only the Holy Spirit can fully communicate. We could stand by and load them with the fruits of God, but those fruits will spoil and fail to glorify God the way He desires. We must focus on sowing the seeds of God so that the Holy Spirit can grow an orchard in the hearts of the new believer. The Spirit can grow the fruits that person is designed to grow in and glorify with. The good fruit grown in the spirit will never spoil because it will be located in the orchard of the believer’s heart, that they will know how to care for, and allow the Spirit to multiply that fruit.

                The worst thing a believer can do is push past their role and try to grow fruit. God’s provision is always better than ours, so His fruit must be also. We must make sure that our love for those around us spurs us to patience, faith and trust. Not allowing God to work in another’s heart will have the opposite effect and drive them away in fear of the unimaginable and infinite God. Remember back when you were saved. If all of the knowledge and joy found in God would have been poured upon you, it would not have found a place to grow. The Lord looks to grow you in His way and His time. Just the way He designed you.

World’s View of The Spirit

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As I sat in a group discussing the spiritual gifts that existed between us, I had a tug at my heart. I saw men light up as they described the gifts God had bestowed upon them and how they put those gifts into practice in their kingdom service. I realized how easy it is to talk about God moving in the presence of other believers, while on the other hand the same conversation with non-believers is met with confusion or skepticism. I then realized that every spiritual gift comes with a worldly stigma that faces criticism from those who cannot recognize God’s work in a person. A few examples:

The gift of Knowledge can be seen as arrogance to someone who is offended by the revelation found in that gift. The humility to be lead is a sign of wisdom and a trait of God.

The gift of Teaching can seem over bearing when the subject matter becomes eternal and spiritual. The believer is looked at as a ‘know it all’ and the words fall on deaf ears.

The gift of Encouragement makes people feel like their problem isn’t taken seriously because they don’t share the same confidence as the believer. They want a reaction that mirrors their own such as anger or fear.

The gift of Giving offends people who are too proud to receive that kind of love.

The gift of Prophecy makes people withdraw as they sit in denial about a truth that becomes clear far later than need be. They fight truth that they are not ready to receive.

The gift of Evangelism rubs anybody wrong who refuses to submit to The Creator and insists on a self-reliance that never succeeds. Just the name of God causes the sinful heart to withdraw.

Finally, the gift of Faith which looks like indifference when the world won’t approve of the lack of reaction found in Christ. They don’t find peace in reliance on a God they deny.

                Growth in Christ (spirit) is viewed as a flaw to the world (flesh). Every gift come with a perceived flaw when the lost don’t understand the true power of the Holy Spirit in a believer. Part of the deceiver’s work is to create a skewed view of God and His faithful by turning the lost away from the power of God as it works through the gifted. We should all take the time to examine our hearts and the gifts God has placed in them. That realization helps you see where God desires to use you in His kingdom. The difficult part is the perseverance we face in the light of those gifts. Ask God to give you strength and know that God has blessed you with those gifts and will continue to do so as you allow His Spirit to move through you with His gifts.

Don’t miss God’s plan

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Old Testament Laws are like guiding lights/ bread crumbs/ a map/ a GPS. They were originally intended to bring the focus of the Israelites to God and at the same time serve as a guide to show His power in their lives to the rest of the world. Knowing that sin kept all people from fulfilling the laws God became man and a sinless sacrifice so that love could succeed where the law had failed. Mercy could succeed where judgement fails. Many people miss the point of Jesus and continue attempting to please God in obedience to law. They use the law as a tool to learn about God and try and grow in Him. They miss the opportunity to be filled with His spirit in complete intimacy as a conduit of His power. Focusing on the law will cause you to miss God’s desire which is to live in your heart and allow you to shine His light to this dark world. Keeping your eyes on the Map/ GPS God gave people in the Old Testament will cause you to miss the destination God gave us through Christ, His Spirit!

Life without Law

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In a genuine walk with Christ it is inevitable that we will come across those who take a legalistic view of God. They focus on the rules that must be followed to be in relation with/ accepted by God. The Old Testament consisted of rules that were meant to keep God’s people focused on Him as well as show the generations to come how impossible a perfect adherence to the law was. In God’s wisdom He fulfilled the law by becoming a perfect/ sinless human and allowing Himself to be offered as a sacrificial lamb for the sins of all who are willing to accept the sacrifice. Not only was the law fulfilled by Jesus Christ but the Ten Commandments given to Moses/ laws of the Prophets were covered in the Two Commandments of Jesus (Matthew 22:37-40). Living in a manner commanded by the Savior leaves a believer in a redeemed state where the focus isn’t law but grace. In the Holy Spirit and its fruit there is no law (Galatians 5:23). A person redeemed through Jesus has the law written on their heart, the fulfilment of law through love is in their new nature. Don’t lose sight of the redemptive work of Jesus. Allowing OT law to rule your life and take your focus away from Christ isn’t God’s desire. If we are meant to fulfill OT laws then Jesus died for nothing, His forgiveness isn’t the only way to redemption, and He was lying in (John 14:6).

Walking in the truth of God will make clear that Jesus is our way, He fulfilled the law, and was truthful in being the way to true reconciliation. I refuse to make my savior and God’s plan obsolete by looking past Jesus to a law that created a need for my Savior. Know God, know Jesus, and know that a heart that belongs to God does not require written laws!