Whit’s End: Spiritual Gifts

1 Corinthians 12.1???11

1Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed. 2You know that when you were pagans, you were enticed and led astray to idols that could not speak. 3Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking by the Spirit of God ever says ???Let Jesus be cursed!??? and no one can say ???Jesus is Lord??? except by the Holy Spirit. 4Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; 5and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; 6and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. 7To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. 8To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, 9to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the discernment of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 11All these are activated by one and the same Spirit, who allots to each one individually just as the Spirit chooses.

We jump into a stream of activity in the life of the Corinthian people this morning. ??The Church of Corinth had written Paul a letter with many questions. ??This first letter is Paul's response. ??Because of the things they wrote about and the things he has heard from different lay people, he's extremely concerned. ??He's heard of the immorality, the arguments, the divisions, and Paul sets out to straighten them out on several issues. ??In fact, Paul tackles 11 major issues in this one letter. ??

Paul's encouragement is that they would grow up, mature, and become everything God has equipped them to be through the Holy Spirit. ??Through Jesus Christ, the resurrected Son of God, we have freedom to live powerful lives. ??But, we must put the Holy Spirit, the very Presence of God at the center of our lives, not ourselves. ??Through the Holy Spirit, great things happen; people's lives are changed and transformed. ??But that transformation is completely dependent upon the people's willingness to cooperate with the Spirit and be open to His guiding.

In our text this morning, Paul is addressing extreme spiritual matters; the gifts of the Spirit that he refers to is complicated and something the modern Church struggles with in her interpretation. ??These gifts are things that the Church at that time were experiencing for the people's salvation and the Church's expansion across the world. ??God was raising up (and still is today) people attune to the Holy Spirit who will build the Church and continue her expansion. ??These "gifts" are such things like wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, miracles, prophecy, discernment of spirits, speaking of tongues, and interpretation of tongues.

Now, there is no reason for us to be afraid of any of these gifts nor is there any reason for us to go seeking out these things either. ??Some Christian traditions believe that some of these gifts have ceased and other traditions believe that are still fully alive in the Church today. ??But the point for us today is to focus on why they exist. ??The gifts of the Spirit were given then and at times appear today for the salvation of others and the benefit of the Church. ??The gifts of the Spirit are not flashy; they are not self-serving; they are not manifested on command nor are they to be used for any other reason than for what has been explained above. ??The gifts are given to those whom God chooses, and they are displayed for the salvation of those who do not know God and for the building of??? and lifting up of God's Church.

To those who would deny themselves as the center of all things and put God first, there is an extraordinary life awaiting. ??God is waiting to activate the life of the Spirit in each of us if we would draw closer to Him. ??God has done his work, he has sent his Son, and is ready to give each of us what we need in order to find our purpose in the life of the Church. ??The Church is important because it is the body of Christ. ??But that is for next week?????

For today, understand that ministry awaits each of us. ??And know that when we say "ministry" we do not mean programs or the busyness of the Church. ??The ministry that awaits us all is the life we live for others; what awaits is our growing, our maturing, our transforming, our being made more into the image of Christ. ??None of us really knows the freedom that God truly desires we have in life until we give that life back to the One Who equips us to truly live it. ??The power of the Holy Spirit is not something the world knows anything about. ??The perceptions of the Church and the opinion of the media cannot define nor can it take away the true meaning of being the body of Christ.

The gifts that are given to us by God are special, unique, and are meant to do something to this world that we can only experience when we come into genuine relationship with Jesus Christ. ??So, that is the real challenge today, that each of us would cling to God, that we would hold fast to Jesus, that we would live with the Spirit and begin to see life what it REALLY is. ??Reality is a revelation from God, not something that we see outside our window. ??Gifts like wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, miracles, prophecy, discernment, and the speaking in and interpretation of tongues are God's way of saying, "There's more to life than you can know on your own and I want to show it to you." ??If you pray for anything, do not pray for the gifts, but pray for the revelation of God, that he would shine in your heart and show you reality, a Spiritual LIFE, and that you would begin to see the world through the eyes of the One who made it.??

There's a Holy Change meant to be seen in this world. ??Whether in a foreign country, in your own family, or even in your own heart, there is change that is to be brought about through the power of the Holy Spirit. ??You are being built up, along with God's Church, in order for this world to be put back together through peace and hope, one person at a time. ??Each of us is a brick in the walls of the kingdom of God. ??Through people, God is expanding the boundaries of his kingdom, bringing about everything we were created to be but have not become because of sin. ??

Therefore, let God drive out sin from our lives through the power and presence of the Holy Spirit! ??May you be free today, free to be the person God created you to be, a person who can receive the great spiritual gifts that bring salvation and wholeness to a world that is empty and broken. ??Amen.

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