SPIRITUAL GIFTS

Spiritual Gifts Logo

Artwork by Shad Fox@creationswap

By Jeffrey Hagan

Introduction:

I have written, preached, and taught on the topic of spiritual gifts many times. The primary focus almost always turns to whether or not the “miracle” or “sign” gifts are still active today or if they slowly ceased functioning with the decline of the original apostles and the very earliest of church fathers. Another favorite is if tongues operates today and if they are the so-called “initial physical evidence” of the baptism of the Holy Spirit. In between all of this there is a large amount of intricate details that are discussed, debated, and disagreed over.

This article is not going to focus on any of that. I want to provide a refresher as to what exactly the gifts of the Spirit are and what are their functions. Just recently I was in a discussion with someone who refused to believe or accept that there were more than seven spiritual gifts. She insisted there were only seven regardless of the biblical evidence that was presented to her. This led me to believe that perhaps an article simply identifying and briefly defining them might be in order.

What Are They?
In 1 Corinthians 12, we are informed that spiritual gifts are given to God’s elect by the Holy Spirit for “the common good.” Verse 11 tells us the gifts are given according to how God wants them distributed (“as he determines”). Ephesians 4:12 lets us know these gifts are given to equip God’s people to serve and for edifying, or building up, the body of Christ. We are also told elsewhere that at certain times particular gifts are given as a sign to those who do not believe.

The term itself, “spiritual gifts,” is derived from two Greek words: charismata (meaning gifts) and pneumatika (spirits). You might be able to tell these are plural forms of “charisma” (meaning expression of grace), and “pneumatikon” (meaning expression of Spirit). While it is true there are a variety of gifts (1 Corinthians 12:4), generally speaking, spiritual gifts are God-supplied graces (unique abilities, some are offices, some are manifestations) designed for works of service for the building up of the body of Christ as a whole. Some of which, we are told were for the purposes of laying the foundation of the church.

Are There Actual Lists Of The Gifts?
General consensus is that there are three biblical lists recording the gifts of the Spirit. Some sprinkle in a few gifts from another passage or two as well, but the three main passages dealing with spiritual gifts are Romans 12:6-8; 1 Corinthians 12:4-11, 28-31 and Ephesians 7:7-10.

Before looking at each gift individually let’s pause here and look at some important issues regarding the spiritual gifts in general.

-To start, every single Christian has, at the absolute minimum, at least one gift (1 Peter 4:10).
-No Christian possesses all of the gifts (1 Corinthians 12:28-30).
-We cannot pick and choose our gifts, that is the job of God alone (1 Corinthians 12:7-11).
-There is no one gift that is meant for all believers to possess (with the exception of faith to differing degrees) (1 Corinthians 12:29-30).
-Believers will give an account to the Lord for how they used their gifts (1 Peter 4:10).
-Spiritual gifts are an indication, or confirmation, of God’s call for a believer’s life (Romans 12:2-8).
-Any gift used without love is worthless and does not accomplish what God desires (1 Corinthians 13:1-3).
-Spiritual gifts are for the common good of the Body and are to be used to build up, or edify, the Body (1 Corinthians 12:27).

SOME BIBLICAL GUIDELINES FOR THE USE OF SPIRITUAL GIFTS:
-The use of the gifts must align with biblical protocol and teaching (2 Timothy 3:16; Romans 12; 1 Corinthians 12  14; Ephesians 4; 1 Peter 4).
-The use of the gifts result in affirmation and positive feedback from the Body (1 Corinthians 12:7; Ephesians 4:16).
-There is unity in the Body that it is indeed the Holy Spirit who is at work (1 John 4:1; 1 Thessalonians 5:21).
-The Holy Spirit fills us with peace as we exercise our gifts for the body of Christ (John 15:26; Romans 8:16).
-Godly fruit is a result of the use of gifts in the Body (John 15:8; Matthew 7:16-20).
-Fellow Christ-followers use their gifts for the common good to meet the needs of others (Acts 2:44-45; 1 Corinthians 12:7).
-A spiritual gift not offered in love is of no value (1 Corinthians 13:1-3).
-We should make every effort to live our lives worthy of the calling we are given (Ephesians 4:1).

The List Of Gifts:
PROPHECY: Rom. 12:6; 1 Cor. 12:10; Eph. 4:11  to speak forth the message of God to His people. Greek word is “prophetes,” which is the forth-telling of the will of God; ‘pro’ = forth; ‘phemi’ = to speak. Extra-biblical future telling aspects of prophecy are in direct contradiction to other passages that condemn fortune-telling and predictions of the future (Acts 16:16-18).

SERVICE: Rom. 12:7  to recognize things that are not being done in God’s work, regardless of how menial they may seem, and then using whatever is available to complete the work. Greek word is “diakonia,” which we get deacon, attendant, server; ‘diako’ = to run errands. This is actually also referred to as simply ministering to others. It is giving practical help to those in need.

TEACHING: Rom. 12:7; 1 Cor. 12:28; Eph. 4:11  the ability to instruct others regarding the Bible in a logical, systematic fashion so as to inform others of essential information for proper understanding and personal growth. It is the analysis and proclamation of God’s Word in a way that explains the meaning, context, and application to one’s life.

ENCOURAGING/EXHORTATION: Rom. 12:8  to come along the side of another with encouragement, counsel, and comfort to help them live and be as God desires. Greek word is “paraklesis” = coming along one’s side. This also carries with it the ability to strengthen those weaker in the faith and comforting those who are facing tribulation.

GIVING: Rom. 12:8  the sharing of one’s material goods with the utmost of generosity and cheerfulness with no expectation of being repaid.

LEADERSHIP: Rom. 12:8  to be at the forefront of a group in a way that attends to the direction of the body with extreme care and diligence motivating others to get involved in accomplishing the needed tasks. The word literally means “guide” and carries with it the idea of steering a ship.

MERCY: Rom. 12:8  an empathy and sensitivity for those who are suffering either physically, mentally, or emotionally and speaking and acting in compassion toward them in order to reduce the level of their distress.

WORD OF WISDOM: 1 Cor. 12:8  the application of knowledge to life in a way as to make spiritual truths “relevant and practical in proper decision-making and daily life situations.” The skillful application of biblical truth so it can be applied using great discernment.

WORD OF KNOWLEDGE: 1 Cor. 12:8  being driven to learn as much about the bible as one possibly can by gathering hordes of information, reading, studying, and then analyzing all of of that which is gathered. Another aspect is the understanding of truth in a way that can have only been gained by communication from God. The ability to grasp more difficult and so-called mysterious passages of the Bible with greater ease.

FAITH: 1 Cor. 12:8-10  to be completely convinced of God’s power and faithfulness to carry out His will and purpose and to radiate that confidence in Him and His Word in the midst of facing circumstances and situations that would normally cause others to doubt. Faith is a gift we all have to some degree or another. This is the one and only spiritual gift that all believers are given when regenerated (Galatians 5:22-23).

HEALING: 1 Cor. 12:9, 28, 30  when God makes a person whole either physically, mentally, emotionally, or spiritually. It is important to remember it is God who does the healing, not man.

MIRACLES: 1 Cor. 12:10, 28  when God performs a mighty deed, or “signs and wonders”, in which those involved clearly acknowledge to be supernatural in origin. Again, this is an action of God, not man.

DISCERNMENT: 1 Cor. 12:10  to be able to recognize truth from error by determining if the source is from God, Satan/demons, or humans. It’s a gift given to the church for protection.

TONGUES: 1 Cor. 12:10; 14:27-28  the ability to speak in a language one has never learned in order that unbelievers can hear the message in their native tongue so that they may be edified.

INTERPRETATION OF TONGUES: 1 Cor. 12:10; 14:27-28  translating the message which was given by the individual who spoke in tongues.

HELPS: 1 Cor. 12:28  to give support or assistance to others in the body of Christ in order to free them up for other ministry activities. This gift is closely related to mercy. One with the gift of helps has compassion and empathy toward others.

HOSPITALITY: 1 Pet. 4:9-10  to genuinely welcome people, even strangers into one’s home or church with warmth, love, and acceptance. Desire and enjoyment in serving those in need of food and/or a place to stay. Greek word is “philoxenos” = love of strangers; ‘philos’ = love; ‘xenos’ = stranger.

POVERTY: 1 Cor. 13:3  deliberately living in poverty in order to focus on serving God and others. To cheerfully give up your material goods in order to better another.

CELIBACY: 1 Cor. 7:7-8  to purposefully remain single without any regret and having the ability to keep one’s sexual drive and impulses controlled and in check in order to give more time to God and serve Him with less distractions.

MARTYRDOM: 1 Cor. 13:3  giving one’s life to persecution, and even death, for the cause of Christ while maintaining peace within.

Gifts And Offices:
APOSTLE: Eph. 4:11; 1 Cor. 12:28  to be sent out to new lands to share the Gospel, provide leadership for other church bodies, and maintain authority over spiritual issues that relate to the church. The Greek word is “apostolos,” ‘appo’ = from, ‘stello’ = send; one sent forth.

EVANGELIST: Eph. 4:11  a messenger who shares the Gospel with others. The Greek word is “euaggelistes” – preacher of the gospel; eu = well, angelos = message. Or, messenger of God.

MISSIONARY: Eph. 3:6-8  the ability and desire to minister in a different culture from your own.

PASTOR: Eph. 4:11  to be responsible for the spiritual care, protection, leading, guiding, and nurturing of a particular group of believers that have been entrusted to one’s care. Other biblical words related are elder and shepherd.

Conclusion:
Well, that’s about it for our current purposes. Of course some of these gifts overlap. Also, some people might add a couple, some might remove a couple, some would include Teaching in the “Gifts and Offices” section, and there might be some other possible differences. However, for the most part, this information and list gives a good representation and brief description of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. May God equip you with the necessary gifts to serve your circle of influence in your personal ministry.

Rev. Jeff Hagan, DCE, DMin, (ThD)

Founder and President of True Grace Ministries and Theological Institute. http://www.truegraceinstitute.webs.com

Article Source: http://www.faithwriters.com <a href=”http://www.faithwriters.com”>CHRISTIAN WRITER</a>

The Handwriting On The Wall

God of the Impossible

Artwork by Cody Jensen@creationswap

 

By Tesh Njokanma

Wouldn’t it be nice to have God personally write on your wall whenever you need an answer to life’s tough questions like whom to marry, which career to pursue, what school to send your children? Wouldn’t it be a plus in your favour to just look at your wall and you can see the questions you are going to be asked at that job interview? Wouldn’t it be a big boon to have God write on your wall the exact spot where oil, diamonds, gold, silver and other precious gems are buried? Imagine God writing all of this on your wall. Hmmh! Sounds good. Right?

When we read Daniel 5, an account of God writing on the wall, one may have second thoughts about wanting God to personally write important information on our walls. It certainly wasn’t a pleasant experience for King Belshazzar when God wrote on his wall. His face turned pale, he was terribly frightened, his knees knocked together and his legs gave way as he watched the hand of God write on his palace wall (Daniel 5:6).

A detailed study of Daniel 5 reveals certain things. Firstly, God writing on the wall was an act of judgment not a blessing. So if you are looking for a way for God to disclose vital information to you, getting Him to write on your wall may not be your best bet; it may not be a blessing in disguise. Besides, for those who are close to God, those who have a relationship with Him, He’s more personal in His approach. God spoke a lot to Daniel, God revealed so many deep things to Daniel, but He didn’t have to write on the wall to get Daniel’s attention. God spoke to Daniel in a friendlier way. Jeremiah 31:33 says “This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time declares the Lord. I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people”. If God truly is your God and you are His, He won’t have to write on your wall anytime He wants to speak to you. He would simply write it or impress it on your heart. The handwriting on the wall is for those who are outside the covenant of God, the handwriting on the heart are for those who belong to the family of God.

Secondly, God’s handwriting can’t be understood by everyone. None of the enchanters, astrologers and diviners of Babylon could read and understand God’s handwriting. Only Daniel who had the Spirit of God in him understood God’s writing (Daniel 5:7-30). There’s no hidden fact, mystery, or secret God’s Spirit doesn’t know. 1 Corinthians 2:10 tells us that the Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. It’s one thing for God to write something, it’s another thing for you to understand what He has written. Whether God writes on tablets of stone or on tablets of human hearts, whether God writes on a wall or He writes in a book, you need to be filled with the Holy Spirit to clearly understand when God is writing or speaking.

Finally, after Daniel rightly interpreted the handwriting on the wall, he was honoured and promoted (Daniel 5:29). Why? Through the help of God, he performed a great feat; he did what no one else in Babylon was able to do. In our own day, we have a book that contains the writings of God. This is no ordinary book  it is the Bible, the Living Word of God. Blessings, honor and promotion come from reading, rightly dividing, interpreting and applying what God has written in His Word to your life (Matthew 13:23, 2 Timothy 2:15). Do you want to be blessed in an unbelievable way? Look to the enduring and infallible writings of God not on a building wall, but contained in the Holy Bible.
___________________
http://www.teshnwritings.com

Tesh Njokanma is a lawyer by training whose heart is in writing. She is a prolific writer with over 15 years experience as a magazine Editor. She is a pastor in the Redeemed Christian Church of God with a prayer and teaching ministry. Tesh is married with children. She is based in Lagos, Nigeria.

Article Source: http://www.faithwriters.com <a href=”http://www.faithwriters.com”>CHRISTIAN WRITER</a>

Our Father Listens

How To Get Through

Photo Art by Jeff Brotherton@creationswap

 by Susan Ferguson

I cry out to the Lord with my voice; with my voice to the Lord I make my supplication. I pour out my complaint before Him; I declare before Him my trouble. (Psalm 142: 1-2 NKJV)

Whether young or old, rich or poor, we all experience disappointment. Family or friends can let us down, or we can disappoint ourselves by letting them down. Sometimes our plans do not turn out as we hope. Perhaps a dream has died, and life seems meaningless. Christians are not exempt from life’s disappointments, but we have Jesus, who will strengthen and sustain us during times of adversity.

God wants us to be open and honest with Him about our concerns. We need not be afraid of being honest with Him, for He knows all things. Disappointment is too heavy a burden to bear alone. Our heavenly Father listens. The Bible is full of heroes such as David who poured out his heart to God for help, refuge, strength, and forgiveness.

Due to past disappointments, some people are afraid to hope for fear of another letdown. When disappointments come in waves and pile up into heaps, they can overwhelm us and cause physical and emotional problems. God does not want this to happen. He asks that we take our troubles to Him.

When we place our disappointments in Jesus’ hands, He gives us strength to move on and leave our let-down behind. He binds up the wounds of disappointment and brings healing. Every disappointment we face is an opportunity to draw closer to Jesus. When we place our trust in Jesus, He can begin new and wonderful things in our lives.

Today’s freelance writer lives with her husband in Madison, MS, USA. Contact

 

Loneliness / Depression

Cares_BW

Photo by Doug Shelton@creaionswap

 

By Henry Miranda

2 Corinthians 4:8 (KJV)
8  We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair;

Everyone feels lonely from time to time, but for some, loneliness comes far too often. Feeling lonely can plague many people  including the elderly, people who are isolated, and those that suffer from depression  with symptoms such as sadness, isolation, and withdrawal. Loneliness can strike a person who lives alone or someone who lives in a house filled with people.

Have you ever heard the statement” life stinks” life is what we make of it. Have your ever played the game Monopoly? Everybody starts the same. Each is given the same money and everybody takes a turn with the dice. You make the choice whether or not to buy the property where you land and if you don’t your opponent will. You have to be able to make the right choices. So it is in life. We get one chance to go around the merry-go-round and get the brass ring. In life, just like the game of Monopoly we can make wrong choices.

What about this statement” Be strong in the Lord and the power of his might” What does that mean to you or what comes into your mind?  There is never a wrong choice with God if we lean on his strength. The bible is the book you need to go by to live the joyous, prosperous life that you deserve and that the Lord wants you to have.

Family, friends, jobs, and other factors can bring us down. But just remember that nothing should ever made you feel like you a failure in life. You are one of God’s children, and He loves you dearly. You have the chance to start over in the Lord by making him the Lord of your life. He can make the best decisions for you. But you have to give Him the chance to see what he can do in your life. Don’t focus on what’s not going well in your life because you may have trouble seeing the positive.

Do you think that loneliness brings depression? That is a good question so why do we think we must be alone. Loneliness is not a healthy thing.  I think that most of our problems come from feeling alone. We may try many things to combat that lonely feeling, but to no avail. Why is it that we get lonely in the first place? Even when we are with friends and think we are having a good time. Is it because we were never intended to be alone in the first place?

By alone, I mean that deep in our soul we are missing that desperately needed fellowship with God. When God created Adam He did not let him be alone, that’s why He created Eve so Adam could have someone with whom he could share his life with. God knew that Adam needed someone to have fellowship with, because God was not always physically present with him. It’s a hard thing being alone without someone to talk to. We may think that we are self-sufficient and don’t need any one, but that’s where we are wrong. We were created to have fellowship; we were never created to be loners. God gave us a way that we may have fellowship with Him. It is  through His Son. John 3:16. It is through salvation that we can have the fellowship that we need with God.

Being lonely is like the lowest point in our lives. Sometime we don’t even know that we are carrying that loneliness. To lose someone is a very sad and lonely experience. I remember when my mother went to be with the Lord. It must have been the loneliest day of my life. It felt to me like I was the only person in this world. I had never felt such loneliness as this. After the funeral it seemed that nothing mattered to me anymore. It seems to me that I didn’t care about anything or anyone.

That was over 20 years ago yet I remember it like it was just yesterday. Could it be that when loneliness creeps into your heart it finds a hiding place where it dwells for most of your life? Oh how I love my Lord and Savior for replacing that loneliness with his love. Who knows how long we carry that loneliness inside of us. Sometime we don’t even know that we are carrying that loneliness.

Loneliness can be a terrible thing. It’s like an ache in your heart that you can’t get rid of. Friendship is about the only thing that can replace loneliness. We all need a good friend and we have one in “Jesus” He will never leave us or forsake us. We can always talk to Him day or night, anytime. He is always there to listen to our problems

1 Peter 5:8 (KJV)
8  Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:

Don’t let the devil discourage you, remember that you are made in the image of God you have the potential to do whatever you choose to do as long as it follows the plan that God has for your life. We need to pray and meditate on God’s word and wait on the directions that the Lord has for us.

I live in San Bernardino, California, in 1984 became a Christian.  Completed four years of Bible College and earned a Bachelor’s of Christian ministry @ Christian Leadership University.

Article Source: http://www.faithwriters.com <a href=”http://www.faithwriters.com”>CHRISTIAN WRITER</a>

Christians That Get Entangled

Caged

Artwork by by Cody Jensen

By stephanie reck

We are called to be Holy and to live righteously before God. We are also called to be a light in this dark world, but what happens when you become entangled in helping others? Merriam-Webster defines entanglement as something that entangles, confuses, or ensnares. The condition of being deeply involved. Synonyms for entanglement are web, mesh, net, noose, quicksand, snare, toil, and trap. Free Dictionary defines entanglement as twisting together or entwine into a confusing mass. To complicate or confuse.

Have you ever tried to help someone repeatedly and felt you were getting entangled in their problems? The more you try and help the more you feel like you are getting into quicksand and you feel there is no answer to their situations, which in turn causes you frustration. You start second guessing if you are a “real Christian.” You feel a sense of guilt over not being able to cope and handle all the problems that others bring to you. Many times the very people you are entangled with are piling heaps of guilt and manipulation upon you. This is especially difficult when dealing with loved ones and family. There is a deeper entanglement that comes from the ones we love. We don’t want them to suffer and to hurt, but what happens when all the helping is not helping but hurting you?

The enemy will bring situations and people into you path to distract and derail your purposes. There are some signs to watch for when you have gone too deep with someone.
1.    Did you feel prompted by the Holy Spirit to intervene or was it pressure from the other person or a desire to please?
2.    Are you struggling with your walk with God? Feeling spiritually bankrupt? Youth time with God is lacking and you are having trouble focusing on hearing God’s voice.
3.    You may feel discouraged, defeated, and like a failure.
4.    You are not sure God called you be in ministry and you lose your desire to minister.
5.    You feel stress, turmoil, tension, strife, chaos, and confusion.
6.    You can’t seem to get a clear or direct answer from the person you are trying to help. It seems when you talk with person you are trying to help it is muddy.
7.    You may experience fatigue and even sickness.
8.    The person you are trying to help does not listen to the advice you are trying to give to them, and they continue to do what they are doing; meanwhile still wanting you to fix their problems.
9.    You begin to feel frustrated, irritable, and maybe even angry.
10.    You are consumed with trying to intervene, and maybe even losing sleep as a result. Your focus is on their situation, and not on Christ.
11.    Your peace is gone and joy has dissipated.
12.    No amount of intervention or help is never enough for the person or people you are entangled with.
13.    You feel emotionally, physically and spiritually drained.
14.    You feel distracted and out of balance.
15.     You feel like you are on an emotional roller coaster ride with their issues.
16.    You try and point them to Jesus but discern they are not sincere in seeking Him.

You may be dealing with a toxic person. If you do not do what they want you to do, and they resort to anger, name calling, belittling, or guilt; that is a trait of a toxic person. To get entangled in a toxic person’s issues is dangerous to your mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual well-being. Not all people who say they want help, in fact really want help. Some people are used by the agents of hell to entangle you and ensnare you. A HALLMARK OF A HEALTHY RELATIONSHIP IS BOTH RECEIVE AND BOTH GIVE. There is also harmony, peace, and a desire to be around the other person. If you begin to dread being around that person or talking to them, it is a sign that it is not a healthy relationship.

Restoration and reconciliation are always hoped for in these types of relationships, but until Christ is at the center some precautions need to be made for your sanity.
1.    Take a time-out from these destructive relationships. Regain your peace and order. Ask the Lord Jesus to step-in and take full control, and you step out before you go under with them.
2.    Confront in love. The person that repeatedly causes drama and chaos in your life should be confronted as the Holy Spirit directs. Don’t do this in anger, but with the hope of true repentance.
3.    Set proper boundaries and consequences. This is important in dealing with ones who say they are sorry but continue to repeat the same behaviors over and over again. You will need to keep a guard up, and observe their behavior for a time (a solid year of consistent behavior is a good indication of true change), before realigning your life to theirs.
4.    Keep in mind that Jesus is not expecting to wear yourself out to help others who are not really helping themselves.
5.    Begin taking care of you and foster the good and positive relationships in your life. Stay away from toxic and negative people as much as possible. Nurture yourself and love yourself.
6.    Many times when we are engaged with other toxic people we neglect our other relationships that are satisfying. Take time to rebuild and restore satisfying relationships.
7.    Forgive yourself and let go of all guilt. Guilt is a tool straight from the pit of hell. It NEVER comes from God.

Stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and not to be entangled again with the yoke of bondage. Galatians 5:1, KJV
Soldiers don’t get tied up in the affairs of civilian life, for then they cannot please the officer who enlisted them. 2 Timothy 2:4, NLT

Stephanie Reck, LMSW, LBT,BCCC. Christian counselor, author, speaker, and teacher. Stephanie has a passion to bring hope and encouragement and to see people made whole.
Contact Stephanie @ http://www.christianhopecounseling.com
Copyright@2014, Hope Ministry. All Rights Reserved.

Article Source: http://www.faithwriters.com <a href=”http://www.faithwriters.com”>CHRISTIAN WRITER</a>

By blackeybaptistchurch Posted in Faith

Search for Me

 

Prayer

Photo by Joel Joseph@creationswap

 

 – by Wanda Sewell

 

“Seek ye the Lord while He may be found, call ye upon Him while He is near.” (Isaiah 55:6 KJV)

 

I had just gone into ministry and was caring for a household of thirteen elderly ladies. At that time, I had been walking with the Lord for four years. I had my own room because I was a live-in assistant to the manager. One night, after settling everyone in for the evening, I was in my room when I discovered I’d lost an earring. I didn’t wear much jewelry, so I only had one pair. I crawled around my room on my hands and knees, feeling every inch of the area where I believed I had dropped it. I kept praying over and over. “O God, please help me find my earring.” After about fifteen minutes, I found it. I was so happy to get it back. Only a few minutes after I retrieved my lost earring, I heard the Lord speak in my heart. “Search for Me like you did that earring!” I never forgot the lesson that God taught me that evening. We all have a time in our lives where we can seek the Lord’s Face. Let us rise up and do so now, for time may be running short!

 

Wanda lives in Little Falls, New York, and is currently studying theology at Shalom Bible College and Seminary out of West Des Moines, Iowa. Contact

 

What I Thought God Wanted

Family

Photo by Matt Gruber@creationswap

By Abby Kelly

A man stood before God listening intently; he wanted to catch every single word of instruction.

“Do you see that boulder there?” God asked. “The one on the very edge of the precipice. I created it and placed it exactly there with you in mind. This is your mission, your calling. I want you to push that boulder.”

“That’s all God?” The man glanced down at his puny physique and felt a flush of shame redden his cheeks. It doesn’t seem like a very important job, he thought. At the same time, doubt clashed with his indignation. What if I’m not strong enough to move that huge rock, he wondered.

“That is exactly what I made you to do,” God affirmed. “I will always be with you. Don’t worry, you can do all things through my strength.”

So the man set his shoulder against the stone. Day in and day out, night after long night, he pressed on. Over time, his shoulders broadened with sinewy muscle. His skin grew dark and tan at first, then weathered and ruddy. His shoulder bruised. Once or twice, he pulled back and looked at the massive rock. It hadn’t moved a millimeter.

The voice of doubt reached a fevered pitch in his mind: I’m failing. The one, seemingly insignificant thing God gave me to do and I can’t even manage that. And where is God? I thought He was going to help me be my strength! Maybe I didn’t hear Him right. Maybe He’s not even pleased with all my work. I only wanted to be obedient. I’m sure someone else could do a better job.

Just then, he felt a presence behind him. His Lord stood there, quietly assessing the tired man and the stone. “I’m sorry, God,” the man whispered. “I couldn’t move it even one tiny bit.”

Jesus reached out a scarred hand and tipped the man’s face up to look Him in the eyes. “What are you talking about?” He asked gently. “I never asked you to move the stone. I only asked you to push it.”

My pastor told that story in a message about finishing well. He quoted Paul in 1 Timothy 4:7, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”

My heart perked up with his words. I’ve felt like that! In particular, I have prayed and prayed and prayed for my husband to love the Lord with all his heart and to lead our family spiritually. (I’ve also employed some unsuccessful tactics like pleading and bribing.) Now, 15 years later, I’m tired, I feel like a failure and I want to quit.

As a Christian wife, I know that my most important assignment on earth is to help my husband become the man God created him to be. God brought us together; He created me to be my husband’s helpmate. Sometimes this appointment seems mundane and unimportant compared to world-wide evangelism and other lofty callings. Other times, it seems like much more than I can handle; it feels like I have sweated and struggled to no avail.

As I listened to the sermon, I felt Jesus’ presence. I turned my heart to listen.

“Daughter,” He said. “I never told you to change your husband. I assigned you to be his helpmate. You put a great burden on yourself when you expect a specific outcome or result. You are only to obey me; be his helpmate. I will be the one to move and change him in my time. But, do you see what good has come of your labor? You, yourself have grown strong. When you were tired and weary, you learned to rest in me. You’ve gained some calluses and bruises, but now you are wiser, too.

Whether it be our hopes and dreams for a certain type of marriage or something else, our lives and sanity depend on understanding specifically what God has called us to do. He has not called us to bring about an outcome, only to allow Him to use us in the process.

“So we tell others about Christ, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all the wisdom God has given us. We want to present them to God, perfect in their relationship to Christ. That’s why I work and struggle so hard, depending on Christ’s mighty power that works within me.” Colossians 1:28-29 (emphasis added)
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A Believing Heart

Children in Asia

Photo by Justin Knight@creationswap

- by Susan Ferguson

 

Jesus said to him, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes”. (Mark 9:23 NKJV)

 

Jesus had a special love and appreciation for children. He taught the disciples that to enter the kingdom of heaven they must become like little children. (Matthew 18:1-3)

 

Young children are open and honest and have the faith to believe. They are humble, teachable, and eager to learn about Jesus. Untarnished by the world, they love and forgive easily. If they have a fuss with another child, the next day they are playing happily together. Valuable lessons can be learned from children.

 

As children grow into adulthood, the cares and worries of the world gradually chip away their believing hearts. Skepticism replaces trust when they learn that people aren’t always honest and trustworthy. Their once pure hearts become tainted by the troubles of a fallen world.

 

As adults, we dare not become so “grown up” that we can’t take God at His word and trust Him. As Christ followers, we must guard our hearts against unbelief. When Jesus returns, will He find faith on earth? (Luke 18:8) Let us take a look at Mary, the mother of Jesus, and see how she responded when the angel Gabriel told her she would give birth to the Son of God. (Luke 1:26-33) Mary was frightened, and she questioned how it could be. (Luke 1:34) But she had a believing heart and a willingness to obey God.

 

Today’s freelance writer is a bookkeeper by day and a writer by night. She lives with her husband in Madison, MS, USA. Contact

 

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The Game Changer

Scrabble Series 2

Photo by Mathew Grubber @creationswap

by Mathetes Disciple  

I have loved things,
I have loved places,
I have loved people.
Yet the moment I met you everything changed.

How can I ever describe what you are,
How can I ever describe who you are,
How can ever describe what I feel for you.

You confound me with your goodness.
Your greatness my mind never fathoms
You are a mystery that no finite mind can ever comprehend.
Your circle of love,I feel in the rays of the sun.
Yet you remain the great game changer.

The moment you stepped into the scene,the game changed.
In my hearts of hearts I know that I can never love like this
Nor will I ever be loved as completely as you love me.
Your love branded my heart with infinite possiblilities,the knowledge that I am yours and
You remain true.

Mathetes is a modern day disciple,who is passionate about God,his word and all he continues to do in the world today.He is alive … can you hear him speaking to you?

Article Source: http://www.faithwriters.com-CHRISTIAN WRITERS

Weapons of Our Warfare

Fearless.psd

Arwork by Jordan Battani@creationswap

 

By stephanie reck

We are in an unseen spiritual warfare. There is a battle taking place, and you may not know who or what is behind this. You may feel alone, maybe your church has never discussed this topic. Perhaps you need to know what you are going through is part of the Christian walk, however, God has given us some instructions for the warfare.

The enemy wants to destroy your walk with God, and will make attempts to do so. It is not a matter of if you will engage in this battle, but when. You must be prepared and guarded for this time. Victory is yours, but sometimes you will go through battles of the unseen world. Be of good courage, because the Lord will see you through. Just don’t give in during the warfare. The struggle may seem endless and hopeless, but that is a lie of the enemy; keep pressing through until triumph.

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6:12

Those who are not “flesh and blood” are demons over whom satan has control. We don’t fight with people, but these unseen forces. They are a powerful army whose goal it is to defeat Christ’s church. When we believe in Christ, these demons try and turn us away from Christ and back to sin. Although we are assured of victory, we must engage in the struggle until Christ returns.

We need supernatural power to defeat satan, and God has provided this by giving us His Holy Spirit within us and His armor surrounding us. We do not fight alone, nor must we try and engage in this warfare alone.

Above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. Ephesians 6:16

What we see are satan’s attacks in the form of insults, setbacks, and temptations. But the shield of faith protects us from satan’s fiery darts. With God’s perspective, we can see beyond our circumstances and know that ultimate victory is ours.

What are some weapons of warfare:

1.    Prayer. Ask The Lord to dispatch His Warrior, guardian angels.
2.    Praise; play worship music in your home continually.
3.    Stand still and allow God to battle for you.
4.    Trust God and have faith that the victory will come.
5.    Use the authority you have in Christ to command the enemy to flee.
6.    Plead the blood of Jesus over yourself, your family, home, and children. The enemy knows what Christ’s blood represents.
7.    Close any “open” doors that you may have opened to the enemy, such as unconfessed sin.
8.    Watch what you say. Don’t get into agreement with that the enemy is showing you. Confess God’s Word instead. Speak what God says. Satan fights with lies that sound like the truth, so we must speak and know God’s Word.
9.    Know who you are in Christ. Satan will attack your self-worth, and your emotions. In other words, what does God say about you.

Read Ephesians 4:14-18

Stephanie Reck, LMSW, LBT,BCCC. Christian counselor, author, speaker, and teacher. Stephanie has a passion to bring hope and encouragement and to see people made whole.
Contact Stephanie @ http://www.christianhopecounseling.com
Copyright@2014, Hope Ministry. All Rights Reserved.

Article Source: http://www.faithwriters.com <a href=”http://www.faithwriters.com”>CHRISTIAN WRITER</a>