RSS Feed

Tag Archives: Spiritual Gifts

The Instruction Manual for Spiritual Gifts

As a former high school Bible teacher, one of my classes introduced the concept of spiritual gifts. After a short lesson, students took a spiritual gifts test to uncover hidden talents. Unfortunately, the humble and meek scored lower overall than the rest of my classes. Meanwhile, the confident often gave themselves higher marks during this self evaluation and spiritual inventory. Depending upon your mood, your score will fluctuate. This fundamental flaw with these types of tests doesn’t always highlight or reveal your strengths and spiritual weaknesses.

[Let your] love be sincere (a real thing); hate what is evil [loathe all ungodliness, turn in horror from wickedness], but hold fast to that which is good. 10 Love one another with brotherly affection [as members of one family], giving precedence and showing honor to one another. 11 Never lag in zeal and in earnest endeavor; be aglow and burning with the Spirit, serving the Lord, Romans 12:9-11.

The passage above is similar to words written to the Church at Corinth. Instead of using an instruction manual style format, Paul completes his list of spiritual gifts in 1 Corinthians 12:4-11. In the following chapter, a disclaimer is added to prevent the blessed and more gifted from boasting. Paul doesn’t hold back suggesting that spiritual gifts and talents are worthless unless accompanied by love, 1 Corinthians 13:1-3. To make sure all believers are on the same page, Paul defines biblical love in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. Paul’s letter to Roman Christians uses a different approach, blending and weaving love with spiritual gifts.

Contribute to the needs of God’s people [sharing in the necessities of the saints]; pursue the practice of hospitality. 14 Bless those who persecute you [who are cruel in their attitude toward you]; bless and do not curse them. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice [sharing others’ joy], and weep with those who weep [sharing others’ grief]. 16 Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty (snobbish, high-minded, exclusive), but readily adjust yourself to [people, things] and give yourselves to humble tasks. Never overestimate yourself or be wise in your own conceits, Romans 12:13-16.

Perhaps, while visiting Rome, Paul witnessed some disturbing behavior, far from the example Jesus set during his three year ministry on earth. Thus, Paul felt compelled to use Romans 12 as the Instruction Manual for Spiritual Gifts. Directions include sincerity, loathing anything to do with ungodliness, loving each member of the church like family and maintaining a passion to serve the Lord. In the passage above, it’s almost as if Paul is referencing or quoting parts of the Sermon on the Mount to reinforce the need to love and pray for your enemies. If you follow Paul’s advice in this chapter, you will stand out like a city on a hill and the salt of the earth. May this blog inspire you to identity and fan into flame your spiritual gift(s).

by Jay Mankus

Never Lag in Zeal and Earnest

Zeal demonstrates enthusiasm and great energy while in pursuit of a cause or objective. Meanwhile, earnest refers to intense conviction with sincere intentions. When you put these two terms together, Paul suggests that individuals should do whatever they can to use their God given spiritual gifts daily. During the first century, the goal was to fulfill the great commission, Acts 1:18. Spiritual gifts serve as the vessel, the role that you play in making Jesus’ words a reality.

Having gifts (faculties, talents, qualities) that differ according to the grace given us, let us use them: [He whose gift is] prophecy, [let him prophesy] according to the proportion of his faith; Romans 12:6.

In the 2005 film Sky High, young apprentices attended a secret school with the hope of ascertaining their super power. Once revealed, students were divided into one of two groups, superhero or sidekick. The list of spiritual gifts mentioned by the apostle Paul in verses 6-8 play a similar role. Some Christians possess dynamic and supernatural gifts like a superhero. All other believers play minor roles, serving the Lord in less flashy manners.

Never lag in zeal and in earnest endeavor; be aglow and burning with the Spirit, serving the Lord, Romans 12:11.

The passage above indicates the desired energy level expected by God. Paul recognized the fact that waking up day after day can took an emotional, mental or physical toll on your body. Instead of lagging in zeal or earnest, Christians should be aglow while fanning into flame their spiritual gifts. When your spiritual passion begins to fade, re-fuel by tapping into the power of the Holy Spirit. May this passage from the New Testament encourage you to never lag in zeal or earnest as you serve the Lord daily.

by Jay Mankus

A Foretaste of the Blissful Things to Come

In the passage below, the apostle Paul points out that the Holy Spirit isn’t limited to Christians and Jews. Rather, God’s Spirit now extends to Gentiles who believe by entering into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. The term first fruits likely refers to the extraordinary gifts of the Spirit poured out on the day of Pentecost, Acts 2:1-4. Meanwhile, the foretaste of things to come is symbolic of the grace of God communicated to all in conversion.

And not only the creation, but we ourselves too, who have and enjoy the firstfruits of the [Holy] Spirit [a foretaste of the blissful things to come] groan inwardly as we wait for the redemption of our bodies [from sensuality and the grave, which will reveal] our adoption (our manifestation as God’s sons), Romans 8:23.

One of my former pastors explained grace as God’s riches at Christ’s expense. However, as Paul explains in the passage below, grace is invisible. Thus, as individuals begin to adjust their practices following their conversion from worldly pleasures toward eternal treasures, this transition is rarely smooth. Initial confessions of sin are refreshing, like receiving a shower of grace from heaven. Yet, when you begin to commit the same sinful act day after day, grace is cheapened and hope can be lost.

For in [this] hope we were saved. But hope [the object of] which is seen is not hope. For how can one hope for what he already sees? – Romans 8:24

In a letter to the church of Corinth, Paul pours out his heart during a moment of weakness, 2 Corinthians 12:7-12. Like anyone who is experiencing a spiritual free fall, the conviction of the Holy Spirit is overwhelming. Perhaps, Paul’s plea to God is merely asking the Lord, “why do I have to go through this?” Nonetheless, each Christian goes through a process known as sanctifying grace. This form of grace makes a soul acceptable and justified before God. Despite whatever hardships that you endure, may you recognize the foretaste of grace that will be completed before you meet your creator in heaven.

by Jay Mankus

The Desires of the Spirit

From my own personal experiences, many of the so called “spirit filled” churches that I have attended over emphasize certain spiritual gifts. Instead of teaching the desires of God’s Spirit, the baptism of the Holy Spirit, the gift of prophecy and speaking in tongues overshadow what God desires. Thus, I find myself as an adult who lacks the knowledge and spiritual insight to keep in step with the Holy Spirit.

For those who are according to the flesh and are controlled by its unholy desires set their minds on and pursue those things which gratify the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit and are controlled by the desires of the Spirit set their minds on and seek those things which gratify the [Holy] Spirit, Romans 8:5.

When the concept of the Holy Spirit was first introduced to his disciples, Jesus refers to this Holy Ghost as a Counselor. Synonyms for counselor include advisor, confidant, guide and mentor. If this was Jesus’ ultimate goal, then I have been misinformed about the role of the Holy Spirit. Perhaps, I need to simplify my understanding to an invisible counselor who yearns for me to become aware of the desires of God’s Spirit.

But when He, the Spirit of Truth (the Truth-giving Spirit) comes, He will guide you into all the Truth (the whole, full Truth). For He will not speak His own message [on His own authority]; but He will tell whatever He hears [from the Father; He will give the message that has been given to Him], and He will announce and declare to you the things that are to come [that will happen in the future], John 16:13.

The apostle Paul has provided a list below to visualize what God prefers. These fruits of the Spirit are desired actions, behaviors and character traits that Christians should seek to obtain. Mere Christianity written by C.S. Lewis contains two types of virtues, with the second only accessible through the power of the Holy Spirit. Cardinal virtues such as prudence, temperance, fortitude and justice are qualities that anyone can possess. Yet, the theological virtues of charity, hope and faith are limited to Christians.

But the fruit of the [Holy] Spirit [the work which His presence within accomplishes] is love, joy (gladness), peace, patience (an even temper, forbearance), kindness, goodness (benevolence), faithfulness, 23 Gentleness (meekness, humility), self-control (self-restraint, continence). Against such things there is no law [that can bring a charge]. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus (the Messiah) have crucified the flesh (the godless human nature) with its passions and appetites and desires.

According to Paul, sinful appetites, desires and passions keep many individuals from every fulfilling the desires of the Spirit. Until your human flesh is crucified, dying to self, the ability to produce spiritual fruit is hindered. This may explain why many regions of the world are filled with darkness, void of any spiritual life. If you want to add flavor to the lives of those who you come in contact with daily, follow Paul’s advice by pursuing the desires of the Spirit.

by Jay Mankus

What’s Best for You and Me

As a recovering perfectionist, I tend to look at a glass half empty. This tendency to be negative often results in beating myself up inside. While I can forgive others for committing transgressions against me, forgiving myself is another story. This process may take days, weeks or months to get over a stupid blunder, error or mistake. Whenever anyone is too hard on themselves, Satan uses this vulnerability to steal your joy for life.

The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows), John 10:10.

While using an analogy of a shepherd tending his sheep, Jesus illuminates the dangers that sheep face while on earth. According to John 10:6, the crowd was initially confused so Jesus spoke in clearer terms. This is the context of the passage above as Jesus reveals how Satan seeks to steal, kill and destroy souls. Although this spiritual truth may elicit fear upon receiving this news, you have to know what your enemy will attempt to do to avoid becoming the next victim.

Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need, Ephesians 4:28.

One of the songs from their 2009 album Breaking the Silence, The Letter Black sings about what’s best for you and me. The lyrics of Best of Me focuses on an individual who is haunted by their past. The author suggests that the only thing keeping us alive breathing is the knowledge of God’s existence. Entering into a personal relationship with Jesus provides meaning and purpose for life as new converts seek to ascertain God’s will. As minds are renewed by the Bible, Romans 12:1-2, what’s best for you and me is using your own God given gifts and talents to serve the Lord on earth.

by Jay Mankus

Entrusted to the Grace of God

As a former youth pastor, I have seen how creative teenagers have become to raise money for mission trips.  During my tenure at First United Methodist Church in Columbus, Indiana, three bus loads of junior and senior high students spent a week each summer repairing roofs for a poor community in southern North Carolina.  Anyone who donated money received an invitation to a banquet where pictures and testimonies were shared.  This event was designed to highlight and summarize all that God had done through these young people.

From there they sailed back to Antioch, where they had been entrusted to the grace of God for the work which they had now completed, Acts 14:26. 

Based upon the words of Luke, Paul and Barnabas began this tradition at their home church in Antioch.  Paul and Barnabas traveled over 1200 miles in a little over two years.  As a result of their travel, more than a dozen new churches were established.  These new partnerships resulted in a series of letters, questions and return visits to help and nurture new converts to Christ.  According to Luke, it took a long time to communicate all that had happened, staying in Antioch an extended period, fellowshipping with Christian brothers and sisters.

Arriving there, they gathered the church together and began to report [in great detail] everything that God had done with them and how He had opened to the Gentiles a door of faith [in Jesus as the Messiah and Savior]. 28 And they stayed there a long time with the disciples, Acts 14:27-28.

While fasting and praying back in Acts 13, the Holy Spirit called Paul and Barnabas to become missionary partners.  Luke refers to this event as being entrusted to the grace of God.  The church leaders in Antioch assigned the task of missionaries to these two godly leaders.  Paul was a Roman citizen while Barnabas was a wealthy man, a good combination for traveling throughout the Mediterranean.  Depending upon the gifts, resources and talents you have been blessed with, make sure you listen to God’s calling so that you will fulfill what God has entrusted you to do.

by Jay Mankus

Explaining the Absence of the Holy Spirit

In a letter to the church at Corinth, the apostle Paul reveals how God dishes out a variety of spiritual gifts.  These special abilities are given out by the grace of God.  Some of these are ordinary such as giving, serving or teaching.  Other talents are extraordinary, fueled by the power of the Holy Spirit.  Unfortunately, spiritual gifts like healing, prophecy and speaking in tongues often elicit jealousy in those that don’t possess a supernatural gift.

Now there are [distinctive] varieties of spiritual gifts [special abilities given by the grace and extraordinary power of the Holy Spirit operating in believers], but it is the same Spirit [who grants them and empowers believers]. And there are [distinctive] varieties of ministries and service, but it is the same Lord [who is served]. And there are [distinctive] ways of working [to accomplish things], but it is the same God who produces all things in all believers [inspiring, energizing, and empowering them]. But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit [the spiritual illumination and the enabling of the Holy Spirit] for the common good, 1 Corinthians 12:4-7.

To address issues like envy, the apostle Paul writes a similar letter to the church at Rome.  In the passage below, Paul compares spiritual gifts to a church body with many parts.  Apart or own their own, a spiritual gift glorifies individuals, not God.  However, when individuals submit to God by joining a local congregation, your gift makes a difference by filling a spiritual hole.  The purpose of any spiritual gift is to serve God by offering your body as a living sacrifice.  While certain gifts will always overshadow your gift, hearts and minds need to stay focused on the common good.

For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully, Romans 12:4-8.

Jesus and first century church leaders warned about counterfeit, fake and imposters who come in the name of Jesus.  These individuals still exist today, often perpetrating frauds on those who watch on television or attend a rally.  When truth exposes these people like Steve Martin in a Leap of Faith, modern churches are harmed by these spiritual stains.  Whenever spiritual gifts are used to glorify self, the Holy Spirit will move to another area, region or country.  While most people wish they had another spiritual gift, for now God seeks humble servants willing to be the hands and feet of Christ today.  The dedicated, faithful and obedient persevere during spiritual droughts, hopeful that the presence of the Holy Spirit will return when God’s timing is right.

by Jay Mankus

%d bloggers like this: