Friday, November 17, 2017

Called and Gifted

God has called each believer to be a servant. He has called us to humble ourselves and diligently use our gifts to build up other believers. “We are saved to serve.” In this service we are to use the spiritual gift or gifts He has bestowed upon us. If we don’t use them, they fade and are not developed to edify the church. All believers have a gift.
“Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge, by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophesy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another interpretation of tongues. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and He gives them to each one, just as He determines” (1 Corinthians 12:7-11).

We are all members of the same body to serve Him as His hands and feet uniquely. These are grace given at salvation and different from talents that are naturally born in us. These gifts are also not fruit, which is endowed on all believers to live by in increasing measure, “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (Galatians 5:22). This fruit should grow as our faith grows, just like similar lists like, “make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 5:5-7).

You see as believers we should, “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievance you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them together in perfect unity”  (Colossians 3:12-14). These attributes are bound together by love and also so are all believers therefore bound to one another. Paul goes on in this passage to speak of letting peace rule in your hearts and to be grateful. 

Some things are required of all Christians that He gives us in increasing measure as we grow or are being sanctified or being made more like Christ in righteousness.

Gifts of the Spirit are of speaking and serving and sign gifts or gifts of miracles of healing and speaking in tongues.

In Romans 12, Paul lists more gifts of the Spirit, to include: serving; teaching; encouraging; contributing to needs; leadership; and showing mercy. He tells us to employ these diligently, cheerfully and in increasing measure.

In Ephesians 4 we are reminded of Psalm 68:18 that tells us that when Christ ascended He gave everyone grace and gifts to men. He goes on to says that He gave some to be “Apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body might be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the measure of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:11-13). This is a strong reminder that the gifts are to build up the church. Notice that evangelism is one gift. When Christ ascended, His last command was also to all believers to go and make disciples or believers of all nations. In other words, we are all to evangelize.

So if you are a believer, you have been called to follow Christ and use the gifts that He has given you through His Holy Spirit. Do you know what they are? Some hints include what you enjoy doing and what you are good at doing. God wants us all to grow in wisdom and knowledge of Him who called us. He wants us all to share the “Good News.” But He has given some greater gifts in exhorting, teaching and prophesying or communicating God’s word.  Moreover, he has given some extraordinary gifts to come alongside and lift people up with care and encouragement. We are all to help and lift are own weight, but some are especially gifted to bring Christ’s hospitality of opening themselves up to offer the presence of Christ in meaningful ways to the needy, sick, institutionalized and homeless. To offer gifts of love to strangers is all of our call, but to some even more it is given. This gift of opening up our hearts to invite others in as guests is special. Henri Nouwen calls this being “The Wounded Healer.” We present ourselves humbly to listen, experience and give of ourselves what is given by the Holy Spirit to give. This agape love is not possible except by the power of the Spirit. This is the gift of mercy. This gift requires action to reach out and touch someone. Also, as long as you are doing it, do it with cheerfulness.

A key gift I have not mentioned is discernment. This gift is one of wisdom applied. It allows us to see good from evil in teaching and people. Certainly not all things religious are biblical and true. Many religions have manmade accouterments and traditions. In some churches, God’s glory has departed.

I have been a Christian for about 25 years, having come to faith in a crisis time of my life. As my faith has grown, so has my awareness of God’s spiritual gifts in me and in others. I believe that I have been given the gifts of encouragement, teaching and healing. My calling is as a healthcare chaplain where I have the ministry of listening, encouragement and healing to people in various crises in their lives.  As a frontline caregiver I pray for and minister to patients and their families at all times of their hospitalizations and lives. I am called, as James 5:13-15 says, Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord.  And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven.” I attend to the spiritual needs of all who I can. There are occasions when God works through me to bring healing of body, mind and spirit of individuals. God is still in the business of healing. For God the most important is spiritual healings for our bodies are falling apart. Our souls and spirits are eternal. Having faith in God through Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord brings spiritual healing and eternal life in God’s presence, or heaven. Apart from God is darkness forever.  As a chaplain I have the great privilege of helping people find eternal security when they ask or desire it. This healing is the ultimate and permanent, praise God.

So find out and develop your spiritual gifts. Ask a close Christian friend what they think yours may be. Work on and develop these gifts through prayer and trial. The Holy Spirit will show you and guide you as you seek Him.

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