Sunday, December 24, 2017

Indescribable Gifts

This morning I awakened to a sense of excitement. It was not that the Republicans had finally passed some sort of tax bill, although that hopefully will be good too. But it was the knowledge that: “Unto us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government shall be on His shoulders. And He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father and Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6).

This is the Most Wonderful Gift of all. The Apostle Paul put it this way, “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift” (2 Corinthians 9:15). Do you know Him in your heart? God gave us His Perfect Gift from heaven since before the beginning of time. Yes, “In the fullness of time, God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under the law, that they might receive the full rights of sons” (Galatians 4:4-5). He is the Perfect Gift.

Another incredible truth is, “God’s gifts and calling are irrevocable” (Romans 11:29). He is the Deliverer and has called us out of the darkness into His marvelous light of Christmas. Do you know Him who came on Christmas Day? Do you know your calling? Do you know the gifts that He has given irrevocably to you for the edification or teaching and uplifting of His church? Well, these are all discernable through His Holy Spirit given to you to live with and within you. It is the Holy Spirit who counsels each believer. He teaches us all things. He counsels, comforts, illuminates but also convicts. What a gift of wisdom and power to know God’s will and desire for you.

Once we receive this grace gift of God, His Son into our hearts by faith we are on a new course to become living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God. We are being transformed and renewed to be able to test and approve what is God’s will- His good, pleasing and perfect will (Romans 12:1-2). Ephesians 2:8-10 tells us, “It is by grace that you have been saved through faith, and this is not from yourselves, but a gift of God, lest no one should boast.”  I hope that this gift of God by your faith has been received?

Then we are given other gifts of God through His Holy Spirit called Spiritual gifts. Each believer is given at least one such gift that are articulated through the New Testament. Starting in Romans 12:6-8 we can read, 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.”  I have been given several primary gifts that include serving, encouraging, teaching and mercy. As a healthcare chaplain I serve hospital patients, families and staff to encourage, comfort and bring God’s mercy. Through Scripture I teach God’s loving truths. These gifts freely given by God called charismata are special gifts of grace to meet the needs of the church. They are expressed differently according to our level of faith in every situation, but through the Holy Spirit’s guidance.

“Now about the gifts of the Spirit, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed…There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them.  There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.
Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.  To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a 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 prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues.  All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and He distributes them to each one, just as He determines” (1 Corinthians 12:1,4-11). We all would like wisdom and knowledge, but these are special gifts of God’s wisdom only given to certain people He chooses. Healing is also a gift of God through faith. It is one more gift that I believe that God has bestowed upon me. This gift seems to be one of spiritual healing, which Jesus says is more important than physical because our bodies are wasting away, but our spirits are being renewed day by day (2 Corinthians 4:16).
Peter also speaks of the gifts saying, The end of all things is near. Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray. Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.  Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory and the power forever and ever. Amen” (1 Peter 4:7-11). He repeats that all have been given the gift of God’s grace in various forms or manifestations to faithfully serve all people in God’s strength without grumbling. God is the object of our praise and thanks in all things.
Paul told Timothy, his protégé, to “fan into flame the gift of God given him.” (2 Timothy 1:6). He told him not to be ashamed, but that, “God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power and love and of self-discipline” (2 Timothy 1:7-8). There it is, a strong admonition to live and serve and work out our salvation with zeal and self-control given of God. Gentleness and respect are important in the work of an evangelist, which we are all to be too. Let the love of God be evident in you always to the praise and glory of God the great giver of all things. Remember, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows” (James 1:17). Amen.

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