Date: November 8, 2018 (Training)
Bible Text: | Betty Swann
Series: Pillar Four
Today we are discussing something that people discuss so much they sometimes get in fights about it. Churches split over this. This is ridiculous but it is because people do not understand some of these things. They have never really examined the Bible. Sometimes you can read the Bible and read over a sentence because your eyes are almost blind to it. Later you can go back and say, “I didn’t know the Bible said that, but there it is right there in black and white.” When we talk about the gifts of the spirit, I hope I can bring some understanding and cause you to think in some new ways that you have not thought before. I hope I can cause you to be open to other ways of looking at it. Today we are going to talk mainly about Romans 11:29 and I Corinthians 12. There are a lot of gifts that God gives people. We see so many talented people. There are certain gifts that God talks about in the Word and He wants us to understand them.
What is a gift? If these are gifts from God, what is a gift? When you give a gift, do you give it to people for them to fight over it? No, you do not. You give it because you think it will bless them. What if it is a really useful gift? Then you give it to them so they can use it to help other people. What kind of gift would that be? If you were a lady and you loved to entertain, and someone gave you a mix master or some cooking utensils, and they gave you the gift to entertain with, that would be a wonderful gift. God gives these gifts for us to use to help people. God is all about helping people. When you get filled with the Holy Spirit and completely sold out to God, you are going to be really busy helping people because that is God. If you identify yourself with God, if you say “I am ready to go Lord, what do you want me to do,” he is going to have something for you to do. The next thing you find yourself doing, especially if it is something challenging, you find yourself on your knees saying, “Lord, if you don’t help me, I can’t do this.” God will say, “I would love to help you. I would love to pour out My power through you and I have gifts that will help you. Let’s talk about these today.
Do you realize that the gifts from God are for all time? One of the big arguments that people have is that the gifts passed away when the apostles died. No they did not. They have been going on just as much as they have ever gone on. Why? Did the devil die? No, he did not, and you have to have tools to fight him. God’s gifts are so supernatural that they are stronger than anything the devil could do. There are natural ways to do things and there are supernatural ways to do things. We can only do the natural but God can do the supernatural through us if we will let him. Everything about the gifts we are going to talk about is going to cause you to say “I am kind of naturally good at that,” or “You know it is kind of crazy but this stuff just starts happening and I don’t even know how it happens. It just seems to take place, and I know it is God and they know it is God.”
How do you know God’s gifts are for today? Look at this first scripture in Romans 11:29, “For the gifts and callings of God are without repentance.” Repentance means they do not ever go away. They did not end with the first century Christians; they did not end 500 years after Jesus; they did not end 1500 years after Jesus; and they did not end 2000 years after Jesus. They will always be there as long as the Spirit of God is on this planet. Have they passed away in any way, even a little bit? No, they have not. How come some churches have them and some do not? I think it probably has to do with how open you are to God and how much resistance you put up. Another reason might be control issues, wanting to make sure nothing weird happens and wanting to make sure everything happens like it should. I will tell you something about the Holy Spirit. He is not weird. He may do some really unusual things but he is not weird and do not say that He is. You need this supernatural power from God; you need these gifts and talents. You have to have them. Here is that scripture again, “The gifts and the callings of God.” God put those two together in that sentence. You need gifts and you need them to do your calling. Why do you see people who do not seem to have good character operating in the gifts? We have all seen it. Here we go again for the third time. Here is that scripture again, “The gifts and the calling of God are without repentance.” He does not ever take them away, not ever.
Another question that people ask a lot is, “If I walk away from the Lord and turn my back on the Lord, and I repent, will the gifts start operating in my life again? Or, have I been too bad for it to happen?” Again, we have the same verse. You have to know this verse, Romans 11:29, “The gifts and the calling of God are without repentance.” You could have had a big call and you could have had a great ministry. You could have been a great preacher and you could have really messed up, yet God will still use you. He may not be able to use you the way you started out because you really messed up. If you truly want God to use you, then your heart will be “God I don’t care if it is big or little, I don’t care if people know me, I don’t care if people see me. I just want to be used to help people.” I can guarantee you those gifts will come back operating in your life because God’s word is true. God is not a man that He should lie. If He says God’s gifts and God’s calling are without repentance, they are. There is no way to get around it.
Are the gifts from God only for certain people? No, they are for everyone. Everyone can step into whatever God has along this line for them. Are they for certain churches? When you are talking about supernatural gifts, sometimes people will say “That is just Pentecostal people because they believe that way.” God does not say that. God does not have denominations. Man thought that up. People could not get along and they started picking on little things in the Scripture. If you really look at it, don’t we all believe the same thing – one Lord, one faith, one baptism? Yes, we believe that. It is the little things that have picked it apart. I found out about the supernatural gifts of the Holy Spirit and about the baptism of the Holy Spirit from the Catholics and Episcopalians in the 1970s. God began a tremendous work at Notre Dame in maybe the mid to late 1960s. A class at Notre Dame began to ask their professor, “Why don’t we see the gifts like are in the Bible? Why aren’t they happening today?” The professor said, “Let’s just start praying about it and see what happens.” They would meet every day at noon and pray, “Lord, we want to see your power. We want to see your gifts. We want to see the acts of God right before our very eyes. Please bring this.” Did God ever answer that prayer, just like God answers pray, more than you would dream of? It began to pour out through Notre Dame, these Catholics, out through Catholics everywhere, all over the world. The Episcopalians had the same thing happening with them. How do I know that? I can remember some Catholics saying to me, “There is a Bible study at St. Mary’s and it is really good and Jesus is there.” I asked, “Really? What is happening?” “They sing, they worship the Lord, they are happy. They are full of joy. The signs and the wonders of God happen. It is real.” Then I had an Episcopalian lady come in my husband’s office one day when I was there. She asked me, “Do you know about the gifts of the Holy Spirit?” I told her I did; I was scared of all of that. She said, “They are really real. They sure changed my life.” That was all she said to me, then she walked out, but that made a big impact on me.
Have you ever wondered or asked who gives these gifts? I Corinthians 12:7 says, “The Holy Spirit displays God’s power through each of us as a means of helping the entire church.” That means each one of us can get in on that. The next question is who gives these gifts to believers? According to Ephesians 4:8, “When Christ returned triumphantly to heaven after his resurrection and after his victory over Satan, he gave generous gifts to men.” We are going to examine two types of gifts that are in the Bible.
The first type is in the book of Romans, in Romans 12. These are called the motivational gifts. What do I mean by that? I mean the gifts that are in you that make you do what you want to do. What is it that motivates you when you are trying to help people? The first one talks about prophesy. There are other gifts mentioned in Ephesians 2, the offices. Prophesy is the one gift that is mentioned three times. Here it is talking about preaching God’s Word with faith, what God is telling you to say and speaking out. Have you ever noticed that there are some people who are just black or white? It is either yes or no. When they are really being led by the Lord, I love to be around people like that. They will just tell it like it is. You are not offended; they are just speaking the truth. Everyone grows from it. It divides things and you can see clearly what the right thing is. What a wonderful gift for God to give. Why should He take that gift away?
The next one is the gift of serving. We are all called to serve and that is not what I am talking about. We all have ways to serve. This is people who have a desire to help in practical ways, like to mow the lawn for a widow lady, to set up chairs. They really like to stay in the background. A person who is a strong-willed, prophet-type person do not mind being up front. But, people who are serving tend to want to be in the background. God has a warning with each one of these gifts. With the gift of prophesy, He says to just say what God says. Do not say anything else. With the gift of serving others, He says, “Serve them well but do not take over.”
Another gift that God gives is the gift of teaching. Do you think I have the gift of teaching? I think I do. I love to teach the Bible, I love to teach people. I love to teach people how to do things. When you have the gift of teaching, you love to study and do research. You love to try to explain things to people in a way that it is clear to them and easy for them to do. It says in Proverbs, “A wise teacher makes learning a joy.” You know that as well as I do. Think about all the teachers you have had through the years. You can recognize people who taught and they did not have the gift of teaching, and then you can recognize those people who taught and they had the gift. You could sit and listen to them for hours. When you left, you felt like you really learned something even if it was hard to learn. They seemed to have an ability to break it down and you could take it in and really learn it. What was God’s admonition to people that have this gift? Teach them well and stick to your teaching, do not try to get into anything else.
The next gift is the gift of encouragement or exhortation. That is a big word that just means encouraging people. I know I have this because I have people say, “Betty, you are God’s cheerleader.” I love having this gift and I want to describe it to you because it is so needed in the body of Christ. If you have the gift of exhortation, do it to the best of your ability with people all around you because people have so many discouraging things happen constantly in their lives and they need to know, “Hey, you can do it. You are doing great. I am proud of you. You are doing a great job.” The person with the gift of encouragement challenges people. Besides giving them encouragement, they counsel them. People with the gift of encouragement are really usually very good counselors. They can also give them steps or courses of action. Most people just need someone to tell them how to do it. They do not understand how to get from Step 1 to Step 2 to Step 3. How do they do it? The people that are equipped by God with the gift of exhortation naturally think that way. “Here is what you need to do.” When you have this gift, God warns you to not get bossy. That is true. You could start saying, “You have to do it the way I think you should do it.” You are just supposed to encourage them and exhort them and they have to answer to God for what they are supposed to do.
Another gift is administration or leadership. People that have the gift of administration are a tremendous help to the body of Christ. Everyone can run around with a lot of great ideas, but if someone does not figure out how to set everything into place and make it run smoothly, it usually does not happen very well. What are these people like? They are people who like responsibility. Sometimes they have to worry about taking on too much because they like it so much. They are very diligent. They can stay with something for a longtime until it runs smoothly. What else can they do? They can find people to help. They seem to have an innate ability to pick who would be good for a job, but that comes with that gift from God. What is God’s warning to them? Do not manipulate. A person with this gift can become a control freak if they are not careful. God says, “Do not manipulate people, just operate in your gift.”
The gift of giving is another one. It is a beautiful one to see. I think I probably enjoy watching for this one to show up almost more than any of them. People who have the gift of giving are very simple about it. They do not want any fanfare. They would rather no one knew about it. It is fascinating to me to watch people that have that gift. I personally love to give, but I do not have this gift like some people I see. I see something in them that I do not have and I know that is God pouring through them. They are very generous. They give good, money, clothing, whatever is needed, and they do it very simply. They do not beat the drum. What does God say is their warning? “Keep your eyes open about who to give to.”
The last one is the gift of mercy. That is feeling deeply with people. You are able to weep with the ones that are weeping and to laugh with the ones that are laughing, and you have a real sensitivity toward seeing what is really going on. When you have this gift from God, you are able to almost part the bushes and see what is really going on in there. It is just amazing. They make people feel good. What is God’s warning to them? “Do not let yourself get irritated by people and do not let yourself get depressed. Keep a smile on your face.”
The next gifts we are going to talk about now are the supernatural gifts and how they are different from the motivational gifts. The motivational gifts are why you do what you do. That can come from the minute you are saved. I was in the third grade when I was saved and I saw the gifts that God gave me immediately start working. I was filled with the Holy Spirit when I was 26 and I saw the supernatural gifts start working in me. The more I learned about them, the more they worked in me. They are very exciting gifts. They are thrilling gifts.
In I Corinthians 12:8-10, it names them, and we are going to go over those. Sometimes they are very misunderstood. Sometimes people mock them. Do you realize it is the Holy Spirit of God that you are mocking? You better watch out. Here is how you know that is is really from God. Is what you are seeing that is supernatural really from God? What is the fruit that goes with it? Do you see people getting saved? Do you see people coming back to God who have been away from God a long time? Do you see people developing faith in God? Do you see people getting healed? Do you see people getting delivered? These gifts can be controversial. The Holy Spirit does not care if He is controversial. I have noticed that about Him. He goes and does what He wants to do. We all have to either get on board or get out of the way. What are His supernatural gifts that it talks about in I Corinthians?
The first one is the word of wisdom. It is knowing things that there is no way you could know them. There is no way you would know what to do. Suddenly it just pops in your head. These gifts can be for everyone. You might operative in one more than another. I will give you an example of how it happened to me. Once when I was in Belarus, there was a crisis and the government was going to shut us down. It happened very fast. The conference for which someone had given me $10,000.00 was going to be shut down. I did not know what to do. I had no idea what to do. I was praying my head off. I was praying in the Spirit, “Tell me what to do. Tell me what to do. How are these women going to know we are going to have to shut it down. They are coming from all over the country.” All of a sudden, I knew what to do. We were in a room of leaders trying to decide what to do. Suddenly I said, “These women have lived in a communist country for a long time. They are going to know what to do and they are going to know what happened. No one is going to have to tell them.” One of the Russian leaders looked at me and said, “You know what, you are right.” That did not come to me out of my wisdom. I had been there for 30 minutes trying to think what to do. It was the word of wisdom from God.
What is the word of knowledge? That is when you can know something about a person that there is no way you could have known it, you do not know the person. If you watch these shows a lot, you have seen that I operate in the word of knowledge. I get names, I get descriptions of them. It is amazing to me. I love it.
What is the gift of faith, supernatural faith? We all have faith. You cannot believe in God if you do not have faith. There is a gift of faith to believe something big will happen, and to hang on until it does. It is different and you can feel that it is different.
How about the gift of healing? There are all kinds of healing gifts, for backs, for pregnancies, for blindness and deafness. There is emotional healing. I seem to do a lot of emotional healing. Once I saw a woman look at another woman who had not been able to get pregnant for nine years. She said, “I am going to pray for you to get pregnant.” Within two months, she was pregnant. She had been trying for nine years. You cannot tell me that was not the Holy Spirit moving.
There is the gift of working of miracles. What is a miracle? Something that could not happen. I have kept a notebook for 35 years of all the miraculous things I have seen God do through my life. There have been normal miracles, just everyday life. There have been amazing miracles. I have them documented and you should document yours.
There is a gift of prophesy, as I told you. This time it is standing up and delivering the Word of the Lord to a group of people.
What is discerning of spirits? It is discerning whether people are good or bad, whether it is the devil or not.
There is the gift of unknown tongues. It is giving a message from God in a language not understood by ordinary people, not even understood by you. You might say, “Isn’t that kind of weird.” No, it is not. If I spoke Chinese to you right now you would think that was weird? It is just the Holy Spirit’s language. He has a language. God thought that up. Do not mock that. God thought it up, do not mock God.
What is interpretation of tongues all about? If you stand up in a crowd and you speak in tongues, Paul says to be sure there is someone there that can interpret so that they can understand it. I heard about a man from Greece walking down the street who was very lonely and sad. He walked by a church and heard someone speaking in Greek. He went inside and said, “Who is from Greece?” They said, “No one.” He said, “But I heard them.” They were speaking in tongues.
You can operate in these gifts. There are many gifts. Ask God to let you operate in them. Learn how to do it.
QUIET TIME QUESTIONS
1. What does Romans 11:29 say about the duration of God’s gifts?
2. What does Ephesians 4:8-12 say about who gives these gifts and to whom are they received?
3. What is the purpose of these gifts?
4. List the motivational gifts and God’s warning to us relating to each one
5. List the spiritual gifts?
6. Have you prayed for God to reveal to you your gifts? Ask Him to help you operate in these areas.
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Topics: Holy Spirit Power