Tag Archives: teach

SPIRITUAL GIFTS – FOR WHAT?

SPIRITUAL GIFTS – FOR WHAT?

“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.

“Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil, cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honour one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervour, serving the Lord.” Romans 12:6-11.

Have you noticed how Paul focuses on the non-spectacular functions in the church here? Are these any less gifts of the Spirit than, say, speaking in tongues or healing? What makes us think that it takes the power of the Holy Spirit to do a miracle but not to be generous or to show mercy? The one reveals God’s power through you, the other, in you, otherwise the old natural selfish nature will still be controlling you attitudes.

The use of spiritual gifts is not so much the issue but the motive for which they are used to benefit others. If you use your spiritual gift as a platform to gain anything for yourself, be it visibility, popularity, admiration, accolades or any other personal glory, there will be consequences in the end. Ananias and Sapphira are a case in point. They sold property, gave some money to the church as if it were all, wanting to appear generous in competition with Barnabas; but they were quickly exposed by the Holy Spirit through Peter and put to death!

Is not this the reason that Paul warned his Roman readers (and us) not to be conceited but to think realistically about ourselves, and not suppose that we are indispensable or have to do everything. It takes humility to admit that we can do one thing well but not something else, and to be content to be who we are. When we can take responsibility for our part, and not try to do what we cannot do, we fit in comfortably with the other members of the body and, in partnership with one another, we can accomplish what Jesus wants His body to do.

Once again, it’s not about us – it’s about Him. Our task, in harmony with one another, is to bring restoration to each member through the use of our gifts and, in this way, to mirror Him to the world around us. The gifts He gives us are His, not ours, and are for the benefit of others, not ourselves. But, like everything God does, the blessing always boomerangs back on us!

We do what we are gifted to do through His grace, but it our attitude that determines whether we are blessed in return, or whether we stand in line for judgment as did Ananias and Sapphira. Behind the attitude with which we use our gifts lies another attitude – our attitude to God. The Bible calls it “the fear of the Lord”. When we have the right attitude towards Him, it will regulate the motives and attitudes we have towards ourselves and the ones we serve.

Solomon summed it up aptly in Proverbs 9:10. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.”  Wisdom is, very simply, doing the right thing. When we have a reverential awe of God, remembering who He is, and hating anything that infringes on His glory, we will not take what He says lightly or treat Him with contempt because, as Solomon concluded in Ecclesiastes 12:14, “For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether good or evil.” In the end, God is inescapable.

Every thought, attitude and motive will one day be exposed in His light. I am sure none of us would like to see our selfish and self-seeking motives in neon lights for everyone to see! How can we prevent our old corrupted nature from intruding into our ministry and service in the body of Christ?

Paul gives us some simple but effective steps:

1. Give God your body for His use and change the way you think – from your thoughts to His thoughts. That comes about as we spend time in His Word.

2. Put yourself in the right perspective. You are not the whole – only a small part. You cannot be and do everything.

3. Do what you are gifted to do and do it faithfully with zeal and fervour.

4. Keep the bigger picture in mind and fit into it with joy. It’s not about competition but about harmony, working towards a greater goal, the health of the whole body.

5. Wrap it up in a blanket of love – for Jesus and for His body. Put Jesus and others before yourself Meet the needs of others at your expense.

Imagine what the church would look like if we all did that!

Acknowledgement

THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

THE GOSPEL OF MARK – HE TAUGHT WITH AUTHORITY

HE TAUGHT WITH AUTHORITY

They went to Capernaum, and when the Sabbath came, Jesus went into the synagogue and began to teach. 22 The people were amazed at his teaching, because he taught them as one who had authority, not as the teachers of the law. Mark 1:21-22

This was the new disciples’ first “fishing” lesson. What did they learn? Jesus was a Jew. He was quite happy to live this God-drenched life within the boundary fence of His Jewishness. He did not do anything to buck the system or to be revolutionary in His attitude to the parameters of the Law. He did what every other devout Jew did – He went to the synagogue on the Sabbath. He used the ordinariness of His situation to present the extra-ordinariness of the Father.

The record in Mark’s Gospel says that the people were astounded at His authority. He spoke to them as though He knew what He was talking about. And why shouldn’t He? He had just spent forty days alone with God in the most austere and dangerous of environments, hemmed in by physical and spiritual enemies, and yet He had experienced God’s presence and love so strongly that it had overwhelmed every scary moment.

He knew who He was; He was soaked in the power of the Holy Spirit and He carried with Him the environment of heaven. So steeped was He in the heavenly dimension in which He lived that He filtered every earthly experience through His awareness of God. He viewed life through God’s eyes and nothing human or natural fazed Him; not sickness, not adversity, not opposition, not misunderstanding, not even demons or death caused Him to wobble in His security in God. He was in charge and everything not of God had to give way in God’s presence.

How does this affect us? If we are not so sure of God’s presence and loving purpose in the face of everything that is a challenge to His perfection and His purpose, we will be affected by the environment of earth, not of heaven. God wants to challenge our faith by putting everything in our path that will try to deflect our awareness of Him to an awareness of the roadblock. Faith becomes purer and stronger every time His presence overcomes earthly encroachments.

THE GOSPEL OF LUKE – LORD, TEACH US TO PRAY

CHAPTER ELEVEN

LORD, TEACH US TO PRAY

“One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When He finished, one of His disciples said, ‘Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.’” Luke 11:1.

This was a strange request unless something significant lay behind it. What was it about the prayers of Jesus that caught the attention of His disciples? They were Jews who had been taught to pray the Jewish way from their mother’s knees. There were prayers they prayed every day and there were prayers they prayed on every occasion. What’s more, their prayers were ‘Bible’ prayers, making them more powerful than spontaneous prayers. They were praying God’s Word which meant that they were praying God’s will.

But there was something different about Jesus’ prayers. Did they link His prayer life and His public life, His powerful ministry and His miracles to the relationship He expressed with the Father through His prayers? How much of His praying did they actually hear? Sometimes Jesus prayed one-sentence prayers out loud as in, for example, His prayer in John 12:27, 28, and the Father responded audibly.

Jesus answered them by teaching them a model prayer which enshrines all the principles of New Testament praying. In it He was taking them into a realm of prayer which was foreign to them because it opened to them the same privileged position of sonship which He enjoyed and which He had come to reveal in His incarnation.

Was this what they saw and wanted? There is no evidence that this moment added anything to them before His death and resurrection since they were the same quarrelling, competitive and failing bunch that denied and abandoned Him in His hour of need. Nowhere in the gospels do I read of any of them engaging in prayer as He did.

It would take the life-changing event of His death and resurrection to move them from being spectators to becoming sons and learning that the same source of power was available to them through the Holy Spirit who had come to live in them at Pentecost, as He had promised.s

A Permanent Anointing

A PERMANENT ANOINTING

As for you, see that what you have heard from the beginning remains in you. If it does, you will also remain in the Son and in the Father.  And this is what He promised – eternal life.

I am writing these things to you about those who are trying to lead you astray. As for you, the anointing you have received from Him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as His anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit – just as it has taught you, remain in Him. (1 John 2: 24-27)  

We must never think that the early church was in any way idyllic. Satan had his emissaries everywhere, just as he has today. False teachers abounded and false teaching was rife. The same spirit that hounded Jesus to death through Jewish prejudice was at work, undermining the truth of the gospel, especially among those who came out of paganism as well as new Jewish believers.

A group of false teachers called Judaizers went about undermining the work of the apostles by teaching Gentile believers that people converting from paganism to Christianity had to be initiated into Judaism first through circumcision. Paul responded to this error very vehemently in his letter to the Galatian church. He insisted that to go back to the law was to nullify the grace of God.

Another subtle teaching arose out of Greek philosophy, called Gnosticism – that there was a body of secret knowledge only accessible to a select group of people.

“Gnosticism was perhaps the most dangerous heresy that threatened the early church during the first three centuries. Influenced by such philosophers as Plato, Gnosticism is based on two false premises. First, it espouses a dualism regarding spirit and matter. Gnostics assert that matter is inherently evil and spirit is good. As a result of this presupposition, Gnostics believe anything done in the body, even the grossest sin, has no meaning because real life exists in the spirit realm only.

Second, Gnostics claim to possess an elevated knowledge, a “higher truth” known only to a certain few. Gnosticism comes from the Greek word gnosis which means “to know.” Gnostics claim to possess a higher knowledge, not from the Bible but acquired on some mystical higher plain of existence. Gnostics see themselves as a privileged class elevated above everybody else by their higher, deeper knowledge of God . . .

“Gnosticism is based on a mystical, intuitive, subjective, inward, emotional approach to truth which is not new at all. It is very old, going back in some form to the Garden of Eden, where Satan questioned God and the words He spoke and convinced Adam and Eve to reject them and accept a lie. He does the same thing today as he “prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). He still calls God and the Bible into question and catches in his web those who are either naïve and scripturally uninformed or who are seeking some personal revelation to make them feel special, unique, and superior to others.”

http://www.gotquestions.org/Christian-gnosticism.html (retrieved November 2015)

The “spirit” of these false teachings is still very much alive today. Legalism insists that we adhere to certain rules in order to find favour with God; rules like food taboos and Sabbath adherence, for example. To follow these teachings is to move from grace to law – and once again to fall under the penalty of the broken law. If Christ is not sufficient for our complete salvation, He is not sufficient at all.

The other subtle error is to believe the lie that there is a select group of believers – the so-called “born-again-and-Spirit-filled-and-tongues-speaking” group who have attained something that others lack. There is no such category taught in the Bible. People are either followers of Jesus or they are not followers of Jesus. The Holy Spirit is given in full measure to all who believe in Jesus Christ as Lord.

It is more important that we know the truth of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ than that we understand all the ins and outs of these false teachings. John took his readers back to what they had heard from the beginning. By that, he meant that they were to stick to what they had been taught by those who were with Jesus from the beginning.

What was their source of knowledge? Jesus had promised His first followers that He would send the Holy Spirit from the Father and that, when He came, He would lead them into all truth. He would take the truth about Jesus and reveal it to them. Unlike certain people in the Old Testament era who only temporarily experienced the presence and power of the Holy Spirit, He would be poured out on “all flesh” – so said the prophet Joel – and for all time.

Believers could rely on the Holy Spirit to teach them because He remained in them. They in turn could be sure of the truth if they remained in Jesus – held to what He had taught and not followed the false teachers whose intention was to draw them away from their confidence in and allegiance to Jesus as their Lord.

Beware, dear readers, of those who insist that they alone know the truth and who gather followers after themselves. Exclusivity is a sure sign of error. Jesus called people to follow Him. Every teacher or preacher who connects people to Jesus and not to themselves is worthy of trust. In the long run, however, we can rely on the Holy Spirit, the anointing who is on us forever, to teach us the truth if we hold to Jesus’ teaching and not fall for the errors of those who insist that they alone are right.

Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Have you read my first book, Learning to be a Son – The Way to the Father’s Heart (Copyright © 2015, Partridge Publishing)? You’ll love it!

ISBN: Softcover – 978-1-4828-0512-3,                                                                              eBook 978-4828-0511-6

Available on www.amazon.com in paperback, e-book or kindle version, on www.takealot.com  or order directly from the publisher at www.partridgepublishing.com.

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Time Out To Teach

TIME OUT TO TEACH

They left that place and passed through Galilee. Jesus did not want anyone to know where they were because He was teaching His disciples. He said to them, ‘The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men. They will kill Him, and after three days He will rise.’ But they did not understand what He meant and were afraid to ask Him about it (Mark 9: 30-32).

Time was getting short for Jesus. He needed to get the message across to His disciples. He was going to die at the hands of the authorities but they needed to know that it was all planned. It was urgent that they understand so that it would not take them by surprise. However, death would not be the end for Him. It would be part of the process. Unlike any other person before Him, death would not hold Him in the grave. With all the earnestness He could muster, He assured His disciples that He would rise again.

But they were deaf to His words. Uncomprehending. It was not His words that they did not understand but the very thought that anyone would rise from the dead. This was such an important message that He took His disciples somewhere out of reach of the crowds so that He could have time out with them, alone. But they just didn’t get it!

They came to Capernaum. When He was in the house, He asked them, ‘What were you arguing about on the road?’ But they kept quiet because on the way they argued about who would be the greatest. Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, ‘Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and servant of all.’ He took a little child whom He placed among them. Taking the child in His arms, He said to them, ’Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me.’ (Mark 9: 33-37).

Here are some loaded statements. It is glaringly obvious at this stage that the disciples were just ordinary men. They were still without the Spirit. They lacked understanding and the old nature was still very much at work in them. In spite of every effort Jesus made to get them to understand that He did not come to get rid of Rome and set up a renewed Davidic kingdom in Israel, that’s what they believed and that’s what coloured their thinking. Everything He taught them was filtered through this expectation.

Of course that meant that they were the favoured ones who would hold high office in this new regime, or so they thought. They continually squabbled over the same thing – who would hold the highest office under Jesus? Their thinking was worldly; they wanted to go up, not down. Underneath the surface of this band of “followers” a power struggle was going on, and Jesus was well aware of it. It was His passion to promote unity among them by teaching them to submit to one another, but they had other ideas. Not even His patient teaching and example would shift this pernicious ambition from their minds.

In this atmosphere of constant competition, Jesus made a shocking statement – shocking because it cut across everything they believed at that moment. From the lowest rungs of society He had called them. They were catapulted from being nobodies to being somebodies because they were the disciples of the most powerful and popular rabbi in all Israel. It must have gone to their heads, especially when He taught about God’s kingdom. Now He informed them that the most important people in this kingdom were those who served. That was something they did not want to hear.

To crown it all He called a small child to Him. If they didn’t understand His words, He would give them a visual aid they would not easily forget. Picking up the little one, He made another startling statement. “Do you see this child?” He asked them. “If you want to be really great in God’s kingdom, you will need to get down on his level and accept him. Yes, even become like him.”

What? Become like a child? What did He mean? What is the most glaring characteristic of a child? Humility? Not really. Trust? Perhaps. Spontaneity? Maybe. Dependence? Absolutely. Whatever other characteristics a child might have, every single child from birth is absolutely dependent on someone else for survival. Left to himself he will die.

Strangely enough, it is dependence that cancels out pride. Children are taught to become independent so that they can grow up and leave home. In the kingdom of God, the opposite is true. It takes a lifetime to learn to be utterly dependent on God. That’s true humility, and when you do that, you will be able to bend down and accept a child as your equal.

Jesus taught His disciples, on the eve of His death:

I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing (John 15:5).

If unity with His disciples was His goal, then dependence was the way to that goal. To be one with Him means to be utterly useless without Him.    

Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Have you read my new book, Learning to be a Son – The Way to the Father’s Heart (copyright 2015, Partridge Publishing)? You’ll love it!

Available on www.amazon.com in paperback, e-book or kindle version or order directly from the publisher at www.partridgepublishing.com.

Check out my Blog site – www.learningtobeason.wordpress.com