Saturday, April 13, 2013

It's A Spiritual Gift: Don't Get It Twisted

Rev. Angela Lee Price
"When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place.    And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them.  All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability. Acts 2:1-4 (NRSV)
Have you ever tried to do something nice for someone only to have them read into your gesture something that wasn't there? A friend, co-worker, brother or sister in Christ "gets it twisted" and starts smiling, and staring at you as if to say, "I know you like me," after you compliment their shoes. You invite a friend to stay temporarily in your home while in their crisis situation only to discover they've "gotten it twisted," and you can't get rid of them months after they've gotten through their "going through." Your generous gifts were misunderstood, misapplied and misused.

The Lord has done something nice. He has given spiritual gifts to Christians by way of the Holy Spirit, but often His gifts are misunderstood, misapplied and misused.  Spiritual gifts "prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may 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 whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Ephesians 4:12-13 (NIV)." Spiritual gifts are important to the body of Christ and when they are misunderstood, misapplied, or misused, the saints suffer and the church is crippled.

Spiritual gifts is a subject about which there is much debate within Christianity, and many have "gotten it twisted." Some Christians believe all, or certain gifts, ceased in the first century and none, or only a few, are available to 21st century believers. Other Christians believe all spiritual gifts are available to believers today through the Holy Spirit. Of those who believe in gifts of the Spirit, there is great debate over when certain gifts are received. The early church first experienced the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, 50 days after Passover.  Today, many Christians believe spiritual gifts are given to believers when they accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.  Still others believe Christians can receive a “Second Blessing” at some date subsequent to conversion which is evidenced by speaking in tongues.

Although fire as cloven or divided tongues rested on the disciples at Pentecost, the subject of speaking in tongues while debated should not divide the body of Christ. 

Spiritual gifts are found in four key passages in the Bible, Romans 12, l Corinthians 12, Ephesians 4, and 1 Peter 4. Opinions differ over the actual number of gifts in those and other ancillary verses. Spiritual gifts differ from talents in that talents are given to unbelievers and spiritual gifts are given to believers when they are born again. Talents, like gifts, can and should be use to glorify God.

In my sanctified imagination, this is me at nine months asking, "What's inside these gifts?" Is it administration, apostleship, celibacy, discernment, evangelism, exhortation, faith, giving, healing, helps, hospitality, knowledge, leadership, martydom, mercy, miracles, missionary, pastor, prophecy, service, teaching, voluntary poverty, tongues, the interpretation of tongues, wisdom?

Do you know the difference between clairvoyance and the gift of prophecy? Is the office of apostleship the same today as it was in the first century? Did you know that people in the occult speak in tongues and chant "Jesus" to invoke the powers of darkness? The Apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 12:1, "Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant." Satan is a master of the counterfeit. Research spiritual gifts thoroughly. Enroll in a spiritual gifts class, complete a spiritual gifts assessment, and don't "get it twisted."

The exercising of spiritual gifts not only makes us more effective Christians and strengthens our relationship with Jesus Christ, but also comes with a promise of protection against the attacks of the enemy, "Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. Ephesians 4:14-16 (NIV)."

The Detroit News carried a humorous little story about Bill Cosby's aged mother that illustrates how useless gifts are unless they are used. She had been raised in poverty, and the family had very little money as Bill was growing up. As a result, she never had modern conveniences and had gotten accustomed to doing things the hard way. When the children were old enough to get jobs, they often gave their mother appliances as Christmas gifts to make her life easier. But she wouldn't use them. Bill especially remembered that after a while his mother had two or three toasters. But she left them in their boxes and put them on top of the refrigerator. At breakfast she would still do the toast in the oven. If the boys protested, she would say, "Leave them on the refrigerator. I am used to doing it the old way."

An unopened or unused gift is no gift at all. Know what's inside your spiritual gifts, stir up your gifts, or in other words, develop and use them, and don't "get it twisted!"

Remember, it is not Mohammad, Buddha, Confucius, nor New Age that saves. Jesus saves!


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