Friday, September 30, 2011

September 30, 2011 … Using Spiritual Gifts

Passage of the Day: 1st Corinthians 2: 12 … We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit Who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us.

My Journal for Today: Today I close out a month-long study, aided by John MacArthur’s Strength for Today, as we have viewed our walk, as Christians, in the Spirit of God; and as this discussion closes, MacArthur writes stark words of warning. He declares, “One of the constant battles all believers face is to avoid ministering their spiritual gifts in the power of the flesh.” And this is SO TRUE!! A long time ago, I learned that a Christians CANNOT FIGHT THE FLESH … IN THE FLESH! The only way to fight the flesh is to surrender – COMPLETELY – to the sanctifying grace of God’s Spirit, allowing the Holy Spirit, to enable/empower us in our fleshly weakness [see 2nd Cor. 12: 9].

It is so tempting, once a Christian knows his/her Spirit-given gift(s), to try to exercise them by relying on his/her own strength, intelligence, and/or internal selfish desire. And this would be exactly what the enemy would like for Christians to do as we minister with our God bestowed gifts within the Body of Christ. I personally have been blessed with the gift of teaching; and there’s nothing Satan would like to see more than me trying to use my own memory, intelligence, and energy to put a Sunday School lesson together, rather than to pray heartily to God and to rely on the truths of His Spirit-authored word to guide my lesson planning. If you have the Spiritual gift of service, wouldn’t you be more powerful if you let God lead you to projects from His will rather than you finding things to do which YOU FEEL are good things for a Christian to do? Trust me – no, trust God (from Prov. 3: 5, 6) – when we do it our way (i.e., the way of the flesh), even when we’re using our Spirit-given gifts, we are dampening the enabled power that God has for us when we do it HIS way, in HIS time, with HIS power.

And so on this last day of September, MacArthur provides his readers with a quickie lesson on how to avoid quelling God’s Spirit by our own fleshly attempts to do things our way in our everyday ministry and witness [always remembering Acts 1: 8].

First, and always foremost, we must PRAY. We must always be cleansed by prayer before we act with purpose in Christ’s Name. And in a related vane, we must use prayer to purge ourselves of unresolved sin. Reviewing 1st John 1: 9, we have God’s promise that if we have unresolved sin in our lives, God will cleanse that sin before we undertake His work. Going into a God-directed task without cleansing pre-prayer and confession, even when we’re using our Spirit-laden gifts, is like being a gifted swimmer who tries to swim a race with weights strapped to his back. We will only be able to do God’s work, fully empowered, when we have cast off any baggage from past or present sin. And then we move out, using our Spiritual gifts with a walking, ever present, attitude of prayer (see 1st Thes. 5: 17), staying tuned into God’s mind/heart as we act – prayerfully - in His Name.

Secondly, we must YIELD [i.e., surrender] to the Spirit’s power, seeking and then doing God’s will in the task God has laid before us (see Romans12: 1 – 2, which I sure do hope you have memorized!). God freely offers His enabling grace to Christians; but He resists giving it to the prideful Christian who wants to do things on his own (see Prov. 3: 34). As Romans 6: 16 also tells us, our choices are either going to make us a slave to our own flesh or a slave to God’s Spirit; and we will only become the latter when we yield completely to God, trusting that He is going to lead us and enable us to do His will in His power.

Finally, we must be continually FILLED with the Spirit when we are out there in the world, undertaking God’s plan for our lives. When we are duly “prayed up” and in “surrender mode” to God’s Spirit, He can – and will – fill us with His purpose, plan, and power. When this occurs, we will find our thoughts allowing us to become the agent God intended for our lives (see Prov. 23: 7 in NKJV). When our trusting thoughts are God-directed, our Spirit-led choices become God-directed [again always believing Prov. 3: 5, 6]; and there can be no more powerful Christian than one who trusts God, has been unburdened by God in confession, and is totally surrendered to Christ’s Spirit.

I ask you, are you ready to let God’s Spirit shape you into a fully empowered agent of Jesus Christ? The old Army recruiting poster during WW 2 read, “We want you!” And that is what God’s Spirit is saying to our hearts. But will we respond and be recruited in God’s army; or will we ignore God’s call and do it, as Frank Sinatra or Elvis used to sing it, “My way!” ???

My Prayer Today: I’m Yours, Lord … I say again … USE ME! Amen

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