Monday, 1 June 2020

Unpacking The Gifts

Scripture: 1 Corinthians 12 v 7 - 11: "But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.
8  For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit;
9  To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit;
10  To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues:
11  But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will."

In honour of the Holy Spirit and looking back to the birth of the church, their first gift was speaking in tongues, which Paul said in 1 Corinthians 14 that he used this gift more than anyone else.

Speaking, singing, praying in tongues has one immediate good effect, it edifies our minds making them open and receptive to the thoughts of Almighty God.  We may not understand a word we are saying but we receive knowledge back that greatly assists us in our own personal lives, or in prayer for others.

Quite a few years back on a very hot day in New York city, a Rabbi called Michael Esses was caught in a traffic jam.  His chauffeur parked the car outside a church and opened the windows.  Rabbi Michael was drawn to music he heard coming from the church and went in to sit at the back and listen.  He did not know that the congregation was singing worship in tongues.

As it started to fade a small lady right in front of the rabbi started to loudly speak a short message in tongues.  It shook the rabbi to his core as this lady was speaking in High Hebrew reserved for rabbis.  Her words in English were Michael, Michael, why do you hate Me?  (It's the title of a book written by Michael Esses.)

He asked the woman, a char lady, with no real education where she had learned Hebrew, and was astounded when she said she had no idea she was speaking Hebrew.  There is no doubt that Michael knew that message was straight to him from Jesus.  His wife had become a Christian some months back and he was making her suffer for it.  This turned his life around and he found Jesus as His Lord and Saviour.

Alongside tongues is the gift of interpreting tongues.  We have sometimes seen that the interpretation is not only in words but in things that unfold.  Like a situation I was involved in where a woman I knew was trying to escape from her husband who was trying to force her into a different church.  She called me and I met with her and we prayed in tongues together.  I got a strange signal from the Lord.  I know now it means ....hold onto your hats Jesus is about to do something amazing.

I took her to my home and shortly afterwards a pastor I had known from another church in another town was ringing my doorbell.  Years since I had heard from him.  He said the Lord had urged him to visit me without delay.  I brought him in and was astonished when the lady in difficulties obviously knew him.  He was the pastor that had married them!  She opened her heart and he agreed with her.  Somehow they needed to now find her husband.

He left to go home and, would you believe it, the husband was at this pastor's house waiting to consult him!  He was able to minister intelligently into this situation and the husband was reconciled to his wife immediately after.  Interpretation of tongues!

In the church unbelievers have been truly impressed by someone speaking out a message in tongues and someone else standing up to deliver the English interpretation.  In one church a lady went for prayer wearing a neckbrace from a motor accident that injured her neck.  One man had a very short message in tongues and a woman rose and said commanding, Remove the neckbrace!  Without prayer the neckbrace was removed and her neck was healed.

When the gifts are operating correctly the presence of Jesus in our midst is strong and people respond favourably to altar calls for salvation.  He loves us to use the gifts of the Holy Spirit wisely and profitably.  To receive and use the gifts we need to be baptized in the Holy Spirit and the usual confirmation is receiving the gift of speaking in tongues.  This is what happened to the disciples in the Upper Room at Pentecost.  Find a pastor who speaks in tongues and ask him to baptize you.

In Acts 19 Paul found a group of disciples baptizing others.  He asked if they knew about the Holy Spirit.  They didn't. So he proceeded to tell them that they were baptizing in water the way John the Baptist had done, but now there was a better way.  He baptised them all in Jesus' name and they all spoke in tongues and prophesied.

Prophecy is esteemed more highly than tongues by Paul.  Standing in God's Presence, hearing His Word, accurately relaying the true prophetic word.  It's a priceless gift.  You feel the anointing come upon you, you open your mouth and a stream of words flows forth to edify the body of Christ.  Words that comfort, challenge, motivate and bless.  From God.

Tomorrow we will continue opening the gifts of the Holy Spirit to the glory of our Father.

Prayer:  Heavenly Father Thank You for the wonderful gifts You have given Your children.  Lord there are peaks and depths to discover with them all.  Help us to overcome false stories concerning that which You give us in truth and love.  In Jesus' name. Amen.