From Pastor Johnny

How Do I Determine My Spiritual Gifts?

Don’t Sample the Products.

Instead, get on board with the producer.

1 God the Father

1 Savior Jesus Christ

1 Holy Spirit

1 Salvation

1 Church

1 Baptism

6 N.T. Books Describing Spiritual Gifts

 23 Individual N.T. Spiritual Gifts Listed

            With 23 spiritual gifts, how can I possibly know which is mine?

             With 23 spiritual gifts, must I try out each one before discovering which gifts are mine? If I do that, it might take decades before I discover my gifts! 

             With 23 spiritual gifts, do I just choose a couple and start doing them – hoping they will be the right ones for me? What if I choose the wrong ones?

             Jesus said it this way in John 15:5, “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” Getting involved with the one who produces the fruit and the gifts is the key to experiencing your most effective spiritual gift.

            Do not simply spectate the spiritual gifts.

            Do not try to self-manufacture the spiritual gifts.

            Do attempt to personally reproduce the gifts.

             Instead get in step with the Gift Producer and Maker (The Perfect Counselor, The Holy Spirit), and allow Him to express the appropriate gifts through you.  Dr. Tony Evans once declared, “God will hit a moving target!” Begin to walk with the producer of the spiritual gifts, and He will manifest that which is your most effective spiritual gifts.

            A born-again believer has been baptized (immersed) into Jesus Christ (Romans 6), which means he or she has been immersed in the Holy Spirit. When we daily learn to keep in step with the same Holy Spirit, He will systematically teach us and enable us to produce those gifts which He knows are most effective for us.

            You want to know your most effective spiritual gifts? Look up child of God! Walk in step with the one who owns them in the first place – the Holy Spirit!

           

 

 

 

           

Stopping the Momentum of Hand Grenades and Pre-schoolers

            When I was a little boy I watched a movie about the Vietnam War called The Boys from Company C.  One scene in this movie portrayed a young Marine throwing himself on a grenade to save the lives of those around him.  As I watched that scene I was amazed at the man’s level of sacrifice.  Though I was amazed at his selflessness, I was more amazed that this man could stop the explosion of a hand grenade (How sentimental could I be?  I was only nine years old).  It was beyond my young mind to comprehend how a man's body could block the destructive power of a grenade. 

            In high school I learned the answer to the question.  The marine who threw himself on the grenade did not stop it from exploding, but he did cut-off the momentum of its explosive power and redirected it into the ground.  If you want to stop a grenade from being destructive, block its momentum before it begins.  When the explosion of a grenade has already begun, it is impossible to stop the momentum of the blast from destroying everything around it.  In other words, stop the blast before it gets started.

            Modern American society is full of children, teenagers and adults whose moral and behavioral blasts were never cut-off in the beginning.  Parents of teenagers sometimes come to our student pastor or to me and say, "HELP!!"  Adults often complain of the moral decline of our youth.  The media highlights the "out-of-control" actions of teens and young adults.  Has it occurred to these areas of society that we must cut off the explosion before its momentum begins?

            Scripture says it like this, "Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it."  The wording of the original Hebrew text literally says to "start" a child in the way he should go.  This verse provides the idea of starting a child very young and directing him or her along all of his life.  In other words, cut off the momentum of that explosion and redirect it when they are young, and they will not destroy society when they get older. 

            How do we redirect the moral explosion we see today?  Scripture also has that answer in Deuteronomy 6:6-9.  "These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts.  Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road.  Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.  Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates."  We are to immerse our children in God's direction while they are young, if we want to cut-off the moral explosion of their older years.  Parents are called to take God's word and learn it, live it, model it and teach it to their children. 

          Because of the corruption of society, even good families and good kids sometimes succumb to the pressure of moral corruption.  However, it makes sense for parents to redirect the moral momentum of a child early.  While there may still be those cases where kids fall to the corruption of society, the moral destruction we are seeing today will be drastically reduced. 

4 Victorious Responses to Desperate Times

             From 2004-2012 a show ran on the ABC Network titled Desperate Housewives. It has been designated as a comedy, drama, mystery (who knew there was even such a designation).  Though I never watched it, it was a popular show – as evidenced by its long running record.  It followed the subdivision lives of several women and the desperate, often dysfunctional, experiences they faced.  These women used deception, revenge, sensuality, envy, and greed to seek to help their desperate lives.  This is how they faced desperate situations.

            Given the fact that the show lasted nine seasons, many millions of people watched it and were entertained.  I do not think that most people build their moral compasses from weekly television or internet series, but this series most certainly reflected the inner motivation of at least a few of its viewers.  Which leads me to the question.

            What about you?

       How do you face and respond to a desperate situation in life?  Many people respond to desperate life situations in ways that they were taught or modeled – whether that is good or bad.  Scripture offers much needed truth and examples of how God’s people can respond to desperate times.  True born-again followers of Christ respond to  desperate times by a show of faith rather than fear.

      There are four separate stories in two Old Testament passages that show the effective and victorious response of followers to desperate situations.  In 1Kings 17:8-24 and 2Kings 4:1-37 the response to desperation of three ladies sets a pattern and example for all of God’s people when we face drastic and trying times.

 Four Victorious Responses to Desperate Times:

  1. Completely Trust God’s Provision (1Kings 17:8-16)

       In this story the prophet Elijah is sent to Zarephath to stay with a God-appointed widow during a severe drought.  When arriving at the city, the widow informs Elijah that she has almost no food left.  She is preparing her last meal for her and her son.  She believes they will starve to death after the final meal.

            Elijah not only asks her to get him something to drink and some food (that she does not really have to give), but he explains that she should make his first before the meal is made for she and her son.   As astounding as the request is by Elijah to the widow, her response may be more incredible.

            In 1Kings 17:14-15 we read,

       “For thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘The jar of flour shall not be spent, and the jug of oil shall not be empty, until the day that the Lord sends rain upon the earth.’  And she went and did as Elijah said.”

            Note that the widow’s response to God’s Word through Elijah is simple obedience.  Her response reflected her complete faith and trust in the provision of God.

       The trust of a child of God is not powerful because of his or her ability to trust. The trust is powerful because of God and His power.  Your complete trust in God’s power, and not in your ability to trust, is what makes your faith great. Victory in desperate times can often depend on whether your trust is in you – or in God.

           2.  Completely Seek God’s Care (1Kings 17:17-24)

          Some time after God fed Elijah, the widow, and her son, the son became ill. His sickness was fatal, and he died.  What was this lady’s response?  It was similar to her actions during the famine.

            Her response is recorded in 1Kings 17:8, “ And she said to Elijah, ‘What have you against me, O man of God?  You have come to me to bring my sin to remembrance and to cause the death of my son!’”

            Once again, when the situation in her life became desperate, she knew that God was the source of her hope.  Yes, she thought that the death of her son was punishment for past sins.  Yes, her basic theological construct was inaccurate.  Yet, despite her skewed theology, the focus of her trust was spot on! This was not a matter for anyone but the God of the universe.  She brought her petition to the man of God.

       She availed upon the prophet of God, but her trust was in the God of the prophet.  Her son appeared unhealable, but if there was hope she knew it was in God Almighty.

            I do not know what your desperate situation might be, and it may seem to be beyond hope.  Yet, God’s care for you goes beyond your current situation.   Facing desperation victoriously will depend on completely seeking the care of God.  You must know that He ultimately wants the very best for you, despite how things may appear.

           3.  Completely Call Upon God: 2Kgs 4:1-7

        When a prophet from the school of prophets passes, his wife and children are left in a difficult and desperate situation.  There was no money or means of support for the widow.   In addition to grieving her godly husband’s death, helping her boys to grieve the death of their father, and still running the household, she was also faced with bankruptcy and the inability to pay her bills.

            The creditor who the widow’s family owed was preparing to come take her boys and make them his servants to pay her debt.  Under the most narrow definition of desperate that one can find, this situation fell into that category.

            What would be her response?  The lead prophet of God on the scene at that time was Elisha. In 2Kings 4:1 it explains,

      Now the wife of one of the sons of the prophets cried to Elisha, ‘Your servant my husband is dead, and you know that your servant feared the Lord, but the creditor has come to take my two children to be his slaves.’”

        The newly widowed woman was desperate, and heart broken, but she knew that any hope to remedy her situation would be found in calling upon God.  She called on Elisha because the lady knew that only his conversation with God would be any help to her.

       Completely seeking God is a powerful step in responding to desperate times.  Seeking God completely does not mean He may not direct you to other means of support – medical, financial, vocational, psychological, or relational – but it means that God is your first stop.  So often, when we have tried many other things, we then seek God.   A child of God, faced with desperate times, will ultimately be successful when Jesus our Savior is our first place to go in seeking help.

  1. Confidently Searches out God’s Mind: 2Kings 4:8-37

       Elisha meets a wealthy couple who provides him a room and lodging when he is in their town.  They are especially generous to him, so he desires to help them.  The woman has not been able to have children, so Elisha calls upon God for her.   She bears a son, much to her delight.

            One day, after the son is a young boy, he develops a severe condition in his head and dies.  The woman lays his body on Elisha’s bed, saddles up the donkey and rides straight to Mount Carmel where she first encounters Elisha’s servant Gehazi.  After telling him that things are great, the woman proceeds to Elisha, and this is the scene in 2Kings 4:27,

      “And when she came to the mountain to the man of God, she caught hold of his feet. And Gehazi came to push her away.  But the man of God said, ‘Leave her alone, for she is in bitter distress, and the Lord has hidden it from me and has not told me.’”

             Despite her grief and desperation, this woman knew that any hope of her son recovering was going to be found in searching out the mind of God through the man of God.  In those days, calling out to God was accomplished through the prophet.  When approached by Gehazi, she knew that she must by-pass him and get to where she could seek God.

            Child of God, your desperate situation may be overwhelming, and your heart may be broken.  Seek out the mind of God! Seek out the heart of God! His answer to you may, or may not, be exactly what you want but know that the mind of God is where your answers lie!

            Desperate situations call for desperate measures.  Look up child of God!  The Savior of the world died for you, how much more will he offer hope in desperate times.

           

 

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