Note from Jesus
Dear Precious Believer,
You became a child of the Father when you turned your heart and life to follow Me, called on Me in faith to be your Savior, confessed Me as your Lord, and shared in My death, burial, and resurrection through baptism (Romans 10:9-13; Acts 2:21; Acts 2:36-41; Acts 16:25-34; Galatians 3:26-29). I poured out the Holy Spirit upon you as you were born into a new life with Me — a life filled and led by the Spirit (Acts 2:38-39; Titus 3:3-7; Romans 8:9-10). As a beloved child of your Father in heaven, you are a gifted child. The Holy Spirit is alive in you. We — Father, Son, and Spirit — have given you spiritual gifts to use to bless other believers, to touch the lost and needy, and to bring Us glory.
Today, your verses come from 1 Corinthians where Paul talks to the Corinthians about their spiritual gifts. So I wanted to share several insights with you about spiritual gifts and what the New Testament teaches you about these gifts. Numerous passages in your New Testament talk about your having received these gifts. Each passage has a little bit of a different emphasis:
- Each of you is given gifts to use as part of My body, so use them without arrogance and with gracious commitment (Romans 12:3-8)
- Each of you has at least one spiritual gift, but don’t use your gift pridefully. Instead, recognize that each gift is important to the function of My body, the church, so use your gift in love to build up the church and to bless others. If your gift is to be used in your worship assemblies, use it in an orderly way to build up and bless others (1 Corinthians 12:1-30; 1 Corinthians 14:1-40).
- I gave gifts to help the church function as My bodily presence, so use your gifts — use equipping gifts to help others minister and use serving gifts to bring My grace to others. When you each use your gifts appropriately, then My church is matured more and more into My likeness to bring My grace to those around you (Ephesians 4:7-16).
- There are speaking gifts and serving gifts. Use your speaking gifts to speak My message and use your serving gifts and the strength that I supply to bless others as I would bless them (1 Peter 4:10-11).
Doctor Luke, Paul’s sometimes companion, wrote two books in your New Testament, Luke’s gospel and Acts. His gospel emphasized how the Holy Spirit was at work in My earthly ministry so that you can see the connection between My ministry and your ministry — both are empowered by the Holy Spirit. Before I ascended into clouds and returned to the Father, I made this promise:
[Y]ou [the apostles] will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere — in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.
(Acts 1:8 NLT)
In Peter’s sermon on Pentecost, a similar promise was made to all disciples:
Peter replied, “Each of you must repent of your sins and turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. This promise is to you, to your children, and to those far away — all who have been called by the Lord our God.”
(Acts 2:38-39 NLT)
Throughout the book of Acts, Luke emphasized how the Holy Spirit helped My disciples take My good news to all the world, beginning from Jerusalem, going throughout Judea, reaching out to Samaria, and then reaching to the ends of the earth.
Not only did the Holy Spirit empower My disciples to share My story, but the Spirit also confirmed that different groups had been accepted into My family. The Spirit’s presence demonstrated that these different groups should be included in the fellowship of My disciples. This imparting of the Spirit happened first with Jews at Pentecost when the Spirit came to the apostles in a very demonstrable way. The Spirit’s coming also showed that I was alive from the dead and had authorized what occurred that day. The apostles’ preaching promised that forgiveness of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit were available to everyone who answered My call to believe that I AM both Lord and Christ and to be baptized in My name (Acts 2:32-41).
My disciples were a little slow to realize that when I commissioned them to go to all nations (Matthew 28:16-20), I meant it. At first, they were taking My message just to Jewish people. So I sent a disciple named Philip to Samaria to go to people that Jews didn’t appreciate: Samaritans (Acts 8:4-8). However, when these precious Samaritans were baptized, they didn’t receive the Spirit until a group of apostles came from Jerusalem and laid hands on them. Then, I sent the Holy Spirit in a clearly recognizable way to these Samaritan believers to show My apostles, along with the rest of My Jewish disciples, that Samaritan believers must be included in My family of grace. The Spirit’s coming showed the Jewish disciples that they must accept these Samaritan believers as brothers and sisters (Acts 8:14-17; Acts 8:25).
Still, most of the world, especially the non-Jewish world, had not heard My message and had not been included in My family. To help My apostles and the Jewish people in Jerusalem realize that all people should be included in My Family, I sent a vision to the apostle Peter to show him that he should share My grace with Gentiles (Acts 10:1-43). To show Peter that these Gentile believers should be included in My family by faith and that he must baptize them, I sent the Holy Spirit to the household of Cornelius in a way that Peter recognized — Cornelius and his household received the Spirit like My Jewish disciples had at Pentecost (Acts 10:44-48). This coming of the Holy Spirit to Cornelius and his whole household became the defining moment for the early church in recognizing that My gospel was for all people (Acts 11:15-18). Just as I had told My apostles before My ascension (Acts 1:8), the power of the Holy Spirit would come to them and help them take My message to Jerusalem and all Judea (Jews), to Samaria (Samaritans), and to the whole world (Gentiles). And that is exactly what the Spirit did!
I poured out this same Holy Spirit on you when you became My follower and were born “of water and Spirit” (Titus 3:3-7; John 3:3-7 NLT). The Holy Spirit came to live inside you as the Father’s child, making your body a temple of the Holy Spirit, a place where We live (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). The Spirit gives you at least one spiritual gift that enables you to bless the body, reach the lost, and glorify Me. Paul taught this to new Christians, but sometimes they acted selfishly and distorted the reason they were given their spiritual gifts and became filled with pride. Pride was a key problem among the Corinthian believers in their thinking about the Holy Spirit.
In today’s verses, Paul addressed truths that the Corinthians needed to understand because they were focused on the more spectacular and demonstrable gifts of the Spirit, saying all Christians must have these gifts or they weren’t truly spiritual. Paul makes clear that gifts of the Spirit are:
- Given to each Christian (1 Corinthians 12:7).
- Given by Our — Father, Son, and Spirit’s — sovereign choice. We decide who gets which gifts (1 Corinthians 12:4-6; 1 Corinthians 12:11).
- Given to each believer to bless the whole body, not to exalt the individual believer because he or she has some unique gift (1 Corinthians 12:7).
- Given to each believer, but no one has all the gifts, and there is only one spiritual gift — love — that all must have to be considered My disciples (1 Corinthians 12:27-31; Galatians 5:22; John 13:35).
- Given to each believer, so rather than desiring and focusing on the more extravagant appearing gifts — like speaking in tongues, which is the one the Corinthians were focused upon — they were to use the gifts We had given them to build up the body (1 Corinthians 14:12-25).
- Given to each believer, but much more important than the gifts you have received — which don’t last for eternity — is this truth: your gift must be used in love or it means nothing — because love does last for eternity (1 Corinthians 13:1-13).
Verses to Live
Please remember that you are a gifted child of God. Use your gifts to bless others in love, not to feel important or exalt yourself over others. When the gifts We have given you are used selfishly, the results are what happened at Corinth: chaos, conflict, and confusion. As Paul will remind you in the Scripture tomorrow, everything must be done in love!
Each believer has received a gift that manifests the Spirit’s power and presence. That gift is given for the good of the whole community. The Spirit gives one person a word of wisdom, but to the next person the same Spirit gives a word of knowledge. Another will receive the gift of faith by the same Spirit, and still another gifts of healing — all from the one Spirit. One person is enabled by the Spirit to perform miracles, another to prophesy, while another is enabled to distinguish those prophetic spirits. The next one speaks in various kinds of unknown languages, while another is able to interpret those languages. One Spirit works all these things in each of them individually as He sees fit.
(1 Corinthians 12:7-11)
God has appointed gifts in the assembly: first emissaries, second prophets, third teachers, then miracle workers, healers, helpers, administrators, and then those who speak with various unknown languages. Are all members gifted as emissaries? Are all gifted with prophetic utterance? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Or are all gifted in healing arts? Do all speak or interpret unknown languages? Of course not. Pursue the greater gifts, and let me tell you of a more excellent way — love.
(1 Corinthians 12:28-31)
Response in Prayer
O Father, thank You for the knowledge that I am Your gifted child. Help me recognize the gifts You have given me. I know that You gave me these gifts so that I can use them in love to bless Your church, to build up the group of believers with whom I share my life, and to bless others. I want You to be exalted, O God — Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Empower me to share Your grace with those who have not experienced it. I ask this by the authority of Jesus, in Whose name I pray. Amen.
‘A Year with Jesus’ is written by Phil Ware.
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All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved.