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February 2016

Why the Gifts of the Spirit are Important

1 Corinthians 12:4-6
There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.

Matthew 1:23
“The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).

John 14:9
Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?

Genesis 1:26
Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”

I’ve heard different teachings over the years about what it means to be made in God’s likeness. One old world view is a physical likeness. Another view is the body, soul, spirit teaching. I do know that one reason for the likeness is so “they may rule.” But what does it mean to be made in God’s likeness or image?

For me, at this point in time, I take it to mean something very simple. That is, when you looked at Adam and Eve you saw the Father. Not physically, but wherever they were the presence of God was there, the image of God was there. The authority of God was there, the love of God was there, the heart of God was there.

That sort of got lost during the fall. God’s Spirit often rested on men and worked through men, but something changed when Jesus came. He walked on the earth as Immanuel, God with us. When you saw Jesus you saw the Father; the authority, the love, the heart, the Father. After the resurrection Jesus ascended into Heaven and sent the Holy Spirit to live in us. This is very different than how God’s Spirit rested on men before Jesus came. When Jesus sent the Holy Spirit the image of God that was lost at the fall was restored to humanity.

Matthew 11:11
Truly I tell you, among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet whoever is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.

There were some amazingly great people in Old Testament times and we have much to learn from them and from how God worked with them. But the least in the kingdom is greater. We are the body of Christ, we are Immanuel now. We are the image; the authority, the love, and the heart of God on the earth today. Not because we are great people, but because God chose to place his image and glory in humanity.

Luke 14 15-24 tells the story of a man that prepared a great banquet and when it was ready the guests who had been invited didn’t come. They had other things to do. So the man had his servants go and bring the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame. And then they continued to look for people to come to the banquet, wherever they could find people who would come, people who did not have other or “better” things to do.

God is not expressing his image through the great people of the nations, through people who are consumed with the things of this world. Instead he is expressing his image through the least of the nations. People who seem to be nobody. People others often ignore. Yet in the midst of these people you will find the image of God.

John 4 tells the story of Jesus meeting a woman from Samaria. He started to talk with her (something Jews didn’t do), offered her living water, and at one point told her something that he could only know supernaturally; that she had five previous husbands and the man she was with now was not her husband. She saw God’s mercy and love in Jesus, but it was that supernatural word of knowledge that caused her to see him as a prophet and maybe even the Messiah. And all of it together caused her to bring the rest of the town to meet Jesus.

We need the fruit and the Spirit and the gifts of the Spirit working in us so people will see God’s image. God wants to love on the people around us. He may want to show an act of kindness or an act of forgiveness. He may want to give them something to eat or some clothing. He may want to heal them or say something supernatural to them so they will realize that he is there. And he wants to do that through us; in our homes, at the grocery store, in a bar, wherever there are people who don’t have other things to do. Let God’s Spirit work this amazing work in your life. Let’s be “God with us.”


Your Word is a Light

Psalm 119:105 (NIV)
Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.

2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NIV)
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

The Bible, God’s written word, is able to; transform our way of thinking, show us how to live, fill us with faith, and reveal Jesus to us. Not the letter of the scripture but the spirit of the scripture, that God breathed intent that the Holy Spirit can bring to life in us.

Life is dynamic. We grow and mature. Second Corinthians 3:18 says “we are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory.” This describes an ongoing work. But sometimes things in us can become stuck. We sort of become frozen at a point of growth and just stop. And sometimes it is our beliefs and doctrines that can be the hindrance.


Consider this picture of candles as representing scripture. There are lots of things in the scripture that can change us, that are “useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.” And when we have faith in these scriptures and let them, they will work God’s purpose in our lives. But we can keep them from being effective, from achieving their purpose.

Here’s an example of what I mean. For many people, if you quote John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” they will say “I believe that.” If you quote 1 John 4:18 “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love” they will say “I believe that.” But if you quote Philippians 2:12-13 “work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose” they will start explaining why that doesn’t really mean fear but instead means something like awe. Often a belief created around one scripture (in this case 1 John 4:18) will be used to nullify another scripture (e.g. Philippians 2:12). And without realizing it some of the candles have been blown out. We still have light, but we don’t have all of the light working in us.

Candles 2 320

I want all of God’s written word to transform me. I don’t want to transform some scriptures to make them fit my beliefs. That means I have to let God’s word work in me even if I don’t understand it. So when I hear John 3:16 I want to believe it and let that scripture change me. When I hear 1 John 4:18 I want to believe it and let it change me. And when I hear Philippians 2:12-13 I want to believe it and let it change me. I want every candle to be lit, lighting my path and showing me the way.