Tag Archives: Joy

You May Have the Gift of Mercy If . . .

29 Jul

SPIRITUAL GIFTS (10)

Characteristics of the gift of MERCY (Part 2)

There are seven Spiritual Gifts mentioned in Romans:

Rom 12:3-8

4 Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5 so in Christ we who are many form one body , and each member belongs to all the others. 6 We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. 7 If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; 8 if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully. NIV

  • They are able to sense genuine love – They can very quickly identify insincerity
  • They are vulnerable to deeper and more frequent hurts because of lack of love or rejection. John’s teachings and personal relationships illustrate that his primary focus was on love. He uses the word “love” more than any other disciple (Gospel of John; Epistles of John).
  • They seek deep friendships in which there is mutual commitment. John established a very close relationship with Christ and with Peter. He often refers to  himself as the disciple “whom Jesus loved.”
  • They tend to react harshly when intimate friends are rejected. John and James asked Christ if they should call down fire from heaven and consume the Samaritans who rejected Christ (Luke 9:54.
  • They are more concerned about mental joy or distress than physical concerns. John wrote to give his readers “joy” – “fellowship” – “hope” – “confidence” – and to cast out “fear” and “torment” (I John 1:3, 4; 3:2, 4:18; 5:13-14)
  • They attract people who are having mental and emotional stress.  John’s deep understanding, love, and acceptance made it easy to understand why others would confide in him as Christ did during the last supper (John 13:23-26). Meeting physical needs proves love (I John 3:17)
  • They measure acceptance by physical closeness and quality time together.
    John sought out the closest place to Christ: “Now there was leaning on Jesus’ bosom one of his disciples (John 13:23). His need for closeness may have prompted his request to sit next to Christ in glory. (Mark 10:35-37)
  • They desire to remove the causes of hurts rather than look for benefits from them. John’s message was to get Christians to stop hating and hurting each other. (I John 3:11, 15)
  • They generally avoid decisions and firmness unless they will eliminate greater hurts. John was a follower until it came to denying Jesus; then was bold and decisive (Acts 4:13; 19-20)
  • They don’t keep score
  • They are attracted to outsiders – to show acceptance and kindness
  • They have lots of acquaintances and enjoy calling a lot of people friends
  • They empathize deeply with hurting people
  • They are compelled to provide some type of immediate aid to anyone who is hurting

In addition to what I have learned about Spiritual Gifts, I have also used material by the following:

  • C. Peter Wagner “Your Spiritual Gifts”
  • Gordon Lindsay “All About the Gifts of the Spirit”
  • Adult Education and Discipleship Ministries – FBC – Garland “Gifts are for Giving”
  • Biblesoft Libraries
  • Sandy Trice
  • David Francis
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We Do What We Do Because . . .

6 Jul

Discovering Our Spiritual Gifts (3) Continued

The importance of discovering our spiritual gift in the Body of Christ brings us into one accord as a church and helps us to become more accommodating. We begin to understand and fulfill the calling God has in our lives, as well as giving meaning to our participation in our congregation.

The more we understand about ourselves and the gift God has created us with, the more we can understand what motivates us and those we love. We then will also be less critical of others when they don’t react the way we think they should. We are also less likely to be jealous or angry when we realize each individual has a unique gift – given by God – for a particular task.

Sometimes we “feel better” if we jump into every activity that is presented to us. We are good at several things and believe that we can certainly be beneficial to the new project. Besides, it makes us feel better about ourselves.

We all have a variety of things we do well. Whether we are in charge of a project or baking cookies for the event. (Trust me – some would say that baking cookies is the most important thing we can do for a function!)

Maturity in Christ brings balance in all areas. We learn to embrace the work we are designed for with enthusiasm and joy instead of dread and frustration. This being said – we will be better at prioritizing our time and less likely to get involved in so many things that we can’t possibly do any of them very well. When we learn to refuse the guilt that the enemy, satan, tries to inflict upon us, we can begin to do the things we love to do rather than the things we feel that we should do (triggered by guilt or other motive).

God has given the church gifts as tools to do His work. They are not toys to use for fun, nor are they rewards that we earn. Each born-again believer was created by God. He knew us while we were still in our Mothers’ womb. (Ps 139) He knew every day of our lives before we came into the world. He decided what gift He wanted us to have – how our personality and character would come into play. It is very important that we discover the gift God instilled within us and that we don’t try to do someone else’s job.

Use HIS Power, Not Yours

5 Jul

Discovering Our Spiritual Gifts (2) – Continued

WE are the church. The building we meet in on Sundays is a meeting place. God lives in our hearts and His Holy Spirit will motivate us at times to go out of our way to meet a need or to help someone.

We should be sensitive to what motivates us the most. For instance, if a friend was transferred to another city and had to move to a new location – and really didn’t want to go, in what way would you prefer to help? Would you (1) Have an immediate idea of people who could help and start making plans to line them up for the task; (2) Physically offer your assistance to pack and move them; (3) Help them financially; (4) Encourage them in the areas that are troubling them; (5) Do some research to help them gather information that may be needed; (6) Show compassion and understanding about all the things that are concerning them with the situation; (7) Make sure they are aware of all the facts of their decision and do your best to make them aware of any possible problems?

You may find that there are many areas listed above where you could help. More than likely, there will be one in particular that your are the most concerned with. That will be a hint of the gift God has placed in your heart to reach out to others. Eventually, as we mature in Christ, we will be more effective in many of these areas. Knowing the one thing that motivates us the most does not mean we are exempt from becoming more sensitive in the other areas of need.

God will be honored when we use our gifts. The Holy Spirit is always at work around us, and when we use our gift in His power, God receives the praise.

(1 Peter 4:10-11)
“Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.”

God determines what gifts we are given. Discovery of what motivates us may take some time. As we mature in our walk with God we will gradually become more like Jesus and participate in all gifts, as needed. But there will always be one that motivates us – this is by God’s design.

1 Cor 12:11 But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.

1 Cor 12:18 But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him.

Gifts of the Spirit and Fruits of the Spirit are different. The fruit of the Spirit is evident in our character – how we behave. The gifts of the Spirit reflect God’s work – what we do for Him. Following are the Fruits of the Spirit. Our goal is to allow the Holy Spirit to teach us how to walk with the evidence of these fruits in our lives. (Galatians 5:22)

Fruits of the Spirit

• Love
• Joy
• Peace
• Longsuffering/Patience
• Gentleness
• Goodness
• Faith
• Self Control

Note: We learn these fruits by facing issues in our lives. For example, in order to learn “longsuffering (patience)” we will be faced with issues that require us to put it to work! Read the list again with that in mind!

Motivational Gifts
Of the Spirit

• Serving/Helping
• Giving
• Administration
• Prophecy
• Exhortation/Encouraging
• Showing Mercy
• Teaching

There are other gifts God gives us that will be discussed later, but first we are going to go a little deeper into the characteristics of these 7 gifts and how to recognize them in our lives.

Our Least Favorite Subject – Obedience – God Is Not Santa Claus!

14 Jun

He Walks With Me

Obedience to God is the key to so many of the things we desire from Him. I am not referring to material things or things on our “wish list”, or to getting our own way all the time. It’s not about having all of our prayers answered just the way we want them or living in a perfect world where there are no problems and life is easy. It also isn’t about a life of wealth and health and utter bliss.

If you are looking for a life where true love exists with no heartaches, and your heart can be at peace when everything around you is failing – going wrong in almost every sense of the word – then, I believe this series of devotionals can help you.

I’m gong to write about finding The Way – true peace in the midst of every storm. It is about learning to trust in the One True Source that can give you everything you need. It is about following through. It is about timing – His timing.

My challenge to you and my purpose in writing this is for you to consider that God wants more of you – not for you to DO more – but for fellowship and friendship with Him.

Where do you look for peace?

God’s Word, is real and sharper than a two-edged sword. It really is. It is so alive and so full of God’s love for you and His direction for every situation in your life. You can have peace – the kind of peace that can’t be explained. It’s a peace you cannot find in all your money. You can’t find it in your mate, or your children or your grandchildren. It isn’t in the toys you love. These are ways to spend your time that may occupy your time and distract you. They may take your mind far away from reality. But these are only temporary fixes.

Your peace won’t come from drugs, alcohol, sex or food. These things may help dull your senses and satisfy your flesh. However, none of these things really give you the peace in your heart you so need when your life is falling apart and your heart is breaking.

We have all seen how hurricanes, tornadoes and other natural disasters, can wipe away all the precious material possessions we all hold on to. When some sort of catastrophe visits our doorstep and begins to take away all that we have held in our minds to be the things that make us who we are, what happens to our peace then? Who do we turn to?

What happens when the world as we know it – our world – is shattered and everything we found our comfort and contentment in fails us? We try to hold it together. We do all we can to make it right again. We struggle and fight within ourselves until we feel our hearts will never mend. We cry out to God and make vows and promises we can’t keep. We try to bargain with God and plead with Him to make everything okay again. We’re disappointed and angry when He doesn’t jump in there and make miracles happen to prove He is God and to show us He will make things okay for us again.

What did you do wrong?

We even come to a point where we’re angry at Him and embarrassed that He could let us down in such a way that our friends think we couldn’t be living right. Surely, we must not be following all of the rules. There must have been something different we could have done. If we had, our lives would be proof of it. We would have everything in order and we would be like the Joneses – with perfect houses full of goodies and great cars and beautiful and perfect, well-behaved children. We would have lots of friends and the most up-to-date clothes – whatever toys our hearts delight in – great health – perfect holiday celebrations and nothing to worry about. That would prove God loves us and we’re living the good life, wouldn’t it?

After all, God said, “Delight yourself in Me and I will give you the desires of your heart”. He said it – did He mean it or not? Well, if I don’t have everything my heart desires, does that mean I’m not good enough or that I am not doing enough for God? Okay, then. I’ll join one more Bible Study or volunteer for a committee to show just how much of a Christian I am. I’ll work a little harder at making everyone see what good person I am. I’ll lose some weight and bring my wardrobe up to date – dye my hair – have some cosmetic surgery. Then everyone will see that I still have what it takes. They’ll envy me and see what a good person I am. I’ll surely feel better about myself.

I know something that will really help me feel better. I’ll buy some more toys. I’ll get new furniture or a big new car – a bigger, newer, faster computer – the most up to date cell-phone or smart phone.
I’ll drink away my sorrow or my shortcomings. I’ll take a few more pills so I won’t have to think about all of the things that bother me. I’ll join another group. I’ll find another mate. I’ll turn up the volume on my IPOD and drown out everything that is trying to bring me down. I’ll eat some comfort food. I’ll buy something that will make me feel better.

Have you gotten the picture? Do you see what we do – what we call living? Can you see what lengths we go to so that we will have peace and joy? Do any of them work for you when your life is falling apart or when you are hurting so much inside? Do any of these things last when you are all alone?

What, then, if anything, is the answer? Where can I find peace and joy? How can I be content? Is it possible?


Come back later — This devotional is continued
.

When Circumstances Take You Off Guard . . .

10 Jun

Chapter 91 of Psalms gives us great assurance that we will prevail in every area of our lives as we dwell in the shelter of God. It IS possible. God promises us that He is always with us. No matter what we face in life, He is walking beside us. We can trust Him. He is our protector. We don’t have to be afraid.

• Taken from Ps 91:1-10

• 1 He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. 2 I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”

We can trust that God has protected us from many traps that the enemy has set for us. By His divine grace He preserves our spirit and protects us from many temptations that the enemy sends our way. God is constantly watching over us to protect us from the things we cannot see.

• 4 He will cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you will find refuge; His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.

Tenderly God covers us with His wings and keeps a sheltered at all times. Many things are happening in the spiritual realm that we are unaware of. However; God is aware.

• 5 You will not fear the terror of night, the arrow that flies by day, 6 nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday.
• 7 A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you. 8 You will only observe with your eyes and see the punishment of the wicked.

God tells us all throughout His word not to fear. We don’t have to be afraid in the night or during the day. When we look around and see all of this happening the enemy will use it to bring fear to our minds. Things may be happening all around us but God’s Word says that even though 1,000 may fall at our sides and 10,000 at our right hands it won’t come near us.

We all obviously come very close to the happenings around us. Sometimes we find ourselves physically and emotionally in the middle of it all. But, our God promises in this Scripture to be there with us. He will also walk us through whatever situation we find ourselves facing. He will lead us out. In the event we do face death, we are promised a mansion in heaven and eternal life, if we make Jesus our Lord and Savior. So, nothing that comes our way can touch us that God does not allow. His plan is to always work things out for our good.

As we walk daily with the Lord and develop an intimate relationship with Him, He will make Himself known to us in so many ways. God knows just how to get our attention. He knows what will speak to our hearts. His desire is for us to trust Him with all of our heart and soul, and with our minds.

It has been said that worry is suffering in advance. Fear is not from God. Fear will haunt us continually if we allow it too. God has given us everything we need to fight the spiritual battles that continually arise to defeat us. God has given us His Word with promise after promise to protect us, to guide us, to warn us of things to come and to keep us at peace if we will keep our mind stayed on Him.

To keep our minds stayed on God indicates that we have a choice to make when confronted with situations that would cause fear, frustration, anger or anything else that would try to disrupt the peace and joy that God has so freely given to us. We can choose not to fret and worry. This is not to say that at times we may be caught off guard. Our enemy, satan, strives to catch us off guard. Our first response may be panic. Our minds begin to race and our emotions are deeply stirred. We immediately begin to come up with a plan of how to handle the current situation.

On the other hand, as our personal relationship with our Heavenly Father develops, we will soon learn how to turn immediately to God when faced with surprise attacks from our enemy, satan.

• 9 If you make the Most High your dwelling — even the LORD, who is my refuge — 10 then no harm will befall you no disaster will come near your tent.

In this quote from Psalms, God wants us to see that there is nothing that can harm us. He is there for us in every situation we face. Yes, we will have difficulty in our lives. There will be circumstances arise that will try to defeat us. We will eventually learn that our first response should always be to call on God. He is there and He will guide us and direct us. He will encourage us and reassure us that He is there to see us through whatever it is that seems bigger than life at the moment.

Spending time daily in prayer and with God’s word is the answer to developing our relationship with Him and allowing Him access to our hearts so that we can make necessary changes in the way we think and feel about the circumstances that surround us.

What Does The Future Hold?

6 Jun

Today’s world gives us plenty of reason to become discouraged. Worldly conditions are becoming more and more uncertain.  We wonder if things are going to get better. It is frightening. Our economy is bad. Many of us don’t have a job, leaving us with financial problems. There have been hurricanes, floods, tsunamis, earthquakes, and wars. Our leaders have been caught lying and cheating. Danger lives on our streets and invades our homes. Our schools are overrun with children out of control. Shootings are taking place in public places where we should feel safe. We are experiencing occurrences in our weather that are inexplicable. We are seeing more bizarre acts of violence. What is happening?

Life is challenging! We work hard and play hard. We move at a very fast pace. We have rigid schedules, time constraints, very little leisure time. Eventually, we become tired and weary. We may even become so exhausted that we begin to make decisions based on our raw emotions. We lose our enthusiasm. We become skeptical, sarcastic, and hard to live with. We may even become so overwhelmed that we become weary and want to give up.

Remember the childhood nursery rhyme, “Row, row, row your boat, gently down the stream, merrily, merrily, merrily, life is but a dream”? We dreamed about our future, our plans, how wonderful life would be. We weren’t prepared for how difficult things could be. The second verse of that nursery rhyme is, “Row, row, row, your boat gently down the stream, if you see a crocodile, don’t forget to scream”.  We didn’t know that some of our dreams would turn into nightmares!

We couldn’t wait to grow up so we could be in control of our own lives and do what we wanted.  We would then be able to go anywhere and do anything without asking anyone. Well, how did that work for us? It is sort of like joining the army so we wouldn’t have to do what mom and dad said!

Over time, our daily routines can change from exciting and challenging, to dull and boring. Eventually serious issues come up, causing more and more stress, fear, and anxiety.

God wants us to experience unsurpassable peace. It doesn’t mean that the world around us is going to be different. Situations around us won’t necessarily change. People who challenge us won’t be different. Difficult things won’t cease to affect us.

The change that will take place has to be internal. We will begin to transform our way of thinking.

There is good news! God gives us this Word from the Bible.

  • 1 Peter 1:6-9  “In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith — of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire — may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”  NIV

Inexpressible joy – wow!  Impossible to put into words – unutterable – unspeakable  – can you even imagine what it must feel like to feel so much joy that you cannot put it into words or express it in any way?

Our relationship with God begins in our hearts. Our temperament, personality, disposition and moral fiber come from our hearts. We have to begin there.

  • Prov 2:1-6 “My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding, and if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God. For the LORD gives wisdom. . .” NIV

 

  • Prov 2:9-11 “Then you will understand what is right and just and fair — every good path. For wisdom will enter your heart and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul. Discretion will protect you,and understanding will guard you.” NIV

Our accountability is to God, our Father, for in our hearts is where He lives. We must develop a personal and intimate relationship with Him. It is paramount to our reaching joy inexpressible. Attaining life’s most important treasures comes from this most important relationship. Nothing else can take His place. We may strive to reach our goals and objectives on our own. We may even gain a little ground. It won’t last. Nothing will last that is not of God. Joy inexpressible only comes only if our spirits are in tune with our Almighty Heavenly Father. It can happen no other way.

Most essential is making Him our first priority. The omnipotent God of the universe, the creator or life who has complete, unlimited universal power and authority wants a personal relationship with us. He wants our hearts devoted to Him. He wants to spend time with us! Joy inexpressible! How can we understand or explain it? We can’t.

When we reach intimacy with God, we will be so in love with Him that He can ask what He wants from us and we will be eager to obey. This is part of what inexpressible joy and peace that passes understanding is all about.