For whatever reason I’ve been thinking about these three things lately. Fruit, gifts and talents. The specific thought I’ve had about them is that many of us seem to confuse them and don’t really differentiate them. So let’s take a look at them.
Sometimes you will hear someone referred to as a “gifted” musician. The problem is that I have not met someone that from day one could automatically pick up an instrument and be world class from day one. Do I think that there are some people born with a talent that the rest of us don’t have? Absolutely. But they have to spend their time developing their talent to be as good as possible. And if they don’t use it, they tend to lose it. All of us are born with certain talents. Me? I was born with a talent of being able to run fast. I developed that for many years. I wasn’t the fastest person in the world, but I was faster than most.
Gifts are a different story. People are born with gifts as well. They are born with them as result of the second birth. The cool thing is that since these gifts from the sHoly Spirit, He can give you any gift that He wants whenever He wants. I don’t believe that He gives you one gift when you come to know Christ and then will never give you another.
One thing that that seems to happen is that He gives gifts that don’t necessarily coincide with natural abilities. For example, someone who may not be a natural public speaker may be given the gift of proclaiming the word of God. God seems to like to gift us in ways that put us in situations that are outside of our comfort zones.
Finally, there’s fruit. I am still trying to get my arms around this one. I have thought of this one much like I have thought of gifts. I don’t have patience? Well, then the Lord just hasn’t given me that fruit yet. Somehow, though, I’ve figured out that I’ve had it all wrong.
You have the fruit of the Spirit within you once you come to know Christ. The closer you develop your relationship, the more that fruit grows. How do you know? Your patience grows. So does your self-control, love, joy, peace, goodness, kindness, and faithfulness. Your fruit is the characteristics of your relationship with Christ. As my pastor said recently, they are demonstrations of our spiritual maturity.
All of us who follow Christ have talents, gifts and fruit. The main thing we must focus on is to make sure that they glorify the Lord.
Do you know what your talents and gifts are? Is the fruit evident in your life?
Recently it was decided that I would change positions at work. After 4 1/2 years, I am soon going to be in major learning mode as I move to a new team to lead and manage. I’m looking forward to it and I hate to leave my old team at the same time. How this all happened is extremely interesting to me.
I have been praying for some time for a certain thing to happen in my job. If it happened, I would basically be promoted. It came time for my performance review, so my boss and I sat down to discuss the past year or so. I laid out what I wanted to do. I quickly learned that was not going to happen. Instead, what came out of our meeting, was that I and another manager would swap positions.
In other words, I didn’t get promoted.
There are several emotions that I could have felt. I could have been hurt because I didn’t get what I wanted. I could have been made because I didn’t get the promotion that I had planned on for a long time.
Instead, here is how I’m looking at it.
The Lord gives his children fish instead of snakes.
He gives his followers eggs instead of stones.
When I was praying, I was asking for one thing. The Holy Spirit was making intercession for me. He could have been saying to the Father, “Larry is asking for this job. This other job will be better for him.”
I don’t really know what the Lord has planned for me in this new position. I know that I will develop new skills. I will get to know some folks in a different way. I believe that He is working it out for good because I love Him and have been called according to His purpose.
I didn’t get promoted in a human sense, but I believe I did in a kingdom one.
Have you ever prayed for something only to get something totally different?
A couple of days ago, my friend Jon Acuff had this blog post. I agree with him on what he says about communication here. We speak in so many ways besides our speech.
If you didn’t follow the link, Jon says that our communication makes its way to our audiences:
55% of our communication comes from visual cues.
38% comes from our tone.
7% comes from what we actually say.
Again, I agree with him, but I have a couple of things to add. These additions are specifically geared for the Church.
We have the Gospel and we have the Holy Spirit.
The Gospel is the power of God unto salvation. Think about that for a minute. When we present the Gospel we have the power of God on our side. This is the same power that raised Christ from the dead. It is the same power that makes us alive and new creatures. It’s the same power that God uses to communicate through us to others. It’s a power that speakers that do not follow Christ do not have.
We also have the Holy Spirit to empower our speech. Think about it. We follow Christ and are filled with the Spirit. We abide in Christ and walk in the Spirit. When this happens, our thoughts and words are prompted and inspired by the Spirit. They flow to others who follow Christ, are filled with the Spirit, abide in Christ and walk in the Spirit.
Should we pay attention to our non-verbal cues and our tone when we speak? Absolutely. But we should not simply depend on them when it comes to our speaking. We must depend on the Gospel and the Holy Spirit to guide us and give us the power needed when we communicate to others.
What do you depend on in you communication to others?
No matter who you are or what your age is, I believe I can say something about you. There is something I feel I can I can say definitively about you and me.
We all have dreams. We all have a vision we wish for our lives.
Perhaps you disagree with me. Maybe you think that the time for dreams and visions are over. Maybe you think that’s ok for kids or even for those who are young in college or newly married. Maybe you think that visions and dreams are rare now.
I might agree with you. Except. Except for the fact that there is a Dream Giver. There is someone who is the Visioneer. If we follow Christ we have a source for dreams and visions.
Long before Christ, God told Israel that there was a new day coming. The Lord spoke through Joel and said there was a day coming when He would pour out His Spirit on mankind. He said that sons and daughters would prophesy. Old men would dream dreams. Young men would see visions.
All of this would come through pouring His Spirit out.
Peter quotes this a few hundred years later as he is preaching during Pentecost.
Guess what? This kind of talk scares people. They don’t want to believe it. They don’t want to believe that the Spirit will still give them dreams and visions today.
Why? Why would this have stopped. Nothing is said that implies that this is a one time thing.
I’m not saying that you will get a vision or dream from the Lord a day to direct every action of your life. I’m not saying that we will walk around in some mystical stupor just waiting for a sign, dream or vision.
I’m just asking if you want to have a dream for your life? Do you want your life, marriage, vocation or avocation to have a vision? How about your church?
Ask Him to give you your dreams. Ask him to give you the vision for your life.
He said that He would give dreams to the old. He said He would give visions to the young.
Don’t limit yourself. And for heaven’s sake, don’t limit God.
Do you have dreams and visions for your life? Have you asked the Lord to give them to you?
Why in the world would anyone want to read the book of Joel in the Bible? Besides the fact that it’s God’s word, that is.
What good would it do me? What do I need to learn from it? What would God tell me?
Here is what stood out to me as I read it. Peter quotes it in his sermon in Acts 2 and says that this will happen in the last days:
It will come about after this
That I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind
And your sons and daughters will prophesy
Your old men will dream dreams
Your young men will see visions
Even on the male and female servants
I will pour out My Spirit in those days.
It’s awesome to see that what Joel prophesied hundreds of years before came to fruition shortly after Jesus died, was resurrected and ascended to Heaven. And this promise is still relevant to those of us who follow Christ today.
Have you read the book of Joel lately?
For most of this summer, as in summers past, I battled fire ants. Several mounds of these pests from the bowels of the earth infiltrated my yard.
I did several things to battle these creatures. I bought a commercial product to spread near the mounds. This didn’t work. I spread rice around the mound in hope that they would eat and swell to death. No luck. Again, I bought a commercial product. Temporary at best, the ants and their mounds returned.
Finally, tired and concerned the mounds would multiply, I decided on a drastic course of action. I went to my outbuilding and sought my measure of last resort. I retrieved the only remedy of which I could think.
I grabbed my can and doused each mound with gasoline.
The mounds and ants are gone.
This was not the best method to rid myself of the ants. I have a few spots in my yard that are bare. Nothing will grow there for a while. I’m sure there are environmental risks.
The ants, though, were defeated.
You might want to know what that has to do with anything.
It has everything to do with everything.
You and I have sin in our life. We will do many things in an attempt to defeat sin in our lives. (Don’t get me wrong. Ultimately, if we are believers, sin is defeated by Christ on the cross. What I’m talking about are the sins that creep into the nooks and crannies of our lives.)
We try a variety of things to make ourselves holy. Or we don’t. Hopefully, we are all concerned with sin in our lives.
Some might call it the mortification of sin.
Sometimes it takes something radical to rid ourselves of sin.
Much like when Saul had disobeyed God and Samuel hacked Agag to death, it often takes extreme measures to rid ourselves of sin.
Here is the most extreme.
We need to love God more.
We need to fill up on the Holy Spirit more.
We need to put on Christ more.
In other words, God must be our aim.
Why does sin have a hold in our life? Why are our lives full of pride? Why do we lie or live lives of gluttony or lust or you (insert ) a sin here?
It’s because we aren’t doing the most radical thing that we can do. We aren’t chasing after God with all we have. We aren’t living our lives by reflecting on the gospel. We aren’t living our lives in the shadow of the cross.
How can I say that about you? Because that’s my problem. I’m just an ordinary guy. I’m nothing extraordinary. I’m just like you.
Do something radical today. Do something extreme in your pursuit of the Lord. Do whatever it takes to rid yourself of sin by gaining more of Him.
How do you rid your life of sin? Are you filling yourself up on the Lord?
I don’t know what kind of day or week you are having or will have. I do know that you will need something this week. You will desperately need what the Holy Spirit will do for you. You might not need all five of these things, but I almost guarantee that you will need at least one and probably more. I know, because I will need them.
We are all going to face something tough this week. We will need encouragement or to simply be reminded. Here are 5 things the Holy Spirit will do for you:
1. He will convict you of you sin. At some point, you will sin today or this week. That sharp pang? That’s more than your conscience. That’s the Holy Spirit letting you know that you are not living a holy life.
2. He will guide you. I’m not really a mystical person. I don’t look for mystical reasons and things behind anything. I just trust that the Holy Spirit will guide me in situations.
3. He will teach you. Anyone can read the Bible and know the words. However, the Holy Spirit will make those words come alive to those of us who know Christ.
4. He unites us to the Father and Son. The Son is in one with the Father. The Holy Spirit is unified with the Son. He brings us into unity with them.
5. He glorifies the Son. Whatever He does, He brings glory to the Son. We need to have the Son glorified to us, so that we can glorify Him as well.
I need each of those. I need to be convicted. I need to be guides. I need to be taught. I need to be unified with the Father and Son. I need to have the Son glorified. All of those bring me closer to what the Father intends me to be.
Which of these do you especially need right now?
Do you have unity?
In your church?
In your family?
In your relationships?
In today’s world, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of unity. Families are fractured. Relationships are torn apart. Churches are stressed.
It could have something to do with you and me.
Are we looking for unity?
I think one of the problems is that all of us have our own agendas. We have our own desires. We want what WE want.
If we don’t get it, we pout. We quit. We run. We fuss. We complain. We stir up trouble.
We do everything except what we should do.
We don’t look for unity.
We don’t, as Paul says in Ephesians 4, try to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
Why did Paul, just a few verses later, tell all of us to submit to one another? Because it’s awfully difficult to not have unity if we’re submitting to each other and looking out one another’s best interest.
Are we looking for unity? Or are we looking out for our interests?
Are there some areas in your life where you don’t have unity? Is there unity in your church? Do you need to submit and look out for someone’s best interest?
Do you belong to a tribe? More than likely you do. More than likely, you belong to several of them.
You probably belong to a family tribe. You may belong to a tribe of friends. Perhaps you belong to a tribe of people who have a similar hobby or common interest. Maybe you belong to a tribe of people with a common faith.
What holds you and your tribe(s) together?
Is it the common interest? Is it the common faith? Is it a common purpose? Do you simply like each other? Is it common experience? What is it exactly?
My family and I are currently looking for a new faith tribe. We are looking for a new church home. I’m wondering what it is exactly that will make it “click” for us.
In some previous posts I tried to explain some things that I am looking for in a new church. While there are certain characteristics, I also think that there is a an X-Factor in this. I don’t believe it is simply an intellectual decision. I’m not sure how it works. I believe we pray and somehow the Holy Spirit guides us to where He wants us. So far we have visited three churches. We may visit three more. Or not.
This is what I do know. We are looking for a church home where we can do a few basic things. We can worship. We can serve. We can love. Everything else is pretty well rolled into those three.
Why do you belong to your faith tribe, your church?
I’m going to admit something. I’ve been drunk before. Many times before. Fortunately, it’s been a long time since I’ve participated in that kind of behavior. But I remember.
One of the reasons that I don’t get drunk anymore is because I became a follower of Christ. Getting drunk doesn’t exactly exemplify the type of behavior that I or any other Christian should engage in (Drinking alcohol at all is another issue, but not one that I wish to take up in this post).
Paul tells us in Ephesians 5:18 not to get drunk on wine. Instead we are to be filled with the Spirit. However, as I was running the other night a question came to my mind.
What else might we get drunk on besides alcohol?
Let’s face it. There are plenty of other things that we can get drunk on. It might power. It might be money or wealth. It might be sex. It might be (fill in the blank). It could be anything. And guess what?
It keeps you from being filled with the Spirit too.
That’s right. Whatever you or I are drunk on keeps us from being filled with the Spirit. It’s impossible to be drunk with wine (or anything else for that matter) and be filled with the Spirit. I don’t want to argue that point with you. It just is. All of that other stuff leads to dissipation. Look up the definition yourself, please. I can’t spoon-feed you everything in this blog. Simply put, when you are drunk on anything else, you can’t focus on Christ or be filled with the Spirit.
What’s the solution?
So, what are we supposed to do? How do we keep from getting drunk on wine or anything else? It’s going to sound circular, but I can think of no other answer. The only way to keep from getting drunk and keep from being filled with the Spirit is to…..be filled with the Spirit. I know that sounds strange. It’s the only answer I’ve got though.
The next question that may be going though your mind could be, “How do I get filled with the Spirit?” Check back in Tuesday. I’m going to tell you what I think the answer to that is. But before we leave, think about this.
What might you get drunk on that prevents you from being filled with the Spirit?