Overcoming Intimidation (Pt 2)

Welcome to Part 2 of our current series. In Part 1, I discussed the meaning of intimidation and pointed out that fear is a spirit (2 Tim. 1:7). I also shared on the purpose of intimidation, forms of intimidation, the root of intimidation, and who is affected by intimidation. Today, I will be sharing on the signs & symptoms of intimidation as well as the effects of intimidation.

Signs & Symptoms of Intimidation

Persons who are affected by a spirit of fear (intimidation) will display several signs and symptoms some of which are listed below:

  • loss of peace, confidence, courage, endurance, resolution and security; great anxiety & worry (Mt. 6:34, Phil. 4:6-7, Isa. 26:3);
  • torment (severe physical and mental suffering) (1 John 4:18);
  • doubt and unbelief about God’s love (1 John 4:18);
  • discouragement, hopelessness, frustration (Isa. 41:10);
  • a perception that God has deserted you and you are alone (Deut. 31:6, Josh. 1:9, Psa. 23:4);
  • insecurity (Mt. 6:34);
  • fear of men’s faces; timidity (Psa. 118:6, Act 4:29);
  • paranoia (everyone is against you or trying to harm you) (Rom. 8:31);
  • feeling of being trapped (Job 22:10);
  • shame and embarrassment (Jeremiah 1:17; Phil. 1:20);
  • warped judgment or perspective (e.g., Elijah);
  • heaviness and depression (e.g., Elijah);
  • desire to die (e.g., Elijah);
  • attack the pure in heart (e.g., 1 Sam. 17:28 – Eliab and David);
  • failure to step out into ministry (2 Tim 1:6-7);
  • failure to speak out against unrighteousness (Mk. 6:17, Eph. 6:20);
  • walk in unrighteousness (Psa. 119:134, Josh. 1:7);
  • lack of energy and feeling of exhaustion (e.g., Elijah);
  • a sorrowful spirit (Exod. 15:14).

Effects of Intimidation

We note that when Jezebel caused a spirit of fear to come upon Elijah (1 Kings 19:2-4), one of the first things that happened was that he began to operate out of the Lord’s perfect will. The intimidated person honours what he fears more than he honours God. There is greater vulnerability to walk in unrighteousness because fear prevents one from standing up for what is righteous. The fear of men’s faces and the pride of life take over (1 John 2:16). It is easier to conform to the world rather than being courageous enough to come out from among them (Rom. 12:2). God’s anger is against those who continue to walk in fear (Heb. 10:38). Scripture tells us that without faith it is impossible to please God (Heb. 11:6). The end of such a person is “the lake which burns with fire and brimstone” (Rev. 21:7-8). I didn’t say it, God’s word did! Of course, this is not God’s desire for any of us. His desire is that we enter into His rest, however, unbelief will prevent us from doing so (Heb. 3:19).

And in no way be alarmed or intimidated [in anything] by your opponents, for such [constancy and fearlessness on your part] is a [clear] sign [a proof and a seal] for them of [their impending] destruction, but [a clear sign] for you of deliverance and salvation, and that too, from God. For you have been granted [the privilege] for Christ’s sake, not only to believe and confidently trust in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, [and so you are] experiencing the same [kind of] conflict which you saw me endure, and which you hear to be mine now. (Phil. 1:28-30, AMP)

God is requiring us to expect the enemy to try and intimidate us because his modus operandi has not changed. Jesus endured it, Paul endured it and we will endure it. When we, as Christ’s representatives give in to the intimidation of our opponents we bring God’s name into disrepute. It is an indication that we do not believe and confidently trust in Him. If we don’t believe in the God we say we serve, why should unbelievers? It brings our testimony and witness into question before the world.

Therefore prepare yourself and arise, And speak to them all that I command you. Do not be dismayed before their faces. Lest I dismay you before them. (Jer. 1:17)

Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven. (Mt. 10:31-33)

God is very serious about how we represent Him before others. As His representatives, if we allow fear to cause us to misrepresent Him, He will allow us to be ashamed in front of our enemies. Jesus goes further to state that He will be no mediator before God on behalf of anyone who denies Him before men. God warns that we must not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell (Mt. 10:28).

One of the main effects of fear is on the manifestation of our spiritual gifts. Which is why Paul found it necessary to admonish Timothy to stir up (Greek: anazopureo) “to kindle afresh or keep in full flame” his gifts (2 Tim. 1:6). We see that the spirit of fear is the root cause of gifts becoming dormant (2 Tim. 1:7). If we allow fear to prevent us from exercising our spiritual gifts then the effect is similar to a muscle that is not exercised, it gets weak and dies.  The ultimate effect though is that those who should have received ministry through the spiritual gifts that we have been given are not ministered to. God says He will hold us guilty of their blood (Ezek. 3:18, 20; 33:6, 8).

As we reflect on the serious consequences of allowing intimidation to gain a foothold and become a stronghold in our lives, we should recognize the urgent need for us to be equipped with the knowledge to overcome it. This will be the topic for the third and final part of this series. You can’t afford to miss it. Join me again next week.

Shalom.

Overcoming Intimidation (Pt 1)

Throughout the scriptures we see persons being encouraged or instructed “do not be afraid”, “fear not”, “be of good courage”. This certainly gives one the impression that as human beings fear is something we are constantly grappling with. Intimidation or fear comes from the Greek word deilia meaning timidity and cowardice. Fear is not an attitude or disposition but a spirit (2 Tim. 1:7). Fear is not of God. It is in fact a controlling evil spirit as seen in the example of Jezebel and Elijah in 1 Kings 19:2-4. When we fear we are in fact saying that we do not trust God for fear is the opposite of faith.

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. (2 Tim. 1:7)

Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, “So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I do not make your life as the life of one of them by tomorrow about this time.” And when he saw that, he arose and ran for his life, and went to Beersheba, Which belongs to Judah, and left his servant there. But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a broom tree. And he prayed that he might die, and said, “It is enough! Now, Lord, take my life, for I am no better than my fathers!” (1 Kings 19:2-4)

This is the same prophet who had just trusted God to rain down fire on the burnt sacrifice, drenched with water no less, and caused 450 prophets of Baal to be executed.

Purpose of Intimidation

Satan seeks to intimidate you to take you out of your God given place of authority.

and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus. (Eph. 2:6)

And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. (Mt. 28:18)

Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you. (Lk. 10:19)

By taking you out of your God given place of authority, the enemy knows he will restrain your spiritual ability and action to coerce and force you into submission (Romans 6:16). Ultimately, he wants our gifts to become dormant so we will miss the purposes of God (2 Timothy 1:6-7).

Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness? (Rom. 6:16)

Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. (2 Tim. 1:6-7)

Forms of Intimidation

We see in Genesis chapter 3 verses 1 – 10, exactly how the enemy attacks you and those around you through fear and intimidation. He does this through our thoughts, imaginations, visions, circumstances, and people under his influence. He operates through words of judgment and criticism; anger and strife; belittling words, ridicule, mocking; threats (blatant and subtle); lies, deception, and false prophecy; sowing seeds of doubt about what God has said; and picking arguments (“pulling your tongue”).

Root of Intimidation

At the root of fear and intimidation is the love of self! “What about ME? What will happen to ME? What will they think of ME? Woe is ME!” Pride is at the root.

Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. (Rom. 1:21)

Who is affected by Intimidation?

1. Fear and intimidation gains expression through any person who will yield to it.

“Be angry, and do not sin”: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil.” (Eph. 4:26-27)

 2. Believers are specially targeted, particularly those who are operating powerfully in the spiritual realm.

Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. (2 Tim. 3:12)

3. You can be pure of heart and still be attacked. In 2 Timothy 1 verse 5, Paul speaks of Timothy’s upright character and again in Philippians 2 verses 19 and 20, but he still had to be reminding him not to allow his gifts to become dormant through a spirit of fear (2 Tim. 1:7)

4. You can be bold and anointed one moment and succumb to intimidation the next as we saw earlier in the case of Elijah (1 Kings 18 & 19).

5. Believer’s should expect attacks.

strengthening the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith, and saying, “We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God.” (Acts 14:22)

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. (1 Pet. 5:8)

Do not be afraid of sudden terror, Nor of trouble from the wicked WHEN it comes; (Prov. 3:25, emphasis mine)

Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices. (1 Cor. 2:11)

Join me next time as I share signs/symptoms of intimidation, effects of intimidation, and how to overcome intimidation. See you then.

Shalom.

 

 

 

Arise, Shine!! (Part 5)

We complete this current series today. Welcome to those visiting this blog site for the first time. Over the past 4 weeks, we have been gaining insights about the spiritual gifts and God’s requirement that we ‘stir up’ the gifts given to us. Check Part 4 to understand what is meant by stirring up the gifts. As promised, today I will be discussing how we stir up the gifts.

It is important to note in 2 Timothy 1:6 that Paul did not tell Timothy to pray and ask the Lord to stir up his gifts within him. He laid that responsibility squarely at Timothy’s feet. The fact that Paul was telling Timothy to reactivate his gift means that God holds each of us accountable for determining whether or not the gifts we have been given will be activated or not and once activated whether or not they will remain activated. Holy Spirit gives the gifts but each one of us has been given the response-ability to activate the gifts we have been given and to keep them activated. How? Recall, I mentioned last time that 2 Timothy 1:6 is the only place in the Bible where this phrase ‘stir up’ is used. It should therefore be no surprise that it is the verses immediately following verse 6 that prove instructive with regards to the ‘how’. 

7For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. (8) Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner: but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God; (9) who has saved us, and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given to us in Christ Jesus before the world began, (10) but has now been revealed by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, (11) to which I was appointed a preacher, an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles. (12) For this reason I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that day. (2 Tim. 1:7-12)

Here, Paul is pointing out the main challenge all believers face in stepping into the manifestation of their spiritual gifts – the spirit of fear. What is the antidote for fear? Faith. How does faith come? By hearing the Word of God (Romans 10:17). So then, for our spiritual gifts to flourish we must nourish ourselves with the Word of God so our faith remains steadfast. To counter the spirit of fear, we must believe that Holy Spirit within us is greater than any demonic spirit that seeks to intimidate us and that belief is built up in us through meditation on the truth in God’s Word regarding who we are in Christ.

What else must we do to activate, keep activated or reactivate our spiritual gifts? Paul goes on to encourage Timothy to be willing to step into the holy calling upon his life despite the hardships that would come. Paul called them “sufferings for the gospel”. Many of us want the resurrection power of Jesus but don’t want to share in the same suffering that Jesus had to go through as a condition to experiencing the resurrection power.

that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. (Phil. 3:10-11)

The following scriptures provide further support for what God requires of us in keeping with the stirring up of our gifts.

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. (Rom. 12:1)

For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. (Mk. 8:35)

If our gifts are to be stirred up, we must be willing to partner with Holy Spirit in full measure, in complete surrender to God’s will. We must be willing to work the works of Him who has called us while it is still day, no matter the cost (John 9:4). We note from the 2 Timothy 1:7-12 passage above, that the works we are being required to do are in keeping with the purpose and calling God preordained for each of our lives. In Paul’s case, the spiritual gifts given to him were to equip him to be a preacher, an apostle and a teacher of the Gentiles. Like Paul, we must cancel the fear of the suffering by knowing in whom we have believed, and being persuaded that ‘He is able to keep what we have committed to Him until that day.’ Father God wants us to have the correct perspective of adversity and suffering, recognizing that everything with God has a purpose.

For our light afflictions, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. (2 Cor. 4:17)

It is as we step out in faith, that the spiritual gifts will manifest and as we step out for God, He will not allow us to be ashamed because He has a vested interest in us accomplishing that which He has given us to do. The more we exercise our spiritual gifts in ministry, the more our gifts will flow and the words “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven” will become a reality.

Satan wants more than anything to prevent the Body of Christ from activating the spiritual gifts we have been given. He does this through intimidation. Many of us are bound by the spirit of fear and have allowed ourselves to be intimidated into either not activating our spiritual gifts or allowing them to become dormant. God has appointed this as the day when a shift will take place in your life if you determine in your heart to partner with Him. For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God!! (Rom. 8:19)

Please be encouraged further by looking up and hearing the Word of the Lord to His people from Isaiah 51:7-8, 12-16.

Arise, shine: For your light has come! And the glory of the Lord is risen upon you. (Isaiah 60:1)

 Awake, you who sleep, Arise from the dead, And Christ will give you light. (Eph. 5:14)

Shalom.

 

 

 

Arise, Shine!! (Part 4)

Thanks for joining me again as God seeks to inspire His Body, the Body of Christ, to activate the gifts He has given for such a time as this. To the newcomers, welcome to this series where we have been using the passage from 1 Corinthians 12 verses 4-11 to shed some light on the spiritual gifts. In parts 2 & 3 (Arise, Shine!! (Part 2); Arise, Shine!! (Part 3) we have answered the following 6 questions:

  1. What are these gifts (charismas)?
  2. Where do the gifts come from?
  3. Who are gifts given to?
  4. Why are the gifts given?
  5. Who decides who gets which gift(s)?
  6. If I receive the same gift as you will it manifest in the same way?

Today, we want to answer the 7th and final question. As we launch into it, I want us to reflect on the nature of a gift.

What do we know about gifts?

  • For a gift to be a true gift it cannot be earned. It is free.
  • You do not receive a true gift based on how good or bad you are.
  • The giving of the gift is the free choice of the giver of the gift.
  • The giver of the gift intends to bring happiness (blessing) to the receiver.

All of these characteristics of gifts apply to our spiritual gifts except for the last one. This is a reminder to us that God doesn’t think as the world thinks. There is a difference between how the kingdom of God operates and how this world operates and perceives things. This is why we are told we are not to be conformed to this world (Romans 12:2). Followers of Christ are supposed to have a different culture from the world in which we find ourselves. We are here to change the world not to blend in with it. This brings us to question 7.

7. The spiritual gifts we receive are for who? 

We have the answer in verse 7 of our study passage.

But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: (1 Cor. 12:7, NKJV)

This means we are not given spiritual gifts to hoard and to use for our own benefit or to make money from it. There are Christians right now who are charging people to give them a prophetic word from God, to receive healing, to receive deliverance. The Lord’s word tells us plainly, freely you have received freely give.

Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give. (Mt. 10:8)

Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. (1 Cor. 2:12)

And the Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely. (Rev. 22:17)

Let us remember who these gifts belong to. We did not get them in our own power and we cannot operate them in our own power. Those who are acting in opposition to God’s will concerning the gifts they have received are not operating under the influence of Holy Spirit but under the influence of Satan. The Word tells us plainly that rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft. And charging people in need for what has been freely given of God is both idolatry and rebellion. Those people need to know that God has said that “because you have rejected the word of the Lord, He also has rejected you” (1 Sam. 15:23b). That wasn’t even in my notes but God’s heart is grieved and I could go no further until I express His heart. For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God (1 Pet. 4:17).

The gifts are for ministry to others. Both believers and unbelievers but mainly the latter.  It is through the manifestation of the gifts that they will know that God is alive and He will be glorified. We see the example of Jesus doing just this with the Samaritan woman at the well as through the anointing of the Spirit He operated in the gift of the word of knowledge, she believed and began to glorify God and witness to others (John 4:16-29).

The answer to question 7 also gives us some clue as to why, in 2 Timothy 1:6, Paul felt it important to remind Timothy to “stir up” the gift that was in him. “Stir up” is from the Greek word anazopureo meaning to re-enkindle. The Oxford Lexicon dictionary defines re-enkindle as ‘to set alight again; to relight’. This is the only place in scripture where this word appears. This was a reminder to Timothy that he must continually be doing those things that would cause his spiritual gifts to be always alight. This means that if we do not put effort into stirring up our gifts the flame can go out (the anointing of the fire of the Holy Spirit departs) and the persons who are dying in this lost and dark world will have none to bring the life and the light of God to them to deliver them out of their darkness, out of their prison, out of their captivity. We too, who have received the gifts and don’t keep the fire of the anointing going, will also be overrun by the power of Satan and his kingdom. Why are there so many sick, so many bound, so many burdened in the Body of Christ? Think on these things.

We are expected to operate with humility concerning the gifts that God has bestowed upon us. We are not to become puffed up and boastful about the gifts we have received and compare ourselves with others.

Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. (Phil. 2:3)

Did you ever consider why God has not given all of the spiritual gifts to any one individual? God purposely does not give any one person all of the gifts because He wants us to need one another, to be dependent on each other. Even as the parts of our physical body have different functions but must act in unity for it to function effectively, so must the members of the Body of Christ function in unity, each taking up his/her calling in God, if the Body of Christ is to take back territory for God. This is another reason why it is important that we “stir up” our gifts. Please read 1 Corinthians 12:14-27 and Romans 12:5. Therefore, if any member of the Body of Christ determines not to function in their calling, the whole Body suffers and is made to function less powerfully than God intended. This is exactly what is happening throughout the Body of Christ. God told me that the world is a reflection of the condition of the church. A dying world means a dying church. The clarion call is being sent out through His prophets, “Arise, Shine!” you who have been called to be the light of the world, “Arise, shine and fan into flame the gifts of the Holy Spirit given to you for such a time as this. Do the works of Him who has called you while it is still day, for the night is coming when no one can work” (John 9:4).

Please join me next week as we see how we “stir up” our gifts.

Shalom.

 

 

 

 

Arise, Shine!! (Part 3)

Thanks for joining me again this week as we continue to explore the spiritual gifts and the importance of stirring them up! In last week’s blog, we were reviewing 1 Corinthians 12:4-11 to get answers regarding spiritual gifts.

4 Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. 6And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all. 7But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. 8For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; 9To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; 10To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues: 11But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will. (1 Cor. 12:4-11)

The first four questions we answered last time were:

  1. What are these gifts (charismas)?
  2. Where do the gifts come from?
  3. Who are gifts given to?
  4. Why are the gifts given?

If you missed last week’s blog and want the answers to these questions, you can click on this link Arise, Shine!! (Part 2)

Today, we answer two more questions.

5. Who decides who gets which gift(s)?

We find the answer to this question in verse 11, which says, “But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally (individually) as he will (chooses)”. It is therefore clear that it is Holy Spirit who decides which gifts we are given.

6. If I receive the same gift as you will it manifest in the same way?

Our answer is in verses 4 – 6.

4 Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. 6And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all. (1 Cor. 12:4-6)

I interpret these verses to be saying that not only are there different gifts but there are different ways in which these gifts will be administered and operated by those who have received them. God is a God of variety. We are supposed to be different, so we need to stop trying to be like other people. For example, I have the prophetic gift but the way the prophetic gift works in and through me is different from the way it will work in and through another prophet. Some prophets receive messages in the form of visions, some receive messages through hearing Holy Spirit in their minds, some receive messages and are commanded to write them down and, as they write, the message just flows out of their spirit onto the page. Some prophets are called to churches, some are called to nations, some are called to minister prophetic words to individuals. Sometimes a word will come in tongues requiring someone to interpret. Another time it will come in English not requiring an interpreter. The prophetic word can come in the form of a song, a dance or a message that is preached. The prophet may be led by Holy Spirit to pray following the delivery of the word or not to pray. The prophetic word can be for exhortation, edification or comfort or it can be to foretell of judgment because of sin and disobedience. There can also be any mix of these administrations and operations of the prophetic gift in one individual at different points in time. This goes for all of the spiritual gifts.

We all have different personalities and this will also influence how the spiritual gift is manifested in and through our lives. The take home message is not to worry if you don’t see your gift manifesting the same way as someone else who has the same gift. Do not be afraid to be your own unique self. If God wanted us to be exactly the same, He would have started by making us all look alike. And we certainly don’t 😊. Not only are we all different, we are also called to minister to different target groups and the manifestation of your gift will be in line with the needs of the target group or individual. The bottom line is to be led by Holy Spirit in the use of the gifts He has given.

For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. (Rom. 8:14)

So he answered and said to me: “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the Lord of hosts. (Zec. 4:6)

There is one more question to be answered but I will save that for next week. Until then, continue to follow God’s commands in Romans 12:1-2.

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. (Rom. 12:1-2)

Shalom.

 

Arise, Shine!! (Part 2)

As I share this series, it is my prayer that you will be moved to discover and stir up the gifts that God has placed within you.

Our theme scripture for the series is 2 Timothy 1:6-7. I want us to focus on verse 6 for the moment.

Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands. (2 Tim. 1:6, KJV)

The Greek word for “gift” is “charisma” and occurs in the Bible 17 times. The majority of these scriptural references to the “charismas” can be found in 1 Corinthians 12 and Romans 12. Our knowledge about spiritual gifts is obviously important as we see Paul, in his first letter to the believers in Corinth, telling them that he would be negligent in his duty to them if he did not remove any ignorance they still had concerning spiritual gifts.

Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant. (1 Cor. 12:1)

He continues further in that same chapter to outline some of the spiritual gifts.

4 Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. 6And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all. 7But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. 8For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; 9To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; 10To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues: 11But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will. (1 Cor 12:4-11, emphasis mine)

These verses answer several questions. Today, we will answer the first 4 questions.

1. What are these gifts (charismas)?

I have highlighted the gifts in red in the scripture passage above. These are not all of the spiritual gifts. We see others mentioned further down in 1 Corinthians 28b and Romans 12:6-8, which I have again highlighted in red below.

………. then gifts of healings, helps, governments (administrations), diversities of tongues. (1 Cor. 12:28b, emphasis mine)

6Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; (7) Or ministry, let us use it in our ministering: he who teaches, in teaching(8) he who exhorts, in exhortation: he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness. (Rom. 12:6-8)

I just want to highlight further three of the gifts mentioned in Romans 12 above for better understanding. Ministry is the same as service e.g., ushering, hospitality and other acts of service. Mercy is compassion. So, compassion is a gift rather than a natural inclination. Exhortation refers to the gift of encouragement. Yes, there is such a gift. I first heard of it shortly after I became a believer, I was giving a young man from the church I was attending a lift in my car and in the midst of us having a conversation he said to me, “You have the gift of encouragement. Don’t lose it.” Of course, as soon as I reached home I went straight to my Bible concordance (no online Bible in those days :)) to find out if such a gift really exists. In my searching and cross referencing, I was led to Romans 12:8. I was functioning in a gift I didn’t even know existed! We will see how this was possible right now. Let’s go back to 1 Corinthians 12:4-11 to find the answer to our second question.

2. Where do the gifts come from?

In other words, how do we get these gifts? We are told 5 times in 1 Corinthians 12 verses 8, 9 & 11 that these gifts are given by Holy Spirit according to His will. That is, He chooses who gets what gift(s). Which solves the mystery of how I could have been operating in the gift of encouragement without knowing it existed. It was a gift given to me by Holy Spirit and was now a part of who I was and how I was as a person. It had nothing to do with how good or bad I was but it was based on God’s purpose for my life.

3. Who are gifts given to?

Verse 7 of 1 Corinthians 12 tells us the gifts are given to “every man”. Here “man” is synonymous with humans so includes both men and women. Also, Paul was not writing to the public at large but to a group of believers, so we can conclude that “every man” means “every believer”. This verse actually says “the manifestation of the Spirit”, in making reference to the gifts that are listed subsequently, which is very insightful. A manifestation is “the action or fact of showing something”. Other words for “manifestation” are “indication”, “evidence” and “proof”. This brings us to question #4.

4. Why are the gifts given?

Based on what I just shared from verse 7, the gifts are physical evidence or proof of the existence of Holy Spirit and by extension of God the Father and Jesus the Son. As believers, we are expected to make these gifts evident so unbelievers can know that God is indeed real and very much alive. A case in point is Jesus’ interaction with the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4:16-30). Through the “manifestation” of the spiritual gift of the word of knowledge the woman was convicted and believed in the deity of Jesus Christ and began immediately to spread the good news (witnessed about what she had experienced) so others could also share in that same experience. This is the power of the spiritual gifts we have been given.

Be sure to join me next week as we continue to explore the spiritual gifts and the importance of stirring them up!

Shalom.

 

Arise, Shine!! (Part 1)

Dear Transformation Today blog site Followers, it is my earnest prayer, in accordance with the prophetic word God has laid on my heart, that 2020 will be for you a year of new beginnings. May old things pass away and all things become new – thinking as God thinks, doing as God requires, His ways becoming your ways. Severing old destructive relationships and forging new life building and preserving ones, stripping away old destructive habits and seeking God’s strength and applying the power of His Word so that you can be transformed by the renewing of your mind. 2020 can be a year of prosperity and good success or a year of frustration and failure. Ultimately, the choice is yours. Our decisions always have consequences. Ask God for His wisdom and allow your steps to be ordered by Him.

You may have noticed a slowing down in the frequency with which I have been publishing blogs in the latter part of 2019. This will continue into 2020 as God has directed that I focus attention on compiling the blogs already published into several books. It’s been 88 blogs to date!! Really couldn’t have imagined it was so many. I guess that was God’s way of getting me to write my books – allowing me to use small chunks of time rather than always complaining that I don’t have the time. In fact, when God spoke to me years ago about writing books and knowing my busy schedule, I constantly worried about not being able to find the time. But now, over time, without my even realizing it, I not only have one book but several books. I just need to edit and make them ready for publication. God will provide the publisher and the funds. I have no doubt about that. Of course, I will keep you updated through this site and other media as each one becomes available. This is the legacy I am leaving behind.

This “Arise, Shine” series I am about to start is inspired by the Word the Lord gave to my family that 2019 was to be a “year of awakening”. It truly was!! Part of the Word instructed that we stir up our gifts as Paul instructed Timothy to do in 2 Timothy 1:6. In October 2019, I was approached by the Women’s Ministry of my church to be the speaker at a breakfast they were hosting, the biggest they had held to date. I was humbled and felt more than privileged to have been selected for such an auspicious occasion. Imagine how amazed I was when they shared that the theme was “Stir Up the Gifts of God Within You”!! Actually, this is exactly why I was able to accept this speaking invitation. Let me tell you, God has brought me a long, long way.  For years, I was afraid (that is an understatement, I am talking about fear that cripples) of speaking in public. But God………………………… He wouldn’t stop putting me in situations where I was forced to speak in public until I realized I had a gift of teaching and began to grow in confidence. What is more ironic, is the prophetic call God has placed on my life, which was preceded by ministering as a praise and worship leader. What two ministries can be more public than worship and prophecy??!! And what can be more fear provoking than singing in public and speaking forth messages from God??!! God does have a sense of humour. The point though is that I could have chosen to give in to my fear and not stir up my gifts. The two scriptures below, together with the song Oceans (Where Feet May Fail), convicted my heart of the need to step out with greater confidence into my calling.  This blog is just one of the outcomes of this decision. Our gifts are not for us but for ministry to bless and equip others.

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. (Rom. 12:1, emphasis mine)

For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. (Mk. 8:35 – see also Matt. 16:25; Lk. 9:24, 17:33)

It is my prayer that as I share this series, you will be moved to discover and stir up the gifts that God has placed within you. God is a purposeful God. Nothing happens by chance with Him. He has a reason for everything He does and says. Even as I began thinking that I would stop publishing these blogs and concentrate solely on compiling my books, He reminded me of this teaching and directed that I share in this forum. He has a divine appointment with you to make a shift in your life through a shift in your mindset. You never have an encounter with God and remain the same. God’s Word has transformative power but we have an active part to play in this power becoming a reality in our lives. It is the doers of the word (work) rather than just the hearers who will come into all the fullness that God has purposed for them (Jas 1:22-23, 25; Rom. 2:13).  Let this be our determination for 2020:

I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work. As long as I am in the world. I am the light of the world. (John 9:4-5)

The series will begin in full force next week. Please prepare your hearts and minds.

Shalom.

Insights from the Book of James (9)

Hi to my faithful followers and those joining my blog for the first time! This is the final in my series on the Book of James. I didn’t intend for it to stretch over such a long period but life happens. Thanks be to God for His patience with our weaknesses.

While doing my initial review of chapter 5, it seemed so fragmented. My first impression was that James must have been running out of time and wanted to be sure he touched on all the remaining issues that were of concern to him before time ran out. In my second round of reading, I recognized that in verses 1 – 6 James was continuing from the end of chapter 4 with his warning about pride and arrogance. I had to remind myself that this letter was being addressed to the early Christian churches and are a warning to us that many of the same issues relate to the Body of Christ today. There is nothing new under the sun (Eccl. 1:9b). What pertained to the early church pertains to the church today.

Let us always remember that it is the love of money that is the root of all kinds of evil and not money itself (1 Tim. 6:10). Timothy goes on to say that this love of mammon caused some believers to stray from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. Hence, the common Jamaican saying “you get rich and switch”. We are again reminded by James in the beginning of chapter 5 that money in the hands of those whose hearts are not fully surrendered to God can result in pride and arrogance. Some of the symptoms and signs of this include oppression of the poor and those who are in the hire of the rich. James clearly spells out in dramatic imagery how Father God views such actions and what the ultimate end of such persons will be!! With riches comes responsibility to use those riches wisely and to remember from whence they came. Do not be too quick to want to be rich as it can lead to great temptation and ultimately destruction if your heart is not properly established to deal with such power.

In the rest of chapter 5, James outlined to believers in the early church some of the critical truths for living a victorious Christian life. I encourage us to be instructed likewise.

  1. Exercise patience with perseverance knowing that your latter end is in God’s hands.
  2. See suffering for Christ as an honour, a privilege. Christ is no man’s debtor and you will truly receive your reward.
  3. Always remember to judge yourself first and not be quick to judge others, especially fellow believers.
  4. Continually assess the condition of your own heart and keep it pure as the Lord’s return will be unannounced and you want to always be ready.
  5. Live a life of integrity so you have no need to swear an oath to convince others of your honesty and sincerity, no matter the situation.
  6. Have a heart of compassion for the suffering and be willing to pray with and for them.
  7. Encourage those who are joyful to give gratitude to God and give thanks to Him in praise.
  8. Access the ministry of those God has placed in authority over you, particularly when you are sick. He has given them special power and authority for this purpose. Don’t try to be a lone ranger. That’s why you have been placed in a church family.
  9. Build up relationships with fellow believers such that there are those to whom you can confess your secret faults and be healed. Do not keep it to yourself because that is how the enemy keeps you in bondage to shame and guilt. There is a connection between unconfessed sin and sickness. Keep short accounts and remain healthy.
  10. Be your brothers’ keeper. Do not waver in praying for one another. Do not discount the power of a righteous believer’s prayers.
  11. Keep an eye out for those who may be straying from the truth. See it as your responsibility to turn them back to the truth. They are part of you so do not turn your back on them.

Chapter 5 brings home so powerfully God’s desire for believers to be dependent on each other. This is His love being manifested for all to see. Jesus says the following to His disciples in John 13:34-35 and to us His disciples today,

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another. (John 13:34-35, NKJV)

Note, it was not a suggestion it was a commandment. Why was Jesus so adamant about this show of love among His believers? Firstly, because this is the truest representation of His character. Secondly, because He knew that love would be the single most powerful testimony of belief in Christ that would draw others to Him. Love is indeed the principle thing!! (1 Cor. 13:13).

Shalom!!

 

 

Insights from the Book of James (8)

Today, we are jumping straight into the continuation and completion of chapter 4. I have divided verses 11 – 17 into two topics entitled – Check Your Motives and Who Is In Control?

Check Your Motives (James 4:11-12)

Simply put, if we do or say anything without love as the underlying motivation we are disobeying God’s law (Mt. 22:37-40) and we are not representing God’s character to the world for God is love (1 Jhn. 4:8, 16). In essence then, speaking evil of another is sin. You cannot be speaking evil of someone and do so in love. The two just don’t go hand in hand. Anything not in accordance with God’s will is sin. God’s will is evidenced in His law. All of the law is contained in the two commandments – love the Lord and love your neighbour as yourself. If we were really concerned about our brother or sister, when we see the need for correction we would go to them in love to help them and do so humbly (Gal 6:1). The earlier verses in this same chapter speak to the importance of humility (Jas. 4:6, 10). We must always remember that we are not better than our brothers or sisters. We are subject to the very same temptations and can fall just as they have. To think otherwise is to be proud and arrogant; to be self-righteous.  

When we know God’s law and do not obey it, we are actually saying that the law is of no importance; that we know more than God. When we are busy criticizing others for their actions, we are actually no better than they are because we are also breaking God’s law. This is why we are warned not to judge so that we do not lay ourselves open to being judged in the same manner (Mt. 7:1; Lk. 6:37). Also, many times we are busy focusing on other people’s sins when we have greater sins that we need to address (Mt. 7:3-5). We must continually do our own self-assessment and be sure that we are really in a position to correct another. Self-righteousness, hypocrisy and pride can so easily become our driving forces. Be on guard, lest you fall prey to a critical spirit.

If and when we are called to judge, we must do so with righteous judgment (Jhn. 7:24). Righteousness is always undergirded by love. Before we criticize or seek to speak ill of another let us assess our own motives and then choose to keep quiet if our motives are not pure. Nuff said!!

Who Is In Control? (James 4:13-17)

When we were born again, in some form or fashion we said to the Lord that we were ready to give over control of our lives to Him. We recognized in that time and at that moment that our best efforts had yielded only destruction and pain in our lives. It was time for God take up the reins. Why then do we always seek to take back control? It’s called the carnal nature. We take it with us into salvation and at its root is the original sin of PRIDE. I cannot say it loudly enough or frequently enough, PRIDE IS OUR GREATEST ENEMY!! Many times, pride is in operation in our lives and we don’t even realize it is at work. One of the indicators of pride is the belief that we determine our own fate; that we are in control of our own destinies. Although we do have a responsibility to partner with God in the fulfillment of His plan for our lives, ultimately He is the one who has to guide our footsteps in accordance with that plan. We don’t know when the plan is scheduled to come to an end but He does. Pride makes us become our own god. Pride is so pervasive and persistent that it is a recurring theme throughout James’ letter to his fellow believers. We too must take heed accordingly.

We must ALWAYS see ourselves as nothing compared with God. We are God’s creation not the other way around. As created beings, who are we to act as though we have the power to control anything that concerns our lives. Let us walk circumspectly (Eph. 5:15) and have reverence and awe of God always at the forefront of our minds. We are nothing when compared to our awesome Father. Everything we have and everything we are is because of Him. We have absolutely nothing to boast about.

The final thought I want to leave with us as I close this discourse on James chapter 4 is how little control we really do have over our lives and more so over when our sojourn here on earth will come to an end. With this in mind, we must work while it is day for we do not know how much longer we will have (Jhn. 9:4). Use time wisely. It is a valuable resource God has given us control of and we must do the things that have eternal value while we can. We cannot afford to procrastinate because we do not know if we will ever get a second chance to do what we chose to put off doing. Sin is not only about doing wrong things, it is also about failure to do the right things at the right time. If you are a believer, the Holy Spirit is constantly guiding you into the things Father God desires you to do each day (Phil. 2:13). You and I are therefore without excuse. When we feel the prompting of Holy Spirit and choose not to act accordingly God says that is sin (Jas. 4:17). We are operating outside of God’s will for our lives. I am the first to admit “guilty as charged”.

We must therefore prioritize. Treat the time you have been given with utmost respect and ensure you fulfill your God given purpose. Time wasted is opportunity lost. Consult God about every aspect of your life. He wrote down the plan and He has a vested interest in seeing its fulfillment (Psa. 23:3b). He alone knows the beginning from the end. Every day when we wake up we need to ask, “Father God, what is Your awesome plan for me today? How can I partner with You today to fulfill Your purpose for my life?” This is the relationship Father God wants to have with His children (Prov. 3:5-7).

Shalom.

Insights from the Book of James (7)

I am discovering more and more that you have to purposefully carve out time to do the Lord’s work. Experience has taught me that if I choose to go with the flow I will be continually distracted by those things that have no eternal value. Thanks be to God who always causes me to triumph!!

We are here again, continuing our insightful, and hopefully, transforming journey through the Book of James. Today, we will be reflecting on James 4:1-10, which I have entitled “Pride Prevents Provision”.

Pride Prevents Provision (James 4:1-10)

If you read my blog series “The Many Faces of Pride” (see link below), you would already be aware that pride is not always evident as the root cause of most of our problems. In the beginning of James chapter 4, we see pride as the underlying cause of strife. What is the link? Pride always puts “self” at the centre and strife usually occurs when things are not going the way “we” want them to go or “we” are not getting what “we” want or “we” feel that “we” should have what someone else has cause “we” are more deserving of it. Pride has at its core “lust” – the craving for things that will fulfill the pleasures of the flesh even if this means bringing pain to others to get them. In James 1:14-15, we saw how sin occurs when we are tempted as a result of the desires within us that demand to be satisfied. Therefore, the way to avoid sin is to keep these desires under subjection to our spirit, which has been empowered by the Holy Spirit to resist worldly pleasures. Satan is the “prince of this world” (Jhn. 14:30) so when we yield to worldly pleasures and follow the norms of this world we are, in fact, giving authority over ourselves to Satan and stepping into enemy territory. We are allowing ourselves to become entangled again by the yoke of bondage (Gal. 5:1).

Another sign of pride is being unwilling to admit that we are in need of help. So, rather than ask God to supply our needs or even ask others for help we prefer to use underhand means to have our needs satisfied. Most times trying to get things in this way still leaves us wanting more, feeling dissatisfied, as ill-gotten gains are never lasting or satisfying. James is telling us, if we would simply humble ourselves we could get what we need simply by asking for it. But no, that’s just too simple. When we ask though, we have to assess our motives because if we are asking God for something just so we can keep up with others, to profile, to show off, to satisfy our own lusts rather than to satisfy real needs, then God won’t be providing what we ask. To do so would be to encourage sin in our lives. Always remember, Father God is more interested in your character than your comfort. Been asking for something lately and not getting it? Maybe you need a heart check. God is constantly examining our hearts so maybe, just maybe, we ought to be doing so too :).

Throughout the earlier chapters in the Book of James, and again in these verses, James is pointing us to the “sin that so easily ensnares us” (Heb. 12:1). One that was prevalent among his community of believers and is still common among believers today. We are all at risk and must heed lest we ourselves fall or if having already done so will be able to recognize the signs outlined and acknowledge our sin; repent; receive God’s forgiveness; come out of agreement with the lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes and the pride of life (1 Jhn. 2:16); and refocus our lives on walking in the righteousness of God.

Verse 7 reveals that the antidote for pride is humility. Out of a humble heart you will willingly submit to God’s will and ways. Only then will you be able to resist the enemy’s temptations and cause him to flee from you. If we take the sin of pride lightly we will surely regret it; hence, we are warned to take matters into our own hands and follow through to consecrate ourselves so that God Himself will be the One to life us up rather than the pride of our own hearts which will lead us only to destruction.

Let us hear what the Spirit is saying to God’s people!!

Shalom.

The Many Faces of Pride (Part 1)