UNLOCKING THE GIFTS OF THE SPIRIT DURING LOCKDOWN
When the lockdown was declared last year, Andrew and I had just returned from our honeymoon. We had a wonderful wedding and had been blessed with so many people coming and celebrating with us and a lot of them gave us presents. I had a stack of new clothes, sarees and jewellery and things I never owned before and I was excited to wear on different occasions – I even planned it – for special Sunday meetings, for other weddings and celebrations, etc. 2 days into our return back to Pune, the lockdown was declared and it started the never-ending saga of sweatpants. It is frustrating to be given a gift and not being able to use it isn’t it?
We’ve been in a series about the baptism of the Holy Spirit and when the Holy Spirit comes, he comes bearing gifts from the Father. How many of you have felt like I did with my wedding presents – glad you have the gift but frustrated because you’re not able to use it? My message today is unlocking the gifts of the spirit during the lockdown.
So before we talk about unlocking the gifts of the spirit, let me just lay some groundwork.
What are the gifts of the spirit?
Paul says to the Corinthians in 1 Corinthians 12: 1 “Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be uninformed.” So it is important for us to know what these spiritual gifts are.
The bible has several references to gifts of the spirit, which is different from the fruits of the spirit. The fruit of the spirit – the evidence that we are walking in intimacy and obedience to the Holy Spirit following the leading of the Holy Spirit, is the fruit of the Spirit. Galatians 5:22-23 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control...” These are produced in our life through intimacy with Jesus and working out our salvation. We produce the fruit of the spirit, but we receive the gifts of the spirit.
Spiritual gifts are broad of 2 types – Charisma which means a grace endowment and Doma which is just the Greek word of gift.
Charisma gifts are listed in several places in the Bible – 1 Corinthians 12 and Romans 12 (Prophecy, Ability to distinguish between spirits, Teaching, Word of wisdom and word of knowledge, Exhorting, Working of miracles, Various kinds of tongues, Interpretation of tongues and Gifts of healing; but within this, there are motivational gifts which are the gift of Service, Helping, Leading, Administrating,, Giving, Faith, Mercy) whereas Doma gifts are given in Ephesians 4: 11-12 ( Apostles, Prophets, Evangelist, Pastors, Teachers). These gifts are for walking in positions of governance and equipping of saints for the work of ministry.
There are 4 things I want to highlight about the gifts of the spirit:
1. They are gifts of grace – they are an expression of the love of the Father. We can never earn it or deserve it. Romans 12:6 “Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them” They are irrevocable – Romans 11:29 “For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.”
2. They are distributed according to His will – Hebrews 2: 4 “God also bore witness by signs and wonders and various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.”
1 Corinthians 12: 11 “All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.” The church is referred to as a Body of Christ several times in the Bible but it is mostly in the context of exercising spiritual gifts. This helps us to not be envious of someone else’s gift. 1 corinthians 12 : 14- 18 “14 For the body does not consist of one member but of many.15 If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? 18 But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. ” So God is the one who distributes gifts according to his will and his purposes.
3. They are for the building up of the church and glorifying God–
Most gifts are given to benefit the receiver but the gifts of the spirit are given for us to be a blessing. Our gift set is unique and is required in a specific way for the building up of the church.
This is called body ministry and it is a conviction for us at Word of Grace. 1 Corinthians 14: 12 “So with yourselves,
since you are eager for manifestations of the Spirit, strive to excel in
building up the church.” 1 Peter 4:10 “As each has received a gift, use it to
serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace” 1 Corinthians 12:7
“To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.”
God is committed to the building up of the church and he gives us the privilege of being a part of that, by exercising the gifts and abilities he gives us. So we don’t use a gift to become important in our own eyes – we do it to glorify God.
1 Peter 4:11 “Whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.”
4. Gifts are not eternal – We cannot build our identity on the gifts we receive because as 1 Corinthians 13:8 says “Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.”
What are we to do with the gifts of the spirit?
1. Eagerly Desire the gifts – I Corinthians 12: 31” But earnestly desire the higher gifts.” 1 corinthians 14:1 “Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy.” 1 Corinthians 14: 39 “So, my brothers, earnestly desire to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues.” Wishlist the gifts – even though the gifts of the spirit are distributed according to His will, we are commanded to desire the gifts eagerly. The illustration of creating a birthday wishlist.
Action point: pray and ask God to give you the gifts. We are commanded to eagerly desire the gifts and specifically, the gift of prophecy. Is that something we can do in lockdown? Yes, there is no restriction on desiring the gifts of the spirit.
2. Fan it into flame – 1 Timothy 4:14 – 16 “Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophecy when the council of elders laid their hands on you. Practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress. Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.”. 2 Tim 1:6. “For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands”. So how do we know that we have a gift? We put it into action by faith. Start with what you know – example of speaking in tongues and prophetic words. How do you fan something into a flame? You don’t take a big blower and blast the wind – in the same way, the first time you bring a prophetic word is not at a conference with 1000 people. You start at home.
Action Point: Use the gift you have received in small settings – GYM, Living Room, Arrow – come to these prepared to use your gifts – whether it is a prophetic word, a word of encouragement etc. – give for JOG and other initiatives if you have the gift of giving, serving, mercy. Ask the leaders, how can I help? Your gift is meant to fulfil the need that arises in the body of Christ and in the community. You can be activated in most of the gifts of the spirit from wherever you are!
3. Use them with love – The sign of maturity is not just the gift that someone has developed – but the fruit that they have developed alongside it. 1 Corinthians 13: 1-3 “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.” Your gift has no value in the eyes of God if it is not done with love – love for God, for His Body, for people.
Action Point : So insert whichever gift you have and test and see if it fits bill 1 Corinthians 13: 4- 7 “4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”
I believe that in the Body of Christ the gifts of the spirit can have a full expression in every season as each member does its part. It is possible for the gifts of the spirit to be fully manifest in this season – the word of the Lord and the work of the spirit are not in lockdown. Different gifts get highlighted in each season as is required for the building up of the church – we’ve seen earlier revivals that highlighted mass healings, an incredible move of the spirit in power through the laying on of hands, miracles, signs and wonders, etc. I believe in this season that the gifts that are being highlighted are Gifts of Service, Helping, Leading, Giving, Faith, Mercy – and I believe that the next move of the spirit is going to be accompanied by the radical operation of these gifts. We will see radicals acts of service, of helping, of mercy, of giving…
What will sustain this move is the fruit we develop and the anointing we walk in. Christine Caine says “The fruits that grow as a result of trusting the Lord through pain and suffering are the essential ingredients we need to sustain the anointing that God gives us. So when we get on stage, it won’t just be us and our gifts, but the character, endurance, and hope to back it up, paired with the anointing that breaks chains and shifts atmospheres.”
So let us ready ourselves. Let us eagerly seek the gifts, let us play the unique role we are called to play in the body of Christ and let us do in tandem with the fruit of the spirit.
Word of Grace is an Evangelical (Born Again), Spirit-filled (Charismatic), Reformed, English speaking in Pune that upholds the Bible as God's inspired Word for life. We are a church community that has people from every part of India and parts of the world. We are here to put the Great Command and the into practice by equipping and releasing every member into works of service. Word of Grace is a part of a wider international family of Churches called RegionsBeyond.To know about us please log onto www.wordofgracechurch.org.