Tuesday, February 17, 2009

40 Days of cHesed—Day 31

Day 31 Understanding Your Shape

Yesterday we saw that everyone born again into God’s family receives his Holy Spirit as a gift of community relationship. Today we’re going to look at the gifts the Holy Spirit gives us for ministry. We want to understand the shape into which God is molding us for service!

Back on Day 22 we learned that the Greek word charis (grace) was the expression of loyal favor due between covenant partners. Well, charismata mean grace gifts—so these gifts of the Holy Spirit are another form of God’s hesed toward us. The Spirit gives us these grace gifts (without bias toward gender, age, race, social status, ability or maturity) to help us keep covenant—giving us knowledge and/or abilities needed to do whatever task he assigns to us—molding us and shaping us to that task.

We could spend an entire post on these grace gifts—what we call spiritual gifts. But today we just want you to know that there are three places in the New Testament where Paul specifically identifies grace gifts: Romans 12:3-8, I Corinthians 12:8-10, 28-30 and Ephesians 4:11. Addressed to three different audiences, they aren’t meant to be exhaustive lists—or they would be identical. They are representative of the kinds of gifts necessary for keeping covenant. (Let’s not limit what the Spirit can do to just what is contained in these lists!)

So, how do we learn to understand and make use of these gifts? There are many systems developed to help persons identify and utilize their grace gifts. I’ve not been particularly happy with any one (but I’m looking forward to what AbbE/FuturistGuy/Brad Sargent has to say in his new course.) In the meantime, use these basic principles of discovery:

  1. Start by asking the Father where he wants you to use your gifts and abilities in ministry.

  2. Study the lists given by Paul. Make sure you know what the gifts mean. Study each different gift to see how it was exercised in the early church.

  3. Get busy in ministry right where you are. You might want to try a number of different activities in order to see if you have any special draw to any of them.

  4. Identify those areas of ministry that match any deep desires in your heart. These will be activities that energize and inspire you rather than drain and bore you. Remember that there is no right or wrong here. All service carries equal honor and merit in God’s eyes.

  5. Choose one area of service (to start) that energizes and inspires you – and dedicate yourself to developing it. Ask other mature brothers and sisters to help you. They may help confirm your choice – or encourage you to keep investigating.

Today’s Look at 1 John

Read 1 John 4:7-21. While you’re reading, look for love as an attitude—but also for love as an action. (Hint: look for the clue words “one another.”)

Keep Breathing!

Cool down from this workout by taking everything to God first, so that he can share the moment, begin to heal the suffering, or encourage steadfastness. Ask the Holy Spirit to show you your gift(s) for ministry.

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