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CONCERNING SPIRITUALS – DON’T BE IGNORANT

1 Corinthians 12:1 –Concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware.

Notice, the word “gift” is italicized by the translators for clarification. This is because the word “gift” is not found in the original manuscript. Paul’s expression is “spirituals” which refers to spiritual graces. Many have interpreted Paul to be saying that the gifts are like a personal gift that one now possesses. This is far from what Paul had in mind. Today, there is much ignorance regarding these spiritual gifts, just as in Paul’s day. The enemy especially enjoys confusing God’s people regarding spiritual gifts because he knows that if we lay hold of what God has provided in the work of the Spirit, great harm will come to his plans of resistance against the kingdom of God.

Ignorance is one of the enemy’s great weapons to bind up God’s people in their effort to pull down demonic strongholds. The Holy Spirit has been poured out so that we might receive the Father’s plans for taking back what the enemy has stolen. Paul makes it clear throughout his writings that God has provided grace in giving spirituals or grace gifts in order to help us with the tasks He has assigned. All the spirituals are available in the Holy Spirit. They are initiations of the Spirit, so if one has the Spirit of God inside, then all of these spiritual gifts are there and available.

The Holy Spirit chooses when and where the gifts are to be released. Remember that Jesus said “He would not leave us as orphans” (John 14:18). You are in a family surrounded by others who stand with and support you. They encourage you to move into deeper waters in the things of the Spirit. Do not be afraid to let the Holy Spirit have complete control in your life. Step out in faith and trust Him to give you the exact grace you need when the opportunity presents itself.

Simply ask the Holy Spirit what it is that He wants to do at any given time. Begin right now by asking Him for a great sensitivity to His work in and through you. “Father, please guide me in the exercise of spiritual gifts. I need Your help daily to accomplish Your will. I want to experience Your love and power being released through me to others. I yield my life to the Holy Spirit to have complete control.” Pray this every day until it is a part of your daily experience. 

DESIRE TO PROPHESY

1 Corinthians 14:1 – Pursue love, yet desire earnestly spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy.

Paul stresses the importance of prophecy throughout chapter fourteen. He does this for a number of reasons. The Bible makes it clear that “the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy” (Revelation 19:10). Moses cried out, “I would that all of the Lord’s people were prophets, that the Lord would put His Spirit upon them” (Numbers 11:29)! All of God’s people can prophesy because the promise of the Father to send the Holy Spirit has been fulfilled. The Spirit of God is present and He wants to release His gift of prophecy. Paul declares that all prophecy in the church is for the purpose of “edification, exhortation, and comfort” (1 Corinthians 14:4).

The Lord delights in speaking His Word through His chosen vessels. Men and women throughout the Old Testament spoke of the great things God planned to do through His people in Messiah’s Day. The Lord Jesus Christ is the Anointed One who has opened the way for all God’s people to be used of the Lord. The Father promised His Son that He would give the Holy Spirit to all who believed on Christ. The same Spirit who spoke the Word in the Old Testament is now indwelling believers with the purpose of speaking and confirming the Word of God to a lost world.

Paul teaches that we “can all prophesy, one by one, so that all may learn, and all may be exhorted” (1 Corinthians 14:31). It pleases the Father when His children desire spiritual gifts, especially the gift of prophecy.  The choice belongs to us, because God has already expressed His will in the matter. Prophecy is a gift that is meant to be expressed in the local church setting. It can also be quite effective when ministering to an individual through prayer or even counseling.

Today, ask the Holy Spirit to activate the gift of prophecy in your life. Pray about the gift of prophecy on a regular basis. Expect God to begin to speak to you and give you words to minister to others as you open your mouth for His glory.

BE MATURE IN YOUR THINKING

1 Corinthians 14:20 – Brethren, do not be children in your thinking; yet in evil be babes, but in your thinking be mature.

Paul brought correction to the saints at Corinth over the mishandling of the gifts of the Spirit. As a spiritual father, he wanted the Corinthians to grow up in Christ and not be like children concerning spiritual gifts. He was especially speaking about the use of the gift of tongues. In verses 21-22, Paul quoted Isaiah 28:11 where God declared that He would speak to His people Israel with “stammering lips and another tongue, but they would not hear.”

Paul taught tongues as a sign gift to Israel as well as a sign gift to the unbeliever (verse 22). The passage in Isaiah goes on to say, “Here is rest for the weary.” It is interesting that Paul uses this quote from Isaiah to make His case for tongues as a sign gift. This supernatural ability to speak in an unknown tongue is like the refreshing water that flowed from the rock in the wilderness, when God supplied water to refresh His people. Paul’s teaching in 1 Corinthians 14:4 instructs us that the gift of tongues is meant to edify. The unbelievers hear the Gospel in their own language, while the individual believer is edified as the tongue is interpreted. In one’s personal prayer life speaking in tongues refreshes the saint of God and builds up the inner man.

Again, Paul’s strong encouragement is not to be children in your thinking, but be mature. Paul encourages the use of spiritual gifts, while encouraging a mature perspective. Many respond negatively to tongues as a result of misreading Paul. He is not against the use of tongues, nor does he set tongues against anything else such as love. Paul said, “I thank God I speak in tongues more than you all” (1 Corinthians 14:18). The gift of tongues is healthy, for it is one way the Spirit of God refreshes the believer. Corporately, when a message in tongues is given, an interpretation needs to be given so others can be edified.

Allow the Holy Spirit to release your spirit to speak in a new language. He wants to give you the ability to pray and sing in the Spirit. Allow your worship and prayers to be controlled by the Spirit of God. As the Scriptures declare, it will be refreshing to you just as He has promised. Father, I yield my entire self to You, especially my tongue.

As the Palmist David said, “Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips” (Psalm 141:3).

PURSUE LOVE AND DESIRE SPIRITUAL GIFTS

1 Corinthians 14:1 – Pursue love, yet desire earnestly spiritual gifts.

Paul clearly taught in 1 Corinthians 13 that a significant work of the Spirit is to help us be established in love. Certainly, at times we all fall short of the biblical mandate in this area. Paul builds a bridge between the 12th and 14th chapters with the admonition to “pursue love,” but he also says to “desire earnestly spiritual gifts.” There are some in the faith who persist on setting love against spiritual gifts, but this is a total misrepresentation of what Paul is teaching the church. It is important to understand, the Holy Spirit gives gifts because they are intended to be the vehicle by which love is conveyed to all those in need of receiving God’s grace. Unfortunately, the Corinthian believers were using the Gifts of the Spirit in a selfish way. Paul did not say to stop using the gifts, but rather change your mind about how you are viewing these gifts that the Spirit is so willing to bestow.

Before we can fully grasp what Paul is teaching in the chapters about the gifts, we must become rooted in love. I like the NASB translation that tells us to “pursue love.” Love does not just materialize; it must be pursued in order for us to experience its development in our lives. A close walk with the Holy Spirit is required for this attribute of God to become evidenced in an increased way in our lives. As we devote ourselves to thinking about the gifts of the Holy Spirit, let us begin by requesting His help in pursuing the love of God. I am personally convicted of how far short I fall from allowing His nature to be revealed through me. My flesh is weak but with the Holy Spirit’s help, my spirit is willing to become a greater lover towards all.

Father, help me to be enlarged in my capacity to activate Your love in serving others. Make me more of a vehicle of Your love towards others through an increased operation of Your gifts in and through my life. Let me be used to benefit others in their need, and to help them come to know You by the gifts You choose to give and release through me.

DRINKING FROM THE SPIRITUAL ROCK

1 Corinthians 10:4 – All drank the same spiritual drink, for they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and that rock was Christ.

It is vitally important to understand how God has chosen to reveal Himself to His triune creation man. His choice was to reveal “Divine Community”: Father, Son, and Spirit living as perfect unity, the One and True God. The Son existed as the pre-incarnate Christ in the Old Testament. God’s purpose was that the Son would take on human form. He was the Messiah before the incarnation through the virgin birth, God’s appointed King.

God has always been the King. He intended to be Israel’s King as revealed in 1 Samuel 8:8. As He led Israel out of Egypt, He proved Himself to be their sustainer. In the wilderness, when they needed water, He supplied water out of the rock. It was not just a natural drink, but a spiritual one as well. Paul taught that it was “a spiritual rock that followed them and that rock was Christ.” The Lord Jesus Christ made it possible for us to drink of that spiritual drink as well.

Consider what Jesus said in John 7:37-39. “Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, ‘If any man is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, from his innermost being shall flow rivers of living water.’  But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.”

Water is necessary in order for life to be sustained. Throughout the Old Testament, Christ is seen as the life-giving water that God has provided. The spiritual rock is pointing to this very moment of which Jesus was speaking. The same Holy Spirit that caused water to flow from the rock and supplied Israel’s need has now come to cause rivers of living water to flow from your innermost being. Today, you can drink deeply from the Rock, Christ Jesus, by receiving the Holy Spirit’s power in your life.

Go ahead and drink! Just say, Holy Spirit, come and fill me with Christ. Say to Him, Cause Your living water to flow from my innermost being. Begin to worship Him, yield your tongue to His control, and let the spiritual water flow! Do not be surprised if the Holy Spirit gives you a new language to help you in your worship of God.

WE ARE ONE SPIRIT WITH HIM

1 Corinthians 2:11-12 – Who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man, which is in him? Even so, the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God.

According to scientists, billions of thoughts go through our brain daily. We process an amazing amount of simultaneous information. Think of it! Your brain assimilates all the colors and objects you see. It takes in the temperature around you, the pressure of your feet against the floor, the sounds around you, and even the dryness of your mouth.  Your brain holds and processes all your emotions, thoughts, and memories. Most of your thoughts are undetected by the conscious mind. There are signals that control all your bodily functions.

Paul tells us in these Scripture verses, that it is our spirit man that knows our thoughts. In the same way, the Holy Spirit knows all the thoughts of God. It is extremely important for us to develop a daily relationship with the Holy Spirit, because He is the only One who can help us know God in a deepening way. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of the Father and of the Son. This is why Paul prayed, “that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Christ” (Ephesians 1:17).

The Father’s desire is that our spirit be united with His Spirit, making it possible to grow in our knowledge of God. In Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, he taught that we have been joined with the Lord. Paul spoke about being led by the Spirit in his letter to the Romans. Paul wrote of the fruit of the Spirit in his letter to the Galatians. As we fellowship with the Holy Spirit, He will reveal more and more of Christ to us and we will become increasingly aware of the Holy Spirit’s abiding presence. As we increase in our knowledge of Christ Jesus, we will also increase in our knowledge of the Father. Through this working of the Spirit, we are able to fulfill God’s desires and experience God’s rest. We will also be able to share God’s will with others, which has been revealed in Christ Jesus.

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal God’s plans to you on a daily basis. He is always much more willing to share than we are willing to receive. This is usually because we are so caught up with our own agenda, hindering us from hearing His voice. Father, today I call upon You to take greater control of my life. I pray to increase in the wisdom and knowledge of Your Son. Help me share with others what You have shown to me.