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The Apostle Paul believed in excellence to the point of admonishing the Philippians to only think about “virtuous or excellent things” (Philippians 4:8). I have no doubt that Paul would agree that when it comes to our lives, we either choose the pain of self-discipline, which comes from a commitment to personal sacrifice and growth, or we choose the pain of regret, which usually comes by taking the easy road and refusing to fully embrace the opportunities given to us.
Excellence is seldom attained without wholehearted commitment. Many in this day do not fully understand the difference between interest and commitment. (Remember the Yale graduate students I mentioned a few weeks ago?) If we are only interested in something, we give it our full attention only when and if it is convenient. Convenience is the enemy of excellence. Why? Because, when we are really committed to something, we accept no excuses from ourselves or from those who have chosen to be involved in our endeavors.
Commitment is the first step beyond convenience. It prepares and enables a person to become effective. Effectiveness can only be maintained through excellence.
Commitment is the first price that must be paid. Why?
- Everything worth having costs something.
- The better the desired result, the higher the price.
- Commitment then is determined by the price we are willing to pay.
People who are committed to excellence are willing to pay the “high price” because:
- They have dedicated themselves to stay optimistic and enthusiastic.
- They refuse to settle for average or mediocre.
- They pay attention to the details.
- They work hard to perform with consistency.
Finally, those who make excellence a part of who they are:
- Stay committed to the long haul.
- Are willing to travel the road alone, if attaining their goal requires it.
- Able to keep their eyes focused on the prize.
We conquer our past by focusing on our future. Therefore, stop thinking about your past and start focusing on the possibilities only found in your future. For God never consults your past to determine your future. Therefore, don’t let people hang around you if they not believe in your future. Always move toward people who are as committed to excellence and away from those who only are committed when it is convenient.
Philippians 3:13-15 says, But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. All of us who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you.
And Titus 3:8 says, “This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone.”
Over the coming weeks I am going to present to you (my readers) a study on the Gifts of the Spirit. We will begin the motivational gifts in Romans Chapter Twelve, followed by the Spirit Gifts in First Corinthians 12-14 and then complete the study with the Ministry Gifts listed by Paul in Ephesians Four.
Dr. Larry Gilbert teaches that the motivational gifts described in the twelfth chapter of Romans impact our relationship with the Lord, with other people, the local church, and the body of Christ as a whole. Because of this, it is important for us to identify, understand and develop the God- given motivational gifts that have been placed within our lives. Let’s examine the motivational gifts, how the Scripture defines them and what we can do to develop more understanding concerning these spiritual gifts.
Motivational Gifts usually surface as we begin to grow and mature in the Lord. Just as it takes time for a child to discover their natural talents, it takes time to identify and develop the motivational gifts that God has given to each of us. It is also important to note that there is a distinct difference between having natural talent and possessing a motivational gift. Let me give you a description of the two:
· Their Source: From God through Parents
· Come to Be in Our Possession: In Our DNA Transmitted in Conception
· Their God Given Purpose: To Benefit Others and Ourselves
· Their Development Process: Generally Externally Recognized First then Studied, Practiced, Exercised and Perfected.
· Their Function in a Christ-follower’s Life: Dedicated to God for His Glory
Motivational Gifts (listed in Romans 12):
· Their Source: From the Holy Spirit Independent of our Parents
· Come to Be in Our Possession: By the Will of God and According to the Grace Given Us
· Their God Given Purpose: To Bring Glory to God and to Add Value to the Body of Christ
· Their Development Process: Internally Recognized, Developed and Exercised Externally
· Their Function in a Christ-follower’s Life: To Be a Blessing to the Lord and Others
Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully. Romans 12:4-8
The motivational gifts that are mentioned here are from the Greek word charisma. The “gifts of charisma” is best translated as “grace or gifts of grace.” These gifts possess, denote and demonstrate extraordinary powers when correctly developed and manifested. These graces distinguish certain Christians from others and enable them to serve the body of Christ in a better or dynamic way; the reception of which is due to the power of divine grace.1
These motivational gifts serve to reveal the desire that our Heavenly Father has to see people blessed and for all people to become a blessing to others. These gifts are generally practical in nature and for the purpose of encouraging, comforting, and serving the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ.
The gifts listed in Romans 12 describe the “by grace” motivations placed in the Christian believer by the grace of God. These gifts grow and develop as we continue “to present our bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is a beliver’s reasonable service. They are best exercised when we are not conformed to this world: but when we are being transformed by the renewing of our mind” (Romans 12:1-2). These gifts are a practical expression of the grace of God under which the church stands, making the whole life of the church, not just the ministry of the church, “by grace.”
Most of us have a “gift-mix.” What does that mean? It means that each of us have been given a primary gift, generally speaking. This gift has a tendency to flow in our lives so naturally that we feel energized as the gift operates. The secondary gifts are generally more demanding or draining when they are in use. The people who excel in a certain gifting can rarely tell others how they use the gift or “how it works.” The things we desire to accomplish for the Lord as well as the things that reveal our deepest passion gives us a clue to our gift-mix. Let’s examine these marvelous grace gifts by beginning with the Gift of Prophecy.
The Gift of Prophecy or Preaching
A person with the motivational gift of prophecy has the ability to utter forth the mind and the will of God. These utterances are seldom direct messages from the voice of the Holy Spirit. These gifts tend to encourage application of the Word of God. Such prophecy is inspired. It gives information, instruction and illumination. When exercised and released by faith the motivational gift of prophecy empowers faith in people so they can accomplish the plans and the purposes of God.
When the gift of prophecy is in action, the person manifesting the gift will retain reason and consciousness, making the person responsible for rendering the revelation, illumination or instruction to others. In a general sense; most Christian leaders identify this gift as preaching.
Therefore, the believers who manifest prophecy generally have a strong sense of right and wrong. They feel compelled to “speak up.” This is especially true when he or she is speaking out against compromise and evil.
The Apostle Peter appears to have manifested this gift of prophecy. We see it manifesting several times in the book of Acts. The gift empowered Peter to play a significant role in the early church as its spokesman. Peter is the one who stepped up to address the crowd on the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2. In that address Peter instructed and encouraged men and women to believe in Christ, repent, and live according to the truth of God’s Word. Then Peter said unto them, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call. And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation” (Acts 2:38-40).
Like Peter, believers who have the motivational gift of prophecy must accept the responsibility of the message they preach and declare. It is unacceptable to “place blame” on God or anyone else when or if the audience to which the gift is being exercised refuse to receive it.
The motivational Gift of Prophecy is quite different than the Spiritual Gift listed in First Corinthians or that of the Prophet, which is listed in Ephesians 4. The motivational gift is a gift that enables the arrangement of information as well as the transmission of it. The information of which I speak can be taken from: the Scriptures, commentaries, Bible dictionaries, etc. It also may come directly as inspiration from the Holy Spirit. People who have this gift generally love to study and share what they learn. The messages that they present tend to overlap the message of the Encourager (Gift of Exhortation) and the Teacher (Gift of Teaching).
Most people would call the execution of this gift a “sermon or message.” People who function in this gift do not see themselves speaking “for God.” They see themselves speaking “from God” or “from God’s Word.” Their message can provide information, instruction, inspiration and correction.
Next week we will be discussing the Gift of Service.
God bless you.
I am so excited! I have been working on a new book, The Altar of His Presence, for several months. Destiny Image Publishers (the Publisher of books by Bill Johnson, Randy Clark, Myles Munroe, Kelly Varner and many others) is going to release the book this coming summer.
I want to thank everyone who has helped and is currently helping get the Holy Spirit’s glorious revelation concerning the altar and its ministry to the people of the earth. People everywhere have been asking what I think the reader of the book will gain from reading it. Here are some of the things I believe the book will enable the reader to do:
- Obtain new spiritual understanding concerning the manifestations of the Presence of God mentioned in the Bible.
- Receive new and exciting experiential knowledge about and with the glory of God.
- Gain new perspective on and experience with the Holy Spirit in new, marvelous and yet unpredictable ways.
- Cause them to hear, activate and mobilize the prophetic words spoken over them.
- Learn how to attractively share their understanding of the Presence and power of the Holy Spirit with others.
My dear friend, Michael Valiton, who currently serves as the Pastor of Finance and Operations for Lake Hills Church in Austin, Texas wrote these words after he read the initial manuscript.
The Altar of His Presence is a powerful, passionate, and uplifting read that inspires the reader to come experience the manifest Presence of God. This book is rich with spiritual guidance, biblical truth, and practical application. Robert leads us through a journey into the proper order of God and His will for our lives. The book details God’s promise to meet us, deliver us, heal us, and create in us a new heart and mind. All we have to do is believe!
Robert uses Scripture, stories, and vivid word pictures to wonderfully illustrate how much God loves us and wants to bless us with a personal relationship with Him. This book is motivating, captivating, encouraging, and invigorating. Finally, The Altar of His Presence reminds us that through God’s grace we not only have a place, a person, and a people to meet the Lord, but most importantly we have God in us, and that is where God ultimately wants to meet. There’s no better time than now!
Over the coming months I will be sharing more news. Please begin praying with and for us as we pray that we will see this awesome message reach people in countries around the world!
Last week I shared the truth about Holy Spirit living within every believer and desiring to REST UPON EVERY BELIEVER. When the Spirit comes upon us, He Empowers Us for Ministry. Ministry means to give service either from, to or within the faith community through:
- Speech (ministry of the Word)
- Discipleship (mentoring of the people)
- Giftedness (maximizing gift, talents and abilities)
- Charity and Serving (such as feeding the poor)
- The Demonstration of and Display of God
This week I want to talk about how the Holy Spirit Enables and Ordains Ministry
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. Acts 1:8
My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power. 1 Corinthians 2:4-5
We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. No, we speak of God’s secret wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. 1 Corinthians 2:6-7
However, as it is written: “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him”–but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. 1 Corinthians 2:9-10
Therefore, let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, Hebrews 6:1
After reading this verses, it is also important to note that “The Anointing Ordains and Dedicates People to The Ministry”
The high priest, the one among his brothers who has had the anointing oil poured on his head and who has been ordained to wear the priestly garments, must not uncover his head or tear his clothes. He must not enter a place where there is a dead body. He must not make himself unclean, even for his father or mother, nor leave the sanctuary of his God or desecrate it, because he has been dedicated by the anointing oil of his God. I am the LORD. Leviticus 21:10-12
The definition of the words ordain or ordination is: The act of arranging in regular order, especially the act of investing with ministerial or spiritual rank, the setting-apart for an office in the Christian ministry. Ordain is from the Latin word ordinare, which means “to set in order” or “to arrange”; in post-Augustan Latin “to appoint to office.”
Dedication is defined from the Hebrew word, cherem. Cherem is often used in Hebrew of the consecration of persons and speaks of, “a person or thing devoted to God.”
The concept of the anointing being transferred or imparted for the purpose of enabling ministry comes from stories about Samuel, Elijah, Peter, John and the Apostle Paul’s relationship with Timothy and others. God sometimes uses a ministry father or fathers to bring His anointing for ministry to our lives.
While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off. Acts 13:2-3
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. 2 Timothy 1:6
Then Peter and John placed their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit. When Simon saw that the Spirit was given at the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money. Acts 8:17-18
The LORD said to Samuel, “How long will you mourn for Saul, since I have rejected him as king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil and be on your way; I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem. I have chosen one of his sons to be king.” So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and from that day on the Spirit of the LORD came upon David in power. 1 Samuel 16:1; 13
Also, anoint Jehu son of Nimshi king over Israel, and anoint Elisha son of Shaphat from Abel Meholah to succeed you as prophet. 1 Kings 19:16
In these examples and many more from the Scriptures:
- The person who was anointed for ministry experienced a “quickening, moving, or form of excitement or brokenness.”
- The level of ministry or maturity of the “greater” shared a “depth” or “strength” when there was a transference of anointing to the “lesser.”
- The transference was accomplished in several different ways, including, prophetic words, the laying on of hands, the anointing with oil, the casting of cloth, fasting and prayer, and usually with specific supernatural prophetic direction given to describe future ministry.
When the Anointing (the Holy Spirit) comes UPON us for ministry, there is an experiential component to the experience. This is different than the Holy Spirit coming to live in our heart or spirit. In His coming UPON us, both the soul and flesh are moved, excited, thrilled, broken, etc.
Would you email me today and share what you have experienced, when the Anointing (Holy Spirit) comes UPON YOU? You can email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Come to the altar today. Pray for the manifestation of the fruit of the Spirit in your life and those closest to you. Ask Him to move you outside of what is normal, to help you live and serve in ways that would stretch you to your full potential. When you pray think about how He empowers our living, inspires our praying and enables our serving by filling our lives with His presence and glory.
Galatians 5:22-23 says, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”
Galatians 5:22 & 23 describes the “fruit” or character of the Holy Spirit. Take a few minutes today and meditate on these verses while holding the list in front of you. Thank the Holy Spirit for the previous development of His character in your life. Trust the Holy Spirit to help you look at your current circumstances and think about what “fruit” or character is needed for the season you are in.
Being open to the Holy Spirit’s direction and then embracing His power to change us from glory to glory is described in the Bible as the process of sanctification. Sanctification is the work of the Holy Spirit that 1) sets us apart from the world and 2) enables to live holy lives. The Holy Spirit enables to live both for and as Christ.
Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. 2 Corinthians 3:17-18
As we make more and more room for the Spirit to work in our lives, He begins molding and making us into the image or form of the Lord Jesus Christ by transforming us with ever-increasing glory. His purpose is to change us into the image of Christ or into true “Christians.” His ministry not only separates us from our old way of life but separates us to the progressive realization of whom and what we are to become in Christ Jesus through His power.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ. 2 Corinthians 5:17-18
But after that the kindness and love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior; That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. Titus 3:4-7
There is a great debate going on in Evangelical Christianity today. The debate has to do with whether or not Christ followers should expect and be expected to see change in their lives. These verses explain the view Paul shared after years and years of ministry. Along with the word “justified by His grace,” Paul uses such terms as, reconciled, regeneration and renewing. I believe Paul is explaining the steps taken by the Holy Spirit to justify AND sanctify us.
By being justified, we are reconciled to God. Once far from God in sin we have been brought near by the blood of Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 2:9-10) We have been accepted because 1) the price has been paid in full and 2) we accept the price Jesus paid on the cross in our stead. In other words, we have been redeemed and purchased by the most valuable of commodities, the blood of Jesus Christ. The payment of His shed blood and our willingness to accept His payment for our sin has reconciled us back to God.
Once reconciled, the indwelling Holy Spirit continually facilitates our ability to live in continual and progressive regeneration and renewal (being changed from glory to glory). The Greek word for regeneration is paliggenesia. Paliggenesia means new birth, reproduction, renewal, recreation, and regeneration. The word speaks to the renovation or continual regeneration of a Christ follower. It is the production of a new life consecrated to God, a radical change of mind for the better.
The word paliggenesia is often used to describe the restoration of a person or thing to their or its original or pristine state. This renovation, renewal and restoration of our lives can only occur as the Christ follower submits to and makes room for the ministry of the Holy Spirit. As the Holy Spirit fills the room that we have opened up to Him, a definite moral change begins to take place.
This change involves a definite break from the ruling power and love of and for sin, so that the believer is no longer ruled or dominated by sin and no longer loves to sin. Paul says, “So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus….For sin will have no dominion over you” (Romans 6:11, 14). Christ followers have been “set free from sin” (Romans 6:18). In this context, to be dead to sin or to be set free from sin involves the power to overcome acts or patterns of sinful behavior in one’s life.
The purpose of our redemption, reconciliation and regeneration is so we can overcome any and every sin in our lives and to be filled to overflowing with the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. He enables us to live holy and upright lives. Why is this so important?
For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly. Psalm 84:11
For the LORD is righteous, he loves justice; upright men will see his face. Psalm 11:7
From these verses you can see that the promises of God given to those who desire God with their whole heart, who seek to walk uprightly and live righteously, are some of the greatest in all of the Bible. God hates sin. He loves, looks after and is endeared to the righteous. Our own righteousness is not attractive to God. In fact, it is but filthy rags. But, His righteousness flooding our lives, enabling us to love the Lord with all of our heart, soul and spirit, gives us confidence to come boldly to the throne of grace. In our boldness, we ask without fear for what we have need of and for the assistance to do His great will. The power of the Holy Spirit that empowers us to live righteously emboldens us to believe the promises of God are now, yes and amen!
I pray that you will open your heart to the Holy Spirit’s sanctifying power today. I can promise you as the Psalmist said, if you will delight yourself in the Lord…He will give you the desires of your heart! (Psalm 37:4)
God bless you today!