Taker or Giver? Which One Are You?

The Holy Spirit has been making me aware of some of the distinct differences that are being created within today’s society and church. An example is the so called “hunger strike” by some Yale University Grad Students who said they were going without food until they were hungry! Now that’s commitment! 🙂

 

Another distinction I am becoming more and more aware of is how there are people who declare they are serving–until it is time to serve or that they are giving–until it is time to give.

 

Let’s take a deep dive into the following definitions. Hopefully, this will help us examine and embrace what it truly means to be a “giver.”

 

“Takers are people seeking to own, retain and control all of their possessions, in the sphere of contentious self-interest.”

 

Own, Retain and Control: To keep for one’s future pleasure or use.

 

Their: That which pertains to them as a person; or to their existence on the earth; can also be seen by them as either earthly, heavenly, material meta-physical or spiritual.

 

Possessions: The holding of property in one’s power or command.

 

Sphere: The influence; compass; province; employment; and place of existence.

 

Contentious Self-Interest: Without regard for others to the point of causing strife.

 

“Givers, on the other hand, are people who distribute their earthly and heavenly assets, in the sphere of an unostentatious simplicity.”

 

Distribute: To divide among several or many.

 

Earthly and Heavenly: That which pertains to earth and/or heaven; or to God’s existence on earth as it is in heaven; always seen as being given to them from above and definitely given to them by God.

 

Assets: Something valued for its ability to be useful.

 

Sphere: The influence; compass; province; employment; and place of existence.

 

Unostentatious: Never intended to attract notice and impress others.

 

Simplicity: The freedom from guile, cunning or duplicity.

 

Givers have the ability to possess and give away their natural, spiritual, financial and emotional resources to the sacrificing of his or her own personal, business, or even family needs. The person who is a true Giver loves, finds joy and is fully motivated to be open handed with the resources that are needed for the enlargement of the people in their lives. This includes family members, friends, the Church as well as the endowment of its ministry for the sake of blessing of others.

 

A biblical example is found in the parable of the Good Samaritan.

 

In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’ “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.” Luke 10:30-37

 

In the story, the Good Samaritan…

 

  1. Correctly perceived the condition of a man others had walked by.
  2. Saw his empathy, bandages and finances as assets to manage.
  3. Poured out medicinal oil and wine for the purpose of blessing and healing.
  4. Moved the broken man from a dangerous place to a place of safety.
  5. Provided his time, friendship and love to care for one he did not know.
  6. Gave more than enough paying what was owed and making a deposit for future care.
  7. Was willing to make a reimbursement for anything spent above his own expense.

 

 

In this story the Lord Jesus Christ was speaking about Himself and the life we who follow Him should seek to embrace. Like the Good Samaritan, we should:

 

  1. Seek to rightly observe and identify the needs of others.
  2. Realize we have the riches of heaven at our disposal.
  3. Freely give because we have freely received.
  4. Help others take the steps needed to live in a place of wellness, safety and security.
  5. Offer our very lives for the sake of adding value to everyone we meet.
  6. Bless others beyond the current moment and extend the blessing into the future.
  7. Fully appreciate that whatever we give will be given to us; pressed down, shaken together and running over by the Lord when He returns.

 

I pray these words motivate you toward a life of giving. Having a giving mindset causes us to understand that all things come from God, belong to God and should be used to bring glory to Him. True stewards (givers) are the managers of the riches of heaven. They seek to have the spiritual, emotional, mental and financial resources that are needed at any time and find their greatest joy in the sharing of these resources as the Holy Spirit directs. Ask the Lord to help you change. Ask Him to speak to your heart and soul from His Word and Spirit. Seek to be saturated with His Presence so that you can see yourself giving and becoming a giver.

 

 

I also encourage you to read Romans 12 in the Wuest Translation of the New Testament.

What Real Success Looks Like

The latest statistics on prescription drugs are proof that we truly live in a time where more and more people are dealing with massive amounts of discouragement, depression and despondency. This is happening during a time in which personal and corporate success is being heralded as the answer for everything.  While many have found solace through, money, their career, pastoral counseling or from a prescription bottle, others are still desperate for someone to step forward with words of encouragement.

 

Real success is not about wealth or fame. The reason? Success is fleeting. One can be successful today, without being effective tomorrow. For our lives to count in the long run, we must realize that it is what we do for others that truly counts. Sharing a kind word, a note of appreciation or a text stating our love is positive for both giver and receiver. Every one of us can be about the ministry of encouraging others.

 

Yes, there are people who possess the motivational gift of encouragement. And yes, they tend to get very excited when they are able to encourage another person. But, even if we don’t see ourselves as “gifted” to encourage others. We all must be concerned about the spiritual, emotional, physical and mental health of others (than we are about ourselves).

 

As Christians, we should encourage the lost to come to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. But we should not stop there. We should ask the Holy Spirit to stir our hearts and give us opportunities to love, encourage and console. How can we effectively do this? By caring about others. Let’s look at the example Jesus gave us.

 

Jesus cared about and saw the potential in every person He met. Whether well or ill, young or old, Jesus noticed, took time to talk and then encourage everyone around Him. One day when Jesus was teaching the adults, there were some children who were brought to be blessed by Him. His disciples, not wanting Jesus to be bothered, tried to turn away the children. The words Jesus spoke concerning their actions were not only directed toward His disciples, but for us as well. Matthew 19:13-14 says, “Then little children were brought to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked those who brought them. Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”

 

The Gospels are filled with a great number of stories of Jesus blessing and encouraging adults and children. In them Jesus encouraged the hurting, discouraged and desperate people. Examples include Bartimaeus (a blind beggar who He healed), Zacchaeus (a well known tax collector with whom He had lunch with), Jairus (the leader of a local synagogue whose daughter had died, but Jesus raised her from the dead) and an unclean, outcast woman with a terrible blood condition who dared to transgress the law to be near Jesus. This unnamed woman touched the bottom edge of Jesus’ robe hoping to find some relief. While others ignored or dismissed her, Jesus stopped, turned to talk and then encouraged her (Matthew 9:20-22).

 

Barnabas is another example of a person who encouraged others. While Barnabas understood his talents, abilities, and especially, his limitations, he chose to stay positive by encouraging others. In fact, he did a very unusual thing. He went to Tarsus to look for man called “Saul of Tarsus.”  This religious zealot was prosecuting Christians for their faith. No one was interested in being a friend to him. No one, that is, but Barnabas. Barnabas encouraged, helped and became a friend to the person who would come to be known as the Apostle Paul (Acts 11:24-25).

 

The actions of Barnabas is the picture of encouragement. He was willing to accept, work with, encourage and then travel with the Apostle Paul when other leaders didn’t fully trust him or care to be near him. Even years later, when Barnabas chose to separate from Paul’s ministry, he chose to spend his time pouring into a young man named John Mark (who had abandoned Paul and Barnabas while on an earlier mission trip). No doubt Barnabas saw that John Mark needed encouraging. It is also evident that Barnabas could look beyond the faults of people and see their needs as well as what they “could be.”

 

Will you seek to encourage, bless and console the people around you today? Will you give positive reinforcement and remind others that God will supply all of their need according to His riches in glory? In doing so you will be a blessing. You will sow seeds to your own harvest of blessing.  For whatever we sow, we reap. If we give encouragement, encouragement will be given to us when we are in need of it.

 

I encourage you today with the words from 1 Peter 5:7. “Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about what happens to you.” Yes, the Lord really cares. He really cares about you!

 

Because our Lord cares for us, let us also care about others and encourage them today!

 

Be Encouraged!

 

Robert

Teaching

 Teaching Others to Gain Understanding

Annie Murphy Paul recently said, “For thousands of years, people have known that the best way to understand a concept is to explain it to someone else. “While we teach, we learn,” said the Roman philosopher Seneca. Now scientists are bringing this ancient wisdom up to date, documenting exactly why teaching is such a fruitful way to learn — and designing innovative ways for young people to engage in instruction.”

 

This is most amazing when we consider that “The Teacher” (the Lord Jesus Christ) knew and practiced such almost 2,000 years ago. He not only taught His disciples, but told them to go and “teach all people.” The Apostle Paul told Titus to teach others so they could teach. The Gospel writer Luke is an excellent example of a person who was taught (in his case, by Paul) and then proceeded to teach others. Luke wrote the Gospel that bears his name and the Book of Acts for the purpose of sharing information, instruction, illumination and inspiration. In other words, he wrote to teach others.

 

Consider Luke’s opening words to his Gospel: “Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. Therefore, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, it seemed good also to me to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught” (Luke 1:1-4).

 

Luke wanted Theophillus to have clear and certain knowledge, as well as the confidence in what he had been taught, so Luke set down an “orderly account.” In other words, Luke sought to explain the complex spiritual truths found in the Gospel in simple, straightforward, and understandable terms. The writings of Luke show that they see their readers and listeners as students. Students are best taught in a “circle concept.” A “circle concept” introduces information, gives instruction on how to use it, gives opportunity to apply it and “circles back” for the information that is needed to take the next step. In his gospel Luke “circles back” again and again to show us that Jesus Christ is the Son of Man.

 

The Book of Acts is written in the same way. Very early on Luke presents his “outline” for the book: “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). The rest of the book is well-organized and possesses an orderly development of the outline described in Acts 1:8. Luke uses chapters 1-7 to teach about the Church in Jerusalem. In chapters 8- 12, Luke specifically describes the Church expanding into Judea and Samaria. And finally, in chapters 13-28, Luke tells the story of the Church expanding to the ends of the earth by describing the missionary journeys of the Apostle Paul and his ministry team.

 

This type of effective teaching gives specific and ongoing communication from the teacher and to the student. The student must be instructed, informed, inspired and receptive to what the teacher intended him to hear. The Gift of Teaching Others (i.e., communication for the purpose of understanding) is only complete when the student understands the material as the teacher intended him to understand it.

 

Every reader who reads my new book, The Altar of His Presence, will recognize that I wrote this new devotional to teach others how to experience the glory of God in intimate and dynamic ways. I hope that my readers understand that I am trying to inspire them to search for the truth. This is because I have a passion to discover the truth and validate the accuracy of the information I have received through my study of the Scripture and other writers. It is important to me that I bring the opportunity for great blessing or change to the life of another.

The_Altar_of_His_Presence_FINALFRONTCOVER

I believe that teachers (who are called, gifted and chosen to teach) are more than willing to invest their time in their study of the words, context, and author of a particular passage of the Bible. Their teaching ministry grows when they learn to meditate on the Word and allow the Holy Spirit to teach them the depths of the message. The change this brings to the teacher’s life is soon transmitted to the lives of the people they teach.

 

Wherever you are in life I encourage you to teach that which you are learning. Why? Because we learn best when we are teaching others. When we focus on adding value to another person, value is then added and sometimes multiplied back to our own lives. Read today. Share what you read. Learn today. Share what you are learning. Give. It will be given to you, pressed down, shaken together and running over (Luke 6:38).

The Gift of Serving Others

 

serving

A person with the motivational Gift of Serving Others has been given by the Holy Spirit the God given desire, ability and power to give practical assistance to the members of Christ’s body specifically and to all people generally. This type of practical assistance can be seen in the story found in Exodus 17:10-13 which says, “So Joshua fought the Amalekites as Moses had ordered, and Moses, Aaron and Hur went to the top of the hill. As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning. When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up– one on one side, one on the other– so that his hands remained steady till sunset. So Joshua overcame the Amalekite army with the sword.”

 

 

 

Aaron and Hur both demonstrated the gift of service when they held up the hands of Moses. The story of their service calls us to take a deeper dive into their motivation. When we look at the word Paul used to describe this gift he used the Greek word diakonos.

 

 

 

The word diakonos directly speaks to someone who executes the commands of another. There are times, like in the Exodus 17 story, when the act of service is neither required, asked for or suggested. This motivational gift moves people to serve. Without thinking about it these wonderfully gifted people see themselves as being a servant, attendant, deacon or minister.

 

 

 

A person motivated by grace to serve others is determined to demonstrate the love and grace of God by meeting practical needs. Sadly, many of these people feel that they are lacking spiritually because of where their attention is drawn to. But the opposite is true. Jesus said that the best thing testimony we can share is revealed in serving others.

 

 

 

Many people who have the motivational gift of serving enjoy doing for others and seeing projects (that benefit others) all the way to the end. To such a person, serving others means serving God. These folks are the example of the statement of Dr. Billy Graham who said, “The highest form of worship is the worship of unselfish Christian service.”

 

 

 

The Christian life is not limited to the vertical dimension of praise, prayer and interaction with the Holy Spirit. It’s not only about lifting your hands up toward heaven. The Christian life (and the Gift of Serving Others) must never stop stretching hands out for the purpose of lifting others up. Being a Christian is not about knowing the words of the Bible but never following what it says. Those with the gift of service want all of us to be doers of the Word. In his book, The Purpose Driven Life, Pastor Rick Warren said this about the gift of serving. He said, “the last thing many believers need today is to go to another Bible study. They already know far more than they are putting into practice. What they need are serving experiences in which they can exercise their spiritual muscles.”

 

 

 

History tells us that in every age there comes a time when God’s people step forward to meet the needs of the hour. In such a moment, it is imperative that those with the Gift of Serving Others step forward from the crowd. Serving others gives everyone an opportunity to better mankind. The opportunity may be larger than your talents or abilities. It may stretch you beyond anything you have walked through before. Because even though the solution may appear as large as the world, the answer begins with one person serving and that person is you!

 

 

 

If you have the Gift of Serving Others I encourage you to try and make these wise words from The Leader of the Future by C. William Pollard yours. Pollard said, “A servant leader’s results will be measured beyond the workplace, and the story will be told in the changed lives of others. There is no scarcity of feet to wash. The towels and water are available. The limitation is our ability to get on our hands and knees and be prepared to do what we ask others to do.”

 

The Gifts of the Spirit: Prophecy

 

Gift of Prophecy

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:

 

Natural Talents:

 

       ·        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.

Robert.