Going Deeper on Spiritual Gifts

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The Message Of Wisdom:

This gift is a revelation of divine counsel. It gives supernatural insight into some particular need or problem and brings practical application of God’s Word. It does not come through our meditation or preparation, but comes directly from the Holy Spirit (Luke 21:13–15). When the Holy Spirit dispenses a message of wisdom a limited but adequate portion of insight is given to meet the specific need.

The gift does not raise us to a new level of wisdom, nor does it prevent our making future mistakes. It only allows us to temporarily draw on God’s unlimited storehouse for the situation at hand (Romans 11:33).

It may bring guidance to the assembly of believers, as in Acts 6:2–4; 15:13–21. It may give wisdom against adversaries (Luke 21:15), as in the case of the apostles and Stephen (Acts 4:8–14,19–21; 6:9–10).

We must not depend on human wisdom for the work of God or to develop our faith (1 Corinthians 2:5). If we lack wisdom we are to ask God for it (James 1:5).

Message Of Knowledge:

This gift gives divine insight into the truth of the gospel and its application to Christian living. It goes beyond what our own study of the Word can bring. As Paul says, “We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us” (1 Corinthians 2:12). Many believe it may also include a partial revelation of God’s secret knowledge of the plans or actions of others. An example of this may be seen in the story of Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:1–10). However, nothing in the Bible indicates a message of knowledge is meant to reveal where to find lost articles or what disease or sin a person may be suffering from—though the Spirit can reveal these things according to His sovereign will.

Faith:

Faith as a gift is not saving faith. It is a miraculous faith that meets unusual opportunities, as did the heroes of Hebrews 11 and as Elijah did when he confronted the prophets of Baal (1 Kings 18:33–40). It can also include the ability to communicate or build faith in others, as Paul did when the ship was about to be wrecked at the Island of Malta (Acts 27:25). This he often did (2 Corinthians 3:4–6).

Gifts Of Healing:

In the Book of Acts miraculous healings caused many to turn to the Lord for salvation. Both “gifts” and “healings” are plural in the Greek (the original language in which the New Testament was written), thus there is not one “gift” of healing but many to meet all kinds of sickness and disease. The gift of healing is not for the one who ministers the gift. It is for the sick person—the one who receives the gift. When Peter said to the lame man “what I have I give you” (Acts 3:6), he meant the Spirit was giving him a specific gift of healing to give the lame man. The Spirit did not give Peter a reservoir of healing gifts in himself. He had to look to the Lord and receive from the Spirit a new gift for each sick person who was healed. Peter recognized also that God is the Healer and He alone must receive the glory (Acts 3:12–16; Exodus 15:26). The Spirit will also encourage an atmosphere of faith, love and acceptance that will help the sick person to receive.

Miraculous Powers:

These deeds of mighty supernatural power produce results that glorify God and defeat Satan. Miracles are distinguished from healings in that miracles include a demonstration of God’s power in an unusual measure beyond the physical body. This can include spiritual deliverance from demonic forces, physical deliverance of God’s people in ominous life-threatening situations (Acts 12:6-19), a positive change of favor in the midst of difficult circumstances, and timely provisions for human need (Matthew 14:13-21).

Prophecy:

To prophesy means to speak for God. The gift has a threefold purpose: “everyone who prophesies speaks to men for their strengthening, encouragement and comfort” (1 Corinthians 14:3–4). This “edifies the church” (Acts 15:32). In Acts, those regularly used in this gift were called prophets. However, the Holy Spirit can use any believer. Every manifestation of this gift must be weighed by other members of the congregation to see whether it is in line with Scripture and to determine what God wants us to do concerning the prophetic message (1 Corinthians 14:29).

Distinguishing Between Spirits:

Gifts of distinguishing between spirits may be given in a variety of ways. Sometimes it may be used to “judge” or “weigh” prophecies. Sometimes it may be the means of protecting us from satanic deceptions. John warns us not to believe every spirit, but to test them “to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1). Some manifestations come from the human spirit, some from demon spirits. The Holy Spirit can show us the difference. This does not mean one can go around announcing what spirit is in each person. The Holy Spirit gives the gift on specific occasions when it is needed.

Tongues And Interpretation:

Tongues are Spirit-directed languages from heaven. They are unknown, even to the one who speaks them. When people speak in tongues the Holy Spirit anoints them and they are spiritually edified (strengthened and built up) through union with God. This edification happens without one ever knowing what is said. Such edification is experienced individually by the one who prays in tongues.

The Holy Spirit edifies the church body of believers much differently. For the entire group of believers to be edified, tongues must be followed with an interpretation (1 Corinthians 14:4). The interpretation of tongues is given in the language of the congregation. It encourages the people and moves them to praise and worship the Lord. The interpretation is not necessarily word for word. Rather it expresses what the Spirit is saying in a way that is clear and understood by all. This is necessary in any translation. For example, Psalm 23:1 is only four words in Hebrew, but it consists of nine words in English in the King James Version and eleven words in the New International Version.

Some say the gift of tongues is not important for it is mentioned last. However, the order in the various lists is not always the same. All the gifts are important.
The apostle Paul did not neglect tongues for he said, “I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you” (1 Corinthians 14:18). In the same chapter he also said, “Do not forbid speaking in tongues” (14:39). Paul asked only that “everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way” in the worship service (14:40).

The whole Bible from Genesis to Revelation emphasizes that God is a speaking God. Perhaps that is one reason why Paul in 1 Corinthians 12 to 14 gives so much attention to tongues, interpretation, and prophecy, with special emphasis on the importance and value of prophecy to edify the believers and touch the hearts of unbelievers. That is what happened when Peter stood up to speak on the Day of Pentecost. He spoke as he was inspired by the Spirit. Peter didn’t prepare or develop the message beforehand. The Holy Spirit spoke through him as a gift of prophecy. As a result 3,000 were saved and added to the Church.

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Filled with the Spirit

I heard an interesting story the other day. The story was of a Rose Bowl parade in Pasadena, CA on New Years Day. A beautiful float was coming down the parade route when it sputtered and ran out of gas. The Parade was temporarily halted and team members scrambled to get a gallon of gas of to the float to get it moving again. Ironically the float was representing the Standard Oil Company. In spite the availability of plenty of gas the float had died due to a lack of maintenance.

Christians need to maintain their lives as well. The Bible commands followers of Jesus to live “filled with the Spirit”. From the following verses we can see that living a life with the intellectual knowledge of Jesus without a spiritual surrender is unacceptable.

Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.                  –  Ephesians 5:18       

Under the Influence. In the verse above, living full of the Spirit is contrasted with drunkenness. Why does God use that comparison? Just as alcohol consumption affects every aspect of our bodies (our vision, our hand eye coordination, our judgment, our speech, etc) so also does the Holy Spirit. There should be a sense in which we are “under the influence” of the Spirit in our everyday lives!


Repetition. Being filled with the Spirit is an experience that was replicated again and again in the book of Acts. Those first believers were filled over and over again (Acts 2.4; 4.8,31; 6.5;7.55;11.24;13.9, etc) The tense of the verb ‘to be filled’ in Ephesians 5.18 connotes a constant refilling. Believers often call this the Baptism in the Holy Spirit. No doubt the initial experience is certainly referred to in Scripture by this term. But constantly refilling so that the believer is “full” of the Holy Spirit is due maintenance of the Christian Life.


I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high. – Luke 24.49

Essentiality. What does Jesus tell us about the Holy Spirit in Luke 24.49? That being filled is so essential that he must request that we not do the works of evangelism, healing, preaching or any other ministry without being full of the Spirit! God wants us to be active in the ministry but knows that the powers of darkness are supernaturally equipped and that the believer cannot withstand the enemies attack without the Spirit’s fullness.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. – Ephesians 6:10-18


Receiving the Spirit. So how do we receive the Holy Spirit? Every believer receives the Holy Spirit at his conversion. However, being ‘baptized in the Spirit’ and being filled with the Holy Spirit are subsequent to that initial experience of salvation . The simple answer is to ask in faith. Read what Jesus taught his disciples about the Holy Spirit in Luke 11.9-13.

So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

Which of you fathers, if your son asks for[a] a fish, will give him a snake instead?  Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion?  If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” – Luke 11:9-13


 I urge you to begin seeking this experience with God by faith. Ask and trust that God wants you to receive the Holy Spirit. If you would like additional materials to study please feel free to leave a question in the comments below or contact me at dtinberg@berwynag.org.

Q&A with the Pastor.


Pastor Dave talked about the Ressurection of the Church and the Return of Christ this past Wednesday. Everything from pre-trib vs post-trib to what the rapture will look like (SPOILER** it’s not like a Nicholas Cage movie). 

This forum is a place for you to ask questions about a very controversial and confusing topic. So feel free to ask away and a pastor will comment back with an answer! 

Going Deeper on Becoming Barnabas

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In my message Wednesday night I talked about the Ministry of Encouragement and the role it will have in the Church’s growth.

The truth is no other ministry may be of more importance.

Those whose choose to take up that mantle of Son/Daughter of Encouragement will be instrumental in building and sustaining the leaders and future leaders of the Church.

For every Paul, there is a Barnabas.

My question to you is, if you are a Paul, who is your Barnabas? And if you are a Barnabas, who is your Paul?

You see the church can only operate with heavenly efficiency if everyone is doing their part. As they say, a chain is only as strong as it’s weakest link. In order to do that we must be able to identify our strengths and weaknesses and we also must be able to identify the area that God has called us to. You see, our strength isn’t always was God calls us to. In fact, He normally finds a way to stretch us; calling us to a place/ministry that is way out of our comfort zone. The good news is, God doesn’t call us to what we are, He calls us to what we can be.

Just look at Peter. That guy was a mess. He couldn’t control his temper or his tongue. He was the picture of instability, and yet Jesus called him Rock (Peter). We can take solace in the fact that God knows who we can be. We must trust that He knows best and we must be careful to listen to His instruction.

One way we do that is by growing more sensitive to the spirit. Here is an article that lists Seven Ways to Cultivate Sensitivity to the Holy Spirit by Charisma News. Check it out!

Stay blessed and see you Sunday!

Pastor Seth.

Going Deeper: Resources for further Study on Sexuality


Here are some resources to help you dig deeper into Wednesday’s teaching on Pursuing Purity by Pastor Dave. 

Biblical Study on Sexuality 

Rosalia Butterfield Interview

Pure Life Ministries – Getting free from sexual obsession.

Homosexuality – Compassion without Compromise

Joe Dallas Blog – Truth Telling and Roller Coasters

Also Check out these books…

5 steps to getting free from Porn -Joe Dallas

Eros Defiled- John White

Living in Pursuit

Day 7

2017-theme-imgWell, our 2017 Prayer Week is coming to a close. I hope that these devotionals have been a helpful aid as you sought God this week. And while our prayer week is over, we must continue live our lives in pursuit of God. All of our prayers this week will be null and void if  we fail to walk out the things that we declared in our prayers. We must allow our prayer to lead to action.

One of my favorite stories in the Bible is that of Nehemiah. In the first two chapters we see the perfect example of prayer turning to action. Nehemiah is a Hebrew who is serving in the presence of King Artaxerxes as a cup bearerWhile he is serving in exile he receives a report that Jerusalem is in ruins, and he immediately feels a burden. His heart is in turmoil so He goes to the Lord in prayer. His prayer is heartfelt and honest. And you can tell that while he is bringing an offense to God, he is also bringing a sense of personal responsibility. We see this come to fruition when Nehemiah is given the chance to not only bring awareness of the current state of Jerusalem, but also to personally see to it’s rebuilding. This is the attitude we must bring with us into the new year. Not only praying and seeking the Lord but having the willingness to stand up and take action.

So as we move forward into 2017 lets remember what we’ve prayed this week.

(1) We prayed that God would give us a desire for Him and His presence. A desire that leads us to re-prioritize our life, placing God on the throne of our hearts. (2) We prayed that we wouldn’t hide in our sin, but rather that we would approach God knowing that He is fully aware of our sin and yet He still loves us. (3) We prayed that we strain forward, like a marathon runner, pressing on to win the race. (4) We prayed that our eyes would be opened to the people around us whose hands have fallen. And that we would be quick to be those who stand in the gap for the tired and weary. (5) We prayed that our discipleship would defined by service that flows from a deep love for God. (6) And finally, we prayed that we would not settle for mediocrity. Instead, that we would strive for holiness; that we might be made useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.

In this new year let us, like Nehemiah, not let these prayers just be words. Let us apply these to our life in 2017 and watch as our pursuit of God leads to healing, breakthrough, and victory. Let us spend this year Living in Pursuit.

 

Pursue Holiness

Day 6

It is common these days in the house of the Lord to see people settle for good enough. One might call this a mediocre spirit. Yet God has always asked for the greatest and most skilled craftsmen to work on the tabernacle, temple and the palace through out Israel’s history. We keep ourselves spiritually impoverished if we settle for lesser efforts. Paul writes in 2 Timothy,

Those who cleanse themselves from the latter will be instruments for special purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work. 2 Timothy 2:21 NIV

For our purposes today we will focus on the generality of the command and not the specifics. There is much that God’s spirit systematically extracts from our lives. While it may be painful to surrender to this surgical removal of sinful impulses and habits, it is vital to our spiritual health. We need to remember that God always does this for our health and He always does so with our permission. He is no thief; there are no spiritual sneak attacks. We invite Him into our lives with prayer, asking Him to make us holy. We pray that He would purify our hearts, or wash us in the blood. Which ever phrase we use the concept is the same. We ask, “Jesus, make me like you.”And when we do so, God brings change into us. We may be surprised by his ways, but his purposes come at our request.

There is a bravery necessary to begin the cleansing process. We are not called to aimlessly drift through life (I know, I say this all the time!). We must be purposeful in our pursuit of holiness. I ruthlessly examine my life and find I am so much less than what Jesus expected from me. Then I determine that I actually want this virtue that God is bringing to my attention. Finally, I pray for the virtue of Christ in me. Come Lord, make me patient; Come Lord make me truly loving; Come Lord, help me care about those outside my circle; Come Lord, heal my brokenness. This is a bold invitation!

My heart isn’t easily brought to this place. Prayerful inspection, heartfelt remorse, genuine repentance, etc. These must happen before God will to bring trouble to my heart. I don’t always want to trouble my soul but this is what is necessary to pursue holiness. The ruthless pursuit of becoming a vessel for special purposes. This is called a vessel of honor in other translations. The honor is all about Jesus and not about us.

What kind of a year will you have if you give yourself completely to the honoring of God? Kingdom impact will be maximized and flesh will be minimized. You will be a conqueror.

Pursuing Avenues of Service

Day 5

My default position is selfishness. I suspect yours is too. There are people who are more magnanimous that I am by nature; people who are more “others-centered” than I am by nature; and there are people who are genuinely caring and concerned. But psychologists tell us that even in the most altruistic person, there is an element of self-interest. In other words, we are all selfish.

Yet God calls the follower of Christ to serve those around him, often to the detriment of himself. The measure of being an exemplary disciple is service that flows from a deep love for God.

The greatest among you will be your servant. Matthew 23:11 NIV

And much of that service will be toward other human beings. Some of them will be ungrateful, some unworthy, some will be over flowing with gratitude. And some, frankly, will be better people than we are.

How can we find a place to serve? How can we express the love we have for God by helping others? We need to be determined to chase those opportunities. They aren’t always easy to be a part of. One year I was convinced that God wanted me to drive a couple days a week for a meals on wheels program. I called the non-profit that ran the program three times before I got a call back. I left messages that intimated that I thought, as a pastor, I might be able to influence some other volunteers to join with me (bonus!). Still no response. I am ashamed that after 30 days of chasing it I gave up, thinking that I had misunderstood the impression of the Holy Spirit.

But just because it isn’t easy doesn’t mean it isn’t God! Find your sweet spot. Find the place where God can fill your heart with the joy of service. Too many of us walk around unfulfilled, serving only ourselves. How many coats, boots, hats, shoes, etc can you collect? Maybe it is time to start asking God to show you the avenue of service that he has for you.

Let me give you a few pointers.

(1) These are often short term temporary assignments. (2) Finding the right place to serve is like trying on pants. You will have to go through a few before you find the right fit. (3) Ministry coordinators have been burned by people with good intentions but little follow through. Do what you say you’re going to do! Opt for a short term assignment if you have long term commitment issues or scheduling problems. (4) Serve these folks as if they were Jesus himself. Have a smile on your face. Be optimistic. Be the hands and feet of Jesus. After all, He is the one we want people to pay attention to. And when someone asks how you can serve with such joy…mission accomplished!

Pursuing Victory

Day 4

There are few moments in life that always remain at the forefront of your memory. For me, one of those moments is when I invited a prophet to come to our church. I knew that people needed a word from God. I also knew that word had to be something genuinely from heaven and not some warmed over scriptural encouragement. I remembered a story in the book of Exodus (17) that tells of an interesting phenomena. I really believed that it related to our church that morning. So as the worship team turned over the service to the prophetic brother, I walked to the back of the sanctuary and stood in the corner with my hands lifted over my head. I did so based upon the following story.

“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.” – Exodus 17:10-13 NIV

The Spirit moved in our sanctuary very powerfully that day. Private things, known only to a small handful, were revealed by the voice of the Spirit. God called people to ministry, empowered people to God appointed tasks, healed marriages and revealed hidden sin in the gentlest of ways. It was powerful! My assignment is to give spiritual oversight to this faith community. My uplifted hands welcomed the presence of God into that place. I did nothing but invite God to do his will, nevertheless, without that welcome into the church little would have happened.

Often the church can devolve to a few people doing the work of the ministry while the rest sit and soak. Really, that has never been God’s design. God’s wants us to actively pursue the presence of God in our own life to the extent that we carry it forward where ever we go. That makes us bearers of his light, his healing, his word, and his voice! We are all ministers to that extent. Pursuing that calling also puts us alongside God’s anointed brothers and sisters.

Today, while we are pursuing God’s purpose in our own life, we also need to look around and find other men and women of God who are tired, and who may have dropped their hands. There are Fathers who have dropped their hands exhausted over business problems; there are mothers who have dropped their hands over their teenage children; there are ministry leaders who have dropped their hands over failures. Victory came even when the leader’s hands had to be lifted up by Aaron and Hur. Will you look around and find somebody’s  hands to lift up today? Will you bring victory and deliverance by standing in the gap and holding up the arms of your pastors, your friends, and your family?

If you can answer that call, then you can be the difference between victory and defeat.

Get Up and Run

Day 3

Running. I’m not a fan.

I walk a few miles each day, even in the winter but running? Well, I have to draw the line somewhere! In our day running is a symbol as well as an attempt. I know,I have family members that run track, run 5Ks, 10k’s, and even marathons (26.2 miles-what?).My favorite bumper sticker these days is the one that says 0.0. It testifies to the world, that I just don’t want to be healthy that bad!

Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. 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. –   Philippians 3:13-14 NIV

 Paul is using imagery that should be familiar to a runner. He is saying that he wants this
powerful spiritual walk with God and that he hasn’t fooled himself into thinking that he has achieved it yet. Are you kidding me? If Apostles can feel that way… well, you get it. He is saying there is still work to do, the goal isn’t met, it isn’t good enough, development needs to happen! He is saying God isn’t finished with me yet!

But he is also saying I’m in it to win. He warns us to do a couple things that we would
be smart to remember here at the beginning of the year. Let’s review them.

(1) Forget what is  behind. The past is the past. There is no living with it, bury it and move on. Even the good stuff! Even the accolades, even the celebrations, even the achievements…bury them. It takes prayer  to forget the past. The world will try to remind you of your past. Bury it.

(2) Strain- This is the look on the face of many marathon runners. They are putting it all
out there, really trying! A powerful spiritual walk doesn’t happen by accident. People don’t trip and fall in to maturity. You need to evaluate your life and determine that you will proactively  pursue God. I heard a pastor say just today that he is simply one of God’s sheep, an imperfect  human, one among many. I get that. I know that. But there is another truth to balance that  humility out. God has anointed you, brother, to change lives. Don’t hide your passivity behind  the mask of false humility!

(3) Press on to win. The Apostle clearly knows that it is God’s will for him to run and win!
He says as much to us here in the last verse. God laid his hand upon him for the very purpose of winning the prize. Implicit in the comment of Paul here is that there are a million distractions along the way. Everyone of them can be useful to get your attention off of what God wills for  your life. Don’t placate them, press on! Don’t play with them, press on! Don’t settle for most  improved! Not everyone will get this trophy! Get up and run like you want it!