Spiritual gifts for serving God
by Rick Warren
Whoever does not have the Spirit cannot receive the gifts that come from God's Spirit. 1 Corinthians 2:14 (TEV).
You can't earn your spiritual gifts or deserve them -- that's why they are called gifts! They're an expression of God's grace to you: "Christ has generously divided out his gifts to us." (Ephesians 4:7, CEV)
The Bible uses the term "heart" to describe the bundle of desires, hopes, interests, ambitions, dreams, and affections that you have. Your heart represents the source of all your motivations -- what you love to do and what you care about most. Even today, we still use the word in this way when we say, "I love you with all my heart."
The Bible says what is in your heart is what you really are, not what others think you are, or what circumstances force you to be (Proverbs 27:19). Your heart is the real you. It determines why you say the things you do, why you feel the way you do, and why you act the way you do.
Physically, each of us has a unique heartbeat. Just as we each have unique thumbprints, eye prints, and voiceprints, our hearts beat in slightly different patterns. It's amazing that out of all the billions of people who've ever lived, no one has ever had a heartbeat exactly like yours.
In the same way, God has given each of us a unique emotional "heartbeat" that races when we think about the subjects, activities, or circumstances that interest us. We instinctively care about some things and not about others. These are clues to where you should be serving.
Another word for heart is passion. There are certain subjects that you feel deeply passionate about and others that you couldn't care less about. Some experiences turn you on and capture your attention, while others turn you off or bore you to tears. These reveal the nature of your heart; listen for inner promptings that can point to the ministry God intends for you to have.
When you were growing up you may have discovered that you were intensely interested in some subjects that no one else in your family cared about.
Where did those interests come from? They came from God!
God had a purpose in giving you these inborn interests. Your emotional heartbeat is a key to understanding your shape for service. Don't ignore your interests; consider how they might be used for God's glory. There is a reason that you love to do these things.
It is a trap for a man to dedicate something rashly and only later to consider his vows. Proverbs 20:25 (NIV)
Have you ever ...
... promised to deliver by a set date and later regretted it?
... volunteered for a job you had no idea would take so long?
... agreed to a deal that looked great but wasn't?
... accepted an invitation you wish you hadn't?
Eventually, we all learn by experience a basic law of life: It's always easier to get in than get out! The Bible says, "It is a trap for a man to dedicate something rashly and only later to consider his vows." (Proverbs 20:25, NIV)
There are three common commitment traps:
- The Money Trap -- It's always easier to get into debt than out of debt! It's always easier to borrow than to pay it back.
- The Partnership Trap -- It's always easier to get into a partnership, or a relationship, than to get out of one!
- The Time Trap -- It's always easier to fill your schedule than to fulfill it! You can get so many irons in the fire that you put out the fire!
The solution: remember what the Bible says; don't make rash vows.
A person without self-control is like a city with broken-down walls. Proverbs 25:28 (NLT)
People with self-control master their moods. They do not let their moods master them. Most of what gets done in the world is accomplished by people who do the right thing even when they don't feel like it: "A person without self-control is like a city with broken-down walls." (Proverbs 25:28, NLT)
People with self-control watch their words. They put their minds in gear before opening their mouths: "Be careful what you say and protect your life. A careless talker destroys himself." (Proverbs 13:3, TEV)
People with self-control restrain their reactions. How much can you take before you lose your cool? "If you are sensible, you will control your temper. When someone wrongs you, it is a great virtue to ignore it." (Proverbs 19:11, TEV)
People with self-control stick to their schedule. If you don't determine how you will spend your time, then others will decide for you: "Be very careful, then, how you live--not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil." (Ephesians 5:15-16, NIV)
People with self-control manage their money. They learn to live on less than what they make and they invest the difference. The value of a budget is that it tells your money where you want it to go rather than wondering where it went! "In the house of the wise are stores of choice food and oil, but a foolish man devours all he has." (Proverbs 21:20, NIV)
People with self-control maintain their health. That way they can accomplish more and enjoy their achievements: "Learn to appreciate and give dignity to your body ...." (1 Thessalonians 4:4, MSG)
In what areas do you need to develop for self-control? The disciplines you establish today will determine your success tomorrow.
But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. 1 Timothy 6:6-7 (NIV)
If you've ever seen a baby born, you know they don't come into the world with a whole lot. They're not holding onto cigars, cars and a stock portfolio. They don't come into the world with anything but a little umbilical cord and that quickly gets cut.
And then, at your funeral, you don't take anything with you. The Bible teaches that we should learn to be content.
What is contentment? Contentment means my happiness is not dependent upon circumstances. Most people get caught into "when" thinking: "When I get a certain job ... When I can retire ... When I get the house paid off ... When I get the bills paid off ... then I'll be happy!"
God says, "No, once you get there, you'll always want something else." If you don't learn contentment, you'll never be happy. You'll always want more.
Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the best part of everything you produce. Proverbs 3:9 (NLT)
There is a universal law called the principle of sowing and reaping. If I sow criticism, I'm going to reap criticism. If I sow generosity, it's going to come back to me, and I'm going to reap generosity.
Every farmer knows this. A farmer has four sacks of seed in his barn and he looks at his empty field. He doesn't complain, "There's no crop! I wish there was a crop!" He just goes out and starts planting seed. When you have a need, plant a seed.
It seems illogical that when I have a need, I should give. That's why it requires faith. God says, "My ways are not your ways."
Why did God set it up that way? Because God is a giver. He is the most generous giver in the universe, and God wants you to learn to be like him. He wants to build character in you.
The Bible says, "Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the best part of everything you produce." (Proverbs 3:9, NLT) This is the principle of tithing. It's the principle that says every time I make $100 -- the first $10 goes back to God.
Tithing is an act of worship. We're giving to God. We're saying, "All of it came from you anyway." God says, "Put me first in your life and watch what I do." You may think you can't afford to tithe, but the reality is, you can't afford not to.
Tomorrow we'll look at maintaining integrity, another condition for answered prayer.
And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns. (Philippians 1:6 NLT)
It takes years for us to grow to adulthood, and it takes a full season for fruit to mature and ripen. The same is true for the fruit of the Spirit. The development of Christlike character cannot be rushed. Spiritual growth, like physical growth, takes time.
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