Spiritual Gifts Must Be Practiced
“Follow after charity, and desire spiritual gifts, but rather that ye may prophesy.” 1 Corinthians 14:1
All the gifts of the Spirit operate by faith and all true faith in God is motivated by love. Therefore, every gift that is effective in ministry must also be motivated by love. When our gifts are motivated by love and acted on by faith then the Spirit of God rests on all that we do, and in all God is glorified and those who receive those gifts are blessed. But a gift is not a gift until it is given. A present is similar to a gift in that it is not a present until it is passed on to the recipient. But the gifts we speak of here are not just one time occasional remembrances like birthday, anniversary or friendship expressions. The gifts that come from God are special abilities and insights that are not gained by self will. They must be imparted to the recipient by God alone. They must be given by Him.
Now we know that God has given all kinds of gifts to His people. Indeed the DNA of every human being is stamped with what God has instilled of His gifts, special abilities, talents and skills, to bless every human being with a purpose and an ability that they can uniquely use to worship Him. Also, in the operation and use of those gifts for the benefit of others the giver will also be blessed. The butcher, the baker the candlestick maker all make their living by their gifts from God.
But the gifts of God are primarily, (and some are exclusively) intended for God’s purpose alone. Some gifts (special abilities) are inherent in certain people and become evident in them at an early age, such as the ability to play a musical instrument, to dance with unusual flexibility, to move the body in beautiful and expressive ways, the ability to speak eloquently and dynamically, the ability to solve complex mathematical problems, the ability to make people laugh, the ability to discern and interpret spiritual matters, especially before they are manifested, the ability to create art, to speak various languages, to design tools and ornamental things that adorn other things, the ability to run faster, jump higher, be stronger, Citius (Faster) Altius (Higher) Fortius (Stronger)all are gifts from God.
Every gift has its seasons in which it must first be cultivated, developed, practiced, tried and retried over time, then pursued with diligence, dedication and discipline. As it is with the gifted athlete, the gifted musician, artist, architect, inventor or physician, whose crafts must be practiced and perfected over time, so it is with the gifts of the Spirit, and the gifts of ministry.
The gifts of the Holy Spirit are: 1) the word of wisdom, 2) the word of knowledge, 3) extraordinary faith, 4) gifts of healings, 5) working of miracles, 6) prophecy, 7) discerning of spirits, 8) the gift of tongues, and 9) the interpretation of tongues. These nine gifts listed in 1 Corinthians 12:1-12 are given by the Holy Spirit.
In Romans 12 we find a list of gifts that God has given for the sake of the body Of Christ. 1) Ministry, 2) Prophecy, 3) Teaching, 4) Exhortation, 5) Giving, 6) Ruling (Leadership) and 7) Mercy. [Romans 12:3-8]
In Ephesians 4 Jesus gives gifts of those within the Church, 1) Apostles, 2) Prophets, 3) Evangelists, 4) Pastors and 5) Teachers.
“And His gifts were [varied; He Himself appointed and gave men to us] some to be apostles (special messengers), some prophets (inspired preachers and expounders), some evangelists (preachers of the Gospel, traveling missionaries), some pastors (shepherds of His flock) and teachers.” Ephesians 4:11 AMP
So we have received Gifts from The Holy Spirit, from God The Father, and from Jesus Christ, The Son, our Lord. All of these gifts are unique in their purpose and function, but all are from the same source, God, and are needful for the whole body of Christ to function in the fulness of its God-breathed purpose.
“And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins. Use hospitality one to another without grudging. As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.” 1 Peter 4:8-10
All of the gifts of the Spirit, the gifts of God, the Gifts of Jesus operate by faith, motivated by love. And they are only manifested by the will and actions of the ones to whom the gift has been given. The person(s) possessing any of these gifts will never be coerced into expressing them as by some force taking over their minds and will and making them to do or say something they don’t want to do or say. But the exercising of every gift rests solely in the will of the one who possesses the gift.
“For in this way you can give testimony [prophesying and thus interpreting the divine will and purpose] one by one, so that all may be instructed and all may be stimulated and encouraged; for the spirits of the prophets (the speakers in tongues) are under the speaker’s control [and subject to being silenced as may be necessary], for He [Who is the source of their prophesying] is not a God of confusion and disorder but of peace and order. As [is the practice] in all the churches of the saints (God’s people)…” 1 Corinthians 14:31-33 AMP
Have you sensed God calling you to some act of ministry of the gifts listed above? Have you desired to prophecy, to speak in tongues, to interpret tongues, to exhort another person or a small gathering, or the whole church? Have you heard a Word from the Lord concerning a situation, a person or received a special insight into something pending, but you’ve hesitated to act on it? It may be that you need to be encouraged to know that what you have received is from the Lord. How do you do that? How do you know?
If you’ve never prophesied before or exhorted others to good works, know first of all that God is pleased with those who desire to bless His people. It is ok and indeed it is commanded of us to test the spirits of the things we receive, to know if they are from God or from the devil.
God has given you people you can trust to speak honestly and compassionately with you, without any hint of condemnation. Seek out one of those people and as ask for their counsel where what you have received is concerned. Caution: do not just share your innermost thoughts with a novice or someone who only appears to be spiritual but is still young in the faith and not yet subject to the discipline of confidentiality and discretion.
Seek out a mature brother or sister who has matured in the love of God and the knowledge of His Word. Your Pastor should be that kind of person, but there are also others whom you have observed are consistent in their faith and their actions over time. Seek them out prayerfully and share with them what God has spoken to you. If they affirm that what you have heard is consistent with the Word and Character of God, then by faith give what you have received to the person, group, situation or the Church as the Spirit of God prompts you.
Don’t be afraid to speak when you have a Word of prophecy, exhortation or comfort. God is with you and He will not cause you to be embarrassed or ashamed, but you will be a blessing to those He loves
The basic rule of thumb or test of a word received should always be 1) is it pure, 2) is it peaceful, 3) is it gentle 4) is it easy to understand, 5) is it merciful and full of the fruit that gives life, 6) is it impartial and generous toward all?
Simply put, will it bless, not curse and not condemn the hearer? As you mature in your walk of faith you will know how to discern within you the authenticity of the gifts of the Spirit. But you must begin to exercise your gifts little by little practicing them until they flow easily in and through you. If you miss it or say something that doesn’t turn out to be accurate the first few times, don’t give up. Keep seeking the Lord and his Word. The more knowledge of the nature and character of God you receive by knowing His Word, the more accurate and true your gift of prophecy and exhortation will become.
Finally, remember what the Scriptures teach us concerning the creation of all things. First we know and understand by faith that the worlds were formed by the Word of God.
“Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.” Hebrews 11:3
And we know that God calls things that are not as though they were.
“As it is written, I have made you the father of many nations. [He was appointed our father] in the sight of God in Whom he believed, Who gives life to the dead and speaks of the nonexistent things that [He has foretold and promised] as if they [already] existed.” Romans 4:17 AMP
So then, as the children of God we can as imitators of our Father also call those things that are not as though they were and in doing so speak them into existence.
We can speak life into any situation. We can lift souls with words of encouragement and positive affirmation. We can set the course of a child’s life by the words we speak over them even from the womb and beyond. We who belong to Christ and are possessed of the Holy Spirit have within our mouth blessings from God to be distributed freely and generously to all.
The mouth of the world is filled with lies, condemnation and cursing and they speak it freely and loudly often. But we are possessed with the Words of life and that more abundantly. We will counter all the lies of the enemies and thwart all his plans by the words we speak to bring blessing and not cursing, words that bring life and not death.
“Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and they who indulge in it shall eat the fruit of it [for death or life].” Proverbs 18:21
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
Here’s a little song from many years ago to edify you today.