This week, as we wrap up our exploration of the Holy Spirit, we’ll be taking a closer look Gifts that DO, Gifts that SPEAK, and Gifts that DEMONSTRATE. We’ll be taking two days to learn and reflect on each of these groups of gifts, so this week has SIX readings instead of the usual five. But it’ll be worth it! Read on!
Day 1: Gifts that Do – The WORK of Jesus
Read Acts 6:1-7
The story of the calling together of the Church’s first deacons is a perfect example of what we at The Well call, “Gifts that DO”. The widows of Greek descent were somehow being overlooked when the community’s food was being handed out. So people were needed to organize and distribute the food in a better way. Now it’s possible to interpret The Twelve’s comment about “waiting on tables” as condescending. But if we read it in context, it’s clear that they were doing nothing of the sort. The job – though practical and behind the scenes — required people who were full of the Spirit and of wisdom. It wasn’t just warm bodies they were looking for. It was people who would be gifted and humble enough to strengthen the church from the bottom. And it seems as though this very act had an impact in causing the church to grow rapidly, having a great influence even on people with power!
This is just one example of “Gifts that DO”. But the Spirit is in the business of moving us into action in all sorts of ways! Each of these gifts involve practical, hands-on activity. Gifts that “DO” strengthen the church by either leading people into action or supporting people through action. Some of these gifts work best in an “up front” role, some are behind the scenes. None are better or more valuable than others, but they’re all needed in a healthy church body, because they all bring to life the WORK OF JESUS among us.
Each one of the GIFTS THAT DO is an expression of Christ Himself.
Jesus is the Generous Giver, who gave himself completely for us and held nothing back from us.
Jesus is the Merciful One, who crossed the line between heaven and earth to rescue us from our sin and brokenness.
Jesus is the Humble Helper, who never came for power or position, and who humbly and faithfully serves and sustains us by His grace.
Jesus is our Great Leader, who carries the great burden of our sin, and the even greater vision of our sanctification. He calls us to follow Him.
Jesus is the Ultimate Apostle, the Sent One from God, who left his home in heaven to make for himself a new people on earth.
Jesus is our Good Shepherd, who feeds and cares for his sheep, and ultimately who laid down his life for them.
As Jesus is each one of these things to us, the Spirit can make it possible for Jesus to be these things through us. And whether we think we have any of these spiritual gifts or not, we are all called to most of these roles at one point in our lives or another. So it is life-giving to know that we are not merely serving for Jesus when we serve in these ways, we are actually revealing Him.
- How might it change the way you serve if you think of your practical service as “revealing Jesus”?
- Write a prayer of response thanking Jesus that He is everything listed above, and that He gives you the privilege of sharing in His WORK for others.
Day 2: Gifts that DO – The Work of Jesus (Part II)
Here’s a list, with a brief description, of all the “Gifts that DO” that are mentioned in the pages of the Bible.
MERCY: moving towards the hurting, needy, weak, marginalized and victimized, revealing Jesus’ compassion (face to face)
HELPS: Assisting others in many practical ways, with energy and joy, revealing the servant heart of Jesus (task, project, event)
GIVING/HOSPITALITY: Joyfully and consistently giving away money, time, food and friendship to reveal the radical grace and inclusion of God.
LEADERSHIP: Directing others with Vision, Influence and Inspiration towards God’s purposes and presence (“What” and “Why”)
ADMINISTRATION: Organizing and Coordinating individuals and communities towards God-directed outcomes (“How” and “When”)
SHEPHERDING: Coming alongside individuals and communities to help them see, know and follow God more closely (“Who”)
APOSTLESHIP: Pioneering, Mobilizing and Influencing communities/movements to expand God’s Kingdom regionally and globally
- As you reflect on each of these gifts, which ones do you see most clearly operating in our church community? Take some time to thank God for the ways that He is WORKING and the things He is DOING through His people.
- Take some time speak with Jesus. Ask Him what our church would look like if more of these gifts were active in the life of our church community. Ask Him to pour out His Spirit on our community so that more of the “Gifts that DO” would be alive and active through us.
Day 3: Gifts that Speak – The WORDS of Jesus
Why is it so significant that the church is meant to be a community full of “Gifts that SPEAK”? Because God is a God who speaks. And God speaks because He wants to be known. At the very beginning of creation, God spoke the world into existence, and gave it to humanity so they might know the greatness of his goodness and love. God has spoken throughout the generations through His Word, to reveal more and more of Himself, and to lead His people in the way they should go. And ultimately, God has spoken through His Son, Jesus the Living Word, who is the “radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being” (Heb. 1:3).
When Jesus came, he came with all the Spirit’s gifts. He came as a teacher, and many called him by that name (Rabbi). He opened up the Word of God, and showed how all of God’s Words before Him ultimately pointed to Him.
He came as an encourager and exhorter, one who wasn’t content to remain in heaven, throwing out orders and commands. But instead, he chose to walk alongside us, call us friends (John 15:15), encourage, comfort, and exhort us to follow him. 1 John 2:1 even gives Jesus the name, Encourager: And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate (“paracletos” or Encourager) with the Father, Jesus Christ, the righteous.
And He came as the messenger of Good News – an evangelist. He said, “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” (Luke 4:18-19).
And even to this day, Jesus continues to pray for us, as he “always lives to intercede” for those who draw near to God through him (Heb. 7:25).
And now, through the Holy Spirit, God’s intent is that the church and the world would continue to be blessed by the gifts of teaching, encouragement, exhortation, evangelism, and intercession. We are given the gift of teaching so that we can come to know and understand God’s transforming Word. We are given the gift of encouragement so we can be strengthened to live obediently to God’s Word. We are given the gift of evangelism so that people who do not yet know God, can hear for themselves His message of transforming love in Christ. And we are given the gift of intercession so we can call on the power of God work in all these ways and more.
- Ask Jesus: Is there any way you want to use me in being a gift that speaks? Is there some one or some way that Jesus wants me to teach, encourage, exhort, share the good news, or intercede for?
- Who do you know who has been a “gift that speaks” to you? Write out a prayer that God would continue to use that person (or people) to make Jesus more fully known to people around them.
Day 4: Gifts that SPEAK – The Words of Jesus (Part II)
Here’s a list, with a brief description, of all the “Gifts that SPEAK” that are mentioned in the pages of the Bible.
TEACHING: Explaining God’s word to people in a way that helps them understand what it means, and creates a desire in them to live according to it.
ENCOURAGEMENT: Using words, prayer and scripture such that others are strengthened and inspired as they seek to follow Christ.
EXHORTATION: Using words, prayer and scripture to call out or call back people to put their trust in Jesus and obey God’s Kingdom ways.
EVANGELISM: Communicating in various ways to those who do not know Jesus, which results in them receiving His offer of salvation and reconciliation.
INTERCESSION: Praying with and for both believers and non-believers such that they experience the loving presence, power and provision of God in their lives.
- As you reflect on each of these gifts, which ones do you see most clearly operating in our church community? Take some time to thank God for the ways that He is SPEAKING through His people.
- Take some time speak with Jesus. Ask Him what our church would look like if more of these gifts were active in the life of our church community. Ask Him to pour out His Spirit on our community so that more of the “Gifts that SPEAK” would be alive and active through us.
Gifts that DEMONSTRATE – The Presence & Power of Jesus
In one sense all of the spiritual gifts are “Gifts that DEMONSTRATE” the presence and power of God. But what makes the demonstration unique for these gifts? Well, one way is that the gifts that are in this group can sometimes be used (or abused) to demonstrate the spiritual power or authority of an individual. But that is not what they are intended for. Rather, these gifts demonstrate that the restoring work of God has begun in Christ and the New Creation is breaking in, even through our weaknesses.
And in fact, if these gifts are to be properly used in the church it must start here – with weakness.
Knowledge is not special knowledge which we ourselves possess. It is given knowledge with which we are entrusted. No strength of our own can lay claim to it. No use of knowledge can go beyond humility without betraying the Source of that knowledge.
Wisdom is not moral or intellectual superiority. It is the weakness of the cross. With the cross as its foundation, how can we think that we are wise on our own? The gift and its use are to be cross-shaped.
Faith is complete dependence when things are beyond your control – the epitome of weakness. How can there be superiority in simply believing what is already true?
Healing is the natural extension of faith bringing wholeness to a weakened world. If there is no weakness what needs to be healed? But the gift of healing is also out of weakness unto weakness.
Tongues is the weakness of not even being able to pray. The cry for help when we can’t even cry. God calling out to God through our weakness.
Prophesy, like healing, is from weakness unto weakness. Whether for encouragement or rebuke, no prophet can bring forth a response to their message; a message which was not their own, not from their own knowledge. And only the weak can respond to the message, because to respond is to turn in weakness from the strength of one’s own way, to the way of another.
Do you see how these gifts are the farthest things from exhibition or control? To be sure, there is power involved but it is the power of the cross. This is the true wisdom of the gifts in which we must live. These gifts certainly demonstrate, but it is not a demonstration of our own greatness or strength. Rather, it is a demonstration of God’s New Creation breaking in, revealing Christ Himself who is “making all things new” (Rev. 21:5).
- Take some time to offer your weaknesses (needs, limitations, sin, etc.) – and the weaknesses of our church community – to Jesus. Ask Him to work in His power, even in light of our weaknesses.
- Who do you know who has been a “Gift that DEMONSTRATES” to you? Write out a prayer that God would continue to use that person (or people) to make Jesus more fully known to people around them.
Day 6: Gifts that DEMONSTRATE – The Presence & Power of Jesus (Part II)
Here’s a list, with a brief description, of all the “Gifts that DEMONSTRATE” that are mentioned in the pages of the Bible.
WISDOM: Speaking truth or the application of biblical instruction into a given situation which brings clarity to God’s voice and affirms His good will.
KNOWLEDGE: The capacity to supernaturally perceive revealed knowledge from God which otherwise could not be known, which reveals the presence and power of Jesus.
FAITH: A supernatural confidence that God intends to do something and to trust God for it until he brings it to pass.
PROPHECY: Words to a community or person either of predictive nature or a situational word from God to correct, redirect or exhort His people.
HEALING: The supernatural release of the healing power of Jesus for relief/cure of emotional, physical and mental illnesses.
MIRACLES: The releasing of God’s supernatural power so that His miraculous intervention is revealed, for the purpose of confirming the authenticity and reality of Jesus.
DISCERNMENT: The ability to see/perceive the presence of good and evil, in the spiritual realm, as well as what is happening beneath the surface in relationships and situations.
TONGUES: Speaking in another or unknown language to a community, for the purpose of communicating the gospel to a new people group, or for revealing Christ’s wisdom, power or presence to His Church.
INTERPRETATION OF TONGUES: The ability to interpret for the community a message given in a different tongue, so that all can understand what it means. This gift authenticates the message given in a different tongue.
- As you reflect on each of these gifts, which ones do you see most clearly operating in our church community? Take some time to thank God for the ways that He is DEMONSTRATING His presence and power through His people.
- Take some time speak with Jesus. Ask Him what our church would look like if more of these gifts were active in the life of our church community. Ask Him to pour out His Spirit on our community so that more of the “Gifts that DEMONSTRATE” would be alive and active through us.