gifts (5)

The Power of Encouragement


Encouragement is a rare commodity. Strife and division abound in today’s culture, so much so that it seems things have never been worse. Even within the church, we find sharp divisions between believers over politics, doctrine, gifts, and personalities. Despite our call to love one another, Christians often doesn’t look much different from the world.

If the lack of encouragement and unity makes you wish Jesus would simply come and rapture us now, you might be surprised to know that two of the most respected leaders in the early Christian church encountered the same problemjust a few years after Jesus walked the earth! The source of their division was a man named John Mark.

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Sometimes God hands us a spiritual “Key:” a sign or token of our mastery of a gift we have or a role we play in the Kingdom of God.  For example, you might realize, as I did one day, that worship is your key to the throne room, and that when you praise Him you find breakthrough, peace, and renewal. Our strategies for the future come from this place, and our function within His Kingdom is often tied to this key. When we “turn the key” by using this gifting, others are mysteriously drawn to us, and enter into the Presence of God along with us.

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Regaining Ministry Focus

Without a doubt, we live in the most distracted and unfocused generation in history. I was in a meeting recently and got rebuked by someone who caught me checking emails on my phone and sending text messages. “Pay attention!” she told me. “It’s disrespectful to be looking at your phone while people are talking.”


Things only got worse when I tried to explain to her that I was simply “multitasking.” Yes, I’ve gotten good at multitasking, which also may mean I’ve gotten good at being unfocused in my life.


Lately I’ve been thinking about a problem I had with my showerhead many years ago. The bathtub lever that was supposed to divert water to the showerhead became defective. So instead of the normal gush of water through the showerhead, there was only a trickle. The rest of the water went down the bathtub drain.


I had been in showers before that trickled because of poor water pressure, but never had I seen one that had such high water pressure and yet insufficient water actually going to the showerhead. For a while I tried to just live with the situation, but soon the problem got worse and I had no alternative but to get it fixed.


I’ve discovered that God can teach us vital lessons even in the mundane situations we encounter in life, and that was definitely true about the defective shower mechanism. I saw that my life too often has been characterized by plenty of “water pressure,” but with a lot of the water going down the drain instead of toward my main priorities and calling. Although the living waters of the Spirit were present in abundance, they weren’t properly directed toward God’s primary purposes for my life.


I see many people trying to handle their lack of focus same way I initially tried to deal with my shower problem. It has been so long since they’ve had a good “shower,” they consider their situation the “new normal” and simply try to adjust to lower expectations. Or perhaps they’ve given up on taking showers—i.e., given up on their true calling—and have resigned themselves to taking baths instead.


Rather than resign ourselves to low expectations or an unfocused life, maybe it’s time to get the shower mechanism fixed. Instead of adjusting to a diversion of our energy in the wrong directions, maybe it’s time to adjust to this sobering but encouraging fact: God’s purpose for our lives has never changed


 This is exactly what Paul tells us Romans 11:29:   Isn’t it time that we adjusted everything else to THAT?


But what if your showerhead mechanism has been defective for years? How can you regain your life’s focus once it’s been lost? Look at how The Message translates Romans 11:29: “God’s gifts and God’s call are under full warranty—never canceled, never rescinded.”


Isn’t that good news? Your calling is under “full warranty”—and that warranty can never be cancelled or rescinded!


If your energy, time, and resources are being diverted away from your true purpose in life, don’t tolerate the situation any longer. It is time to divert the full force of living water toward what God has truly called you to do.


You can’t afford to allow the precious water of the Spirit to go down the drain any longer. If you find your showerhead is merely dripping, you need to take urgent steps to re-divert the full force of water toward your true calling.


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The Birthing of a Teen Intercessor

Recently, I was at a meeting with a team of us who will be headed to Costa Rica for a mission trip this summer and we were all sharing our testimonies.  Kyndell is a beautiful, sweet spirited, young woman who told us about how she grew up in a Christian home and how she thinks she's probably weird because she prays about everything and for everyone.  She teared up as she spoke and you could sense the passion within her.  She went on to say that she was hoping that the mission trip would help her to identify God's purpose for her life.  I couldn't help but smile at the gift of intercession that I see in her.  That little experience made me think about the importance of calling forth and nurturing the gifts that we see in those around us--especially in our young people.  I for one will be lifting up this young women in prayer and I'm looking forward to getting to know her better on our mission trip.


I remember an older woman in my church when I was a teenager who took a special interest in me after I made my profession of faith.  She gave me a cross necklace and promised to pray for me.  I can't tell you how much that meant to me--especially since I did not have parents or any family members who were Christians.


How about you, is there a teen that you can encourage, bless, and help bring forth the giftings that God has placed in them?

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Satan lies about the Holy Spirit

In Luke 11:9-13 Jesus asks us to ask, seek and knock -- in other words, pray. What for? in Verse 13 Jesus says it's Gifts from the Holy Spirit! How many of us pray for more Spiritual Gifts? In 1 Cor. 12:31 Paul tells us to earnestly desire the Spiritual Gifts, evidently by prayer. In 1 Cor. 14:1 Paul tells us again to desire the Spiritual Gifts, especially that we may prophesy.

In James 1:5-6, James tells us how to get the gift of Wisdom. We do it through the prayer of faith. That must hold true for the rest of the gifts.

In 1 Cor. 12:29-30 Paul writes we may not get all the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Why not? In James 4:3, James wrote, "You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures." If the value of some of the gifts are going to corrupt us due to our lack of maturity, He may withhold them until our spiritual maturity catches up. In other words, keep asking, seeking and knocking. And take a spiritual gifts inventory on an annual level to see what else you have accumulated.
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