Sunday, January 29, 2012

Spiritual Gifts

For the last month, our church has been studying Spiritual Gifts on Sunday mornings. Here's a chart I shared today that helps harmonize the gifts between the various Scripture passages where they appear. In total, there seem to be around 18 spiritual gifts listed in the New Testament.

Last week, we studied the Speaking Gifts, and today we introduced the Serving Gifts. If you've missed any of our studies, you can catch them on our sermon podcast. For those who want to go deeper on the subject of spiritual gifts, I would commend these books to you:
  • Dynamics of Spiritual Gifts by William McRae. This classic work defines a biblical 'gift,' shows how they are distributed throughout the Body, and provides an insightful look at each individual gift. McRae then gives helpful advice on discovering your own gift and how to cultivate your gift and the gifts of others.
  • Understanding Spiritual Gifts by Robert L. Thomas. This is essentially an exegetical commentary on 1 Corinthians 12-14, followed by some very helpful appendices such as the meaning of "the perfect" in 1 Corinthians 13:10; a critique of Wayne Grudem's The Gift of Prophecy in the New Testament and Today; and a detailed description of the Eighteen Spiritual Gifts listed in the NT. Makes a strong case for cessationism.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Enjoy the Word

A family was driving through Florida and decided to stop for breakfast. Climbing out of the car, they were greeted by the scent of fresh oranges and saw hundreds of citrus trees loaded with fruit.

Inside the diner, they eagerly ordered eggs and a cup of orange juice. “I’m sorry,” the waitress replied. “I can’t bring you orange juice. Our machine is broken today.” What a tragedy! Right outside were hundreds of ripe oranges, but no one could get a simple cup of juice.

Did you know many people suffer from a similar spiritual problem? The Bible is full of comfort and guidance. It’s like a ripe orange ready to be enjoyed. But many never learn to extract its juice.

Some say in despair, “I’d try reading the Bible, but I don’t know where to start. It’s just so big and confusing!” Here are a few steps to help you begin to enjoy God’s Word:
  1. Get a Bible. Blow the dust off that Bible, find a version online, or run down to the store and get a copy. If cost is an issue, just stop by your local church. They’d be delighted to give you one!
  2. Pick a book. The Bible is one book made up of 66 smaller books. You’ve got to start somewhere, so I’d suggest the Gospel of John. It’s a gripping account of Jesus Christ, who is the hero of the entire Bible. But other books like Genesis, Luke, or Romans are great places to start too. You really can’t go wrong in your choice. After all, it’s God’s Word!
  3. Ask three questions. When doing Bible study, take a paragraph at a time. Say a prayer and ask “What does it say?” Look at the facts. Study the setting. Make observations and put it in your own words. Then ask, “What does it mean?” Try to interpret what the author was saying to his original audience. Finally ask, “What does it mean for me?” After we’ve learned the meaning of a passage, God wants us to apply it. It’s not enough just to learn facts about God. He calls us to know Him personally and to live for Him. His Word was intended to change us. As Jesus said, “Everyone who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock” (Matthew 7:24).
So get a Bible. Pick a book. Ask three questions. And discover something even more wonderful than freshly squeezed orange juice -- living water for your soul.

Today's article first appeared in this week's Minister's Message of our local newspaper, The Hi Desert Star.
Photo credit: greenzowie

New Blog

Today I'm closing up shop and launching a new blog called Pinch of Clay. You can visit it by clicking here . Please stop by and...