Glimpses of grace seen in the everyday

Posts tagged ‘spiritual gifts’

The Perfect Gift

gift box

I love finding the perfect gift for a loved one—something they’ll love and that tells them I care about them very much.  For my granddaughter it was a book about cats.  For my brother-in-law it was a package of caramel nut coffee. 

God gives gifts, too. He gives us life, breath, food and our basic needs every day.  But I’m thinking of the special abilities He gives His children to share with one another for each other’s benefit—commonly known as “spiritual gifts.”  Paul discusses these in 1 Corinthians 12 and 14, but right in between those chapters is the real jewel, described as “the way of life that is best of all” (12:31), “the greatest of these” (13:13) and “your highest goal” (14:1).  This is LOVE! 

Love is contrasted with the spiritual gifts which are variously given to different ones of God’s children; love is to be practiced by all of us.  This famous “love chapter” divides nicely into three parts:

1.  The priority of love. It’s indispensable!  As a child, I saw an advertisement for “the indispensable dress.”  I had to ask my mom what that meant, thinking that maybe it meant “indisposable”.  She said it means that you can’t do without it!  Well, I’ve done okay without that dress, but God says that whatever other good things we may do are totally worthless without love.  That’s sobering.

2.  The properties of love are presented in beautiful poetry in the middle part of this chapter. And just so I can test and see if I’m really a loving person, here’s the checklist: 

–Am I patient & kind with people who get on my nerves?
–Am I envious of what I don’t have or boastful about what I have or can do?
–Am I arrogant, rude, or self-seeking—or do I give priority to others’ needs and  feelings?
–Am I irritable or do I hold grudges—or am I a channel of God’s grace?
–Do I delight in what is good and true, or am I focused on lies, evil and injustice?
–Do I bear, believe, hope and endure all things—not naïve but trusting God while sharing my life and love with others?

3.  The permanence of love.  All other spiritual gifts will end “when the perfect comes” and we’re home in heaven. We won’t need preachers, prophets, healing, etc. We will be complete and whole.  Our love for one another and for the Lord will then be perfect as we bask in the ecstasy of His immeasurable love for us. 

Where has the music gone?

Where has the music gone?  I mean the kind we made ourselves.  When I was growing up in a tiny country church, we had “special music” every Sunday morning AND every Sunday evening.  My dad, the pastor, had to arrange for all of it, and I remember him calling up different ones asking them if they would sing.  Sometimes it was a couple, sometimes a ladies’ duet or trio, or a solo, and not infrequently it was some of us kids singing duets or trios.  This is how my sisters and I got started—singing with each other, with friends and later with our mom.  We had those old “Favorites” songbooks we’d pore through, finding just the right song to sing.  And if it coordinated with the sermon, all the better.

That church was too small for a choir, but in the next church Dad pastored, we had an occasional choir.  And in the next one, Mom started and maintained a choir which she directed. 

Music that we made was an important part of our worship.  Why? Well, here are some possible reasons:

–It allowed us to develop and use our giftings for the Lord, even if we were not professional quality.  (You know the saying, “If only the best birds sang, the forest would be silent.”)

–It got us involved serving in the church, feeling a part of it.  We were active, not passive.

–It familiarized us with songs beyond those in our hymnbooks, those not designed for congregational singing.  I have a wealth of songs in my mind and heart from childhood—hundreds and maybe thousands.

–Some of us learned to sing parts.  (Unfortunately that didn’t include me—I’ve always stuck to the melody.)

How many churches have “special music” nowadays?  Why?  Are we missing out on something?  Does this affect us spiritually?  What do you think?

Living in an Insane World

If you want to get depressed, just read the headlines.  Horrible diseases, old and new enemies invading and terrorizing, environmental catastrophes, incredible violence inflicted by individuals on one another—and more! 

How can we who know the Lord live sanely in this insane world?  I found a four-fold plan in 1 Peter 4:7-10 that can keep our hearts at peace and our lives profitably occupied:

“The end of everything is near.  Therefore…”

1.  Practice self-control. (v. 7)

A healthy balance in all things; wise use of time and resources; curbing sinful & selfish impulses; being controlled by the Holy Spirit

2.  Keep my mind clear so I can pray. (v. 7)

Prayer is priority.  Shut out distracting “noise.”  Ask God to help me think about what is true, pure, and worthy.  Remember that prayer taps God’s power to accomplish His amazing purposes.

3.  Love other believers warmly. (v. 8-9)

Delight in serving them unselfishly.  Remember they are my brothers and sisters, much loved by our mutual Father. 

4.  Use the abilities God has given me to serve others and glorify God. (v. 10)

What are my gifts?  Speaking?  Showing kindness?  Helping?  Mentoring? Writing?  Music?  What about yours?

Focusing on these priorities will keep me too busy to worry and wring my hands.  For us who belong to the Lord, this life is a journey to heaven.  The destination brings hope and meaning to the trials along the way.

Here’s a beautiful song that I have come to love recently:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zEy018wXZI4

“Jesus Draw Me Ever Nearer”

Jesus draw me ever nearer
As I labour through the storm.
You have called me to this passage,
and I’ll follow, though I’m worn.

May this journey bring a blessing,
May I rise on wings of faith;
And at the end of my heart’s testing,
With Your likeness let me wake.

Jesus guide me through the tempest;
Keep my spirit staid and sure.
When the midnight meets the morning,
Let me love You even more.

Let the treasures of the trial                                 
Form within me as I go –
And at the end of this long passage,
Let me leave them at Your throne.

Music by Keith Getty; Words by Margaret Becker
Copyright © 2002 Thankyou Music

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