Friday, April 24, 2015

Teach us to pray, part 59: Manifestations of the Spirit

If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?" (Luke 11:13 NASB)

But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, and to another the word of knowledge according to the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit, and to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, and to another the effecting of miracles, and to another prophecy, and to another the distinguishing of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, and to another the interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills. For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ. (1 Corinthians 12:7-12 NASB)

We are continuing our study of the gift of the Holy Spirit. Jesus was clear that the Holy Spirit would be given to us in response to our desire (our asking) for it. We saw yesterday that Jesus did not leave us as orphans, but sent the Spirit to be with us, to comfort us and teach us. If you missed that post, you can read it here. Today we are looking at the manifestations of the Spirit.

Before we go any further, there are a few things we need to understand. 
1) Jesus promised the gift of the Holy Spirit and He expected that we would embrace Him.
2) The work of the Holy Spirit in the life of a disciple of Christ is not optional. If the Holy Spirit is not at work in ours lives, we need to ask our Lord why not, and do it with haste.
3) We serve a God of order and not confusion. Manifestations of the Spirit are not intended to create havoc, but they are not meant to be avoided, either.

With that in mind, let's look at this very exciting bit of truth.

But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.

Paul made it clear at beginning of this section that the manifestation of the Spirit is given "to each one". If I am a disciple of Christ (and I am), God has given me a manifestation of the Spirit. If you are a disciple of Christ, God has given you a manifestation of the Spirit. We would do well to carefully consider the list above (more coming on the manifestations) and ask the Lord what He has given us. This becomes important because the manifestations (or gifts) are not given to us to hoard but to use.

These manifestations are also not given for entertainment or to make us proud of what we can do. These manifestations of the Spirit are for one reason: the common good. Taken together, the body of Christ has every gift needed to be the kind of vibrant, world-changing body our Lord intended. Does every church have people in the church with every one of these gifts? Yes. I believe they do. Certainly the body of Christ at large has every one of these manifestations.

There are those who believe that these manifestations were given only to "get the church started". If we have a God who ran out of power in the first century, we have a poor God, indeed. The good news is that we DO NOT have an out-of-power God. Almighty God continues to be omnipotent. He has quite enough power to continue giving manifestations of the Spirit today, and He is doing just that.

Let's look at a list of those manifestations of the Spirit (ways the Spirit is at work through us). They are: word of wisdom, word of knowledge, faith, healing, miracles, prophecy, distinguishing of spirits, speaking in tongues, interpretation of tongues. 

As disciples, the Spirit of our Omnipotent God is manifested in you and me. No one is left out. No one has missed the opportunity for the Spirit to work through us. For today, let's consider prayerfully in which of those ways the Spirit is manifested in us. Are we allowing the Spirit free reign in us? Are we allowing Him to use us for the common good of the body of Christ? If not, why not?