Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The gift of prophecy

This is the 4th and last post (for now) on 1 Corinthians 14:1, Follow the way of love and eagerly desire spiritual gifts, especially the gift of prophecy. 'Especially the gift of prophecy'... how do we apply that to our daily life?

Even if we don't know anything about the spiritual gifts as mentioned in 1 Corinthians 12, we can learn from the above mentioned scripture that we should at least desire the gift of prophecy. This is a gift that enables the believer to bring a word of revelation directly from God (who is in heaven) under the impulse of the Holy Spirit (who is in us). So, it is NOT the delivery of a previously prepared sermon and it is NOT the foretelling of the future. It is proclaiming God's will and exhorting and encouraging God's people to righteousness, faithfulness and endurance.

Many wild stories and ideas do go around the world when it comes to prophecy, I have collected some biblical basics, hope they will help:

  • The speaking of prophetic words is available for all believers (Acts 2:17)
  • The gift of prophecy will be given as God decides (1 Corinthians 12:10), but we are encouraged to eagerly desire this gift (1 Corinthians 14:1)
  • The appointing of prophets to build up the church is done by God (Ephesians 4:11)
  • Prophetic words are no longer infallible (as in Old Testament times) and must be tested (1 Corinthians 14:29 and 1 Thessalonians 5:20-21)
  • Speaking prophetic words is a matter of using our mind. It is one of the few practices (maybe the only one) wherein the Bible tells us to keep our spirit under control of our will/mind (1 Corinthians 14:32)
How do we test a prophetic word? For example by asking ourselves whether it conforms God's Word, whether it promotes Godly living and whether it is uttered by a person who is sincerely living under Christ's Lordship.

How do we desire the gift of prophecy? I believe by asking for it in prayer and then by studying what the Word has to say about it. God has always desired and is still desiring to speak through ordinary people like you and me... through His Word, but also LIVE!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Eagerly desire...

This is already the 3rd post I am writing about 1 Corinthians 14:1. There is such depth and insight in that single verse, Follow the way of love, and eagerly desire spiritual gifts, especially the gift of prophecy.

'Eagerly desire spiritual gifts'. It's kind of weird, but when I think of the words 'eagerly desire' I tend to think of selfish greed and of the pursuit of goals and longings... maybe that is just my interpretation of the English language and a bit negative. The Webster dictionary says: excited by the desire in the pursuit of any object; ardent to pursue, perform, or obtain; keenly desirous; hotly longing; earnest; zealous; impetuous; vehement...

Now that paints a slightly different picture, it deals with excitement, zeal, and hunger. Why would Paul call the believers to eagerly desire spiritual gifts? Gifts can only be given, right? We can do nothing to earn them. Why desire something that is up to God to distribute? As human beings we often eagerly desire many things, but I do not meet too many people who eagerly desire spiritual gifts. Personally, I think Paul is referring to his earlier statement as written down in 1 Corinthians 12:1, Now, about spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be ignorant. We are NOT supposed to be ignorant when it comes to spiritual gifts. Why not? Because the spiritual gifts must be used to build up the church. If we are ignorant about the spiritual gifts, how can we build up and strengthen the church? It is no wonder we see churches falling apart, believers lacking power and not many miracles done. That is not God's fault, but ours... because often we are ignorant.

If you desire to build up and strenghten the church, the body of Christ on earth, then please do not hesitate to study the Word about spiritual gifts and start to use what God will give you! Talk with someone who is studying the same thing, read a good book about it with the Bible as reference and most of all... pray that the Holy Spirit will enlighten you, He is after all your teacher.

But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you (John 14:26).

Monday, January 23, 2012

The Way

Last week I started to dig deeper into 1 Corinthians 14:1 within the context of the surrounding chapters. Why? Because we can find so much more behind the words than we see at first sight:

Follow the way of love, and eagerly desire spiritual gifts, especially the gift op prophecy.
[1 Corinthians 14:1]

Paul starts with a very clear commandment: follow the way of love. In doing so he points back to his words preceding the 13th chapter, and now I will show you the most excellent way. This way is the way of love. The word WAY here is the same word that Jesus used to describe Himself with: I am the way, the truth, and the life (see John 14:6). In the Greek language that is the word hodos (road, path, a general term for a thoroughfare to get from one place to another, manner of life). The way of love is the way of Jesus and not a road we think is popular or convenient. The way of love is living the way Jesus lived; humble, compassionate, serving, gracious and loving. That is never the easiest way, but it is an excellent way.

It is interesting to learn that the first believers in the book of Acts were called 'people who belonged to the Way' (see Acts 9:2). Again that same Greek word hodos. They were known as people who followed the Way, the way of love. When we think of Christians following Jesus, walking the narrow road, we often think of a road full of trouble and difficulties, a road with many restrictions and no fun. But that narrow road is actually the way, the path of love. Divine love with the characteristics as summed up by Paul.

I desire that we will be known again as people who belong to the Way, as people who follow the way of love!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Guest at Heading Home

Today I am honored to be a guest at Lynn Mosher's blog Heading Home.

She posted my article The Essentials. Have you ever packed your suitcase too full? Have you ever been on a trip where you discovered your luggage was way too heavy to carry? That is often how we plan a new day, week or even year too, way too much stuff. Hop on over to Lynn's and be blessed with some great tips to plan your time wisely. Enjoy and happy weekend!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Follow the way of love

Painting: Yvonne Nederend
As you may have noticed after reading my previous post, I am reading Paul's first letter to the believers in Corinth, Greece. This morning I lingered for the longest time at the beginning of chapter 14. Ah, such treasure in a single verse! I kept reading and re-reading it and discovered the riches behind the words. Please, read with me:

Follow the way of love, and eagerly desire spiritual gifts, especially the gift op prophecy.
[1 Corinthians 14:1]

I decided to write a series of posts on this single verse in the context of the surrounding chapters. Today I would like to start with just the first few words of that scripture: follow the way of love. Paul refers here to his words preceding the 13th chapter: and now I will show you the most excellent way. That way is the way of love. What does it exactly mean to follow the way of love? When reading the 13th chapter you will notice that it sums up the characteristics of godly love. I am glad Paul gave us this summary, so we will know what to follow. Following the way of love means that we must learn to

  • be patient
  • and kind
  • not to be envious
  • not boastful
  • not proud
  • not rude
  • not self seeking and
  • not easily angered
Following the way of love also means that we should not keep record of wrongs, that we do not delight in evil, but that we rejoice with the truth. Following the way of love means that we can learn to always protect, always trust, always hope and always persevere. Well, I have enough food for thought for the next couple of days, and I hope you will too. In my next post I will continue to unravel this particular verse. Until then... choose the most excellent way on purpose!

PS: Painting 'My heart for Jesus' can be seen at Yvonne's weblog Creative Worship.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Church as we know it

The church as we know it is in trouble, big time. Not because of persecution or hardships, but because we've made a mess of things and we forgot to read the Book. There's fighting, debating, corruption, abuse and apathy, all at the same time. The media loves it and Jesus is crying. He must be, because the church was His idea!

The church as the body of Christ on earth, now that He is in heaven, what a brilliant idea. His work continues, we're moving, loving, serving and working. The church, His beloved bride to be. Where did we go wrong? We do know the church the Bible talks about is not a building, but a group of believers coming together. Yet, often we don't know how we should be coming together. Of course, we have programs on how to plant a church, maintain a church,  emerge a church, do church and even on how to grow a church. We have traditional, contemporary, Spanish, renewal, healing and worship services. We have services for young and old, for kids and teens, for seniors and singles. You name it, we'll make it happen, you'll get a comfortable seat and feel right at home.

I am studying 1 Corinthians 12 and when I came to verse 28 I thought about the people that we think should make up a church: a pastor, some elders, a worship team, Sunday school teachers and a deacon here and there. That would be a good start, right? Hopefully the pews will fill up with people who are willing to sit still and listen. However, according to what Paul writes to the Corinthians, church should be a little different:

  • And in the church God has appointed first of all apostles,
  • second prophets,
  • third teachers,
  • then workers of miracles,
  • also those having gifts of healing,
  • those able to help others,
  • those with gifts of administration,
  • and those speaking in different kind of tongues.
Hhmm, when was the last time you saw a worker of miracles in your church? I mean, seriously! Or a prophet? Let's be honest, do we really take these instructions seriously? If God appoints these people, where are they? Are you one of them maybe?

I know the Bible says a lot more about gifts and services in the church, but in this Scripture Paul writes very clearly about the 8 kind of workers God appoints in the church, any church... Can you imagine what church would be like if we would operate in these gifts whenever we would come together? Wow...

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Daily bread or more?

Over the past few years every January I picked a motto or scripture to meditate on and adapt as sort of a life lesson.

The other day I visited Lynn Mosher's blog Heading Home and noticed she picked a word, yes... one word! I thought that was very interesting. At first I wanted to skip picking a motto for this year, but then this morning two words came into my mind, words that I've been toiling with for the past several weeks: daily bread. And yes, I am in... I desire to learn more about our daily bread: literally, spiritually, and emotionally.

What's with daily bread? When Jesus taught his disciples to pray, He also taught them important Kingdom principles. He shared with them how to rely on God's provision on a daily basis, and we can still do so today. Give us today our daily bread (Matthew 6:11) is not a question, it is a statement or a proclamation. For most of us in the Western world daily bread is not something we worry about, we go to the store and buy it, so for many people the prayer has lost some of it's meaning. When growing up I always thought it was weird to pray for something that was already on my plate :)

But of course 'daily bread' is more than the food on our table, it is God's Word and it is daily provision. I must admit that when I pray for God's daily provision in my life, I have a tendency to also pray for needs I can see coming up in the next week or next month. I get ahead of things and that is why this year I want to concentrate on this part of the Lord's prayer and learn more and more to rely on His provision on a daily basis. Praying for what I need today, whether that is healing, wisdom, money, peace, endurance or favor, and NOT for what I think I will be needing tomorrow or later on this month. Proverbs 30:8 says: Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Such wisdom in those ancient words. Have you learned to trust Him on a daily basis? Please share...

Jesus said: I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. (John 6:35)

Monday, January 09, 2012

Give-away at Diane Estrella's blog

This week Diane Estrella is giving away a copy of my latest book Grace of Giving on her blog. Personally, I love give-aways and I have won some great reads in the past, it really adds to the blogging experience. And let's face it, a book with such a title needs to be given away :)

If you would like to enter the give-away, which is up and running until January 16th, 2012, you can click HERE. It's free and it's fun.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Interview with Diane Estrella

At the beginning of a new year I am so honored to host an interview with fellow blogger and book lover Diane Estrella. You do not want to miss this. Diane always has the coolest give-away's on her blog as well as tons of other great stuff for readers and writers alike!

Please, introduce yourself… anything special we need to know about Diane Estrella? 
I’m Diane Estrella, wife, cool home-schooling mom, aspiring children’s writer, part-time blogger, (full-time social media recreationalist) and semi-professional encourager. I never knew what I wanted to be when I grew up and I’m still not sure. I do love connecting people, writers, businesses, and anyone trying to turn their dreams into a reality though. I’m hoping that my epitaph will be that I lived and even made a difference in this crazy, mixed-up world. I’m good for a moments distraction from life, and any help I can be to others. That’s my purpose….That’s what I’m here for….. Like, totally! (That's my Big 80's Valley Girl-ness coming through.) 

How and when did you start your blog/website? 
My blog started up in May of 2009.... aaaack! Time goes fast! I started out with blogger and then switched over to Wordpress. I had some moving jitters but am glad I made the jump. 

What is your drive behind blogging? What do you hope to accomplish? 
Initially, I just wanted to be "out there" and be heard. The biggest struggle I have had with my blog is figuring out what my "niche" is. It's kind of hilarious to me that I can write a post on Finding your blog's niche, but I can't find my own. I guess I see it as, I am good at and like a lot of things, but not great or love any one thing the most. This is where the "That's What I'm Here For...." byline got it's start. If you need a laugh, advice, book or product promotion, encouragement, etc. then "That's What I'm Here For...."! Whatever you need, I'll try to fill it for ya. I guess like many others, I hope to either make money from my blog or use it as a springboard for my writing and when I become a published author. 

You are an aspiring children’s writer. Tell us a little bit more about that, any specific dreams or goals? 
I have written two picture books and have started a series of chapter books for ages 7-11ish. They have a Magic Tree House feel to them, and is a mystery/adventure series. Each book will focus on one of the Fruits of the Spirit and in the final book the mystery will be solved and the treasure found. Although I love sci-fi stories, and it kind of has a "Goonies" feel to it, I wanted to write it as if it really could happen to any kid out there. 

What role does your faith in God play in your daily life, especially for you as a home schooling mom?
We began homeschooling my son in January of 2010. We pulled him out of school because of some social difficulties he was having. We left our daughter in to finish out the school year. This is the first "official" year I am homeschooling both of them. Each family has to do what is best for their situation. I am not pro-homeschooling or pro-public schooling. I prayed and told God, I would do whatever I had to do for my kids but my husband and I HAD to be in agreement with this one. Initially, my husband was opposed to it, but then when the difficulties continued he ended up being the one to suggest homeschooling to me. God knows what we need to do. When we put things in His hands, He leads and directs our steps. 

Top three on your ‘favorite books’ list… 
Too many to mention. Blogging has introduced me to so many great authors. I love the programs that the major publishers have set up where you can be sent a book for free, and you provide an honest review of it on your blog and also post the review on a commercial retail website (i.e. Amazon, etc.) I have some sites listed on my blog's sidebar where you can sign up. 

Top three struggles in your writing journey… 
Honestly..... My laziness is a big one. There are so many things that I can distract myself with, with not much effort.... My brain.... I wrote a blog post on a) even admitting I was a writer was hard enough and b) figuring out what kind of writer I am and not being ashamed or embarrassed by it. My blog! Keeping it up, doing research, getting giveaways together is like a part time job which I do love, but it is a lot of TIME. 

Do you have any authors or specific books that have been an inspiration to you? 
For me my thirst for reading, and unknowingly to be an author, started when my mom came home from a garage sale with this pile of Trixie Belden books. I was probably 10 at the time and a little too young to read them and really get them. I did, however, love the brightness of the hardcovers and the pictures within. I often would look through them. A few years later, I started reading them and instantly fell in love with Trixie and the whole gang. I actually loved them so much that I looked for the address of the publishing company and specifically wrote a letter to the author to tell her such. I did get a letter back from the publisher (probably more like a secretary that felt pity for me and my naivety) and it made me think more about the wonder of books. There is power in them to change, sculpt, persuade, and ultimately to dream, for myself and others. Wowza! 

Any words of encouragement to us bloggers? 
My all-time favorite quote was found on a sugar packet in a greasy diner. My sister made a cross-stitch out of it for me: Richard Martin Stern : If you have tried to do something and failed, you are vastly better off than if you had tried to do nothing and succeeded.. 
My favorite Bible passage is from Habakkuk 3: 17-19 
Though the fig tree may not blossom, Nor fruit be on the vines; Though the labor of the olive may fail, And the fields yield no food; Though the flock may be cut off from the fold, And there be no herd in the stalls— Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation. The LORD God is my strength; He will make my feet like deer’s feet, And He will make me walk on my high hills. 

Both speak of overcoming and not giving up, which I love!