Devotional Blog

1 Corinthians 13:3 
Assessing Your Spiritual Gifts for Spiritual Growth: Martyrdom

1 Corinthians 13:3 (NLT)
If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.

This week’s spiritual gift is martyrdom. The definition of martyrdom is to give over one's life to suffer or to be put to death for the cause of Christ.

Consider the following:
Rev. Dr. Lover wrote, “After Jesus’ ascension, the disciples were advancing Christianity to their own demise. The disciples and other followers were murdered and clearly Christianity was birth out of violence, persecution, imprisonment and ultimately martyrdom.” Another source wrote, “Christians did undoubtedly face hostility, arrest, and martyrdom from its inception, even if it tended to be sporadic and localized. For small fragile immunities, it would not take much in the way of opposition either from Jewish or Gentile sources to engender a feeling of fear, insecurity, and victimization, especially after the Neronic persecutions of 64 CE. In our scripture lesson, Paul, the author of 1 Corinthians, is talking about being betrayed, the willingness to die for Christ’s cause, being handed over to persecutors, and being martyred. Therefore, when we look at the spiritual gift of martyrdom, we are looking at individual’s who base on their belief will sacrifice their life. We see this historically as well as presently, particularly if you are not living in North America that people’s lives are still at stake when they proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ. Therefore, we know that being a disciple of Jesus and spreading the Good News is a part of being Christian. However, at what cost? We have heard many stories of people proudly that stated they are a Christian and then were slain. We have also heard about being people denying Christ to save their own lives. Thus, the spiritual gift of martyrdom is a gift which illustrates the true cost of being a Christian. 

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Special Pray against Violence

Hello FIRE Community, today we are taking a pause to pray a special prayer against violence. On July 28, 2019 there was a shooting in Gilroy, CA, on August 3, 2019 there was a shooting in El Paso, Texas, and on August 4, 2019 there was a shooting in Dayton Ohio. Three shootings in 7 days! Over 30 people killed and over 60 people wounded. 

1 Peter 3:9

 Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing.

Isaiah 60:18 (ESV)

Violence shall no more be heard in your land, devastation or destruction within your borders; you shall call your walls Salvation,  and your gates Praise.

Proverbs 3:29-31 (ESV)

Do not plan evil against your neighbor, who dwells trustingly beside you. Do not contend with a man for no reason, when he has done you no harm. Do not envy a man of violence and do not choose any of his ways,

Titus 3:2(ESV)

to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people.


Let us pray.

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Romans 12:8 
Assessing Your Spiritual Gifts for Spiritual Growth: Leadership

Romans 12:8 (NLT)
If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly.

Luke 22:24-27 (ESV)
A dispute also arose among them, as to which of them was to be regarded as the greatest. 25 rAnd he said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles sexercise lordship over them, and those in authority over them are called benefactors. 26 tBut not so with you. Rather, let sthe greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves. 27 For who is the greater, uone who reclines at table or one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at table? But vI am among you as the one who serves.

This week’s spiritual gift is leadership. The definition of leadership to stand before the people in such a way as to attend to the direction of the body with such care and diligence so as to motivate others to get involved in the accomplishment of these goals.


Consider the following:
In an article written by Lee June entitled, Servant Leadership, The Leadership Style of Jesus, it indicated that a “Servant Leader views themselves as a servant first” and that, “leadership is first a spiritual matter of the heart.” These concepts therefore undergird the leader’s motivation as well as their leadership goals. Jesus is the ultimate model for servant leadership and he possessed the following strengths: strength of self-mastery, strength of action, and strength of relationship. Although the author does not go into detail, I surmise the strength of self-mastery is knowing one’s strengths and weaknesses; the strength of action is knowing when to act and not to act; and the strength of relationship is knowing how to build an effective team and understand the strengths and weakness of the team members. In order to accomplish this, the leader is a visionary and is able to look for spiritual gifts in others that enables people to use what God has given them and to stay focus on executing God’s plan. As a reminder, a person who has the spiritual gift of administration develops strategies to accomplish the goal because they are more goal or task oriented, but the gift of leadership motivates others to work together in ways that help them achieve more together. In our scripture from Luke, we note that the Apostles were arguing over which one of them was the greatest and Jesus said, the one who serves is the greatest. Jesus reminded them that the definition of greatness is servant leadership. Today, I encourage you to be introspective and reflect on if you are a visionary who develops ideas, meaning, if God has given you the spiritual gift of leadership. If so, are you effectively using your spiritual gift and representing God well? Are you the leader who wants to be served or the leader who serves? Are you the leader that builds on the weaknesses of the team or continues to weaken the team?

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1 Corinthians 12:8 
Assessing Your Spiritual Gifts for Spiritual Growth: Knowledge

1 Corinthians 12:8 (NLT)
To one person the Spirit gives the ability to give wise advice; to another the same Spirit gives a message of special knowledge.

This week’s spiritual gift is knowledge. The definition of knowledge is to seek to learn as much about the Bible as possible through the gathering of much information and the analyzing of that data.


Consider the following:
Everyone has knowledge about some concept or topic. You can pick up a book, read research, or observe the environment and you would have obtained knowledge. However, similar to other spiritual gifts, a person receives the gift from God to bless others and build up the body of Christ. The spiritual gift of knowledge (Gnosis in Greek) is given to people to use to convert the facts and information gained  to translate it into applicable knowledge. In our scripture, it states that the Spirit gives a message of special knowledge. One source indicates that, “People possessing this gift can learn in a variety of ways, retain what they learn, and understand how learning can be applied in meaningful and productive ways. Those gifted with knowledge have a voracious and insatiable desire to learn more, and they seek multiple avenues for deepening their understanding of God’s world, God’s will, and God’s people.” Another source indicated that what can be concluded is, “the gift of knowledge is an understanding of the things in this world and in our lives that is founded in the Gospel and rooted in the Scriptures.” This second source continues by stating, “The Holy Spirit gives this spiritual gift to some believers to bring about understanding and to inform the church or individual believers.  The person with this gift is usually well-versed in the Scriptures and often has much committed to memory.  They can retain the truth and communicate it effectively at the appropriate times.  The gift of knowledge allows a believer to relate the Scriptures, and particularly the Gospel of Jesus Christ, to all aspects of life in this world.  They can see how it connects to every situation and circumstance and how the reality and truth of the Gospel is to inform every decision a Christian makes.” Overall, what makes the gift of knowledge a spiritual gift is the application of the learned information to the body of Christ and how to live holy. 

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1 Peter 4:8-10 
Assessing Your Spiritual Gifts for Spiritual Growth: Hospitality

1 Peter 4:8-10 (NLT)
Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins. Cheerfully share your home with those who need a meal or a place to stay. God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another.

This week’s spiritual gift is hospitality. The definition of hospitality warmly welcome people, even strangers, into one’s home or church as a means of serving those in need of food or lodging (Greek Word: philoxenos - love of strangers; 'philos'=love; 'xenos'=stranger).


Consider the following:
Similar to other spiritual gifts, a person receives the gift from God to bless others and build up the body of Christ. Likewise, whether we have this gift or not, we are to practice hospitality as Romans 12:13 (NIV) indicates, “Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.” To exercise hospitality is to extend loving care and acceptance to another. To some, this exercise is almost automatic. Over time it becomes the natural response of some people. Know that being hospitable is about intentionally creating environments where people feel welcome and experience love, acceptance, and the presence of God.

According to the Bible, here are five tips to exercise this gift. Have a good attitude. The writer of our scripture, Peter, reminds us that we must use hospitality without grudging. To accomplish this, remember the reason you are serving, and you are serving because you love the Lord. Second, remember the stranger. As noted earlier, the root for hospitality means, “a love for strangers” and Hebrews 13:1-3 (NLT) states, “Keep on loving each other as brothers and sisters. Don’t forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it! Remember those in prison, as if you were there yourself. Remember also those being mistreated, as if you felt their pain in your own bodies.” Remember to invite the sinners as Luke 5:27-29 (NLT) reads, “Later, as Jesus left the town, he saw a tax collector named Levi sitting at his tax collector’s booth. “Follow me and be my disciple,” Jesus said to him. So Levi got up, left everything, and followed him. Later, Levi held a banquet in his home with Jesus as the guest of honor. Many of Levi’s fellow tax collectors and other guests also ate with them.” This scripture illustrates that Jesus never forgot the sinners, and encourages us to invite our unbelieving friends to fellowship with us. Next, provide for missionaries, as it is written in Luke 10:5-7 (NLT), “Whenever you enter someone’s home, first say, ‘May God’s peace be on this house.’ If those who live there are peaceful, the blessing will stand; if they are not, the blessing will return to you. Don’t move around from home to home. Stay in one place, eating and drinking what they provide. Don’t hesitate to accept hospitality, because those who work deserve their pay.” The scripture demonstrates the need to support missionaries because their work can be exhausting. If you are able and feel safe, offer your home at no cost, provide a meal, or take them out to eat. This form of hospitality will ensure our fellow laborers do not become weary in well-doings. Lastly, serve the poor and needy as it states in Luke 14:12-14 (NLT), “Then he turned to his host. ‘When you put on a luncheon or a banquet,’ he said, ‘don’t invite your friends, brothers, relatives, and rich neighbors. For they will invite you back, and that will be your only reward. Instead, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. Then at the resurrection of the righteous, God will reward you for inviting those who could not repay you.’” This scripture instructs us to serve the poor and needy without expecting anything in return. 

Today, I encourage each of us to be hospitable in our actions and serve with a cheerful heart. If you know that this is your spiritual gift, be an example to others of how to be hospitable.

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1 Corinthians 12:28 
Assessing Your Spiritual Gifts for Spiritual Growth: Helps

1 Corinthians 12:28 (NLT)
Here are some of the parts God has appointed for the church:first are apostles, second are prophets, third are teachers, then those who do miracles, those who have the gift of healing, those who can help others, those who have the gift of leadership, those who speak in unknown languages

Exodus 17:10-12 (NIV)
So Joshua fought the Amalekites as Moses had ordered, and Moses, Aaron and Hur went to the top of the hill. 11 As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning. 12 When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up—one on one side, one on the other—so that his hands remained steady till sunset.

This week’s spiritual gift is helps or helping. The definition of helping to render support or assistance to others in the body so as to free them up for ministry.


Consider the following:
In the Old Testament, Joshua, Aaron and Hur had the gift of helping, and Joshua ministered unto Moses. Moses could give him orders and Joshua stood by to carry out the wishes of Moses. And we read, "So Joshua did as Moses said unto him" (Exodus 17:10). Joshua was there simply to help Moses, and was a very faithful servant to Moses. We also saw Aaron and Hur, hold up Moses as Moses, the leader grew tired. Joshua exercised and demonstrated the gift of helps. Since we serve a faithful God, when Moses died, God chose and ordained Joshua to then take over the leadership of the people.

The gift of helping is one of support and behind-the-scenes effort that make groups, families, and congregations more effective. Not everyone is gifted to lead, but many are gifted to follow and handle the tasks that are so essential, but less glamorous. Helpers love to serve others, support others, and assist others in the important work of ministry and mission. Tireless in their willingness to serve, helpers are less interested in receiving thanks and recognition than in doing good, valuable work. Therefore, as leaders or teachers, let’s not feel like we need to do the work on our own. God has gifted people to come alongside of us to assist in ways that can enhance our ministry. Persons with the helping gift will help expand the ministry because it will free the leaders and visionaries to focus on other tasks and develop new ministries. People who have been given this gift, assist the church or community to meet the needs of all of those in the body of Christ, which in my opinion, this is one of the most important gifts in the body of Christ. They do not wait to be asked to do things, they fulfill the need as they see fit. Therefore, as leaders, preachers, or teachers, we need to demonstrate gratitude because often times people with this gift go unnoticed or are under-appreciated. Although many with the gift of helps will continue to remain behind the scenes, God can and does promote as we saw in the story of Joshua and Moses. Therefore, it is our rightful duty to show appreciation and most importantly not mistreat anyone. Today, I encourage all of those leaders whether in your career or in your church, to rethink taking all the credit and show our gratitude to God by extending appreciation to those who help support and execute the mission and vision.

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1 Corinthians 12:9 
Assessing Your Spiritual Gifts for Spiritual Growth: Healing

1 Corinthians 12:9 (NLT)
The same Spirit gives great faith to another, and to someone else the one Spirit gives the gift of healing.

1 Corinthians 12:28 (NLT)
Here are some of the parts God has appointed for the church:first are apostles, second are prophets, third are teachers, then those who do miracles, those who have the gift of healing, those who can help others, those who have the gift of leadership, those who speak in unknown languages

This week’s spiritual gift is giving. The definition of healing is to be used as a means through which God makes people whole either physically, emotionally, mentally, or spiritually.


Consider the following:
The gift of healing can either manifest physically, emotionally, mentally, or spiritually. For example, physical healing is when the doctor says that the rare bone cancer which was once in your body is now untraceable. Emotional healing is when you were in deep states of depression that you attempted to take your life multiple times, and you no longer have thoughts of death; BUT joy and peace is your core because you know Jesus came to give you life and give you life more abundantly. Mental healing is when you use to constantly criticize yourself and others and it was a challenge to affirm yourself; now you are “positive Patty” and you are your biggest supporter because God has transformed your mindset and freed you from negativity. Spiritual healing is when the physical, emotional, or mental affliction has damaged your relationship with the Trinity, and return back to Christ feeling freed instead of angry about the trials and tribulations of life. 

Although healing can take place in many forms, it is important to know that the gift of healing manifests because of the Glory. In our Bible, we see healings take place by Jesus when he touched them. Jesus did not need to pray because Jesus is the Great Healer! However, as Rev. Dr. Rosalynn Brookins says, “As Kingdom Carriers we must pray for the Glory.” Therefore, if you believe that God has given you the gift of healing whether because you work in the medical field, the mental health field, or in the church, prayer is essential. Prayer is necessary because we must always pray for the will and manifestation of the gift. Since it is a spiritual gift, not everyone will have the gift of healing. Lastly, if you have the gift of healing proper training is necessary because if it has not been taught, a person can do more harm spiritually than they are aware of.

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Romans 12:8 
Assessing Your Spiritual Gifts for Spiritual Growth: Giving

Romans 12:8 (NLT)
If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly.

This week’s spiritual gift is giving. The definition of giving is to share what material resources you have with liberality and cheerfulness without thought of return.


Consider the following:
The gift of giving is the deep commitment to provide whatever resources are needed to support God’s will and plan. In addition to radical generosity, those who possess the gift of giving have the uncanny ability to discover and channel new sources of money, time, and energy to needs. Money management skills, grant writing abilities, and the easy knack of asking for donations and cultivating donors are among common skills of gifted givers.

Senior Pastor, Robert Morris, has a series entitled, The Blessed Life. In this series, he explains that giving comes from the heart and that giving applies to every area of our lives because giving goes beyond finances. In one of his sermons, he poses the question, am I generous? He indicates that the enemy of generosity is selfishness and he parallels it to living a godly life versus a sinful life. He also educates the congregants on the three levels of giving: tithes (10%), offerings (above the tithe), and extravagant offerings (radical mandate from God). Lastly, he emphasized that generosity comes from gratitude and grateful people are generous.  Know that Christ has mandated all of us to give, but when you have the gift of giving you do not find it as challenging to give just to give. As we explored during our Lenten season devotional this year, when you give just to give, God will beat your giving in your tithe, your time, and your talent! As the hymn goes, “You can't beat God's giving, no matter how you try. And just as sure as you are living and the Lord is in heaven on high. The more you give, the more He gives to you, but keep on giving because it's really true  that you can't beat God's giving, no matter how you try.”

Today, I encourage you to reflect on that giving is not about the amount or the item but it is about the heart.  

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1 Corinthians 12:8-10 
Assessing Your Spiritual Gifts for Spiritual Growth: Faith

1 Corinthians 12:8-10 (NIV)
To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues,[a] and to still another the interpretation of tongues.

Matthew 17:20 (NLT)
“You don’t have enough faith,” Jesus told them. “I tell you the truth, if you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it would move. Nothing would be impossible

The definition of faith is to be firmly persuaded of God's power and promises to accomplish His will and purpose and to display such a confidence in Him and His Word that circumstances and obstacles do not shake that conviction.


Consider the following:
Identify a time in the last seven days when your faith has been tested. Our faith is tested very often and even about minute circumstances; however, the more complex the circumstance is, the more perseverance in our faith we must have. Our Matthew text informs us that all we need to do is possess a little bit of faith and nothing is impossible! How wonderful is that! Fatih that God will continue to shine light in dark places, faith that God will open unseen doors, faith that the Holy Spirit is the protector and comforter during trials and tribulations, faith that you are not on the journey alone, faith that God will work things out, faith that God has your back, and faith that He is the healer and mighty warrior.  In April we had two devotionals that explored having authority over our faith and asking the question, where is your faith? In life our faith, which is the feeling or emotion will be tested, and our faith will be revealed based on our actions. Our actions reveal our faith because based on our decision we will see if we trust God or not. Remember, trust is the action word of faith. Having authority over our faith and possessing faith in the times when it looks impossible, is part of our job as Christians. However, what sets faith that is needed because we are Christians versus faith that is a spiritual gift is that the gift of faith is more than belief in Jesus Christ, but an abiding foundation of confidence that God works all things together for good, and that the people of God can rise above any obstacle. Faith is the bedrock upon which we build lives, congregations, and communities. People with the gift of faith hold fast to the deep conviction that no matter what we see with our eyes, we can trust the promises and plan of God.

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Romans 12:8 
Assessing Your Spiritual Gifts for Spiritual Growth: Exhortation

Romans 12:8 (NLT)
If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly.

This week’s spiritual gift is exhortation. The definition of exhortation is to come along side of someone with words of encouragement, comfort, consolation, and counsel to help them be all God wants them to be.


Consider the following:
The gift of exhortation is manifested in people who offer encouragement, wise counsel, unflagging support, and empowerment. Those who exhort stay focused on helping people maximize their own potential and live from their own gifts and skills. Exhorters help people feel good about themselves, build confidence, and not grow discouraged. Often, those with the gift of exhortation make others feel good just by being present. For example, a counselor uses the spiritual gift of exhortation.

Today’s scripture notes that exhortation is the other branch of prophesying or preaching. In the apostolic writings, the one idea of “preaching” is divided into its several branches, “speaking with tongues,” “prophesying” (which appears to have had reference to the more profound portions or relations of the faith), “teaching,” and “exhortation.” Exhortation corresponds to “encouragement,” would be especially needed in the troubled circumstances of the early Church as well as the church today. In addition, exhortation is more principally the pastor's work, as well as to teach, is to exhort all sorts of persons, young and old, rich and poor, joyful and desolate, and bond and free. As a mental health professional and minister, in my professional opinion it is necessary to preach exhortation, edification (i.e., moral and spiritual improvement), and transformation (e.g., growth and dealing with universal human issues). However, two weeks ago we learned about the spiritual gift of discernment and I believe that is equally as important to discern the audience and meet them at their need. 

The person exhorting may do so professionally or informally, may provide timely advice and perspective for emerging leaders, and may provide stimulus toward potential. Thus, I encourage you to reflect if you are the “wise counsel” people seek. Do you admonish the unruly or disorderly, do you support the weak, do you comfort the contrite, and do you guide those who are under heaviness through temptations? If so, then you exhort!  Always remember you do not need to have a degree or credentials to have the spiritual gift. You do not need to be counselor, preacher, therapist, or motivational speaker to exercise the gift from God!

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Ephesians 4:11-13 
Assessing Your Spiritual Gifts for Spiritual Growth: Evangelism

Ephesians 4:11-13 (NIV)
So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

This week’s spiritual gift is evangelism. The definition of evangelism is to be a messenger of the good news of the Gospel (Greek Word: euaggelistes - preacher of gospel; eu=well, angelos=message - messenger of good). The gift of evangelism is the gift of faith-sharing and proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ to those we meet.  


Consider the following:
Today’s scripture identifies several spiritual gifts, one being evangelism. Experts indicate that evangelism is primarily a one-to-one or small group experience, grounded in building relationships with others and inviting them to make a decision for Christ. Gifted evangelists do not force their faith on others, but offer relationship with God as a gift, and are ready to tell the story of God and Christ in their own lives.

Some ministries’ main focus is evangelism. For example, prison ministry should have a focus of evangelism. As D. T. Niles wrote, “Evangelism is just one beggar telling another beggar where to find bread,” and as scripture reads, “I tell you, in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over 99 righteous people who don’t need repentance” (Luke 15:7). Individuals who have been put behind bars wrongly or justly, need to hear the Good News from a good heart. As Jesus did not come to condemn the world and neither shall we. Similar to prison ministry, church growth should be approached with the same attitude. When the church focuses on church growth, it enables the church to effectively continue to evangelize the gospel of Jesus Christ to the unsaved and unchurched. Thus, churches must teach how to appropriately evangelize because God’s reputation is on the line.

Evangelism is a spiritual gift because some people have more of an ability to offer relationship with Christ than others. However, know that it is all of our responsibilities to model Christ in our interactions. As Romans 10:15 (NLT) reads, And how will anyone go and tell them without being sent? That is why the Scriptures say, “How beautiful are the feet of messengers who bring good news!”

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1 Corinthians 12:10 
Assessing Your Spiritual Gifts for Spiritual Growth: Discernment

1 Corinthians 12:10 (NIV)
To another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues

This week’s spirit gift is the gift of discernment. The definition of discernment is to clearly distinguish truth from error by judging whether the behavior or teaching is from God, Satan, human error, or human power. Another source defined it as the ability to understand the origin of spiritual occurrences.


Consider the following:
Today’s scripture identifies several spiritual gifts, one which is discernment — distinguishing between spirits. According to umc.org, “discernment is a gift of deep intuition and insight. Discerning people can separate truth from fiction and know at a visceral level when people are being honest. Deeply sensitive and “tuned in,” those with the gift of discernment are open to feelings, new ideas, and intuition as valid and credible information. Discernment is not irrational, but trans-rational (i.e., experience that does not readily fit into standard cause and effect logical structure)—beyond empirical—knowledge.” Before we continue, I want everyone to know that there is a difference between intuition and discernment. Intuition is the ability to immediately understand something based on feeling without reasoning, and it is something that everyone possesses. On the contrary, discernment being a spiritual gift, is something that not everyone has. Furthermore, research postulates that women have more intuition than men due to estrogen and use of right hemisphere of the brain, which is needed for perception based on feeling. However, discernment is equally available and given to both men and women. The Biblical scriptures 1 Thessalonians 5:21-22, 1 John 4:1, 2 Peter 1:3, Hebrews 5:14, summarize discernment to be the following: Discernment is a GIFT based on our seeking KNOWLEDGE and deeper understanding of the Word of God. Discernment is a prerogative of a mature believer (it comes with spiritual maturity – knowing and understanding God’s truth, it is different from intuition that is based on feeling). Discernment saves a believer from false prophets, wrong teaching and headache of being tossed around, because he/she is able to “discern” half-truths and outright lies. Discernment is how we know what is Good and what is Evil based on God’s word, not based on what we FEEL (like the world does) or told by the world.

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1 Corinthians 7:7-9; Matthew 19:9 
Assessing Your Spiritual Gifts for Spiritual Growth: Celibacy

1 Corinthians 7:7-9 (NIV)
I wish that all of you were as I am. But each of you has your own gift from God; one has this gift, another has that. Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I do. But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.

Matthew 19:9-12 (ESV)
And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.” The disciples said to him, “If such is the case of a man with his wife, it is better not to marry.” 11 But he said to them, a“Not everyone can receive this saying, but only those to whom it is given. 12 For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Let the one who is able to receive this receive it.”

This week’s spirit gift is the gift of celibacy or singleness. The definition of celibacy is to voluntarily remain single without regret and with the ability to maintain controlled sexual impulses so as to serve the Lord without distraction.


Consider the following:
Today’s scriptures highlight that although the gift of celibacy or singleness is not listed in the spiritual gifts scriptures, it has been made known that indeed this is a gift. In our Corinthians text, Paul says, “I wish that all men were [unmarried] as I am. But each man has his own gift from God; one has this gift, another has that” (verse 7). Paul is careful to state that this is “a concession, not . . . a command” (verse 6). The ability to stay single and serve God apart from marriage is a gift, that only some were given but not everyone. However, for my biblical scholars, I would like to note that Paul is talking to people who had already been married, for whom the gift would have been given prior to the death of their spouse. 

In our Matthew text, the phrase “only those to whom it has been given” refers to people receiving what some call “the gift of celibacy” or “the gift of singleness.” Jesus teaches that most people do not naturally desire to remain single and celibate for a lifetime. The exceptions are those who have “renounced marriage” for the kingdom’s sake, and have received a special gift from God. Therefore, if you believe God has blessed you with this gift, then remain single to be able to devote yourself completely to ministry and know that independence can allow more availability to move and act quickly as the Lord commands. I encourage you to enjoy committing wholeheartedly to projects, responsibilities, and ministry. However, know that it may be a lonely gift and at times the flesh may make you struggle with feelings of being “unwanted,” thus form life-giving friendships. Lastly, if this is your gift, scholars suggest to work in ministries such as prison or jail visitation and correspondence as well as discipleship. 

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Ephesians 4:11-13 Assessing Your Spiritual Gifts for Spiritual Growth: Apostleship

Ephesians 4:11-13 (NIV)
So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.


Last week we discussed our first spiritual gift, administration focusing on 1 Corinthians 12:28, and this week we will explore apostleship. Of note, the Greek Word apostolos - 'apo'=from 'stello'=send; one sent forth — is the literal definition of apostle. This is noteworthy because sometimes people use the word apostle and disciple interchangeably but by definition there are different. Apostle is a messenger and champions a belief or a cause, and in Christianity apostles spread the Christian message to the world or a person. Whereas, a disciple is a follower and student who assists in spreading the teachings the more they learn. 


Consider the following:
Today’s scripture reminds us that Christ gave us apostles as one of the leaders in Christianity to equip Christians for works of service. Our scripture last week indicates that God has placed in the Church first of all apostles (1 Corinthians 12:28, NIV). Apostles are to be sent forth to new frontiers with the gospel, providing leadership over church bodies and maintaining authority over spiritual matters pertaining to the church. When a person has the gift of apostleship, that person uses the gift to compel people to reach out to new and unfamiliar groups and individuals, and to invite them into relationship with God and community. Apostles share the story of faith in other lands, cultures, and traditions, as well as are welcoming the stranger in their own land. Apostles extend the hand of friendship to those of other generations, nations, and languages. Many apostles desire to be missionaries.

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1 Corinthians 12:28 Assessing Your Spiritual Gifts for Spiritual Growth: Administration

1 Corinthians 12:28 (NIV)
And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues.


Last week we introduced the topic of spiritual gifts. We learned that developing and sustaining your spiritual growth is not solely for the purpose of your life but also for others and the Kingdom of God. As it is written in 1 Peter 4:10, “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms.” This week will will discuss our first spiritual gift, administration. 

Consider the following:
Today’s scripture 1 Corinthians 12:28 reads that God has designed designated people to steer the body toward the accomplishment of God-given goals and directives by planning, organizing, and supervising others. The Greek word for the spiritual gift of administration is Kubernesis, which means to steer, guide, rule or govern. An example would be a helmsmen, one who steers a ship, is a shipmaster or captain. This gift carries the idea of someone who guides and directs a group of people toward a goal or destination.  We see variations of this word in verses like Acts 27:11, “But the officer in charge of the prisoners listened more to the ship’s captain and the owner than to Paul (NLT), and Revelation 18:17, “In a single moment all the wealth of the city is gone!” And all the captains of the merchant ships and their passengers and sailors and crews will stand at a distance” (NLT). The Holy Spirit enables certain Christians to organize, direct, and implement plans to lead others in the various ministries of the Church.  This gift is closely related to the gift of Leadership. However, administration is different from leadership because administration is more goal or task oriented and is also more concerned with details and organization. Some experts indicate that the gift of administration allows a person to organize people and resources for greater efficiency, effectiveness, and success. Administrators have the natural ability to apply resources where they will do the greatest good, and are good with details and are deeply aware of how all the parts of a group or organization work together to achieve their goals. 

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Romans 12:3-8; Ephesians 4:11-13 Assessing Your Spiritual Gifts for Spiritual Growth

Romans 12:3-8 (NIV)
3 For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. 4 For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5 so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. 6 We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your[a] faith; 7 if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; 8 if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead,[b] do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.

Ephesians 4:11-13 (NIV)
11 So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

There are three key scriptures that address spiritual gifts which are also known as gifts of grace: Romans 12:3-8, Ephesians 4:11-13, and 1 Corinthians 12-14. You will find twenty different Greek words used for the gifts listed in the key passages on spiritual gifting. As we journey, I encourage you take a spiritual gifts test. There are many out there but here is one: https://mintools.com/gifts-list.htm 

The above test will be used as a basis for 20 spiritual gifts which will be discussed. Of note, there are many different opinions on the actual number of spiritual gifts; however, God's Word clearly indicates a variety of gifts.

Consider the following:
Spiritual growth is a transformative experience that leads us to our God-given talents. Spiritual growth enables you to identify and develop your spiritual gifts. Developing and sustaining your spiritual growth is not solely for the purpose of your life but also for others and the Kingdom of God. As it is written in 1 Peter 4:10, “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms.” Therefore, over the next several weeks we will dive deeper into the meaning of each one of these spiritual gifts and what the scripture indicates to promote spiritual growth. 

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John 20:24-29 Where is Your Faith?

John 20:24-29 (NIV)
24 Now Thomas (also known as Didymus[a]), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” 26 A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”28 Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”29 Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

Last Wednesday for our final Lenten season devotional, we discussed having authority over our faith. We were reminded that our Lord wants us to have authority over our faith and start to believe in the impossible. To believe in miracles like the dead rising from the grave, the ill finding a cure, or the lost being found. However, there are some of us that still do not believe that we serve a God who specializes in the impossible, so the question today is, where is your faith?

Consider the following:
Sometimes in life we will not see the blessing unfold right before our eyes or we will not personally see a demonic spirit break off of a loved one, BUT the blessing occurred and the curse was broken, so the question still stands, where is your faith? Troubles come to challenge your faith and in those times we can not be a doubting Thomas. Our scripture lesson reminds us that Jesus said, “blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”  If you have started to possess a doubting Thomas spirit because you have been at your low point for far too long, I encourage you regain your faith. Today, I remind you that when you change your thoughts and you shift your mind, your whole world changes. Therefore, instead of always searching for the negative, find the silver lining. Remember, the word of God says by His stripes we are healed. Today, I encourage you to know that as long as you have faith, whatever you are asking God for, it shall come to past. Know that some things you may not bear witness to, but it shall come to past!

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Luke 24:6-7 Authority over Faith: Impossible Made Possible

Luke 24:6-7
6 He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: 7 ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’ ”

He has Risen! Knowing that on Resurrection Sunday Jesus will defeat death, we rejoice in serving a God that is all powerful. Jesus’ life consistently demonstrates to us that the impossible can be made possible and that our faith is the greatest weapon we can use against the enemy. One of my favorite songs is “What a Beautiful Name” by Hillsong and it reminds me of the powerful and loving God we serve. A father that sent his only son to die for our sins and is continually fighting for our salvation. Part of this song proclaims this message when it states that: 

Death could not hold You, the veil tore before You

You silenced the boast, of sin and grave

The heavens are roaring, the praise of Your glory

For You are raised to life again

You have no rival, You have no equal

Now and forever, Our God reigns

Yours is the Kingdom, Yours is the glory

Yours is the Name, above all names

During Holy Week we rejoice knowing that our sins are already paid for and we serve a God that gives us power through the Holy Spirit. Our Lord wants us to have authority over our faith and start to believe in the impossible. To believe in miracles like the dead rising from the grave, the ill finding a cure, or the lost being found. 

Consider the following:
This Lent we went through a series that gave us the courage to have authority over our health, relationships, finances, and purpose. Today the final step is authority over our faith and doing everything in our power to protect it from the enemies’ distractions. We have nothing to worry about because through faith, worship, and community we can overcome any obstacle that comes our way. On Resurrection Sunday we celebrate the life of Jesus Christ and the promises that God has made to His people. We are renewed through Christ, sustained by the Holy Spirit, and grounded in the love of God. There is nothing we cannot accomplish this year, so go forth with joy and gratitude in your heart.

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Mark 10:45 Authority Over Purpose: Come to Serve

Mark 10:45
45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

As we approach Resurrection Sunday, we are going to dive deeper into how God wants us to have authority over our purpose. Last Wednesday, we learned through 1 Samuel 13:14 that “The Lord sought out a man after his own heart,” meaning that God wants us to follow His example. God’s heart is filled with mercy, patience, and understanding and he seeks to us live a healthy and happy life filled with purpose. To continue off that message, Mark reminds us that service to others is a core principle of being a follower of Christ and is part of our larger purpose. 

Furthermore, it states that even Jesus, the son of God, didn’t come to earth to be served, but rather to serve God’s people. Jesus is a great role model to follow because he was given a task and through service he was able to transform the church and his people. When Jesus ministered to marginalized communities, like taxpayers, prostitutes, or individuals of different faith beliefs, he showed us that ALL people need God’s love. One of our main purposes as Christians is to serve and demonstrate God’s love to everyone we come into contact with. In Galatians 5:13, it states, “You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love” (NIV). Through free will we have the choice to use our freedom to feed our flesh or the spirit and this scripture encourages us to serve one another humbly. To be humble means to have a lower estimate of one’s own importance and when serving others we are encouraged to place their needs above our own.

Consider the following:
Service is vital to the growth of the church and to building a more united world, but at times we can make up excuses such as lack of time, selfishness, or ignorance to deter us from being other-centered. If we are to continue God’s mission to spread the gospel and bring healing, then we must put aside our flesh and pour into building a stronger spirit.

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1 Samuel 13:14 Authority Over Purpose: God has Chosen You, Go Forth

1 Samuel 13:14 (ESV)
14 But now your kingdom shall not continue. The Lord has sought out a man after his own heart, and the Lord has commanded him to be prince[a] over his people, because you have not kept what the Lord commanded you.”

As we approach Resurrection Sunday, we are going to dive deeper into how God wants us to have authority over our purpose. Purpose is defined as “the reason for which something is done or created or for which something exists,” and as Christians we are created to serve God. Today, we will focus on the first step, which is having authority over our purpose. Having authority over our purpose is opening and mirroring our heart after God’s. Before receiving an assignment from the Lord, God is examining our hearts to see if it’s like His. In Matthew 6:21, it states that “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” In our society, we have made idols like money, fame, or power our treasure, but God wants His Word and His people to be our treasure. For example, David is highlighted for his love of God, which is why God trusted him to be a Shepard. God knew he could trust and guide him towards his larger purpose: to lead a nation.  

Consider the following:
In a recent sermon by Pastor Michael Todd of Transformation Church, he asked his congregation if they were experiencing a heart attack due to things such as unforgiveness, selfishness, or hate which may be clotting their arteries. He discussed how God can’t bless us if we first do not renew our minds and open our hearts to the Lord. We might have a stained past like Solomon, confined to gender roles like Esther, or born into a lower status like David. However, in God’s eyes God sees past the exterior and goes by 1 Samuel 16:7 which states:7 But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

If you are looking to gain authority over your purpose here is a short prayer you can save over the next three weeks: God, please give me authority over my purpose. I bind up every false idol, fear, or doubt. I cover my purpose with your blood. I believe that my purpose will be revealed to me and activated to do your work in your name. God, I believe in your power and I know that with your will I can walk on water. Amen.  

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