Beautiful gifts, delivered directly from heaven, are ready for you to receive. The first, a personal relationship with our Lord and Savior, is more precious than diamonds, silver and gold. With Him comes your new best friend, the Holy Spirit, a counselor and guide who brings many gifts. Unwrap your gifts and see how they make your life on earth more wonderful and powerful, all for the glory of God.
When trouble surrounds you, where can you place your trust? In the heat of turmoil how do you respond if you've lost your child in a crowd, wake up in the night worried with chest pains or are overcome by the gray hours—when fear and sadness roll in like a foggy mist suffocating your soul? Is there someone who can save you from trouble when it shows no mercy—when it strikes the neighbor’s child with cancer, a coworker’s daughter with thoughts of suicide or your dad with alcoholism?
We see evil glorified in our culture through film, literature and music. The movie industry fashions dark, smoky monsters and body snatchers to destroy innocent victims. The supernatural creature in the Netflix series Stranger Things sends its tentacles slithering through cracks and crevices; it seems to have no limit. It hovers over the high school, destroys property and lives, and even overtakes the body and mind of a boy.
Expressionist painter Edvard Munch portrays a shrieking, agonized person set against a tumultuous sky in The Scream. The painter’s 1892 diary describes his inspiration: “I was walking along the road with two friends—the sun was setting—suddenly the sky turned blood red—I paused, feeling exhausted, and leaned on the fence—there was blood and tongues of fire above the blue-black fjord and the city—my friends walked on, and I stood there trembling with anxiety—and I sensed an infinite scream passing through nature.”
Folk singer Ray Lamontagne’s song “Trouble” laments the familiar human condition, “Trouble been doggin’ my soul since the day I was born. Worry, worry, worry, worry. Worry just will not leave my mind alone. Sometimes I swear it feels like this worry is my only friend.”
Hollywood and artists know trouble well. They create works about dark versus light, evil versus good, but they do not provide answers for winning the battle in real life. They see the truth of evil, yet only deliver commentary or manipulate the outcome in their fictional worlds. They cannot overcome a foe without boundaries and they don’t offer escape. Even people in ivory towers—powerful and wealthy celebrities with big bank accounts, beautiful homes and lifestyles coveted by fans—are consumed with troubles. Some of these people even snuff out their own lives to escape supposed troubles.
So how can we survive this lonely planet, this troubled place called earth?
Jesus Promises Help
When Jesus walked the Earth, He faced very real, very human problems. The Bible tells us that He countered each of these troubles head on, knowing He could fight evil with certain victory. He knew He had the power of God to heal the sick, calm the storm, make the blind see, walk on water and cast out demons. He also knew He could overcome death.
The night before Jesus went to the cross to die for our sins, He spoke to the disciples. He told them they would soon receive the power of God. “What I’m about to tell you is true. Anyone who believes in Me will do the works I have been doing. In fact, they will do even greater things. That is because I am going to the Father.” (John 14:12 NIRV)
When Jesus went to be with the Father, He sent the Holy Spirit to live in the hearts of the disciples and other believers so they could manifest this power and do even greater things in His name (Luke 4:1). Through the indwelling Holy Spirit, each of us can do impossible things and share the message of God’s salvation of His Resurrected Son, Jesus Christ (Ephesians 1:13-14, Acts 1-8 NIRV).
“You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you. Then you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem. You will be My witnesses in all Judea and Samaria. And you will be My witnesses from one end of the earth to the other.” (Acts 1:8 NIRV)
The Power of God
Pastor and author John Piper gives us two important truths about the Holy Spirit. “The first truth is that the Holy Spirit is a person not an impersonal force. The second truth is that the Holy Spirit is God not a creation of God.” In the book of John, Jesus says the Holy Spirit dwells within you and He calls him another counselor, saying, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will pray the Father, and he will give you another Counselor, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him; you know him, for he dwells with you, and will be in you.” (John 14:15-17 RSV)
Why is this important? Because according to Piper, the Holy Spirit is “a person who in his essence is the love of God” (Romans 5:5, 1 John 4:12-13 RSV). When we study the Bible, read commentaries and ask the Holy Spirit for help in discerning the truth in knowing Him, we can learn the vital role that He is to have in our lives.
Through the person of the Holy Spirit in us, we walk in the power of God and can be confident of His victorious outcome. We receive the gifts we need so we are not victims of our circumstances or of Satan’s evil works. We become vessels used by God to see that His will is done on Earth to defeat the power of darkness. Plug into the Holy Spirit and the lights will go on in your
“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:12 ESV)
Welcome Holy Spirit
To be filled with the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 5:18) you need to first accept God’s most precious gift, His Son, Jesus Christ. This is the gift of everlasting life, your salvation from death. Why do you need to do this? Because you can’t save yourself—not one human can. We are born to sinful people and we sin. And sin stains us and has a stench that is off-putting, even offensive to a pure and Holy God. To let sin remain in your life and expect to go to Heaven is as if you wreak of body odor from never showering or washing your hair, exact hateful and bitter behavior on a bride and still expect to be in her wedding.
The good news, God is like chlorine bleach to a stain and He offers a gift that cleans us up and overcomes death. Jesus went willingly to the cross to suffer and die, and through God’s power, was raised from the dead. When you accept Jesus Christ by asking Him to come into your heart and to be your Savior, it washes away the sin. Literally speak an invitation for Him to come into your heart. Then ask the Holy Spirit to lead you and give you knowledge, wisdom and understanding. With the Holy Spirit comes more gifts. No one receives all of the gifts—each person is unique and has a special purpose and needs. The gifts received help fulfill this purpose and grow the Kingdom of God, all for His glory.
You will know if you are being led by the Holy Spirit when the Fruit of the Spirit shows in your life. Galatians 5:22-23 (NASB) says, “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”
God gives us the Holy Spirit for His glorification and to grow His kingdom.
The Holy Spirit has many roles including:
Teaching you what is true (John 13:6)
Comforting you when you’re hurting (John 14:18)
Bringing you peace (John 14:27)
Guiding your steps (Mark 1:12, Luke 2:27)
Helping you understand and recall God’s Word (John 14:26)
Giving you the right words when you share about Christ (Matthew 10:19-20, John 3:34)
Being a counselor to guide you in your everyday life (John 16)
Convicting you of your sin so you can shed destructive behaviors (John 16:8)
Helping you to stop sinning (Romans 8, Matthew 10:19, John 3:34)
Helping you to pray and interceding for you when you don’t know what or how to pray (Romans 8:26)
Giving you His Spirit without limit (John 3:34)
Providing some believers the ability to perform miracles (1 Corinthians 12:7-10, 27-31)
Gifts of the Holy Spirit
In the New Testament, God gives spiritual gifts to the church for the common good of the saints and to empower believers to share the Gospel and the Good News to the world (Luke 24:48–49, Acts 4:29–31, 1 Corinthians 14:24–25). The indwelling of the Holy Spirit allows each of us to receive specific spiritual gifts, such as: wisdom, knowledge, faith healing, working miracles, prophecy, discerning of spirits, speaking in unknown tongues, and interpretation of tongues. (1 Corinthians 12:8–10)
As with most things of God, theologians and spiritual leaders debate the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Some are convinced the gifts empower believers to do the work they are called to do. Others believe the gifts were only given to Jesus’ disciples and were not needed once written Scripture, the Bible was available. Preachers and leaders, too, sometimes cause misunderstanding of spiritual gifts due to their public misuse of them. Ask God to help you discern the truth. Believers who personally experience the gifts of the Holy Spirit firmly believe they are a necessary tool for powerful, Christ-centered living.
While it takes commitment and prayerful study to understand the gifts of the Spirit, we are told to pursue them. In 1 Corinthians 12:31 and again in 14:1, Paul tells us to “earnestly desire” the gifts of the Spirit.
The Beginner’s Guide to Spiritual Gifts, by Dr. Sam Storms, is one of many resources that help answer questions about the gifts of the holy spirit. Storms explains a crucial principle: “spiritual gifts are not god bestowing to his people something external to himself. They are not some tangible stuff or substance separable from god. Spiritual gifts are nothing less than god himself in us, energizing our souls, imparting revelation to our minds, infusing power in our wills and working his sovereign and gracious purposes through us. Spiritual gifts must never be viewed deistically, as if a god out there has sent something to us ‘down here.’ spiritual gifts are god present in, with and through human thoughts, human deeds, human words, human love.” Storms sums it up, “gifts are god going public among his people.”
Wisdom (1 Corinthians 12:8)
The Holy Spirit transmits wisdom about a particular instance or subject and sometimes gives this gift in conjunction with Knowledge. Wisdom allows you to understand or analyze the unseen or unspoken dynamics in a situation, event or action so you can appropriately respond. Wisdom allows you to properly apply knowledge and make the best choice.
Knowledge (1 Corinthians 12:8)
The Holy Spirit transmits information or knowledge about a particular situation, person or event, of which you otherwise would have no way of knowing. The information comes from God and not from your own ability or knowledge. Most believers have this manifested by way of a sudden without-a-doubt understanding in mind
Faith (1 Corinthians 12:9)
The Holy Spirit supercharges your trust in God. This high-level belief that God is working in and through you helps you accomplish things you couldn’t do on your own. Every believer has faith, but sometimes we are double-minded and harbor doubt. The Holy Spirit manifests a strong faith so you can accomplish a miracle or task set forth by God.
Healing (1 Corinthians 12:9)
The Holy Spirit delivers Healing so you can be healed or can heal someone else. This gift cures any type of disease or sickness and is literally God working through you as an anointed vessel. There are many types of healing and some people are more gifted in a single type.
Working of Miracles (1 Corinthians 12:10)
The Working of Miracles, a blessing from the Holy Spirit, is God revealing Himself and His love for us in a very personal way. Divine intervention in any situation that goes beyond our comprehension is absolutely God’s perfect love for us. The Bible says God does not change (James 1:17, Hebrews 13:8, Numbers 23:19) so if He performed miracles in the Old Testament and the New Testament, He can do them today.
Prophecy (1 Corinthians 12:10)
The Gift of Prophecy is a direct word from God for you or someone else to lift up, edify or clarify. Through prophecy, God communicates truth to His people, sometimes about future events. You are an actual messenger from God and usually the message is word for word with no interpretation needed. 1 Corinthians 14:3 (NKJV) describes the Gift of Prophecy: “But he who prophesies speaks edification and exhortation and comfort to men.”
Discerning of Spirits (1 Corinthians 12:10)
The Discerning of spirits does not refer to the Holy Spirit, but to all other spirits in our world. It refers to distinguishing or judging the source or type of a spirit. There are three types of spirits: demonic spirits, God’s angels and human spirits. Demonic spirits roam freely on the earth and are here to steal, kill and destroy. Angels are messengers from God who minister to us. Human spirits are simply something inside us like the spirit of pride. Our Father God is very protective of us and the Holy Spirit uses the gift of discernment to make sure we are not deceived.
Speaking in Tongues (1 Corinthians 12:10)
Speaking in Tongues is a direct language from heaven and two types manifest from the Holy Spirit. In the first type, the Holy Spirit gives the ability to speak in a foreign and unknown language, like Japanese or Russian or any language you do not know or have not learned. This gift gives direction or answers directly from God to people who would not otherwise understand your language. The second type is a heavenly prayer language allowing you to speak directly to God. You will not know what you are saying with either, but the Holy Spirit directs and guides you. This prayer language supernaturally fills in the gaps when we don't know what to pray and allows us to go beyond our own understanding, letting our spirit communicate directly with our Creator.
Interpretation of Tongues (1 Corinthians 12:10)
Interpretation of Tongues operates in conjunction with Speaking in Tongues. In the case when Tongues is uttered in a body of believers God wants everyone to understand. The message given should always be scripturally sound and edify the body. 1 Corinthians 14 (NIV) says, “Anyone who speaks in a tongue edifies themselves, but the one who prophesies edifies the church. I would like every one of you to speak in tongues, but I would rather have you prophesy. The one who prophesies is greater than the one who speaks in tongues, unless someone interprets, so that the church may be edified."
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