Caught Unaware

1 Corinthians 12: 1

Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware.

Here we find Paul writing to the church, which he established in Corinth. He had a pastor’s heart towards the people in Corinth. He wrote them letters in order to encourage and instruct them. This statement from him makes my pastor’s heart grieve though, for one thing is sure, we are unaware concerning spiritual gifts. Many people who are Christians, even people who attended church for 30 years or more are not even aware that there is such a thing as spiritual gifts much less what they are and how they operate in the lives of believers. In truth, they are not operating in the lives of believers because we are predominantly unaware of even their existence. There clearly is not enough time or space in a devotional to explore this topic at any depth but at least we can make ourselves aware.

Paul lists nine gifts of the Spirit in this chapter. The first important point to notice is that these are gifts of the Holy Spirit of God. Not one of us has to be a special saint in order to exercise these gifts. The Holy Spirit simply manifests his gifts through each one of us. The nine gifts are: word of wisdom, word of knowledge, faith, gifts of healing, effecting of miracles, prophecy, distinguishing of spirits, a variety of tongues and interpretation of tongues. All of these work through individual believers and every single believer is qualified in the Spirit of God. They have been given to the body of Christ for our edification. Isn’t that great?

Jesus told us when he was about to leave the earth that he was going to send the Holy Spirit to us who would be with us forever. Obviously, the Spirit of God IS God. He is part of the Holy Trinity. He was with God in the beginning and when God created the earth. The Holy Spirit has specific roles which are described throughout the Bible but most specifically in the book of John. One of the words which often accompanies any Biblical discussion of the Spirit is “power.” He is the creative power of God. This is most clearly observed in Genesis where the Spirit was hovering until God spoke the word. Then the Spirit manifested what God envisioned. That is powerful imagery.

The Holy Spirit has come to manifest God’s presence in the earth. These gifts, Paul writes about, are part of that manifestation. One of the key concepts that seems to elude us modern day Christians is that they are “gifts.” They are presents from God to us. I mean, “Happy Birthday! Have a gift!” I am all for gifts and presents. I love them. Even the simplest gift brings me pleasure. Maybe some of you are like me. How is it, then, that we have allowed gifts from God to go unnoticed? It is a little frightening when I contemplate it.

The most amazing thing to me in this chapter is that Paul spends no time explaining these gifts. He does not write a treatise on what they are and how each one is distinguished or used. He seems to expect his audience to understand their uses. How far I feel we have fallen. If you are hungry for a good Bible study, researching the gifts of God’s Spirit would be a great one. Send me a copy when you are done, please!

 Making it Easy

Deuteronomy 14: 12

“You shall surely tithe all the produce from what you sow, which comes out of the field every year.”

Hey, let’s make this easy on you and answer some questions about tithing and offerings. Well, first of all, yes, there are more gifts to the Lord than just tithes. There are times when you will want to give a gift which is above and beyond your tithe. Today, instead of the theology of tithes and offerings, though, I want to talk about the practical side of life. Let’s begin with some basics though.

Tithe, quite literally, means the tenth part, hence ten percent. The tithe is paid on gross income. You have probably heard it said that God gets the first ten percent. Paying on gross rather than net is what that refers to. So, if you are an employee that means you give God ten percent of your gross pay. You can do that each paycheck if you like and that certainly makes it easy. You can also do it monthly if you prefer. You could even give every week. Just find something that makes sense with your pay schedule and your life. If you own your own business, then you would give ten percent of your total income. Again, do that weekly or monthly.

Okay, now, how about the question, “Who do I send my tithe to?” Well, it should be sent to the one who is feeding you. Who do you rely on when you need help? Who is feeding you day in and day out. Are you a member of a church congregation? That church supports you by having regular weekly services and providing for your needs in other ways. When you give that church your tithe, you pay the electricity bill, the water bill and all of the other necessaries, including salaries, which allow that church to keep providing services.

This once was not to be a difficult question because we all simply gave our tithe to our local church. Today, however, we may be fed by any number of ministries through internet or television ministry. Do these ministries deserve a portion of your tithe too? Well, perhaps so. However, you can also reserve a gift for those ministries if you like. In other words, you could still give your whole tithe to the local church and send the other ministries that feed you a monthly gift. Some ministers teach not to split up your tithe. Personally, I am alright with it. I do feel we have a responsibility to the church we attend every week but I also think there is something fundamentally wrong with us feeding off of a ministry and never providing any substance back to that ministry. Take this question to the Lord in prayer but don’t be so bound by tradition that you cannot hear His leading.

What about setting up an auto payment? You have probably heard some ministers teach not to set up your tithe on auto payment. Their reasoning is very good but at the end of the day I have reasons which for me are more compelling for using an auto-payment function. One of the key reasons some folks don’t want you to use auto-pay is because your tithe and your gifts and offerings should always be purposeful. In other words, we should be engaged with God over our giving. Every time I give something to the work of the Lord I want to be engaged emotionally and intentionally in that transaction. That can be hard while using bill pay. Besides being purposeful, our giving should also always be done prayerfully. Again, this can be difficult if you use an auto payment feature. One thing you can do, though, is set up your bill pay so that it sends you an email when that payment is about to go out. Pray over that gift then. It might not be as perfect as sitting down and writing checks but I think it will work.

The real advantage to the auto-pay feature is that you don’t forget. This is a big deal for me because I travel a lot. I don’t want to get two months down the road and realize I have forgotten to send in my tithe. So whether I am on the road or in town, I know my tithe, gifts and offerings are going to be sent on time.

One other thought. I really do believe in tithes and offerings. I never give only ten percent. That doesn’t make me special. I am just more desperate for God’s blessing in my life than some other folks. Sometimes, though, when we set up our tithe on auto-pay, we disengage mentally from the whole process. That is the thing I would not have you do. I want us to all be conscious every day about what the Father is speaking to us about giving. He might have a gift He wants you to sow today that has nothing to do with your regular giving. So, my bottom line is this: first, whatever Dad tells you to do relative to who you give to, how much you give (above the tithe) or the delivery method, you should do. I strongly believe this should be something you do with the father. Secondly, if any of the technological conveniences cause you to be disengaged in this process, then I suggest abandoning them. I personally hate to miss a month, especially when I know some ministry is counting on my regular monthly contribution but you can make it up next month if you do make a mistake. Don’t mishear me. I am not saying it is okay to miss a month. I am just saying that if you do, send double next month or send a check the moment you realize. It is important for your giving to be done purposefully and prayerfully. I don’t want your bank account tithing. I want you tithing. So, if you set up your bill pay and then forget it, disengaging in an activity that should be done mindfully, then take it out of bill pay and go back to the old fashion ways.

Lastly, if you have more questions, you may use the comment function of this devotion to post your question or click here to go to our Ask Ivey webpage and ask your question there. We would love to hear from you and you will get a personal response from me. Your question might even inspire another Word of the Day because if you are thinking it, so are other folks.


Hebrews 11: 6

He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.

People are so worried about God being a judge but the truth is that He is a rewarder. It is a perverted generation that calls God a harsh judge, a critical appraiser. He is the lover of our souls. If was for this reason that he sent Jesus here to die, because he loves us. John 3: 16 tells us so plainly that God sent Jesus so that we would be saved. What kind of logic extrapolates from this that He saved us just to subject us to harsh judgment. He already knew what He was getting when He sent Jesus. Had He not watched the decrepit nature and acts of humanity before he sent Jesus? 

It was precisely because God saw and knew how lost we were that He sent Jesus here to be our savior. Now He is able to just love us. God has always loved us, even when we were unlovely. He wants to pour out that love on us and He can because Jesus removed the sin that stood between us. God is the giver of good gifts. He is like a grandparent, He just gives us good things because He loves us. We don’t have to earn them. His love is all it takes to make us worthy. 

When Jesus comes back in all his glory he is bringing rewards, he is bringing prizes. “For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and, and then he will reward each person according to what they have doneMatthew 16: 27 (NIV). The judgment is that the light came into the world and people rejected the light (John 3: 19), but not you. You love the light and have made him the Lord of your life and now he has rewards for you. When he comes, he is bringing you presents.

Isn’t that just like a grandparent too? Grandma doesn’t ask if you’ve been good before she buys you that prize. And we know it too! We just run up to our grandparents and ask, “What did you bring me?” It never crossed our minds to ask ourselves if we were worthy? 

God is a rewarder and Jesus is bringing presents when he comes. They both just want to bless you, not judge you. Go crawl into Dad’s lap and receive His blessings.

Gifted Builders

1 Peter 4: 10

As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another.

God has sown his good gifts into the Body of Christ for the building up of the entire body. You have different gifts than do I. Yours are different than your best friend’s likely. That is because we are supposed to use our gifts collectively to build a stronger house. There is no purpose in two of us having the same gifts as there is no reason for us to have two plumbers and no electrician. No one’s job is more important than another’s. It takes them all in order to build a strong house. Are you gifted? Are you blessed? Those blessing and gifts are for you to use to build up others. If you are blessed, then you should be seeking out ways to bless others. God wants to bless you but he also wants you to grow up and be like him. What does that mean? He wants you to outgrow being a consumer only and become a sower. He will continue to sow good things in your life but don’t be the clog in the plumbing. Keep that blessing moving. The more you sow, the more there will be for others to sow with. 

All My Birthday Presents

1 Corinthians 1: 7

[S]o that you are not lacking in any gift, awaiting eagerly the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Imagine that it is your birthday. The dining room table is decorated beautifully and upon it you see a good-looking cake with your name on it, but that’s not all. The table is laden with festively wrapped packages. There must be twenty or more and they all have your name on them too. Wow! Now, here is the question – which one do you want? What is your answer?

Well, I am just a kid. I love birthdays, especially mine and I will confess I love getting presents. I love opening the presents and seeing what is inside them. So, since I am just a kid and pretty unrestrained when it comes to my birthday my answer is, “I WANT ALL MY BIRTHDAY PRESENTS!”

That is the way I approach my relationship with Jesus, Dad and the Holy Spirit. I very much think of Jesus having provided me with another birthday. Through him we have all been born again. His death, blood, crucifixion, but mostly his victory have provided us with so many wonderful gifts like salvation, redemption, grace and so on. Now which one of his many gifts would I choose not to receive? How about this one, “Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2: 38). I want that one most of all. How shall I leave off the third person of the trinity? The Spirit is the power of God first unto salvation but then for victory in every area of life.

How about this one? “And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance” (Acts 2: 4). Boy, this one makes people flip out and it did me too. I had no understanding about tongues at all and it just freaked me out. But here is the thing, I was not about to let one of Jesus’ gifts to me go unclaimed. So, I sought out wise counsel and guess what? It was all over the Bible. I had no arguments left and I absolutely will not be left out of anything Jesus has for me. I want it all so if it is of Jesus, then I mean to have it!

What about you? What are you leaving on the table? Have you failed to receive his gift of forgiveness? How about the bestowment of grace? Maybe like me you stumbled over tongues. Well, here is my advice. Consult with Jesus about all of these things. Consult with your pastor. Call me. Find out to what you are entitled and then begin unwrapping all those presents. Don’t let one single thing slip through your fingers. Jesus’ ministry is and was all about providing you with birthday presents. Let us not make his sacrifice of no consequence. Rather let us be enraptured with all Jesus did for us and make the fullest use of it all. Do not deny yourself the Holy Spirit, do not deny yourself praying in tongues through the Holy Spirit. Don’t let grace pass you by. Be vigilant to receive the good things of God which he has provided you through the person of Jesus Christ. For goodness sake, open all your birthday presents and enjoy them with the joy of a child. This is why Jesus came, why he died and why he sent the Holy Spirit to us. Be a child and receive.