17And when he came to himself, he said, (Luke 15:)
Until very recently (today in fact) I had a particular problem with this, the gifts of the Spirit. The Bible is very clear on the subject, so clear, in fact, that I thought I was being left out.
Am I a Born Again Christian? Do I possess those things that verify that I am?
Well, Jesus said;
"And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover." (Mark 16:18-21 see 1Cor 12:7-11)
Pretty clear, I would say.
Now, I have never cast out a devil. Nor have I spoken in an unknown tongue. I tried learning Spanish, German, and French, even a bit of Hebrew and Greek. But I don't think that counts. Besides, not a word of those languages stuck.
As far as snakes, I've run from a few, but pick one up? Au contraire! (That's French for "no way, Jose!")
As for drinking deadly things; I've drank diet sodas before, which some say is slow poison.
And Healing? I've had people say they get sick at the thought of me; a far cry from "Healing."
Like I said: Left out.
Then I read, quite some time ago, where Paul said in 1st Corinthians 12:28:
"And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues."
Now that strikes a little closer to home for me. I see that miracles and tongues are fairly low on the list of preferred gifts; that teachers and prophets rank higher. Interesting.
Now, I do teach, or at least I have taught in the past. Never in church though. So, again, I'm left out.
For a few weeks I prophesied. Really, I did! A fascinating experience. It didn't amount to much, that is, I didn't predict the end of the world or any such thing. But what passed through me (how else can I explain it?) was certainly prophesy.
The experience, prophesying, did two important things. It showed me that such things are real and that I was being led, though my path was like a snail's curlicue slime trail (and about as fast and as slimly); and that I still had one huge problem that had to be dealt with.
Because of that gift of prophesy, I was able to 'see into people', that is, tell them about themself, their history, their future (and it came true), and their problems; therefore I was going to sit under a tree, like a guru, and heal the world.
Well, that gift was yanked away from me faster than it had been given. That was thirty years ago, and it hasn't returned.
"Whoa is me," I thought. "Now what am I going to do?"
Taking another look at the list above, I see governments (in the church). Now, I can hardly run my own life, let alone handle the workings of such a body of capable people such as a church. Besides, the Bible says that if a man is unable to rule his own house (family), he shouldn't be an Elder in the church. Now, I'm single with no family. So if anyone is left out of that description, it's me.
And I'm certainly not an Apostle.
Then there's hands, that is 'helps'. I clung to this one for years, ever ready to lend a hand, nothing too large or too small. I would almost beg to help. I feel good when I help. I feel good about myself when I help.
Then three years ago I was provided a beautiful little place of my own, in a small, quiet, mostly elderly community, where help is often needed. I thought I might be overwhelmed by requests, have more than I could handle.
Nope. For the most part I am shunned, set apart for no apparent reason. I don't mean that there is no one who befriended me, for there are those. But I have been given time to myself, much time for my own devices.
Once again I was set at the head of a blind trail with no map, nor any goals.
slate you might say.
Back to looking at the list above, and more twisty paths to walk.
Somewhere, it seems, I read that Prayer is a gift. But even that wouldn't help, because my prayers fall like anvils at my feet. Oh, I feel refreshed when I pray, and I know that God hears them because of how He seems to build a bridge across the ravines I run blindly toward. But I know that if someone has to ask me to pray for them, they're desperate.
So there I am again with no gifts.
Poor little me!
Now for the discovery:
In verse 7 he says,
"But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal."
Seems to confirm what I was thinking: that I should be playing with snakes and drinking more diet sodas.
But he goes on to explain and describe these gifts. He says in verses 8 through 11:
"For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit.
"To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit.
"To another the working of miracles; to another prophesy; to another the discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues
"But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will."
Well, that cleared up one thing I wondered about for a long time. Paul speaks of having this gift OR that gift, not AND.
At the same time he added two more gifts: Wisdom and Knowledge
Now for the past nine years in particular, I have been 'receiving' new awareness and insights about people in general, and especially about the Word. For years these flashes of information seemed to build up faster and faster, and getting bigger and weightier each day; to the point that before I could get out my tape recorder, I would lose two or three before I could catch them.
But lately this has slowed to a dribble. Where I was filling 50 to 60 tapes a year; this year that is a quarter over, I don't think I've filled one.
I wondered what was happening.
Now I believe I know.
I spoke earlier about imagining myself sitting under a tree spewing out guidance through the insights I had received, and which had been taken away.
Well, that isn't entirely true. Yes, I did lose it. But every so often it reappears, and I try to help that person who I see winding down a dangerous path. But it never works. Nobody listens.
And why should they listen to me? I wouldn't like it either if someone started telling me what's wrong about me. So why should they? The problem is; should I just sit back quietly and let them continue down that path? Say nothing?
That's what I do now. I feel guilty for it, but what else can I do?
The advice I gave these people was nothing outstanding, nothing that isn't written in many books. And it's nothing that is particular to that person with whom I was concerned.
It's human nature. It's often Biblical.
It applies to me. And that's why I know it; where I learned it.
But what to do with it? Should I keep it in notebooks and audio tapes that even I would revolt at having to hear and read? That will just be discarded in the trash when I die?
So, is it the gift of knowledge? or the gift of wisdom I've been given?
And what's the difference between the two?
The dictionary says that knowledge is an awareness, or familiarity with a person, fact or thing. A person's range of information. An understanding of a subject.
And that wisdom is: Experience and knowledge together with the power of applying them. Common sense. Wise sayings.
I like that. It separates the two well.
Knowledge and experience. Range of information. I guess I have enough of these to say that I am knowledgeable -- about some things. But as a Spiritual gift? I kind of doubt it. It kind of applies; but instead of being a vessel for knowledge, I think of myself as a broken pot. A lot goes in, but it drains out almost as fast.
Wisdom; being able to apply that knowledge. Wouldn't that be nice. But, no, that's not me. I might do a little better than the average person, but that's mostly because I don't have a family or job to keep me occupied elsewhere.
A broken pot.
Kind of like a pipeline.
The Bible speaks of each of us having a ministry, a purpose, a responsibly. And not only the Bible, but most of the religious writings as well.
Most of us don't try to find our destiny. In fact, with the prevailing view nowadays that we came from monkeys and bugs, why should anyone bother to look?
But others of us know, or feel, that there is more to our life than just living, perpetuating the human race, only to return to dust.
And we believe that when we find that destiny, when we are on the right path, that happiness and a sense of fulfillment will come our way.
I have that now.
I know my purpose.
I'm a pipeline. A drain spout that takes the rains from heaven and flushes it safely to the ground.
My hope is that somewhere on this big, blue marble there is someone with a cup that needs a drink, that finds solace or encouragement from what I am feeding into the airwaves.
But that's not my job. It's not my responsibility to bring someone to what I have to offer. Nor is it my decision who, if anyone, reads this.
My job could be likened to an old man who's job it is to bring a glass of water to the preacher. It's not his job to make the preacher drink, just to make sure that the water is there in case he gets thirsty.
So here is my glass of water, just in case any of you get thirsty.
And I'm not going to judge the quality of the water. You do that.
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