What are We Doing with Our Talents and Gifts?

MaryAnn Ward - Blog Post - Talents and Gifts

One of the most revealing indicators of our vision and self-identity shows through what we do with our God-given talents and gifts. Romans 11:29 tells us that “God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable.” He never voids His gifts. Once given, He allows us to choose what we will do with the talents and gifts He has given to us.

In context, this verse speaks about God’s gift of salvation, but the principle applies to all His gifts.

“For the gifts and his call are irrevocable. Just as you who were at one time disobedient to God have now received mercy as a result of their disobedience, so they too have now become disobedient in order that they too may now receive mercy as a result of God’s mercy to you”
Romans 11:29-31

I’ve highlighted two repetitive words — disobedience and mercy. When it comes to our God-given gifts, most of us can relate to both of these terms.

MaryAnn Ward - Blog - Gift

Shining Example

Although a recent incident brought this principle to light, I have been pondering this truth for some time. Let’s spotlight one shining example of disobedience and mercy — Moses’ brother Aaron.

God called Moses up Mount Sinai to teach him all the principles of worshipping God and living in healthy community with others. God took all the time He needed to make sure Moses understood each detail, writing them on two tablets of stone as perpetual reminders for everyone.

Aaron, who God had gifted with leadership ability, was left in charge of the people below. Eventually, they all grew tired of waiting for Moses and God. So, Aaron used His God-given talents and gifts to lead the people into idol worship!

“(Aaron) took what they handed him and made it into an idol cast in the shape of a calf, fashioning it with a tool. Then they said, ‘These are your gods, Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.'”
Exodus 32:4

What! How could anyone go so far wrong? But wait! Remember those two words — disobedience and mercy. As great as Aaron’s disobedience, God’s mercy was more.

Later in Leviticus 8, we see the ordination of Aaron and his sons as priests. Now, His God-given leadership brought the people into true worship. Aaron acknowledged his God-given talents and gifts, using them to bring people to God instead of steering them away from Him.

In mercy, God refused to disqualify Aaron for his blatant failure. His gift of spiritual leadership to Aaron was “irrevocable.”

MaryAnn Ward - Gift - Time

God-Gifts

Few of us have failed God as miserably as Aaron did. But we all have experienced our share of failure and God’s mercy. The Bible offers many accounts of people who received second chances to use their talents and gifts for God’s glory and Kingdom purposes. But, more important, we also see many people who walk out their faith with unwavering, wholehearted devotion.

“Every gift God freely gives us is good and perfect, streaming down from the Father of lights, who shines from the heavens with no hidden shadow or darkness and is never subject of change.”
James 1:17 TPT

Many people find it difficult to discern their God-gifts. Others know their talents but live in frustration — unsure of how to use them.

“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.”
1 Peter 4:10

Perhaps, like me, you find the greatest hurdle to overcome is the temptation to use God-gifts for personal pleasure or advantage. We need the Holy Spirit to search our hearts and reveal impure motives. God gives His gifts for one purpose — to serve others.

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Serve Others

We may often overlook the obvious while aiming toward the ambiguous. Let’s consider a few gifts we have all received.

  • The gift of time. This moment is a gift. Will we serve God with wholehearted devotion, consecrating our time as belonging to Him? The stewarding of our time reveals how well we steward other gifts.
  • The gift of relationship. Who are the people God has planted around us? How can we use our gifts to invest in those relationships for their good and God’s glory?
  • What inherent talents do we possess — working with numbers, leadership, servanthood, baking, caring for children, teaching, creativity, …. ? The list is endless! We don’t need to dig deep in our search. What do we enjoy and do well?
  • Ask God! His list may look quite different from ours. Let’s also ask Him how we may better use our talents to serve His purposes.

Though God will never take His gifts from us, we have an opportunity to daily surrender them back to His full control. As we surrender our God-given talents and gifts back to Him, He will do profound things in and through us.

MaryAnn Ward - Gift - Serve Others

Prayer

Father, I thank You for Your gracious and beautiful gifts. Forgive me for, like Aaron, using them in ways that have brought harm instead of good. I confess that I have used them for my own satisfaction and gain. I thank You for your amazing mercy and a new opportunity to use these talents and gifts for Your service. May I steward Your gifts well. Nothing can hinder Your purpose in and through these talents and gifts which You have embedded in me. I surrender them to You to be used when, where, and how You so design. Fill my heart with overflowing gratitude for Your gracious gifts. May I assume responsibility to develop and perfect them. Thank you, Lord, for Your good and perfect gifts.

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Miracles and Gifts of Healing

Miracles and Gifts of Healing

Far too many people dismiss the concept or miracles and gifts of healing as something that occurred centuries ago but not today. Unfortunately, many others seek those same miracles and healing power through crystals, Eastern medicine practices, psychics, ceremonies, and various other means. However, the evidence rests indisputable. God continues to perform miracles and gives gifts of healing.

Our small church occupies a space in a shopping mall. Yesterday after church, I stood outside visiting with people I hadn’t seen for awhile. A lady and her friend approached, asking if I would pray for her ears. She had already received prayer after the service and had experienced some improvement. Happy to oblige, I prayed with her on the sidewalk while shoppers milled in and out of stores. She immediately felt a greater release in one ear and a subtle change in the other.

I resumed the conversation with friends. Suddenly, a stranger hopped out of a car passing along the street. She, too, sought prayer for healing. Shopping for groceries would wait. Her more urgent need was prayer. Of course, I prayed! This beautiful lady was deeply touched by God’s love and a sense of His Presence.

Sometimes when we pray, instantaneous healing occurs. Other times, we don’t see evidence of immediate miracles and gifts of healing. Either way, we know for certain that God hears and answers our prayer.

“For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
Matthew 7:8

Gift Not Ability

Doctors only claim to practice medicine, but God calls Himself by the name Jehovah Rapha — the God who Heals. God purposes to do His work through fractured, imperfect people who are willing to do His will. That sounds far too risky to me. But as the Healer, He gives gifts of healing and miraculous powers to people, partnering with them as they pray.

“There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them … There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work … for the common good … to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers …”
1 Corinthians 12:4-10

He gives gifts for the “common good.” As we operate in those gifts, we bring Him glory.

Immediate

We all desire and seek immediate healing and results to prayer. The Bible gives us so many instances of immediate healing:

  • The centurion’s servant who was sick and about to die is instantly healed (Luke 7:1-10).
  • Peter’s mother-in-law healed (Mark 1:29-31).
  • Bleeding stops for the woman hemorrhaging (Matthew 9:20-22).
  • Two blind men receive their sight (Matthew 9:27-31).
  • Man with dropsy healed (Luke 14:1-4).
  • Jesus restored the ear of the High Priest’s servant (Luke 22:49-51).

Immediate healings occur through the gift of miraculous powers. God performs wonderful events and occurrences beyond human capability through miracles which manifest His supernatural power to heal and fulfill His purpose.

Some people receive healing simply by believing the Bible concerning God and His ability to perform miracles. Others are healed while listening to a God-inspired message. God’s ability to heal and restore is limitless.

A Process

The Bible also includes many examples of people who were healed through a process:

  • The paralyzed man was first forgiven of sin (Mark 2:1-12).
  • Man with the shriveled hand stretched it out and then was healed (Matthew 12:9-13).
  • Mute man was delivered from a demon to be healed (Matthew 12:22-23).
  • Jesus put His fingers in the man’s ears and then spit on His finger and put it on the man’s tongue for healing to come (Mark 7:31-37).
  • The ten lepers were healed when they believed the words of Jesus and acted on them (Luke 17:11-19).
  • Blind man was healed after he washed in the Pool of Siloam (John 9:1-7).

Sometimes the healing came after an action Jesus did. Other times, there was an action that the sick person needed to do before they received their healing.

The Greek word for gifts of healing is iaomai which means a process of healing, cure, or remedy. Gifts of healing often require an action or movement — usually something that was previously impossible for the person to do.

I’ve experienced such healings in my own life and witnessed them in others. Healing may come through prayer and obedience, prayer and lifestyle changes, prayer and repentance, or prayer and inner healing. Often unforgiveness holds people in disease, but forgiveness releases the healing. Sometimes a spirit of abandonment or rejection ties people to illness, but through encountering God’s love and acceptance healing flows into physical bodies, minds, and emotions. Habitual sin may also keep people from being healed.

To Bring God Glory

Every miraculous touch must bring glory to God.

Peter and John encountered a crippled man begging for alms outside the temple. They gave him far more than a few coins to help him through the day.

 “When all the people saw him walking and praising God, they recognized him as the same man who used to sit begging at the temple gate called Beautiful, and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.”
Acts 3:9-10

A crowd immediately gathered as a result of witnessing the healing. Peter seized the opportunity and preached a message of salvation through Jesus Christ. Five thousand people believed and came to faith!

Ask, Seek, and Knock

If you need a healing today, ask God, seek His direction, and knock on Heaven’s door through prayer.

Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” Matthew 7:7-8

When you receive your healing, remember to thank God for His goodness. Then, let other people know about what He has done for you. Give Him the full weight of the glory due His Name.

Father in the mighty Name of Jesus, I ask on behalf of those needing Your healing power today. I ask that You restore health and wholeness to bodies, souls, and minds. I ask that You deliver people from the bondages of past hurt, offense, and abuse. Deliver them from the consequences of other people’s sinful actions. May You move with supernatural signs and wonders, performing miracles on their behalf. If there are actions needed, may they have the courage and perseverance to walk in full obedience to Your promptings. May they have faith to continually press into Your Presence, finding mercy and grace to help them in their time of need. Be glorified, my Lord and my God! Be glorified in and through these wounded ones calling out to You today. Pour out such a blessing that they will know beyond all doubt that You alone have brought them deliverance and healing.
Amen.

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The Voice of Prophecy – Prophets Listening and Speaking Truth

The Voice of Prophecy – Prophets Listening and Speaking Truth

How clearly does the voice of prophecy resound today? Are prophets still listening to God and speaking His prophetic truth in our generation? Has their voice diminished or is it strong? Prophets throughout the ages have been mocked, ridiculed, crucified, and burned. Few people, if any, stand in line saying, “Pick me, Lord! Pick me to prophesy!”

Just before Stephen was stoned to death, he asked,

“Was there ever a prophet your ancestors did not persecute? . . .”
Acts 7:52

Of all the spiritual gifts, why does prophecy get such a bad wrap? Undoubtedly, there is a lethargy toward spiritual gifts, an absence of mature mentors and misguided notions of prophecy. All, perhaps, put this beautiful and important gift in dim light.

Gifts of Perfume

Yet, prophecy remains among the gifts God gives to the church.

“There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them . . . 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, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.”
1 Corinthians 12:4-11

Six times Paul states that the gifts are given by the Spirit “as he determines,” including the voice of prophecy.

Gifts of Love

‘Charisma’ (singular) or ‘charismata’ (plural), commonly translated as gifts, means ‘gift of God’s love.‘ God beautifully lavishes His church with gifts of His love. Another word, ‘phanerosis,’ we also find translated as gift, means manifestation.

Child's ear

For the church to experience God’s love, His gifts must be seen and known. Without the gifts, His love remains hidden, not just from the church, but from the entire world.

For All

The gift of prophecy encourages believers while convicting those who neither know nor acknowledge God.

“. . . prophecy, however, is not for unbelievers but for believers . . . But if an unbeliever or an inquirer comes in while everyone is prophesying, they are convicted . . .”
1 Corinthians 14:22-25

The voice of prophecy bridges the gap between those inside and outside the church. Both declare, “God is really among you!”

“. . . they are convicted of sin and are brought under judgment by all, as the secrets of their hearts are laid bare. So they will fall down and worship God, exclaiming, ‘God is really among you!'”
1 Corinthians 14:24-25

Eyes to See

Honestly, I’ve approached the prophetic praying the secrets of my heart would forever remain hidden. Nonetheless, the unveiling of the heart draws one closer to our loving Father. Whatever God exposes, He redeems!

The Voice of Prophecy

When Jesus, the perfect Prophet, met the woman at the well and told her everything she ever did, worship was her predictable response.

. . . You are right when you say you have no husband. The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.”
John 4:17-18

Jesus spoke to her privately, honoring and elevating her to a place of dignity while exposing the real pain and giving her the hope of an intimate relationship with God.

“God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” John 4:24

One prophetic word brought a woman out of a hopeless situation and an entire town into knowing Jesus the Messiah.

True Prophecy

The honest voice of prophecy encourages those who hear and points them not to the prophet but to God. Prophets precisely tune their ears to hear God’s voice and focus their sight to heavenly realms to accurately relay what they hear and see to others.

“But the one who prophesies speaks to people for their strengthening, encouraging and comfort.”
1 Corinthians 14:3

Although most prophecy adheres to this principle, not all. One doesn’t have to read the Bible long before realizing that the voice of prophecy often brought necessary correction from their loving Father.

Child and Adult

Earthly fathers who refuse to correct when necessary, harm those entrusted to them. Every loving father, including our Heavenly Father, loves enough to speak correction. He invites the listener to strength, courage and comfort.

Covet Prophecy

Paul commands his listeners to covet and zealously pursues prophecy.

“Therefore, my brothers and sisters, be eager to prophesy . . .”
1 Corinthians 14:39

Why such a strong admonishment? Why does he encourage everyone to prophesy?

Microphone

“Follow the way of love and eagerly desire gifts of the Spirit, especially prophecy.”
1 Corinthians 14:1

What is it about the voice of prophecy that brings substantial “strengthening, encouragement and comfort?”

Whenever I have prophesied over others or God has spoken to me through a prophet, the awareness that God knows, sees and loves, even in the midst of personal messiness, inspires greater faith and trust, motivating to godly purpose and calling. Why?

“. . . the one who prophesies edifies the church.”
1 Corinthians 14:4

Testing Prophecy

For this reason, the voice of prophecy must be tested to ensure it agrees with the heart of God and the Word of Scripture, the Bible.

Do not quench the Spirit. Do not treat prophecies with contempt but test them all; hold on to what is good, reject every kind of evil.”
1 Thessalonians 5:19-20

The scrutinizing of the voice of prophecy ensures the purity of the word spoken. When God gives His gifts, it is the recipient’s responsibility to exercise and develop those gifts to reach their fullest potential and greatest benefit to His Kingdom.

Positive and Negative Image

The prophet requires a safe and loving atmosphere to hone the prophetic gift. Godly prophetic mentors, solid in the faith and established in the Word guide the maturing process.

We often see groups of prophets hanging out together in the Old Testament. For good reason! Here they developed, became accountable and grew in their gift (2 Kgs 6:1). Elisha followed Elijah, learning and growing in his gift. The disciples followed Jesus, watching and training as prophets.

The Prophetic Office

Testing the voice of prophecy is especially essential in regard to the office of the prophet. Few prophets mature to a recognized place of holding the position, or ministry, of a prophet, which is different than operating in the prophetic gift.

“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 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.”
Ephesians 4:11-13

Many people today create business cards identifying themselves as apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor or teacher. How God labels a ministry matters far more.

Sound Studio

Though many operate in the gifting found within the five-fold ministry, few hold the true spiritual office of that position. One of the frustrating aspects of any ministry is being pigeon-holed under a title, not God-given — frustrating for the individual and for the people under his or her ministry.

Avoiding man-made labels and maintaining a humble, godly attitude ensures the free-flow of the gifts God gives. He calls each of us to pursue spiritual gifts, test and hone them, then use them for His Kingdom purposes.

Prophets and prophetesses boldly arise! May your senses be open to perceive the currents of heaven releasing the prophetic voice once again for the strengthening, encouraging and comfort” of all.