At points in life it’s easy to get used to not hearing from God. We know that maybe He could but sometimes the supernatural can just be a little bit too weird and not compatible with normal life. If you’re like me, I’m fine, more comfortable in fact, around my ‘speechless idols’ like the Corinthians had been drawn to. Can we challenge ourselves to engage with a God who speaks? Could that become part of our lives?
Words for the Week
1 Corinthians 12:1-10 (NLT)
Now, dear brothers and sisters, regarding your question about the special abilities the Spirit gives us. I don’t want you to misunderstand this. You know that when you were still pagans, you were led astray and swept along in worshiping speechless idols. So I want you to know that no one speaking by the Spirit of God will curse Jesus, and no one can say Jesus is Lord, except by the Holy Spirit.
There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit is the source of them all. There are different kinds of service, but we serve the same Lord. God works in different ways, but it is the same God who does the work in all of us.
A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other. To one person the Spirit gives the ability to give wise advice; to another the same Spirit gives a message of special knowledge. The same Spirit gives great faith to another, and to someone else the one Spirit gives the gift of healing. He gives one person the power to perform miracles, and another the ability to prophesy. He gives someone else the ability to discern whether a message is from the Spirit of God or from another spirit. Still another person is given the ability to speak in unknown languages, while another is given the ability to interpret what is being said.
Paul talks about our God like he is interactive and not a ‘speechless idol’. In the passage he talks about how it’s the Holy Spirit that helps us to hear from God as He gives out gifts that enable us to have the ability to do so. Verses 8 to 10 list the different abilities so have a read over it.
Notice that the list isn’t just what we might expect; it’s not extra good listening skills or even purely the ability to prophesy. But God healing someone can speak to us a lot about God’s power and compassion for us or being given very wise advice can mean we are able to learn more about how God wants us to live.
Can some gifts be more appealing than others? In my experience of church I can come across some of the gifts more frequently – I rarely come across someone speaking in unknown languages and someone interpreting what is being said. Do some of the gifts scare you?
Hearing from God has led to some exhilarating moments in life when I have felt most alive…
I think often when we start to think about having a go at using these abilities from God a speechless god can seem a lot more appealing – more comfortable and cosy! As it can’t speak, it’s not going to surprise us, challenge us or require us to take any risks! It can be so easy to stay in our comfort zones surrounded by other things (that aren’t God) that make us happy. Yet hearing from God has led to some exhilarating moments in life when I have felt most alive and like I am living like I was supposed to! If we were up for this, could it happen more?
In the Message version of this passage, Paul writes: ‘What I want to talk about now is the various ways God’s Spirit gets worked into our lives.’ The way Eugene Peterson has written this suggests to me that God’s Spirit can fit into our lives – it’s not something incompatible with human life.
I like that there is variation in how He works, in verse 6: ‘God works in different ways!’ This goes hand in hand with the fact that we are all different, with different personalities and characteristics. Some of our natural abilities can complement our supernatural abilities helping us to grow more easily. I feel it also releases me from the pressure of having to hear God in a certain way – I don’t have to be someone else or do something a certain way to interact with God.
And when I’m finding it scary what can encourage me to have another go, is to practice with others. In fact we are instructed to do this together, as a community. Paul writes that ‘a spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other.’ I am not meant to discover God alone; other people are likely to be gifted with different gifts to me. We need each other’s input to discover God more fully.
Own it personally
Get to grips with some of these spiritual gifts: If you haven’t heard of one before or don’t know about it much, why not make it your mission to find out more. Perhaps you know someone who obviously has an ability – why not ask them about how they started out?
Practice: Challenge yourself to get more accustomed with a ‘speaking God!’ Get together with your friend or small group and practice some of these abilities. Invite God to help you to help each other to hear and interact with Him.
Encourage someone: Perhaps you know someone who is beginning to try out these abilities or someone who uses them occasionally and you’ve been blessed by them. Why not encourage them to try it out some more? Remember that it’s great for us all to be involved in hearing from God.
Speak it Out – Pray and Prophesy
Grant us the courage to approach you.
Remind us of your goodness and your desire to be involved in our lives.
Pour out your Spirit on us.
We are sorry when we stay in our comfort zones.
Bring us to a place where we can hear from you
And see you at work clearly.