Do you, like me, get over excited when you see a stack of presents under the Christmas tree?
Even better when you look at the labels and discover that they all have YOUR name on them!! Hold that thought!
Did you know that there are 5 different ways we speak and understand emotional love? They are called ‘Love Languages‘, as identified by Dr Gary Chapman, who found this out through many years of running marriage counselling. These love languages can be applied to everyone and are as follows: Quality Time, Receiving gifts, Affirmation, Acts of Service and Physical Touch. So, one of these love languages is receiving gifts and this is what I want to talk to you about today.
Just as we like to give and receive gifts with those we love and to see the joy on the faces of the people who unwrap gifts we have given, how much more does our Father in heaven want to give good gifts to us and see our face as we open them.
Matt 7:11 So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him.
God is the ultimate father, the best example of what it means to be a dad who looks upon us with pride and a fierce love. For some of us that has not always been the case with our earthly father or mother but Papa God is so good and wants us to experience his love for us, where we may have felt let down by earthly parents. He loves nothing more than to lavish his love, mercy and grace upon us.
Part of parenting is helping your child to grow up and make good choices, to know the difference between right and wrong and to love others and not judge them. Another part of parenting is to help your child steward the talents and gifts they are born with so that they can lead fulfilling lives sharing what they have within them to help and impact the wider world around them.
To put it another way, if you discover your child has a passion for dancing or taking things apart to figure out how they work (this one can be annoying if your child cannot then put them back together, ho hum!) you wouldn’t then discourage them from using those talents and gifts and stop them from growing in them, would you?
Well it’s the same with God, who created you with gifts and talents that you may not have even discovered yet!
Psa 139:13 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
Because he is a creative God He has created you with your own unique mix of abilities and gifting’s that are just waiting to be discovered by you and shared with the world around you.
So, back to the Christmas tree image from the start….
I believe that there is a pile of gifts with your name on them and that God would want you to start unwrapping them today.
The bible has lots to say on the subject of spiritual gifts and this chapter in Corinthians is helpful.
1Cor 12:4-11 “There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work. Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. 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.
The Holy Spirit is available to all believers and is also called the ‘helper’, among other things, because he helps us grow and use our gifting’s. Some of your gifting’s will be obvious fairly quickly and you may have started using them already but some will still be in seed form and laying undiscovered currently, dormant waiting to be fanned into life. When you plant a seed you know that for some time it lies below the ground and you wouldn’t even realise that it’s there, well it’s the same with our spiritual gifts.
2Tim 1:6 For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands.
There are different stages in a gift developing and I believe God puts a desire in us for specific gifts in the first place, which we then need to develop and tend to help the gift grow strong and healthy and to reach full maturity, just like the life of a seed.
The different stages of a spiritual gift:
Desiring the gift, when we start to get interested in the gift and are drawn to pursue it, often without realising why. This was true for me but I didn’t realise it at the time. For me I was drawn to prophetic people and loved spending time with them talking about how they heard from God and ferociously reading anything I could lay my hands on (or download from Amazon, which got fairly costly!)
Emerging, when the gift starts to be put into practice and you see fruit from the gift appearing around you. People in church might begin to notice you have gifting in this area.
Developing, you start to see growth in the gifting and get to do some training to help develop it.
Testing, this is often a dry season where you feel like you are not moving in the gift and this is a time where you need to draw close to God. It is also a season where you learn about being humble and relying on God completely. This season gets you ready for a new season of fruitfulness.
Maturing, after learning more through this season about your gifting there is increased fruitfulness and often opportunities to train others up in using this gifting.
You can move through the testing and maturing stages more than once and may encounter dry seasons but God always brings you through them and teaches you something new about Himself. I love that through these stages God just wants you to spend time with Him and to keep leaning into Him. The testing stage is definitely a time that seems quite hard and in retrospect you realise so worthwhile.
Mark Twain famously said, “They say that the two most important days of your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why!”
Finding out what your spiritual gifts are will certainly help you discover why you were born and how God wants to use you to bless those around you.
This website is really helpful in pointing the way to where your gifting’s are but this is not the be all and end all and should only be used as an indicator: Spiritual Gifts Test.
You can also ask people who know you well what they think your gifts are and of course ask God to help you, show you and guide you.
So, what are you waiting for? Start unwrapping those gifts!
I have written a series on Spiritual Gifts and explained a little more about them. Find them here!
Discerning of Spirits-to come