Pastor Steve started a new sermon series today on spiritual gifts that he said will continue through the month of August. Based on 1 Corinthians, chapter 14, he emphasized that the purpose of spiritual gifts is not about the vessel God uses. His complaint about their display is it’s often more about the person, the stage, and a selfish need to be recognized. What is interesting, he said, is that even though the church at Corinth was messed up, spiritual gifts were still at work.
During worship time this morning, Steve said he sensed God telling him to earnestly desire spiritual gifts; that prompted his prayer, “Let us be a church that is not afraid of spiritual gifts.” While we say we believe in the gifts, they can only be scary and controversial. Yet they don’t have to be a “bogeyman” when we follow scriptural safeguards, such as leaders judging a prophecy and whether it is of God. Even in mainline churches there is a growing recognition of these gifts, as well as Pentecostal and Catholic churches across the world.
“We know God comes,” Steve said. “The Word says He inhabits the praises of His people. The charismatic church drifts off into trying to get God to do something. We should be aware of when God comes. Shouting is acceptable; Psalm 33:1 says, ‘Shout for joy in the Lord, O you righteous.’ Shouting is a response of us in praise. Verse says, ‘Sing to Him a new song.’”
Referring to Psalm 40:1-3, he said this Psalm tells him that God not only tells us to praise, He comes and puts the song in our mouths. Steve said he is convinced we need to be sensitive to the Spirit’s activity in our midst, since He is at work all the time—where they are great and where they are horrible. He encouraged us to embrace this idea and go wherever the Spirit goes.
This doesn’t mean getting out of control, but if the Spirit comes and relieves a problem that has been around for decades, that is cause for rejoicing. To illustrate, Steve told a story about his mother having a heart flutter for years that made her afraid of dying. Then, a visiting pastor gave a word of knowledge about someone being mad at God and need to get rid of it; his mother realized that was her. She went to the altar and has never suffered since.
“We should be open to the ministry of the Holy Spirit,” Steve said. “We don’t want (concern) for decency and order to squish spiritual gifts. Let’s be open and seek God, and let God be God.”