The Gift

Have you ever received a gift so treasured, that you keep it with you at all times? I have bought many things for myself, my cell phone, my wallet, my keys, my Emmaus cross, that I always keep on my person, as often as I can. Even when I am asleep, I keep my phone and my watch close by. But something someone else has given me, nothing comes to mind right off. I’m sure your experience is different. I just don’t get gifts like that very often.

Part of the problem is that I just have anyone that close to me. I’ll be honest, I do tend to keep everyone at arm’s length. I just don’t let very many in. My wife and my children are probably the closest human beings I let in, but even with them I keep some things to myself. Maybe its because I’m an introvert and I maintain a private world. Maybe its because some of the few times I open up a little bit, all I get is confusion in return, so why bother?

So when I am given a gift as mentioned in today’s verse, it is a profundity that I have a hard time comprehending. Paul isn’t just writing about any spirit here, but he is referring to the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit isn’t afraid of anything. There is nothing in this world that scares the Holy Spirit. I’m glad he’s on our side. Note the three qualities Paul mentions: power, love, and sound judgment. The Holy Spirit, because He is God, is Power. He holds all power to do as God wishes. He is Love because God is love. And in Him is all sound judgment, because God is the Ruler and Judge of this world.

So what does this mean to us? This Spirit is God’s gift to us. When we were baptized, we received the gift of the Holy Spirit. This is the Presence of God in us. This is God dwelling in us. So that in us, God works to mature us and help us grow in faith. It is when we aren’t close to God’s presence that we feel fear. When we are close to Him, we experience the sense of His power, feel and exercise His love, and sound judgment. We could even exercise that power if the Lord so wills.

Best of all, this is a gift that you can take with you wherever you, even if everything else was taken away from you. No power on earth can take God’s Holy Spirit from you, nor His power, love or sound judgment. It is the one thing you can carry with your wherever you go.

May I encourage you to consult with the Holy Spirit today? In this age of fear, let us remember that the Spirit is about power, love, and sound judgment. We are not powerless, apathetic, or foolish. We have a voice, and it needs to be heard, because God has something to say to this dark and evil world. He is the light and we are the lampbearers.

Lord Jesus, help me today to remember who I am, what I am to do, and to do so with grace and mercy, just as you did to me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Brick Wall

Yeah, I’ve been before the audience gathered to hear the word of God, only to respond to my heart-felt pleas for action and repentance like, well, a brick wall. But, that’s not so bad. Like the text today suggests, we are all made out of clay, fashioned by His hands, for His purposes. I believe one of those purposes to be a brick wall. Let me explain.

When we build with brick, we expect every brick to be identical, otherwise, in our limited abilities, we will have trouble fitting all the pieces together. With all the pieces identical, they all fit together to make the solid pattern we need to create a stable and sturdy wall. We then expect this wall to do many things for us, namely to protect us from the elements, the heat and cold, the wind and the rain. Only a well-fitted brick wall will do this. If one of the bricks were loose or fell out, suddenly our barrier is no longer solid. That single break in the wall will only expand, causing more trouble until the brick void is refilled. In a Church where everyone is expected to maintain their moral integrity, even one person who backslides becomes a threat to the whole. Because we are also bound together in love. When one person backslides, the rest of us work to restore and maintain that person (theoretically) or (more realistically) the rest shame and ostracize that person so that there is a gap in the wall. Unless that gap is refilled, the wall itself begins to lose integrity.

God puts every person in the wall of the Church’s strength intentionally. Everyone has their place. If one person decides that this Church is not for them, or that sin sounds sweeter, that person’s role in the Church suffers and will do so until it is filled again. This is why you have so many small churches suffering, flailing with a patchwork of brick, of people who are filling not only their own roles but covering for someone else who left or who died. Because they can’t cover roles they are not gifted for, those roles fail, that person get discouraged, and they too leave for a church “wall” that is more filled. Many of these small churches were once big (believe me, they will tell you of the days when they were big, and had so many bricks that they were standing in the aisles), but now only the handful that’s left hang on to the memories. They are a brick wall about to topple because they’ve tried to cover too much area with too few bricks. Because there are gaping holes they let through a host of false teaching and acceptance of immorality because “That’s how we’re going to get people back”, or more likely, “We don’t want to offend that new couple who are living together because that they might leave.” They lose the ability to rebuke sin because they can’t afford to lose anyone. They think that building with straw and wood will be just as good as brick. We’ll look the other way so they’ll at least keep coming.

Do you see it? I’ve seen it. I’ve wrung my hands in frustration at folks admitted into leadership whose morality is questionable, and seen the ugly side of church politics when that happens. Small churches get smaller. Resources get squandered. And small churches die.

We are clay. God fashions us into exactly the people that He wants for each fellowship. If you are unhappy with your place in the church, you can’t complain to the church. They didn’t mold you. However, if you feel like you are being stretched to cover too much space in the wall, maybe you need to stop trying so hard so that someone else God is molding to fill that space can.  I don’t have the all answers here, and I may even be stretching the analogy a bit (you think?). But one thing I have noticed across several ministries: I see the same people in every church. They have different names and faces, but the same people exist, filling the same kinds of roles in the church’s structure. I believe that is God’s providence and giftedness at work, gifting people in the church to fulfill their part in the body.

Something to think about today. Remember your gifts. To use your gifts is to build up the body of Christ. God bless you today!