Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Discernment of Gifting

Discernment of Gifting

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations” (NIV).

Welcome back as we continue this theme about grace. In our last article we discussed grace in three major contexts: “authority,” “ability” and “responsibility.” By nature these articles of necessity are relatively brief, especially when it comes to particularly vast subject matter. And while the topic of grace is much wider than we can study here in just a select few articles; consolidation of such subjects nonetheless, can go a long way in helping us understand their true nature and function in our lives. However I am not attempting to over simplify this subject of grace; yet in just a few articles we can establish the grace’s role in our lives.

So far and chiefly, we have looked at grace in terms of “stewardship” (essentially our divine purpose for living and being here in this world!) where we are given (graced with) the “ability,” “authority” and “responsibility” necessary in order to “manage” God’s affairs on this earth; in His behalf! However this is in accordance with what He has chosen and decided. The old adage is true: God uses who He chooses and chooses who He uses! The call on our lives is not dependent on any choice of ours. We only choose to be willing and to yield, while the mandate originates with God alone.

However let us continue and move on to today’s concept of “gift discernment.” Exactly what has God graced our lives with? Just like Paul, we must be able to “recognise” who we are in Christ and what we have been called to “do,” without this, it is inevitable that we will both be “unfruitful” and “ineffective” – (regardless of any good intentions!) Therefore we must discover what God’s plan for our individual lives really is and more importantly what His plan is to benefit other people’s lives through ours? Gifting is “always” for others and not for self! So along with the gift we must also recognise who is going to “benefit” and what exactly is He looking to “influence” with His Kingdom? God always has a strategy plan!

Evidently it becomes a major necessity for us to have clarity on this issue. We must begin by accepting the fact that “divine distinction” does exist and that we must work together with it not against it. Quite simply, there are many folks today who are failing to see this “divine distinction” not only in their own lives but also in the lives of others; as a result many are “struggling” and “staining” themselves to be something that God has not called them to be. We often succumb to the peer pressure of becoming what others perceive for us rather than what God has “appointed” for us.

Today it would be true to say that there exists much confusion between “Body gifting” and “ministry calling,” something that has caused pain, heartache and much “disillusionment.” To help clear this up lets look at four major factors that need to be considered when it comes to ministry gifting:

1] The Sense of Call: Today I believe that we often mix up “desire” with “call.” Of course, the scripture tells us to “desire” the best gifts (see 1 Cor. 12: 31). However “desire” can never override “call.” First and foremost any “desires” must line up with the will of God for our lives.

2] The Desire for the Work: The call always comes first from God’s point of view as we see here in Jeremiah 1:5 – “Before you were formed in the womb I called you” (appointed, sanctified, set apart, separated, consecrated and dedicated!) However this was news to Jeremiah! Who was less than ecstatic about the proposal! Rather he went into an immediate verbal inventory of all the excuses and reasons why the opposite was in fact true! Not unlike the rest of us do! Inadequacy often rears its ugly head in the face of stepping up to the call. Nevertheless in the midst of trauma we can discover the “desire” to serve the Lord.

With all this in mind we need to distinguish what “desire” in this context actually means. It goes beyond just a human sense of looking to “enjoy” something. Rather in this context it is more of an “inner yearning,” a “knowing” that we must “face” this call or we are going to die! (It can feel this intense; like your whole life depends on it, even before you really understand why).

And while it might be possible to “enjoy” serving God, desire from the inner man is something quite different; that inward yearning we spoke of, goes much deeper; according to the Strong’s it is akin to “jealousy” or being “zealous” (see Grk No. 2206).

3] Exercise the Gift: A man’s ministry makes room for itself. A genuine call from God will manifest itself - if it is exercised properly. God does not appoint us to a position of “spiritual inertia” (inactivity, lethargy, disinterest, inaction or unwillingness). Rather He appoints and anoints for ACTION (…faith without works is dead!) So there is a built-in dynamic to this “call” of God that we all face and it only finds expression through continual “practice” and not “theory!”

4] Fruitfulness: So many people lay claim to ministries in advance of “fruitfulness” and “appointment,” when in fact fruitfulness is the real sign of ministry. “Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through a prophetic message when the body of elders laid their hands on you” (1 Tim 4:14); “…fan into flame the gift of God,” (2 Tim 1:6); “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms” (1 Pet 4:10).

There is a distinction in kind, between a talent, which we were born with and a gift imparted by the Holy Spirit. It is noticeable in Paul’s ministry that he was not averse to using his natural talents in his service for the Lord. For example he was obviously intellectually gifted but also practically so and at times used his natural abilities to support his own ministry (see Acts 18:3 for tent making).

But it is also important to see how Paul laid such talents aside when it came to operating in revelation (see 1 Cor 2:1-3). God uses both in the leader but in fact, it is dedication of all that we have and are which removes the clear distinction between natural talent and divine gift in the leader.

Every Called Person has a Handicap: The great heroes of the Bible had handicaps even those with mighty signs and wonders; they were mere humans with many limitations and flaws. Moses committed murder and had a terrible speech impediment. Miriam fueled a conspiracy against Moses during the wilderness journey of the Israelites. David committed adultery and murder. A harmless little old lady intimidated Elijah. And when the chips were down, Peter denied even knowing Jesus! Saul of Tarsus rounded up Christians and threw them in jail or had them stoned and it goes on.

“I don’t know about you, but I like the fact that none of these heroes were larger than life on their own. That gives me hope, because I was anything but a success before I met the Lord. If anything, God specialises in taking people who are self-willed, arrogant, or just plain ordinary, and making them into successful human beings. By successful, I don’t mean rich and famous. I mean humble, loving, and generous. People who are becoming the best they can be in Christ.” (Dick Bernal).

What seems to be our tragedy becomes our triumph. We learn how to turn the “messes” of our lives into “messages” and how to change the “tests” into “testimonies,” and as my wife often says turn our “cares” into “prayers;” our “worry” into “worship” and last but not least how to find “peace” in the “pain.” Our strength is always in God.

What is our biggest hindrance to success - is it failure? – No! We are our own hindrance! Making mistakes is not a hindrance for victory! We see in scripture when Elijah went straight from a great victory into a great flop! Jonah: everything God told him to do – he did the exact opposite! We have all come to that place where we have found our “problems” were not really the issue; instead we discovered that our “problems” where actually God given “opportunities!”

This transpires simply because problems can help make us people who reach out “past” and “beyond” our natural abilities. Whereas a person who reaches out to God without any problems or challenges whatsoever, sees little if any change, growth or increase etc.

In reality who needs to look for problems? Problems exist and God has called every one of us to be problem solvers. Problems represent NEEDS! Problems are not wrong. They are not negatives if we look at them positively. They are needs that God has called us and given us the ability and anointing to meet and solve. For sake of illustration there were two salesmen who came back from Africa, one was down and the other was up – thrilled to bits. One said, “They don’t wear shoes in Africa – it’s hopeless.” The other said, “No one has shoes in Africa, they all need our shoes!”

God told us that we are to get a harvest, to multiply and reproduce. That means we must see and experience “increase” because God has said. In other words, blessing is not a “feeling” but a “condition” therefore it is important to consider this vital fact: God’s expression for our lives is an expression of His promises.

Father thank You for the call and the distinction that You have placed in my life. I am at Your bidding no my own. I am available to Your plans and not my own. I trust Your strategies for the future and for my part in that overall scheme of events. Thank You for the desire that You placed in my heart to serve You. That inner passion that yields to You and not to circumstance.

I fan up the gift of God inside of me today. I make myself available to be used by Him. I have the grace: authority and the ability to meet that responsibility – in Jesus name.


Motto: ‘God Chooses, then the Spirit Tests, but You Must Respond!’

Copyright 2011 © Alan Pateman Ministries


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