Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands,and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest.The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire,his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters…When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying,“Fear not, I am the first and the last,and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades. Revelation 1:12-15, 17-18
Ever have a really good friend and, somewhere along the way in the relationship, you see him/her in his/her “natural environment” and you come to realize you didn’t know him/her nearly as well as you thought you did? You’ve been through hard times together, you’ve travelled together, you’ve met family and know each other’s triumphs and fears, and you have logged lots and lots of hours just hanging out together. But, by some twist of circumstances, you happen to catch him/her in a situation where the real “natural” self comes out and you think, “Wow. Did not see that coming.” And then it hits you…this is who he/she really is!
I believe John (the apostle and writer of Revelation) and Jesus were best friends. Best. Friends. I believe that is a perfectly reasonable interpretation of the gospels. John was clearly in Jesus’ “inner circle” (along with Peter and John’s brother, James). He was atop the Mount of Transfiguration to …
Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8
Want a chuckle for today? Check out this Wiki article on 7 steps to survive a lion attack. Yeh, I’m not altogether certain about those seven steps. I have a question or two about them. For starters, do I try to recall these steps before I wet my pants or after?
I love that Peter uses this illustration to make his point about our enemy. It is perfect for so many reasons.
Consider, for example, how a lioness hunts. She is capable of following a herd of animals for days, even weeks, stalking and studying. She watches to learn which of the members are the weakest and the most likely to fall behind the rest of the herd. You see, when it comes to lion attacks, there is protection in the herd. The lioness watches for lame or young or otherwise “slower” members of the herd who are more likely to make decisions that tend to “distance” them from the herd…decisions that might make the protection of the herd more and more tenuous.
The same is true of our enemy. He watches the church (the “herd”)…stalking and learning. He watches for those members most likely to distance themselves from the church…most likely to forsake the spiritual protection of God’s people. You see, being created for community means we actually need each other’s diligent protection against the schemes of our enemy. We really must let friends get close enough to us to protect us. We must make arrangements with brothers and sisters who will love us enough to ask us some hard questions about our choices. That, my friend, is what “accountability” means.
Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. 1 Corinthians 12:7
Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 1 Peter 4:10
I think the trick to understanding Spiritual Gifts is remembering their purpose…remembering for whose benefit they are intended.
Have you ever been so pleased with a gift you found for someone that you decided to get the same thing for yourself as well? Should we feel guilty about that? Do we have to tell the person that we did that, or can we just give them the gift and keep the rest of the story to ourselves? Is that deceptive? Does that break any gift-giving rules? Can we please get a ruling on this?
One of my two team members (Andrew) on last year’s South Africa trip had a birthday while we were traveling. I happened to be walking through the Waterfront at Cape Town a day or two before and saw the coolest little key chain. It was African art, a symbol for unity (it shows two crossed crocodiles). I thought it would be a perfect and simple little birthday gift for Andrew. I bought it. But I was so excited about it, I decided I wanted one for myself too! And then I decided I wanted one for Kelley too, so that our whole Unity Ministries team could have this as a memory from this trip. And, alas, Andrew’s birthday gift became a team gift for all of us! I suppose the original purpose of the gift got a little blurred in the process…Very sorry, Andrew!
I think that can happen with Spiritual Gifts as well. When the Spirit manifests Himself …