Working Hard

Writing is a funny thing. Some days I sit down at the keyboard and in minutes have a thousand words down and a blog post ready to go. Some days not. Today was one of the latter days.

I’ve stared at a blank screen for some time, and done a few miles of pacing up and down the room. It might be because i’ve been working on other projects and my creative juices need replenishing, but who knows.

It got me thinking about the various gifts and talents those in the church have been given by God. Whether spiritual in nature, musical or administrative, God has liberally given us all gifts to use for His glory in supporting the Body of Christ.

Yet just because one has a gift in a certain area, does not mean its use comes easily to them. I hope I have some small gift of writing and teaching, and yet today neither has come easily. I’ve had to work hard at it to get the words out.

Having a gift in any area does not negate the need for hard work and practise.

I am reminded by this verse penned by the Apostle Paul:

So then, my beloved, even as you have always obeyed, not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.

Philippians 2:12 (WEB)

Paul is not telling his readers that they must work to achieve their salvation. Far from it. Paul went to great lengths to preach the Gospel of grace meaning that salvation is a gift from God and achieved by Christ’s work at the cross. We cannot earn salvation any more than the Old Testament believers could fulfil all aspects of the law. We all need a Saviour to be our substitute.

Paul is saying that we ought to work out our salvation, that is, live it out in our everyday lives. We have it already, it belongs to us because of Jesus, so now let’s live like a saved people.

From the moment we accept Jesus as our Saviour, we begin a journey. On the one hand, we are sanctified at that very moment, but on another, we must work towards sanctification through surrendering ourselves to God and His ways.

Similarly, Paul tells Timothy:

But refuse profane and old wives’ fables. Exercise yourself toward godliness.

1 Timothy 4:7 (WEB)

Another translation renders this verse as “train yourselves to be godly.” While we fully possess salvation, we must also train ourselves for godliness. It takes work to do this.

God makes us righteous in our spirits, exchanging our unrighteousness for Christ’s righteousness. That position will never change. But we are more than just our spirits, and our mind, will and emotions all need to be trained in line with God’s Word.

Romans 12:1-2 tells us to renew our minds that we might be transformed into Christ’s likeness. This is a process which takes time.

Therefore I urge you, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service. 2 Don’t be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what is the good, well-pleasing, and perfect will of God.

Romans 12:1-2 (WEB)

In the same way, we are given spiritual or natural gifts by God the Father who made us. These gifts must be trained and practised in order to grow strong and effective.

My teaching gift has been apparent for some time, and yet I still have much to learn to use it effectively. I must study to grow in the knowledge of God’s Word, and I must practise both writing and speaking, learning what works and what does not. There is no shortcut to doing this.

Perhaps you are a natural singer. Even so, you will still need to practise the songs you sing, harmonies and melodies, and different ways you can use that voice.

Perhaps your gifts are in church administration. Again, you too will need to practise those skills to deploy with great effect. You might need to learn how to use a new accounting system or piece of software, you might need to learn different organisational skills or you may simply need to give time to tidying, clearing and sorting.

Do not neglect your gift. It is a precious thing, and it needs to be nurtured to grow strong. How can you develop it for the Lord today?

Stepping Into Prophecy

Let love be your highest goal! But you should also desire the special abilities the Spirit gives–especially the ability to prophesy.

1 Corinthians 14:1 (NLT)

I’ve been reflecting on the reasons I originally started this blog. Of course, it was partly to share the Bible with people and some of my thoughts on it. But it was also to explore the spiritual gift of prophecy.

It has slowly become clear to me that I do have a spiritual gift in this area, but it is also something I’ve had little opportunity to really step out into. This blog was a chance for me to exercise this gift. It has taken me a long time to identify this in me, and so I don’t want you to think I’m arrogantly claiming this or that. I’ve found it quite humbling, but also realise an unused gift brings no glory to the Giver.

So that’s what I’m going to do… It may seem a little odd at first, and I hope you will bear with me as I go. But first…

What is the spiritual gift of prophecy?

The word “prophecy” can mean different things in the Bible. There is the “Office of Prophet” both in the New and Old Testament, and there is also biblical prophecy, such as some of the book of Daniel, or Ezekiel or Isaiah.

What I am referring to here is the spiritual gift of prophecy, as described by Paul in 1 Corinthians 12-14.

It is not about predicting the future, although there may be an element of understanding things that are to come. Rather it is sharing God’s will with people. Perhaps that may mean a word of encouragement, or pointing them towards Jesus, or confirming to them something God has already been saying to them.

It may mean receiving words, pictures or visions from the Holy Spirit, and describing them to the person concerned. It can take different forms, but must always be done in love.

During a conversation with a non-believer, I was once asked about the gift of prophecy – “How is it any different to what a psychic does?” That’s an insightful question from someone outside the church.

The spiritual gift of prophecy differs from what a psychic or medium might do for a number of reasons. Firstly, ignoring any fraudulent psychics who are only seeking money, the main difference is the source. Psychics may be tapping into the occult, or demonic powers, whereas when we use the gift of prophecy, we are seeking God’s Holy Spirit.

Secondly, they differ in terms of the goal. A psychic or medium may be offering words of advice or giving direction in one way or another, but if the source is “wrong”, that is, demonic, then those words as nicely framed as they may be, will only lead to trouble.

The enemy comes only to kill and steal and destroy (John 10:10) and so we ought to be very careful.

The spiritual gift of prophecy is intended to encourage and uplift believers. It’s an opportunity to share God’s will and purpose with someone, and to support them in time of need. Put simply, it is an expression of love.

Should it be used to correct a believer?

There are times when a prophetic word may be a warning or rebuke to a believer, but that should only be done in certain circumstances. The authority of the church, or in marital or parental situations for instance. A pastor may need to correct a member of the flock (with love and care) or a spouse or parent may need to do the same thing.

That does not mean anyone with a word of prophecy has the right or authority to do so.

In this blog, I want to listen to what God is saying and share it. Prophecy is not more difficult than that. However, it is not my place to bring correction to my readers. I can’t easily establish a relationship with people reading the blog, and nor do I see this as a place of authority over believers, as a church family might be. You will not therefore find words of correction or rebuke here.

How will this work?

Good question, and honestly, I’m not entirely certain yet. It is my intention to sit quietly and seek the Lord in prayer. I’ll then write down what I believe God is showing me.

Please keep in mind that I am not perfect, but thank God He is! I may make mistakes, misunderstand or get things wrong at times. Don’t ever take something I say here and base a major decision on it! That would not be wise. Instead, please use it as confirmation or inspiration. Discuss it with Jesus and be sure it is right and right for you before you act.

I hope that what you read is both encouraging and uplifting. If it speaks to you personally, then please get in touch by leaving a comment or writing me a message.

 


I see a barren landscape, with rocky ground here and about. There is a single yellow flower sprouting up from the ground, and before my eyes it is starting to spread and multiply. Before long, the entire landscape is covered in bright yellows, pinks, reds and blues. The rocky soil that was there before is completely gone, covered up and good ground in its place. 

It feels to me that this is a picture of hope. Perhaps you are a Christian, alone in your situation (maybe at work?) and feel like that single flower in the middle of the wilderness. God encourages you to stand firm and hang on, because your faithfulness will birth other “flowers” and the dry, stony sand will be replaced with new life. 

You may feel the ground is too dry, the wind too strong and the conditions just aren’t right for you. You wish to leave, to find somewhere more comfortable, but God is wanting you to stay put. It may feel difficult right now, but He is strengthening you and before long you will not be the only one. Your faithfulness at sharing the Gospel will bear much fruit until God changes the entire landscape through you. 


I see a gold pocket watch on a chain. This could symbolise time, or the passing of time but perhaps it is a specific object of meaning to someone. Someone is clutching it tightly and I wonder if it means that time is running out in some situation? Or maybe it just feels that way.

God is never late or early, but will always be on time. He has not forgotten you and has not abandoned you. Time’s not up yet!


I have a picture of waves crashing against a sea shore. They are refreshing, cold but invigorating. This seems to be a time of refreshing for someone who needs it. You feel weary and tired, but the waves are the rejuvenating of your spirit by the Holy Spirit. He has come alongside you and is holding you up. He will never leave you nor forsake you. I’m reminded of Philippians 4:13 from the Amplified Bible which says:

“I can do all things [which He has called me to do] through Him who strengthens and empowers me [to fulfill His purpose—I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency; I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him who infuses me with inner strength and confident peace.]”

God is likewise infusing you with inner strength. Don’t rely on your physical strength, as that can drain. Instead, draw on the Spirit who will never run dry or grow weary. You are able!