Hey guys, and welcome back to episode 7 of this series on “How to Fulfill Your Calling”.
In episode 2, if you remember, we looked at how we are supposed to operate in order to fulfill our calling. And we looked at how Jesus was full of the Holy Spirit, led by the Holy Spirit and operated in the power of the Holy Spirit. And in the last session we talked about how to find your personal calling, and I talked a lot about how to be led by the Holy Spirit. So now we’ve got to a really exciting point in this series which is we’re going to be talking about how to operate in the power of the Holy Spirit. But before we move on to that, I just want to say two things about the call of God on your life: the first thing is that the focus of God’s call on your life will always be people. What I mean by that is whether you are directly or indirectly connected with people, the focus will always be loving and serving people at a personal cost to yourself. And the second thing is that the ultimate mission, above and beyond everything that we do on a daily basis, the ultimate mission for all of the things that we do is the great commission – that commission that Jesus gave us to go into all the world, to preach the gospel to all creation, to baptize people, to make disciples and to teach them to obey everything he commanded us. So, whatever God calls us to do is going to be in the context of the great commission and it’s going to be about loving and serving people at a personal cost to ourselves, which brings us to the point that we’re at now, because we can ask, “How do I do that? How can I actually love and serve people? How is God calling me to do that?” And we’ve talked a bit about being full of the Holy Spirit, we’ve talked about being led by the Holy Spirit, so let’s move on to operating in the power of the Holy Spirit. In 1 Corinthians two, verses four to five, Paul the apostle said this, “My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.” Can you see that? Even Paul, who was an eloquent speaker and preacher, said, “I don’t want your faith to rest on the way I speak, I want your faith to rest on the fact that you’ve seen God’s supernatural power at work”. And you know, in Paul’s case, that might have been healing the sick or casting out demons or the people seeing miracles, but there has to be more than just human wisdom and human strategy and human talents at work if we’re going to really fulfill God’s calling and be part of this ministry of the Spirit that we’ve been talking about. So I want you to ask yourself at the beginning of episode 7. “Is there a supernatural element to my life?” Are there times in your life where you are operating in a power that you know is not your own and that it’s God’s Spirit working through you? This is what we’re going to be talking about into this in this episode. So, let’s get into episode seven – we’re talking about operating in the power of the Holy Spirit. Operating in the power of the Holy Spirit is when we use the supernatural gifts that God has given us to carry out His purposes on the earth in a way that we could not do in our natural ability. And those gifts are often known as ‘the gifts of the Spirit’, and perhaps sometimes we limit them to a particular list that we find in one chapter of the Bible, but we looked in episode one didn’t we, at that guy called Bezalel, who God filled him with His Spirit and enabled him to do things that we don’t usually think of as the gifts of the Spirit.
And actually what we learned was that the Spirit can enable you to do whatever needs to be done in order to fulfill the purpose that God has for your life. And as I read through the Bible, I see some scripture talking about the gifts of the Spirit and explaining how some of the gifts work, but not a lot. And I think that really the gifts of the Spirit are not just there to be explained, but the gifts of the spirit are there to be discovered. Sometimes you don’t understand a spiritual gift until you see it. Whether that’s you seeing it in operation in somebody else’s life, and you just know in your heart – that’s the Holy Spirit. Or whether it’s you who operates in the gift – you’ve never seen it before but you realize that you’re operating in a power that is not your own. So, the gifts of the Spirit are there to be discovered and we have to discover how to operate in those gifts, but in 1 Corinthians 12:7 it says, “Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.” So what it’s saying there is that all of us are given a spiritual gift, and the way it describes it is ‘a manifestation of the Spirit’. So the Spirit of God lives in you, you’ve been filled with the Spirit, and the gifts that you have are when His Spirit in you is made known on the outside – people can actually see it, it’s a manifestation of the Holy Spirit. That is operating in the gifts of the Spirit. And it’s quite clear there, it says, “is given for the common good”, so the gifts of the Spirit are not given to draw attention to ourselves, although that will inevitably happen at times, but they’re not given for that reason. And they’re also not given to glorify ourselves. They’re given for the common good of the whole church, and often also people outside the church as well. The gifts are given to accomplish God’s work and because it’s a supernatural work, it requires supernatural gifts. 1 Peter 4:10 shows us that everybody has at least one gift. It says this, “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms”. So first of all, everybody has at least one and each of you should use that gift. And then it says, “to serve others”. So the gift that is given to me is actually not for me, it’s for the people that I am going to serve. And it says, “as faithful stewards of God’s grace”. What does that mean? That means that the gift that we receive is not actually ours. We are stewarding that gift and that also means that what we do with that gift is ultimately not up to us – we are under authority. We’re under the authority of the one who gave it to us and He’s given it to us in order to fulfill a specific task that He wants to be fulfilled. And there are times where that can be a bit difficult because, you know, we have our own will and we have our own ideas about how we think we should use the gift or or where and in what context we think we should use the gift. And there was a time where I had to make a really difficult decision because I was serving in a large international Christian ministry and I thought that this was the ideal context for me to use the gift that God had placed on my life, but over many years God made it really clear that, “David”, and He even showed me when, that he wanted me to leave this organization, he wanted me to start something new – he wanted me to start truth planters actually, but at the time I could not see how that could possibly be a good decision. But at the end of the day I had to submit to His authority and say, “God, the gift that you’ve placed on my life isn’t actually mine, it’s your gift and if you are calling me to use it in a different context than the context that I see with my eyes right now is the best, then I’m going to be obedient to you”. And of course that’s called “living by faith and not by sight”. But sometimes there will be opportunities or there’ll be ideas that come to you that seem like a better way of using your gift but we have to ask whether we are going to claim that gift as ours, you know, ask yourself the question now: are you going to claim the gifts that God has given you as your own, or are you going to accept that He was the one that gave them to you and that you are a steward, and that you have to make the choice actually to steward those gifts for His glory. And then the scripture tells us that we are to “eagerly desire the spiritual gifts”, this is 1 Corinthians 14:1, it says, “Follow the way of love (we’ll come back to that later) and eagerly desire the gifts of the Spirit, especially prophecy.” Now when I asked that question at the beginning, “are you operating in a supernatural power that’s not your own”, some of you might have felt a little bit uncomfortable and thought to yourself, ‘well I’m not really sure, like I know I’ve got some gifts, I’m not sure if they’re natural gifts or spiritual gifts’, and actually what the scripture is saying is, you know, “eagerly desire”, that means you will be regularly asking God, “God, give me the gifts, give me the greater gifts, give me the gifts, especially that serve others and bless others”, like it says here, “especially prophecy”. Why? Because that’s a gift that doesn’t build you up, it builds up others as you use the gift. I just want to say a few things about operating in the power of the Spirit and operating in the gifts. Just because you’ve received a spiritual gift, doesn’t necessarily mean that you are operating in that gift. Now what do I mean by that? Well, even if I have a gift of teaching, it doesn’t mean that every time I stand up on a stage or sit in front of a camera to teach, that I’m operating in the gift of the Holy Spirit. And I actually can sense often when I’m operating in the power of the Spirit and when I’m not, and my job is to learn how can I best yield to the Holy Spirit so that He can be the most effective and the most powerful through me. Basically, that I’m not getting in the way of what He wants to do through me. So I just want to share some of the things that might stop you operating in the power of the Spirit and operating in your gifts. First one is fear or intimidation, and actually that’s unbelief. Actually fear always comes from believing lies and not believing the truth, and so we have to step forward in faith when it comes to the gifts God has given us. I won’t go into detail on that now but I’m just going to mention these things and maybe you can really seek God and ask God if one of these is is an issue for you that’s holding you back. So, the second thing is sometimes we take an opportunity too casually and the scripture says, “make the most of every opportunity”, and I think if we go into an opportunity that God has given us and we’re casual about it, we’re not going to operate in the power of the Holy Spirit in the way that we could. We should be saying, “God, thank you so much for this opportunity. I don’t care if I’m ministering to one person or 100 people or 1,000 or 1 million people, if this is an opportunity, if this is a door that God has opened, I’m going for it! I’m not taking it casually. I’m going to give my best”. And the third thing is pride, and you know with some of the gifts, perhaps the more seen gifts in the body of Christ, we’ve kind of elevated those gifts and we’ve kind of made celebrities or idols out of the some of the most gifted people, and I think pride is something that can creep in and sometimes we want attention for ourselves and I think that this really grieves the Holy Spirit. And don’t forget that we can grieve the Spirit – we can make him sad, we can quench the Holy Spirit – that’s like throwing water onto a fire, and we can resist the Holy Spirit. Now when I think of that word “resist”, I think in this context we can also remember the scripture that says, “God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble”. So we need to rid our lives of pride and we need to make sure that we’re not trying to draw attention to ourselves because ultimately it’s His ministry, not ours, and we’re going to grieve the Holy Spirit if we try to make it about us and not about Him. The fourth thing is when we do what God has told us to do but we don’t do it in the way that He’s told us to do it. Now I can think of times as a teacher and as a worship leader where the Lord has led me to do something in a particular way, whether it’s to speak about something particular in my opening sentences or whether it’s to take something out of my teaching that I was planning to say. Sometimes at the very last minute the Lord will speak to me and say don’t talk about that, and I need to make sure that I’m yielding to Him and that I’m being led by his Spirit because as I do that, I’m going to sense the power of the Holy Spirit flowing more clearly. And sometimes as a worship leader I knew that there were particular songs that I needed to sing on a particular day and sometimes it was even the way that the song needed to be sung, I could just sense in my Spirit that this was a moment for quiet and calm and I needed to sing the song more quietly and perhaps even slower than I usually would, and then there were other times where I could feel like the Spirit wanted me to lead the people into a time of praise and it needed to be loud and it needed to be big and it needed to be full of joy. And so I could sense His leading and I believe that if we don’t follow that, we won’t experience really the fullness of what He wants to do. And there are five practical things that I’ve learned when I think about fulfilling my calling and operating in the gifts and the power of the Holy Spirit. First thing is when God gives you an opportunity, always give 100%. I’ve already said something similar to that, but I just want to re-emphasize that if He opens a door for you, make sure you give 100%. Second thing is give God and the people that you’re serving 100% of your focus. Don’t allow yourself to be distracted. Sometimes I will purposely turn my phone off, maybe even an hour before I’m due to teach or lead worship, and I will keep my phone off during that time because I don’t want to be distracted by anything else that’s going on. And as far as I’m concerned, if I am involved in the work of the ministry of the Spirit, then anything else that might distract me during that time can wait till afterwards. Third thing is: get over yourself! Some people are so busy moaning and complaining and sometimes they go into self-pity, “Oh I can’t do this, I’m not very good at this”. It’s not about you. It’s never been about you, so get over yourself and just trust that God’s put you in that place at that time and all He requires from you is that you follow His lead and you give it your absolute best. And if you can do that, I believe you will experience God’s grace and His power working through you. You know, I’ve listened to teachings and testimonies from people who really are not eloquent and don’t necessarily even have the gift of speaking in public, but because their heart’s been right and they’ve been obedient to what God is saying to them and the message that He’s calling them to deliver, I’ve been powerfully touched by the Lord through people like that. And it could be that there are people who are much more eloquent or even more gifted in that area but because they’re not allowing God to say through them what He wants to say, it just doesn’t have the same power. And the fifth thing is don’t be self-confident. And now I’m not saying don’t be confident, because I think we should be very, very confident because our confidence should be in God. And of course that was the difference between David and all the rest of the the army that would not face Go liath. They, maybe they were confident in themselves but the reality was it wasn’t enough – they knew they couldn’t defeat Goliath. David wasn’t confident in himself but he had huge confidence because he was confident in God. And I just want to say, don’t be self-confident, be confident in God. You know, the Bible says, “the righteous are bold as a lion.” 2 Timothy chapter 1 verses 6 to 7 says, “For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands”. So Paul is saying to Timothy, “don’t forget that you received a spiritual gift, and now I’m telling you to fan into flame that gift that God has given you”. And then he says this, “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid (or fearful), but gives us power, love and self-discipline”. Isn’t that amazing? Paul is encouraging Timothy like a son, “Timothy, step forward. Use the gift that God has given you. Don’t be afraid, don’t shrink back, move forward with power, with love, with self-control. Fan into flame that gift.” You know, when you fan a fire, you see the fire is already burning, but when you fan it the oxygen goes into the fire and it roars, and you feel the heat coming from the fire and that’s what he’s talking about here, and we need to know how to do that with the gifts that God has given us. And there are a few things that I do to try to help me do that. As a teacher or a worship leader, before I go up on the stage, often if I’m going to be teaching – and there’s usually worship before I’m teaching – and a few songs before I’m about to step up on the stage and and speak, I’m on my knees. I get on my knees and I say, “God, thank you so much for this opportunity, and I want to say, God, this is your ministry, not my ministry, Lord I want to say less of me and more of you. Would you speak through me today, would you give me the words that you want me to say, Lord, and would you help me to let go of the things that I want to say or things that might just be in my mind, and would you take over, would you lead me”. And I find that as I do that, I get in tune with His Spirit, and if I stay in that place of being yielded to Him and in humility, understanding this is His ministry, it’s not about me, it’s not my ministry, then I find that I can operate in the power of the Holy Spirit and people are touched in a much greater way than if I just casually walked on the stage and started saying things that were coming into my mind. One of the things you can do is thank Him if you know there’s an opportunity to use the gift of God. You can thank him – the scripture says, “Enter his gates with thanksgiving, enter his courts with praise.” There’s something about thanksgiving and praise that enables us to enter into the presence of God. Some people like to pray in tongues. If you’ve got the gift of tongues, the scripture says that “he who prays in a tongue edifies himself” – strengthens himself. spiritually. Sometimes praying in tongues can kind of tune you in to the voice of the Spirit and help help you to fan into flame the gift of God. Sometimes you can remember a particular word that God has given you – maybe He spoke to you about this opportunity or He’s given you a word for your life and for your calling, and as you remember that word it encourages you and it inspires you to step forward in confidence and use the gift He’s given you. Sometimes I will ask God for a word for a particular task, so if I’m going to a particular place to speak or to lead worship, I’ll ask Him to give me a word for that particular thing, and as I go I’ve got that fresh word from His Spirit – it’s usually a scripture that He gives me, and that kind of gives me that fresh lease of life that comes from his Spirit to really give my all and see Him work powerfully through me in a new way. Sometimes you can just say, “God would you fill me afresh with your Holy Spirit, Lord I need you, I need you to come and do this through me”. Sometimes you can ask Him to give you His love for the people, you know, if you’re going to be speaking to just one person and you know it might be challenging or if you’re going to be speaking to lots of people, you want to ask Him, “God give me your heart towards that person”, especially if you might have to bring correction or something, because you want to be speaking the truth – not only the truth – but the truth in love. And I think you know for an evangelist, if you’re really called to evangelism and you can sense God leading you to go on the streets and talk to people and pray for people, that would be something that you could do – you could, before you go out on the streets, just pray, “God would you give me your love for the people. When I see these people would you just fill me with your love and compassion for them, that your Spirit might flow through me and give me the words to say”. And the reason I say all these things is because I know that you can do the action of your gift in the flesh. What I mean by that is, I could stand up on a stage and I could speak and I could just give information, and that could be done in my flesh. Now, I have the gift of teaching, but I need to stir up that gift and fan into flame that gift, so that I am operating in the power of the Holy Spirit, because that’s how we do His ministry. I’m going to say it again because I just don’t want you to forget this: we should be full of the Holy Spirit, led by the Holy Spirit and operating in the power of the Holy Spirit. And and as I’ve learned to do this, this is where I’ve really seen fruit for God’s kingdom, way above and beyond what I was ever seeing before I learnt to walk in these things. So if you do the action of your gift but in the flesh, actually it can be dead or it can be half dead if it’s half-hearted, but the Spirit gives life, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom, there is liberty.
And you will feel the Holy Spirit flowing through you, and actually I find that it energizes me. I can teach three or four hour-long sessions in a row and afterwards I’m energized and I’m encouraged and I’m excited. Why? Because actually, I haven’t been doing it, He’s been doing it through me. Now of course my physical body can sometimes be tired because it’s been my physical body that’s been used to actually do it, but you know what I’m saying – I’m spiritually, emotionally, mentally energized because I’ve received something as well. And don’t forget that our faces should shine more brightly than the face of Moses when he came down after receiving the ten commandments because this ministry – the new covenant ministry, is more glorious than the old covenant, and we should take joy from using the gifts God has given us to bring Him glory. Anyway, before we get carried away with using the gifts, I think it’s important that we put the gifts of the Spirit in their right context. You see we can all have gifts of the Spirit but if we don’t have love, actually we are nothing. 1 Corinthians 13 verses 1 to 3 says, “If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging symbol. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, i’m nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.” So one thing we need to remember when we’re talking about love here, is that whenever we talk about love, when the scripture talks about love it’s talking about God’s definition of love, not our definition of love. And I really want to encourage you to read the rest of 1 Corinthians 13 because it says a lot of things about love, and the world around us teaches us that to love somebody is to make them feel good and to say to them the things that they want to hear, but actually God’s definition of love is very different to the world’s definition of love. But why is love so important here? You see, God doesn’t only give us the gifts of the Spirit, He also gives us the fruit of the Spirit, and the first one is love. Let’s just look at that – Galatians 5:22-23, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” I just want to quickly say something about gifts and fruit. You see, a gift is given. I could buy my eight-year-old daughter a remote control helicopter for her birthday and she could receive that gift. And she’s going to start trying to fly this helicopter and probably the first thing she’s going to do is crash it into the wall. Why? She’s received the gift but she hasn’t got really good at using the gift yet. And the gifts of the Spirit are a bit like that. We can receive the gift, but we need to operate in them, we need to stir them up, we need to practice them in order to get better at using those gifts. But fruit is different. Fruit has to be cultivated, fruit grows over time and, you know plants and trees that grow fruit need caring for, they need pruning. Some plants grow better in certain environments than others, and sometimes you might be complaining to God for the situation that He’s put you in – you might be saying, “God I don’t like it here, these people aren’t being nice to me, I don’t feel like this is the right place for me”. But God knows that where He has put you is the best place for the fruit of the Spirit to grow, and often it’s patience, isn’t it, that we learn, or it’s to have His love for people that we don’t find lovable in our flesh. But there are some plants that actually need moving at a particular point in their lives and they need to be replanted into a new place, and sometimes God will move us from one place to another, and we might be thinking that this isn’t the best way to operate in the gift and fulfill my calling but actually it’s the fruit that He wants to grow at that point in your life. And sometimes, until you move the plant it can’t flourish and it can’t grow, and a friend of mine once said to me, “the death of your flesh is the compost for your spirit”. And I thought that was really good, but what I’m saying is that the fruit of the Spirit enables us to have the character that we need in order to use the gifts. See, if we get carried away with the gifts and we don’t have the love, we don’t have the peace, we don’t have the patience, first of all we might make it about us. Secondly we might destroy other people with the gifts and actually we need to have that love and that patience so that actually we can consistently serve others. But we can ask for the gifts of the Spirit, and I’m sure you do, I hope you do. But sometimes we need to be asking ourselves, ‘Do I have the love and the humility that is necessary to use the gifts that I’ve got in a God-honoring way?’ Or, ‘If God was to give me that gift, actually is my heart right? Would I be ready to carry that gift in the way that Jesus would want me to carry it – with His love, with His kindness and with His gentleness, that I wouldn’t be self-seeking, that I wouldn’t be quick to anger’, you know, the things that it talks about in 1 Corinthians 13. See, many of us are praying for the gifts but actually we also need to be praying for the fruit. We need the fruit of the Spirit, the fruit of the Spirit is the character of Jesus and we all need to be praying, “God, would you make me more like Jesus”. You see, the Holy Spirit is carrying on the ministry of Jesus on the earth, so not only do we need to be able to operate in His power, but actually we need His character as well. So let’s ask God for His supernatural love for the people that He’s calling us to serve and let’s ask Him not only to give us the gifts of the Spirit, but that we might grow in the fruit and the character of Christ as well. Let’s pray together. Father, we just want to thank you so much that you have so many gifts that you want to give us. Lord, you have a supernatural calling on every one of our lives and you want to supernaturally empower us and gift us to be able to fulfill that calling and to take part in your ministry. We want to thank you for that right now. We want to thank you Lord, that each one of us has at least one gift. Father we want to thank you that we learnt in this episode that the gifts are not ours – that we are stewards, and that we’ve been given the gifts to serve others and not to serve ourselves. And Lord, we just want to thank you for all the practical tools you’ve given us in this episode – that we need to be able to stir up and to fan into flame the gift that you have given us and also the gifts that you are going to give us in the future. And right now, Father, we say we want to eagerly desire the gifts of the Spirit. Lord would you pour out your gifts into our lives right now, and Father we ask, Lord, more than anything, would you give us your character. Would you help us, Lord, that the fruit of the Spirit might grow in our lives – Lord that we might have the humility, that we might have the love, the peace, the patience, the kindness, the goodness, all those things that we need to carry this calling that you’ve put on our lives in a way that honours you and brings you glory. In Jesus’ name, Amen. See you in episode 8.