Seek the Gifts of the Spirit
"Seek eagerly after love. Set your hearts on spiritual gifts." —1 Corinthians 14:1
Pope John Paul II has taught: "The Holy Spirit, while bestowing diverse ministries in Church communion, enriches it still further with particular gifts or promptings of grace, called charisms...The charisms are received in gratitude both on the part of the one who receives them, and also on the part of the entire Church. They are in fact a singularly rich source of grace for the vitality of the apostolate and for the holiness of the whole Body of Christ (The Lay Members of Christ's Faithful People, 24).
Pope John Paul II has also taught: "The Spirit of Jesus, received by the humble and docile heart of the believer, brings about the flourishing of Christian moral life and the witness of holiness amid the great variety of vocations, gifts, responsibilities, conditions and life situations. As Novatian once pointed out — here expressing the authentic faith of the Church — it is the Holy Spirit 'who confirmed the hearts and minds of the disciples, who revealed the mysteries of the Gospel, who shed upon them the light of things divine. Strengthened by his gift, they did not fear either prisons or chains for the name of the Lord; indeed they even trampled upon the powers and torments of the world, armed and strengthened by him, having in themselves the gifts which this same Spirit bestows and directs like jewels to the Church, the Bride of Christ. It is in fact he who raises up prophets in the Church, instructs teachers, guides tongues, works wonders and healings, accomplishes miracles, grants the discernment of spirits, assigns governance, inspires counsels, distributes and harmonizes every other charismatic gift' " (The Splendor of Truth, 108).
The Lord commands us to set our hearts on the charisms, the supernatural gifts of the Spirit. On Judgment Day we will not be responsible to have had all the gifts, but to have sought all the gifts. To seek the gifts of the Spirit we must know what they are. Although the Spirit has poured out thousands of gifts, there are at least thirty which the Bible describes. The Lord commands us to seek these thirty gifts by prayer, Bible study, and use in ministry.
There are several major gift-lists in the Bible and several gifts mentioned individually.
Isaiah 11:2-3 — RENEWAL GIFTS
Romans 12:6-8 — UNITY GIFTS
1 Corinthians 12:8-10, 28-30; 13:1-3 — GIFTS FOR UNITY AND GROWTH
17. Discernment of Spirits
18. Tongues (Praise)
19. Interpretation of Tongues
23. Redemptive Suffering (Martyrdom)
Ephesians 4:11 — EQUIPPING GIFTS
Other — INTEGRATION GIFTS
Isaiah 11:2-3 — RENEWAL GIFTS
The gifts from Isaiah 11 can be called the renewal gifts. When we exercise these gifts received at Confirmation, the poor and the afflicted are judged with justice (Is 11:4). We re-create things to be as they were before mankind's sin. "Then the wolf shall be a guest of the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid. The calf and the young lion shall browse together, with a little child to guide them" (Is 11:6).
WISE MEN AND WOMEN STILL SEEK HIM
"Who ever knew Your counsel, except You had given Wisdom and sent Your Holy Spirit from on high?" —Wisdom 9:17
The first of Isaiah's and 1 Corinthians' gifts is wisdom (Is 11:2). It is the supernatural gift to apply divine revelation so as to make and express decisions according to God's will. All Christians can receive this gift and all of Isaiah's gifts. The Lord promises: "If any of you is without wisdom, let him ask it from the God Who gives generously and ungrudgingly to all, and it will be given him. Yet he must ask in faith, never doubting" (Jas 1:5-6).
This spiritual gift of wisdom should not be confused with worldly wisdom, which is absurdity to God (1 Cor 3:19). "Wisdom from above, by contrast, is first of all innocent. It is also peaceable, lenient, docile, rich in sympathy and the kindly deeds that are its fruits, impartial and sincere (Jas 3:17). Ultimately, wisdom is more than a gift; Jesus is our Wisdom (1 Cor 1:30).
Prayer: "Give me Wisdom, the attendant at Your throne, and reject me not from among Your children; For I am Your servant, the son of Your handmaid" (Wis 9:4).
Promise: "If any one of you thinks he is wise in a worldly way, he had better become a fool. In that way he will really be wise." —1 Cor 3:18
Praise: The apostles wisely decided not to require Gentile Christians to be circumcised (Acts 15). This was one of the most important decisions in history.
UNDER-STANDING IS STANDING UNDER GOD'S WILL
"'Have you understood all this?' 'Yes,' they answered." —Matthew 13:51
Isaiah prophesied: "This is not an understanding people; therefore their Maker shall not spare them" (Is 27:11). We must have understanding to be spared God's wrath. Therefore, "to acquire understanding is more desirable than silver" (Prv 16:16). Sometimes the Hebrew word for "understanding" is translated "intelligence" (see Prv 3:5; Dt 4:6), but understanding refers to supernatural intelligence, not natural. This same Hebrew word for "understanding" is translated "prudence" (Dn 1:20). Once again this refers to a supernatural prudence, for the four young men were "ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters in his kingdom" (Dn 1:20). Daniel's understanding was a special gift of interpreting visions, dreams (Dn 1:17), and Biblical prophecies (Dn 9:22). Understanding the revelation of God means understanding the person of God. The Lord says: "I am Understanding" (Prv 8:14).
Prayer: Lord, may I begin today to understand the prophetic meaning of the Bible.
Promise: "Those who err in spirit shall acquire understanding." —Is 29:24
Praise: Matthew supernaturally understood Isaiah's prophecy of the virgin-birth (Is 7:14; Mt 1:23).
STRATEGIC COMMAND POST
"Mine are counsel and advice." —Proverbs 8:14
The Hebrew word, translated "counsel" (Is 11:2) is often translated as "advice," "planning," or "strategy" (Is 36:5). The gift of counsel refers not so much to individual advice as to military strategy or international planning. The exercise of counsel will result in justice for the world's poor and in the perfect harmony of paradise (Is 11:4, ff). Counsel is available to all in some degree. We receive counsel through prayer, submission to authority, and especially through God's word. The psalmist claimed: "Your decrees are my delight; they are my counselors" (Ps 119:24). This gift of counsel is so important that the Messiah is called "Wonder-Counselor" (Is 9:5).
Prayer: Father, give me counsel to evangelize my city and to stop abortion, pornography, sexual perversion, racism, and starvation.
Promise: "Who has directed the Spirit of the Lord, or has instructed Him as His counselor? Whom did He consult to gain knowledge? Who taught Him the path of judgment, or showed Him the way of understanding?" —Is 40:13-14
Praise: Jerry's plan stopped the sale of pornographic magazines in his city.
STRONGER THAN THE STRONG MAN (see Lk 11:22)
"Now I know that the Lord has given victory to His anointed, that He has answered him from His holy heaven with the strength of His victorious right hand." —Psalm 20:7
The spiritual gift of strength is mentioned frequently in the context of war and refers to physical strength. Those who have this strength are called "warriors". This physical strength does not come by natural but supernatural means. "By waiting and by calm you shall be saved, in quiet and in trust your strength lies" (Is 30:15). The Hebrew word for "strength" is applied both to God and human beings (see Is 33:13; 63:15). This may indicate that the gift of strength is a share in God's almighty power. For example, Micah proclaimed: "As for me, I am filled with power, with the spirit of the Lord, with authority and with might" (Mi 3:8). We share in God's power so we can engage in spiritual warfare.
The apostle Paul is a good example of the gift of strength. He had the physical strength to endure exceptional hardships for the gospel (2 Cor 11:23-28). His strength was inexhaustible in waging spiritual warfare. He told Timothy: "The Spirit God has given us is no cowardly spirit, but rather one that makes us strong" (2 Tm 1:7).
Prayer: Father, give me strength to fight for Your kingdom each day, for years.
Promise: "With Him are wisdom and might; His are counsel and understanding." —Jb 12:13
Praise: Pastor Sam fought for two years against apathy in his congregation. During this time, over a hundred people committed their lives to Christ.
KNOW, "NEW", KNOWN
"I may be unskilled in speech but I know that I am not lacking in knowledge. We have made this evident to you in every conceivable way." —2 Corinthians 11:6
The gift of knowledge is primarily knowledge of God (Is 11:2). Secondarily, by the gift of knowledge we know something supernatural, as when Jesus told the Samaritan woman she had five husbands (Jn 4:18).
The gift of knowledge makes it possible to "comprehend all mysteries" (1 Cor 13:2). Knowledge is listed with revelation, prophecy, and instruction (1 Cor 14:6). It is coupled with fear of the Lord because an awe of God and a deep awareness of His presence often precede the manifestation of the gift of knowledge (Is 11:2). Knowledge may be a mystical experience such as when Paul was snatched up to the third heaven (2 Cor 12:2) or John "was caught up in ecstasy" (Rv 1:10). When knowledge is not about the circumstances of life but about knowledge of God, then knowledge is the same as understanding. "Knowledge of the Holy One is understanding" (Prv 9:10).
Although those with the gift of knowledge will be tempted to become proud (Is 47:10; 1 Cor 8:1), we must receive this gift, despite the danger. As with all the gifts listed in Isaiah, this gift has international effects. The Lord promises: "There shall be no harm or ruin on all My holy mountain; for the earth shall be filled with knowledge of the Lord, as water covers the sea" (Is 11:9).
Prayer: Father give me any spiritual experiences which will help me to know You intimately. May this make me a good witness for the gospel.
Promise: "That which makes her seasons lasting, the riches that save her, are wisdom and knowledge; the fear of the Lord is her treasure." —Is 33:6
Praise: Many saints have had inside-knowledge of heaven, purgatory, and hell.
"'Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts!' they cried one to the other. 'All the earth is filled with His glory!' At the sound of that cry, the frame of the door shook and the house was filled with smoke." —Isaiah 6:3-4
The fear of the Lord is of supreme importance since it is the beginning of wisdom and possibly the beginning of most of the other gifts of the Spirit (Is 11:3). The fear of the Lord is an awe in God's presence. It means being in the throne room of God with all the angels and saints. It is sometimes called "piety". It is the last and most important of the gifts listed in Isaiah 11. We should receive this gift first, because we receive the other spiritual gifts most bountifully when we have this awareness of God's awesome presence and person. The fear of the Lord permeates all the spiritual gifts, not only preceding the reception of gifts but also deepening as the spiritual gifts are exercised. After Pentecost, "a reverent fear overtook them all, for many wonders and signs were performed by the apostles" (Acts 2:43). The early church made "steady progress in the fear of the Lord" (Acts 9:31). This is one of the few gifts that will last forever.
Prayer: Triune God, may I want to be in Your presence even more than I want to breathe.
Promise: "Study the generations long past and understand; has anyone hoped in the Lord and been disappointed? Has anyone persevered in His fear and been forsaken?" —Sirach 2:10
Praise: Peter fell in awe at the knees of Jesus after the miraculous catch of fish (Lk 5:8).
Romans 12:6-8 — UNITY GIFTS
Because a major concern of the book of Romans is the unity of Jewish and Gentile Christians. The spiritual gifts listed in Romans 12 are powerful tools for building unity.
"Whether they heed or resist — for they are a rebellious house — they shall know that a prophet has been among them." —Ezekiel 2:5
The charism of prophecy is the first gift mentioned in Romans (see also 1 Cor 12:10 and Eph 4:11). It is to be sought above all the other gifts (1 Cor 14:1). Prophets are sent by God to speak on His behalf. "The Lord God does nothing without revealing His plan to His servants, the prophets" (Am 3:7). Prophecy builds up, encourages, and consoles the church (1 Cor 14:3-4). "Without prophecy the people become demoralized" (Prv 29:18). Without prophecy the church remains dead, dry bones (Ez 37:4).
Except in their native place prophets are honored (Mt 13:57), but God usually sends them to their native place (Ez 3:3ff). Prophets are, therefore, persecuted and even martyred (Lk 11:47). Because we don't want to suffer, we are tempted to shy away from the gift of prophecy. We are tempted to despise prophecy (1 Th 5:20), and insist that we will no longer speak in God's name (Jer 20:9). However, we must resist this temptation and seek the gift of prophecy with all our hearts. "Would that all the people of the Lord were prophets!" (Nm 11:29)
Prayer: Lord, because of my love for You, make me want to prophesy more than I want to enjoy myself.
Promise: "If an unbeliever or an uninitiate enters while all are uttering prophecy, he will be taken to task by all and called to account by all, and the secret of his heart will be laid bare. Falling prostate, he will worship God, crying out, 'God is truly among you.' " —1 Cor 14:24-25
Praise: Mary prophesied by quitting her job to oppose unethical business practices.
(For more teaching on this subject, order our pamphlet, Seek Prophecy.)
SAVED BY GRACE THROUGH FAITH (Eph 2:8)
"Faith is confident assurance concerning what we hope for, and conviction about things we do not see." —Hebrews 11:1
Faith in Jesus as Lord is the beginning of the Christian life and a prerequisite for receiving the gifts of the Spirit. Faith is likewise a gift of the Spirit (Rm 12:6; 1 Cor 12:9) and also the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22). Faith is unique in that it begins, sustains, and ends the life of the Spirit.
The other spiritual gifts depend on faith. Prophecy should be used only in proportion to our faith (Rm 12:6). Jesus repeatedly says: "It is your faith that has cured you" (e.g. Lk 8:48). Also, receiving wisdom depends on asking in faith (Jas 1:5-6).
Obviously, we need an increase in faith, in the gift of faith, and in the fruit of faith. We should pray with the apostles: Lord, "increase our faith" (Lk 17:5). We have faith, but we ask the Lord to help our lack of faith (Mk 9:24). Even a little faith can move a mountain (Mt 17:20). But Jesus asks: "When the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?" (Lk 18:8, our transl.)
"Faith, then, comes through hearing, and what is heard is the word of Christ" (Rm 10:17). God's word gives us an extensive, objective point of reference by which we can recognize and understand God's many communications to us amid the many other communications we receive from the world, the flesh, and the devil. Therefore, as St. Jerome taught "ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ," and ignorance of Christ results in a lack of faith, for faith is a result of a good personal relationship. Know God's word. Hear God's voice. Know God's love. Have faith.
Prayer: Jesus, may I have faith in You and do greater works than You did (Jn 14:12).
Promise: "Who, then, is conqueror of the world? The one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God." —1 Jn 5:5
Praise: Peter and John believed in Jesus and pulled up the man who was lame from birth. The man was dramatically healed (Acts 3:7).
"After all, who is Apollos? And who is Paul? Simply ministers through whom you became believers, each of them doing only what the Lord assigned him." —1 Corinthians 3:5
Any kind of Christian worship or work is ministry, but there is a special gift of ministry (Rm 12:7). This is the same word used for the deacons who waited on tables for the early church (Acts 6:2). The gift of ministry is serving people in very practical ways by supernatural power. Paul called "ministry" collecting money which he delivered to the starving believers in Jerusalem (Rm 15:27).
We all need practical help in living each day; therefore, we need ministry. Without it, we have faith without works, which is dead (Jas 2:26). Without ministry, Christian community is impossible and everyday life becomes unbearable. Ministry applies God's love to the details of life. Jesus came to serve, not to be served, even giving up His life (Mt 20:28). We must follow in His footsteps by washing one another's feet (Jn 13:14) and bearing one another's burdens (Gal 6:2). And thus we will fulfill the law of God.
Prayer: Father, may they know we are Christians by our love (Jn 13:35).
Promise: "Let us not grow weary of doing good; if we do not relax our efforts, in due time we shall reap our harvest. While we have the opportunity, let us do good to all men — but especially those of the household of the faith." —Gal 6:9-10
Praise: Dorcas' "life was marked by constant good deeds and acts of charity" (Acts 9:36).
Jesus "made the rounds of the neighboring villages...and spent His time teaching." —Mark 6:6
Teaching is the heart of God's plan of salvation. A teacher "must hold fast to the authentic message, so that he will be able both to encourage men to follow sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict it (Ti 1:9). Jesus' great commission is for us to make disciples, baptize, and teach (Mt 28:19-20). A church filled with the Spirit will devote itself to the apostles' instruction (Acts 2:42) and fill the world with teaching about the name and person of Jesus, the great Teacher (Acts 5:28).
The supernatural gift of teaching is one of the major qualifications for a leader of the Christian community (1 Tm 3:2). Leaders who do well, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching, deserve to be paid double (1 Tm 5:17). But you don't have to be a leader to teach. However "not many of you should become teachers, my brothers; you should realize that those of us who do so will be called to the stricter account" (Jas 3:1). Women are called to be teachers in some circumstances (Ti 2:4), but not in the eucharistic assembly (1 Tm 2:12; 1 Cor 14:34-35).
"Day after day, both in the temple and at home, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news of Jesus the Messiah" (Acts 5:42).
Prayer: Father, raise up teachers who are zealous, orthodox, and evangelistic.
Promise: "The servant of the Lord must not be quarrelsome but must be kindly toward all. He must be an apt teacher, patiently and gently correcting those who contradict him, in the hope always that God will enable them to repent and know the truth." —2 Tm 2:24-25
Praise: Pope John Paul II teaches clearly and accurately in a confused world.
(For more information see our book, How to Teach the Bible.)
"Everything written before our time was written for our instruction, that we might derive hope from the lessons of patience and the words of encouragement in the Scriptures. May God, the Source of all patience and encouragement, enable you to live in perfect harmony." —Romans 15:4-5
The Lord loves us; our future is full of hope (Jer 29:11), but sometimes we don't feel very hopeful. So the Lord gifts people to encourage us (Rm 12:8). Encouragement means to inspire others to persevere and grow in their service to Christ. It's not only cheering them up when they're down, but cheering them on when they're up. Lifted up by this supernatural gift of encouragement, we become highly motivated in running the race for Jesus. We rouse one another "to love and good deeds" (Heb 10:24). We overcome the discouragement and constant accusations of the evil one (Rv 12:10). We refuse to believe the devil's lies and to forfeit the victory already won by Jesus 2000 years ago. We are irreversibly victorious in Jesus, although we groan in agony (Rm 8:23) while we endure the great period of trial (Rv 7:14) and a contest of suffering (Heb 10:32). We need encouragement to claim Christ's victory. We need a Barnabas, a "son of encouragement" (Acts 4:36), who will lift us up by his words, financial support, and prayer (Acts 4:37; 9:27). "He encouraged them all to remain firm in their commitment to the Lord" (Acts 11:23). Without supernatural encouragement, many people turn away from the Lord and many ministries never develop. "Encourage one another daily while it is still 'today', so that no one grows hardened by the deceit of sin" (Heb 3:13).
Prayer: Father, may people I talk to walk away with greater hope.
Promise: "I beg you to bear with this word of encouragement." —Heb 13:22
Praise: Without the encouragement of Priscilla and Aquila, Paul may have quit the ministry (see 1 Cor 2:2 and Acts 18:1-5).
"The gift you have received, give as a gift." —Matthew 10:8
Jesus said it's better to give than to receive (Acts 20:35). After we pay our 10% tithe (which is our bill, not our gift), we have the opportunity to give to God's work. He does not need the money but we need to give, for the measure with which we give will be given back to us, and more besides (Mk 4:24).
We all are called to give but some have the special gift of giving (Rm 12:8). For example, Jesus called the young rich man to sell everything and give to the poor (Mk 10:21). The widow gave all she had to live on (Lk 21:4). Zacchaeus gave half of his belongings to the poor (Lk 19:8).
Our giving not only provides financial support for God's church and work but also, and more importantly, clearly expresses that Christianity "gets down to business" and is a way of life. The use of the gift of giving inspires, encourages, and calls others to commitment to Christ. Almsgiving turns our hearts to God, for where our treasure is, there our hearts will be (Lk 12:34). Giving sometimes authenticates faith and repentance, and thereby atones for sins (Lk 11:41). The supernatural gift of giving also promotes unity as with Paul's collection from the gentile Christians for the starving Jewish Christians in Jerusalem (Rm 15:27).
Prayer: Father, You loved me so much that You gave up Your Son to die on the cross for me (Jn 3:16). I give all to You.
Promise: "Give and it shall be given to you. Good measure pressed down, shaken together, running over, will they pour into the fold of your garment." —Lk 6:38
Praise: Barnabas gave his farm to the Christian community (Acts 4:37).
GETTING THE LEAD
"With a leader to break the path they shall burst open the gate and go out through it." —Micah 2:13
God has so constructed the body of Christ that some parts are called to be leaders (rulers) (Rm 12:8). Leaders can see what God wants to do and will courageously communicate this to others. They are also gifted to help a group work in harmony so as to accomplish God's goals. Those who exercise authority are to be the servants of all (Mt 20:25-27). Leaders are not superior to followers. In fact, the Lord often chooses the lowly and weak to be leaders (1 Cor 1:27).
We are tempted to avoid the gift and ministry of leadership because of the burdens that accompany the exercise of this gift. Leaders must render an account to God for the people they keep watch over (Heb 13:17). Leadership can lead to sorrow rather than joy (Heb 13:17). To guard against this problem we should respect and esteem our leaders "with the greatest love because of their work" (1 Th 5:13). Leaders in turn are not to lord it over those assigned to them but "be examples to the flock" (1 Pt 5:3). "Remember your leaders who spoke the word of God to you; consider how their lives ended, and imitate their faith" (Heb 13:7). They should be appointed and prayed over only after careful discernment (1 Tm 5:22), for leaders are on the firing line in spiritual warfare.
Prayer: Lord, may I accept all Your gifts for me, even those I don't like.
Promise: "I will lead them out from among the peoples and gather them from the foreign lands." —Ez 34:13
Praise: Moses led the people out of slavery.
"THE QUALITY OF MERCY"
"Should you not have dealt mercifully with your fellow servant, as I dealt with you?" —Matthew 18:33
Jesus desires mercy more than sacrifice (Mt 12:7). He declared the merciful "blessed", for they shall obtain mercy (Mt 5:7). Because Jesus has fulfilled the demands of justice through His death, mercy is available to all who accept it. Because we live in the season of mercy, we pray: "Lord, have mercy."
The Lord raises up people to share in His ministry of mercy. Mercy means refusing to hold other peoples' sins against them, not giving them what they deserve but forgiving, forgetting, and giving offenders better than they deserve. Mercy is hating the sin but loving the sinner. It is forgiving as the Lord has forgiven us, not just in word but in action. We tend to shun mercy because it is so costly. Look at the price of mercy on Calvary. Even our little share in Christ's suffering (Col 1:24) seems overwhelmingly expensive.
Our works of mercy are a sign that our faith in Jesus is real, because whatever we do to the least of the brethren we do to Him (Mt 25:40). We all are called to do works of mercy (Rm 12:8), to reach out to the marginalized, forgotten, and rejected. But some are called to manifest the mercy of God in a special way. Let His stream of mercy flow through you.
Prayer: Lord, may I have mercy on my most bitter enemy.
Promise: "Merciless is the judgment on the man who has not shown mercy; but mercy triumphs over judgment."—Jas 2:13
Praise: Mother Teresa performed works of mercy with supernatural power.
1 Corinthians 12:8-10, 28-30; 13:1-3 — GIFTS FOR UNITY AND GROWTH
The Corinthians did not grow in the Spirit because of their divisions and selfishness. Paul lamented that they stayed infants in Christ (1 Cor 3:1). Therefore, the gifts listed in 1 Corinthians are especially important for helping Christians restore unity with each other and grow in maturity.
"Then He summoned His twelve disciples and gave them authority to expel unclean spirits and to cure sickness and disease of every kind." —Matthew 10:1
The gift of healing accompanies the proclamation of God's word (Mk 16:20; Mt 10:7-8) and opens people to accept the gospel (Acts 3:10). Probably every Christian can heal (see Mk 16:17-18; Mt 10:8), but some are especially gifted (1 Cor 12:9). We all are responsible to use this gift as much as possible. The devil attempts to blind us to God's love by mass-producing hurt in our world. Jesus sends us out as members of His body to mass-produce healing.
In my experience, I find that at least one-third of Christians has an exceptional gift of healing, although very few are aware of their gift. This is a terrible waste of spiritual resources. Literally thousands of hurting people do not receive God's healing touch because of our ignorance, fear, and apathy. We must repent of not trying to heal people, then ask for the gift, and use it to its fullest extent. We can do greater than Jesus did, if we but believe (Jn 14:12).
Prayer: Jesus, may I never refuse to let You heal through me.
Promise: "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever." —Heb 13:8
Praise: "There he found a man named Aeneas, a paralytic who had been bedridden for eight years. Peter said to him, 'Aeneas, Jesus Christ cures you! Get up and make your bed.' The man got up at once" (Acts 9:33-34).
(See our booklet, Healing: The Imitation of Christ.)
I BELIEVE IN MIRACLES
"God then gave witness to it by signs, miracles, varied acts of power, and distribution of the gifts of the Holy Spirit as He willed." —Hebrews 2:4
The Christian faith is based on the miracles of the Incarnation, Redemption, and the Resurrection. Without believing in miracles, we cannot be Christians.
Although sometimes physical healings are called miracles, the gift of miracles more specifically refers to changing the course of nature. Examples of miracles are: walking on the water (Mt 14:25), multiplying food or money (Mt 15:32ff), calming the storm (Mk 4:39), disappearing (Lk 24:31), going through walls (Jn 20:19), catching 153 fish at one time (Jn 21:11), raising the dead (Jn 11:44), praying for or against rain (Jas 5:17-18), traveling miles in a moment (Jn 6:21), breaking out of jail because of an earthquake (Acts 16:26), etc. The Lord created all things; all things are subject to Him. He can change the course of nature if He so wills.
Although many Christians have the gift of miracles, this gift is largely ignored and neglected in a secular humanistic society. We avoid putting ourselves in a position to need miracles. We refuse to let God be our Father in practical ways. We lean on the crutches of human effort instead of working wonders in Jesus' name. We should repent, and expect miracles.
Prayer: Father, "grant to Your servants, even as they speak Your words, complete assurance by stretching forth Your hand in cures and signs and wonders to be worked in the name of Jesus, Your holy Servant" (Acts 4:29-30).
Promise: "Indeed, I have performed among you with great patience the signs that show the apostle, signs and wonders and deeds of power." —2 Cor 12:12
Praise: Gary prayed and stopped the rain just in time for an outdoor prayer meeting.
"The Spirit Himself gives witness with our spirit that we are children of God." —Romans 8:16
There are three types of spirits — the Holy Spirit, good and bad angels, and our human spirits. Sometimes two of these spirits work together. For example, God may speak through the spirit of another person in the body of Christ. We must discern the spirits behind the words and works of our lives to guard against deceiving ourselves.
The human spirit has a great capacity for self-deception. Also, Satan is the father of lies (Jn 8:44; 2 Cor 11:14) and a masterful counterfeiter. We must discern spirits or be viciously confused and manipulated by Satan. For example, Peter was used to tempt Jesus to de-emphasize the suffering and death He would endure. Jesus discerned the spirit behind this conversation and "reprimanded Peter: 'Get out of My sight, you Satan!' " (Mk 8:33) A girl with a clairvoyant spirit followed Paul and shouted: "These men are servants of the Most High God; they will make known to you a way of salvation" (Acts 16:17). After several days, Paul discerned the spirit and said: "In the name of Jesus Christ I command you, come out of her!" (Acts 16:18)
Discernment of spirits becomes increasingly more important as we near the end of the world and the anti-Christ begins the ultimate deception. Jesus prophesied: "False messiahs and false prophets will appear performing signs and wonders to mislead, if it were possible, even the chosen" (Mk 13:22). There will be a mass apostasy before Jesus' final coming (2 Th 2:3). The gift of discernment will prove invaluable in helping us remain faithful to the Lord, no matter what.
Prayer: Father, raise up Christians to discern the spirit behind prophecies, world events, trends, and TV programs (1 Cor 12:10).
Promise: "We know, too, that the Son of God has come and has given us discernment to recognize the One Who is true." —1 Jn 5:20
Praise: Harry's family never watched TV much. Thirty-five years ago he discerned that the spirit behind most TV programs and commercials was not of God.
KINDS OF TONGUES
"Signs like these will accompany those who have professed their faith: they will use My name to expel demons, they will speak entirely new languages." —Mark 16:17
The supernatural gift of praying in a language unknown to us is God's way of extending our means of communicating with Him (1 Cor 12:10).
Without the gift of tongues, it is very difficult to praise God for very long. Yet the Lord is worthy of constant praise. Likewise, it greatly benefits us to enter deeply into His presence through extended praise. When we pray in tongues, we 1) utter mysteries in the Spirit, 2) build up ourselves, 3) praise the Lord, 4) thank Him (1 Cor 14:2, 4, 16), and 5) give a sign to unbelievers (1 Cor 14:22).
There are several kinds of tongues (see 1 Cor 12:10 in the Greek). The prayer form of tongues is to speak only to ourselves and God (1 Cor 14:28). This requires no interpretation and may be given to everyone who is open to receive it. Another form of tongues is for the benefit of the community (1 Cor 14:13). This should be spoken by one person at a time and must be interpreted (1 Cor 14:27).
Tongues is a supernatural gift to praise the Lord. To pray in tongues, we should ask for the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with love for Him. Love expresses itself in praise of the Lord in our native language. Our praise-vocabulary is usually exhausted within a minute or two. We extend our prayers by singing, shouting, clapping, etc. But even that only lasts for a short time. To express the praise in our hearts, we need a new language, so we ask for the gift of praying and singing in tongues. Then we obey God by opening our mouths and forming the words, as we do in our native language. Love for God is the motivation for tongues, and obedience is the key to speaking in tongues.
Prayer: Father, may I die to myself and pray in tongues each day.
Promise: "As Paul laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came down on them and they began to speak in tongues and to utter prophecies. There were in the company about twelve men in all." —Acts 19:6-7
Praise: Jack never wanted to praise the Lord until he was prayed over for the renewal of his Baptism and Confirmation. He then began to sing to the Lord and praise Him in tongues.
(For more information, see our leaflet, Speaking in Tongues.)
DO YOU NEED AN INTERPRETER?
"One receives the gift of tongues, another that of interpreting the tongues." —1 Corinthians 12:10
"When you assemble, one has a psalm, another some instruction to give, still another a revelation to share; one speaks in a tongue, another interprets." —1 Corinthians 14:26
When a person speaks in tongues by himself in a group, we "should pray for the gift of interpretation" (1 Cor 14:13). Interpretation is not translation but giving the meaning of the tongues for the benefit of the community. It may include "some revelation, or knowledge, or prophecy, or instruction" (1 Cor 14:6). Like prophecy, a tongue that is interpreted builds up the church (1 Cor 14:5).
Paul said: "I should like it if all of you spoke in tongues" (1 Cor 14:5), and "thank God I speak in tongues more than any of you" (1 Cor 14:18). Nevertheless, tongues for the community should be silenced if there is no one to interpret (1 Cor 14:28). Without the interpretation of tongues, the community does not know what is being said. The speaker "will be talking to the air" and not benefiting the assembly (1 Cor 14:9).
The Lord commands us to "try to be rich in those [gifts] that build up the church" (1 Cor 14:12). This includes the interpretation of tongues. To obey God's word, we must seek this gift through prayer and use the gift as the Spirit leads. This implies we should put ourselves in situations where people speak in tongues so as to have opportunities to interpret.
Prayer: Father, may I seek the gift of interpretation of tongues by praying with people who speak in tongues, even if I find this uncomfortable or inconvenient.
Promise: "If any are going to talk in tongues let it be at most two or three, each in turn, with another to interpret what they are saying." —1 Cor 14:27
Praise: Jessica spoke in tongues. The community prayed for the interpretation. Two people were called to foreign mission work.
"ONE, HOLY, CATHOLIC, AND APOSTOLIC"
"'As the Father has sent Me, so I send you.' Then He breathed on them and said: 'Receive the Holy Spirit.'" —John 20:21-22
The Church is founded on the apostles (Rv 21:14; Eph 2:20; 1 Cor 12:28). The word "apostle" means "sent". The Lord sends out apostles to found Christian communities and ministries and to unite these with the body of Christ. Some apostles are appointed by church leaders while others are called by God in a different way. Paul was "an apostle sent not by men or by any man, but by Jesus Christ and God His Father" (Gal 1:1). The call to apostleship is confirmed by signs and wonders. Paul explained: "Indeed, I have performed among you with great patience the signs that show the apostle, signs and wonders and deeds of power" (2 Cor 12:12).
Not many people are called to be apostles, but hundreds of thousands are affected by the apostolic ministry. Without the ministry of apostles, thousands will not have the structure and opportunities to grow in the Lord. An apostle's work sets the stage for thousands to work for the Lord.
There are probably a few apostles reading this. Accept your call. Please write us for further consultation. Say with Paul: "I am the least of the apostles; in fact, because I persecuted the church of God, I do not even deserve the name. But by God's favor I am what I am" (1 Cor 15:9-10).
Prayer: Father, raise up hundreds of lay apostles in all the countries of the world.
Promise: "...to Andronicus and Junias, my kinsmen and fellow prisoners; they are outstanding apostles, and they were in Christ even before I was." —Rm 16:7
Praise: Greg has begun 28 different ministries, most of which are going strong after 12-15 years.
"Welcome him joyously in the Lord and hold men like him in esteem, for he came near to death for the sake of Christ's work. He risked his life in an effort to render me those services you could not render." —Philippians 2:29-30
One of the most under-rated gifts of the Spirit may be that of "helps." While we cannot be sure, the charism of being a "helper" may refer to working with a leader. For every leader we need not only many faithful, devoted followers but also a few special helpers. The body of Christ operates not only because of a few outstanding parts but also because of parts giving outstanding help to its leaders.
Jesus Himself was surrounded by people who were not apostles but were there when He needed them — Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Susanna, and "many others who were assisting them out of their means" (Lk 8:3). Jesus honored these helpers by choosing them to be among the first to see Him risen from the dead (Mt 28:9).
Likewise Paul's ministry would have been greatly diminished if not for countless helpers. Rufus' mother mothered Paul (Rm 16:13). Tertius provided the penmanship for Paul's letter to the Romans (Rm 16:22). Timothy was a "go-for" for Paul's cloak and books (2 Tm 4:13). Onesimus was a big help to Paul in prison (Phlm 11).
We need much stronger leadership in the body of Christ. Therefore, we need a much greater expression of the gift of "helps."
Prayer: Jesus, give me Your heart for the leaders of the Church so I will help them in any way I can.
Promise: "When he stands before the Lord on the great Day, may the Lord grant him mercy! And the many services he has performed for Christ in Ephesus you know even better than I." —2 Tm 1:18
Praise: John's wife helped him lead hundreds of young people to Christ.
"Furthermore, God has set up in the church, first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracle workers, healers, assistants, administrators, and those who speak in tongues." —1 Corinthians 12:28
We in the body of Christ have many gifts, ministries, and works (1 Cor 12:4-6). All of these complement one another and need to be coordinated. The Lord has given us supernatural administrators to do this job. God is a God not of confusion, but of order (1 Cor 14:33). Everything should be "done properly and in order (1 Cor 14:40). Without the gift of administration, God's plan is hindered through confusion, and the frustrations of the Christian community are greatly increased.
Jesus is the Example of all the gifts. He manifested His administrative gift when He sent the disciples out on mission (Mt 10:5-14), organized the multiplication of the loaves and fish (Lk 9:14ff), and arranged for the preparation of the room for the Last Supper (Lk 22:7ff).
One of the best examples of an administrator is Joseph of the Old Testament. His gift of administration saved thousands from starvation, made Egypt the most important country in that part of the world, and brought reconciliation to his broken family (Gn, Chap 41-50). Supernatural administrators can save lives and prevent families from destruction. They will impact not only the Christian community but also the international order.
Prayer: Father, may I seek interdependence rather than independence, and coordination rather than doing my own thing.
Promise: "Men should regard us as servants of Christ and administrators of the mysteries of God. The first requirement of an administrator is that he prove trustworthy." —1 Cor 4:1-2
Praise: Sally revived a floundering Bible study and coordinated the prayer group and the renew group. The leaders worked together instead of fighting with each other.
THE BLOOD OF THE MARTYRS
"You will be delivered up even by your parents, brothers, relatives and friends, and some of you will be put to death." —Luke 21:16
Pope John Paul II has taught: "It is suffering, more than anything else, which clears the way for the grace which transforms human souls. Suffering, more than anything else, makes present in the history of humanity the powers of the Redemption. In that "cosmic" struggle between the spiritual powers of good and evil, spoken of in the letter to the Ephesians, human sufferings, united to the redemptive suffering of Christ, constitute a special support for the powers of good, and open the way to the victory of these salvific powers" (On the Christian Meaning of Human Suffering, 27).
The Pope mentions three characteristics of redemptive suffering (18). First, it is freely chosen (see Jn 10:18). Second, those suffering redemptively are suffering innocently — for being Christian, not for being sinful (1 Pt 4:16). Third, redemptive suffering is marked by unconditional love and forgiveness. Redemptive suffering is suffering in the pattern of Jesus' death (Phil 3:10). It is a privilege (Phil 1:29) to fill up in our own bodies "what is lacking in the sufferings of Christ for the sake of His body, the church" (Col 1:24). The ultimate expression of redemptive suffering is the spiritual gift of martyrdom.
We all are going to die unless Jesus comes back first. The only question is: "How will we die?" There's no better way to leave this earth than by martyrdom. Martyrdom is better than escape from suffering or even resurrection from the dead. The Bible reports: "Women received back their dead through resurrection. Others were tortured and would not receive deliverance, in order to obtain a better resurrection" (Heb 11:35). John saw the martyrs in glory: "I saw some thrones. Those who were sitting on them were empowered to pass judgment. I also saw the spirits of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and the word of God" (Rv 20:4). In the modern age, the gift of martyrdom is being given much more frequently. We live in the golden age of martyrdom, when "the quota" is being filled of those "to be slain" (Rv 6:11). Lord, "I want to be in that number."
Prayer: Lord, if it be Your will, may I shed my blood for You.
Promise: "As Stephen was being stoned he could be heard praying, 'Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.' " —Acts 7:59
Praise: James was the first apostle to be martyred (Acts 12:2).
Ephesians 4:11 — EQUIPPING GIFTS
The gifts and ministries in Eph 4:11 are mentioned in the context of equipping Christians for ministry.
"Then He told them: 'Go into the whole world and proclaim the good news to all creation.' " —Mark 16:15
The gift of evangelist mentioned in Eph 4:11 may be a special gift through which evangelists lead people into the Lord's kingdom in such a way as to inspire all believers to do the same by evangelizing at every opportunity. They do not raise up spectators but full participants in the Lord's mission. When we equip evangelists, we reap a harvest not only of Christians but also of more reapers. We deal not only with the harvest but the lack of workers (see Mt 9:37). Philip and John were probably evangelists in this additional sense of the word (Acts 21:8; Rv 1:9).
This task of an equipping evangelist is even more laborious than only working in the harvest. They often feel like quitting, but they must "stay with this task whether convenient or inconvenient" (2 Tm 4:2). Paul insisted: "As for you, be steady and self-possessed; put up with hardship, perform your work as an evangelist" (2 Tm 4:5).
Prayer: Jesus, may I want to share Your gospel more than I want to feel pleasure and avoid pain.
Promise: Jesus "said to them: 'Let us move on to the neighboring villages so that I may proclaim the good news there also. That is what I have come to do.' " —Mk 1:38
Praise: Gary and Mary started evangelizing by inviting people to their home. Now three other couples do the same. Eighteen people have given their lives to Jesus through these couples.
"Shepherd the church of God, which He has acquired at the price of His own blood." —Acts 20:28
Four ministries have been set up by God to equip believers to build up the body of Christ (Eph 4:11). The last ministry listed is pastor-teachers. In Ephesians 4:11, there are not two ministries but one.
We are sheep and Jesus is our Good Shepherd (Jn 10:14). He prefers to shepherd us by gifting other Christians with a special share in His shepherding. The Lord promises: "I will appoint over you shepherds after My own heart, who will shepherd you wisely and prudently" (Jer 3:15). Shepherds are responsible to feed the sheep especially with the nourishment of God's word. That is why a pastor is a teacher. Shepherds should also strengthen the weak, heal the sick, bind up the injured, bring back the strayed, and seek the lost (Ez 34:15-16).
God exhorts us: "God's flock is in your midst; give it a shepherd's care. Watch over it willingly as God would have you do, not under constraint, and not for shameful profit either, but generously. Be examples to the flock, not lording it over those assigned to you, so that when the Chief Shepherd appears you will win for yourselves the unfading crown of glory" (1 Pt 5:2-4). So many are "lying prostrate from exhaustion, like sheep without a shepherd" (Mt 9:36). If we love Jesus, we will feed and shepherd His sheep (Jn 21:17).
Prayer: Lord, because of Your shepherds, nothing shall I want (Ps 23:1).
Promise: "May the God of peace, Who brought up from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep by the blood of the eternal covenant, Jesus our Lord, furnish you with all that is good, that you may do His will." —Heb 13:20-21
Praise: Pastor Smith has faithfully fed his sheep daily for 19 years.
Other — INTEGRATION GIFTS
The last gifts referred to in the book are not part of Biblical lists but are scattered throughout the Bible. These gifts help Christians integrate their spiritual gifts into their everyday lives. This integration is critical if we are to be credible and powerful witnesses for Jesus.
DELIVER US FROM THE EVIL ONE (Mt 6:13)
"'In the name of Jesus Christ I command you, come out of her!' Then and there the spirit left her." —Acts 16:18
Every Christian can drive out demons in the name of Jesus (see Mt 10:1; Mk 16:17), but some have a special gift of deliverance. Peter set people free from the devil by his shadow falling on them (Acts 5:15-16). Paul used an extraordinary method: "When handkerchiefs or cloths which had touched his skin were applied to the sick, their diseases were cured and evil spirits departed from them" (Acts 19:12).
Although we may not drive out demons in such dramatic ways, as members of the church we can attack the gates of hell, which cannot prevail against us (Mt 16:18). We can command Satan to leave in the name of Jesus (Mk 16:17). We can praise him right out of town and attack him with God's word (Mt 4:4ff). Some demons are driven out only through prayer and fasting (Mt 17:21). "Prayer and fasting are the first and most effective weapons against the forces of evil" (The Gospel of Life, Pope John Paul II, 100).
By obedience to Jesus we can bring down the strongholds of the evil one and demolish his sophistries (2 Cor 10:4). We can disarm and despoil Satan (Lk 11:22), break his chains, and make a public show of him (Col 2:14-15). We can quickly crush Satan under our feet (Rm 16:20), for the One in us is greater than the one in the world (1 Jn 4:4). The world need not be in bondage to the evil one. Use your deliverance power.
Prayer: "St. Michael, the archangel, defend us in battle and be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil. Rebuke him, O God..." (Prayer to St. Michael)
Promise: "This kind does not leave but by prayer and fasting." —Mt 17:21
Praise: Gertrude defeated the devil in commanding him to leave by using holy water.
"This message came to me from the Lord: Do not marry any woman; you shall not have sons or daughters." —Jeremiah 16:1-2
Some are given the gift to renounce sex for the sake of God's kingdom (Mt 19:12). The gift of celibacy helps us devote ourselves entirely to the Lord (1 Cor 7:35) and to be extremely fruitful spiritually as we give life in Christ to countless people. Celibacy points to our heavenly future when there will be no marriage (Lk 20:34-35). Because Jesus chose to be celibate, those accepting this gift imitate Jesus even more closely. To the world, which doesn't take Christians seriously, celibacy is a powerful, prophetic witness. When some Christians freely give up marriage, sex, and family; unbelievers may be shocked into facing reality that life is not about self or sex but about Jesus. Celibacy is extremely important for the mission work of the church (see 1 Cor 9:5, 12).
Celibates are not bachelors, "old maids", or "unmarried", just as married couples are not "un-single". If the most beautiful, handsome, loving, rich, brilliant, and holy people in the world were to propose marriage to a person gifted with celibacy, he or she would simply say: "No, thank you, I've got a special call and gift from God." Those gifted with celibacy may marry, "but such people will have trials in this life, and these I should like to spare you" (1 Cor 7:28).
Prayer: Lord, Your love is greater than life, marriage, or sex (Ps 63:4).
Promise: "The eunuch whose hand wrought no misdeed, who held no wicked thoughts against the Lord — For he shall be given fidelity's choice reward and a more gratifying heritage in the Lord's temple." —Wisdom 3:14
Praise: Joan chose the celibate life as a vocation when she was 25. She has been faithful to her call for 20 years.
(For more information, see our book, Who Am I in Christ?)
"Then Jesus looked at him with love and told him, 'There is one thing more you must do. Go and sell what you have and give to the poor; you will then have treasure in heaven. After that, come and follow Me.' At these words the man's face fell. He went away sad, for he had many possessions." —Mark 10: 21-22
The first beatitude does not merely refer to "spiritual" poverty. The word in Greek for "poor" means material poverty. However, the poor in spirit are not victims of tragic circumstances. They have freely chosen to be materially poor, although they could have had much more materially. Jesus Himself did this by choosing to be born in a stable and live the life of a poor carpenter's son at Nazareth. "You are well acquainted with the favor shown you by our Lord Jesus Christ: how for your sake He made Himself poor though He was rich, so that you might become rich by His poverty" (2 Cor 8:9). Paul also chose poverty by refusing to be paid in his ministry to the Corinthians (1 Cor 9:18). God's word promises that "those who are poor in the eyes of the world" are "rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom" (Jas 2:5).
Gospel poverty is not only the imitation of Christ but also a prophetic witness to the world. The god of the world is money. When we renounce material prosperity, the world must call us crazy or admit there are riches more important to live for than money. Gospel poverty shines the light of Christ on worldly riches and shows them to be mere trifles. Poverty motivates us to seek first God's kingdom (Mt 6:33) and frees us from bondage to the things of this world.
Prayer: Jesus, if You tell me to sell what I have and give to the poor, may I not walk away sad, but obey.
Promise: "Jesus answered: 'I give you My word, there is no one who has given up home, brothers or sisters, mother or father, children or property, for Me and for the gospel who will not receive in this present age a hundred times as many homes, brothers and sisters, mothers, children and property — and persecution besides — and in the age to come, everlasting life.' " —Mk 10:29-30
Praise: St. Francis changed the world by exercising his gift of gospel poverty.
CALLING ALL INTERCESSORS
"First of all, I urge that petitions, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgiving be offered for all men, especially for kings and those in authority." —1 Timothy 2:1-2
The Lord gave us authority over planet earth (see Gn 1:28), and He will not usurp that authority. Thus we have the responsibility to pray and ask the Father to come into this world and grace every circumstance. However, because we are weak and do not pray as we ought, Jesus (Heb 7:25) and the Spirit make intercession for us (Rm 8:26). The Lord also calls all Christians to take one another's places in prayer, that is, to intercede (see Ez 22:30).
Some are called to do this in an exceptional way. Abraham may have been able to save the wicked cities of Sodom and Gomorrah had he persevered in intercession (Gn 18:22ff). When Moses kept his praying hands lifted up in intercession, Joshua defeated the Amalekites (Ex 17:11). When Mary interceded in the upper room, her Son's promise of Pentecost was fulfilled (Acts 1:14). Paul constantly interceded for those whom he led to Jesus. For example, when the Galatians fell away from their faith in the Lord, they put Paul back into spiritual labor pains until Christ was formed again in them (Gal 4:19).
A spirit of grace, petition, and intercession is being poured out over this earth (see Zec 12:10). Receive this gift.
Prayer: Father, at this time in world history, I believe the gift of intercession is of special importance. May I intercede as much as possible.
Promise: "I have searched among them for someone who could build a wall or stand in the breach before Me to keep Me from destroying the land." —Ez 22:30
Praise: Marie is interceding for world leaders to be saved.
(For more information, see our pamphlet, Ten Commandments of Intercession.)
HOSPITAL, HOSPICE, AND HOSPITALITY
"Love your fellow Christians always. Do not neglect to show hospitality, for by that means some have entertained angels without knowing it." —Hebrews 13:1-2
The gift of hospitality is at the heart of the Christian faith. It is the supernatural gift to provide an open home and warm welcome. Jesus placed the Last Supper in the context of hospitality. When we share a meal with the lame, crippled, and blind (Lk 14:13), we not only obey Christ but actually serve Him, for whatever we do to the least of the brethren, we do to Him (Mt 25:40).
Hospitality provides the context for developing Christian community. Hospitality was one of the criteria for leadership in the church (1 Tm 3:2) and acceptance on to the roll of widows (1 Tm 5:10). The gift of hospitality opens the door for evangelization, repentance, forgiveness, reconciliation, deliverance, healing, growth, and unity. Hospitality has the power to break down the barriers between races, religions, social classes, and bitter enemies. "Look on the needs of the saints as your own; be generous in offering hospitality" (Rm 12:13; see also 1 Pt 4:9).
Prayer: Jesus, may I extend to others the supreme hospitality You show me in the Eucharist.
Promise: "He should, on the contrary, be hospitable and a lover of goodness; steady, just, holy, and self-controlled." —Ti 1:8
Praise: The Catholic Worker has impacted the world by exercising the supernatural gift of hospitality.
THE END OF THE BEGINNING
"When You send forth Your Spirit, they are created, and You renew the face of the earth." —Psalm 104:30
Let us humble ourselves to receive the Spirit as Jesus (Mt 3:14ff), Mary (Lk 1:38), Cornelius (Acts 10:25), and the Ephesians did (Acts 19:6). The Lord wants to stir into flame the gifts of the Spirit in our lives (see 2 Tm 1:6). However, we seek not primarily the gifts of the Spirit but the Spirit of the gifts. We desire a deep relationship with the living God, to be "transformed from glory to glory into His very image by the Lord Who is the Spirit" (2 Cor 3:18). We set our hearts on "the way which surpasses all the others," the way of love (1 Cor 13:1).
"Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of Your faithful, and enkindle in them the fire of Your love."
Nihil obstat: Reverend Edward J. Gratsch, May 1, 1995.
Imprimatur: † Most Reverend Carl K. Moeddel, Vicar General and Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, May 4, 1995.