Discernment: What’s your Sign?

zodiacWhat’s your sign? It’s the pop culture question often asked when one is looking to classify individuals into personality categories. It is steeped in the traditions of man’s astrology most noteably of the Babylonian period. Society often uses it as the source of figuring out the quirks and traits of others. Have you heard of that other question? What’s your gift? It is steeped in the tradition of Yeshua and highlights the unique character of individuals that make up The Body. Here’s a pretty cool story that describes The Gifts.

There is a dinner party with the seven guests. Each guest has a different gifting. At the end of the meal you begin clearing the dinner plates and begin to serve desert. As you are bringing out a tray with the desert plates on it, you accidentally trip, sending the deserts flying and crashing to the floor. The story of the dinner guests helps exemplify the seven spiritual gifting of Romans 12:5-8.

The guest with the gift of prophecy proclaims, “I could see this coming. You can’t clear plates and bring desert at the same time.” (The motivation is to correct the life of the waiter.) The guest with the gift of mercy quickly follows, “Don’t worry; it could have happened to anyone.” (The motivation is to relieve embarrassment.) The one with the gift of serving jumps up and begins cleaning the mess. (The motivation is to fulfill a need.) The one with the gift of teaching analyzes the situation and responds with, “The real reason the tray fell was due to the equilibrium. See, of the seven deserts, five were on one side and only two on the other.” (The teacher’s motivation is to discover why it happened.) The guest with the gift of exhortation gift pipes up, “It’ll be alright, next time serve desert with the meal.” (The motivation is to correct for the future.) The one with the gift of giving thinks a moment. Noticing the carpet needs to be professionally cleaned and the plates are shattered, responds with “Here is $100 to cover the cost of the dishes and carpet cleaning.” (The motivation is to give to relieve a need.) Finally, the gift of leadership begins calling out directions. “Kris, could you go grab some paper towels? Sally, would you mind getting some more deserts put together. Molly, get the vacuum!” (The motivation is to keep things moving in the right direction.)

So we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith; if service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching; or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness. Romans 12:5-8

Chip Ingrim, Pastor and Founder of the Living on the Edge radio programming highlights the spiritual gifts a bit further.

Prophecy – identifies what went wrong, has a sense of the culture, opinionated, corrective, works well in large groups but may be prone to pride and being insensitive to feelings
Mercy – cheerful to towards those who are suffering especially those who deserve punishment, can detect feelings, wants to relieve the embarrassment experienced by others but has a tendency to not be firm and be misunderstood by the opposite sex
Service – meets the practical needs, often asks “what can I do to help?”, behind the scenes worker, detects personal needs, more neglected in the Body and tends to overemphasize the practical needs and may become bitter when acts are not recognized
Teaching – presents the truth of God’s Word, loves to study, doctrine oriented, often says “Show me the meat?” but may overemphasize content rather than application and be boastful in knowledge
Exhortation – reassures, stimulates faith of others, often thinks “How can we move to wholeness?”, comes along side others, challenges others to grow, emphasizes practical application, described as a “fix it” person that may be discouraged if no change occurs and focused on temporary fixes
Giving – earns, saves, and gives money/resources to the Lord cheerfully, often thinks “What can I give to meet the need?”, sees opportunities but may be prone to pride and judging others by their bank account or use of resources
Leadership – sees what needs to be done, how things fit together in the big picture and coordinates it, mobilizes others, delegates, often asks “What are the results?” but may be prone to pride and forgetting the purpose of the project

So, what’s your gifting?

Abba, we thank you for the wonderful message received today. Reveal to us our primary spiritual gifting and help us to operate in the fullness of you for the Kingdom of God. – Amen

Related Resources: The Dinner Party ; Sober Self Assessment
Photo Credit: Wikipedia

Dating & Marriage 101: Coincidence, Fate, Providence, & Signs – How to Know if its Meant to Be

fateFor a few years, I wrestled with the question “How do I know if its meant to be?” I wondered if everything happens for a reason or are just a series of coincidences. Many of us are in the middle of or on the verge of some pretty major life altering decisions (marriage, divorce, new job). We want to know if “it” is meant to be or “God’s plan”. So I set out to answer the question that dangles around most of us at one stage of life or another.

“How do I know if its meant to be?”

Though popular culture romanticizes every “coincidental” happening as a green light from above for “it” being meant to be (i.e. school, job) or “he” being the one (i.e. date, marry), these “coincidental” happenings as appealing as they may seem may in fact be clever life traps meant to send those earnestly seeking the “right path” down a dead end road. A popular “Religious” writer on this topic shared a story of a woman who was away from home and visiting a “Big City”. She came across a quaint apartment that in many ways stole her heart. She returned home to her husband with whom she was having some marital difficulties with the idea that they should move into this apartment. Her husband did not agree and after some time they divorced. The woman found a realtor who helped her search for her new home and would you believe it, the first home that they came across was the apartment the woman found when she was visiting the “Big City” before. The author and individual suggested that her coming across the apartment initially then after her divorce was a confirmation sign that she was on the right track.

The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, SIGNS and wonders, and every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. 2 Thessalonians 2:9

The first step in determining if “It is meant to be” or “God’s plan” is to ask oneself if the current coincidence or “sign” agrees with what God has already given us in scripture. In the “Big City” story, we have a woman who was met with some pretty compelling coincidences or “signs”. She was conveniently away from home, having difficulties in her marriage, and came across an apartment that gave her a new hope and sense of freedom. She assumed like many of us that these series of circumstances were a sure sign that she was on the “right path” and okay to do the opposite of what is consistent with God’s counsel on marriage. Ultimately, she and the author blindly saw the circumstances as a green light and went on to promote a counterfeit signs driven theology or false teaching that encourages Believers to assume circumstances alone or “signs” are green lights from God to pursue something or someone.

The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, SIGNS and wonders, and every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. 2 Thessalonians 2:9

In the book of Job, God sees Satan roaming the earth and God suggests to Satan his servant Job. Note that God initated the series of difficult circumstances that Job would face, not Satan. Yes, God granted Satan permission to arrange these purposeful happenings to test his faithfulness to God. Was the intention of these tests a sign from God that His will was for Job to suffer all the days of his life or that God hates Him (false thinking that many of us assume when difficulties arise)? No. God’s desire was to prove to Satan the faithfulness of Job to God. Despite Job losing his children, his servants, and his wealth in a very short period of time, Job gave an encouraging response.

Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head, and he fell to the ground and worshiped. He said, Naked I came from my mother’s womb, And naked I shall return there. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.” Through all this Job did not sin nor did he blame God. Job 1:20-22

In the book of Exodus (Chapters Seven to Eight) we have the story of Moses, the Pharaoh, and the Plagues. The Lord commissioned Moses to tell the Pharaoh to release the Israelites from slavery. Knowing the Pharaoh would not willingly release the Israelites, the Lord God gave Moses specific miracles to perform in order to demonstrate the Lord’s power and message.

‘”When Pharaoh says to you, ‘Perform a miracle,’ then say to Aaron, ‘Take your staff and throw it down before Pharaoh,’ and it will become a snake.” So Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and did just as the LORD commanded. Aaron threw his staff down in front of Pharaoh and his officials, and it became a snake.’ Exodus 7:9-10

Pharaoh being the worldly man of power he was, was not moved by the miracle performed by God’s prophet. In fact, Pharaoh summoned his own miracle workers called “wise men”, “sorcerers, and “magicians” with “secret arts” to perform the same miracle.

‘Then Pharaoh also called for the wise men and the sorcerers, and they also, the magicians of Egypt, did the same with their secret arts. For each one threw down his staff and they turned into serpents…’
Exodus 7:11

Two more times Pharaoh and his counterfeit wise men reproduced miracles previously performed by God’s prophet Moses.

‘So Moses and Aaron did even as the LORD had commanded. And he lifted up the staff and struck the water that was in the Nile, in the sight of Pharaoh and in the sight of his servants, and all the water that was in the Nile was turned to blood. The fish that were in the Nile died, and the Nile became foul, so that the Egyptians could not drink water from the Nile. And the blood was through all the land of Egypt. But the magicians of Egypt did the same with their secret arts; and Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, and he did not listen to them, as the LORD had said.’ Exodus 7:20-22

‘So Aaron stretched out his hand over the waters of Egypt, and the frogs came up and covered the land of Egypt. The magicians did the same with their secret arts, making frogs come up on the land of Egypt.’ Exodus 8:6-7

After the plague of the frogs, the counterfeit miracle workers were not able to keep up with the authentic miracle worker, prophet of God, Moses.

‘They did so; and Aaron stretched out his hand with his staff, and struck the dust of the earth, and there were gnats on man and beast. All the dust of the earth became gnats through all the land of Egypt. The magicians tried with their secret arts to bring forth gnats, but they could not; so there were gnats on man and beast. Then the magicians said to Pharaoh, “This is the finger of God.” But Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, and he did not listen to them, as the LORD had said.’ Exodus 8:17-19

Prophetically, God the Father issues this warning to his children that just as in the days of his beloved prophet Moses there would be false “miracle workers” or “signs and wonders” today. Jesus Christ of Nazareth reissues this warning that there are many lawless ones or workers of Satan who in this life time would do “miracle work”, “signs and wonders” or “prophesy” in His name but WILL NOT INHERIT THE KINGDOM OF GOD. There are many unsuspecting individuals being led astray by false “signs” or coincidences set up by the prince of darkness to destroy lives. These false signs look like a Cinderella story but end up being a real life nightmare (HINT: Ask your girlfriends who were married and divorced in under 3 years).

‘The coming of THE LAWLESS ONE will be in ACCORDANCE WITH THE WORK OF SATAN DISPLAYED IN ALL KINDS OF COUNTERFEIT MIRACLES, SIGNS, AND WONDERS, and every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing.’ 2 Thessalonians 2:9

Application:
Our culture encourages us to look for signs of “The One”. Not the King of Kings but of our “Prince Charming” or “Mr. Right”. And many believe that because our path crosses the path of another individual once or maybe even five times, that that alone is a green light from God of this being our future life long mate. WRONG! That handsome or charming individual in our lives might be a “sign” not of God’s plan but of great difficulty ahead. One that will test our faithfulness to God.

Do “signs and wonders”, “miracles”, or coincidences mean it’s from God or mean it’s meant to be?
Answer: No

Related Posts: Dating 101 Series
Resources: Discerning God’s Will ; Finding Your Spouse in God’s Will