Ezekiel 36:26-27 in the Amplified Bible:
“ A new heart will I give you and a new spirit will I put within you, and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.  And I will put my Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you shall heed My ordinances and do them.”
For the past month, I have been leading a small group at our home, calling the study Being Gifted for a Purpose. I am using The 9 SPIRITUAL GIFTS listed in 1 Corinthians 12:7-11 as an introduction to the study.
In using my Bible Concordance, listing specific verses concerning Spiritual Gifts, I found some interesting facts in the Old Testament which refer to Spiritual Gifting. So much so, I decided to write down my thoughts in a Blog-post.
I also learned from God’s Word, I should have presented a portion of the facts found in the Old Testament before launching into the Spiritual Gifts Study mentioned in I Corinthians 12, and Romans 12. Lesson learned.
Renewal Is Promised–
According to Ezekiel 36:26,27, the hardened heart of man is replaced with a soft heart [“a heart of flesh”], where RENEWAL is promised at this occurrence. Now compare this with the New Testament verse of being “born again” (John 3:3)–meaning to be RESTORED to what we were created to be according to God’s plan.
What is God’s Plan After Receiving “A New Heart”?
Your specific calling is related to the Spirit’s work in several areas:
3. EMPOWERING BELIEVERS FOR THE WORK IN THE CHURCH & THE WORLD.
The GIFTS OF THE SPIRIT Found in the Old Testament and the New Testament:
Three Basic Areas in The Old Testament:
1. COSMIC – referring to the Spirit’s role in the CREATION.
2. INDIVIDUAL – referring to the Spirit’s role in REGENERATION and the SANCTIFICATION (setting apart) of individuals.
3. THEOCRATIC – referring to the Spirit’s role in EMPOWERING the children of Israel.
A. HOLY SPIRIT’S WORK IN THE CREATION PROCESS:
In my detective work in Scripture this week, I found a number of biblical passages pertaining to the COSMIC area.
“By His breath the heavens are cleared…” ~ Job 26:13.
“The Spirit of God has made me, And the breath of the Almighty gives me life” ~ Job 33:4.
“When you send your Spirit, they are created, and you renew the face of the earth” ~ Psalms 104:30.
We can look at the GIFTS we’ve expressed throughout our lives; indicating where we are to SERVE in the church and in the world. BUT, how does this whole process even begin?
B. Individual: the Spirit’s work in us–
JESUS talks about this process, when He discusses the topic about being “BORN AGAIN” or “BORN FROM ABOVE”:
3 times in a conversation with Nicodemus in The Gospel of John 3:1-10: “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (verse 3).
In Verse 10, JESUS asks Nicodemus, “Are you the teacher of Israel and yet do not know or understand these things?”
JESUS is making a clear point, that based on Nicodemus’ knowledge of the Old Testament, he should have a grasp about the Spirit’s RENEWAL or REBIRTH of individuals. Ezekiel 36:26 speaks of this language.
Note the new heart and new spirit that is promised–the HARDENED heart is REPLACED with a soft heart. RENEWAL is promised to take place.
Being “born again” means the beginning process–being RESTORED to what we were created to be according to God’s plan. Again, this PROCESS includes our gifts.
C. Theocratic: where the Spirit is, There is POWER–
In some ancient languages, the words for “spirit”, “breath”, and “wind” are identical.
The Old Testament uses two Hebrew words “breath” and “wind”–
1. Ruach, refers to heavy breathing, or breathing through the nose with violence. Exodus 15:8 uses ruach to refer to a “blast” of the nostrils:
“With the blast of Your nostrils the waters piled up, the floods stood fixed in a heap, the deeps congealed in the heart of the sea” (Amplified Bible).
2. Neshamah, refers to quiet breathing.
“when the breath (or Spirit) of the Lord” is used, Ruach Yahweh could mean Spirit of the Lord or Wind of the Lord. In both cases, the idea is POWER.
Holy Spirit gives GIFTS and He can and will…EMPOWER those GIFTS in our lives.
In The Book of Acts, we see an instance where the empowerment is given and the results:
“AND WHEN the day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all assembled together in one place. When suddenly there came a sound from heaven like a rushing of a violent tempest blast, and it filled the whole house in which they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues resembling fire, which were separated and distributed and which settled on each one of them. And they were ALL FILLED (DIFFUSED THROUGHOUT THEIR SOULS) with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other (different, foreign) languages (tongues), as the Spirit kept giving them clear and loud expression [in each tongue in appropriate words]” (Acts 2:1-4 AMP).
OUR “GIFTS” ARE FROM THE SPIRIT:
Being EMPOWERED by the Spirit of God is to accomplish the PURPOSE for which they are given.
Empowerment of the Spirit On Display From the Old Testament–
Do the GIFTS of the Holy Spirit really matter in our everyday work, our ministry, our witness?
In the Old Testament, there are a number of gifts the Holy Spirit gives Israel which I found applicable to our life and work today.
Strength and Leadership–
The Holy Spirit EMPOWERED various people in different ways which establish and protected the kingdom of Israel.
GIDEON in Judges 6:34:
“Then the Spirit of the Lord came upon GIDEON…”
The words “came upon” literally mean “clothed”; the Spirit put on GIDEON as a cloak.
JEPHTHAH in Judges 11:29-33:
In a similar way, “the Spirit of the Lord came upon [or “fell on”] Jephthah,” when he was able to win the battle that was rapidly approaching.
When the Spirit of the Lord fell on Sampson, he became supernaturally strong. Now he was strong to begin with, but Holy Spirit used this God-given ability to make him stronger.
“And the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon him, and he tore the lion as he would have torn a kid…” (Judges 14:6).
Clothed With Power From On High.
“And behold, I will send forth upon you what My Father has PROMISED; but remain in the city [Jerusalem] until you are CLOTHED WITH THE POWER FROM ON HIGH” (Luke 24:49 AMP). [I capitalized words for emphasis]
QUESTION: Why did Jesus choose the word “clothed” ?
He lifted it from the pages of what we call as the Old Testament.
Thinking it all through, it’s plain to see. The Spirit is a spirit; He does not have a body. Holy Spirit needs a human body to accomplish the works, the gifts listed in Scripture [both in the Old Testament and the New Testament] God wants done on Earth–To SPEAK THE WORDS God wants spoken.
God’s Spirit clothed Himself with Gideon, Jephthah, Samson and the RESULT?:
Gideon’s mind, voice, and hands became tools the Spirit used to accomplish God’s purposes.
REACHING OUR POTENTIAL:
What is POTENTIAL? The Online Dictionary defines it as, “latent qualities or abilities that may be developed and lead to future success or usefulness.”
How does the Lord define POTENTIAL? The Lord takes people who are already GIFTED by His Spirit, causing their gifts which are already present, to reach their full potential.
An Old Testament Example — Bezalel, A Gifted Artist and More! :
“And I have filled him with the Spirit of God in wisdom, understanding
in knowledge, and in all kinds of craftsmanship
to make artistic design for work in gold, in silver, in bronze, and in cutting
of stones, and in carving of wood, that he may work in all kinds of craftsmanship.”
All of your GIFTS are affected by the Fall (SIN). Holy Spirit can take our GIFTS and cause them to be renewed and energized:
1. Be directed to His glory.
2. Unfold and reach their potential.
The Work of Holy Spirit Gives Direction in Our Work and the World–whether in Creation or Regeneration.
The Spirit constantly EMPOWERS us to carry out the CALLINGS God places in our lives. The examples that I gave in the Old Testament should bear witness for our work in the Church and the World today.
1. The Spirit gives us POWER!
Where we have GIFTS of the Holy Spirit given to each one of us as Christians, we have power. Now we can fail to take ownership; bury them in the ground, fail to fully utilize them from either false-humility or lack of discernment of God’s potential in our lives. In either case, using these GIFTS is our responsibility, yet in our failure to do so doesn’t deny their potential POWER in this temporary residence we call “the world.”
2. We shouldn’t separate “natural” and “spiritual” gifts.
It’s wrong to depreciate or separate our natural (created) gifts and our “spiritual” gifts. Both gifts are from the Holy Spirit.
Although God can give each one of us new capacities at anytime He so chooses, in most cases, He empowers or develops the POTENTIAL from our created gifts; for the use in the Church or the World.
3. The Spirit helps us reach our true potential.
Both the Old Testament and New Testament, people need the Holy Spirit to overcome spiritual blindness and grab hold of spiritual realities. People in both testaments needed to be born again, their hearts made anew. This transformation kindled by the Holy Spirit enables us to develop and reach our potential.
4. The Spirit can increase our gifts for specific tasks.
God gave people the artistic skill and even more skill through the Holy Spirit, so they could fulfill His plans; building the Tabernacle and fashioning its utensils.
Likewise, God can unfold, redirect, or develop our potential with the Spiritual Gifts He has given each one of us. That’s His PROMISE to those who have received a New Heart and New Spirit.
This applies to people with a variety of skill sets, not just those with artistic gifts. And by-the-way, it’s okay to pray that the Lord will unfold the partially developed GIFTS.
My Personal Story–
Several years back, I was asked by a pastor if I could come up with an idea for an Easter Play. One that would include some of the people in church as cast members.
Over the years, I had acquired some acting experience; even came up with an idea for a church choir performing an Easter Musical . But to write, cast, set-design, and produce an original Christian play…NO EXPERIENCE AT ALL! NONE!!
With the days passing, with fervent prayer in my spirit asking God for direction, I still found myself at a dead-end. And then one night, while sound asleep, I felt a touch on my right shoulder. I turned to see if my wife was still asleep and not standing beside the bed trying to get my attention for some reason. But she was sound asleep. As I rolled over on my side, I felt another touch, but this time it was more forceful. Still unaware, I looked at the alarm clock on the bed stand noticing it was 3:30 AM. The room was dark and still and at that moment, I heard a soft voice: “Mel, get up! Grab your notepad, a pencil and your Bible and go out to the kitchen table. I’ll tell you what to write and do.” I’ve learned from previous experiences, when God’s Spirit speaks, you better listen and do!
Following the Instructions and Directions–
Starting at 4 AM and finishing at 6:30 AM (seemed like 10 minutes and not hours), the play was done: the staged set sketched out on paper, lighting diagram positioned, and the title: MERCY On Trial. My only problem…I had no clue how to write a Script for actors to follow including stage directions. But I did have HOPE in reaching what God had planned. I love one definition of HOPE: “A heartfelt expectation of something with an out-stretched neck.” By, was I ever stretching my neck out, HOPING God’s Spirit would develop my potential.
And then I remembered. My daughter-in-law graduated from college with a minor degree in Performing Arts. She could help. Thank You Jesus!
Later that morning, I called her at work and presented my hopes and the time frame I was up against to have a finished product. “Can you help out Loretta?”
Loretta: How much time will I have?
Dad: Two weeks? (holding my breath).
Loretta: Dad, if you will call me late Saturday morning and present me with your ideas, I’ll see what I can do. I’m going down to Phoenix on business next week and I’ll take my laptop computer.
Two weeks later, I had a finished Script and had her FAX the 3 Act Play to the church. On a Monday night, the play was cast and rehearsals began. God gifted my daughter-in-law’s talented abilities along with my natural desire, to present a Spirit-led prophetic, Resurrection Day drama. Thank You Father for developing my potential and empowering the both of us for Your glory.
What is your POTENTIAL? With a new heart and a new spirit, God promises to reveal His plans to you. It’s up to you to have a willing heart that will be transformed! He promises!