In 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 Paul beautifully writes, “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.”
Rev. G. P. Eckman tells the story of a young English artist who stood before his canvas one day painting a picture called “A Lost Woman." As the work grew under his hand, his soul became more and more engrossed in the tragedy he was trying to portray. It represented a stormy night in winter. A poor woman, thinly clad, with her babe pressed to her bosom, was wending her way along a dark, deserted street. Faint lights flickered here and there, and all doors were closed and barred. As the artist depicted the agony on the unfortunate woman's face, his emotion deepened, and he threw his brush aside and exclaimed, "Why not go out and seek to save the actually lost?"
In that instant, he forsook his studio and resolved to prepare himself for the ministry. He entered Oxford University, supporting himself by the aid of his brush till he had finished his course. He then plunged into the work of rescuing the perishing, which took him through the slums of London to the dark regions of Uganda.
This is the story of Bishop Tucker of Africa, and it helps us to understand the Master's attitude toward the lost and those God is calling us to.
The Gifts of the Spirit are not merely to entertain, to paint a wonderful picture that people can “Ooh!” and “Ah!” at. They are not toys but tools. They are the living embodiment of God’s calling for us and must be used in the context of compassion for a dying world.
The moment the Gifts of the Spirit were activated in my life the Lord was calling me to “live out” what these gifts are all about – reaching the Lost. After Tongues and Healing the next gift the Holy Spirit manifested through me was the gift of supernatural Faith. All of us are to have faith for salvation and daily living in Christ, but there is a special gift of faith that comes to step out into greater things for the Lord. As a naturally shy and introverted young man, and a home-loving mummy’s boy, I would not have normally stepped out into risky activities. However, when a team from a missions organization, called World Horizons, came to our Christian Union and challenged us to go with them on a mission trip to a certain country, I felt faith rise up in me and I signed up to go, not knowing where the money would come from or what I was in for.
In my first book, Picture Perfect, I shared the story of how the Lord prepared me for this trip by arranging for me to meet a man from that country, preparing me to reach this people group with the love of Jesus and be filled with His compassion for them. As I was praying in my room for this trip the Lord gave me a vision of a man coming towards me near South Kensington Underground station. It was very detailed, and I saw what he was wearing plus the fact he was carrying two plastic shopping bags.
Immediately, I went to this station and waited. There were very few people around and no one matched the man I saw in the vision. However, there was a Cultural Centre of that country nearby and soon many people were pouring out of it. As a result, I had dozens of people from that country coming towards me and I asked the Lord to show me the one in the vision. Then, at the back of the crowd I saw him, carrying the bags and wearing the same clothes I had seen. As he came towards me, I prayed under my breath that God would help me to approach him. As he was about to pass one of his bags handles broke and his shopping went sprawling all over the pavement. I leapt forward to help him and he was so happy that I did and stopped to chat with me. As I shared Jesus with him, I just felt the compassion of the Lord flow through me and knew this was a preparation for my trip.
This was the start of my calling to go to the nations, eventually to South East Asia and be based in Singapore, and all because I chose to “live out” the gifts He was releasing in me.
We must be His hands, painting the gift as we have received it.
Jesus said to the Father in John 17:18, “As You sent Me into the world, I have sent them into the world.”
He also said to His disciples in John 14:12, “I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father.”
There is a true story that tells of a church in Strasbourg that was destroyed during the Second World War. After the bombing, the members of this church went to see what was left and found that the entire roof had fallen in, leaving a heap of rubble and broken glass. Much to their surprise, however, a statue of Christ with outstretched hands that had been carved centuries before by a great artist was still standing erect. It was virtually unharmed except that both hands had been sheared off by a falling beam. The people hurried to a sculptor in town and asked if he could replace the hands of the statue. He was willing, and he even offered to do it for nothing. The church officials met to consider the sculptor's proposition -- and decided not to accept his offer.
Why? Because they felt that the statue without hands would be the greatest illusion possible that God's work is done through His people. In a very real sense that is true. Jesus Christ chooses human hands. Sometimes they seem to be the most infirm hands, the least potentially successful hands, or the least qualified hands -- but those are the hands He uses.
Nanette Elkins writes in her blog ‘Hope in the Healing’, “One of the greatest examples of the apostles being the Hands and Feet of Jesus in the early Church is found in the third chapter of the Book of Acts. Peter and John were on their way to the Temple to pray, like they did every day at around three o’clock. There was a man who was lame from birth being carried in. Every day, he was put beside the Temple gate, the one they called the Beautiful Gate, so he could beg from the people going into the Temple.
When the lame man saw Peter and John, he asked them for money too, but Peter said, “Look at us! I don’t have any silver or gold for you. But I’ll give you what I have. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, get up and walk!” Acts 3:4-6 (NLT). According to the Word, and the Name of Jesus, the man’s feet and ankles were instantly healed! He jumped up and began to walk! The Bible said he went “…walking, leaping and praising God…into the Temple with them.” Acts 3:8 (NLT).
Peter and John were being the Hands and Feet of Jesus! Jesus had already ascended into Heaven. He had told the disciples to wait for the Promise of the Father, the Comforter, which He would send. And He did! They were all filled with the Holy Ghost, according to Acts 2. And the Church is born. We are the continuance of the Early Church. We are Acts 29! And the only way we can continue to write that 29th chapter is to be the Hands and Feet of Jesus.”
Just as the early disciples received the call to be the hands and feet of Jesus so I found the Lord was calling me to step out for Him in the power of the Holy Spirit. For me it was a clear call to leave my family, my homeland and go to a place the Lord would show me. This call came to me on my twenty first birthday, as I was on a mission trip to Morocco. We had travelled right down to the south of the country and were spending a night in sleeping bags in the Sahara Desert. I awoke at four o’clock in the morning (not a usual thing for me, but on this trip, we travelled early to avoid the heat of the day) and, by torchlight, had my quiet time with the Lord. My Bible reading on that day was Genesis 12:1-3, but verse one leapt out at me:
“Now the Lord had said to Abram: “Get out of your country, from your family and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you.””
This became a living word to me as I literally heard the voice of God within me saying this was not just for Abram but also for me. These literal words to leave one’s family and nation and go to another country as the Lord leads, to be a blessing, are not for everyone, but for me this was a very real calling. It was a call to be the hands and feet of Jesus according to the gifts He was equipping me with. We will all have that call but its outworking will be as unique as each star in the sky and each grain of sand on the beaches of this world.
We must see the gifts as our passport!
Proverbs 18:16 says, “A man’s gift makes room for him, and brings him before great men.”
Gustav Dore, the famous artist, lost his passport while traveling in Europe. He was at a certain boundary post between two countries and the officer in charge asked him for his passport. Dore fumbled about and finally announced, "I have lost my passport, but it is all right. I'm Dore, the artist. Please let me go in." The officer replied, "Oh, no. We have plenty of people representing themselves as this or that great person! Here is a pencil and paper. Now, if you are Dore, the artist, prove it by drawing me a picture! “, Dore took the pencil and drew some pictures of scenes in the immediate area. “Now, I am perfectly sure that you are Dore. No one else could draw like that! “, the officer said as he allowed the great artist to enter the country.
When I was baptized with the Spirit there were many gifts that were released, but there was one that surprised me the most, even more than Speaking in Tongues. This was the gift of singing spiritual songs (Ephesians 5:19), a form of the Gift of Prophecy. At school I auditioned for the choir but, even after my first line, the music teacher dismissed me, as I was so out of tune. I was not naturally endowed with an ability to sing well.
However, after my Baptism with the Spirit, I found new songs rising in my spirit and, as I would sing, either in tongues or in understanding, the sound was beautiful and anointed.
As I started singing out in small groups, people were testifying that this was truly a gift from the Lord and a blessing to them. Doors began to open for me to minister and later I found myself in demand to lead worship times in small groups and to this day I lead worship in my Church, both in the service and the Tuesday night prayer meeting (sometimes singing in Chinese, which I don’t speak fluently).
Another gift I found rising up in me was the gift of Teaching the Word of God with anointing, insight and life-touching effect, at first in small groups and then later in churches and missions organizations.
When I was twelve years old and only just Born Again, I remember taking a spiritual gifts evaluation in my church (the church did not believe in the supernatural gifts but still accepted the gifts mentioned in Romans 12:6-8). My results showed that Teaching was clearly my main gift, meaning the spiritual gift of teaching the Word of God. At that time, I didn’t really believe the results as I was very shy and wouldn’t even say “Boo!” to a goose. Even if you’d have asked me to teach the Bible sheep in a field, I would have run away from the task at lightning speed.
However, after I was baptized with the Spirit, I found a boldness to teach His Word rising up within me and the Lord started giving deeper insights and revelation that I started to share in small groups. Again, doors started opening for me to teach in churches and missions’ meetings.
Indeed, in more recent times I have found these two gifts marrying together as I minister in teaching/preaching with prophetic songs coming forth over groups or individuals, especially as I minister overseas in other churches.
Truly, I have found that God’s spiritual gifts to us, if opened and used, are like a passport that opens the way for us to minister in His call on our lives. My prayer is that you too will live fully in the gifts that God is empowering you with by His Holy Spirit.