Summary: The gifts give an indication of what God has in mind for you.
1 Cor 12:1,4-20 WHAT DOES GOD WANT? 6/6/04S&C
What does God want? Have you ever wondered? I remember agonizing in prayer one day, and suddenly God appeared in the clouds. I remember it well. It was a blazing sunny day—the only sunny day of my childhood. He spoke to me directly, and told me in detail exactly what He wanted me to do for my whole life. It was incredible! You know what ‘incredible’ means, don’t you? Unbelievable.
But what does He want? Sometimes you read biographies or hear speakers that sound a little like ‘the above’. It is estimated that during D L Moody’s lifetime, he traveled more than one million miles, spoke to more than 100 million people, and led hundreds of thousands, if not millions, to a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Presidents Lincoln and Grant both attended his famous revival services. I am told that after the great Chicago fire that destroyed his lecture hall and schools, Dwight Moody was in desperate need of funding--big funding—to re-build. As he was walking down the street, he approached a man he knew, and asked him for a million dollars. That would take more nerve than I possess, but Moody did it. The surprising thing was that the man pulled out his chequebook and gave it to him. Tell me the Holy Spirit was not involved.
George Mueller was exactly the opposite; he never once asked anyone for money, but he ran orphanages on his knees. Any time he needed anything, he went straight to the Lord, and the Lord took care of it. In an autobiography, he said, “Let not Satan deceive you in making you think you could not have the same faith , but that it is only for persons situated as I am…I pray to the Lord and expect an answer to my requests; and may not you do the same, dear believing reader?”
The implication is that if you’re spiritual enough, you can do it, but I don’t know anyone who could run an orphanage on his knees today. And if anyone could do it, why weren’t there more orphanages run that way in his day? Certainly there was great need, as there is today. But here is an example of his faith:
One morning the plates and cups and bowls on the table were empty. There was no food in the larder, and no money to buy food. The children were standing waiting for their morning meal, when Mueller said, "Children, you know we must be in time for school." Lifting his hand he said, "Dear Father, we thank Thee for what Thou art going to give us to eat."
There was a knock on the door. The baker stood there, and said, "Mr. Mueller, I couldn’t sleep last night. Somehow I felt you didn’t have bread for breakfast and the Lord wanted me to send you some. So I got up at 2 a.m. and baked some fresh bread, and have brought it." Mueller thanked the man.
No sooner had this transpired when there was a second knock at the door. It was the milkman. He announced that his milk cart had broken down right in front of the Orphanage, and he would like to give the children his cans of fresh milk so he could empty his wagon and repair it. No wonder, years later, when Mueller was to travel the world as an evangelist, he would be heralded as "the man who gets things from God!"
In his seventy years of ministry, he received seven and a half million dollars from God. Today, that’s not a lot of money, but Mueller, a Lutheran pastor, lived in the early eighteen hundreds! Do you pray in that league?
And was he correct? Could anyone pray like that? Now, he had an advantage; until he was saved at twenty, he was a thief, and he was good at it. He became pastor of a large church as well as director of eight orphanages, and his yearly salary was $8,000, of which he gave away all but $1,800. Perhaps that’s why God gave him the phenomenal gift of faith that he never really recognized as such. He honestly believed that God would do the same for anyone. I’m not sure if Moody’s gift was faith or miracles, or both, along with his gift for evangelism. He never talked much about gifts either. It was simply not a hot topic in those days, but he surely recognized the Holy Spirit’s influence in his ministry.
The problem is that sincere, modern day disciples reading about these men, and others like them, usually come away feeling frustrated and inadequate. It simply doesn’t work like that for them, and they question their spirituality or even God. God does not play favourites; He is the same, yesterday, today, and forever. Then how do we explain Mueller and Moody, and a host of others? We simply cannot put God in a box and insist that He always act the same way. He may not change, but His actions certainly can and will, according to the situation and need. The success of the ministries of Mueller and Moody, and us, is largely a result of the gifts of the Holy Spirit at work within us.