Posts tagged: spiritual gifts

Why Do We Think It Should Be Easy?

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By Paula Marolewski, July 11, 2010 4:34 pm

I want life to be easy. I want following God to be easy. At my core, I think that if I’m obeying God and working for his kingdom, then obstacles should fall away in front of me.

However, that’s not what the Bible and what history teaches. This morning, I was reminded of that fact when I read these words from Jeremiah 1:17-19:

“‘Now, gird up your loins and arise, and speak to them all which I command you. Do not be dismayed before them, or I will dismay you before them. Now behold, I have made you today as a fortified city and as a pillar of iron and as walls of bronze against the whole land, to the kings of Judah, to its princes, to its priests and to the people of the land. They will fight against you, but they will not overcome you, for I am with you to deliver you,’ declares the LORD.”

Jeremiah was called as a prophet to speak the words of God to a rebellious nation. And God promised him right up front that it wasn’t going to be easy. That everyone – the king, the princes, the priests, and the people – would fight against him.

I then thought of the apostles: all martyred except for John, who was tortured and exiled to the island of Patmos.

And then the memory came to me of standing in one of the porticoes of Chartres cathedral, where bas-relief carvings on the pillars depict in gruesome detail the sufferings of the saints who had gone before.

Will many obstacles fall away in front of us when we follow God’s will? Absolutely. God will clear the path for his Word to go forth in power. But it is also true that all the armies of hell will rise against us when we seek to humbly obey the voice of our Lord.

He never promised it would be easy. He promised we would be victorious.


© 2009 Paula Marolewski


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Commanded to Suffer

Afflicted But Not Crushed

A Sacrifice for God

Seedling: Kindle Afresh

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By Paula Marolewski, January 23, 2010 12:08 pm

“For this reason I remind you to kindle afresh the gift of God which is in you…” – II Timothy 1:6

We have all been given spiritual gifts by God (cf. I Corinthians 12:7). It would be great to think of these gifts as working almost independently of us … always pouring out strong and clean and powerful, like Niagara Falls. Unstoppable.

But the truth of the matter is, spiritual gifts are more like a fire – a fire that waxes and wanes depending on what we’re putting into it. Their effectiveness depends not only upon God, the Giver of the gifts, but also upon us, the recipients of the gifts. What are we doing with what we have been given?

To keep a fire burning steadily requires constant vigilance and effort. You have to gather the right kind of wood, place it properly, and feed the flame regularly. Failure to do so will allow the fire to burn down to its embers, and to eventually go out entirely.

That is why Paul, in his second epistle to Timothy, reminded the young man to “kindle afresh the gift of God which is in you.” He knew that the world could easily smother Timothy’s fire. He then showed Timothy exactly how to ensure that the fire of his spiritual gifts would burn hot and strong: Timothy would need to be disciplined (II Timothy 1:7). To ground himself in Scripture (II Timothy 1:13). To devote himself completely to God (II Timothy 2:4). To pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace (II Timothy 2:22). To use his gifts in every time and place (II Timothy 4:2,5).

What was true for him is also true for us. Let us “kindle afresh” the gifts that God has given to us. When we do, we will set the world on fire.

  • What are your spiritual gifts?
  • Is the fire of your spiritual gifts burning hot and strong, or are the darkness and the cold closing in around you?
  • If the fire of your spiritual gifts is waning, what do you need to do to “kindle afresh the gift of God which is in you”?


Copyright © 2010, Paula J. Marolewski. All rights reserved.

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Do We Insult God?

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By Paula Marolewski, January 13, 2010 9:51 am

“Oh, I’m nothing.”

“I have no spiritual gifts.”

“God could never use me to do that.”

You know, humility is good and right in its place. But Paul calls us to “sober judgment” about ourselves (Romans 12:3). He then goes on to talk about the spiritual gifts God has given to each of us in the church – gifts, as he says in Ephesians 4:12-13, that are to be used “for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.” Hardly an inconsequential task!

So I have a simple question today:

Do we insult God by calling ourselves “nothing” and thinking we are worthless when he has redeemed us by his blood, sealed us by his Spirit, called us to his purpose, granted us his gifts, and destined us for his kingdom?



© 2009 Paula Marolewski,

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The Case of the Open and Shut Mouth

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By Paula Marolewski, November 18, 2009 6:48 pm

Okay, I admit it – I really enjoy the Perry Mason novels by Erle Stanley Gardner. Hence the title of this post. (Some of Gardner’s Mason novels were The Case of the Lucky Loser, The Case of the Terrified Typist, The Case of the Waylaid Wolf … you get the point!)

I always thought it sounded so leveling when Mason would object in court that his opponent was presenting evidence that was “Incompetent, irrelevant, and immaterial!” And then I wondered – does God ever deliver that divine objection to us? For instance …

… when Abraham protested that he was 100 years old?

… when Moses complained that he couldn’t speak eloquently?

… when Isaiah confessed his sinfulness?

… when Jeremiah claimed that he was too young to be a prophet?

… when Mary pointed out her virginity?

… when Peter denied Jesus?

… when Paul persecuted the church?

In every case, we as humans would say, “Yes, that is a good argument as to why you can’t succeed/God can’t work/it can’t happen!”

But God stands up in the court of human affairs and thunders, “Incompetent, irrelevant, immaterial!”

He is the God of the Universe: 

  • No excuse is acceptable to him,
  • No problem is insurmountable to him,
  • No sin is unforgivable by him, and
  • No person is unusable by him!

So if you find yourself opening your mouth to say, “But, God …!” shut it immediately. All “buts” are “incompetent, irrelevant, and immaterial” when God is at work!


© 2009 Paula Marolewski,

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Training the Next Generation

By Paula Marolewski, October 1, 2009 8:12 am

Sometimes I wonder if we are failing to give the next generation – particularly our teens and young adults – all they need in order to accomplish God’s calling in their life. Here are some of the lessons I fear that we aren’t passing down:

  • How to recognize God’s purpose and calling.
  • How to hold even God-given dreams and aspirations and goals with an open hand, allowing those dreams and aspirations and goals to mature and change over time. 
  • How to distinguish between their identity (who they are) and their gift or purpose or calling (what they do).
  • How to trust God entirely, even if he calls them to “give up their Isaac.”
  • How to persevere when God seems silent and everything in life comes crashing down around them.
  • How to endure rejection, scorn, and persecution.
  • How to sacrifice for a greater good.
  • How to get up one more time than you fall down.

If we want to raise a generation of men and women who will stand firm in their faith and accomplish great things for the kingdom of God, these lessons aren’t optional – they’re essential.


© 2009 Paula Marolewski,

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What If You Knew You Were Going To Fail?

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By Paula Marolewski, September 24, 2009 8:59 am

A popular question today in goal-setting seminars is “What would you do if you knew you could not fail?” And while that is an incredibly useful question, I have a harder one … and one that may be even more telling:

What would you do if you knew you were going to fail?

Or, put another way, what is so important to you that failure is no obstacle? What is the one thing you will seek to accomplish no matter how many times you fall down? What would still be worth the attempt, even if you knew beforehand you would never see the results you want?

Do you think those questions farfetched? Unreasonable? Consider for a moment …

… the prophets of God, who became laughingstocks, outcasts, and even prisoners because they dared to speak the Word of the Lord.

… the missionaries spending their lives on the field and never seeing the conversions they earnestly pray for, little knowing that they are sowing the seed and the next generation of missionaries will reap the harvest.

… the parents who pray nightly for their prodigal child, year after year after year.

I’m not saying that your dearest desires and deepest calling will end in failure. Far from it. In fact, if it is God’s calling, you actually cannot fail, regardless of the outcome here on earth. God brings an eternal perspective to the word “success.”

But the fact is, sometimes things don’t turn out the way we want on this side of heaven. Therefore, it’s important to ask yourself the question: Would I do this, even if it never turns out? Even if I never see any “success”? Would it still be worth it? If the answer is “Yes,” then that, more than anything else, is your purpose, your calling, your mission, your vision.


© 2009 Paula Marolewski,

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