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Christian Living

What Are Spiritual Gifts?

God Equips Us to Grow His Kingdom

The Bible talks about “gifts of the Spirit,” which we commonly call spiritual gifts (not to be confused with spiritual disciplines). Paul teaches about spiritual gifts extensively in his first letter to the church in Corinth. But what are spiritual gifts? Here’s what we can learn from him.

They Come from the Holy Spirit

God’s Holy Spirit supernaturally endows us with special abilities. This includes different types of service and work, but they’re all the result of God at work in us and through us (1 Corinthians 12:4-6).

The gifts of the Spirit that God gives us are intended to benefit others, not ourselves. Click To Tweet

They Are for the Common Good of Jesus’s Followers

The gifts of the Spirit that God gives us are intended to benefit others, not ourselves. They help the church community, or they serve others outside the church. Sometimes they do both. When used properly, our spiritual gifts advance the kingdom of God, for his glory (1 Corinthians 12:7).

Sovereign Allocation

God doesn’t equip us with the same supernatural abilities. He gives each of us the spiritual gift or gifts needed to accomplish his divine purpose. Though we may wish to be gifted like someone else, we would be wrong to desire that person’s gift or begrudge them.

God gave them the gift he did and us with our gift because he is sovereign (a good sovereign), able to do whatever he wishes (1 Corinthians 12:8-11).

One Body with Different Parts

Paul gives the Corinthians—and us—an example to help us understand how and why God allocates spiritual gifts the way he does. Think of a person with different body parts: a head, ears, eyes, hands, feet, and so forth.

Each part has a key purpose, and without one or more of our body parts, we would struggle to fully function.

The same is true with the church—that is, the body of Christ. For the church body to function as it should, all parts must be present and work together, each doing what it is designed to do. Just as the human body has diversity in its components, so does the church.

Through a diversity of people with various spiritual gifts, our church can become a unified whole (1 Corinthians 12:12-31).

A Pursuit Higher than Spiritual Gifts

Now that we know what are spiritual gifts, it’s exciting that God gives us special abilities (spiritual gifts) to equip us to serve and to work. Yet we should not overemphasize or become proud of the gifts he gave us.

Something is more important than any type of spiritual gift. And this is something for all of us. It’s something we can all do. Paul calls this the most excellent way (1 Corinthians 12:31).

What is it? Love (1 Corinthians 13).

Read more in Peter’s book, Love is Patient (book 7 in the Dear Theophilus series).

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Bible Insights

Don’t Be Afraid

Supernatural Encounters May Be Scary

The Book of Mark wraps up with three women going to the tomb of Jesus to anoint his body. They are Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome.

They approach the tomb preoccupied, wondering how they will roll the stone away to gain access. As it turns out, this won’t be a problem.

When they arrive at the tomb the stone has already been rolled away. They see a young man sitting there. He’s wearing a white robe. He’s like an angel, but there’s no indication if they realize this or not. But his presence does surprise them.

The first thing he says is, “Don’t be afraid!” (Mark 16:6).

Encountering Angels

Throughout the Bible, whenever anyone has a supernatural encounter with angels, one of the first things these heavenly beings say is usually, “Don’t be afraid!”

I get this.

Should someone not from this world appear before us, our first reaction would certainly be fright. Without assurance, our first response would likely be flight. It would be hard for us to hear their heavenly message if we were running away from them.

I’d like to think my reaction would be different. I’d like to think I wouldn’t be afraid of an angel that God sent to me. I’d like to think I would confidently hear everything they would say, though in awe over their presence.

But I know me. I know better. Though I might be brave in my spirit, in my mind I would fear, just like everyone else.

What will our reaction be when we see God for the first time? Click To Tweet

Encountering God

If a typical reaction to an angelic encounter is fear, what will our reaction be when we see God for the first time?

I’d like to think I’d feel peace. I’d like to think I would approach him with confidence and embrace him. I’d like to think I would remain calm.

But I know better. I know me. I’m sure I would tremble in his presence. Fear and excitement would surge through me in anticipation and apprehension, quaking in fear over the unknown.

Don’t Be Afraid

I suspect the first words God will say to me will be, “Don’t be afraid. Do not fear.”

And then everything will be okay, because I will be home, basking in the glory of his presence.

[Read through the Bible this year. Today’s reading is Mark 14-16, and today’s post is on Mark 16:5-6.]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Bible Insights

Do You Seek God First for Healing When You Are Sick?

Azariah the Son of Oded

Azariah, son of Oded, comes to Asa, King of Judah. The prophet tells the king, “If you see God, you’ll find him. If you walk away from him, he’ll walk away from you” (2 Chronicles 15:2). That is, to seek God first.

King Asa takes the prophet’s warning seriously and acts. He decides to seek God. He implements spiritual reforms and restores worship. The nation is at peace—at least for several years.

Then Asa makes a treaty with another king and goes to war against Israel. Another prophet, Hanani, goes to Asa criticizing him for relying on another nation, king, and army instead of God. This time, instead of responding positively, Asa takes offense and throws the sage in prison.

Things go downhill from there.

Seek God Today

A few years later Asa has a disease develop in his foot. Although painful, he does not seek God for healing. Instead he relies on doctors to cure him. They don’t. Two years later Asa dies.

In all instances, we are wise to seek God first. Click To Tweet

Many Christians in developed countries today act just like King Asa. When a medical problem arises, they rush off to the nearest doctor seeking the wisdom of people to restore them to full health.

And if the first physician doesn’t produce results, they’ll pursue a second opinion from another medical professional.

They don’t seek God for supernatural healing.

I’m not sure if this is because they’re not conditioned to turn to God for their physical ailments or if they don’t believe he can heal them. At best, they may whisper a short prayer asking that God will enable the physicians to heal them.

Jesus Came to Save and to Heal

Oh, how this must grieve God with our lack of faith and unwillingness to trust him with our health and our future. Remember, Jesus came to save and to heal. If we trust him for our salvation, why won’t we trust him for our healing?

Though this isn’t a call to dismiss medical treatment, it is a plea to seek God first and then consider modern healthcare as an adjunct or secondary source. Sometimes God will heal us directly and other times he will work through physicians.

But in all instances, we are wise to seek God first.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is 2 Chronicles 16-18, and today’s post is on 2 Chronicles 16:12.]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Bible Insights

What Do We Do When God’s Commands No Longer Make Sense?

Contrary to the Law of Moses King David Reassigns the Duties of the Levites

In the book of Numbers, Moses details the assignments and responsibilities of the tribe of Levi, mentioning them over fifty times. Though the priests, descendants of Aaron, are from this tribe, the rest of the Levites have God-assigned responsibilities too.

Chief among them is taking down, moving, and setting up the tabernacle and related elements of worship. They must do this each time God’s people move camp as they wander about in the wilderness.

The nation of Israel spends about four decades in the desert, sometimes moving frequently and other times not so much. This keeps the Levites busy.

Then they get to the promised land, conquer it, and occupy it. No longer is there a need to disassemble, transport, and reassemble the tabernacle. What do the Levites do now that their primary job is irrelevant? That’s a good question.

Over four hundred years later, some four centuries with the Levites having nothing to do, King David arrives on the scene. He reassigns the Levites to new tasks that relate to worshiping God.

Who does David think he is to countermand the commands of Moses, as received from God? It seems ill-advised to ignore what’s in Scripture—God’s written word—and replace it with something that makes better sense to us. But this is precisely what David did.

Though we could concoct a principal from this and say that when Scripture—God’s past commands—no longer makes sense in the present, we are free to change them. Just like David did. Yet, I’m not going to go there. I think it’s an overstretch, a misapplication.

Remember, after all, David was a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22). That’s significant.

Hold to what the Bible says and apply it the best we can to our life and culture today. Click To Tweet

Whenever I encounter something in the Bible that doesn’t make sense, I don’t ignore it. Instead I meditate on it. I ask the Holy Spirit to supernaturally explain it to me.

Sometimes he does so right away, in other instances it takes a few days, and on occasion I wait for years. But until God instructs me otherwise, I’ll hold to what the Bible says and apply it the best I can to my life and our culture today.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is 1 Chronicles 24-26, and today’s post is on 1 Chronicles 24:3.]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Bible Insights

Why Love Matters the Most

Last week in my post, How Important is Knowledge?, I noted that many in our society—and the Western Church—esteem knowledge above all else, while Paul says that love is more important. That is, love matters.

In another place Paul elevates love over several other things as well, such as supernaturally using other languages, giving prophetic words, having spiritual discernment, exercising deep faith, possessing a giving heart, and enduring physical hardship.

Although these things have value, they aren’t as important as simply loving one another. In fact, without love, these other things don’t even matter, not really.

Love is the greatest thing of all. Click To Tweet

I’ve often seen well-intended followers of Jesus seek an impartation of supernatural gifts, especially speaking in tongues, but I’ve never seen anyone ask for more love. Yet if we really believe what Paul says, that love matters, then love should be the first thing we ask for.

After all, Paul does say that love is the greatest thing of all.

[1 Corinthians 13:1-3 and 1 Corinthians 13:13]

Read more in Peter’s book, Love is Patient (book 7 in the Dear Theophilus series).

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Bible Insights

3 Unusual Examples of God’s Healing Power

God Uses His People to Heal the Hurting

Elisha dies, but his influence lives on. Yes, Elisha continues to teach us today, thousands of years after his death, through the words recorded about him in the Bible. However, he also has a practical effect on someone postmortem. It’s one example of God’s amazing healing power through his people.

1. The Healing Power of Elisha’s Bones

A man dies, and his friends are burying him when a gang of bandits come into view. Not wanting to end up like their buddy, the pallbearers dump the body in the nearest tomb.

It happens to be Elisha’s final resting place. When the body touches the bones of Elisha, the dead man becomes undead and jumps to his feet (2 Kings 13:21).

This is an amazing example of God’s power to heal. It’s the ultimate healing: resurrection. But that’s not all. Here are two more stories.

2. The Healing Power of Peter’s Shadow

The Bible also tells about people bringing their infirmed friends and placing them on the street where they expect Peter to travel. They hope Peter’s shadow might fall on the sick as he passes by.

Though the Bible doesn’t explicitly say that people received healing this way, why would they go to this trouble if Peter’s shadow hadn’t healed others in the past? (Acts 5:15).

3. The Healing Power of Paul’s Handkerchief

Later in the book of Acts, we read about God doing astonishing miracles through Paul. This supernatural power is so extraordinary that even handkerchiefs and aprons that Paul touches have the power to heal people.

They bring these garments to people who need healing. The people who receive them are cured and evil spirits are cast out, even though Paul isn’t physically present (Acts 19:11-12).

Is God still in the business of healing people? Click To Tweet

God’s Power to Heal Is in Us

God’s healing power occurs through a dead man’s bones, a shadow, and articles of clothing. Is God still in the business of healing people? How can these examples inform our view of miracles and how we act today?

[Read through the Bible this year. Today’s reading is 2 Kings 11-13, and today’s post is on 2 Kings 13:21.]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Bible Insights

We Need to Listen to God and Obey Him

Our Actions and Our Lack of Actions Have Consequences

As the Israelites prepare to enter the territory God promises to give them. Moses, relaying God’s words to the people, gives them a stern warning. Though God plans to give the land to his people, they must do their part to fully receive it. They must obey God.

He expects them to drive out the inhabitants, destroy their detestable religious practices, and take the land. Then they can settle down. Of course God will help his people do this, directing their actions and offering supernatural assistance. Yet they must do their part.

If the Israelites fail to do so, it will come back on them. The people they were supposed to chase away will eventually become the source of their downfall.

These foreigners will cause problems and distract God’s people so that they don’t obey him and don’t put him first as they should. They will be a snare.

But They Didn’t Obey God

If this happens, the punishment intended for these foreign nations will boomerang on the Israelites.

We know the rest of the story. They do not fully chase away the other nations; they do not fully take the land. They coexist with their enemies, intermarry, and adopt their foreign religious practices, something that is an anathema to God.

When God speaks we better listen–and obey. Click To Tweet

God gives them chance after chance. And though there are times of revival, they are short-lived. After several centuries of mostly disobedience, God does exactly what he warns them he will do.

Because of their failure to drive out the other nations, they are themselves driven out—first the nation of Israel and later the nation of Judah.

The people hear God’s instructions, but they only partially obey, which is the same as disobedience. There are consequences.

How is partial obedience the same as disobedience? Is partial obedience ever enough? 

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Numbers 31-33, and today’s post is on Numbers 33:55-56.]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Bible Insights

Stephen is Martyred

Learn More about Stephen

The third sermon in the book of Acts: Acts 6:8-7:60 (specifically Acts 7:1-53).

Setting: Jerusalem, before the Sanhedrin (the ruling Jewish council)

Speaker: Stephen

Audience: Jewish leaders (members of the Sanhedrin)

Preceding Events: Stephen supernaturally does many miracles and amazing things. The opposition stirs up trouble, has him arrested, and persuades others to lie about him.

Overall Theme: Stephen gives a concise historical overview from Abraham up to Jesus. Throughout this history, God is at work.

Scripture Quoted: Exodus 2:14, Exodus 3:6, Exodus 3:5,7-8,10, Deuteronomy 18:15, Exodus 32:1, Amos 5:25-27, Isaiah 66:1-2

Central Teaching: The Jewish people miss seeing God at work, resist the Holy Spirit, and reject Jesus, just as they did the prophets before him.

Subsequent Events: Stephen is Martyred, brutally killed by a mob.

Being bold for Jesus and filled with the Holy Spirit does not always guarantee our safety or a happy outcome.

In Stephen’s case, his words to tell others about Jesus don’t have the desired impact of them deciding to follow Jesus. Though the crowd is motivated by his message, they have the opposite reaction and instead kill the messenger, literally.

This post is from the series “Sermons in the book of Acts.” Read about sermon #2 or sermon #4.

Read more about the book of Acts in Tongues of Fire: 40 Devotional Insights for Today’s Church from the Book of Acts, available in e-book, paperback, and hardcover. [Originally published as Dear Theophilus Acts.]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Christian Living

The Seven Transformations of Peter DeHaan

A Personal Story of Growing in Faith and Action

[This personal essay first appeared in The Transformation Project: A West Michigan Word Weavers Anthology.]

A caterpillar turns into a butterfly; a tadpole becomes a frog. People can change too. We call it transformation. Here’s my story.

1. The Bible Matters

We moved between fourth and fifth grade. I didn’t learn much at my new school. I was far ahead in most subjects, especially Math. However, I lagged in English, especially grammar, sending me on a lifelong quest to grasp it. Given that I ended up an author, and not a mathematician as planned, this ironic twist amuses me.

How I managed to earn A’s in English remains a mystery.

Teachers give more attention to students on the fringe, both those who struggle and those who shine. Since I stood out in most areas, my teacher gave me more attention. Although I didn’t learn much academically that year, she gave me something more important, something life changing: an enhanced self-image.

Succinctly, I began fifth grade as an above average student who believed he was average. I ended the year as an above average student, convinced he was exceptional. This single readjustment of my self-perception forever altered my life.

No longer did I seek to merely get by in school, to take the easy way out. Learning changed from drudgery to delight. I desired to excel.

My newfound interest in education spilled over into religion, as I devoured faith-friendly books—both fiction and nonfiction. Later, I became intentional about reading Scripture. I loved my pursuit of biblical knowledge.

Soon I read the New Testament, and a couple of years later I covered the entire Bible over summer vacation. This sparked a life-long passion of digging for truth in God’s word.

As strange as it sounds, a secular schoolteacher provided the catalyst for my first transformation: an overall desire to learn, which spilled over to an intellectual pursuit of God.

2. The Vast Diversity of Jesus’s Church

I grew up attending two small, mainline denominational churches, where church was a traditional experience: stoic, reserved—and boring. I had trouble connecting faith with church.

What I read in the Bible didn’t much match what I experienced on Sunday. Perhaps changing churches would solve my dilemma.

After high school, I veered evangelical.

At this new church, aside from seeing young adults my age excited about faith and happy to go to church, two other things astounded me: the music and the sermon. Both were fresh and inviting. This sparked a spiritual rejuvenation in me.

My old church had effectively put God in a box. As I migrated to a different doctrine, I had to escape my old theology. This resulted in a newfound freedom to comprehend God afresh. My faith leapt forward when I came to this church, completing a shift in my focus from an intellectual pursuit of God to a personal relationship with Jesus.

My new church, however, also put God in a box, even smaller and more confining.

Their box, fundamental in construction, lacked love and excelled at judgment. Their idea of godly living existed as rules. Theirs was a heavy load and not freeing. Jesus proclaimed the opposite: a light burden and gentle yoke. He offered rest from the religious regulations of the day—not bondage to them.

This church’s doctrine was narrow, dogmatic to an extreme. Pastoral opinion, uttered as fact, allowed for no disagreement. They isolated themselves from most of Christianity, turning up their religious nose at the unity Jesus prayed for.

At first, I didn’t see their error, but when I did, it became an oppressive weight. A spiritual angst welled up inside. I craved escape.

My second transformation occurred not when I joined this church or when I left it, but in the realization that Jesus’s church is more than one gathering, one denomination, or even one faith perspective (be it mainline, evangelical, or charismatic; Protestant or Catholic).

The church of Jesus, with its many branches, is diverse and wonderful. He prayed we would be one (John 17:20-21)—and I began to embrace that too.

Jesus’s church is huge—and I’m glad I’m part of it.

3. Learning to Feed Myself

I wasn’t being fed spiritually, so I switched churches. My reason sounded so spiritual, but my claim revealed immaturity. Unable to feed myself, I expected my pastor to do it for me. I was a baby Christian, only able to drink milk and not eat solid food (1 Corinthians 3:1-3).

Though I read the Bible daily, prayed most days, and had a relationship with Jesus, I expected my pastor to shovel enough spiritual sustenance into me each Sunday to sustain me for the week. I didn’t know how to do this myself.

Even worse, I didn’t realize I was supposed to. Isn’t that what we pay our ministers to do?

The pastor at this church had a different view. He explained I needed to feed myself—and then showed me how. Soon I learned what to do, no longer relying on him to nourish me.

I discovered how to listen to God, hearing his words and direction. I grew as a person of prayer and faith. My intimacy with God deepened, overwhelming me with peace and joy.

Learning to feed myself spiritually marked my third transformation, establishing the basis for the next one.

4. Holy Spirit

I joined with a group of believers who were diligently seeking more from their faith. We immersed ourselves in learning about the Holy Spirit. I was ecstatic about the new truths we learned.

After a time, with my friends gathered, I asked the Holy Spirit to indwell me, to take over my life, and envelop me. They stretched out their hands and prayed for me—and nothing happened.

What went wrong?

Discouraged over this non-event, only later did I realize I’d already done this.

Decades prior, while still in high school, one of the things I read was a little blue booklet called The Four Spiritual Laws. I studied it carefully and eagerly said the prayer they suggested. A few years later came a follow-up booklet that taught about living the spirit-filled life.

I raced through it to reach the end, seeking what I needed to do. With excitement, I invited the Holy Spirit into my life and to fill me. A powerful wave of God’s love engulfed me, a warm supernatural whoosh. Life made sense.

Everything came into focus. God emerged for me as a vibrant, real presence.

After a few days, however, my supernatural bliss evaporated. My spirit-filled euphoria was gone. Dejected, I returned to my tiny booklet to reclaim that feeling but without success. I tossed it aside and soon forgot it.

Though I failed then to comprehend it, the Holy Spirit had been quietly active in my life ever since but without my awareness. I thought supernatural insights and promptings were normal for all Christians.

Now that I understood the scope of his influence, I became intentional about listening to and following the Holy Spirit’s lead. Nowadays we work together as a team—at least most of the time.

My fourth transformation embraced the person of the oft-forgotten member of the Trinity: The Holy Spirit.

Praise Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

5. Jesus’s Healing Power

The opportunity for another change came when a group of like-minded Jesus followers launched a healing room. This required a bold step forward, both for our group and for us as individuals.

We went to training and we practiced what we learned, initially on each other and eventually applying it to others, timidly at first and then with greater confidence—not in ourselves but in God’s amazing power. Our faith in action moved forward.

This stretched me spiritually, and I savored my new insights into God and the grandeur of who he is.

Jesus, we learned, came to heal and to save. Two thousand years ago, the masses clamored for his healing power, but most missed his saving power. Today, Christians in the Western world see Jesus as savior but dismiss him as healer. I embrace both—and with unapologetic passion.

Each week our team would gather to worship God and listen for his instructions. Then we’d open our doors to offer prayer and healing. There I experienced firsthand what I’d only read about.

God used us to heal people: emotionally, spiritually, and physically—sometimes gradually and sometimes immediately.

As we worked together, we taught and encouraged one another, learning to rely on the Holy Spirit for direction and power. My fifth transformation had begun, never complete but always moving forward.

6. A Mission to Spread the Word

I started college when I was sixteen. Twenty-seven years later, I finally finished—or so I thought—with a PhD in Business Administration. I never went full time but always fit my classes and homework around a full-time job, usually while working forty-five to fifty-five hours a week.

Along the way, I made many sacrifices. To my dismay, this included giving up time with family. When my last diploma arrived, my wife asked, “Are you finally finished?” I assured her I was.

But God had other plans.

A few years later, he whispered to me, “Go back to school.” He didn’t say when, where, or why. He simply said, “Go.” The rest was up to me. Since God was doing the telling, I figured my studies should have a spiritual focus.

Both dismayed and elated at the prospect of more formal education, I moved forward, but my quest was a long one. It took five years, but I graduated with a second PhD, this one in Pastoral Ministry, of all things.

My dissertation explored church unity. The topic drew me in, with increasing fervor. I could not let go of its persistent grasp. The unity of Jesus’s church became my passion.

Writing my dissertation also sparked something else deep inside my soul. Although I’d been writing most of my life, for the first time my writing intersected with my faith.

Until then, I’d spent decades writing about business and for business. But now, being a wordsmith had a greater purpose. I ceased trying to write quickly for work and began striving to write with quality for God. My words had a higher calling.

My passion to write about godly things exploded into a calling I could not shake. Soon I wondered if my next career would be as a writer. As I studied and practiced and improved, I knew verbalizing my intention was the next step.

At a mere whisper, my words, “I am a writer,” released an inner desire to write for God. Then I spoke, again, this time a little louder, “I am a writer.” Self-doubt retreated. But I needed to make a firm declaration.

“I am a writer!” I bellowed with confidence. And so I was. My sixth transformation, as a writer on a mission for God, was set in motion.

When I die, my spirit, the essential me, will transform into something wonderful, amazing, and everlasting. Click To Tweet

7. The Final Transformation

I don’t know what the future holds or if an additional transformation awaits me. There is one, however, I can be sure of: death.

I will one day die, and my ultimate transformation will take place. My body—where my soul and spirit reside—will cease to function. My essence will find release, no longer imprisoned in the physical realm, no longer bound by time.

My spirit, the essential me, will transform into something wonderful, amazing, and everlasting—not for personal glory or self-aggrandizement, but for eternal communion with my Creator, worshiping and experiencing true spiritual intimacy with the King of Transformation.

Then my transformation will be complete. I will finally be home.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Bible Insights

The Medium of Endor

Not Everything That’s Spiritual is Good

Here’s the situation. The prophet Samuel is dead. God has abandoned King Saul, and the once-promising ruler is losing his grip on power. Saul prays, but God doesn’t respond. None of the ways Saul has heard from God in the past are working now. In desperation, he seeks a medium.

In his better days as God’s king, Saul expelled all the mediums and spiritualists from the country. Now he wants one. It’s his last option for supernatural guidance. His aids tell him there is a medium in Endor. Some versions of the Bible call her a witch.

Not all that’s spiritual is good. Click To Tweet

In disguise, Saul seeks her out. She is cautious, fearing execution if her skills become known. He persists, promising her safety. After some persuasion, she relents. Saul asks her to conjure up the spirit of Samuel. She does.

Then she realizes who Saul is—the king who outlawed and ousted everyone in her line of work. She screams at Saul because of his deception, but he urges her to proceed and serve as a link to connect him with Samuel.

For Samuel’s part, he’s not pleased at having his existence in the afterlife disturbed. He’s likely happy there and wants to remain there, not be sucked back toward the physical realm.

Samuel confirms it’s too late for Saul. God has left him for good. Furthermore, Samuel says the next day Saul and his sons will die in battle. The nation will be lost.

Saul is distraught, losing what little hope he has left. The medium of Endor urges him to eat, and she prepares a meal for him.

Saul eats and then leaves. The next day, Saul and his three sons die—his boys in battle and Saul by suicide.

Not all that’s spiritual is good. The medium of Endor is one such example. When our prayers seem to go nowhere, do we keep our focus on God or seek unwise alternatives?

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is 1 Samuel 26-28, and today’s post is on 1 Samuel 28:3–25.]

Learn about other biblical women in Women of the Bible, available in e-book, paperback, hardcover, and audiobook.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.