Not like much of Old Testament prophecy. It is given “for edification, encouragement, and comfort” (I Cor. 14:3). I thought as a young man that its purpose was to say something dark about a person so he or she would be ashamed and confess sins. New Testament prophecy is about grace and mercy, not shame and condemnation. The New Covenant through the blood of Jesus changed everything.   


It speaks to who people are and who they are becoming, not to their past and how they’ve blown it. It is not looking to call someone out but to invite them into their destiny. Do you know anyone who could use some encouragement or comfort?  God in his love wants to say upbuilding words to discouraged people, and He wants you and me to do it. People get beaten up enough; they don’t need us to point out their failures. They need people to tell them what God thinks of them. People who are victims look to their past and are threatened by the future. Prophecy helps them to become victors and face the future with confidence.


We used to have well-known prophets from around the country give prophetic words at our Holy Spirit Conference. Few people were saying, “I could do that.” Then we began inviting people to teach us how to do it rather than doing it for us. Then my daughter Karis said, “I could do that.” You learn to say what you see, and God opens your eyes to see what He wants you to see. My friend Fred Thoni, a gifted prophet, teaches people to start prophesying by telling them to say this as they look at people: “The Father loves you and says to you that…” As you step out in faith, knowing that “love believes all things,” God will give you prophetic words that speak grace and truth to the heart.  And you won’t get stoned if you don’t get it all right, because you are learning little by little and growing in faith and confidence. New Testament prophecy helps you do that.


Paul made that clear. He said, “You can all prophesy” (I Cor. 14:31). It is meant to find expression in the local church when the people gather on Sunday or during the week. It can also go wherever we go! Really cool! Joel wrote, “Your sons and daughters shall prophesy” (Acts 2:17). The New Covenant opened the door so that you didn’t need a beard to prophesy.


As you walk into prophetic words with faith, the prophecy grows, and so does the prophet. We can practice prophesying, and we grow in the gift as we exercise it in faith. At the beginning we may be 30% accurate. As faith increases, so does the accuracy. Paul wrote, “If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith” (Romans 12:6). 


even with the big guys. No one is spot on every time. You do not have to receive a word simply because it was given by an important person. Paul wrote, “Do not treat prophecies with contempt” (I Thess. 5:20), but then he adds, “Test everything. Hold on to the good” (21). And remember–without love, prophecy is nothing.


Paul addressed the nature of spiritual gifts in answer to a letter the Corinthian church wrote him (I Cor. 12:1).  He said that “to each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good” (7). Then he gave a list of gifts, including “the ability to distinguish between spirits” (10), which my architect friend Roy Jones could.

A few times while a pastor at Trinity Lutheran in San Pedro, I received calls from people who said strange things were going on in their home late at night. They would hear creaking sounds, see lights go on and off. I would call Roy and we would head over. The parents showed us around and pointed out the places where these strange occurrences took place that were putting fear in the hearts of the children. I looked at Roy and he gave an affirming nod, letting me know that he discerned the presence of darkness.

I anointed with oil the doorposts of every room in the house with the sign of the cross. I then spoke to the darkness and commanded it in the name of Jesus Christ to leave and never return. I did it in a normal voice and in faith that we walked in the authority of Christ. We then prayed over the household members, closing with the Lord’s Prayer and Benediction. We never had to return to a house that had been cleansed.

On a ministry trip, a pastor asked me to pray with a gal about twenty-five who showed signs of demonization. When I spoke with her, she could not look me in the face. The presence of demons often depersonalizes people. Her speech was labored, occasionally she twitched, and she was noticeably uncomfortable. She spoke of being seriously abused by multiple men who took advantage of her sexually.

I listened to her sad story and told her it never should have happened. I shared with her that I would understand if she could not forgive them, but I asked her if she would be willing to do so. I explained that forgiving them did not mean that they had not seriously sinned against her. It meant that she would leave them to the justice and mercy of God. She said that she could never do that. It took about thirty minutes to convince her that for her own physical and spiritual health she needed to (Matthew 18:34). I told her what to say. She could not get the words out. It was as if she would start, but demons would interrupt her and make it impossible. We tried for twenty minutes, urging her to say, “I forgive them.” She would stutter, stammer, and stop. The pastor and I knew we were in a serious battle against dark powers. Finally, the words came out in a slurred sentence, “I forgive them.” IMMEDIATELY the darkness lifted, her countenance changed, and peace overtook nervousness. We commanded the powers of darkness to leave and never come back and invited the Holy Spirit to take His rightful place in her body, His temple. She was a Christian who had been traumatized and invaded through the tearing down of the walls by selfish and sinister men. Now she was free, and all the signs were present. We rejoiced with her and gave her instructions on how she could walk in the Spirit and maintain her freedom. Glory to Jesus! (Part 3 coming).


People have said, “Don’t give me that Holy Spirit stuff. I just want Jesus.” Okay, but they just asked for the Holy Spirit. The angel told Mary, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy–the Son of God” (Luke 1:35). If you want Jesus to be Lord of your life, Paul wrote that “no one can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ apart from the Holy Spirit” (I Cor. 12:3). It was the Holy Spirit who empowered Jesus to preach and do miracles. Jesus said, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind…” (Luke 4:18,19). How did Jesus open eyes or deliver people enslaved to sin and Satan? The Holy Spirit. In fact, how was Jesus himself raised from the dead? Paul wrote, “If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you” (Romans 8:11). Paul was a Holy Ghost man. Do you know who brings about the new birth so you can belong to Jesus? The Holy Spirit.

Jesus said six remarkable things about the Holy Spirit in his final message to them (John 14-16). Then just before lift-off, the disciples, still feeling like orphans and stunned that Jesus was leaving, wanted to know when the nation of Israel would experience a restoration. They were looking back. Jesus said in effect, “I am not going to talk about that now, but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:4-8). When the Spirit came on Pentecost and filled the room and 120 bodies, they got it and never asked for Jesus back. 

Paul spoke often about the Spirit and His works. He said that the Spirit empowers us to live the Christian life. The Spirit gives us gifts to carry out the work of Christ, like discernment, wisdom, and healing. The Spirit produces the character of Christ in us (he calls it fruit), so we can represent Jesus to a broken world. The Spirit helps us in our weakness: “We don’t know how to pray as we ought, but the Holy Spirit intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words” (Romans 8:26).

By the way, who was the agent of creation? Genesis 1:2 says that “the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.” Who enabled the prophets of old to speak truth? Who wrote the Bible? “…men spoke from God as they were moved along by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:21). Then He can help us understand the Book He authored. It is the Holy Spirit from beginning to end. The Holy Spirit is God. Dear Brothers and Sisters, you are absolutely nothing without God the Holy Spirit. That is why we pray, “Come, Holy Spirit!”


I mentored a college student who lived in our home for a couple years. We had many talks while laying bricks for landscaping or putting chips along the path we got from tree trimmers in our neighborhood. We even talked about starting a business called “Chips and Bricks!” He is now an assistant pastor, and I still get to mentor him a bit when questions come up about ministry. 


“We have had several accidents/deaths happen in the past month in our church. It has caused the senior pastor and me to be running around to different families, funerals and visitations. I am not against these things, but I wonder how much the pastor should be doing. I could see burnout coming by trying and take care of everyone’s emergency while trying to write a sermon and lead a church. It feels like the sermon and the leading are taking a back seat to other issues, because my boss is rushing off to the latest disaster. How did you handle this at your church? Did you have elders doing that or did you try to do everything yourself?


I believe strongly in the plurality of elders. As pastor, I was the lead elder. I once visited Marie in the hospital. She said to me, “You didn’t have to come. Les was already here.” Les was a “layman” (we never used that word) who had a gift of caring for people. Just about everyone in the congregation knew that. The more that leaders develop leaders (in their own sphere of gifting), the less they have to do it all. Proverbs says that our gifts make room for us and bring us before great people (18:16). ” Gift-oriented ministry means that we take seriously what God has put in all people!

Peter, an especially strong leader, wrote, “As each has received a gift, employ it for one another as good stewards of God’s varied grace; whoever speaks, as one who utters oracles of God; whoever renders service, as one who renders it by the strength which God supplies” (1 Peter 4:10,11). And Paul said, “Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them; if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; he who teaches, in his teaching; he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who contributes, with liberality; he who gives aid, with zeal; he who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness” (Romans 12:6-8).

Three things are clear in the New Testament:

  1. I got gifts; you got gifts. All God’s chil’en got gifts.
  2. One primary assignment of leaders is helping people discover and walk in their gifts.
  3. Leaders who do this effectively are more equipped to do what they are called to do–lead and love. Imagine the church where this is fully happening. I want to be a part of that church!!


Which is more important, the fruit of the Spirit or the gifts? The Corinthians did “not lack any spiritual gift” (I Cor. 1:7), but they sure were immature. They couldn’t get along, were immoral, and were taking each other to court. Don’t think I would join that church. Maybe we can learn from our charismatic friends on the Grecian seacoast and experience authentic church. To do so we…


The charisma of leaders may blind us to the lack of character. We need to fly with both wings, the supernatural character of Jesus (the fruit) and the supernatural ministry of Jesus (the gifts).

So we do as Paul said and we “follow the way of love and eagerly desire spiritual gifts” (I Corinthians 14:1). To vote for the gifts over the fruit, as the Corinthians did, produced dissonance, “a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.” Gifts without fruit produces childishness. Gifts are tools, not toys, but my tools were the toys of my children as toddlers.


Look at the advertising of conferences in charismatic magazines and see what they are broadcasting: powerful signs and wonders, healings, impartation. Wonderful! I have never read, “The power of the cross will be evident,” but that is what Paul majored in. We need both, as Paul made clear: “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings” (Philippians 3:10). But Paul did resolve to know nothing ”except Jesus Christ and him crucified” (I Cor. 2:2). We favor strength to weakness–and we get what we ask for. Paul chose weakness, and he experienced the power. How would he advertise a conference in our city?


Peter wrote, “And we have the word of the prophets made more certain, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place” (2 Peter 1:19). The surest prophetic word comes straight from the Word of God and from the greatest of all prophets, Jesus Christ. If I am hankering for a now word but not planted in the eternal Word, I am thrown off balance. We are urged to seek after the gift of prophecy, but that very urging comes from the Word that is “forever settled in heaven.”


the short-cut to the endurance run. Hearing about the promise at a conference of impartation, I am both blessed and cautious. I do know that gifts, healing, and empowering can be given through the laying on of hands, but let’s be careful not to promote the quick fix or the fast-food blessing because that is what people want, or we short-circuit the way of the cross. When Peter tried an end run around the cross, Jesus delivered the strongest rebuke that disciples had ever heard. Simply put, no shortcuts exist. Charisma can come fast. Character takes years.


God doesn’t give us a manual on the gifts of the Spirit. He gives us history, the experiences of people interacting with God, and theology, the explanation of those experiences. So to understand and receive gifts of the Spirit, we look both at people’s experiences and the Bible’s explanations.

We need to demystify the gifts to make them more accessible. When people with prophetic gifts came to our Holy Spirit Conference, they would give spot-on messages, to the amazement of listeners. But they were saying inside, “I could never do that,” until we began bringing gifted people with a greater desire to release the gift than to exercise it. When they taught people how to do it, and even gave them experiences to practice, the people (including my children!) said, “I could do that.”  The gift was no longer for the elite but for the elect!

To demystify the gift of tongues, we need to know something and do something. Jesus is the divine-human Savior. He isn’t half of one and half of the other. He is fully God and fully man. In like manner, the Bible is a divine-human book. As a divine book it is the message of God to humanity, without error, because God is not subject to error. We are told that “men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:21). But it is also a human book. The personality of Luke is revealed in the books he wrote. And a different personality and style are revealed in John’s writing. The Bible is not so divine as to obliterate the individuality of the authors.  

In the same way, the gifts of the Spirit are divine and human. They are divine in that those who exercise them are revealing the Holy Spirit, not themselves. Paul says that “to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given…” (I Corinthians 12:6). Peter writes that “if anyone speaks [prophecy], he should do it as one speaking the very words of God…” (I Peter 4:11).

But the gifts are also human. The Holy Spirit does not speak in tongues—people do: “All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them” (Acts 2:4). Paul tells us that “if a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith” (Romans 12:6), suggesting that the gift matures as faith grows. We have a part to play. Faith has lips and legs; it says something and does something. We are called co-workers with God, and we see this clearly in the exercise of spiritual gifts. We are people of faith, not of fate. Fate says, “Whatever will be will be,” while faith makes us participants, not robots of the arbitrary and ironclad will of a distant deity. We actually make a difference.

And this affects not only how we exercise the gifts but also how we receive them. Our very desire has something to do with what we receive; otherwise Paul would not tell us twice to “earnestly desire the spiritual gifts” (I Cor. 12:31; 14:1). There is a beautiful dance between heaven and earth, and our desires are not incompatible with divine will. The Spirit gives the gifts as he determines (I Corinthians 12:11), but our pursuit of the gifts is factored into the plans of the Almighty. So rather than saying, “I’m open to whatever God wants to give,” a more appropriate and biblical response would be, “I am eager for the gifts, and I really want to prophesy.”

So I encourage people to take steps of faith in receiving the gift of tongues, not to sit passively with their mouths shut. My experience is that when people begin to speak words while at the same time shutting down their native language, God takes those sounds and turns them into a language. People sometimes ask, “What words and what sounds?” My response: “It doesn’t matter. Be a child and babble if you must. That is expressing faith in a God who wants to give you the gift of tongues.”

It is not uncommon for God to ask us to make the first move. He told the priests to step into the water when they were carrying the ark, and when they did, the waters would part (Joshua 3). Had they said, “We’re not moving until the waters recede,” their passivity would have cancelled the miracle. In like manner, our passivity with regard to the gift of tongues may preclude our receiving it.

We are not offending God nor blaspheming the Spirit, as some might think, by trying. When a child attempts to walk and fails, the family standing by cheers on the struggling infant. When we make attempts at what we understand to be the will of God, rather than insulting Him, we are blessing Him. James wrote, “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you” (4:8). In other words, take the first step of faith, and watch God take a step.  Don’t wait silently until God does something, or you might be waiting a long time. This is not a time for passivity but for eager desire that motivates action. Faith pleases God. Opening our mouths and uttering something (anything), rather than testing the God who offers the gifts, is reaching up to receive what the generous heart of the Father chooses to give.

“Faith without works is dead” (James 2:17), and dead faith is no faith. The greatest block to receiving tongues is passivity, just like one of the greatest hindrances to faith is non-activity. The part we play with the gift of healing may be to ask a friend if we can pray for him or her or to stretch out our hand and touch someone’s sore shoulder. Our part in the gift of prophecy is to open our mouths and speak the words that God begins to put into our mind. Our part in receiving tongues is to open our mouths and begin speaking unintelligible words. As we do, we are trusting the Gift-giver to turn it into a language of praise. And millions of people could testify that He does just that!



…from I Corinthians 14.

  1. We are speaking to God (2). Call it prayer. We are making sounds we don’t understand, and Scripture says that our words are aimed directly toward heaven. I am blessed, offering a perfect prayer without my mind involved. Powerful. Prophecy is to people, tongues is to God. When we pray in tongues, we have an audience of One. He is listening and responding, though we usually don’t know what we are praying.
  2. What to some is foolish babbling is speaking mysteries, a strong New Testament word about revelations hidden for ages but now made known to the people of God. Glorious that He allows us to utter great mysteries.
  3. Paul says that they are mysteries “in the Spirit,” a wonderful place to be. One way to live in the Spirit is to speak often in tongues.
  4. The one who speaks in a tongue “builds himself up” (4). I don’t know anyone overdosing on encouragement; most I know could use some. Speaking in tongues can lift you out of discouragement, give you spiritual muscles, prepare you to enter into other gifts, and open you to further revelation. Astounding.
  5. Paul says, “I want you all to speak in tongues” (5). He had found great value in it and wanted many to experience it. We have yet to mine the depths of its riches. Keep exercising it, and God will show you more.
  6. Speaking in tongues is a language (Acts 2). Those filled with the Spirit at Pentecost were speaking and Jews from around the world who came for the festival days understood. Miraculous. After I taught at a seminar in Bergen, Norway, I spoke in tongues while the pastors met in small groups. A young man from Serbia came to the mic and said, “Paul is speaking my language and is telling us to be courageous,” which was the theme of my teaching. How long does it take to speak a new language? About three years–unless you are filled with the Spirit. Then it may happen instantly. Incredible!!
  7. Two different kinds of prayer: with the mind and with the spirit (15). We do not use our mind when speaking in tongues. That means that when we need our mind for other activities (driving, reading the Bible, making breakfast), we can still speak in tongues and not be distracted. What a versatile gift!
  8. The greatest apostle of all time said, “I thank God that I speak in tongues more than you all” (18). He found great blessing in it and wanted to encourage others to use it. He knew that some had shelved it, not knowing its value. It helps bring revelation of truth, release people from oppression, and do spiritual warfare, to name just a few benefits.
  9. Tongues can be a sign for unbelievers (22). It happened at Pentecost. The disciples were doing the impossible in speaking known languages, and it got the attention of thousands.
  10. I Corinthians 13 teaches that tongues without love is useless. We fly with two wings–the gifts and the fruit!


…who believes that Pentecost affects everything. Passion and Pentecost form one inseparable whole. Pentecost does not complete the work of the cross–it personalizes it. Jesus said, “He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you” (John 15:14). John the Baptist said, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). What revelation! He just summed up the Bible. Four verses later the Father said to John, about to baptize Jesus, “He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.”

The Spirit showed up at Pentecost–and never left. “And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance” (Acts 2:4). Was that for show? It kept happening as the Spirit was poured out (Acts 8, 10, 19). From the reading of Paul (I Cor. 12 & 14), we would assume that they continued to use this brilliant gift to build themselves up and to worship. It was not used for communication. When Peter got up to preach, it was not translated because all who gathered apparently understood his Aramaic.

I am an evangelical who believes that Pentecost can still be experienced. I speak in tongues because it is in the book. When my friend Graeme invited me to speak at his church in Arizona, the bishop Howie Wennes heard I was coming. He called Graeme and asked, “You’re not becoming charismatic, are you?” Graeme responded, “If it’s in the book, we want it. If it’s not in the book, we don’t want it.” End of discussion.

Paul writes that “he who speaks in a tongue edifies himself” (I Cor. 14:3). I don’t know too many people who are overdosing on encouragement, who need a little discouragement in his life. The gift of tongues was reserved for God’s New Covenant people to walk in continual encouragement as they live out their life in Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit.

How do I know it is a gift that builds up the one exercising it? Because I feel better when I speak in tongues? No, because the Word of God tells me it happens. Take it on faith as you do the rest of the Bible. Evangelicals who have tolerated the gifts at best or spoken against them at worst are not as evangelical as they profess. They have managed to talk themselves out of some blessings that are meant for them and for the whole body of Christ. And remember–wrong use is not an excuse for disuse. Correct the abuse and get on board. We all need a personal Pentecost.

The book, Empowered Evangelicals, can help solid Christians who love God and His Word to step into the life of the Spirit more freely. I would like to connect with pastors who are evangelicals, because I am one. I just happen to believe that the full blessings of Pentecost belong to me and to all in the body of Christ. Did I hear an “Amen!?” I would like to pray with pastors (and all others) who are hungry for more and believe it can happen through the work of the Holy Spirit!


Wisdom is a grandfather telling his grandchildren, “Life wouldn’t be so hard, if you didn’t think it was going to be so easy.”  Wisdom is Andrew at 12 saying when he saw we might run out of orange juice, “Give me the smallest glass.”  Wisdom is cleaning the toilet, not complaining to the gas station manager about the filthy room, which my friend Per did.

We need wisdom. A mom says, “Help, we’ve got a teenager in our home.” A girl says, “I married a prince. Last week he turned into a creep. I know I can’t trade him in, but…?” We all face pressing problems that require wisdom.

So Paul was traveling through Athens, the city known for its philosophers.  Luke wrote that “all the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there spent their time doing nothing but talking about and listening to the latest ideas” (Acts 17:21). Impressive. Good at talk; terrible at wisdom. Athens was one of Paul’s most disturbing missionary experiences. He didn’t write from prison, “Dear Friends in Athens.”  He ran up against human wisdom in its grossest form. He went on to Corinth shook up and determined to have only one message in his pocket–Jesus Christ crucified. He discovered five things about wisdom:

Wisdom is found in the cross.

Sounds like a theological statement.How is one person dying on a cross wisdom? Wisdom is what resolves the hardest of conflicts, like Jews and Gentiles hating each other. The cross heals us of guilt and shame and breaks strongholds that counseling doesn’t touch. One sacrificial Lamb got the job done that all the good advice of a million people couldn’t begin to address. Paul said, “I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified” (I Cor. 2:2).

Wisdom is discovered in weakness.

Wisdom is my number one son emailing his siblings to confess that he had not been the kind of elder brother that he wanted to be. That was followed two weeks later by number two son doing the same. Vulnerability releases grace. Weakness builds relationships.  Paul wrote after leaving Athens, “I came to you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling…” (I Cor. 2:3). Weakness brings unity;  strength creates divisions and competition.

Wisdom is illustrated by power, not words.

We tend to think of wisdom as well-chosen words or solid advice, and that can be an ingredient. True wisdom goes beyond words to works:  “Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom” (James 3:13). Paul said that “the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power” (I Cor. 4:20). The Gospel is not good advice–it is good news. It is “the power of God unto salvation.” (normal length here: two more paragraphs).

Wisdom comes by revelation.

Reason does not come up with God’s wisdom. Jesus prayed, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hid these things from the wise and learned and have revealed them to babes” (Matthew 11:25). So whom do we go to for wisdom? Those open to revelation more than reason. Students at Carlton College used to go to a mentally challenged woman with the brainpower of an eight-year old, because she had the gift of wisdom. Stephen Hawking has a high IQ, but the Bible calls him a fool, because he doesn’t believe in God. “God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise. God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong” (I Cor. 1:27).

Wisdom is given by the Spirit.

“If anyone lacks wisdom, let him…study…speak to smart people…ASK” (James 1:5). Wisdom comes to people who know they do not have it. Solomon asked (I Kings 3:9-12). Daniel asked (Daniel 2:18). All can manifest the fruit of wisdom developed as we submit to the sanctifying work of the Spirit. And some are given the gift of wisdom according to I Cor. 12:7. So if you are needing wisdom, Paul gives you five ways:  Focus on Christ’s death, embrace weakness, believe in God’s power, open yourself up to revelation, and ask to be filled with the Spirit.




…powerful and practical. Have you turned the key of your car in the last six months and it didn’t start? Have you turned the key of your heart in the last month and could not start the engine?


If you speak in tongues, do so now for thirty seconds. What did you just do? You offered perfect prayer to the Father through the working of the Spirit who helps us pray. And you built yourself up in the process. How often should you speak in tongues? How much building up do you need? Are you overdosing on encouragement? The Scriptures say that…


he who speaks in a tongue edifies himself” (I Cor. 14:5). Those built up are prepared to build up others. Tongues prepares us for the other gifts. Those not built up often expect others to build them up. Do you go to church to strengthen or be strengthened? I Corinthians 14:26 gives the appropriate answer.


This one gift focuses on the giver. It is for you. Lots of discouragement, depression, and despair out there. We need mega-doses of encouragement. A regular practice of speaking in tongues helps to heal depression, mental illness, and discouragement. How do I know this? Because you feel better when you speak in tongues? No. Because the Word of God says that we build ourselves up.


Read Acts 2:1-4. All the gifts were present in the Old Covenant but one—tongues. God saved this gift for New Covenant people: “All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them” (Acts 2:4). The only gift that was given to build us up is available to ALL. Makes sense. God would not say, “This gift edifies you, but it is only available to some.”


Happened again in Acts 10 and 19. Corporate speaking in tongues empowers a body of people, increases revelation, and strengthens prayer. We have privatized this gift. At Pentecost they were all together. Happy Birthday, Church!


“I thank God that I speak in tongues more than you all” (I Corinthians 14:18).

Paul was not bragging. He was urging his friends to use a gift that he found to have incredible value. So what did you learn about it, Paul? “Increased revelation, encouragement, counsel, help in praying, healing, unity.” He also said…


“I would like every one of you to speak in tongues…” (I Corinthians 14:5a). Why is that in the Scriptures? To keep people from saying, “I prayed and nothing happened.” Yes it did. You received. Passivity and unbelief keep people paralyzed. They think incorrectly, “Maybe I am not supposed to have it.” Paul would not say, “I would like every one of you to speak in tongues, but, of course, not everyone will.” Ask for it, believe you have it, then speak or sing out!!


What about Paul asking the question, “Do all speak in tongues?” (I Cor. 12:29), begging a negative response. The context suggests that Paul is speaking of tongues as a ministry, not simply as a gift. All can prophesy, but all are not prophets. All can speak in tongues, a few have a ministry of bringing messages in a tongues.


So we pray, “Father, forgive us for demeaning this gift by not exercising it faithfully, both alone and with others. Forgive our indifference. We ask, Holy Spirit, dispel our doubts and discouragement. Lift from us the spirit of heaviness and give us the garment of praise. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.”