Welcome: An Introduction

Sharing the insights I discover as I explore and experience the mystery that is our reality. Join me in my journey and share yours.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

The Gifts of the Spirit

"For my feet your holy Word is a lantern, a light that shows me the way forward; as this morning star rises upon us we understand the great gifts that God's Spirit has certainly promised to us, and in these we have our hope."

                            ~ Lazarus Spengler

I thought that quote was beautiful. For sure God's Word provides light for our paths, helping us to stay a steady course and helping sanctify and purify us, transforming our hearts more and more into the likeness of Jesus.  I was going to proceed listing some blessings that God rains down upon believers and some of God's promises that are found in the Psalms. But then I read it again. It says the "gifts that God's spirit has promised us." So I thought I'd do a little digging and when I did I found myself in Isaiah.

Isaiah 11:1-3

1 A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse;
   from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.
2 The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him—
   the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding,
   the Spirit of counsel and of might,
   the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the LORD—
3 and he will delight in the fear of the LORD.

There are seven gifts the Holy Spirit blesses us with which the verses reveal. Listed in the catechism of the Catholic church and as defined by Saint Thomas Aquinas, they are:

  • Wisdom: With the gift of wisdom, we see God at work in our lives and in the world. For the wise person, the wonders of nature, historical events, and the ups and downs of our lives take on deeper meaning. The matters of judgment about the truth, and being able to see the whole image of God. We see God as our Father and other people with dignity. Lastly being able to see God in everyone and everything everywhere.
  • Understanding: In understanding, we comprehend how we need to live as a follower of Jesus Christ. A person with understanding is not confused by all the conflicting messages in our culture about the right way to live. The gift of understanding perfects a person's speculative reason in the apprehension of truth. It is the gift whereby self-evident principles are known, Aquinas writes.[4]
  • Counsel (Right Judgment): With the gift of counsel/right judgment, we know the difference between right and wrong, and we choose to do what is right. A person with right judgment avoids sin and lives out the values taught by Jesus. The gift of truth that allows the person to respond prudently, and happily to believe our Christ the Lord
  • Fortitude (Courage): With the gift of fortitude/courage, we overcome our fear and are willing to take risks as a follower of Jesus Christ. A person with courage is willing to stand up for what is right in the sight of God, even if it means accepting rejection, verbal abuse, or even physical harm and death. The gift of courage allows people the firmness of mind that is required both in doing good and in enduring evil, especially with regard to goods or evils that are difficult, just like Joan of Arc did.
  • Knowledge: With the gift of knowledge, we understand the meaning of God. The gift of knowledge is more than an accumulation of facts.
  • Piety (Reverence): With the gift of reverence, sometimes called piety, we have a deep sense of respect for God and the church. A person with reverence recognizes our total reliance on God and comes before God with humility, trust, and love. Piety is the gift whereby, at the Holy Spirit's instigation, we pay worship and duty to God as our Father, Aquinas writes.
  • Fear the Lord (Wonder and Awe): With the gift of fear of the Lord we are aware of the glory and majesty of God. A person with wonder and awe knows that God is the perfection of all we desire: perfect knowledge, perfect goodness, perfect power, and perfect love. This gift is described by Aquinas as a fear of separating oneself from God. He describes the gift as a "filial fear," like a child's fear of offending his father, rather than a "servile fear," that is, a fear of punishment. Also known as knowing God is all powerful. Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Prov 1:7) because it puts our mindset in its correct location with respect to God: we are the finite, dependent creatures, and He is the infinite, all-powerful Creator.

What beautiful gifts! As we dive deeper in God's Word and embrace and practice a regular prayer and devotional life we discipline ourselves in cultivating each one more fully. God's Word is essential when it comes to receiving such gifts. In each description, I see the Word as invaluable and central towards receiving the truths and insights, the courage and reverence, the Spirit wishes to bless us with. May we be lovers of God's Word!

I have to admit, I am totally in love with the Word of God. Every time I open it up something new seems to rise from the pages and blesses me with a new insight or a new sense of hope. I read it nearly everyday. There are days though that I find passing where I have not opened the Word and my soul failed to feast upon the spiritual manna God provides us with. Life is full of obstacles and distractions and I suppose what is important for me, and maybe some others, is to work on the area of self-discipline.

 I've heard it suggested to pick a particular time of day to read the Scriptures, which I hadn't done until recently. Now, every morning, even if it's just one psalm or a chapter from the book I'm currently reading, I dive into it. Yet, even using this system, there are still days that pass where the Word is neglected! One of my kids might wake up and not feel well in the morning or a peaceful sleep might blanket our household and leave us waking up later than usual in the morning...when that happens...there's still a lunch to pack my daughter, dogs to be walked, responsibilities that need to be executed in a timely fashion which I can't neglect and then the rest of the day is carried away like a wave, by other things.

So my question to you, my beautiful readers is this:  Is there a routine or way that you have adopted in your devotional life that helps you in reading the Bible regularly everyday? Are you a morning scripture reader? Perhaps you take your Bible with you on your lunch break while at work? Perhaps in the evening when the rest of your house is quiet and dreaming? Or do you do it whenever a chance arises (which is how I had done it for a long time until recently)? 

Heavenly Father,

Thank you for blessing us with Your Holy Word which, by the workings of Your Spirit, awakens within us a spirit filled with awe and reverence at the wonders of your works and produces within us a joy beyond joys in being in Your infinite presence and realizing Your amazing and infinite glory, treasuring it above all things. May we approach Your Word with expectancy. When we open the pages may we know the words for the gifts they truly are for mankind and expect to be changed by them. And as you bless us may we bless others, being a light shining in the darkness of the world. Helping to bring warmth and love to our families, to our communities and to the world.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever.



  1. What about those of us who don't read the Book? But I get you Jessica. What a wonderful post. You are truly talented. But I especially liked this line..
    the gift as a "filial fear," like a child's fear of offending his father, rather than a "servile fear," that is, a fear of punishment.

    I am a God! hehe Cheers A

  2. Thank you for this, Jessica. You spur me on to take up this practice again. Loved the poem from Mary Oliver - isn't she wonderful!

  3. Jessica, another wonderful post! I am guilty of neglecting my reading. It is hit or miss and I probably do not spend nearly the amount of time that I should. But then, I come here and feel as though I have been re-connected some way. You make many reference to my favorite Book of the Bible, which is Psalms. That particular Book of the Bible has always brought peace to my mind and soul.

  4. Outstanding post on the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path. (Psalm 119:105) My daughter and I have morning devotions first thing every day - as wisdom, understanding, counsel, and all of these gifts come from abiding in the Word. What could be more important than integrating these into our being, as they’ve been so freely offered?

  5. I have to admit I don't know the last time I read the Bible.. not even in church.. I have a whole array of Bibles right here next to me on my bookshelves covered in dust...It's been a long time :( .....As always...XOXOXO

  6. Great reminder. I love reading the scriptures, too. I read by myself sometime during my day, and then my husband and I read together in the evening. Nothing compares.

  7. Alejandro...can't speak for those who don't read the scriptures...but I know that I'm much better off now than before, when I didn't have God's Word in my life :)

    Corrinne...You're welcome! Thank you so much for your comment, it was really encouraging...may you be blessed as the Spirit draws you ever closer into God's truths through His Word on a more and more frequent basis. May you walk this day in His light and love :)

    Debra...how beautiful that you have morning devotions with your daughter. You are raising her as a strong daughter of God. I'm not sure how old she is, but my seven year old has been resistant towards devotions lately, I think she's just looking for things to rebel against lately..but you have inspired me to try to encourage her to continue with them. Thank you!

  8. Bonnie....The scriptures are a great source of encouragment and solace...I'd encourage you to dust yours off! :) You will only find yourself blessed for it! Even a tiny bit of scripture read will cause the Spirit to awaken within us new insights and helps to water the seeds of compassion, love and strength in our hearts.
    Lots of love bonnie, as always :)

    Ardith...Amen! You said it perfectly...nothing compares! I think it's beautiful that you read them with your husband. Thank you for your comment :)