How to Find Your Gifts 1: Where to Serve
Spiritual Gifts - Passion
051-00765 Psalm 37:3-6
I. Ever try to step on a cricket?
A. They are fast little things.
1. No matter how fast you think you are, they seem to have eyes that can see you from any direction.
2. And their reactions are amazing.
3. Crickets are very elusive bugs.
B. Sometimes I think that the will of God is elusive, too.
1. Trying to nail down with confidence just what God wants when you have a decision to make is confusing for many of us.
2. When I am asked to help someone who is trying to discern God’s direction for their life, I usually end up in Psalm 37.
3. I don’t know of any other passage that gives straightforward advice like this one.
C. Before we look at the verses in detail, there are a few points to be made.
1. First, this is not a formula for getting whatever you want.
a) It is not a formula at all.
b) The Psalms are poems that illuminate godly wisdom.
c) In other words, the teachings from the Psalms present to us patterns or paradigms for life.
2. Second, David’s advice in Psalm 37 is not about getting at all.
a) It is about attitudes of the heart.
b) Trust, delight, commit. These are descriptions of inner characteristics of the faithful.
3. Third, the Psalm is not about us. Nor is the Psalm about the wicked. The Psalm is about God and describes his activity and his works.
a) It is always important to keep this in mind: God is the one who acts; humans are the ones who, as creations of God, are acted upon.
b) God is the subject, we are the objects.
4. Remembering these things, we are prepared to listen to the wisdom God granted David.
II. Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.
A. The word Delight.
1. It means to take pleasure in.
a) “This delight is set in opposition to the vain and deceitful allurements of the world, which so intoxicate the ungodly, that despising the blessing of God, they dream of no other happiness than what presents itself for the time before their eyes.” Calvin, Psalm 37
b) Following Calvin, to take delight in the Lord, we should always focus on the good and gracious kindnesses of God.
c) Whether the circumstances are pleasant or not makes no difference.
d) God is active in all circumstances ensuring his “good and perfect will” is accomplished.
e) This is our delight. This is our pleasure. We live according to his will, and his alone.
2. I hasten to point out that delight is a frame of mind and it is subject to perspective.
a) To a young boy, playing football in the mud can be a delight. However, to his mother it is not.
b) To my nephew, listening to alternative rock is a delight. To me it is not.
c) Yet because of the nature of our existence in Christ, we take delight in him, in his promises, in his salvation, in his love, no matter what goes on around us. Psalm 46:1-3 (NIV) God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.
3. So what is involved in the delight of the Lord?
a) Imagine for a moment a close relationship you have with someone; a spouse, a child, a parent, a best friend.
b) How do you show this person, and the rest of the world, the joy you have in this relationship?
c) Acts of love, trusting in their wisdom and knowledge, public acknowledgement of your relationship along with demonstrations of appreciation.
d) These are just a few of the ways. And it is no different with God.
e) We trust God; we worship God; we obey God; we publicly share enthusiasm for God’s salvation and love.
f) All of these things involve delighting in the Lord.
4. Let’s try a little exercise.
a) Close eyes. See yourself standing before God who is on his throne. Let his eyes fall upon you.
b) What do you feel? Shame for your sin? Maybe he is reminding you of a time you tried to cover up your relationship with him for fear of criticisms from your friends or peers. Maybe it is something else. So bow your head before him and confess your faults and failures.
c) Allow yourself to feel his forgiveness. He has promised it. He has provided it through Jesus. Receive it.
d) What do you feel? A desire to be more faithful? A sense of being loved? The embrace of a father who understands? The comfort of a Savior who never leaves you in your darkest moments and deepest failures?
e) What do you feel? A sense of joy greater than you can imagine? I hope so. For this is the joy our Father takes in his children.
B. When we delight in such a relationship, when we listen to God, trust his Word and obey his commands, he then gives us the desires of our hearts.
1. There is ambiguity in this statement.
2. The statement can mean at least two things: either he gives us that which our heart desires or he puts his desire in our hearts.
3. To take David’s words in either meaning exclusively is to miss the point.
4. For surely God does both.
a) When we take delight in him, we discover that what our heart desires changes from our old, worldly passions to a desire to live to worship, glorify, and serve him.
b) And, when such godly desires rule our hearts, God is sure to fulfill them.
C. Therefore, I believe that when we are faced with various choices in life, we can discern God’s choice for us by taking delight in him and trusting that the desires of our heart, as long as they conform to him, are the path to follow.
1. A few years ago, Barbara came to me to share a deep desire she had to care for infants in need. She was so drawn to this that she wasn’t sure if it was merely a selfish want or a nudge from God to do something.
2. As we talked, it became clear to her that the desire was from God. Though she might feel personal joy and satisfaction in following his prompting, we both accepted that this is the way God reveals his desires for us. He gives us a desire that matches his.
3. We have followed this course together through the placement of four children to our care. There have been very painful times throughout. But the joy of doing what God desires, the gratification of loving others who so desperately need his love, has far and away exceeded the pain.
4. Moreover, we have come to recognize that the pain is also God’s gift reminding us that we follow his will, not our own.
III. So what does all of this have to do with Spiritual Gifts?
A. Bruce Bugbee, Don Cousins, and Bill Hybels in a program they designed called “Network,” have identified three aspects to the discovery of the gifts the Spirit gives each member in Christ and the ministry for which these gifts are imparted.
1. They answer three questions:
a) Where do I serve?
b) What do I do to serve?
c) How do I do service?
2. All that I have presented from Psalm 37 this morning guides us to the answer for the first question, where do I serve.
B. You see, where God calls you to serve is determined by the passion God has given you which is the result of delighting yourself in him.
1. It is not the question, has God given me a passion.
2. It is the question, what passion has he given me.
3. The answer to that question is the key to discovering your place in the Body of Christ.
C. So how do you find your passion?
1. First, make Christ the center of who you are and all there is about you.
2. Then, ask the question and patiently wait for the answer.
3. Finally, trust the answer God gives you because you delight in him.
D. Here are some questions to reflect on that can help you discern your passion. Remember though, each question must be asked by a heart that seeks God and prayerfully listens for his answer.
1. If you did not have to consider any limitations, what would you do?
2. If you were able to watch your own funeral, what would you want people to remember you for?
3. What would those closest to you say you were passionate about?
4. What kinds of things do you do that energize you?
5. What are the most significant experiences I have had in my life and what makes them stand out?
a) The answer to each of these can give you clues to your passion.
b) Look for common threads that run through the answers. Test your ideas about your passion with those who are closest to you, those who know you best.
c) Refuse to let questions about whether or not you can do it or how you could do it cloud your thinking. We have been conditioned to limit our dreams by “practicalities” when the truth is, what is impossible with man is absolutely possible with God.
IV. Anyone who knows me at all knows that I get excited about theology. I can discuss theology for hours. If it has to do with God, I want to know more. And I want theology to master my life. Furthermore, there is no greater pleasure for me than to witness the knowledge of God increase within others.
A. It is no surprise then, that following this passion I have become a pastor.
B. So what is your passion? What is God calling you to? Discovering this is the first step toward discovering your gifts.