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The Blessing of Giftedness
Numbers are really important. Certain numbers actually mean certain things. Dr. Ed Myers provides wise counsel when considering the following numbers.[i] Take for instance the number TWO. Two refers to companionship, increased strength and true legal witness. The number THREE stands for deity. Three first came from the home – father love, mother love and child love – this helps us see God’s love because he’s – GOD the Father, God the Son and God the HS. FOUR is the number for the world. There are four winds and four walls in a house. I love doing this. On the count of three everyone point south! I say that to point out that a compass has four points of direction and there are how many seasons! Actually just one – football season baby and yes I know the Browns were in first place for less than four hours! FIVE refers to human completeness. Just look at your open hand. Turn and give your neighbor a high five! SIX is man’s number and refers to failure or doom. Guess who changed his jersey number from 23 to 6? LeBron may want to rethink that choice. CNBC reported last month that LeBron’s “Q score” – which is a glorified popularity poll - has him rated as the 6th most disliked figure in US professional sports. #1 is Michael Vick and numbers #3 & 4 are Terrell Owens and Chad Ochocinco.[ii] Six had the ability to be great but failed to measure up. Keep that in mind because Satan’s number is 666 – Satan is the ultimate of failure. SEVEN is God’s number for perfection. Seven expresses completeness through the union of earth and heaven. TEN refers to completion but it’s usually linked to evil or calamity like the 10 plagues in the Old Testament. TWELVE refers to that which is religious – after all, there are 12 apostles, 12 tribes of Israel, and 12 gates into the Holy City. I would like you to see the meaning of one other number. Turn in your Bibles to Ephesians 4:4. Who needs a Bible here today? Just raise your hand real high and a Bible will be brought to you!
The Apostle Paul wrote Ephesians because he’s been gripped by Jesus and he loves the church. He wants us as the church draw upon the Holy Spirit’s strength every day. Jesus was the light of the world, but now Jesus is in heaven so the church became the light of the world but we can’t accomplish any significant glowing or light shining without being ONE! So Paul shows what we have in common. What do you think the number ONE refers to? One stands for unity![iii] Boy does Paul ever want to emphasize that fact. (Observation is a powerful tool) Let’s read Ephesians 4:4-6 and count how many times Paul uses or repeats the word one! How many times? Seven! And what did we say the word seven means? Perfection! There’s nothing quite like a church that’s unified. But unity was never meant to replace diversity. Find verse 7 in Ephesians 4. I assisted in a wedding just a few hours ago – Kevin Roads married Kirby Powell – and they lit a unity candle. We light unity candles because they illustrate two becoming one, BUT Kevin will still be Kevin and Kirby will still be Kirby – two individuals sacrificing to accomplish the goal of being ONE! A basketball team becomes one unit, but if the point guard dribbles the ball off his foot the whole team suffers, but if that same point guard makes an astonishing no look pass the team benefits. The same is true in the church – folks – we must be one – unified together – humble and patient - but each one of us has been given a gift by Jesus himself to broadly advance disciple making and personally to become mature. Face it friend - just like Napoleon Dynamite – you’ve got skills! “I do – really, Greg? I don’t know – I think out of the entire human race – I’m the exception. I don’t think I have any skills I can use for God.” May I speak frankly? That’s not true. The Apostle Paul says you do. Paul tells us we’ve been graced twice by Jesus! Read verse 7 again! I saw this license plate last Thursday on a grey Honda Accord. GRACE TU I could not agree more. “Amazing grace – how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me!” Wretch seems harsh, but it’s still true! What is this grace? Do you remember what it was like to be a kid? Decisions were made by saying "eeny-meeny-miney-mo." Being old referred to anyone over 20. War was a card game. Water balloons were the ultimate weapon. And mistakes were corrected by simply shouting, "Do over!"[iv] Grace is God’s “do over!” And it’s a gift. BUT that’s not the only gift Jesus comes bearing today. Grace is also a spiritual gift. Let’s read some really funky verses. First, verse 8. Paul is quoting Psalm 68. This is 21st century foreign to us, but 1st century common to them. These people knew all to well of powerful kings who would come in and destroy their city and make them his captives. But eventually their king would regroup his forces and locate those prisoners of war and bring them home. He would parade them through his kingdom and not only set them free but give them gifts as well. Paul says Jesus did the very same thing. Jesus defeated Satan – our ultimate enemy and now he’s distributing spiritual gifts to build up his army – the church! If you think that verse is bazaar get a load of verses 9-10. Jesus did allot of descending and ascending in his life. Descending – going down – ascending going up. This makes me think of “what goes up must come down.” Jesus descended from heaven to earth as a baby. Legend had it that Jesus descended into Hades itself during the three days he was in the tomb. That sounds intriguing. But what makes Jesus stand out was his ascension to the cross. Bill Hybels said, “Jesus descended into greatness.” He who had no sin became sin so we might be saved. Max Lucado said, “Your place in heaven was more important to Christ than His place in heaven, so he gave up his so you could have yours.” Go back to verse 7. Verse 7 seems to connect with verse 11. Verses 8-10 seem to be out of place. But they’re not. Paul wants us to see that Jesus was uniquely gifted by God to be our Savior. He was uniquely gifted by God and we are uniquely gifted by Jesus.
Brandon Hunter’s pumpkin took 1st place at last month’s Delaware County Fair. His pumpkin or giant gourd weighed 458 lbs. He wasn’t sure what to do with a 458 lb gourd so he donated it Coco, a bull Asian elephant, at the Columbus Zoo. Zoo officials said Coco had the necessary skills to tackle this beast of a pumpkin! Actually she crushed it in one step and then broke into about 20 pieces. If elephants are uniquely gifted – just think what God wants to do through you? You’ve got skills baby! You have a supernatural gift from Jesus Christ that he wants you to use to advance his church! Drop down to verse 11 in Ephesians 4.
Some people have one gift and others have another. How do you determine what gift God has given you? You have to tap into the “we” and the “he.” There’s a “he” and a “we” in verse 11. We (this leadership) want to help you. My responsibility as a pastor/teacher is to prepare you to serve. Actually, to receive God’s blessing. You won’t receive this blessing unless you use your gifts. WE also have two other people who want to help you. Mark Wright & Carole Burns will offer our “Who God made me to be” class this Sunday night at 6:00P.M. Here’s what they guarantee will happen if participate in this class. “You will understand how God made you and how best to deal with people who are different than you. It will help you deal positively with the difficult relationships in your life. It will help you find a place in church life that is satisfying and not taxing. It will help you see the grand plan of how God wants to use all of us within the church body positively and powerfully.” So if you don’t know your gifts – “WE” want to give you this opportunity to find out. You also have to tap into the “He” of verse 11. The “He” of course is Jesus, but Jesus is in heaven so he gave us his spirit. Go back to verse 6. God is in YOU and he wants to work through YOU! God will work through you when you apply his word and are influenced by his spirit. Acts 17:16 says, While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was greatly distressed to see that the city was full of idols. Paul’s distress led him to speak up for God. What has you miffed? What has you concerned? Is it something at your kid’s school? Is it a situation at work? What hurt needs healed in your neighborhood?
Friday fare is a no brainer to me. Kids are hungry – we give them food. Honestly, when it comes to spiritual gifts we’ve made it way too hard. Look at this chalkboard - that looks way too complicated to me. Really – it’s very simple. If you belong to God - Jesus has given you a gift. The HS will empower you to use that gift. When you exercise your gift – you receive blessing and so do those you touch! I coached my son’s baseball team last spring. I did that for two reasons. I wanted to be with Sam and I wanted to influence “the team” positively. Maybe even plant a few seeds about sportsmanship that might lead people to Christ! Obviously last weekend proved my skills are not in shooting a basketball, but some of you can shoot a basketball. Believe it or not – that’s a gift you can use for God.
Terency Elwyn Johnson, of Margate Community Church (New Jersey), tells the story of Bonnee Hoy, a gifted composer, who died in the prime of life. At her memorial service, a friend told of how a mockingbird used to sing regularly outside Bonnee's window on summer nights. Bonnee would stand at her bedroom window, peering into the darkness, listening intently, marveling at the beautiful songs the mockingbird sang. Then, musician that she was, Bonnee decided to sing back. So she whistled the first four notes of Beethoven's 'Fifth Symphony.' With amazing quickness the mockingbird learned these four notes and sang them back to Bonnee. 'And in perfect pitch,' Bonnee marveled. Then, for a time the bird disappeared. But one night, toward the very end of her life, when Bonnee was so terribly sick, the bird returned and several times sang those first four notes of Beethoven's 'Fifth.' At that memorial service, her beloved friend, with a smile on her lips and tears in her eyes, said, Somewhere out there (in a big, big world) is a mockingbird who sings Beethoven because of Bonnee. Your gift can bring out the music IN other people's lives?[v]
[i] Edward P. Myers, After These Things I Saw, 42-44
[ii] Columbus Dispatch, Sports Wire
[iii] Edward P. Myers, After These Things I Saw, 42