YOU! Your Story of Growth! What is a spiritual gift?
Don’t forget to fill out your Connect card. Have you ever seen the Bridger Wilderness located in the Bridger-Teton National Forest in western Wyoming? Here’s a picture of Lake Bridger. I’ve never been there but that picture makes me want to visit. Over the years staff members have received comment cards on how to make the area better. Here are a few comment cards: Trails need to be wider so people can walk while holding hands. Trails need to be reconstructed. Please avoid building trails that go uphill. Chairlifts need to be in some places so we can get to wonderful views without having to hike. The coyotes made too much noise last night and kept me awake. Please eradicate these annoying animals. Too many rocks in the mountains. A McDonald’s would be nice at the trailhead. A small deer came into my camp and stole my jar of pickles. Is there a way I can get reimbursed?[i] And here I thought bears were the pick pockets of the forest. Don’t you think most of those comments are comical, selfish and a tad bit stupid? Eradicate the coyotes! Are the deer and bears next? How are you doing when it comes to complaining? Oh Greg, I’m great. I complain about everything! My spouse, my kids, my job, my health, my church!” Actually that’s not what I was looking for. If you are having trouble with people seeing Christ in your life – you might check your complain-o-meter - reflect on what came out of your mouth this past week. Was it helpful or hurtful? Years ago I met a woman and she was talking about some things in the church she didn’t like and jokingly she said, “Complaining is my spiritual gift!”
I can’t find that gift anywhere in the Bible. Let’s talk growth and maturity today and to do that I must teach on spiritual gifts! Our theme for 2013 is GROW! A person grows when they add to the faith, choose to forgive and use their gifts – that is, their spiritual gifts. The Apostle Peter and the Apostle Paul help us best understand Spiritual Gifts. These two apostles provide the following scriptures concerning spiritual gifts: Romans 12, 1st Corinthians 12, 13, & 14, Ephesians 4 and I Peter 4. I want us to spend most of our time in Ephesians 4. Do you have a Bible? Raise your hand today if you need a Bible. (John & Nicole Chilcote Open House Reception) Once again I want to remind you that as a church we are beginning the Story on September 14 & 15. What is the Story? The Story is a book. It has been created with selections from the Bible, arranged chronologically, and reads like a novel. Here’s the Adult Edition (you can also download The Story to your Kindle or to iBook’s. Here’s the Teen Edition, Elementary Edition (6-12) and Preschool Edition (2-5). All are available in Fresh Bread Resources. The Grand Story is God’s story of redemption. God sent Jesus to save the world. Jesus saves the world by dying and then coming back to life. Jesus then ascends into heaven in Acts 1. The Spirit of God is poured out in Acts 2 forming the church. The church is the body of Christ, but as good as the church is we often struggle with unity! So Paul said this in Ephesians 4:4. (Read 4-6)
When you read the Bible always pay attention to repeated words. Which word was repeated seven times in three verses? The word ONE! It’s much more difficult to be ONE in this world than TWO. Marriage in God’s eyes is better when two become one. The church functions well. The church is healthy when people see us as ONE. Communion, baptism and spiritual gifts were meant to unite us. When I read through these 16 verses in Ephesians 4. I saw THREE questions we should ask and answer. Here’s question #1: What is a spiritual gift? Find verse 7 in Ephesians 4. Grace is a gift. We don’t deserve it. Dr. Ken Boa said, “Because the work of God can be accomplished only by the power of God, a spiritual gift is the endowment by the Holy Spirit of a special ability to every member of the body of Christ for the edification of others.”[ii]
Let me provide two examples. My wife Tricia told me about an article she read called 11 Stories that Prove People are nice. Here’s one of them,. Kathryn McGuire Richards of Oran, Missouri said, “Last summer, when our lawn mower broke, my husband had to use a weed trimmer to cut our grass. It was hot out, so he came in to take a break and get something to drink. When he went back outside, a beautiful used lawn mower was sitting in our yard with a note that read, “I had what you needed.”[iii] Some people have the gift of generosity. One more. Meet Mhaka, Retina and Shane. Mhaka is one of the ministers in the Mushayamunda Village in Zimbawe. Unfortunately Mhaka and Shane have malaria, but they are getting better. Mhaka has the special ability of preaching & teaching which enables him to be an effective pastor for God. Paul shows us this in verse 11. It was he who gave some to be apostles… Not everyone, SOME! I flipped on the TV last week and Jeopardy was on. I was going to turn the channel until Alex Trebek announced the category of NT Bible Facts. He asked, “Name the apostle and first book of the New Testament?” The answer is “Who is Matthew?” Allow me to ask my own Jeopardy question. Name Judas’ replacement? The answer is “Who is Matthias?” However, Acts 1 tells there were two candidates. The other was Barsabbas. I’ve always wondered this. Did Barsabbas get mad? Well, if I can’t be an apostle then I’m not serving at all. If he did, it’s obvious why God chose Matthias. Did you know that all Christ followers are called to a ministry, but not are called to an office[iv] A pastor, evangelist, teacher are appointed by people. A spiritual gift is a special ability. Here’s Question #2. What IS THE main purpose of a spiritual gift? Paul provides the answer in verses 12 & 13. (Read 12-13) Spiritual gifts enable you to serve! Spiritual gifts enable you to mature! We will dig into those two purposes the next two weekends. Here’s Question #3 and this question is BIG! Speaking of BIG, folks, meet baby Jasleen. “Germany has a new holder for the title of "heaviest baby." Jasleen was born at University Hospital in Leipzig on July 26, weighing in at 13.47 pounds, and measuring 22.6 inches long -- and she was delivered without the help of a C-section.”[v] Everybody say it, that’s a BIG baby! BIG Question #3: Is it possible for a Christ follower to be gift less?” NO! I’m wondering. Do you know for sure what gift you have? I’m convinced that many in this church do not know their gifts and might be using that as an excuse NOT to serve. Let’s see if we can determine whether or not you know your gift by using the scripture as our guide. Peter tells us this in I Peter 4:10 & 11. (Use screen) Peter takes all spiritual gifts and places them into two main categories. Speaking Gifts & Serving Gifts. You have a gift that will enable you to speak up for God or a gift to serve God. And the point of our gifts is that they will bring praise to God. Peter agrees with Paul in Ephesians 4. Paul said it this way. Your gifts enable you to serve. Your gifts actually build up the body of Christ. The goal is that the church be unified in the following three areas: In the faith. In the knowledge of the Son of God and In Spiritual Maturity. There is an outline on your chair. Notice your outline. Here’s how you know whether or not you know your spiritual gifts. Have you helped someone come to understand what faith in Jesus really is? If you have write down a name or two. If you have helped a person come to the knowledge of the Son of God write down their name. If you’ve helped someone mature in Jesus write down their name. NOW, if you cannot write down one single name. You don’t know your spiritual gift or gifts and I now plead with you to attend a class called Who God Made Me to Be led by Mark Wright and Carole Burns tonight at 6:00PM in Venue 471.
Find out what you’re good at and NOT so good at! Doesn’t that make sense? Knowing your gifts has its benefits. You will be satisfied, others will be encouraged and God will be honored.[vi] This is the way God wants it to be. I need you to watch this father give away his daughter.[vii] (Video) That’s good advice, but there are tons of ways to mess a marriage up. There’s one big one. Two people stop being one. They start thinking of only themselves. Guess what will mess up God’s church? When we start thinking of ourselves. I don’t have any gifts. My gifts aren’t useful and certainly not as glamorous as hers. As we sing pray this prayer, ”God, thank you for giving me gifts. The gift of your son. The gift of grace. The gift of your Spirit. And special abilities that perfectly match my personality. May I use them to bring you glory!”
John & Nicole Chilcote Open House Reception
[i] Larson & Elshof, 1001 Illustrations that Connect, #369, 211
[ii] Ken Boa, Conformed to His Image, 302
[iii] Ladies Home Journal, 11 Stories that Prove People Are Nice, September 2013
[iv] Ken Boa, Conformed to His Image, 304
[vi] [vi] Ken Boa, Conformed to His Image, 304-306