Before we look at three of the Spiritual Gifts, a healthy perspective of keeping Spiritual gifts in their place. Today I read from Romans. This is the one of several major Bible Verses about spiritual gifts. It is no coincidence that following closely on the heals of teaching about Spiritual Gifts is a reminder to love one another, “Love must be sincere…” it says in Rom. 12:9, and it goes on to describe an attitude of love… This emphasis on love is more obvious in the 1 Cor. 12 Bible verses we used the last two weeks. For those familiar with the bible, what is 1 Cor. 13 all about? [Love].
Here is the message of the Bible, “Understand and practice spiritual gifts, but above all do it with an attitude of love. While 1 Cor. 13 is frequently used in weddings, in the context of the Bible it is ultimately about how to practice spiritual gift… patience, kindness, not envy, not boast (1 Cor. 13:4-5). Even if you don’t know your spiritual gift, be a loving person and you can’t go wrong! – (read 1 Cor. 13:2). Just like Pastor Carter who was reminded by his little girl what was most important: love above all else.
Service. An example of the gift of service in Acts: Acts 6:1-7.
What a wonderful example. There is a need and people are hand selected whom God has given. Be amazed by those among us who have the gift of service. These are the folks that if I speak their name I am likely to get in trouble, so each of us has to identify them on our own. Not just anybody can wash dishes. We don’t want people who are coerced to be the servants. May we not take the folks with the gift of service for granted. I like this little testimony of a waiter and how he handles rude diners: I found it online, “Confessions of an Angry Waiter” by Jeremy Caplan:
“If waiters are good, they're subtle. I know a waiter who was good at accidentally clipping people in the back of the head with his tray. Another technique is making people wait when they've ordered wine. You make them stew. Or you put in their steak order as medium instead of medium rare. I controlled the reservation system, so if you were a bad tipper or had mistreated me, I would seat you next to the men's room. My all-time favorite move was to tell people that their credit card was experiencing difficulties. A lot of people in this area are very status-conscious, so when all their friends hear their card has been declined, they kind of freak out. All passive-aggressive stuff. It's a deterrent, in a way.”
In Romans 12:7 Paul writes, “if it is serving, let him serve” (NIV). But we want our servers to be happy! Service means to aid, relieve, help, attend, or to wait on people through menial duties.
Service can include almost any work that benefits others. Jesus washed the feet of His disciples and said that the greatest will be servant to the rest. His disciples were to minister or serve others, especially the needy. It is helping with those unfinished often-thankless details as a servant of God and the kingdom. It is volunteering to get the job done. You love the kingdom and want to help where needed, not minding the mundane or labor-intensive task. Your attitude is, “I’m happy to serve Jesus and the Kingdom. Someone has to do it, it might as well be me.”
Stephen’s service of tables in Acts 6:1-6 allowed the other Apostles to pay more attention to the preaching and teaching.
There are so many needs it is easy to overwork a few volunteers. Let’s refuse to let that happen. Look around and fit in. If you are an overworked volunteer, take care of yourself and take time off... The need is endless. Every ministry has a list of “chores” that need to be completed. Some are on a regular basis. Odd jobs, helping, organizing or volunteering to help at events, set-up and clean-up, cooking, ushering, visitation, building and ground maintenance and help with youth and children, moving furniture, setting up and taking down. The gift of service is an important gift.
Teaching Acts 20:20-21
In Romans 12:7 it says, “ If it is teaching, let him teach.” Teaching means communicate the truths of the scriptures so that those that hear put it into practice. In Acts 20:20-21 teaching is the tool to give bring people to Christ. Sumas needs teachers who are gifted at opening the scriptures and making difficult truths understandable.
In a person with this gift there is a real excitement in sharing Biblical truth with other people. They enjoy seeing people come alive when they get understanding. There is a burden to share the word of God and help people apply it to their own situation.
With good teaching the church is able to help equip for service. A person with this gift can teach the scriptures, which according to 2 Tim. 3:16 is used to instruct, reprove, correct and train. The gift of teaching helps Christians grow in their faith.
Historically Sunday School has been a huge value of the church. When I was growing up, my teachers were Mrs. Renses, My mother, Cornie Wiley, Clara Miller, Ross Massey, my father. Today the world is different, but the needs are the same. In the past ten + years the Sunday School for children for whatever reason has not been as large. But the needs are the same to learn, to understand, to take the truths of the Bible and apply them to our own lives. One of the behind the scenes discussions is expanding our Sunday School, it is an important ministry for the life of the church… Seeds of Hope is the same thing, as we develop, the Lord has entrusted so many children to our care, and many folks want to see the teaching of children expand. What we are doing is so wonderful, and to see even more is coming.
We need teachers.//// We need people committed to Christ, living their life for him, ready to pass on to others the knowledge they have gained. This is why spiritual gifts are important: You now know the need. Don’t ask if you want to be a teacher. Don’t ask as a first question if you have the time. Here is the primary question: Is teaching my gift? If it is, you will find the time, you will find nothing more fulfilling, you will be blessed, you will be in the front row seat of God’s Kingdom work.
Prophecy Acts 21:7-11
In the tradition I come from, prophecy sounds like a super spiritual charismatic gifts for other people. I believe prophecy is alive and well and at work among us. We just shy away from the word. I like what 1 Cor. 14:3 has to say about prophesying (read) “If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say it at all” goes the children’s saying.
If the Lord is giving you an impression, the Spirit of God giving you insight, and you share it, that’s prophecy. To know this is a spiritual gift gives me encouragement to share with others and to receive. A few times I have had some dramatic encounters, when I was early as a pastor, I was visiting in a home, and the father saw his oldest son want to say something, the young man in his late teens at that time did not have a lot of social skills. The father stopped me and let his son speak. He said just a few words: “The Lord told me to tell you to do whatever is on your heart.” That sounds simple enough, quite general even, but for me it made an impression because it spoke to my need at that time and to my personality. I have never taken it as a license to do whatever I want, but it was a word of encouragement to adopt a measure of boldness that is not natural to my personality. At first, in my mind, I poo-pood this young man, but the words kept festering and I had no choice but to accept that this was a word of encouragement to me that still makes a difference today.
Listen for people who have insight, those people who you trust.
The problem is that the Bible warns us there is a lot of false prophecy. In 1 John 4:1 we are told, "Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.”
Here is a worldly way of saying it: Everyone has an opinion! Prophecy has similarities to opinions… how do you know what’s right and wrong? Who to listen to, who to dismiss…Lots of opinions out there….
The First blind man approached the Elephant, and examined his broad and sturdy side. He said this elephant is very much like a wall. -The 2nd, feeling of the tusk, said “So very round and smooth and sharp? To me it is mighty clear this elephant is very much like a spear!"-The Third approached the elephant and felt of the squirming trunk, he said “the elephant is very like a snake!"-The Fourth reached out an eager hand, and felt about the knee. He said “the elephant is very like a tree!"-The Fifth, who chanced to touch the ear said: "this elephant is very much like a fan!"-The Sixth no sooner had begun that he seized on the swinging tail. "I see," he said, "the elephant is very much like a rope!" There was a measure of truth in each of their opinions, but somehow each missed the whole.
Just as many people have opinions, many also have prophesies. I hear from people everyday that have opinions – 99% are good intentioned. I need to distinguish between that which is right and true from the false. In 1 John 4 scripture, it goes on to say that true prophecies come from people who believe in Jesus Christ. A lot of opinions come out of the world’s values, like the business world, but God’s word is greater, and might not be the best advice from the world’s perspective, but far superior because it is of God. That’s the nature of opinions, the nature of prophecy. There is well meaning but misguided opinions/prophecies. But there is also a whole lot of satisfaction and confidence when you are able to discern God’s word through his people.
If you find yourself having a lot of opinions, before you speak, ask if it is God honoring. Is it a word from the Lord. If not, don’t speak it. If it is from God, don’t’ hold it back. Believe in God and he will speak to each person, some will be given a gift to speak words of encouragement, words given to build up. That’s always the reason to speak, if it is to tear down, keep it to yourself and ask the Lord to take away those thoughts. If your intention is to build up to encourage, to strengthen, then you are on the right track. Prophecy is a wonderful gift for the people of God. I want to know what God is saying to you. In Romans 12:6 Paul writes, “If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith” (NIV). As your grow in your faith, you will have more confidence that the Lord does speak to you for the good of the Kingdom.
All gifts are to be practiced with an attitude of love. The Lord gifts each person who turns to him in faith. Knowing and practicing your Spiritual gift puts you on the front row of God’s Kingdom work. Amen.