Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Spiritual Gifts Part 3: When the Gift Comes, Do Your Best With It

Hey gang!

Last time, we looked at the first three primary sets of verses in scripture that talk about spiritual gifts. Today, we’ll look at the other two primary sets, add in a few other thoughts and begin to give you a list of the spiritual gifts that we will be looking at through the month of December.

In part two, we studied the text in Romans 12 and looked at two sets of verses in 1 Corinthians 12. Today, we will begin in Ephesians 4. Verse 7 begins this section with, “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.” The verses before this are talking about how having one hope because we have one Lord, one faith, one baptism and that God is the Father that oversees it. In verses 8-10, we are told how Christ descended and ascended once again and gave gifts (spiritual) to men.

In verses 11-13, Paul begins describing them. “It was he (Jesus) who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.”

In this list, we are given what many experts refer to today as the five-fold ministry. These five spiritual gifts (apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor and teacher) are where the gifts begin. I don’t want to say these are the most important spiritual gifts because none of the gifts are more important than the other, but these are the gifts that are supposed to be able to explain and teach the rest of us what our giftings are and how to use them. Would I venture to say that these five gifts carry a heavier burden? Possibly. James 3:1 tells us, “Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.” This verse alone tells us that with great gifts comes great responsibility. I would say that these bearers of these five gifts stand before more people and therefore could potentially have more influence on other believers.

Verse 12 says that these five-fold gifts are to prepare God’s people for service. Let me have a soapbox for a moment. If your pastor and other church leadership are not nudging the congregation to serve, they are forsaking one of their duties. We as the church congregation are not just to get saved and wait in the pews until Christ comes back and has to chisel our fingernails out of the pew in front of us. As Christians, we should feel an urging to stand up, go out the doors of the church and begin to bring others.

The first example of this is Andrew, Peter’s brother, in John 1:41. In the previous verse, he went with Jesus to where he was staying and heard his teaching. Verse 41 says, “The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon (Peter) and tell him, ‘We have found the Messiah’ (that is, the Christ). And he brought him to Jesus.” Andrew didn’t let time go by. This news was so good, he was motivated to go NOW! Do you ever notice when people first get saved, that they want everyone to know? Then after awhile, it’s as if they don’t want anyone to know? These first gift-bearers are to encourage us to keep that fire and compassion for others.

Verse 13 then lets us know for how long. “Until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” Have all the people in your church reached unity yet? Mine either. That means we’re not supposed to stop yet. We are to continue this until Jesus returns, takes us in the air and joins us together in Heaven. It will be a glorious day when it happens and that is a major reason we still need the spiritual gifts.

The last primary set of verses for our study come from 1 Peter 4. In the first six verses, Peter is explaining how we should take the attitude of Christ and be done with sin. In verses 3-5, he tells us how the pagans continue to sin and will have to give an account in the end. With verse 6, he takes a moment to explain that the reason all this has been taught is so that man can see and judge with his own eyes, but live according to God in regard to the person’s spirit, given by the Holy Spirit.

In verse 7, Peter begins with telling us the end is near, but he tells us to take an attitude to be clear minded and self-controlled, so that we can pray. If you begin to feel that your prayer life is going in the can, do a self-assessment and check yourself. Am I thinking clearly? Am I doing things that are showing me out of control? We’re in the Christmas season as I write this. So how hard for you is it to open your fridge, see a piece of pie, cake, ice cream, whatever and just walk away? Not so easy, is it? This is just one of the many ways that we can fall out of control.

We move on to verses 8-9. “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.” Hospitality is not a gift all of us have. How many of you hate cleaning the house when guests come over? I admit it, I do. I love to entertain, but I don’t like the work beforehand. Comedian Jeff Foxworthy once told of how his wife used to do The Flight of the Bumblebee to clean her house when guests called at the last minute. The people would show up at the door and ask if it was any trouble. “Any trouble? This is the cleanest our house has been in six years!” Those that are relational don’t care how the house looks, but those that believe that cleanliness is next to godliness believe it’s vital if they are to be hospitable. Verse 8 gets at the point of loving each other over the sin of not having a clean house. OK, maybe it doesn’t go that far.

Peter continues in verses 10-11. “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength that God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.” So Peter gives us speaking as a gift and acts of service as another gift here. He also shares that the gifts are from God and should praise and honor him.

Now that we have finished these five main texts explaining the spiritual gifts, I would like to give you a list of the gifts. If you kept track, there were 22 including duplicates. However, Carraway shares thirty different gifts in his book. As we go through them, I will give you scripture where each is from. One of the understandings that I wanted to establish with each list was that Paul and Peter were giving examples in each case and not a full list. Because there are some that believe the gifts end with the five-fold ministry gifts and others accept so many and others do not. That is among Christians. There are disagreements. I’ll explain the disagreements as we talk about each one, rather than take one part at the end and give them all to you at once. That might lead to unnecessary confusion.

I will take care of one myth before we end this session. People get hung up on the idea that they get only one spiritual gift. While it may be true that some will only see that they are using one gift, they may have more than one. If you remember the story of the talents in Matthew 25:14-30, Jesus gave one man five talents, one man two talents and the last man one talent. The men with the five and two worked the talents they were given and given more when they met with the master at the end. The man with the one talent buried his and it was taken away from him. If you are working for the kingdom faithfully, don’t be surprised to see more gifts operating in you as you mature in the faith. Also, don’t be surprised if your giftings change. This doesn’t always happen, but it can.

On Thursday, I will be writing a little column in celebration of one year on Blogger. Yes, it is One Man Revival Ministries’ birthday. One year ago, December 3, I began blogging at the primary website. I want to share some cool memories, some hopes and dreams and give you a chance to comment on what this ministry has meant to you, if you feel led.

On Friday, we will have part 4 of the spiritual gifts series. At the back of Bryan Carraway’s book, Spiritual Gifts, Their Purpose and Power, he gives a test to help you get an idea of where your spiritual gifting might be. I encourage you to take the test and then score yourself. I’ll explain all that on Friday. Then starting on Monday, December 7, I am going to do a blog for each gift of the ones below to give you further understanding of each gift. I’ll encourage you to keep your scoring as a guide, but as I’ll share when I get to the gift of helps, which I didn’t score well on in the test, is a major area that I do consider a gift in my spiritual life. Your scores aren’t in stone. You may find as you read the descriptions that you have a gifting in another area that you didn’t score well in. The contrary is also true. If you score well on one and upon reading the description, you may find that might not be as strong as the scoring indicated. Don’t let it bug you. Again, it will be a guide.

So are you ready to find out what presents God has placed in you? If you’re a believer, know that you have at least one and maybe, just maybe more than that. Here are the gifts that we are going to talk about.

Administration, apostleship, craftsmanship, deliverance, discernment, evangelism, exhortation, faith, giving, healing, helps, hospitality, intercession, interpretation of dreams, interpretation of tongues, knowledge, leadership, martyrdom, mercy, miracles, missionary, pasturing, prophecy, prophet, serving, simplicity, teaching, tongues, wisdom and worship.

Thanks for following along so far and now the fun begins.

I love you guys!

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