(Here’s the sermon I preached at church Sunday night, praying it blesses you…)
1 Corinthians 16:14 “Do everything in love.”
Serve everyone in love! Build up the Body of Christ in love!
And…as we’re putting our attention toward loving each other, we’re told in God’s Word to pursue the best spiritual gifts, those which edify others, without putting so much focus on “edifying” ourselves at everyone else’s expense! We’re instructed to be covetous to excel in the best gifts, those which will make us most useful and profitable to The Church, through a more excellent way. Through LOVE! Remembering that the gifts themselves are not the best things, because the habits of saving grace are much more valuable than gifts! Love to God and love to our neighbor are always preferred before gifts.
However, Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 12:31:
“But earnestly desire the greater gifts and I will show you a still more excellent way.”
The spiritual gifts are found in three passages:
Romans 12:6-8 NIV “We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.”
1 Corinthians 12:8-10 NIV “To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues.”
1 Corinthians 12:28-30 NIV “And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret?”
Through reading those 3 verses, we can make a list of the Gifts of the Spirit:
Administration Apostle-ship Discernment Evangelism Exhortation
Faith Giving Healing Interpretation of Tongues Knowledge
Leadership Mercy Miracles Pastor/Shepherd Prophecy
Serving/Ministering Teaching Tongues Wisdom
I want to concentrate on what we’re instructed and encouraged to do on our part as far as the spiritual gifts are concerned:
We’re to desire!
The Holy Spirit does the rest! He gives the gift to whoever He wishes and because He likes order, He corrects where needed.
We’re to love!
We’re not to strive for any one gift just because it is more highly esteemed, or because it is more useful to us personally, or because it is more easily attained. What keeps us humble, is LOVE, remembering that the gifts of God’s grace: Faith, Hope, and Love, are the most useful and valuable, and better than all external extraordinary gifts!!
In our house my husband and I talk about: BC & AC.
Before our son, Casey…After our son, Casey. That’s the simple way we define our life! All that we did before Casey, changed after Casey! We were married 14 years before our prayers for our child were answered, and while those years were important and prepared us for having Casey, Casey changed us completely the day he was born. For the better! From that day on, he was our priority! Before and After, Then and Now, there’s a HUGE difference!
Church, that’s how we must define our spiritual life, too!
Before Christ and After Christ!
Before we knew Him and After we came to know Him!
Before and After, Then and Now, there’s a HUGE difference! If you don’t know the Lord Jesus as your Savior yet, it takes a split second for you to want Him, and for Him to accept your repentant heart, since He always wants you!!! And, He always wants to fill you with His Spirit!
That Was Then, This Is Now!
The old you vs the new you! Then, when you were empty vs Now, when you’re filled with the power of His Holy Spirit! You are now SAVED to SERVE with the Holy Spirit’s POWER, to serve God and The Body of Christ. Pray for an open heart, open mind, open eyes to see, and open ears to hear. Don’t wander around in the “THEN!” Live in the NOW!” Church, now that we know Him, how will we live our life for Christ? Jesus is now our priority! The Father’s Plan for us and hearing the Holy Spirit’s whispers! It’s not just about programs, though I love church programs; we need His Presence in our lives and in our churches! The Church needs us, every one of us! We’re The Body. The Church needs all of us to be all we can be in Christ to strengthen and build up The Church!
As much as we’re commanded to NOT covet the things of others, we are told to boldly, earnestly, fervently, zealously, strongly, prayerfully, watchfully esteem, desire, want, pursue, seek to attain, and cultivate the best/greatest spiritual gifts to be used to help others to stir up, develop, and use our gifts to edify The Church! The Body of Christ! And if it’s a GIFT from the Holy Spirit, we can just receive it! Since they have not been obtained by human capabilities we have absolutely no right to brag on these gifts! If we exalt in our gifts, we’re taking credit for something that we haven’t earned ourselves. It’s like taking credit for a gift you received on your birthday. It’s just that; a gift that was not yours, but given to you freely, given apart from any inherent capabilities that you have within you. Remember, the old song, “How Great Thou Art?” It’s NOT, “How Great I Am!”
It’s an unearned gift from the Holy Spirit, take it! Think of someone offering you a gift, and you say, “No! No! I can’t take it! Please take it back! It’s too much! Give it to someone else! I don’t need it! I want to be giftless forever!” That would be ridiculous! So desire the best spiritual gifts, take them, and thank God for it! He’ll use them to love on people.
1 Peter 4:10, says, “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another as good stewards of God’s varied grace.”
In The Church, preaching is to edify and equip the saints! Pastors can’t do that very well, if the saints don’t want, desire, covet all God has for each of them! We need to want all God has for us. His gifts are good! I encourage you to step out confidently with whatever gifts and talents, plus the spiritual gifts God has already put in you, and with the spiritual gifts He WANTS to develop in you! Your passions will usually indicate those areas! Use them to help others and to equip others to be used of God! I encourage you to express your desire to God for more of all He has for you! God wants to give you His Best Gifts! It’s His will to give each believer the best gift that each desires and is capable of receiving.
How quick will you be to desire and receive the spiritual gift He wants to give you? That determines what gift the Holy Spirit will give! The nature of The Church calls for all members to recognize their capabilities and to begin confidently functioning in those ministries. Just as the physical body is one organism having many parts: Arms, legs, hands, feet, etc., with different functions, all operating differently, but at the same time in harmony and in unity! So it is with the Body of Christ, The Church. Unity in the midst of diversity. If the Body of Christ is going to function as an organism then it’s necessary for the members to minister, or serve one another with all the capabilities that the Holy Spirit has given to each one. Each local church requires spiritual maturity, biblical understanding and the recognition, and full use of, the spiritual gifts of each member! The power of the Spirit flows in The Church through the expression of the God-given gifts.
The gift is not in itself the purpose, or goal for the believer, rather, it’s simply the means through which the Spirit can minister to others. If you sense a need in your church, which is not being satisfied, perhaps you should try to meet that need. If we occupy ourselves in serving the Lord by meeting the needs we perceive, our gifts will quickly become obvious! There are times when the Lord delays in making evident our gifts, in order that we grow sufficiently mature, and committed to using them faithfully in His service and through His power. The important thing is that we learn to minister and serve one another. Our experience can be a determining factor in the manifestation of our gifts:
- Our church will be more and more conscience of our gifts as we work in its programs.
- We’ll be conscious of the fruit that results from the exercise of our gift in the lives of others.
- We’ll feel a conscious satisfaction in what we’re doing.
- We’ll recognize that those with gifts, especially the gift of leadership, are going to attract others with similar gifts.
There is a distinction between the Spiritual Gifts and the Fruit of the Spirit:
The ideal for the Christian is to combine the exercise of the gifts of the Spirit, with the expression of the 9 Fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23 (Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control) in our life at the same time.
Gifts of the Spirit
- Different for each individual
- Related to the ministry
- Classified according to importance and necessary emphasis in the church
- Can be abused, cause offenses and divisions.
- No Christian has all of the gifts
- No single gift is obligated for all the believers
Fruit of the Spirit
- For all the church, without exception
- Related to our character
- All the aspects of the fruit are essential and equally important
- Never can be used badly if they are authentic
- All believers should manifest the fruit
- All the aspects of the fruit are commanded to be manifested
The Fruit of the Spirit indicates spiritual maturity…
The Spiritual Gifts indicate the motivation for serving others…
Christ’s Church is always interested in people! Lay people are very necessary in the growth and ministry of The Church! Identifying the need and benefit of the spiritual gifts should always be encouraged! The understanding and use of the spiritual gifts prospers under the encouragement and teaching of the leaders of The Church! No believer can say that they have no gift of the Spirit from God. God has given all believers gifts, some have several, but everyone has these gifts! These gifts of the Spirit are given not for the believer, but for the Body of Christ. It’s to make The Body complete. These gifts are intended for The Church-to edify it, to strengthen it, to feed it, to encourage it, and to have the Body of Christ empowered to do the work of Christ. These gifts are always to exalt Christ, to witness of God’s power, to build up The Body, and to work to enlarge the Body of Christ by sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ with the lost! God gives these gifts as He sees best. We can not receive gifts we aren’t intended to receive, but, we can desire certain gifts, indicating that we can receive gifts of the Spirit, that may fulfill the desires of our hearts, while still fulfilling God‘s purpose for them!
Psalm 37:4 says “Delight in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” Let our desires be Your desires for us, Lord! Amen! Let’s briefly examine what these gifts are and their intended use for the church today.
Romans 12 has a similar listing of the gifts of the Spirit, but, I Corinthians 12 is more comprehensive in nature, where Paul is telling the Corinthian church, and for the most part, all believers in the church today that he wants to make these gifts crystal clear to us, so we will depend upon the inspired Word of God to reveal them to us!
Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 12:4 “There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them.” No two gifts are the same and generally no two believers have exactly the same gifts, but always these gifts are given for the common good of the church. Many Gifts, Many Members, One Body! We’re to pray to God that we may receive from Him the best, which means, the most useful gifts.
Bible scholars classify these gifts into three categories: ministry gifts, manifestation gifts, and motivational gifts:
The ministry gifts serve to reveal the plan of God. They are characteristic of a full-time office or calling, rather than a gift that can function in and through any believer.
The manifestation gifts serve to reveal the power of God. These gifts are supernatural or spiritual in nature. They can be further subdivided into three groups: utterance, power, and revelation.
The motivational gifts serve to reveal the personality of God. These gifts are practical in nature. They describe the inner motivations of the Christian servant.
All spiritual gifts in The Church are produced by the Holy Spirit and He confers them as He pleases, so no one should be proud, yet it is proper to desire the most useful gifts, such as preaching or prophesying. If…you wish to be brought under the influence of the Spirit and qualified for usefulness in the church! The graces of the Spirit: Faith, Hope, and Love, which are gifts of God’s grace; are useful and valuable and better than all external extraordinary gifts. It’s the work of the Holy Spirit. These three: Faith, Hope, and Love, are to be more desired than gifts. We must pursue LOVE, but, at the same time, not omit zealous seeking after the Gifts of the Spirit, especially to prophecy, which includes both foretelling and forth-telling. We pass all these “gifts” of blessing to others for their edification when we exercise our spiritual gifts in love! So, we should earnestly desire spiritual gifts so we may selflessly give to others, then we must always give all the glory to God! Amen!
The warning is: The greater our gifts are, the more we are exposed to temptations and the larger the measure of grace needed to keep us humble and spiritual! We may meet with more painful, or humbling experiences! It’s not always glamorous to be obedient to God! We have little cause to glory in any gifts bestowed on us, or to despise those who don’t have the same ones we’ve been given!
1 Corinthians 12:7 says, “Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.”
Ephesians 4:11-15 NLT tells us, “Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: The apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do His work and build up The Church, The Body of Christ. This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ. Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the Head of His Body, The Church.”
So, when Jesus decides to move in our lives, in our church, and in our world, we can no longer wait, we need to run after what He’s running after. We can’t drag Jesus behind us! Jesus is upright and in front leading us. He goes BEFORE us! Where He goes, we follow. Be in sync with Him. He waits, we wait. He walks, we walk. He moves, we move. When He runs, we run. When He’s on a mission, that’s our mission. Our mission is to follow Him, and to be equipped by the power of the Holy Spirit to follow Him!! We need everything He wants to give us spiritually. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are together. We need ALL of them. Seek the whole Godhead. The Full Gospel! Every moment. WE’RE NOTHING ALONE, APART FROM GOD! With Him, we have everything! Teach everyone to want all God offers for their lives, too, to be used in His Kingdom for His purposes!
Church, know, live, and share the whole Truth of Christ, what He’s done for us, and what He can do through us!! We’re FOLLOWERS of CHRIST! Move into position! Where others can see Christ before they see us!! It’s never about us! Church, it’s always about JESUS! Walk through life pointing everyone to Him! Everything we do and are involved in, is a ministry. Assume the correct position. FOLLOWING CLOSE BEHIND OUR LORD! So close that we can hear His Voice! He wants to give us more love, more power, and more spiritual gifts to serve Him! So close, that we can see Him moving in our life, in our church, in the world. He’s moving right now. He’s walking. Catch up with Him. He’s running. Stay with Him! He wants to give us more of Himself. He goes before us. We’re triumphant! Now is the time, Church, to desire all the spiritual gifts that are meant to edify The Church! Our church!
Let’s Run! Let’s keep up with God’s Plan! He wants to grow us, to grow our church, to grow The Body of Christ. He wants us to grow in love. He wants us to point everyone we meet to Jesus. To teach God’s Word. To be filled to overflowing with His Holy Spirit. To desire what He desires. He wants us to eat up His Word and drink in His Spirit. Filling us with a fresh supply each day for our spiritual growth!
Church, will you desire the best spiritual gifts to be used in your church, with your pastor, with your congregation, and with the vision from God, for such a time as this?
“Yes, Lord we’re ready!”
Proverbs 8:5-12 from the Passion Translation: “I Hear His Whisper”
“In the silence I will speak to you. Each morning come and sit at My feet and learn from the wisdom of eternity. I will speak. I will whisper to your soul. It is time for you to hear Me clearly each day. The assignments I give to you will be pleasant and rewarding. The task I set before you each day will bring sweetness to your soul. Others will begin to take note, that you have been with Me.
In the evening hours come to Me and I will whisper My living words into your spirit. I will make your night season a time of encounter as My Spirit comes to bring you Heaven’s grace and the dew of My presence. Listen carefully, as a lover listens to every word of the Beloved—listen to Me and you will hear My voice. I will touch your ears and open them as one who is being taught. You will learn My ways as you listen to My voice.
I love to speak with you, to talk to you and share My heart with you. I have many who say they follow Me but never still their souls to listen to My voice. I am a Shepherd who goes before My sheep calling them by name, caring for them in love, and leading them into My ways. You will find that I have ears for your voice, I listen to you as you speak with Me, now come and listen to My whisper each day and know that I am your God.”
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