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Possession of Spiritual Gifts
Scriptures teach that all Christians receive special spiritual gifts from the Holy Spirit. God gives these special abilities so that we can minister to others - believers and unbelievers alike. The exercise of our gifts gives us a sense of purpose and helps us to realize the importance we have in the Kingdom of God.
Today we want to focus on how we can learn to know what gifts God had blessed us with.
First of all the gifts are discovered in the context of a caring, discerning community which is sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit. When we read the story in Acts 13:1 - 4 of how Paul and Barnabas were to be sent out as missionaries we see the importance of the congregation being sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit. I believe that this is especially important when it comes to the discernment of spiritual leadership in this Congregation. Paul makes several references to the discernment process which Timothy went through. I Timothy 4:14 says, "Do not neglect your gift, which was given you thought a prophetic message when the body of elders laid their hand on you." What was this fits? Paul seems to indicate in verse 13 that this was a gift to devote himself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching. These are some of the functions of a pastor and teacher. L:ater in the second letter to Timothy (II Tim. 1:6) Paul writes a word of encouragement to Timothy. "I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands." Here we must recognize that the gift was not received specifically by the laying on of hands (instrument) but that it was at the occasion when hands were laid on Timothy that he receive the leadership gift of pastor.
The Lord gives gifts of leadership to the congregation to guide and help the other gifts to function freely and orderly. Hebrew 13: 16, 17 "And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased. Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy and not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you."
Last time we said that spiritual gifts can become effective in our lives when we submit ourselves to God. This verse in Hebrews indicates that we are to submit to the spiritual leadership God has placed over us.
There was a great preacher named George W Truett. He became a Christian at age 19, When he was 23 he attended a business meeting of his church. After a season of prayer, the various members of the congregation stood to their feet to share a common insight given them concerning this young man. One man said, "The Lord has given me a burden for George. I must share with you my conviction that he is being called to preach. Others acknowledged that, during the season of prayer, the Lord had affirmed the same truth in their hearts. All eyes turned on George Truett. Can you imagine that happening in your church. George stood to his feet, deeply moved. He confessed he haad felt no such call of God in his own heart. He also indicated that he considered it mandatory to be obedient to what God was calling him to do through the word give to the body.
That night George W. Truett was ordained as a preacher of the gospel!
For nearly 50 years he served as the pastor of the first Baptist Church of Dallas. His influence has stretched across the country and around the world. Few men of his generation were as powerful in the pulpit.
This story tells us that the body of Christ is there to help us discover God's gifts in his people.
Another way to discover our gifts is by serving the Lord in various ways. We cannot expect to know the gifts we possess if we do not become involved in the life of the church. Jesus told the parable about the talents. One lazy servant simply buried his one talent and did not use it. God had no use for that lazy servant. If you are a child of God, you are gifted and God expects you to use the gifts He has given.
One of the ways we can do this is to try to meet the needs of others as God reveals them to us. If you see a special need in the community, God holds you responsible to try to meet that need. We may see that a family needs a babysitter and we volunteer to look after their child or children. Others may see someone who has a financial need and offer money. Others may need a ride to church or the doctors and offer their time and vehicle. These demonstrate the gifts of service and the gift of giving.
It is not really easy to find our special gifts and there are sometimes difficulties in discovering our gift.
First we must make sure that we have submitted to God and to the church. Ig we do not submit we can never have an effective ministry..
Second - we must be involved in the needs of others. Gifts are discovered in service and if we are not helping others we will have a hard time discovering the ministry God has for us. You may say that you can't do anything. This is a denial of God's truth. Everyone can do something. Begin where God reveals a need. Begin with prayer.
Third - Sometimes we cannot become effective because we try to imitate others who have a different gift. If we are jealous of certain gifts, we stifle the gift that God has given us.
I might add that sometimes there is conflict in the church because of a lack of understanding about spiritual gifts. A person who has the gift of mercy might consider a brother who has the gift of administration or prophecy to be cold and unthoughtful. A person with the gift of giving migh become frustrated and angry when the gift of giving may become frustrated when others do not want to give to a project which he thinks is very important.
Lastly - We often fail to analyse where God has blessed our ministry in the past. We could get discouraged if we are not careful to note where we are most effective. We will be looking at some material next time which will help us understand what the gifts might be.
1. We must submit to God and to the church before we can minister effectively.
2. We discover our gifts through others helping us to discern our gifts.
3. We discover our gifts through serving.
4. We need to pray that we can recognize the need of others and when God shows you something which needs to be done - consider how you might fill that need.
5. We must remove any hinderances to discovering you gifts.
Next time we want to look at the gifts of leadership.
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