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Serving by using the Gifts of the Spirit

Sunday, 3rdSeptember, 2006

1 Corinthians 12:1-14:40

Vision for Mission comes essentially from the love of God for us and leads to the three loves of the Church and four.

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.

Love your neighbour as you love yourself

Love one another as Jesus loved you.

Love your enemies, Ö and you will be sons of your Father in heaven.

It is therefore the practise of those four loves which drives us as a church and as individuals.

There are nine responses to the love of God as a church. They are

Worship

Prayer

Teaching

Discipleship

Telling others the Good news

Missionary links

Fellowship

Serving one another.

It is part of the last one of those, serving one another, I want to concentrate on this morning. Using the gifts.

Some of you have been to Powerhouse in the last year and you will know that we have been exploring the meaning of the verse 1 Corinthians 12:27.

 

The body of Christ is an important concept and the whole of chapter 12 is about the unity of the church as a single body but with different gifts and how that we by sharing what each other have , together become what God intends for his people.

So if spiritual gifts are not primarily for your personal use, what are they for? They are God expressing himself to the body and through the body to the outside world. I have been thinking over the summer about the mission of Jesus disciples. After all, I believe we are on a mission for South Ruislip and beyond.So I looked to see what Jesus sent his disciples to do. You may find it uncomfortable but Iím not here for comfort so here goes.

Matthew 4:23

Jesus went all over Galilee, teaching in the Jewish meeting places and preaching the good news about Godís Kingdom. He also healed every kind of disease and sickness.(CEV)

 

Luke 9:1-2 Got it? the twelve had a two pronged gospel. Healing and preaching. The preaching was, I presume, repeating what Jesus had taught them. And they were able to heal because Jesus gave them authority to do it. And in case you think the healing was a minor part of the mission, read verse 6. Doesnít sound like an odd occurrence, does it?Mark gives us more information Mark 6:12-13.

 

Maybe, this mission was different, After all they were the Apostles and Jesus was there among them. But turn on to Luke 10, and we read Luke 10:1-4; 8-9. And in verse 17-20 we see that they were all involved in healing and casting out demons. They were sings of the authority of Jesus showing through the body. But note that Jesus brings a balance to their enthusiasm. It is great to heal the sick and cast out demons, but it is even better that your name is written in heaven. Both are acts of grace from a God who wants his people to receive from him.

So 72 disciples went out in 36 teams. But Jesus was there and maybe these were special. It is important to understand our mission in the light of this. In Matthew 28:18-20 which I have spoken about before because of its significance to us, no specific mention is made ofspiritual gifts. However, the promise is that Jesus will be with us, always. The same Jesus that gave his disciples authority to heal and cast out demons, still is our living Lord moving among the churches giving gifts to his people so that they might fully express his love to a lost world. If you will allow Mark 16:17-20 spiritual gifts were signs that accompanied the great commission.

 

When it comes to the early church. The outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the church is demonstrated by the same mixture of telling the good news and demonstrating with signs and wonders. In addition to healing and casting out demons, because Jesus was no longer with them , the Holy Spirit gives prophetic gifts Ė prophecy, visions and dreams. Each new stage in the life of the church has a an outpouring of spiritual gifts as a demonstration of the renewed intensity of the work of the Holy Spirit.

 

So we conclude that the gifts are part and parcel of church life. And history shows that these gifts have sprung up throughout the life of the church.

The question is what is happening here today in South Ruislip?

First letís look at what we mean by spiritual gifts. We need to understand that God gives to all what is sometimes referred to as common grace. We know that in the population there are people who are gifted musically, gifted as teachers, as sportsmen with good hand to eye coordination, gifted as carers who show real empathy with their clients, doctors, who have a real talent of diagnosis, intellectuals who can absorb information and understand it much better than others. And in the church those gifts are valued because they come from the Father. But the Spiritual gifts are those which are for the church and are at best mimicked by the evil one. Listed here in 1 Corinthians are

message of wisdom,

faith

gifts of healing

miraculous powers

prophecy

distinguishing between spirits

speaking in tongues

interpretation of tongues

apostles

teachers

those able to help others

gifts of administration

and it is clear that Paul is not trying to be exhaustive but illustrative. He has not completed the list but simply given examples relevant to the particular circumstances of the church in Corinth.

Now looking at that list we might feel a little ashamed that we only have a few of those gifts clearly exhibited among us. But that would be the devilís device to discourage Godís people. The gifts are given to equip us for every good work. Better to ask whether we are individually and collectively serving our Lord faithfully and then we will be seeking specific gifts for a specific purpose and the promise is ĎAsk and it will be given, seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened.í We have seen some of the gifts in this fellowship and we have been exploring them further. Sometimes we forget that God is not the God of the trumpet blast but the still small whisper of a voice. So we check out visions and prophetic words, we practice healing when we believe it Godís way, we book speakers who we believe have a gift of spiritual teaching, we encourage gifts of service, leadership, encouragement, administration, and we ask God about the other gifts and how they will impact on our fellowship and the world around us.

 

So how do we receive these gifts?

By grace.

††††††††††† ††††††††††† Let me ask a different question. How did you receive salvation? Why, by grace, through faith. So also you received the Holy Spirit into your life. So also you receive the spiritual gifts. You cannot work up sufficient spiritual steam, or go on a training course, even if that training course was good for encouraging and developing gifts. They are gifts, not rewards or spiritual qualifications. So the fact that you donít feel very spiritual is more an indication that God might pour out his Spirit on you rather than the other way round. Notice that Jesus chose to reveal himself to the misfits of the religious world of the day. A Samaritan woman who had married 7 times, Mary Magdalene, healed of seven demons, A terrorist in the middle of his execution, an impetuous fisherman, a collaborator with the Roman Empire, and in Paul an extremist with ambitions to wipe the name of Jesus from the face of the earth. To each of these and many others, Jesus showed his way of doing things. It is not to worthy but unworthy and it is not to good people but evil he gives his wonderful salvation. The same is true of his continuing grace to us. He gives us out of grace, not performance. So when God gives spiritual gifts to this church, it may not be to the leadership but more likely to you hiding away quietly, feeling inadequate to do anything significant for God.

 

Through faith.

††††††††††† ††††††††††† But grace is not forced on us. It has to be received freely by a humble congregation of Godís people who believe that God is able, he is willing and he is active. We could resist God by refusing to receive what he wants to give. We may have got our biblical view of gifts so well sorted that God sees no evidence of faith. Faith is to do with risk-taking. It says that I believe in Godís grace so I receive his salvation and faith then rests confident in eternal life. Faith says God wants us to receive spiritual gifts so we seek his face about what gifts and then having decided or received the gift we practise its use. If we are wrong we will soon discover that by experimentation. But we will not discover that God has given these gifts until we have the faith to practise them. We as a fellowship have got to be risk-takers for God. Not just in trying news ways of telling the good news but in new ways of serving one another through the gifts. We can, of course, discourage the development of the work of the Holy Spirit in our church by criticism, legalism and even by simply ignoring the prompting of the Holy Spirit, be it in your own special times with God, when taught in church or encouraged in House Group, Communion or Powerhouse.

 

Gifts are for giving.

††††††††††††††††††††††† ††††††††††† Romans 12:6-8 tells us that we are to us the gifts. The context is v3-5 and verse 9-14. In other words it is part of our sharing in the common wealth of Godís grace. You have a gift of prophecy and share it with the fellowship and we are all encouraged. He has gifts of healing and not only is the one healed blessed but all are built up in their faith, she speaks in tongues and another interprets and we enjoy the demonstration of the body working together.

††††††††††† Our nationís wealth is built on a trading economy. By buying and selling we actually create wealth. But the church should be a giving economy. By giving and receiving and passing on and sharing the blessings God gives we are enriched in every spiritual way as we together grow and experience all that God wants for us.

††††††††††† We, being sinful humans, have the greatest aptitude to make status and power and pride in anything that marks us out. So we applaud someone who wins a lottery or raffle prize as if they have done something towards it other than gamble and win. So when nice Christians receive spiritual gifts we have a tendency to make out we are somehow superior Christians and others are somehow not so blessed! This is why the body language is so important. You are not given a spiritual gift for your own good but for the good of the body of Christ and the glory of Jesus in the community in which we live. Here are dangers in taking any action. But the safest way is the Jesus way which leads to life. Lets spend a few minutes praying openly for the gifts that God wants to give us to be revealed in our church and our willingness to receive them and our faith to practise them so that the body of Christ in South Ruislip may be enriched, extended and have a true sense of belonging to one another.

 

 

 

 

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