Express Yourself: Use That Gift!
First sermon of the year: It’s a new year and therefore a new goal has been set; let us Christians express ourselves and use the gifts God gave us!
There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all. – 1 Corinthians 12:4-6 NKJV
Last year I opened the year by preaching about spiritual resolutions; we were looking to add some spiritual resolutions that would help us grow in our spiritual lives. As we go into 2017, I’m not quite sure whether or not this is a resolution but I do have something that I would like to see from Christians this year. I want to see Christians express themselves by using the gift that God has given them! I want to see Christians not hinder the Spirit. Let us come together in using our gift in 2017!
You have a gift
Unfortunately, many believers don’t realize they have been given a gift from God. We often hear that God has given us a gift, but many either don’t know what their gift is or don’t believe they have been given a gift. When you study the Bible, specifically the New Testament, you will see that Paul often taught about gifts from the Lord. Let’s take a look at what Paul taught about for a moment.
In Ephesians 2:8, Paul says, “for by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God.” The gift that we see here is that gift of grace. You will often hear that Jesus was God’s gift to man, but I like to put Jesus up under that gift of grace. Remember that grace is God’s unmerited/undeserved love towards man. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son – without God’s love we would not have received His only begotten Son. Now, I have certainly focused on and preached many sermons about God’s grace; I will not be focusing on that gift in today’s sermon.
The gift that I want to focus on can be found within our text for today’s sermon. The scripture tells us, “there are diversities of gifts.” These gifts that Paul is speaking of are those spiritual gifts that the Lord has given to each of us individually. Paul speaks of these spiritual gifts in many places throughout his letters: In Romans 12, in 1 Corinthians 12, and in Ephesians.
Paul often mentioned a litany of spiritual gifts in his letters. Some of those gifts included: prophecy, ministry, teaching, exhortation (singing), giving, leadership, those who showed mercy to others, miracle workers, speaking in tongue, and being able to interpret. Some of us may look at the gifts that the apostle spoke of and think to ourselves, I don’t believe any of those are my gifts – this is completely ok to think. Let’s remember, Paul was a man and does not know every gift that God could give out to His children. Paul was intelligent enough to let us know that there were diversities (meaning many) of gifts. Paul may have not mentioned your gift, but you better believe that your gift exists – God did give you a gift indeed.
How do I know this? How am I so sure of this?
The answer can be found in the scriptures and the scripture is the truth! In the same chapter of our text, 1 Corinthians 12:27, Paul mentions the body of Christ. Furthermore, in his letter to the Romans, Romans 12:5-6, points to the concept that the body has many members and the members all have their functions. Think of the body of Christ like your very own body. You have different members that may up your body: your eyes, nose, tongue, mouth, neck, hands, arms, legs, and heart – they all come together to work as one body.
The body of Christ is made up of many members, each member being all believers individually. Being an individual means that we don’t all act the same or even look the same. Because we are individuals it would make sense that all of us would have differing gifts, talents, and skills, right? The Lord has blessed all of us with unique skills; this is why Paul tells us that there is a diversity of skills. All Christians make up the body of Christ, and it’s a body with many members with different functions that should work together as one body.
The other answer to our question can be found in a parable that Jesus taught. In Matthew 25:14, Jesus tells us that the kingdom of heaven is like a man that traveled to a far country, called his servants, and delivered his goods to them. In this parable we see that the man gave three men (his servants) their own number of talents to use according to their ability. The man that traveled to the far country is representative of the Lord, and the servants are representative of we who have believed. You see, the evidence is pretty clear according to scripture – God has given us all spiritual gifts to use.
Finding your gift
There are some that know what their gift is and they allow the Spirit to guide them in using their gift. There are some that think they know what their gift is, but they are not really sure if it is truly their gift. There are some that have absolutely no idea what their gift is; I want to help you in finding your gift from God. You see, if you are unsure about your gift it is completely possible that you’re not using the gift that God gave. If you do not know what your gift is, or don’t believce you have a gift, I cannot allow you to live your life believing that – God gives all His children a gift to use to serve Him and the Church body.
I have a resolution for both the one that is unsure and the one that does not know. The resolution is not some trick that I have figured out. I want you to pray to the Lord on this matter. Pray to the Lord that you can be sure of what your gift is if you are unsure. Pray to the Lord that you can better understand how to use the gift that God has given to you! If you do not know what your gift is, pray to the Lord that He reveals to you what your gift is! Pray that the Lord reveals to you how to then use your gift to be a service to Him!
We get into the local church and we often seek to have a position of “power”. We think of trying to have a gift that is seen as a gift of “power”. We think of the gifts from God as we think of a work place hierarchy – you can’t think of a gift from God in that manner. It’s unfortunate that we often bring worldly thought into a place of the Spirit. I want to show you some women in the Bible that had some gifts that could be a potential gift of yours. You see, there’s this misconception that women did nothing in the Bible, but that could not be any further from the truth.
Jesus and the disciples were accompanied by a group of women that saw to and cared for them on their travels. These women were dedicated and supportive to the ministry of Jesus. People often mock those that are more than able of going to church weekly and being able to support their ministry – I see this as a gift, the gift of support. The local church certainly needs members that are dedicated and supportive of the ministry.
Have you heard of the sisters Martha and Mary? Sure you have, they were the sisters of Lazarus who Jesus raised from the dead. Both of these women had gifts that you can read and study about in the scripture. Mary had the gift of being able to learn; she would sit at the feet of Jesus and just listen to Him teach. You would have to imagine that Mary put what she learned to use and even shared what she had heard with others. Martha had the gift of service; she would open up her doors and have something to serve those that would enter into her home. I think of those that be happy to serve others by fixing plates at a homecoming dinner.
In Acts 9:36, 39 you will come across the name Dorcas (Tabitha). You will see that Dorcas had a very interesting gift; she provided clothes to the widows – it was law that you support those that were widowed. It takes a very special person to be able to care for those who had been visited by death – Dorcas was that person. Dorcas had the gift of giving and helping those in need.
Priscilla is another woman who had a gift that I want to focus. Her and her husband, Aquilla, actually traveled around with Paul temporarily. In Acts 18:24-28, Priscilla encountered a well spoken man named Appolos; he was teaching about the Lord but not the full gospel – he didn’t know about Jesus. Priscilla shared the ministry of Jesus with Appolos who then went out to share this ministry with others – Priscilla had the gift of teaching/ministry. We later say Priscilla in 1 Corinthians 16:19, and at this point in time she would open her home for church service! Priscilla had a gift of community, a gift of ministry, a gift of leadership. There are some people that are able to get people to come together for a cause.
I have two more women and gifts that I want to talk about, if you don’t mind. In Romans 16:1-2, we find the first of these women tucked away in Paul’s letter. Phoebe (Phebe) had a very important role and gift that helped Paul out. Phoebe is the one who carried Paul’s letter to the Romans – she had a position as a deaconess. When the men were afraid to deliver Paul’s letter, Phoebe had no fear and delivered his letter. There are some people who are seemingly unafraid of doing anything – I feel that’s a gift! Another women mentioned in Romans 16:6 is Mary, not the mother of Jesus, not of Bethany, and not Magdalene; this Mary would throw Paul labor – she had a gift for being able to find him work (I’d like to think it was spiritual work).
God can use you in many ways! God has many different gifts for all of us – there is no gift too minuscule for the service of the Lord!
Don’t hinder the Spirit
What is your gift? I cannot tell you what your gift is but the Lord can certainly reveal this to you! I want to see us use our gifts this year and not sit on what God has given to us! Paul said this in 1 Thessalonians 5:19, he tells us, “quench not the Spirit.” In other words, don’t you sit on the Spirit – don’t you hold the Spirit back! The Spirit wants to move. Don’t be like the servant that was given one talent and he decided to bury his one talent – don’t you bury that gift because you don’t want to lose it.
Unfortunately there have been a lot of gifts that have been buried and lost – that’s a real shame. Another shame is that many gifts have been hindered by the world and even by people within the local church – that’s truly saddening. There are some believers that try to hold others back because they don’t like how others are expressing themselves – using their gift. We must remember what the scripture says, “there are different gifts but the same Spirit.” Man didn’t give you your gift, so man can’t tell you how to use your gift! Your gift came from the Lord. The scripture then says, “there are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all.”
Ensure that you are using your gift properly by going to the Lord. Ensure that the gift you are using is indeed your gift by going to the Lord. Don’t be trying to preach if preaching is not your gift. Don’t be trying to teach if teaching is not your gift. Again, ensure what your gift is and how to use your gift by going to the One that gave you your gift. Your gift is in service to Him and for the edifying of the body of Christ. I want to see us, we believers, use our gifts in 2017 – express yourself! Don’t you sit on the gift that God has given you: whether be something like sharing scriptures online or through text or ministry. Put that gift to use! Put that gift on display! Use that gift!