Monday, December 31, 2012

The Stewardship of Gifts

1 Peter 4:10

30 December 2012

As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. (1 Peter 4:10)



At the end of each year you will see retrospectives on the events of the year, here are some of the top news stories of 2012.


1. Hurricane Sandy

2. Kate Middleton pictures released

3. Olympics 2012

4. Costa Concordia shipwreck

5. Presidential Debates

6. Stratosphere jump

7. Sandusky trial and Penn State scandal

8. Trayvon Martin shooting


There are so many other things that happened this year from the Olympics, to the election, to the far too many attacks on innocent people (Dark Knight Shooting, Sikh Temple Shooting, Newtown CT, just to name a few). How do you think the year went and did you attain any goals?


What is great about the end of year is the beginning of a new one. Though we may not have reached our goals we know that we have the ability to refocus for next year. 2013 can be claimed as the year we finally lose the weight, we finally run that marathon, or we finally get organized. The possibilities are endless and it is only up to us. What are some goals for the next year?


This morning we are going to focus on the potential of the new year by looking at the ability we have to serve God through the gifts that He has given us. This is primarily through the way in which we serve God and the church. Ask your class, even at the beginning, to ponder what ways they can serve better in the coming year.


God Helps us Serve through Gifts


We will briefly break down this passage to highlight how it is that God intends us to work for Him. The first thing we notice is, "As each has received a gift." This is a simple statement and a simple belief for all Christians. God has given us, by His Spirit, gifts. Now these gifts are not all the same for all of us, but are given to each according to God's will and purpose. 1 Corinthians 12:4-12 says it like this:


    4 There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5 There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. 6 And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all. 7 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: 8 for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, 10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 11 But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills.


Unity and Diversity in One Body

12 For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ.


We must come to understand that we all need each other, and gifts highlight that. There is a trend in many churches to let the paid staff take care of all the church business and the people merely show up. This is not how God intended the church to be. Pastors exist to edify, build up, believers so they can do God's work "to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ" (Ephesians 4:12).


We all have gifts and they are given so that we can serve. What are some of the gifts you have seen demonstrated here at church?


God Expects us to Serve with Gifts


The second thing to note from this passage is that the giving of gifts has a very special purpose. We have been given gifts to serve others. This is a clear statement that is mostly ignored by evangelical Christians. God expects us to utilize the gifts we have been given in such a way that others are served and that service is then directed to God. The Corinthian church was endowed with marvelous spiritual gifts, but far too often people there just fell in love with their own gifts and failed to serve others or even acknowledge the necessary gifts of others in the church.


Everyone chosen by Christ is given a spiritual gift, and is called to use it for the "profit of all" (v 7) in the church. There is a scene in C.S. Lewis' Prince Caspian where the character Lucy is chastised by Aslan for not being obedient. She queries what would have happened had she been obedient, to which he replied, "'To know what would have happened, child?' said Aslan. 'No. Nobody is ever told that.'" This is the truth of our past we often know we probably should have served others by utilizing the gifting God has given us and we live in a world of what ifs. This must not be so. God has blessings for us and this world that are beyond our imagination if only we would obey and serve.


Think about the times you have used your gifts to serve others and been blessed by it.


God's Grace is Magnified by Gifts


Romans 12

3 For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith. 4 For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, 5 so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another. 6 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; 7 or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; 8 he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.


We see in this passage that to serve others with our gifts is good stewardship of God's grace. The simple reality is that the level of our obedience should be measured according to the grace dispensed to us. That equation is incalculable. God has bestowed on us such rich grace and blessings that we must do whatever we can to glorify Him by paying it forward. That is what he intends for us to do.


You must see that this all comes back to the gospel and the will of God. He has not saved us merely because we were sinful and He had to. He saved us because He created us all with a purpose. That purpose is to live in fellowship with Him doing what He commands to complete His good purposes. Christ's death and resurrection are given for us so that we can give for others, though we hear this often we must see that it is especially true when we recognize that God has given particular gifts to individuals in order to give for others. The conversation with Lucy and Aslan does not end with a chastisement, but with an encouragement, "'But anyone can find out what will happen,' said Aslan." We too can see what God will do if we will only utilize the gifts He has given to us. This next year how can we each individual and the class as a whole can do their part at Hallmark to fulfill its ministry?

Here is a brief list of areas that we all can serve in:

  • Choir
  • Ambassadors
  • Children's Church Worker
  • Nursery Worker
  • VBS Volunteer
  • Mentors

Ephesians 4

11 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, 13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; 14 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, 15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ— 16 from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.

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