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Monday, June 18, 2018

The Most Wonderful Father Of Them All - Father's Day 6-17-18



This is the manuscript of a sermon preached on Father's Day June 17, 2018 at Church of Divine Guidance Los Angeles, CA 


Father's Day was inaugurated in the United States in the early 20th century to complement Mother's Day in celebrating fatherhood and male parenting.

Father's Day was founded in Spokane, Washington at the YMCA in 1910 by Sonora Smart Dodd. Her father, the Civil War veteran William Jackson Smart, was a single parent who raised his six children there. After hearing a sermon about ' Mother's Day in 1909, she told her pastor that fathers should have a similar holiday honoring them.

It did not have much success initially. Americans resisted the holiday during a few decades, perceiving it as just an attempt by merchants to replicate the commercial success of Mother's Day.
In 1957, Maine Senator Margaret Chase Smith wrote a proposal accusing Congress of ignoring fathers for 40 years while honoring mothers, thus "[singling] out just one of our two parents".
In 1966, President Lyndon B. Johnson issued the first presidential proclamation honoring fathers, designating the third Sunday in June as Father's Day. Six years later, the day was made a permanent national holiday when President Richard Nixon signed it into law in 1972


THE MOST WONDERFUL FATHER OF THEM ALL



Well, here it is Father’s Day again. I am always amazed at how we treat Father’s Day. On Mother’s Day we often hear sermons exalting the role of the mother in the family. Mothers are encouraged, praised and lifted up as the most important person in the home. And, we should thank the Lord for godly mothers.


Then there’s Father’s Day. Dad comes to church and hears a sermon on how he does not measure up as a father. He is told about some biblical father and the perfect life he lived, and dad leaves feeling like a failure who will never measure up as a dad. Well dad, I have two pieces of news for you today. First, you are a special person too! You are just as important as mom. Many experts now believe that fathers can be just as nurturing and sensitive with their babies as mothers. [4] As their children grow, fathers take on added roles of guiding their children's intellectual and social development. Even when a father is 'just playing' with his children, he is nurturing their development.Second, today you do not have to listen to a sermon telling you how you could do a better job as a father.

Because Today, I want to talk about The Most Wonderful Father Of Them All.

Luke 12:29-32 NKJV “And do not seek what you should eat or what you should drink, nor have an anxious mind. For all these things the nations of the world seek after, and your Father knows that you need these things. But seek the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added to you. “Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.

I'm gonna talk about the One Jesus referred to as “My Father” fifty-three times in the Gospels. But, when Jesus talked about the Father, He did not just call Him “My Father.” He also called God “Our Father” Jesus clearly shows us that those who believe on Him share the same relationship with God in Heaven that He Himself shares

Matthew 6:9 NKJV In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name.

Luke 11:2 NKJV So He said to them, “When you pray, say: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven.

But, if you do the research, you will find that it gets even better than that! Jesus calls God “your Father” twenty-one times in the Gospels as well! It’s in our main scripture, Luke 12:29-32 twice. It’s also in John 20:17. When Mary Magdalene recognize Jesus in the garden after His resurrection.

John 20:17 NIV Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’ ”

I want to encourage everybody today not just the Father's to rejoice in your relationship with your Father, God. I want us to The Most Wonderful Father Of Them All.

The Jews, the people Jesus was talking to, in Luke, had no concept of God as a “Father.” They saw Him as Jehovah, God Almighty. They would never have thought of God in such intimate of terms. So, when Jesus called God “Father”, it was a totally new concept and it even angered many of them.

The Jews had dozens of names for God. What they needed at any given time usually dictated the name that they used to call on God. We often do the same thing today. For instance:

1. If we have a need we call on "Jehovah-jireh", which means, "The Lord will provide."

Genesis 22:14 NIV So Abraham called that place The Lord Will Provide. And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.”

2. If we’re anxious, we call on "Jehovah-shalom", which means "The Lord our peace."

Judges 6:24 NIV So Gideon built an altar to the Lord there and called it The Lord Is Peace. To this day it stands in Ophrah of the Abiezrites.

3. If we're lonely, or afraid, we might call on "Jehovah-shammah", which means "The Lord is there."

Ezekiel 48:35 NIV “The distance all around will be 18,000 cubits. “And the name of the city from that time on will be: the Lord is there.”

4. If we need leadership, we call on "Jehovah-rohi", which means "The Lord our Shepherd."

Psalm 23:1 NIV The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.

5. If we're sick, we call on "Jehovah-rapha", which means "The Lord our healer"

Exodus 15:26 NIV He said, “If you listen carefully to the Lord your God and do what is right in his eyes, if you pay attention to his commands and keep all his decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I am the Lord , who heals you.”

There are literally dozens more, but you get the picture. When these people needed to get a hold of God, they referred to Him by these various names. However, for those who are in Jesus, there is a different name that we can use to speak to God. This name was revealed to the Disciples in what is known as "The Lord's Prayer". The disciples had seen the amazing prayer life of Jesus and they wanted the same access to God, so they asked Him to teach them how to pray. Since they were Jews they probably expected to hear which name He would give them to use in their prayers. They must have been really surprised when Jesus spoke the word "Father." The word that Jesus used was the Aramaic word “abba”, which translates to the English word “daddy”.


Today those of us who have accepted Jesus as our Lord and Savior have that kind of relationship with God.

We Have A Personal Relationship – 


Luke 12:30, 32 NKJV For all these things the nations of the world seek after, and your Father knows that you need these things. “Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.

The title “your Father” reflects a very personal relationship. At the instant that you make your confession of faith and accept Jesus into your life you are brought into a very personal relationship with the God of the universe. You are actually “adopted” into the family of God. The word “adoption” literally means “to place as a son.” That person instantly becomes a child of God in heaven.

Romans 8:15-17 NIV The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “ Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.

In adoption a son or daughter is brought into a family and is given the same rights as a child who is born into that family.

John 3:1-2 NIV See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.

Our Relationship is Not Only Personal but also A Profound Relationship –


This is a remarkable thing when you stop to think about it because according to the Bible before salvation you are a slave to the world, the flesh and the devil, and God’s enemy.

Romans 8:7 NIV The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so.

Ephesians 2:1-2 NIV As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.

It's true that those who refuse to become God’s children, are doomed and condemned to an eternity in Hell as it says

John 3:18 NIV Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.

The sad fact is this: every person in the entire world who has not been saved is in this horrible, lost condition.

When you stop to consider the truth that a lost, hell-bound, hell-deserving sinner could even be saved by the grace of God, the fact that same person becomes a child of God through Jesus is profound. We can’t really grasp how an enemy can become a son or daughter and an heir with the same personal relationship as Jesus.

John 17:20-23 NIV “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

Our Relationship with God is A Personally Relationship, A Profound Relationship, and It is A Permanent Relationship –


When God adopted us into His family, He did not do it for just a while. He did it for all eternity! You see, adoption, as it was practiced in biblical times, could not be undone. A man had the right to disown his natural children; but an adopted child was a child for life. He or she could never be disowned by the father. This is the same guarantee that we have today.

John 10:28-29 NIV I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all ; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.


John 6:37-40 NIV All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.”

Philippians 1:6 NIV being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

What God does when He saves a someone is a done deal it's forever.

A DISCUSSION OF GOD’S RESPONSIBILITIES


Just as a human father has certain responsibilities to the children that are born to him; God has taken on many responsibilities in relation to His children. Here are a few of those responsibilities.

He’s Always Aware


Luke 12:30 NKJV For all these things the nations of the world seek after, and your Father knows that you need these things.

The Bible says that He knows that we need things. The Greek verb for “have need” is in a tense that means our needs are “many and they are constant.” In other words we are a needy people!

Even though we all have needs and we all have them all the time; God is well aware of every single one of them! You see, the word “knows means “to be aware of something.” The tense of this verb means that “He is always aware of everything that affects His children.” We may not always know, but our Heavenly Father always knows.

Nothing happens in your life or mine that goes unnoticed by our Father. He’s always aware.

Luke 12:24, 26-28 NKJV Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap, which have neither storehouse nor barn; and God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds? If you then are not able to do the least, why are you anxious for the rest? Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. If then God so clothes the grass, which today is in the field and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will He clothe you, O you of little faith?

Then one of our favorites;

Romans 8:28 NKJV And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.

God is aware of everything that is going on, and that is going wrong, in our lives.

Too often our focus is on the physical and the material; but we also have needs in the emotional, mental and spiritual areas of life. Regardless of what the need is, He’s aware of it.

Not Only Is He Aware He is Also Able


It isn’t enough for the Lord just to know what His children need; He must be able to meet those needs, or His knowledge of our needs doesn't do us any good.


Luke 12:31-32 NKJV But seek the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added to you. “Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.

According to this passage, God not only has the power to take care of us but it pleases Him to do it.

Like a wealthy, benevolent king, God has the wherewithal to meet every need that arises in the lives of each of His children. When He says “all these things shall be added unto you”. He has the ability to back up that promise.

Many people live in doubt of God’s great ability to care for His people; but I would like to remind you that if God can speak this universe into existence, He can take care of you. If He can keep Noah safe through that flood; keep the three Hebrew boys safe in the furnace; protect Daniel in the lion’s den; feed Israel manna in the wilderness for forty years; part the Red Sea ; raise Jesus from the dead; and countless other things too numerous to mention; I think He is able to take care of you!

He is able. God will never fail. He is eternally able to perfectly care for His children!

He’s Aware, He's Able, and He's Available –


God’s awareness of our needs and His power to help us is a wonderful thing; but if He is a God who is far removed from His children, then His power does us no good! He must be available.

Before Moses died God gave him some instructions to give to Joshua in preparation of their entrance into the Promised Land, into Canaan, He told Moses to tell Joshua.

Deuteronomy 31:6 NKJV Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you”


Then He told Joshua directly


Joshua 1:7-9 NIV “Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

Here's what David said about God’s availability;

Psalm 139:7-12 NIV Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,” even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.

Then Jesus told His disciples;

Matthew 28:19-20 NKJV Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.

God is always available to His children. He is as close to us as a simple prayer of faith!

There are times when we are not as available as we should be. Sometimes we are busy. Sometimes one problem or the other gets in the way. But, that's not true with God! He is always near and He is always available.

A DISCUSSION OF OUR ROLE



While we can count on God doing His part perfectly; there are times when we, as children, fall short on our end. We have a role too.

We Must Have Faith


Luke 12:29 NKJV “And do not seek what you should eat or what you should drink, nor have an anxious mind.

Jesus said that we shouldn't have an anxious mind. This phrase means “to be agitated or harassed with cares.” It is a term that was used to describe a ship that was being tossed about upon a stormy sea. Here, it is used a metaphor for worry. Jesus is saying, “Child of God, do not allow your mind to be tossed up and down by the waves of worry, doubt and fear.”

Back to verse 32 again.

Luke 12:32 NKJV “Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.

We are told to “fear not.” That phrase means “to be seized with fear.” In Greek the phrase”fear not” is in the “middle voice.” That may not mean much to you but it means that it could be read this way, “Do not allow yourself to be seized with fear.”

Jesus is challenging us to learn to trust God; regardless of what circumstances may look like. There are times when it may appear that there is no solution; never count God out! Learn to look to Him and to trust in His power in every circumstance.

Psalm 62:8 NIV Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.

Psalm 46:1-3 NIV God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.

Always remember that we serve a God Who is Sovereign. That is, He is in absolute control, even when things look impossible, they are not impossible, if God is in control of them! Trust in the Lord and He will never allow you to be put to shame.

Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

Romans 10:11 NKJV For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.”

We Must Alao Be Faithful –

Luke 12:31 NKJV But seek the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added to you.

If we want to experience the awesome power of God in our lives we must be faithful in seeking Him daily. The word “seek” means “to crave something.” We are to crave, or desire the things of God above of all other things in our lives. When we put Him first; God will put us first! However, when our desires are misplaced; we miss out on the Lord’s best for our lives. When He is first, you never have to worry about the rest.

God remains faithful even when we fail Him and ignore Him, He is always our Father but, we miss out His best when we fail to put Him first. If God, His Word, or time with Him, are not the priorities of your life you need to change your priorities. When you put Him first on your priority list, He’ll keep you at the very top of His.

God truly is the most wonderful Father of all! The fact that He would love the unworthy, save them by His grace and adopt them into His family proves this. Add to this the fact that He looks out for His children and takes care of them in spectacular fashion. I am glad that He is my Father today on Father's Day.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Praise God With Service - God Has Given You Gifts...Use Them!





This is the manuscript of a sermon preached on May 20,  2018 at Church of Divine Guidance Los Angeles, CA.  It was my annual sermon on the Gifts of The Holy Spirit (Spiritual Gifts).  The emphasis in this sermon are the Motivational Gifts, Prophecy, Teaching, Giving, Exhortation/Encouragement,  Administration/Leadership, Mercy and Ministering/Serving/Helps.

Pastor Clayton has said that we should revisit the gifts of the Holy Spirit at least once each year.  He wants to do this to remind us that as members of the Body of Christ and especially those of us at the Church of Divine Guidance that we are to use those gifts to encourage and to edify each other so that we are ready and equipped to do what Jesus commanded His disciples, to do.  It was last thing that is recorded in the book of Matthew. 

Matthew 28:18-20 NIV Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

When we first hear, learn, and talk about something new, something we didn't know much about or at all, we get excited about it.  Over time however we can lose that enthusiasm, and forget some of the details, so it’s good to review things.  In 2 Peter 1:12 he wrote;

 2 Peter 1:12 (NKJV) For this reason I will not be negligent to remind you always of these things, though you know and are established in the present truth.

In other words it’s my intention to always remind you, even when you already know.

The Holy Spirit has us do this so that you understand the gifts and how God wants you to use them. Pastor has a sermon each year about understanding and he talks about understanding all the time because it’s one thing to hear or read something but it's quite another to understand what you heard, read, or saw. If you didn't understand it's important to ask questions or study until you do understand because it doesn't do you are anybody else any good if you don't understand how to use what you heard, read, or saw.

It is also very significant that the Holy Spirit chose today as the Sunday for this teaching because this is Pentecost Sunday. 

Pentecost Sunday marks the day most Christians believe the Holy Spirit descended on the followers of Jesus after his death, resurrection and ascension.

Acts 2:1-4 NIV When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.

The Apostle Peter stood up and preached his first sermon that day so many Christians think of this day as the “birthday” of the church.  Some believe the first Pentecost gave all followers of Jesus “the gifts of the Spirit”.  Pentecost is the Church’s celebration of the Gift of the Holy Spirit. God’s Holy Spirit empowers us with the love of God, the motivation to obey Him and a sound mind to discern the truth



So today this Pentecost Sunday, I’m going to remind you of how important it is for you to use the gifts that the Holy Spirit has given you.  I’m going to remind you of all of them but only emphasize a few of them. 

Let's first go to

Romans 12:6-8 (NKJV)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.

1 Corinthians 12:7-11 (NKJV)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.

Ephesians 4:11-13 (NKJV)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;


1 Peter 4:10-11 (NKJV)10  As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.11  If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.

Here’s the full list:
Spiritual Gifts
         Apostle
         Prophet
         Evangelist
         Pastor
         Teacher
         Prophecy
         Speaking in Tongues
         Interpretation of Tongues
         Faith
         Healing
         Miracles
         Word of Wisdom
         Word of Knowledge
         Discerning of Spirits
         Teaching
         Giving
         Exhortation/Encouragement
         Administration/Leadership
         Mercy
         Serving/Helps

Most Bible scholars classify spiritual 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.   Apostle, Prophet, Evangelist, Pastor, Teacher
The manifestation gifts serve to reveal the power of God. These gifts are supernatural in nature.  Prophecy, Speaking in Tongues, Interpretation of Tongues, Faith, Healing, Miracles, Word of Wisdom, Word of Knowledge, Discerning of Spirits.
The motivational gifts serve to reveal the personality of God. They are; Prophecy, Teaching, Giving, Exhortation/Encouragement, Administration/Leadership, Mercy, and Ministering/Serving/Helps.
The Holy Spirit made it clear pretty quickly which ones I was to emphasize today.  The ones I’m going to talk about today are those that are described as the Motivational Gifts.  These are the gifts that show the personality of God.

First some general background and most of you will remember this.

Each Christian has been given at least one spiritual gift. This gift or gifts gives you a supernatural ability to make a significant contribution to other believers.  If you use your gift in love, the church will accomplish what God intends for it to do, and that is to show the world His plan of salvation for all people regardless of race, position, status, poverty, or wealth. 

Now the gifts differ, but have these things in common.

(1) Each is a manifestation of the Holy Spirit's presence.

(2) Each is "for the common good," not just the person with the gift and,

(3) It is the Holy Spirit decision period. 

We also have to talk, quickly, about the difference between a spiritual gift and a talent.   We often confuse talents with spiritual gifts.  They are both God given and can both be used to bless others and the church but, they are different.

 A talent is the result of genetics and/or training, while a spiritual gift is the result of the power of the Holy Spirit.

A talent can be possessed by anyone, Christian or non-Christian, while spiritual gifts are only possessed by Christians.
If you work hard and train you can improve your talents.  While you can better use your spiritual gifts there is nothing you can do to improve it.  If you have the spiritual gift of teaching you can improve your presentation but unlike the talent for teaching which only imparts knowledge, the spiritual gift can result in deliverance or salvation. 

I want to repeat that Spiritual Gifts are for the common good to build up the Body of Christ.   Because God loves and blesses us these gifts can help us in our secular lives but they are specifically given to edify the Body.


I have the spiritual gift of teaching so I can be effective in leading a seminar or training class anywhere, in addition to using it to lead Bible Study in the Church.

The ministry and manifestation gifts are the exciting gifts.  The ones that we all wish that we had and sometimes think we have but don’t.  They are the gifts that cause people to gasp when they see them in operation. 
People with ministry gifts and the offices of Apostle, Prophet, Evangelist, Pastor, or Teacher are able to keep us spellbound by their knowledge of the Word and their ability to explain it and get us excited. 
The manifestation gifts are the ones that we really want because they visibly exhibit the supernatural; speaking in tongues, interpreting tongues, healing the sick, miracles, word of wisdom, word of knowledge, and discerning spirits.  These gifts have the WOW factor.  Things that people go home and talk about.
Well I want to talk about gifts that, in my opinion, are the ones that are most needed by the church and those are the motivational gifts. That’s not to minimize any gift.  No one gift is more important than another and they are all needed because we are all one body.  
 1 Corinthians 12:12 NIV Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ.

The motivational gifts are the ones most needed by those of us sitting in the pews every Sunday and they are the gifts that many of you probably have and are not using.  I talked about these gifts last year but I’m not sure that everybody got it so I’m gonna talk about the motivational gifts again today.

 Motivational Gifts

Again the motivational gifts serve to reveal the personality of God, and we know God is love.
1 John 4:7 (NLT2)7 Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God.
These gifts are Prophecy, Teaching, Giving, Exhortation/Encouragement,  Administration/Leadership, Mercy and Ministering/Serving/Helps.
These are the gifts that shape our personalities.
This is probably the category of gifts that Peter was referring to when he said
1 Peter 4:10 (NKJV) As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.
Let’s take a look at these motivational gifts.

PROPHECY

I am talking about the gift of prophecy not the spiritual office of a Prophet.

Prophecy is speaking the word of God that he gives for edification it is not fortune telling. It’s the divine enablement to proclaim God's truth with power and clarity in a timely and culturally sensitive fashion for correction, repentance, or edification.

Those with this gift are sensitive to both the prompting of the Holy Spirit and the needs of the church body.  They should be humble and continually study the Scriptures in order to test these revelations before speaking them.  When they do speak, they should allow and even expect others to weigh what is said against the Scriptures and interpret the message accordingly


Characteristics: The focus is on correcting behavior and applying biblical truth to culturally sensitive issues. These people identify and try to correct deception and sin. They often seem blunt and opinionated. Generally they can cause one to be uncomfortable. The results of this gift cause strengthening, correction, encouragement, and ultimately comfort.

Where can a person with the gift of prophecy work in the church?


         Lead in prayer
         Sermon
         Teaching
         Teaching Leader
          Vision Setting team
         Outreach
         Devotion Leader

A word of caution to those with this gift.  These people can lack compassion and may not keep love, unity, and the building up of others as their goal. This can lead to discouragement and disharmony. That’s why it's important that God also gave some the gift of another motivational gift mercy. 


MERCY

The divine enablement to minister cheerfully and appropriately to people who are suffering.  Mercy is what we express when we are led by God to be compassionate in our attitudes, words, and actions. It is more than feeling sympathy toward someone. The desire of someone with this is to answer the immediate needs of others and alleviate suffering, loneliness, and grief. Mercy addresses physical, emotional, financial, or spiritual crises with generous, self-sacrificial service.

People with this gift aren't just sympathetic, but they take action to alleviate the suffering.  They often find themselves focused around social issues and they develop ministries along those lines (i.e. the homeless, sick, those in prison, single mothers, the poor, etc.). They reflect the heart and compassion of God.  A person with the gift of mercy helps to balance the prophet.

A word of caution to these people.  Some pain and suffering is allowed and used by God as a tool to teach and correct behavior. The person with the gift of mercy needs to be aware of when God does not want the pain immediately removed, and when rescuing someone actually may perpetuate the problems in that person's life.

The Good Samaritan is an example of someone with the spiritual gift of mercy and we all know that story.

Jesus is an obvious example of someone with the gift of mercy.

In what is called the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew chapters 5-7

 Matthew 5:7 (NKJV) Blessed are the merciful, For they shall obtain mercy.

Where can a person with the gift of mercy work in the church?

     Hospital/Shut-In visitation;
     Nursery worker;
     Homeless ministry;
     Food pantry worker;

There is another caution about prophecy that I need to mention.

There is New Testament evidence which indicates that future foretelling may accompany this gift, but we need to exercise caution to be certain that the prophecy is from God and not use of the tactics of fortune tellers (like Miss Cleo), which is an abomination, used to dupe people and give them false hope or fear.

1 John 4:1-3 (NKJV)1  Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.2  By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God,3  and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world.


One way is to test what you heard is by confirming it with scripture.  If you can't do that then find someone with the spiritual gift of the discernment which is the divine ability to sense the presence of spiritual forces and distinguish between truth and error.

I can't talk about it today but these people have a keen sense of what is right and what is wrong "spiritually speaking". They are able to distinguish truth from error.  

The next motivational gift is

             

TEACHING

The divine enablement to understand, clearly explain, and apply the Word of God to the lives of listeners.   To instruct others in the Bible in a logical, systematic way so as to communicate pertinent information for true understanding and growth

 

The Teacher explains what the Prophet proclaims.

 

The teacher is a good communicator. This person has a thirst for knowledge and loves to learn. They are generally self-disciplined and usually prefer to teach groups, more than one on one. Gifted teachers do not just teach Bible knowledge and doctrine, but when they explain God's truth, people can be and are set free of sin, natural limitations, depression, fear, and anxiety. 

 

A naturally gifted or talented teacher may be able to explain to people why they sin and what the Bible has to say about the sin, but a teacher who is spiritually gifted releases the Holy Spirit's power through the gift to set the other person free.

 

A caution to the person with this gift is that they may struggle to keep things simple. They can be too profound, theological, and even esoteric. This can result in a sense of superiority and the teacher can becomes unteachable. They can also get frustrated when others don't get it and can't keep up the pace for knowledge and insight. Teachers are often good communicators and lousy listeners.

 

2 Timothy 2:1-2 (NKJV)1  You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.2  And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.


Where can this person serve?

         Bible study group
         Discipleship (esp. small group)
         New-converts or new-members class teacher
         Training
         Adult Teaching Leader
         Small Group Leader
         Youth/Children’s Teacher
         Education Committee

GIVING

The divine enablement and ability to contribute money and material resources to the work of the Lord with cheerfulness and liberality.  Givers take special delight in discovering needs that others overlook and then meeting those needs.

Having a lot of resources is not necessarily evidence of this gift. These people give generously, freely, and joyfully. They don't just give money, but they are free with all of their possessions. They are not always the "rich" among us but they are often given the talent for making money and increasing wealth even though they have no interest in possessions. They give above and beyond their normal tithe in order to support Christ's Church. They see themselves as caretakers and stewards of their resources and they usually prefer anonymity when they give.

A word of caution to these people.   They can think that giving should give them respect and a place of leadership in the church. They can make the error of replacing serving with giving. Another caution is that those with this gift can see themselves as the ultimate authority, deciding through their giving which ministries are worthy to fund and which will die of financial neglect, rather than leave those decisions to the Holy Spirit through God's appointed leaders, pastors, and ministers.

The early believers are examples.

Acts 4:34-35 (NKJV)34  Nor was there anyone among them who lacked; for all who were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the proceeds of the things that were sold,35  and laid them at the apostles' feet; and they distributed to each as anyone had need.

How can this gift be used?

         Financial assistance
         Transportation to services/doctors/store
         Support Missionaries
         Fund Raising
       Board

 

EXHORTATION/ENCOURAGEMENT

 

The divine enablement to reassure, strengthen and affirm those around you.  The gift of exhortation is often called the “gift of encouragement.”   The goal of the encourager is to see everyone in the church continually building up the body of Christ and glorifying God.

 

This person is an exhorter which means to urge by strong, often stirring argument, admonition, advice, or appeal.  The Greek words for exhorter come from the same root word as paraclete, which is the word used to describe the Holy Spirit. The encourager regularly helps others to apply God's word to their lives in a productive fashion. They are expressive about God's will being attainable and their goal is to motivate, comfort, and challenge.

 

But they need to make sure that they don't become a "yes man or woman" and they may not be good at confrontation when it is needed. Their optimism may not take into account when some issues need the "prophet's challenge" in order to be corrected.

 

Barnabas is an example of someone with this gift.

 

Acts 4:36-37 (NKJV)36  And Joses, who was also named Barnabas by the apostles (which is translated Son of Encouragement), a Levite of the country of Cyprus,37  having land, sold it, and brought the money and laid it at the apostles' feet. 


2 Timothy 4:2 (NKJV)2  Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.

 

         Children’s Ministry
         Visitation to sick or shut-in
         Counseling
         Greeter
         Prayer ministry
         Music ministry

ADMINISTRATION/LEADERSHIP

The divine enablement to understand what makes an organization function, and the special ability to plan, execute, and achieve procedures that increase the church's organizational effectiveness. The divine enablement to attract, lead, and motivate people to accomplish the work of ministry. 

The administrator loves to organize, strategize, and systematize things so as to make them run more smoothly, efficiently, and effectively. They are experts at knowing how something works or functions. They are constant improvers of the system and can tell others how to get something done or get from point A to point B. They are great trouble shooters and anticipators of problems.  The good ones are team players and delegators who take the initiative when others do not make decisions. They are natural leaders who can point out the direction and course that others will follow. They dream big. Credibility and respect need to be built up before an individual can truly exercise this gift.

They can become so focused on the tasks, charts, and graphs that they lose sight of the people. They may be too "black and white" in their approach to issues and problems. They can tend to lack flexibility and depend on systems and strategies more than the Holy Spirit to get things done. They have the potential of losing sight of the individual and only seeing the "mass" or "the crowd".  This gift needs to be supportive of apostles, prophets, and teachers.

They can have the potential of becoming overconfident and perhaps demeaning of other gifts. Good leaders must surround themselves with people who have the gift of helps

Scripture Example

     Planning teams;
     Ministry Coordinator;
     Organizer of special events;
     Chairperson
     Small Group Leader;
     Board/Committee Chairperson;
     Teaching Leader;
     Youth/Children’s Leader

HELPS/SERVICE

The divine enablement to attach spiritual value to the accomplishment of physical tasks within the Body of Christ. The special anointing by which one stands alongside and serves, in a very personal way, those leading the Church. The helper knows personally how to serve their needs and can sometime speak with authority on behalf their behalf.  The Holy Spirit endows some believers with this gift to fill the many gaps of ministry and meet the needs of the church as it fulfills the Great Commission.  The goal is to energize the church and free up others to use their gifts to the fullest. 

These people are absolutely essential to the life of the church. They are the ones who flow to the obvious needs automatically. They don't need a lot recognition, just appreciation. They are the ultimate team players of Christ's church. They focus more on the impact of people and not on the finished physical product.

They can devalue their contribution to the Lord's work, and they may not see their abilities as being a spiritual gift, given by the Holy Spirit. They too, can get frustrated doing their ministry and they may fall into the trap of saying "I just let My light shine for Jesus", when we are all called to speak up as His witnesses and ministers at some point and time.


Scripture Example:

Acts 6:1-7 (NKJV)1  Now in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplying, there arose a complaint against the Hebrews by the Hellenists, because their widows were neglected in the daily distribution.2  Then the twelve summoned the multitude of the disciples and said, "It is not desirable that we should leave the word of God and serve tables.3  Therefore, brethren, seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business;4  but we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word."5  And the saying pleased the whole multitude. And they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit, and Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas, a proselyte from Antioch,6  whom they set before the apostles; and when they had prayed, they laid hands on them.7  Then the word of God spread, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were obedient to the faith.


1 Corinthians 16:16-18 (NKJV)16  that you also submit to such, and to everyone who works and labors with us.17  I am glad about the coming of Stephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaicus, for what was lacking on your part they supplied.18  For they refreshed my spirit and yours. Therefore acknowledge such men.

     Building maintenance
     Decorating
     Office helper;
     Telephoning;
     Teacher’s aid;
     Usher;
     Cleanup
     Projects;
     Information Center Host

HOSPITALITY

This gift is not mentioned in any of Paul’s lists.  Peter mentions it in 1 Peter 4:9

1 Peter 4:9 NIV Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.

Many theologians include it as a spiritual gift so I am including it. 

The spiritual gift of hospitality is the divine enablement to share with others our home, our lives, our personal space and resources without any expectation of return.

Characteristics: These folks desire to make others feel comfortable, important, and accepted.  They tend to gravitate to those who stand alone. They are generally friendly, warm, caring individuals who regularly have a "come-on-in-and-relax" attitude. They generally make time to be available and are not just into entertaining, but rather, showing genuine care and concern for others. The gift of hospitality differs from that of mercy in that this gift opens up the home and provides warmth and comfort by bringing others in. Whereas, mercy takes care and concern outside to others.

These people may not see their gift as "real" or "spiritual". This gift can also provide stress in family relationships where the gift is not shared or understood by other family members. Ground rules need to be established with the exercise of the gift.

Scripture Example

Hebrews 13:1-2 (NKJV)1  Let brotherly love continue.2  Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels.

Romans 16:23 (NKJV)  Gaius, my host and the host of the whole church, greets you. Erastus, the treasurer of the city, greets you, and Quartus, a brother.

How can you use this gift?

     Small Group Host;
     Banquet Server;
     New Member Sponsor;
     Fellowship events;
     Coffee hour host;
     Greeter;

Identify Your Spiritual Gift(s)

If you don't know your spiritual gift I encourage you to identify it's needed in the church.  There is a link to a Spiritual Gifts Inventory on the Spiritual Gifts page that will help you identify your gift(s).  If you are sitting on your gift then our congregation is missing it like the body missing a finger.  It can’t function at the optimal level without that finger as small and insignificant as you might think it is it still keeps the body from functioning as God would have it.  

LIFE GIFTS

These are the motivational gifts but it doesn’t stop there.  Remember that I said something earlier about talents and the other special abilities that we have through our genetics, or resources that God has blessed us with. 

Let's call these Life Gifts

In order to really perform the purpose that God has for you the place that you play in God’s plan there are three promises that you must claim. 

1. In addition to your spiritual gift which only you can give there are some other things that you have in your possession you have —a resource, a talent, an asset, a gift—ready to be given. You are blessed. You can be a blessing.

2. Someone has a need only you can meet. There is a problem, an issue, a hurt, a wound somewhere in the world that only you can heal, no matter how inadequate you may feel.

3. Joy is the journey where the gift and the need collide. Your inner satisfaction, your ultimate fulfillment, your life purpose, your true happiness will never be fully unlocked until your unique gift and the world’s unique need come together.

Your Life Gift might be a skill you have developed or expert knowledge you have gained. The gifts God uses are more than just financial or material resources.  It might be time that is on your hands. It could be the gift of your smile or a few encouraging words. It might simply be the gift of your presence.

What your gift is doesn’t matter so much as having that spirit that says, like Peter in

Acts 3:6 (NLT2)6  But Peter said, “I don’t have any silver or gold for you. But I’ll give you what I have. In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, get up and walk!”

You may not have the spiritual gift of healing but you have something, if it’s just a smile, a word of encouragement, a few minutes to pray with them.  You have something.

 So how can you discover your Life Gift? How do you find the little bit of extra that you have to share?

A good place to start is to take inventory. As the song says, “Count your blessings, name them one by one; count your many blessings, see what God has done!”

Like the desperate widow, in 2 Kings chapter 4 who only had a jar of oil but with starting with that one jar was able to get enough oil to sell and pay off all her creditors, take a take a look around you. 

Can you share a meal with someone? How about a conversation over a cup of coffee or tea.  How about some of those clothes or shoes you never wear because you've gained or lost weight you bought them and have only worn them once or maybe never.  If you have or had children how about those toys they got disinterested in but are still almost new.  Could God be calling you to babe a foster parent or even adopting a child. How about those extra blankets or coats or socks. How about being a mentor for a young boy or girl. How about volunteering somewhere other than church.

You might not see what your Life Gift is right away and that’s okay. Just keep your eyes open. When you approach the world with a readiness to hear from God—an openness to the voice of the Holy Spirit—eventually God will speak to you.

Your life can be transformed from ordinary to an extraordinary adventure.

Spiritual and life gifts without love don’t accomplish God's intended purpose

When Paul wrote to the Corinthian church in 1 Corinthians he was writing to a church where all the spiritual gifts were in operation. God had given them for the edification of the body and each of them, but they were misusing them, they were abusing each other, they thought one gift was superior to another, they were puffed up with knowledge, so what did he say?

1 Corinthians 12:29- 13:3 (NKJV)29  Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles?30  Do all have gifts of healings? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret?31  But earnestly desire the best gifts. And yet I show you a more excellent way. 1  Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal.2  And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.3  And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.

Let me close with this:

A believer is accountable only to say yes to God's call. The Lord is the one that equips for the work He's assigned. A personal plan has been mapped for each believer's life, and God provides the personality and temperament to accomplish that plan. Then He adds talents and skills that can be developed and the spiritual gifts necessary to fulfill His mission.

Don’t think of your calling only in terms of “spiritual” gifts. We sometimes limit our thinking by putting clear lines between what is spiritual and what isn’t. We tend to think of our God-given gifts only as those things that might contribute to a church worship service, such as preaching, singing, Children’s Church, or greeting visitors when they come into the church, but if that’s the beginning and end of where we think God can use us, we’re missing the point.

What we do together on Sunday mornings as we encounter God’s presence in worship is meant to equip us to carry that presence out into the world all week long. Your Life Gift is just as likely to include sitting in the cancer ward as singing in the choir; just as likely to happen in the local middle school as in a Sunday school. If you can neatly package up your gift in an hour or two a week, I can safely say that’s not your calling.

God makes His call with wisdom and discernment. He knows why He created you and what you're capable of accomplishing in His strength.

Ephesians 2:10 (NKJV)10  For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

Rejecting the invitation to serve Him is foolish. It would be like telling almighty God that He made a mistake. But surrender opens the door to a lifetime of service, blessing, and joy!


Earlier I mentioned God’s plan for salvation.  Here it is;

God’s plan of salvation is that you first acknowledge that we all sin,

Romans 5:12 (NLT2)  When Adam sinned, sin entered the world. Adam’s sin brought death, so death spread to everyone, for everyone sinned.

Second that you acknowledge that the penalty for sin is death,

Romans 6:23a (NLT2)23  For the wages of sin is death,

Third that you acknowledge that Jesus paid the penalty for your sin,

Romans 6:23b (NLT2) but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 5:8 (NLT2)8  But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.

After acknowledging those things do this;

Romans 10:9-10 (NLT2)9  If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.10  For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved.

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