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Summary: This is the second message in our Living Beyond Myself series. It looks at how we use our spiritual gifts, how we discover them, and what barriers we often face...

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This week we continue our message series called living beyond ourselves... Last week we talked about how we need to break our cycle of selfishness and self-centeredness, so that God can begin to use us to our full potential. This week I want to narrow it in a little - How does God use you? Some of you may in fact be asking the question, how can God use me?

First, lets look at this text... Read Ephesians 4:11-13.

In this passage, we see several things... We see that God assigns certain tasks, and gives certain gifts to the church. Why? So that, the body of Christ can do the work its called to do... In fact its really interesting in this text that the teaching/leading gifts are mentioned, but they are not mentioned to accomplish the task - they are just instruments to equip... Let’s be honest for a second, okay? Most of us look at this verse of scripture backwards. With the advent of paid ministers, most of us look at the staff or the pastor as the ones that are supposed to “do the work” - right? You pay me to accomplish God’s work here...

But that’s not what this passage says. This passage says that God sends pastors and teachers to equip you to do the work! Now, I have a role... My role is to lead, and shepherd, and serve, and teach - ultimately perhaps my greatest role is to teach you to be all that God has called you to be!

Let’s use a football illustration for a second - The longhorns, arguably, have one of the best teams in college football each year. You could say, well they get all the best prospects. ...they do have incredible prospects. There are a lot of reasons why they are successful each year, but one of the reasons is coach Mack Brown. In fact, in the off season this year, Mack hired another young coach to assist - Major Applewhite. Now I listen to a lot of talk radio, and one of the sports guys was asking the question, “Why bring Major back? Why have him coach the running backs?” And that could be looked at with skepticism... But here is what a coach like Mack knows - Major Applewhite knows how to win - it doesn’t matter what he coaches, he’ll inspire his players to succeed to the best of their ability... That’s what I see my job as being - God called me here to Crestview Baptist Church - to love you, and serve you, and lead you ...because all of us need people in our lives to prod us and poke us and challenge us...

So how do you recognize your spiritual gifts? How do you know what you are called to do? Begin to serve... Find a ministry, find a role, find a place to begin to serve and give it your all. That’s the easiest and best way... There are all kinds of tests, or aptitude charts to help you know what your gifts are, but if you serve, chances are your gifts will rise to the surface - because thats how God made you...

“he has given each one of us a special gift, through the generosity of Christ.” (Ephesians 4:7)

“It is the one and only Spirit who distributes all these gifts. He alone decides which gift each person should have.” (1 Cor. 12:11)

There is no doubt that God has gifted you - the real question is “will you use your gift” and “where”?

Rick Warren, in his book The Purpose Driven Life, talks about the fact that God has made us for a purpose. He made us to accomplish his work here on Earth, but until we understand how God made us - until we understand our shape, we will not succeed. He uses the word SHAPE as an acrostic.

The “S” speaks to your spiritual gifts. God has made you a certain way and gifted you - but he also talks about the fact that your spiritual gifts are part of your total person. For instance the “H” stands for heart. God doesn’t want you to serve where there is no passion. You naturally gravitate to certain things, because you care about certain things... Once you find out where you are passionate, then you can begin to focus your effort. The “A” in shape stands for ability. If God has gifted you to do something he will make you able to do it too - but maybe if you are not able, maybe that should tell you something... In one of my first churches, there was a woman who believed that it was her calling in life to sing. She would sing an chance she got. Nursing homes, worship services, prayer breakfasts... She wanted to sing! There was only one problem - she couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket!

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