Sermons

Summary: How does God decide who gets what gift?

Do not quench the Spirit. 1 Thessalonians 5:19 (NRSVA)

What pictures enter your mind when the phrase “spiritual gifts” is spoken? For some it is the picture of a wild crowd that has been whipped into a frenzy of emotional outbursts…running the aisles…speaking in tongues…attempts to heal the sick and raise the dead. That is a caricature Hollywood might portray in a movie or TV show; it is NOT the genuine article.

God does indeed have gifts to give us, gifts that are intended to be the Kingdom tools to do the work of the Kingdom. Some folks see the gifts as spiritual “merit badges". According to 1 Co 12 that is spiritual pride.

Rather, the gifts are abilities given by God and developed in each of us to be used for the unifying and edifying of the body of Christ, and for its’ nurturing. My mother is a good example. She had the gift of discernment when it came to me fibbing. It was necessary to teach a small boy that life would be difficult for a liar. Her gift of being discerning helped edify and nurture. Sometimes that nurture was applied to the seat of my pants!

Now, the spiritual gifts are for the church today. In fact the gifts of the Spirit are absolutely essential for the function of a New Testament church. And they are given by the Spirit of God to whom God chooses. How does God decide who gets what gift?

Essential Conditions

....that must exist for genuine gifts of God’s Spirit in your life.

The essential conditions are two-fold. There must, first of all, be a DEDICATION OF LIFE. Understandably that means salvation. A person must have spiritual life before operating in the spiritual realm. Otherwise it is like having an appliance that operates on a 220 volt power source, and only having 110 volt service; or trying to get apple trees to yield potatoes.

Paul says in Romans 12:1 that we must present our bodies as a living sacrifice. That means coming to Christ in faith to receive forgiveness for sin...to be saved!

But, beyond an initial dedicating of your life to Jesus in the moment of salvation, there must be a continual rededication, or a nurturing of our salvation. Paul the apostle testified that he "died daily". That means each day he consciously made the decision to serve Christ, putting his own natural will on the back burner. And it also means that he involved himself in the things of Christ DAILY. Paul could be found in daily fellowship with other believers, and in prayer, and learning God’s will as he searched God’s Word. We are dedicated to whatever we do consistently.

There was a twelve-year-old girl that dropped-in on Albert Einstein every day on her way home from school. Her parents liked having her around such a good influence, but they were curious. One day the mother asked Professor Einstein, "What do you two do every day?" He laughed and said, "Oh, she brings me cookies, and I do her arithmetic for her."

Beyond the dedication of life, an essential condition for the operation of spiritual gifts is a DEPENDENT LIFE. A person might have a sincere interest in serving God; however, it is the believer who is dependent on Him that will receive in the area of spiritual gifts. Paul described it as walking in the spirit to prevent fulfilling the desires of the flesh.

An essential condition of operational spiritual gifts in your life is a relationship based on faith. Briefly put, that means you DEPEND on God to supply you with whatever you need to do whatever God wants you to do. The principle is thus: God’s work, done in God’s way, will never lack God’s provision. Point is...we must trust that God has gifted us, and WILL gift us for His work AS HE SEES FIT! Faith is the essential condition.

How can we know we’re operating in faith to receive and use spiritual gifts? Look at the:

Evident Changes

All believers are given gifts! First of all there is the gift of eternal life to all who believe. We are saved from sin, sealed unto the day of redemption by God’s Spirit, and we are indwelt by that same Spirit of God for the power of daily living. That happens the very same moment we receive Christ as Savior.

But there is also a process of maturing that effects changes in our lives. Our charismatic brethren call it the "spirit-filled" life. I refer to it as the "spirit-led" life. What are some of the evidences of this life controlled, directed by God’s Spirit?

1. Christ-like Character Galatians 5:22, 23 lists the fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, gentleness, etc...). Many people who give their lives to Jesus think, "Oh, now I’m a Christian, I have to BE loving, filled with joy and peace." This is a common misconception; we do not conjure-up joy, peace and gentleness to live like a Christian. When we die daily to self, putting Christ and His kingdom first, HE places those qualities in our character, and it becomes natural to love others.

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