Summary: Every day offers an opportunity to serve and to make a difference for God when I move my spiritual gifts from stress to strengths.

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Move Spiritual Gifts from Stress to Strengths

1 Peter 4:10-11 (New International Version)

10Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms. 11If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.

INTRODUCTION: Feeling God’s pleasure.

In the movie Chariots of Fire runner Eric Liddell knows he has been called to be a missionary to China, and his sister Jenny confronts him about his love for running instead of already going to China to serve. Eric Liddel responds, "I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast, and when I run, I feel God’s pleasure." Even something like running can be done to God’s pleasure if we are using our God-given abilities for His glory.

The God who knows our frailty, who allowed his own bones to be broken and his blood bled is the God who gave us the ability to run and the ability to serve and the ability to feel His pleasure. As Eric Liddle said, "When I run I feel God’s pleasure." So where do you fill in the blank, “When I ___________, I feel God’s pleasure.”? For many it is "When I serve, I feel God’s pleasure.” Or, “When I do what God shaped me to do, I feel God’s pleasure."

The key for Eric Liddle to say, “When I run I feel God’s pleasure” was his next statement, “I run for Him.” Yet many people don’t feel that pleasure or haven’t experienced that exhilaration that comes in finding the strength God desires for their lives. Life for them is more filled with stress than pleasure.

Sometimes it’s an issue of holding your gifts from God in contempt. He gave the gift, and not only has the thank you note not been sent, you haven’t even opened the gift and put it to use.

Sometimes the stress comes from using God’s spiritual gifts for the wrong reason, thinking what can I get out of this instead of what does God want me to bring to this circumstance can cause such stress. Sometimes the stress is overwhelming because we know our gifts, we are putting them to use, but it feels more like running on empty than running to feel God’s pleasure. Today let’s look at 3 moves to Move Spiritual Gifts from Stress to Strengths.

MOVE 1. Use the gift(s) God has given you to serve others. Remember this great bit of theological insight from childhood. “Here’s the church. Here is the steeple. Open the doors, and see all the people.” And how great it is to see God’s people gathered in worship.

But the version I learned had a second verse, “Here’s the church. Here’s the steeple. Open the doors, and where are all the people.” Hopefully, out serving God.

As you walk to your car at VONS today and exit out first level parking you will notice a sign that says, “Entering the mission field.” The church as the family of God and the Body of Christ is meant to gather together in worship and to scatter as we enter the mission field.

Peter reminds us in 1 Peter 4:10, “God has given gifts to each of you from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Manage them well so that God’s generosity can flow through you.” -- (New Living Translation)

I have discovered a great difference in serving the area of my giftedness and serving outside of my gifts that occasionally I have to do. Serving in your area of giftedness feels like being in the zone in sports. When I am there, I have found my divine sweet spot, and using such gifts is sweet.

I have also served others outside of my gifts, and then I am working on my sour spot, and using such gifts is sour. Back in February, we had the Concordia Irvine Bell Choir here, and I was not in the zone. First, I helped out as an usher with the offering. I have occasionally done that before but only with 2 plates per side. That night we started with 4 on my side. We started with 4 but somehow I lost 2 of them. This is not good for an usher to lose 2 offering plates. Fortunately, someone gave them back.

If that wasn’t sour enough, I was volunteered for a first time bell ringers choir. I thought all bells sound good when you ring them, I discovered this is not necessarily true. I missed my cue, went home with a sore arm, and realized the bell I play best is the doorbell on my front door.

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