“God has a Plan”
Opening Illustration: God has a plan from Blue fish Tv.com
In our society today many think that God does not have a plan. Some think God is dead, or distant, or uncaring, or not in control – but the reality check is He always has a plan and His plan is always in motion. The real thought for us today is, “Are we going to jump aboard God’s plan for this church and for our lives?” Are we going to believe that God is in control of our church and the world or not?
11For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14I will be found by you,” declares the LORD…”
Hands on: When people enter the church have the ushers hand them a puzzle piece to hold on to. Later in the sermon reference the importance of the puzzle piece.
Thesis: God has a plan for Christian Hills. Each person who is part of the church is also part of the plan and a piece to the puzzle. Each person in this church has been given at least one gift that they need to be using for the Body of Christ at Christian Hills.
1 Corinthians 12
1Now about spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be ignorant. 2You know that when you were pagans, somehow or other you were influenced and led astray to mute idols. 3Therefore I tell you that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus be cursed,” and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.
4There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. 6There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men.
7Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. 8To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, 9to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, 10to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. 11All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines.
12The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. 13For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.
14Now the body is not made up of one part but of many. 15If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. 16And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. 17If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20As it is, there are many parts, but one body.
21The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, 24while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, 25so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.
27Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. 28And in the church God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, also those having gifts of healing, those able to help others, those with gifts of administration, and those speaking in different kinds of tongues. 29Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? 31But eagerly desire the greater gifts. And now I will show you the most excellent way.
God has a plan a specific plan for this church.
Illustration point: His specific plan involves you – look at your puzzle piece which was handed to you when you came in this morning! Here this word from the Lord, “You are an important piece to the vision and to the mission of Christian Hills.” God’s plan is going to come to pass for this church when all of us put our puzzle pieces into the vision – into the ministry of Christian Hills.
The Lord wants you to take your puzzle piece and place it into this church. The sad fact is if you chose not to place your puzzle piece into the picture of this church then your piece will leave a hole in the picture and the ministry of Christian Hills.
Some of you may think that God doesn’t understand your unique situation. Pastor Mike I cannot become involved, I am too old, too young, to busy and the excuses go on, and on. Some may think, “I could never do that!” Others may think “It’s impossible!” Do you realize who you are talking too – Impossible? Nothing is impossible with God. God is stretching our faith and asking us to risk, to leave our comfort zones! Many need to believe God’s Word and say, “I am an important piece of the puzzle here at Christian Hills and I choose to be involved in Kingdom Growth. I choose to invest my life into eternal things rather than temporal things!”
The reality check is that God requires us to trust Him and to take a risk for Him. We need to abandon our desire to stay safe and allow God to work through us to accomplish His will and His plan.
Today is a moment of truth for us at Christian Hills: “Will you decide to follow the will of God for your life or not?” “Will you follow the plan of God for this church or not?” “Will you choose to use your God given gifts to serve the Kingdom of God or to just serve yourselves?”
Blackaby notes (Experiencing God, Page 157):
In many ways, obedience is your moment of truth. What you do will:
1. Reveal what you believe about God.
a. Do you believe God does what He says He will do!
2. Determine whether you will experience His mighty work in you and through you.
3. Determine whether you will come to know Him more intimately.
4. (I add) Your willingness to obey God will determine whether you have a strong love relationship with Him or not.
Don’t you wish that God would send a famous person to your house to clearly communicate what He desires you to do for Him? It would make knowing God’s will and God’s plan so much easier and clearer – right? Well God sent me to you (I may not be famous) but I am challenging you to step forward with your spiritual gifts! The Lord had His hand in bringing me back to Christian Hills it’s His plan and He has a purpose in doing it. He wants to use you and me to make a difference for the Kingdom of God.
The will of God for our lives is not that hard to discover. I believe many know what God wants them to do but they choose not to do it because of fear, or busyness, or apathy, or even lack of opportunity.
Swindoll states, “The truth is, our problem is not a lack of knowledge but an absence of passion…a reluctance to do what we believe God would have us do “(55).
This is prevalent in many lives today because to follow the will of God will take considerable risk and considerable trust in God.
God tells us in Jeremiah that He had a plan for Israel and I am telling you today God has a plan for this church. God wants Christian Hills to be a New Testament Church – A Healing Church. This means that we follow the pattern of a New Testament Church spelled out for us in the book of Acts and in the rest of the New Testament.
This means we flow in the gifts of the Spirit! You need to understand that God has given you Spiritual gifts!
T.S. - Let’s briefly look at 1 Corinthians 12 and learn about these wonderful assets to the church of Jesus Christ and Paul’s instruction about them to the Corinthians.
I. Know your spiritual gifts and do not ignore them (1 Cor. 12:1-14)!
a. Paul makes it clear to this church that they must know their spiritual gifts and they must put them into use in their everyday life. There are different categories of gifts which are spoken of in God’s Word and we will look at them in a moment.
i. 1 Cor. 21:1: “Now about spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be ignorant.”
1. Did you hear God’s Word “Don’t be ignorant!”
2. Don’t keep your heads in the sand – understand what makes a difference for eternity!
ii. C Peter Wagner in his book ,“Your Spiritual Gifts Can Help Your Church Grow.” States on page 23, “Who needs to know about spiritual gifts? (He states) - You need to know about spiritual gifts if:
1. You are a Christian.
2. You believe that Jesus is your Lord and you want to love Him and follow Him in the best way possible.
3. You want your church to be healthy, attractive, and a growing group of people showing forth God’s love in your community.
iii. I have attained a booklet on Spiritual Gifts – it’s actually a test found in the back of Wagner’s book and I encourage everyone here to take the test and learn what your gifts are today!
1. Show the booklet and explain how to take the test – highlight the definitions.
a. Wagner goes on to say in his book on page 24, “Ignorance of spiritual gifts may be a chief cause of retarded church growth today. It also may be at the root of much of the discouragement, insecurity, frustration and guilt that plagues many Christians and curtails their total effectiveness for God.”
2. You can get this Spiritual Gifts Test at the information booth in the back - but we have only 20 on hand. There is a signup sheet at the information booth if we need to order more so that everyone who wants one can get one.
a. I challenge you to take the test and learn what your spiritual gifts are!
b. We today need to be educated on the spiritual gifts if we want to create a healing New Testament Church at Christian Hills.
i. Romans 12:1, 2 states: “1Dear friends, God is good. So I beg you to offer your bodies to him as a living sacrifice, pure and pleasing. That’s the most sensible way to serve God. 2Don’t be like the people of this world, but let God change the way you think. Then you will know how to do everything that is good and pleasing to him” (CEV).
1. Did you catch the last phrase of this verse “…do everything that is good and pleasing to him.”
ii. I sometimes wonder if we are really serious about serving Jesus in the American church today. I wonder if we are really committed to doing everything that is good and pleasing to our Heavenly Father.
1. I look around at the majority of the churches in America and they want to wash away the spiritual gifts of the Holy Spirit – they want to deny that these wonderful gifts are for today!
2. I do not feel that the churches and Christians of today realize their full potential!
a. Too many walk around -- no limp around -- like wounded saints with no power – no ability to drive back the forces of evil.
i. They live defeated lives because they are not tapping the power of the Holy Spirit through the gifts of the Spirit.
b. The reason for this defeated demeanor is that they left their spiritual gifts lying in the dust of their attics!
i. They have lost their focus – they have lost their divine purpose, and they have walked away from God’s plan for the Church!
iii. When I read my Bible I see a victorious church – a church a flame with the Holy Spirit – His power flowing through His gift’s and they are blazing across the then known world of the Bible spreading the Word of God.
1. Jesus designed the Body of Christ with His own blood and sacrifice.
2. He gave it the tools to do the job of winning this world to Him!
3. He designed the church to flow in the supernatural gifts of the Holy Spirit!
4. Because the New Testament Church in Acts flowed in the gifts the church grew daily!
iv. Wagner asks the question “Who has spiritual gifts?” He answers, “Not everybody has spiritual gifts. Unbelievers do not. But every Christian person who is committed to Jesus and truly a member of His Body has at least one gift, or quite possible more!
1. The reality is “God has given us all gifts – we need to discover them and start using them in the context of the Kingdom of God.”
c. The different categories of gifts:
i. Ministry (office) gifts: Apostle, Prophet, Evangelist, Pastor and Teacher.
ii. Motivational (practical) gifts: Service, Exhortation, Giving, Leadership, Mercy, Helps and Administration.
iii. Charismatic (spiritual) gifts: Wisdom, Knowledge, Discernment, Prophecy, Tongues, Interpretation, Faith, Healing and Miracles.
1. 1 Cor. 12:7 "But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all:
12:8 for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit,
12:9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit,
12:10 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.
12:11 But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills."
2. These charismatic 9 gifts might be well defined as "A temporary, supernatural intervention of natural laws, bestowed by the Holy Spirit where His presence is invited and accommodated."
a. Individually, each charismatic gift is defined as follows:
i. Word of Wisdom -- A Word refers to "a supernaturally imparted fragment," while wisdom, which generally means prudence, decision making.
ii. Word of Knowledge -- A supernaturally inspired utterance of facts.
iii. Faith -- A supernatural impartation of assurance in God.
iv. Gifts of Healings -- Supernaturally ministering health to the sick.
v. Working of Miracles -- A supernatural intervention of natural laws. The Greek describes it as "works of power" and implies instantaneous results.
vi. Prophecy -- A supernaturally inspired utterance from God. A genuine prophetic utterance never contradicts, neither is equal to, the written Word of God. To forthtell or foretell. To speak from the mind of God. Prophecies are to be judged (1 Cor. 14:29, 1 Thes. 5:20-21).
vii. Discerning of Spirits -- This is a supernatural ability to discern a person’s spiritual character and the source of his actions and messages, such as from the Holy Spirit, demon spirits, the human spirit or from the flesh.
viii. Different Kinds of Tongues -- A supernaturally imparted utterance in an unlearned language which is interpreted as a prophecy to the body for their edification. (This is distinguished from "praying" in tongues, which is intended to edify one’s own spirit -- 1 Cor. 14:14.) A message in tongues to the body is always to be interpreted (by another gift), and is limited to three within a gathering (1 Cor. 14:27).
ix. Interpretation of Tongues -- This is the supernatural interpretation of a message in tongues into the understandable language of the hearers. It is not a "translation" but an interpretation.
1. The Application of the 9 Gifts: It should always be remembered that the purpose of all the gifts are to edify the church, and their distribution within the body is completely dependent upon the discretion of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 12:11). The scriptures imply that it’s appropriate to seek specific gifts, however, one’s motive must be for the building up of the church, not for self gratification. "...since you are zealous for spiritual gifts, let it be for the edification of the church that you seek to excel" (1 Cor. 14:12). A service with spiritual gifts function may likely take on a less structured, more spontaneous environment that may seem peculiar to some. But in 1 Corinthians 14, the Apostle Paul established specific guidelines for their use so as to remove the potential for confusion and disorder. Rather than banishing the operation of these gifts entirely as some churches have done in fear of mayhem, they should seek to understand and implement the prescribed order, as the Apostle admonished: "Therefore, brethren, desire earnestly to prophesy, and do not forbid to speak with tongues. Let all things be done decently and in order" (1 Cor. 14:39-40).
a. Sources: Victor Bible Sourcebook
Gifts of the Spirit, Gordon Linsey
Souer’s History of the Christian Church
Deeper Experiences of Famous Christians, Lawson
d. Reference the Gifts Test by Wagner (again): Your gift fits into the churches puzzle to make it complete!
T.S. – Paul describes the gifts to us in this chapter and then reminds us all that no one gift is better than another person’s gift and that we must to put them into motion within the Body of Christ – they must be used.
II. We all need to know that our gifts are essential to the church and we must pick them up and use them for God’s glory (1 Corinthians 12:15-30).
a. When you came in today each of you was handed a puzzle piece.
i. I want you to hold onto this puzzle piece and remember that God has given you a specific gift that needs to be operating here at Christian Hills – that puzzle piece is your reminder of the importance of you to this church and to the Body of Christ.
1. I want you to take it out all this week and look at it.
2. I want you to pray to the Lord to release your gifts for use within His Kingdom and for release within the ministry of Christian Hills.
b. We must all comprehend that we do matter to the Kingdom of God and the use of our gifts will make a difference within a church and within our society.
i. We need all the gifts of the Holy Spirit functioning in the church if we want to create a church that facilitates healing to one another and to the world.
1. We are all essential to the function of the Body!
a. You are essential to Christian Hills!
b. You are a vital piece to the puzzle here at Christian Hills!
2. Denn states, “Paul is very adamant that each of us in our diversity plays a vital part in the body of Christ. After all if you were just like me, we wouldn’t need one of us, would we?”
c. Illustration: We are all part of the puzzle here at Christian Hills – put a picture of the church on the screen and break it up into different puzzle pieces. Take some out what do you have? An incomplete puzzle.
i. You are critical to that part of the puzzle – God designed you to fit that slot and function in that part.
d. We are all to pick up these gifts and assist in building up the church – this is not just the clergy’s job.
i. Gifts are not just given to the clergy but to everyone – God is no respecter of persons:
1. Wagner states page 19: “Martin Luther permanently changed Christendom when he rediscovered the priesthood of all believers. Still, Lutheranism retained much of the clericalism of the Roman Catholic Church. One wonders why it took more than 400 years for the churches born of the Reformation to rediscover the biblical teaching of the ministry of all believers.
a. Scripture Text: I Peter 2:9: “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”
e. We need to realize that we are going to be held accountable for how or if we used our gifts to help the church to heal and to grow.
i. James 4:17: “Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.”
1. You heard this text correctly – When you know what your gift is and you do not use it for God – you are actually sinning!
ii. You must use your gifts for the glory of God and for the sake of the Body of Christ.
T.S. – We are to put our gifts to work so that others may be built up and brought into the Kingdom of God. The gifts are given to edify – help –assist in the building of God’s church and His Kingdom.
III. The gifts are to be used to bring healing and edification to the Body of Christ.
a. The gifts are to be used by all believers for the building up of the church. "...since you are zealous for spiritual gifts, let it be for the edification of the church that you seek to excel" (1 Cor. 14:12).
i. The gifts are not to bring division and dissension to a church body because they are given to unite the church.
1. So pride is not a gift of the Holy Spirit – it’s an enemy of the gifts and it will fight against them.
2. So dissension is not a gift of the Holy Spirit – it’s an enemy of the gifts of the Spirit and will seek to divide the church rather than unite it.
3. So criticism is not a gift of the Holy Spirit –it’s an enemy of the gifts of the Spirit and it will seek to snuff the gifts out.
4. So division is not a gift of the Holy Spirit –it’s an enemy of the gifts of the Spirit and it will seek to divide those who use them so as to hinder their exercise.
ii. The story of the Red Neck Christian that Rich and I met at Crossroads.
1. “God calls me to churches to point out what they are doing wrong and I am called to be a red neck Christian – to tell it like it is!”
a. This young man was deceived not gifted by God!
b. Paul uses the analogy that the church is a body many times in the New Testament.
i. Paul is communicating how important the church is to eternal life and to service to the Kingdom of God. He is communicating the importance of keeping the Body of Christ healthy and united.
1. We read this reference and hear that the church is like our own body:
a. Take a moment and look at your body – now look at someone else’s body (careful now) – they come in all shapes and sizes- but the point is every one of us has different parts to these earthly vessels. Each part of our body performs a primary function so that we can exist, live, and function in this world. If we lose one of these items it becomes more difficult to survive and to do the daily tasks of life.
i. In the TV series Survivor I have seen people removed from the game when a part of their body became ill and threatened their lives. Tough men have been taken off the show because their body is injured and not functioning – they could not survive even this game because their one part of the body was injured and not functioning properly.
ii. This is what happens in the church when a person quits functioning in their gift – it hurts the ability of the church to complete its job – its divine task – churches have actually been destroyed because people quit using their gifts for the Kingdom of God.
ii. Dunn Guptill states this about the concept of Paul’s term the Body of Christ:
1. William Barclay sates “There is an “I” a personality which gives unity to the many and varying parts of the body” This is a hand and this is a hand and that’s a foot and there’s another foot and here’s a head and they’re all separate, but “I” Denn brings unity to make all of those things part of my body…Barclay goes on to say that what “I” is to the body, what Christ is to the church, it is in Him that all the diverse parts find their unity. Alone you are just a Mike, a Sajonna, a Paul, a Greg , a Heather, a Raya. But add Jesus Christ and you become a body. Christ is no longer in the world, he no longer has a physical body and so if he wants a child taught in Junior Church then he needs someone to teach. If He wants someone touched in compassion then He needs to use our compassion and if he needs to cry then He needs our tears … We are all different. The diversity of the body is something beyond debate. No two parts of the body are identical, not only are your hands and feet different but your left hand and right hand are different. I have a cousin who has one blue eye and one brown eye. And we look at our bodies and we marvel at the God who has created this phenomenal piece of equipment. We have ears that hear, eyes that see and feet that walk. And none of us object to that. When was the last time you said, “Boy I wish I could see with my toes, or smell with my ears” Nor do we say, “I wish I was a big foot or a very large eye.” Diversity isn’t just an accidental attribute of the body it’s all part of the divine nature that designed you. And yet all too often we try to make every member of the body of Christ identical (From Sermon central.com sermon “What part are you?”).
c. The gifts are given by the Holy Spirit to build up the church – to edify the church – to enhance the church – to keep the church healthy – to meet each other’s needs within the Body of Christ.
i. The gifts do not cause division they always unite and facilitate healing- when people are led by the Holy Spirit and use their gifts with humility the church moves forward!
ii. Reference a church website: I came across this wording on a church website and it bothered me. Listen to what it says:
1. “We are, therefore, a Spirit-filled church seeking to do God’s will and to become more like His Son, Jesus Christ. While we do not presume to dictate one’s private worship practices, we have agreed that for the sake of the unity of the body, in our public worship and other sanctioned church meetings, we will not teach or practice what is commonly called speaking in tongues.”
a. What happened to following the Bible’s teaching? Listen to this verse:
i. 1 Corinthians 14:39-40: “Therefore, my brothers, be eager to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues. But everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way.”
The Lord has blessed the Body of Christ with Gifts and we need to understand that the edification-the building up of the church is all of our responsibility. No gift is greater than another and we must work in unison to see the Kingdom of God grow. We also need to understand that we are all a piece of the puzzle here at Christian Hills and without our piece inserted in the church then there is a hole in the church and it is an incomplete picture.
We have discovered the following today about our spiritual gifts – our puzzle piece – and God’s plan for Christian Hills:
1. We must not be ignorant of our spiritual gifts and we must- know what they are and how they function within the Body of Christ.
2. We also should have realized that I am a central part of the spread of the Gospel in my society and my gift is an important piece of the puzzle at Christian Hills therefore I have to put my gift into action and place my puzzle piece into the ministry of Christian Hills.
3. We discovered that each gift is of equal value and no gift is better than another. We also learned that our gifts are to build up the Body of Christ not to tear it down.
Romans 12:1, 2 states: “1Dear friends, God is good. So I beg you to offer your bodies to him as a living sacrifice, pure and pleasing. That’s the most sensible way to serve God. 2Don’t be like the people of this world, but let God change the way you think. Then you will know how to do everything that is good and pleasing to him” (CEV).
Close with Song – God of the City – choir sings as movie clip showing pictures from our city plays!
Altar Call: Have Pastors and Elders come forward to pray for those who want prayer.