Get on the Bus
1 Corinthians 12
September 20, 2020
A man was walking through the forest and saw a fox that had lost its legs, and he wondered how it lived. Then he saw a tiger come up with game in its mouth. The tiger ate its fill and left the rest of the meat for the fox.
The next day God fed the fox by means of the same tiger. The man marveled at God's greatness and said to himself, "I shall rest in a corner with full trust that the Lord will provide me with all that I need."
He did this for many days but nothing happened. He was starving when he heard a voice say, "O you who are in the path of error, open your eyes to the truth. Stop imitating the disabled fox and follow the example of the tiger."
What’s the point? I think too many people want to imitate the fox, and don’t want to be tigers. We have the ability to serve and give, like the tiger, but we often make the choice to be the fox.
I hope over the past weeks, you’ve been wondering how you can serve God? Because, everyone is vitally important to the work of God’s kingdom.
It could be easy to dismiss your gifts as inferior to someone who is receiving public acclamation and credit. Because your gifts aren’t as public or as visible as someone else’s gifts. It could be you like working behind the scenes and don’t want to be out in front of others, yet, there are times when we want recognition.
For example, do you know who the bullpen catcher is for the Cubs? Chad Noble
How about the left tackle for the Colts? Anthony Castonzo
How about the Colts strength and conditioning coach? Richard Howell
My point is we don’t know who those people are, they aren’t the stars, they aren’t in the limelight, yet without them the team is incomplete. Without the unheralded every day players, the team will be incomplete.
The church is the same way, we need everyone to be involved in the life of the church so we can bring glory to God. Every person is needed and important.
The church in Corinth was young and didn’t understand the nature of spiritual gifts, so Paul does a great job of unpacking them for the people.
Last week I spoke about what Paul said in 1 Corinthians 12:4-6 - -
4 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and
5 there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and
6 there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone.
Do you hear what Paul’s telling us? There are a variety of gifts, services and activities. They all come from the same God, from the same Spirit, the Holy Spirit. It’s the same God who’s working in each of us to help us grow closer to Him, and the same God is helping us to serve others, all according to the gifts He’s given us.
One last verse from last week . . . because it’s really important to know –
7 To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.
Remember, all of our gifts are for the common good. It doesn’t matter what gifts you have, it doesn’t matter if some are more out there than others . . . ALL gifts are for the common good, for the building up of God’s kingdom.
I mentioned that we’re given these gifts and we are to use them according to our unique SHAPES. The acronym SHAPE comes from Rick Warren at Saddleback Church in California. Understanding our SHAPE is really important when it comes to using our spiritual gifts . . . and being fulfilled in what we’re doing.
So, let’s look at this acronym in a little more detail so you can begin to see where you might fit in, or why you have not been fitting in. It could be you’re a triangle peg and your trying to fit into a round hole.
Obviously, the S is spiritual gifts. There are around 20-23 spiritual gifts. Depending on what you read in the Bible, people have different interpretations of them. The main gifts are listed in 4 different places in the Bible.
I’m going to quickly read through a list of Spiritual gifts. The gifts are as follows -
ROMANS 12:3-8 1 Corinthians 12:8-10 1 Corinthians 12:28-30
Prophecy Wisdom Apostles
Service Knowledge Prophecy
Teaching Faith Teachers
Exhortation Healing Miracles
Giving Miracles Healing
Leadership Prophecy Helps
Mercy Discernment Administration
Speaking in Tongues Speaking in Tongues
Interpret Tongues Interpret Tongues
Ephesians 4:11-12 1 Peter 4:9-11
Prophecy Speaking / Teaching
Pastors / Shepherds
So, that’s the list of Spiritual Gifts. Some are pretty straight forward and make sense - - others, you may wonder what’s that about. If you turn in your spiritual gift assessment, we’ll go over it and I’ll have printouts for you about your gifts, so you can better see what you can do to serve God in a way that is really fulfilling for you at the same time.
The beauty of spiritual gifts is that we were created by God to have them and do them AND we can’t earn them . . . they are freely given to us by God. So, let’s look at the other aspects of SHAPE.
You may already have an idea of what your SHAPE is and how it works, but lots of people really don’t, even though we know it, we don’t realize it. When we go over your results, if you want, we will also go over your SHAPE.
Let’s look at the H - which stands for HEART or PASSIONS - -
The Bible uses the term “heart” to describe an all encompassing group of desires, passions, motivations, and dreams you have. Your heart represents the source of all your motivations — what you love to do and what you care about most.
Proverbs 27:19 tells us --
19 As in water face reflects face, so the heart of man reflects the man.
Isn’t that true? Your heart reveals the real you — who you truly are, not what others think you are or what circumstances force you to be. Your heart determines why you say the things you do, why you feel the way you do, and why you act the way you do.
In the same way, God has given each of us a unique emotional “heartbeat.” We all have it. For some of you when you hear a certain topic, your heart skips a beat, your pulse quickens. Why? Because it is a subject you are passionate about.
Have you ever been passionate about something and the person next to you is yawning and totally bored. And you’re thinking . . . “you slug, you should be leaning forward and hyped about this.
That’s because we’re all wired differently. We instinctively care about some things and not about others. That’s OK! These are clues as to where you should serve.
Sometimes we hide our passions, because revealing our passions can make us feel a little vulnerable. Yet our passions are our deep desires or purposes that bring us joy and fulfillment. Some experiences capture your attention while others turn you off or bore you to tears. These reveal the nature of your heart.
So, that’s the HEART . . .
Next comes the A or ABILITIES
Paul tells us in Ephesians 2 --
10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
We are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus before there was a world. God created us to do good works because of our salvation.
Your abilities are the natural talents and developed talents you have. God has given each of us the ability to do certain things well. That’s something we need to believe about God and ourselves.
One of the most common excuses people give for not serving is “I just don’t have any abilities to offer.” This is ludicrous. We have multiple abilities and talents that we don’t really consider talents and abilities. Many are untapped, unrecognized, and unused abilities that are lying dormant inside of us.
Every ability can be used for God’s glory. A verse we’ve looked at in the past weeks is from Colossians 3, when Paul said, “Whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” God has a place in His church where your specialties can shine and you can make a difference. You need to believe that is true . . . because it is.
You’re the only person on earth who can use your abilities. No one else can play your role, because they don’t have the unique shape that God has given you. God has equipped you with everything you need to do His will. Think about, or ask someone what kinds of things you’re good at. There’s more than you realize.
Even little things that don’t matter to you . . . like organization, or studying / reading, cooking, sewing, throwing a ball, music, and more are abilities that can make a difference. To discover God’s will for your life, you should seriously examine what you are good at doing and what you’re not good at doing.
Next comes the P - which stands for PERSONALITY
Your personality will affect how and where you use your spiritual gifts. Some things we’d look at include asking “are you introverted or extroverted? Do you prefer an organized setting or chaos? Are you task oriented? Do you prefer working alone or in a group?” Questions like that are really important to ask.
A great story from the Bible to help us see the differences in personality is the story about Mary and Martha in Luke 10 -
39 Martha had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet and listened to His teaching.
40 But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to Jesus and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.”
Do you see the difference in their personalities? That would totally shape how you served depending upon which person you were.
These sisters were wired very differently. Mary was relational, Martha was task oriented. Each of us were designed to serve in a certain style. Understanding how God designed your personality will help you remain motivated and enable you to serve to your greatest potential.
For instance, two people may have the same gift of evangelism, but if one is introverted and the other is extroverted, that gift will be expressed in different ways.
I’m not a woodworker, but as I was reading for this message, I read how woodworkers know that it’s easier to work with the grain rather than against it. In the same way, when we minister to others in a manner that is “out of character” for your personality, it creates tension and discomfort, and requires extra effort and energy, and produces less than the best results.
This is why it’s important to understand our SHAPE when we want to serve.
It’s obvious that God has not used a cookie cutter to stamp out people . He loves variety; just look around. And there isn’t a “right” or “wrong” SHAPE. We need opposites to balance the church.
Now we come to the E or our EXPERIENCES
In his letter to the church in Philippi, Paul wrote -
12 I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel - Philippians 1:12
Paul said his experience, what has happened to him has helped shape him so that he could advance the message of Christ.
So, the question comes to us as well – what has my life history prepared me to do?
Our past experiences help shape our character, it’s impacted our abilities and influences your desire to serve. Whether we like it or not, our life experiences dictate the way we live our lives. Sometimes for better, and sometimes for worse.
We’ve all been shaped by our experiences. Many were beyond your control, yet, God allowed them for His purpose of molding and shaping you. When we look at our life experience, some break it down into 5 areas.
Ministry experiences: How have you served God in the past? What worked? What didn’t?
Work experiences: What jobs have you been most effective in and enjoyed most?
Educational experiences: What were your favorite subjects in school? What hobbies do you have?
Spiritual experiences: What have been your most spiritual times with God?
Painful experiences: From what problems, hurts, thorns, and trials have you learned and been shaped by God?
For example, we don’t like to dwell on our hurts, we want to get rid of them as quickly as possible, yet, God never wastes a hurt! Oftentimes we’re able to minister to someone who’s experiencing something we’ve already gone through. Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 1:4 –
4 God comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. - 2 Corinthians 1:4
We need to understand a powerful truth, the very experiences that maybe you’ve resented, wanted to forget about, or the jobs you despised may allow you to minister to someone in a way that nobody else can.
God wants you to be open to ministering to people who are walking through the same valley you have already passed through!
OK! Whew . . . that’s a lot. You may be thinking, I didn’t want all that today. I get it, but more than anything, I want you to be fulfilled in whatever you do for the kingdom of God. Being frustrated as you serve stinks! It takes the fun out of coming here, it takes the joy away because our energy is getting zapped and we feel sapped.
I’m not sure what things will look like in the future. I’m hoping we all move beyond 2020. Yet, this year has taught us so much about life, about people, about the ways we react to so many different events. And the year is definitely not over.
One thing will always be certain . . . the church will always need people to do the ministry. Every one of you, those who are here and those at home . . . have gifts. Every person who professes faith in Jesus has the power of the Spirit of God dwelling within them. On top of that, you have been given spiritual gifts by God, for the building up of His kingdom.
There are needs all around us. People need work on their homes, help with taxes, people need meals, people need help understanding medicare and insurance, people need help with budgets, they need help learning how to use a computer or phones, people need to know who Jesus is, kids need tutors, people need a friend to walk with them in life, people need someone who accepts them and embraces them (even in a socially distanced world). We have the potential to be the provider for these and many other needs in our backyard. Our future is all around us.
But that future must start with each one of us, pitching in, becoming excited / passionate about being involved in ministry. Not in isolation, but working with other brothers and sisters in Christ, working with those we don’t know, bringing in friends who don’t know Christ so they may learn about Christ while working with you. That’s what’s really cool about things we do. You can bring a non-believing friend to something we are doing. No strings attached, but in the process, they may see Jesus at work through you or others.
In a strange, crazy world, it may sound strange to say, we need to get on the bus and do ministry. Why now!? Why not take the time now, to learn how God can use little ol’ me for the glory of His kingdom.
I just don’t want you to get on any ministry bus. Get on the right bus. Get on the bus that God is calling you to get on. And in the end, we end up at the same destination . . . which is really cool, too!!
If you feel like you are just kind of languishing and wanting more out of life. If you feel like God has more for you, but you’re not sure what it is . . . . and you’ve never examined your spiritual gifts, then we can help.